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VATIS Update Non-conventional Energy . Apr-Jun 2012

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New and Renewable Energy Apr-Jun 2012

ISSN: 0971-5630

VATIS Update New and Renewable Energy (formerly Non Conventional Energy)* is published 4 times a year to keep the readers up to date of most of the relevant and latest technological developments and events in the field of New and Renewable Energy. The Update is tailored to policy-makers, industries and technology transfer intermediaries.

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* This update has been renamed as 'VATIS Update: New and Renewable Energy' from Jan-Mar 2015 onwards.

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Contents

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IN THE NEWS

UNEP report praises India’s Solar Mission

India’s initiative in the renewable energy sector has been praised in a report on renewable energy trends in 2011, published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century. The report said that India’s National Solar Mission has helped the country spur an impressive 62 per cent increase in investments to US$12 billion during the year, the fastest investment expansion of any large renewables market in the world.

Total global investment in renewables, excluding large hydro, grew by 17 per cent to US$257 billion in 2011 – a six-fold increase over the 2004 figure and 94 per cent higher than the total in 2007. In several countries, renewable energy has outgrown its “niche player” status and now represents a significant share of total energy supply. Solar generation surged past wind power to become the renewable energy technology of choice for global investors in 2011. Solar attracted almost twice as much investment as wind.

India also finds mention in the report as one of the seven countries for its renewable energy capacity, excluding large hydro, accounting for about 70 per cent of the total non-hydro renewable capacity worldwide. The other countries are China, the United States, Germany, Spain, Italy and Japan. China, India and Brazil together accounted for roughly one-fourth of the global non-hydro renewable capacity by the end of 2011. In the power sector, renewables accounted for almost half of the estimated 208 GW of electric capacity added globally during 2011. By the end of 2011, total renewable power capacity worldwide exceeded 1,360 GW, up 8 per cent over 2010. The estimated total global power generating capacity was 5,360 GW in 2011.
Source: http://www.thehindu.com

China to remain global hub for clean energy

China invested US$45.5 billion in clean energy in 2011, causing the country to cede its top rank in such expenditures to the United States for the first time since 2009. Even so, China’s ambitious goals will continue to make it a clean energy hub of the world, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts, a research group based in the United States. In 2011, the United States invested US$48.1 billion in clean energy, a 44 per cent increase from 2010, making it the country where the most money was put toward that purpose in 2011. In third place was Germany, with US$ 30.6 billion put into clean energy.

China has the capacity to generate 133 GW of clean energy, about 26 per cent of the world total. China’s long-term plans provide a predictable future for the country, as it strives to meet its very ambitious clean energy targets. The country intends to install 160 GW of wind power and 50 GW of solar power by 2020. Its capacity in wind energy is more than 64 GW, though about a quarter or more of that capacity may not be operational or connected to the electrical grid at present. In 2011, China’s investments in solar energy increased to US$11.3 billion, and 2.3 GW of capacity was installed.

Globally, the amount of private financing going into clean energy and investments increased to a record US$263 billion in 2011, a 6.5 per cent increase on 2010. However, public and private investments in research and development (R&D) in clean energy globally declined to US$26 billion in 2011, down 18 per cent year on year. The United States continued to lead in R&D spending on clean energy, with 30 per cent of the total corporate spending and 31 per cent of government spending. In China, the government invested about US$1.6 billion and the private sector spent about US$380 million on clean energy R&D in 2011.
Source: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn

Philippines readies renewable energy trust fund

In the Philippines, the Department of Energy (DoE) has started setting up a Renewable Energy Trust Fund (RETF) in a bid to further develop and promote the use of renewable energy sources in the country. According to Energy Under-Secretary Mr. Jose M. Layug, DoE is drafting the rules that would govern RETF, which was earlier targeted to have a seed fund of about P2 billion (US $47.65 million). Funding for RETF would not be a problem as the law has identified many sources for this mechanism, Mr. Layug added. All proceeds from the emission fees collected from all generating facilities consistent with the Philippine Clean Air Act would go to RETF. DoE could also collect 1.5 per cent of the net annual incomes of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., 1.5 per cent of the net annual dividends remitted to the National Treasury by the Philippine National Oil Co. and its subsidiaries, as well as 1.5 per cent of the proceeds of the government share collected from the development and use of indigenous non-renewable energy sources. Aside from these, all the proceeds from the fines and penalties imposed under the Renewable Energy Act would be reverted to RETF. Based on DoE’s National Renewable Energy Plan, the Philippine government is pushing for a three-fold increase in the use of renewable energy resources to 15,000 MW within a 20-year period up to 2030, with expected investments seen reaching roughly P1 trillion (US$23.83 billion).
Source: http://business.inquirer.net

Bangladesh exports solar panel to Malaysia

Bangladesh has entered the era of exporting solar panels as against importing the product from China in recent years. According to customs export sources, Greenfinity Energy Ltd., a private manufacturer, has exported high-tech solar panels to Malaysia. Greenfinity has exported customized monocrystalline solar panels worth about US$0.1 million, followed by a few small consignments – the first-ever export of the item by any local manufacturer in Bangladesh. More supply orders are expected from Malaysia.

The existing production capacity of the country’s six plants that manufacture solar panels of different sizes is 160-170 MW, whereas total consumption stands at nearly 70 MW. Mr. Golam Baki Masud, Managing Director of Greenfinity, said that his company is also expecting orders from the Middle East and Myanmar. While Malaysia produces good quality solar panels, companies there find Greenfinity’s products cost-effective and of good quality.
Source: http://energybangla.com

Exploring sustainable alternatives for power generation

The 8th Power Sri Lanka 2012 International Expo, held from 14 to 16 June 2012 in Colombo, showcased local and international advances in power generation and transmission, energy and renewable energy. In view of the current growth rate in power demand, Sri Lanka is looking to sustainable alternatives for power generation, said Mr. Rishad Bathiudeen, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Industry & Commerce. Sri Lanka is entering the global energy scene, making it crucial for the country’s industries to venture into different avenues such as batteries, generators and hydropower. With the ever-growing needs of Sri Lanka for electricity and other energy, there is a need to explore newer opportunities in the energy and renewable energy sectors, and such events offer an ideal B2B platform for the Sri Lankan industry, observed Mr. Kennedy Joseph, Senior Vice President, Brown & Company plc, Sri Lanka.
Source: http://www.dailynews.lk

Republic of Korea to invest in renewable energy R&D

The Republic of Korea has plans to inject about 374 billion won (US$320 million) into renewable energy research and development (R&D) in 2012, informs the nation’s Ministry of Knowledge Economy. The money invested will help acquire basic renewable energy technologies, boost R&D co-operation between large corporations and small business firms, and commercialize technologies developed, according to the Ministry. By injecting the money into R&D, the country intends to increase renewable energy exports to 8.61 trillion won (US$7.59 billion) in 2012, up from 6.92 trillion won (US$6.096 billion) tallied in the previous year, while creating jobs and causing investment from the private sector.

The Ministry reported that 10 green projects would be promoted in 2012. These include building green power plants, as well as installing renewable energy equipment in schools, highways, industrial complexes, factories, ports and for the army. In addition, wind power complexes will be set up in the south-western port city of the country while laying the foundation for making the mix of biodiesel compulsory in the transportation sector.
Source: http://www.globaltimes.cn

Renewable energy projects in Pakistan

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is encouraging financing of renewable energy power plant projects in the country, following the policy of the government to bridge the supply and demand gap of electricity in the country. In line with this, the central banks have extended the validity period of the “Scheme for Financing Power Plants Using Renewable Energy” for a further period of two years, to 30 June 2014. The relaxation will help local and foreign investors to set up their production plants and tap the lucrative market in different renewable ways of power production. At present, the financing facilities under this scheme will be available for Letter of Credits established for import/purchase of new plant and machinery up to 30 June 2014, according to a circular letter issued by SBP to the Presidents/CEOs of all banks/designated financial institutions (DFIs).
Source: http://www.thenewstribe.com

Thailand works to boost domestic ethanol demand

The Department of Energy Development and Efficiency of Thailand is taking measures to increase the consumption of E20, an 80:20 blend of petroleum and ethanol, in a bid to boost demand for domestically produced ethanol. “One in four cars in Thailand can use the E20 blend, but not all of them do,” an official in the Department stated. By suitably structuring E20’s price and by ensuring better availability in retail stations, the Department feels it can promote the product. Currently, there are 900 retail stations selling E20.

The retail price of ethanol-blended petroleum, or gasohol, in Thailand is cheaper than regular petroleum, as it is subsidized by the Oil Fund, which imposes a levy on regular petroleum and diesel. E10, a 90:10 blend of petroleum and ethanol, is the most popular blend. Domestic demand at present for fuel-grade ethanol stands at 1.4 million litres/day, less than half Thaland’s production capacity of 2.925 million litres/day. In November 2011, the Department announced a ban on the use of RON 91 petroleum from October 2012, in a bid to double gasohol consumption to around 2 million litres/day from the current 1.08 million litres/day.
Source: http://www.platts.com

India plans to roll out 3,000 MW solar power projects

The Government of India is working on a plan to roll out 3,000 MW of grid-connected solar power projects in phase 2 of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. “The government also has plans to set up four solar thermal power projects through the Solar Energy Corporation of India,” said Mr. Tarun Kapoor, Joint Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). The government will work also on 6,000 MW projects through solar-specific Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) scheme. In addition, the Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) scheme is expected to “catch on” from 2013. “With India’s electricity shortage estimated to be 25-35 GW, the Ministry’s emphasis will be equally on grid connected as well as off-grid applications,” Mr. Kapoor stated. He said it is important to have an effective and robust rooftop policy with enough incentives to boost rooftop solar energy implementation in India.
Source: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com

China is world’s wind power leader

China consolidated its position as the world’s wind power leader in both newly and cumulative installed capacities in 2011, according to official figures released by the China Wind Energy Association (CWEA). China had 17.6 GW of wind turbines installed in 2011. While this was down 6.9 per cent from the previous year, it took China’s cumulative installed wind power capacity to 62.4 GW, up 39.4 per cent year on year, by the end of 2011. According to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), the United States had only 6.8 GW of wind power installed in 2011, taking its cumulative total to 46.9 GW by the end of the year.

The top five Chinese provincial regions for newly installed wind power were Inner Mongolia, Hebei, Shandong, Ningxia and Liaoning, adding 3.7 GW, 2.1 GW, 1.9 GW, 1.7 GW and 1.2 GW, respectively. According to this, the ranking of China’s top five wind power-developing regions, in terms of cumulative wind turbine installation, are Inner Mongolia (17.6 GW), Hebei (6.9 GW), Gansu (5.4 GW), Liaoning (5.2 GW) and Shandong (4.6 GW). In 2011, the ranking of top wind turbine makers was reshuffled too, with Goldwind replacing Sinovel as the largest in newly installed capacity, totalling 3.6 GW of turbines. Goldwind held a 20.4 per cent share of the Chinese market. Sinovel, with 2.9 GW of newly installed capacity, took up a 16.7 per cent share. In terms of cumulative total in 2011, Sinovel, Goldwind and Dongfang Electric were the top three wind turbine makers, as they were in 2010. The top three took 20.8 per cent, 20.3 per cent and 11.1 per cent of the Chinese market, respectively.
Source: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn

Philippines ahead of its green energy target

The Department of Energy (DoE) of the Philippines reports that renewable energy-based power plants are a bigger priority for the country than coal-fired power plants. DoE has awarded 304 renewable energy contracts that will put in place 7,843.65 MW of renewable energy-based capacity. This is more than the coal-fired generating capacity that DoE endorsed totalling 1,935 MW, as of the end of June 2012. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has set a target of 30 per cent renewable by 2030. Clearly, the Philippines is way ahead of this target, noted Energy Secretary Mr. Jose Rene Almendras. He added that the share of green energy in power generation is at 58.2 per cent in 2011. The share of renewable energy generating capacity increased to 28.4 per cent in 2011 from 26.3 per cent in 2010.
Source: http://businessmirror.com.ph

SOLAR ENERGY

Technique for the creation of thinner thin-film solar cells

Researchers in the United States report a new way to create thinner thin-film solar cells without sacrificing the cells’ ability to absorb solar energy, a development that could decrease manufacturing costs for the technology. “We were able to create solar cells using a ‘nanoscale sandwich’ design with an ultra-thin ‘active’ layer,” said Dr. Linyou Cao, an Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at North Carolina State University (NCSU) and co-author of a paper describing the research. The researchers created a solar cell with an active layer of amorphous silicon that is only 70 nm thick, compared with the typical active layer thickness of 300-500 nm of current thin-film solar cells that use amorphous silicon. The new technique is important because “it can be generally applied to many other solar cell materials, such as cadmium telluride, copper indium gallium selenide and organic materials,” Dr. Cao stated.

The new technique is said to rely largely on conventional manufacturing processes, but results in a very different finished product. The first step is to create a pattern on the substrate using lithography. The pattern outlines structures made of transparent, dielectric material measuring 200-300 nm. The substrate and the nanostructures are then coated with an extremely thin layer of active material, such as amorphous silicon. This active layer is then coated with another layer of dielectric material. Using dielectric nanostructures beneath the active layer creates a thin film with elevated surfaces evenly spaced all along the film. A key aspect of this technique is the design of the ‘nanoscale sandwich’ – the active materials in the middle of two dielectric layers. The nanostructures act as efficient optical antennas, focusing the solar energy onto the active material. “This focusing means we can use a thinner active layer without sacrificing performance. In the conventional thin-film design, using a thinner active layer would impair the solar cell’s efficiency”, Dr. Cao explained.
Source: http://www.theengineer.co.uk

Scientists improve manufacturing of see-through solar cells

In the United States, New Energy Technologies (NET) has announced an improvement in manufacturing see-through solar cells generating electricity on glass. The company collaborated with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of the Department of Energy for developing low-cost materials and an application technique to optimize the movement of electrons within the ultra-thin solar cells. This should increase the amount of electricity produced when NET’s see-through SolarWindow prototype is exposed to natural or artificial light.

“Over the past few months, our researchers have unveiled a virtually invisible conductive wiring system, which collects and transports electricity on SolarWindow prototypes,” stated Mr. John Conklin, President and CEO of NET. “The researchers have fabricated a large area working module, which is more than 14 times larger than the organic photovoltaic devices fabricated earlier at NREL. The improved process can be carried out at ambient pressure and low temperatures. This helps researchers avoid using materials that must be deposited using high-temperature vacuum deposition, an expensive, laborious and therefore unsuitable process for high-speed and large-scale applications. NET says that the innovation enables high-speed roll-to-roll (R2R) and sheet-to-sheet (S2S) manufacture.

To generate electricity on SolarWindow prototypes, researchers creatively layer and arrange unique, ultra-thin see-through solar cells onto glass. Each of these cells is arranged in a network and interconnected by way of a virtually invisible grid-like wiring system. Within these solar cells, the light-induced movement of electrons generates electricity. When SolarWindow is exposed to light, the light energy prompts electron movement through specific physical and chemical mechanisms leading to power generation.
Source: http://eandt.theiet.org

High-efficiency heterojunction solar cells developed

A joint effort by Kaneka, Japan, and imec, the Netherlands, has yielded a 15 cm semi-square heterojunction silicon solar cell with a 22.68 per cent certified power conversion efficiency. This breakthrough was achieved using Kaneka’s copper electroplating technology, which helped incorporate an electroplated copper (Cu) contact grid on top of the transparent conductive oxide layer.

This development of large area Cu-plated heterojunction silicon solar cells is an important step towards a fab-compatible process on large area module integrated solar cells. According to imec, silver screen printing is the technology preferred in the photovoltaic industry to produce top grid electrode in heterojunction silicon solar cells. However, a drawback of this technology is the difficulty to lower resistivity and to thin the metal line in the screen-printed silver contacts. As a result, efficiencies remain below optimal while cost remains relatively high. Replacing the screen-printed silver with electroplated copper overcomes these disadvantages, enabling high efficiency and low fabrication cost.
Source: http://www.eeherald.com

Nanotube electrodes improve solar cells

Forests of carbon nanotubes are an efficient alternative to platinum electrodes in dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs), according to a joint investigation by researchers at Rice University, the United States, and Tsinghua University, China. The single-wall nanotube arrays, grown in a process invented at Rice, are both much more electroactive and potentially cheaper than platinum, the common catalyst in DSCs. In combination with newly developed sulphide electrolytes synthesized at Tsinghua, the nanotube arrays could lead to robust, more efficient solar cells at a fraction of the cost for traditional silicon-based solar cells.

DSCs are sensitized using dyes, ideally organic dyes, which absorb photons from sunlight to generate a charge in the form of electrons. These electrons are captured first by a semiconducting titanium oxide layer deposited on a current collector before flowing back to a counter electrode through another current collector. Progress has been made in the manufacture of DSCs that incorporate an iodine-based electrolyte, but iodine corrodes metallic current collectors. Hence, Tsinghua researchers tried a non-corrosive, sulphide-based electrolyte that absorbs little visible light and works well with the single-walled carbon nanotube carpets created in the lab of Mr. Robert Hauge, a distinguished faculty fellow in chemistry at Rice’s Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science & Technology. “These are very versatile materials,” said Mr. Jun Lou, a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Tsinghua. Both Rice and Tsinghua scientists built working solar cells, with similar results. They were able to achieve a power conversion efficiency of 5.25 per cent – lower than the DSC record of 11 per cent using iodine electrolytes and platinum electrode.
Source: http://news.rice.edu

Concentrator solar cell with 43.5 per cent efficiency developed

Japan’s Sharp Corporation has used a concentrator triple-junction III-V compound semiconductor photovoltaic cell to achieve a solar energy conversion efficiency of 43.5 per cent, equalling the record for concentrating conversion efficiency set in March 2011 by Solar Junction, a manufacturer of III-V multi-junction solar cells for concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) in the United States. Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), Germany, confirmed the measurement of the value of 43.5 per cent for a cell surface of about 0.167 cm2 under 306x light-concentrating magnification. ISE is one of seven European research establishments collaborating with Japanese partners in the 42-month-long European Union-funded project on new generation CPV cells, modules and systems, which began in June 2011.

The basic structure of the triple-junction compound solar cell uses Sharp’s proprietary technology that enables efficient stacking of the three photo-absorption layers, with indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) as the bottom layer. To achieve the latest increase in efficiency, Sharp capitalized on the ability of this cell to convert efficiently the sunlight collected via three photo-absorption layers into electricity. Sharp also optimized the spacing between electrodes on the surface of the cell and minimized the cell’s electrical resistance. Sharp intends to apply this latest development in CPV power systems that can generate electricity efficiently using small surface area solar cells, and make them practical for terrestrial use.
Source: http://www.semiconductor-today.com

WIND ENERGY

VFloating offshore wind turbine

Vestas, Denmark, EDP, Portugal, Repsol, Spain, Principle Power, the United States, A. Silva Matos, Portugal, (ASM) and InovCapital, Portugal, have announced that a Vestas v80 2.0 MW turbine – placed on an innovative floating foundation called WindFloat – has been wet-towed to an offshore location approximately 5 km off the Portuguese coast at Agucadoura and has already produced in excess of 1.7 GWh. WindFloat enables offshore wind farms to be developed in deep water and eliminates the need for heavy lift vessels or piling equipment at sea. For Portugal’s first offshore wind turbine, the final assembly, installation and pre-commissioning of the turbine and substructure took place on land in a controlled environment, and the complete system was towed into position using simple tug vessels. With the floating foundation, wind farm siting criteria becomes independent of water depth, which will open up new, offshore areas for consideration of wind farms.
Source: http://www.energyonline.com

Harnessing high-altitude wind power with gliders and kites

A new prototype generator developed at RMIT University, Australia, is capable of harnessing the energy of steady high-altitude winds using controlled kites and tethered gliders. According to Dr. Dylan Thorpe at RMIT, winds are more consistent at high altitudes and they can be easily converted into electricity, anywhere around the world. The power available in winds at altitudes above approximately 5 km is about 10 times more than at ground level. “Conceptually, if a wind turbine can be built that negates the need for a tower, we can generate renewable energy at a fraction of the current cost,” Dr. Thorpe explained.

Unlike other high-altitude wind generators, this new prototype does not need to fly around and send the electricity produced to the ground. It uses lightweight gliders floating in the atmosphere, connected with strong cables to a generator on the ground. This generator converts all variations in cable tension to electricity. For now, this high-altitude wind power system (HAWP) is just a prototype; however, such devices could really power homes in just a few years.
Source: http://www.windoption.com

New 2.1 MW machine for low wind speeds

The S111 from Suzlon Group is a 2.1 MW machine designed for low wind speed sites. Featuring a rotor diameter of 111 m and a swept area of more than 9,500 m2, the S111 is the latest generation of Suz 2.1 MW fleet. The S111 is one of the highest-yielding IEC Class III wind turbines of any comparable class machine.

According to Mr. John O’Halloran, Suzlon Energy’s President of Technology, “The S111 builds on our considerable experience in the 2 MW space, and combines it with our leading-edge capabilities in blade design and testing to create a highly efficient turbine. The design builds on extensive feedback from our customers and leverages the strengths of our existing designs, enabling wide commonality with our current offerings and passing savings in operations to our customers.” The S111 will incorporate Suzlon’s all new, third-generation rotor and will be offered with tower heights of 95 m and 120 m and. The model will deliver 20-29 per cent increase in annual energy production over the S97 design in a 90 m configuration. The first prototype will be operational in late 2013 and serial production will begin in 2014. In addition to being backed by Suzlon’s award-winning safety programme and service team, an S111 customer will further benefit from a 10-year all-inclusive service and warranty.
Source: http://www.equitybulls.com

Wind turbine generator and output power control method

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Japan, has filed a patent application for a wind turbine generator and output power control method invented by Mr. Akira Yasugi. The patent covers a wind power generation apparatus in which the slope is derived of the change in output from a generator, which generates electricity through rotation of a wind turbine rotor. An increase or decrease in the output of the generator is determined on the basis of the derived slope of change in output. When the frequency of an electric power system has decreased, power control is performed on the basis of the determined result. Output fluctuations of the generator can be detected accurately using a simple configuration, making it possible to more effectively compensate for a decrease in the amount of power that is supplied to the electric power system.
Source: http://www.power-eng.com

Water and wind current power generation system

Mr. Hue N. Che, a United States’ researcher, has patented a water and wind current power generation system. The invention is an apparatus that uses differential gearboxes to collect, combine and transmit torque generated by multiple rotor systems interconnected via a driveshaft. The driveshaft is connected to a generator gearbox, and the generator box drives an electrical generator. The torque may be converted to mechanical power by replacing the electrical generator with a mechanical power device. The rotors are activated by fluid currents such as wind or water.
Source: http://www.power-eng.com

The largest offshore wind turbine in the world

Alstom, France, has inaugurated the largest offshore wind turbine in the world, at Carnet in the Loire-Atlantique, France. Haliade 150, a 6 MW wind turbine, was developed in response to a call for tenders in July 2011 by the French government, which aims to install 3 GW of wind turbine power off French shores by 2015. In preparation for its certification, the first Haliade 150 will undergo a series of year-long tests on land at the Carnet site, before a second turbine is placed in the sea off the Belgian coast in autumn 2012. Pre-series production is planned for 2013, with in series production due to commence in 2014.

The Carnet site was chosen for its geological characteristics that are very similar to the submarine environment in which the wind turbines will eventually be installed. The 25 m “jacket” sub-structure was installed on pillars driven more than 30 m into the ground on which the 75 m high tower was then gradually mounted. The nacelle soars over the landscape, 100 m above the ground. The wind turbine and its support structure have a total combined weight of 1,500 t.

To meet the severe challenges of the marine environment, Alstom developed the simple, robust and efficient 6 MW wind turbine to improve the competitiveness of offshore wind power. The wind turbine functions without a gear box (by direct drive) and is fitted with a permanent magnet generator, to reduce operating and maintenance costs. Haliade 150 is fitted with Alstom Pure Torquer technology that protects the generator by diverting unwanted stresses from the wind safely to the turbine’s tower, thereby optimizing performance. The turbine features a 150 m rotor (the 73.50 m blades are the longest in the world), ensuring an improved load factor.
Source: http://www.alstom.com

High-wind 3 MW wind turbines

The new V112-3.0 MW IEC S high-wind turbine from Vestas, Denmark, is a high-wind version of the V112-3.0 MW, offering low cost of energy by providing high and reliable energy production while securing low operation and maintenance costs. The V112-3.0 MW IEC S is adapted technically to high-wind sites through a gearbox modified to handle the increased loads from the high wind speeds.

The V112-3.0 MW is based on well-proven and awarded technology, including the 2010 Zayed Future Energy prize. With the new IEC S high-wind version, the V112-3.0 MW covers all wind classes and wind speed sites. The large swept area of the blades of the V112-3.0 MW increases the efficiency of the turbine, capturing maximum energy from the wind. It thus delivers higher productivity, lower-cost energy, as well as unprecedented reliability. The intense testing and verification of the components and the seven prototypes of V112-3.0 MW turbine are reported to have confirmed the turbine’s efficiency and reliability. Wind power from Vestas’ more than 46,000 wind turbines worldwide reduces around 55 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year while building energy security and independence.
Source: http://www.evwind.es

WAVE/TIDAL ENERGY

Underwater turbine installed at world’s first tidal power farm

Tidal farms, where underwater wind turbine-like systems use the power of the ocean to create electricity, are an increasingly popular talking point for nations looking to clean up their energy act in the coming years. Scotland has now reached a major milestone in the emerging tidal energy field, successfully installing its first 1 MW tidal power turbine off the coast of Orkney in the Sound of Islay. The underwater turbine is 100 ft tall.

Tests were conducted to see how well electricity could be generated for the surrounding areas. According to Scottish Power Renewables, which is overseeing the project, the turbine was performing well and has been powering homes and businesses on the island of Eday. The turbine has the ability to generate one year’s worth of power for 500 homes. After this successful stage, a timetable will be developed for further development and construction will wrap up by 2015.
Source: http://www.the9billion.com

Sea-Spider tidal energy device

In the United Kingdom, Umeco plc, a composite materials supplier, has introduced a model of Sea-Spider – a vertical axis, 70 m diameter, 6.5 MW tidal energy device from Renewergen Ltd. Sea-Spider is a high torque, slow speed turbine, which is scalable to a larger size unit than alternative tidal energy devices. It is a novel tidal turbine with several floating foils driving a central platform. All its electrical and control equipment are housed in a large waterproof nacelle situated well above the waterline, making access, operation and maintenance straight forward, something which benefits reliability and productivity.

According to Umeco, Renewergen chose the company as its composites partner for the project because of Umeco’s ability to customize and engineer its prepregs for specific applications, and for its experience in the tidal energy generation sector. Umeco prepregs – using resin systems such as variable temperature moulding (VTM®) and medium temperature moulding (MTM®) – can be used to manufacture turbine blades, spars, supporting structures and components for wind, wave and tidal energy generating projects.
Source: http://www.umeco.com

Power generation system for small rivers

Ocean Renewable Power Co., the United States, has designed the RivGen™ Power System to generate electricity at small river sites, particularly in remote communities with no large, centralized power grid. The RivGen Power System is designed to connect directly into the existing diesel-electric grids and to provide automatic fuel-switching so that whenever the RivGen Power System is generating power, the diesel generator automatically turns down or off. All system components are designed to fit into standard shipping containers, so that they can arrive on-site ready to install. Depending on community needs and site size, the RivGen Power System can include several dozen turbine generator units (TGUs), with each TGU generating up to 50 kW in a 10 ft/s river current. Contact: Ocean Renewable Power Co. LLC, 120 Exchange Street, Suite 508, Portland, Maine, ME 04101, United States of America. Tel: +1 (207) 7727 707; E-mail: info@oceanrenewablepower.com.
Source: http://www.orpc.co

Wave Rotor tidal energy technology to be commercialized

IHC Merwede, the Netherlands, has signed an agreement with Ecofys to acquire the latter’s Wave Rotor technology. Unlike most tidal turbines, the Wave Rotor is vertically oriented and converts power from tidal currents and wave motion directly into electricity. The technology is a patented innovation that Ecofys, based in the Netherlands, developed over the past 10 years. It was successfully demonstrated in a 30 kW pilot plant in Westerschelde. After the Wave Rotor was developed, it was brought through to pre-commercial stage by another Dutch company, OceanMill. IHC Merwede has established IHC Tidal Energy to successfully bring the acquired technology to the market. Wave Rotor technology enables IHC Merwede to further secure its position in the renewables market.
Source: http://marinelog.com

New device to produce energy from sea waves

Researchers from the University of Beira Interior in Portugal have designed and simulated a new energy conversion device that can convert sea wave motion into electricity. Efficient conversion of sea wave motion into electrical energy has been a challenge in part due to the difficulty of compensating for the relatively low speeds and irregular movements of ocean waves.

The new energy converter designed at University of Beira Interior addresses both these challenges (i.e., low speed and irregular movements). The proposed device consists of a floating body attached to a new type of soft conversion generator called an electric linear planar switched reluctance generator (LSRG), which can convert wave energy directly from the wave-induced, up-and-down motion of the device’s moving part. The researchers report that the proposed generator has advantages such as high power density and robustness, besides easy modelling and construction.
Source: http://www.newstrackindia.com

Test ‘generates confidence’ in tide technology

In the United Kingdom, a pioneering tidal machine that has been generating power in the Humber estuary has been decommissioned. Pulse Tidal started testing the machine around three years ago. Collated data from the testing has proved successful, paving the way for further development. The machine in the Humber worked by employing horizontal blades, which move in the tidal stream and drive a generator. Shallow wave power is thus converted into energy. Working at full capacity, the rig produced a total of 100 kW of electricity, enough to power about 70 homes. The power was being fed directly to Immingham chemical company Millennium Inorganic Chemicals, making it the first business in the United Kingdom to take a direct electricity feed from tidal power.

According to Pulse Tidal’s Chief Technical Officer Mr. Marc Paish, “The main purpose of the testing was to prove the system could generate the power we expected. The results have ensured there is confidence in the system, which means we can attract more funding.” The company is reported to have received £7 million of European funding following the testing.
Source: http://www.thisisscunthorpe.co.uk

Utility-scale wave power generation

Thousands of homes and business units in Reedsport, in Oregon area of the United States could soon be receiving power from ocean waves. PowerBuoy® technology from Ocean Power Technologies has completed two years’ development work at the United States Navy’s wave power test facility in Hawaii. The Navy has announced that it will be upgrading and expanding the site to provide more opportunities for innovators to test commercial-scale wave power devices.

As the buoy of PB150 – the utility-scale version of the PowerBuoy – bobs up and down in the offshore waves, it produces a mechanical stroking motion. That movement is transferred to a “power take-off” unit that drives an on-board generator. The resulting electrical power gets transmitted to shore by cable. In this latest step on the way to deployment, Ocean Power has completed factory testing of the take-off unit and is installing it into the buoy. The take-off unit represents a step up from the company’s initial efforts. It is scaled up from previous versions, and its direct drive system has greater efficiency compared with a hydraulic drive that was used in the first PowerBuoy designs.
Source: http://cleantechnica.com

Pilot wave generator goes commercial

Voith Hydro Wavegen, the United Kingdom, has handed over the first commercial implementation of its shoreline wave power generator, the Land Installed Marine Powered Energy Transformer (Limpet), to Ente Vasco de la Energía of the Basque Energy Board, Spain. The 16 turbine plant with a capacity of 300 kW is operating from a breakwater at Mutriku, the Basque port. The plant is connected to the electricity grid and has generated close to 100 MW since it went live in July 2011. It is designed to power 250 homes.

Limpet was first sited on the island of Islay, off Scotland’s west coast, where it has been in continuous operation for ten years. Voith Hydro Wavegen is currently in talks with other companies, looking to roll out this technology in other countries. It is also behind the planned wave power plant for Sladar in Western Isles, which is currently the only wave energy project in the United Kingdom to receive full consent. Contact: Mr. Matthew Seed, CEO, Voith Hydro Wavegen Limited, 13a Harbour Road, Iverness, IV1 1SY, Scotland, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1463) 238 094; Fax: +44 (1463) 238 096; E-mail: Matthew.Seed@wavegen.com.
Source: http://forargyll.com

FUEL CELLS

Bringing down the cost of fuel cells

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), the United States, have identified a catalyst that provides the same level of efficiency in microbial fuel cells (MFCs) as the currently used platinum catalyst, but at just 5 per cent of the cost. As more than 60 per cent of the investment in making MFCs is the cost of platinum, this discovery may lead to much more affordable energy conversion and storage devices. Nitrogen-enriched iron-carbon nanorods – the catalyst material identified – could also replace the platinum catalyst used in hydrogen-producing microbial electrolysis cells (MECs), which utilize organic matter to generate a possible alternative to fossil fuels. “Fuel cells are capable of directly converting fuel into electricity,” explained UWM’s Prof. Junhong Chen, who created the nanorods. “With fuel cells, electrical power from renewable energy sources can be delivered where and when required, cleanly, efficiently and sustainably.”

The scientists also found that the nanorod catalyst outperformed a graphene-based alternative being developed elsewhere. The material was tested against two other contenders to replace platinum and it was found that the nanorods’ performance was consistently superior over a six-month period. The nanorods have proved to be stable and scalable, but more investigation is needed to determine how easily they can be mass-produced and the exact interaction responsible for the nanorods’ performance. When the nanorods were tested for potential use in MECs, the material did a better job than the graphene-based catalyst material, but it was still not as efficient as platinum.
Source: http://phys.org

Portable hydrogen fuel cell unveiled

Researchers at the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), Taiwan Province of China, have developed a portable fuel cell that uses solid-state hydrogen fuel, water and a catalyst to power chemical reactions. A cartridge containing sodium borohydride is inserted into the portable hydrogen fuel cell. With this fuel, the portable fuel cell makes enough electricity to power laptops and light emitting diodes (LEDs). Researchers have chosen to store hydrogen in solid state for the sake of convenience. ITRI researchers say that the system is more than capable of handling the needs of consumers and they expect to release a commercial version shortly. ITRI points out that portable hydrogen fuel cells could be a vital tool in the wake of a natural disasters that could leave people without access to electricity.
Source: http://www.hydrogenfuelnews.com

Small SOFC reaches record efficiency

Individual homes and entire neighbourhoods could be powered with a new, small-scale solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) system that achieves up to 57 per cent efficiency, significantly more than the 30-50 per cent efficiencies previously reported for SOFC systems of similar size, according to a study by researchers at the United States Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). The new smaller system uses methane, the primary component of natural gas, as fuel. The entire system was streamlined to make it more efficient and scalable by using PNNL-developed microchannel technology in combination with external steam reforming and fuel recycling processes.

“Solid oxide fuels cells are a promising technology for providing clean, efficient energy. But, until now, most people have focused on larger systems that produce 1 MW of power or more and can replace traditional power plants,” stated Mr. Vincent Sprenkle, a co-author on the study and Chief Engineer of PNNL’s SOFC development programme. The current study has shown that smaller SOFCs that generate between 1 kW and 100 kW of power are a viable option for highly efficient, localized power generation. The pilot system built by Mr. Sprenkle and colleagues generated about 2 kW of electricity.

The PNNL team designed its system so that it could be scaled up to produce 100 to 250 kW, providing power for about 50-100 homes. The team wanted a small system that could be both more than 50 per cent efficient and easily scaled up for distributed generation. To do this, it first used a process called external steam reforming, which requires a heat exchanger where a wall made of a conductive material like metal separates two gases: one, the hot exhaust that is expelled as a by-product of the reaction inside the fuel cell and the other, a cooler gas that is heading towards the fuel cell. Heat moves from the hot gas to the cool incoming gas, warming it to the temperatures needed for the reaction to take place inside the fuel cell. The key to the efficiency of this small system is the use of the PNNL-developed microchannel technology in the system’s multiple heat exchangers. Instead of having just one wall that separates the two gases, microchannel heat exchangers have multiple walls created by a series of tiny looping channels that are narrower than a paper clip. This increases the surface area, allowing more heat to be transferred and making the system more efficient.

The second unique aspect of the system is that it recycles: it uses the exhaust, made up of steam and heat by-products, coming from the anode to maintain the steam reforming process. The system thus does not need an electric device to heat water to create steam. Reusing the steam, which is mixed with fuel, also means the system is able to use up some of the leftover fuel it was not able to consume when the fuel first moved through the fuel cell. The combination of external steam reforming and steam recycling with the PNNL-developed microchannel heat exchangers made the team’s fuel cell system very efficient. These features help the system use as little energy as possible while allowing more net electricity to be produced in the end. Lab tests have shown that the system’s net efficiency ranged from 48.2 per cent at 2.2 kW to a high of 56.6 per cent at 1.7 kW. With a few more adjustments, the team reports that the system’s efficiency could be raised to 60 per cent.
Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com

Fuel cells operate directly on ethanol

At the Centre for Energy Research at the University of California-San Diego (UCSD), the United States, researchers have demonstrated the best performance for solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) operating directly on ethanol without external reformation. The research was performed by Dr. Nguyen Minh from the UCSD Centre for Energy Research, postdoctoral scholar Dr. Eric Armstrong and undergraduate student intern Mr. Jae-Woo Park. A peak power density of more than 400 mW/cm2 was achieved at 800°C with air and a fuel containing 7.3 volume per cent ethanol. This power density is about four times higher than any other SOFC operating directly on ethanol at 20 volume per cent or lower at the same temperature.

The new SOFC is fully solid state, consisting of an ionic conducting oxide electrolyte sandwiched between two electrodes: the cathode, or oxygen electrode, where oxygen (from air) is reduced, and the anode, or fuel electrode, where hydrogen (from the fuel) is oxidized. This type of fuel cell operates in the temperature range of 600°-1,000°C. The SOFC has been shown to be capable of directly using hydrocarbons and other fuels such as alcohols without external reformation. SOFC power systems based on direct utilization do not require an external reformer, thus simplifying the system and resulting in higher system efficiencies and reduced costs. In the anode, nickel (Ni), although an excellent catalyst for hydrogen oxidation, tends to promote coking. Therefore, for direct utilization of carbon-containing fuels, copper/ceria (Cu/CeO2) composites have been investigated. The Cu/CeO2 composite is resistant to coking; however, its catalytic activity for hydrogen oxidation is much lower than that of nickel/yttria stabilized zirconia (Ni/YSZ). Thus, direct uti-lization of non-hydrogen fuels on Cu/CeO2 often results in poor electrochemical performance.

The approach taken by the Centre for Energy Research to address the electrochemical performance and coking issues and to demonstrate the feasibility of direct utilization SOFCs (or direct SOFCs) was to engineer the anode structure into a dual (bifunctional bilayer) anode. The engineered anode structure is composed of a Ni/YSZ support outer layer impregnated with Cu/CeO2 nanoparticles to promote reformation and minimize coking, and a thinner Ni/YSZ electroactive interlayer to maintain high electrochemical performance. The fabrication of SOFC cells with this anode structure was straightforward. Cells with dual anode layers were first fabricated using conventional materials and techniques (tape casting and sintering). The outer anode layer of fabricated cells was then impregnated with an aqueous solution of copper and cerium nitrates of appropriate weight ratios, followed by high-temperature (850°C) annealing to form nickel and copper oxide nanoparticles.
Source: http://phys.org

Hydrogen fuel cell-powered generator

Multiquip Inc., the United States, has introduced a prototype of H2G, the EarthSmart hydrogen fuel cell powered generator. According to Mr. Torsten Erbel, Vice President of Product Management, Engineering and Customer Support, Multiquip, “With just one unit, we are able to displace 900 gallons (3,400 litres) of diesel fuel per year, and eliminate 9.1 metric tonnes per year of carbon dioxide.” As the first mobile hydrogen fuel cell-powered generator in the industry, the H2G is environmentally friendly, pollution-free and does not produce particulate emissions. Because the machine does not use fossil fuel sources, no combustion occurs in the process, making it safer for use even indoors. The ultra-efficient H2G can be operated for up to 26 hours at full load and is extremely quiet – boasting a low noise level of 44 dB at 23 ft. It is reliable and requires minimal maintenance because there are virtually no moving parts (only one fan with meantime between failures of 40,000 hours), and no fuel to spill. Contact: Multiquip Inc., 18910 Wilmington Avenue, Carson, CA 90746, United States of America. Tel: +1 (310) 537 3700; Fax: +1 (310) 537 3927; E-mail: mq@multiquip.com; Website: www.multiquip.com.
Source: http://www.constructionequipmentguide.com

Technology tool that could help design better fuel cells

A research team led by Mr. Jeffrey Allen of Michigan Technological University, the United States, is developing a mathematical model that will slash fuel cell research and development time and effort. The model focuses on water, a fuel cell’s worst enemy. Water vapour is the only emission coming out of the tailpipe of a hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle. But moving that water out of the fuel cell can be a problem; just a teaspoon can kill the reaction that drives hydrogen fuel-cell powered vehicles. Considering that it can take a stack of dozens of fuel cells to power a car, and a single flooded cell can take down the entire stack, water management becomes a very serious issue.

Most of that watery action happens in the fuel cell’s porous transport layer (PTL), where all by-products of the fuel cell’s power-generating reaction meet up with a catalyst and react to form water vapour. But it is not easy to find out exactly what is happening in the PTL, as everything is highly compressed, say the researchers. As new materials and designs enter the arena, the industry is again faced with a long and expensive experimental process to determine the best configuration. Optimizing those up-and-coming materials to get rid of water is especially difficult, because the movement of water in PTL appears to be random. That is what Mr. Allen and his team is trying to predict. At high flow rates, water spreads out evenly. But when the flow rate is low, as it is in an operating fuel cell, water spreads out in irregular shapes like an amoeba, a process called “fingering”. Other factors come into play as well, including how saturated PTL is.

Mr. Allen’s team incorporated those variables into a mathematical model to facilitate forecasting the movement of water. Then they tested it using four different types of PTL and found that they could predict, with a high degree of accuracy, how water would behave. “We are at the point where, by adjusting just one parameter, we are able to duplicate experimental results exactly,” Mr. Allen says. The group has incorporated temperature and evaporation into their model to make it an even better tool for fuel cell designers.
Source: http://www.mtu.edu

Portable 150 W fuel cell system

BOC Industrial Gases, the United Kingdom, has launched the latest iteration of its Hymera fuel cell system, Hymera DC, which can provide 150 W of off-grid DC power. The unit has undergone extensive testing during 2011, with the construction firm Morgan Sindall using it to power a remote noise monitor on the London Crossrail project. Hymera DC unit operates silently and is able to provide off-grid power where conventional generators are unsuitable. Coupled to BOC’s 54ZH portable hydrogen cylinder, Hymera DC can provide 2-3 kWh of energy. One of these cylinders can power a 3 W average load for up to one month.

Hymera DC has also been tested in Ireland for remote and discreet CCTV applications since May 2011, increasing the runtime versus batteries from a few days to 3 weeks. Mr. Stewart Dow, Packaged Energy Manager at BOC, commented that cutting costs and carbon emissions in power generation are not two conflicting goals with the family of Hymera products.
Source: http://www.fuelcelltoday.com

BIOFUEL/BIOMASS ENERGY

Energy-dense biofuel from cellulose close to being economical

In the United States, a new process developed at Purdue University for creating biofuels has shown potential to be cost-effective for production scale, paving the way to take it beyond the laboratory setting. H2Bioil is created when biomass, such as switchgrass or corn stalk, is heated rapidly to about 500°C in the presence of pressurized hydrogen. The resulting gases are passed over catalysts, causing reactions that separate oxygen from carbon molecules, thereby making carbon molecules high in energy content, similar to petroleum molecules. The conversion process was created in the lab of Dr. Rakesh Agrawal, Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering. The new biofuel process has significant advantages over traditional stand-alone methods used to create fuels from biomass.

An economic analysis shows that the energy source used to create hydrogen for the process makes all the difference when determining the cost-effectiveness of a biofuel. Hydrogen processed using natural gas or coal makes H2Bioil cost-effective when crude oil is just over US$100 per barrel. But hydrogen derived from other, more expensive, energy sources – nuclear, wind or solar – drive up the break-even point. “In the past, I have said that for biofuels to be competitive, crude prices would need to be at about US$120 per barrel. This process looks like it could be competitive when crude is even a little cheaper than that,” said Prof. Wally Tyner, James and Lois Ackerman Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue. The model Prof. Tyner used assumed that corn stover, switchgrass and miscanthus would be the primary feedstocks. The analysis also found that if a federal carbon tax were introduced, driving up the cost of coal and natural gas, more expensive methods for producing hydrogen would become competitive.
Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com

Upgrading ethanol to a denser fuel

Using a mix of microbes for specific chemical reactions, bio-engineers at Cornell University in the United States have developed a process for upgrading ethanol into something better – caproic acid, a carboxylic acid that is a versatile fuel precursor. If scaled up, the process could integrate seamlessly into already-established ethanol production lines. Led by Mr. Largus Angenent, Associate Professor of Biological and Environmental Engineering, the researchers biologically converted ethanol into n-caproic acid using only beer with dilute ethanol. Their microbial mix then converted the 2-carbon units into 6-carbon chain acids. Fuels that have long carbon chains are denser that those with short carbon chains and therefore, contains more energy by volume.

The advantages of caproic acid over ethanol are many: it is hydrophobic – it resembles oil droplets – which makes it easier to separate from water in the purification process. It is also versatile, with potential use in such diverse applications as animal feed or an anti-microbial agent. The researchers used fermented beer broth from a corn ethanol plant for their experiments. In the lab, they set up 5 litre tanks as the reactors. They mixed the fermentation broth with an open microbial community – a sort of mixed bag of billions of microbes of different species. A key discovery was figuring out how to control the pH and temperature of the broth, so that by extracting the caproic acid simultaneously with production, the researchers could produce enough acid without sacrificing any by conversion to methane.
Source: http://phys.org

World’s first tannery waste biorefinery

The world’s first biorefinery that will use solid waste generated from tanneries is coming up in Vellore district of Tamil Nadu, India. The Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI), a unit of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has successfully developed a biorefinery to produce biodiesel, bio-ethanol, biohydrogen and biomethane. The chemical process developed by Mr. Palani Shanmugam, a CLRI scientist, extracts biofuels from the solid waste generated in tanneries. “One tonne of solid waste from the tannery will yield 200 L of biodiesel, 200 L of bio-ethanol, 120 m3 of biohydrogen and 200 m3 of methane. The cost of producing 1 L of diesel through this process will be Rs 20 (US$0.38),” Mr. Shanmugan stated. The refinery will use up all the solid waste from tanneries. The water exiting at the end of the process is fit for use in gardening.

A pilot plant that consumes 2 t/d of solid waste is being established in Ranipet, Tamil Nadu, with financial assistance from the union government at a cost of Rs 7 million (US$135,000). While biohydrogen could be used to generate power through fuel cells, biodiesel, bio-ethanol and biomethane could be used to run automobiles or as cooking gas. Tanneries spread across India generate 2,400 t/d of solid waste.
Source: http://www.dnaindia.com

Converting lipids and cellulosic biomass to renewable diesel

At the University of Colorado, Denver, the United States, a research team led by Mr. Arunprakash Karunanithi has developed a decarboxylation process that will provide pathways to convert two different renewable feedstocks (lipids and waste biomass) directly to renewable diesel without the use of hydrogen. To produce renewable fuels by using lipids derived from algae and other cellulosic biomass, the lipid must go through a deoxygenation process to produce necessary hydrocarbons. Current processes, however, require a large quantity of hydrogen gas, which is expensive and harmful to the environment. By using magnesium oxide as a catalyst, the researchers aim to create a hydrogen-free decarboxylation process for the conversion of biomass into renewable diesel. Contact: Ms. Lindsay Lennox, Technology Transfer Office, University of Colorado, United States of America. Tel: +1 (303) 7355 518; E-mail: lindsay.lennox@cu.edu.
Source: http://techportal.eere.energy.gov

Cost-effective biofuel produced from non-edible corn waste

Researchers at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, the United States, have produced an environmentally friendly and cost-effective biofuel from the non-edible portion of corn kernel. “What we did was take the most common form of cellulose that exists and convert it into fuel ethanol,” Advancing Biofuels Research Centre Director Mr. John Caupert stated. This groundbreaking research could lessen dependency on petroleum oil and provide consumers with economically sound and environmentally responsible fuel options. In addition, all the technology involved is currently commercially available.

The process employs a mechanical process called fractionation to break corn kernels into three components. “The kernels’ bran, its fibre or cellulose, does not ferment in conventional processes,” Mr. Caupert said. But through mechanical separation, these can be converted into fuel ethanol. According to Mr. Caupert, any of the existing ethanol plants could be retrofitted with existing bolt-on technologies to produce cellulosic ethanol from corn without the need to build new facilities.
Source: http://www.thetelegraph.com

Turning sewage plants into power stations

Sewage can be used to generate electricity using a new technology devised by scientists at Pennsylvania State University (PSU), the United States. The new technology combines a fuel cell with other technologies to help wastewater treatment stations produce power, which the researchers say could provide the substantial amounts of power required for treating and pumping of water. “Our hope now is to optimize the electricity generation as much as possible,” remarked Prof. Bruce Logan.

Prof. Logan’s device combines two types of energy-producing technology: a microbial fuel cell (MFC) and a reverse electrodialysis system. MFCs are relatively inefficient while reverse electrodialysis requires several specialized membranes, which making it expensive. By combining the two technologies, the PSU team overcame the limitations of the fuel cell and synergistically generated energy for the reverse electrodialysis system. A crucial factor was using ammonium bicarbonate as the fuel for reverse electrodialysis, which performs better than the seawater typically used. The combination of technologies meant that it was possible to use just five membrane pairs rather than the 20 pairs that are typically needed to generate electricity.

The PSU device produced 0.9 kWh of electricity per kilogram of organic waste. Sewage treatment, in contrast, usually consumes about 1.2 kWh per kilogram. The scientists said broths of other organic materials, such as crop waste or other sources of cellulose, could be used to generate power in their device. They also said it could be used to produce electricity from energy that is lost as waste heat.
Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk

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