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VATIS Update Non-conventional Energy . Jan-Feb 2007

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New and Renewable Energy Jan-Feb 2007

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

New specification for hydrogen fuel cell transportation

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has released a new technical specification that defines the safety requirements for the transportation of hydrogen fuel cells. ISO has stated that the new stipulation will allow consistency in hydrogen storage system safety across international borders, facilitating the commercial progress of the fuel cell industry particularly in the micro fuel cell market. Meeting the new safety requirements would also help build confidence of consumers in the use of hydrogen as an energy source.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Canadian wind technology for India

Sustainable Energy Technologies Ltd. (STG), Canada, reports that it has agreed in principle to license its Darrieus wind turbine technology to Belliss India Ltd. for use in India. The memorandum of understanding contemplates that Belliss will prototype, at its cost, a 250 kW wind turbine design (Chinook 250) developed by STG and certified for use in Europe.


Mr. Michael Carten, President and CEO of STG, said that the Chinook turbine is ideal for distributed power generation in remote markets and the developing world. STG is also in discussion with Belliss for a joint venture to manufacture and distribute its power inverters in India and nearby markets for solar, small wind and fuel cell applications. Belliss is actively engaged in the field of system engineering manufacture and supply of turbines for the Indian power industry ranging from 20 kW to 10,000 kW. The total power generation capacity of Belliss turbines commissioned to-date throughout the country is more than 2,000 MW.


Contact: Sustainable Energy Technologies Ltd., Suite 500, Campana Place, 609, 14th Street NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Tel: +1 (403) 5087177; Fax: +1 (403) 2052509


E-mail: info@sustainableenergy.com


Website: www.ccnmatthews.com

Korean solar power project completes first phase

Powerlight Corp. has completed the 800 kW first phase of a 1 MW solar power project in Gwangju, the Republic of Korea. The power system, owned and operated by Solar and Park Co. Ltd., is the worlds largest elevated solar parking system. The photovoltaic array designed, developed and deployed by Powerlight employs Powertracker, the most widely deployed single-axis solar tracking system. The Powertracker, mounted over a parking facility at the Kimdaejung Convention Centre, automatically follows the path of the sun through the day, providing substantially more power than fixed tilt systems. After the commissioning project, the energy produced by it will be sold to Korea Electric Power Corp. for 15 years at a price stipulated by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy. The photovoltaic cells that are employed in the system were manufactured by Germanys Schott Solar GmbH.


Website: www.solarbuzz.com

Green fuels: the new catchword of Chinese oil majors

Chinas oil giants normally in the news for their massive profits and international expansion are making tentative moves into the green fuels sector. China National Petroleum Corporation, Chinas largest oil producer, signed an agreement with the Sichuan provincial government to develop biofuel in the south-western basin famous for its agri-industries and natural gas reserves. The plan is to produce 600,000 tonnes/year of automotive-grade ethanol from sweet potatoes and 100,000 tonnes of biodiesel from Jatropha curcas seeds.


China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) is participating in a coal-chemical project in Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region. The project, with a joint investment of US$2.66 billion from Sinopec and China National Coal Corporation, the countrys top coal company, besides three other domestic enterprises, is designed with an annual production capacity of 4.2 million tonnes of methanol and 3 million tonnes of dimethylether (DME) when put into production in 2010. Sinopec and China Coal each holds a 32.5 per cent share in the company.


China National Offshore Oil Corp. is concentrating on sea-based wind energy. The company is to bid for the first wind power plant in the east China Sea, with the project designed to have a capacity of 100 MW.


Website: www.english.people.com.cn 

Philippines passes biofuels measure

In the Philippines, the bicameral conference committee has approved a reconciled version of the proposed Biofuels Act of 2006, which would greatly reduce the countrys dependence on oil from the Middle East. Once the President signs into law, the bill (whose main author is Mr. Juan Miguel Zubiri) will be called the Biofuels Act of 2006 a pioneering law in the Philippines concerning the use of alternative fuel. Another similar measure, the Renewable Energy Bill, is pending in the Senate.


Mr. Zubiris proposal provides for the mandatory use of biofuels. All liquid fuels for motors and engines sold in the Philippines must contain locally sourced biofuel components. Within two years after the new law is signed, the annual total volume of petroleum fuel sold and distributed in the country must contain at least 5 per cent bioethanol from local sources. The blend would be increased to 10 per cent within four years. For diesel, the bill prescribes that as soon as the Implementing Rules and Regulations of this Act become effective, a minimum of 1 per cent by volume shall be blended into all diesel engine fuels sold in the country, increasing to 2 per cent within two years. The sale of biofuels shall be VAT zero-rated with the raw materials used coconut, sugar cane, cassava, corn, etc.


Website: www.manilatimes.net

Solar-grade silicon plant in India

Maharishi Solar Technology, India, plans to set up a solar-grade silicon production plant at a cost of about US$44.75 million. The plant, which would use commonly available indigenous low-cost raw material, would be the first in the country to start production using photovoltaic technology. The plant, to be set up at Srikalahasti in Andhra Pradesh, is tipped to meet the power requirement while reducing the burden on conventional sources of energy.


Website: www.newkerala.com

High demand for wind technology in China

By 2020, wind energy is likely to contribute 30,000 MW of power to Chinas energy supply. The Chinese government recently called tenders for a total of 1,300 MW. The energy supplier China Guangdong Nuclear won one of the two biggest projects for 300 MW and chose REpowers licence partner Dongfang as the supplier for wind energy turbines. Dongfang constructs under licence REpowers MD class turbines, which have a rated output of 1.5 MW. The turbines are to be erected in Huitengliang, Inner Mongolia, a region with best wind conditions. Dongfang also reported that it has concluded agreements for 63 additional MD turbines for three wind farms.


Website: www.windfair.net

Malaysia gives tax break to solar module plant

The Malaysian government is providing a 15-year income tax holiday as incentive for First Solars solar module manufacturing plant. The US$150 million initiative is projected to have a minimum annual capacity of 100 MW. This investment brings to Malaysia the latest technology in the solar energy sector, said Mr. R. Karunakaran, Director General, Malaysian Industrial Development Authority. The new facility will be located at Kulim Hi Tech Park in the state of Kedah.


Website: www.renewableenergyaccess.com

Korea to support fuel cell development

The government in the Republic of Korea has pledged its support to the commercialization of fuel cell technology in the transport sector. According to a Korea Herald report, the Vice-Commerce Minister Mr. Lee Won-gul has stated that the government intends to follow the lead of other countries in providing financial support for fuel cell development projects. The government will support early commercialization of domestic hydrogen fuel cell cars and set up necessary infrastructure such as hydrogen fuelling station to induce stable private investment.


Mr. Won-guls comments follow the development of a fuel cell-powered bus by the Korean car manufacturer Hyundai-Kia, which features a 160 kW fuel cell stack and has a range of 300 km. The bus is to operate in the Seoul metropolitan area as part of the public transport system. Korea Herald reports that Hyundai-Kia and the government are planning to spend about US$52 million on the development of fuel cell cars and buses by 2008.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

China to be the worlds largest wind power producer

By 2020, China is tipped to overtake Germany and the United States to become the largest wind power producer in the world, a report forecasts. The report quotes a prediction by the Global Wind Energy Council that the total installed wind power capacity in China will reach around 150 million kilowatts in 2020, making the country one of the worlds largest wind power markets. The report 2006 Annual Report on Chinas New Energy Industry says that the 10th five-year plan (2000-2005) period saw a rapid development of wind power industry, with the installed capacity rising by 30 per cent on an annual average increasing from 350,000 kW in 2000 to 1,260,000 kW in 2005.


As a country with long coastal lines, Chinas wind power resources total 3.2 billion kilowatts, of which about 1 billion kilowatts can be developed, according to the report. China has installed over 60 wind power farms around the country, developed key technologies and trained personnel specialized in designing and operating wind power farms, making the nation well prepared for large-scale development of the industry. As per Chinas national development plan, the total installed capacity of wind power will reach 5 million kilowatts by 2010 and 30 million kilowatts by 2020. During the 11th five-year plan period (2006-2010), China will set up 30 large wind power projects of 100 MW in regions with abundant wind power resources, such as the eastern coastal areas, Hebei province and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. In terms of small wind power projects, China has already developed the largest market in the world. By the end of 2005, China had installed 320,000 small wind turbine generators with a total capacity of 65,000 kW, supplying electricity to residents in remote areas.


Website: www.windfair.net

Sri Lanka to set up a sustainable energy authority

The government of Sri Lanka has decided to establish a sustainable energy authority for the utilization of natural energy resources in the country, a top minister said. Developing renewable energy resources, declare energy development areas, implementing measures for energy efficiency and conservation, promoting energy security, making energy delivery reliable and cost-effective would be some of the main areas concerned in establishing such an authority, said Media Minister Mr. Anura Priyadharsana Yapa.


The Cabinet has approved the memorandum submitted by Mr. W.D.J. Seneviratne, Minister of Power and Energy, for the establishment of a sustainable energy authority.


Website: www.colombopage.com

Malaysias biodiesel output to double by year-end

Mr. Peter Chin Fah Kui, Malaysias Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister, has stated that the nations biodiesel output can more than double to 300,000 tonnes by December 2007. Interest among oil palm companies to establish biodiesel processing plants has been increasing after the announcement of the National Biofuel Policy in 2005 August.


Since 29 June 2006, the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA) temporarily froze the intake of new applications for licences to process palm oil into biodiesel. As of 31 September 2006, 61 applications out of the 98 received by MIDA were approved. The government will also review whether it needs to set aside more or less palm oil for the production of biofuel under a pact with Indonesia. Currently, the target is to have 6 million tonnes of palm oil set aside for this purpose.


Website: www.btimes.com.my

Chinas first hydrogen refuelling station

The largest hydrogen station operated by world energy giant British Petroleum (BP) commenced operation recently at a suburban hi-tech industrial base on the outskirts of Beijing, China. The countrys first hydrogen refuelling station, spread over 4,000 m2, will produce hydrogen from renewable energies. BP has invested US$3.5 million in this Sino-British joint venture while its Chinese partner, SinoHytec, provided the land needed for the project. The station, which currently uses transported hydrogen, will be able to convert natural gas into hydrogen on-site next year. However, instead of using natural gas, which is relatively costly, the station will produce hydrogen from synthesis gas a combination of coal, steam and oxygen. As the worlds largest coal producer, China has good prospects to benefit from this technology.


Website: www.english.people.com.cn

Cheap energy from waste in Viet Nam

The US-based Asia Biogas Limited plans to introduce state-of-the-art waste treatment technology, which will provide low-cost energy to Viet Nams industries and consumers. We hope to bring to Viet Nam new technology that can not only help to protect the environment, but also create a source of cheap energy, said Mr. David Donnelly, managing director of the company.


The anaerobic digestion technology, Mr. Donnelly stated, would lead to energy prices that are at least 20 per cent lower than the market price. The company would also set a ceiling for its selling price, so that the customer costs would remain stable during global price fluctuations, he added.


Breweries, large farms, slaughterhouses, seafood processing plants and paper mills are among the companys potential buyers in Viet Nam. Capital investment target in the Vietnamese market is US$10 million. Asia Biogas currently operates 75 projects in Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, where it has 50 of its waste treatment stations.


Website: www.vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn

SOLAR ENERGY

New thin-film solar modules

Sharp Corporation, Japan, plans to market two new thin-film solar photovoltaic (PV) modules that display better temperature characteristics. The NA-901WP and NA-902WP are high-output models that deliver 90 W of power. Only NA-902WP will be offered in the overseas markets. The amorphous/microcrystalline thin-film tandem cell design, which employs stacked layers of amorphous silicon and microcrystalline silicon, ensures a conversion efficiency of 8.5 per cent (40 per cent higher than conventional amorphous solar cells).


Compared with polycrystalline silicon solar cells for typical residential applications, the most outstanding feature of these new cells is their ability to form the silicon raw materials into a layer of about 2 m on to a glass substrate, which is roughly 1/100th the thickness of conventional polycrystalline cells. The process, which uses less amount of silicon, is applicable to manufacturing cells with large surface areas. The modules are covered with tempered glass for increased strength and minimum reflected surface glare. The external surface appearance is an attractive black, a feature typical of thin-film solar modules. When used in combination with Sharps Lumiwall illuminating solar panels with built-in LEDs or with thin-film, transparent solar cells integrated with building material, these new modules will enable development of applications with better designs.


Website: www.neasia.nikkeibp.com

Diffusion systems for manufacturing solar cells

Despatch Industries of the United States, a leading supplier of in-line thermo-processing systems, offers integrated in-line diffusion systems DCF-3625 and DCF-3630 that deliver homogenous emitters for the manufacture of solar cells. These systems combine in-line doper, infrared (IR) dopant chemistry and ECN process technology.


According to Mr. Brian Bunkenburg, Director of Custom Products & New Product Development, these in-line diffusion systems are designed to consistently deliver the highly homogenous emitters that are critical for creating high-efficiency solar cells. The DCF 3625 and DCF 3630 build on Despatchs successful IR dryer and firing furnace lines, which have superior thermal processing control, lower cost of ownership, value-added feature sets and easy maintenance.


Contact: Mr. Amber Schramm, Marketing Communications Specialist, Despatch Industries, #8860, 207th Street, MN 55044, United States of America. Tel: +1 (952) 469 5424; Fax: +1 (952) 469 4513


E-mail: amber.schramm@despatch.com


Website: www.news.thomasnet.com

Improved alloy film deposition method

In the United States, researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a new method and apparatus for deposition of alloy films that are used in manufacturing photovoltaic (PV) solar cells. The technology enables easy scaling to produce the large wafers required for PV cells. It can be used to deposit coatings with graded copper-indium compositions or alloy coatings, or adapted for use in ion-assisted depositions. Key benefits of the method in large-scale production of semiconductor films include:
 
  • Safer than other processes as it does not need hydrogen selenide or other dangerous material;
     
  • Provides uniform deposition over large working areas;
     
  • It can be scaled up to produce large volumes and sizes of films; and
     
  • It offers linear control over the deposition rates of materials supplied by sputtering, thus allowing for layered depositions.
     

Furthermore, the technology could improve the cost-effectiveness of solar cells used in a host of applications such as wireless and other telecommunications (e.g., telemetry), and power sources in remote areas (e.g. weather stations, radio transmitters, navigation aids, etc.).


Contact: Office of Technology Man-agement, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 319 Ceramics Building, 105 South Goodwin Ave., Urbana, IL 61801, United States of America. Tel: +1 (217) 3337 862; Fax: +1 (217) 2655 530;


E-mail: otm@uiuc.edu


Website: www.otm.uiuc.edu


New record in solar cell efficiency

Kyocera Solar Inc. of the United States reports to have achieved a new record of 18.5 per cent energy conversion efficiency for a 15 15 cm multicrystalline silicon solar cell. Prior records for energy conversion efficiency in multicrystalline cells of this size were also set by Kyocera 14.5 per cent in 1989, 17.1 per cent in 1996 and 17.7 per cent in 2004. Kyoceras other recent efficiency benchmarks were achieved by optimizing the cells grid-line configuration and by texturing the cells surface using the companys proprietary d.Blue process, which maximizes sunlight collection by reducing reflectivity. The latest improvement is the result of increasing the amount of light intercepted by the cell by moving contacts to the back of the cell.


Contact: Kyocera Solar Inc., No. 7812, East Acoma, Scottsdale, Arizona 85260, United States of America. Tel: +1 (480) 948 8003; Fax: +1 (480) 483 6431.


Website: www.solarbuzz.com

Silicon solar cell efficiency raised

A European consortium has raised the efficiency of silicon solar cells, the Dutch energy research centre ECN reports. ECN has stated that researchers increased the conversion efficiency of large-area multicrystalline silicon solar cells to a record value of 18 per cent. The solar cell research was carried out by a consortium of European companies and institutes (including ECN) under CrystalClear, a project supported by the European Union, which aims to develop low-cost and highly efficient silicon solar modules. The consortium has also developed a process to manufacture extremely thin solar cells, allowing efficient use of high-purity silicon material.


According to ECN, the consortium believes that its new technologies could cut the cost of producing solar cells by half. However, manufacturing should be done in large volumes to achieve this level of reduction in cost, ECN added. Solar electricity at present costs more than eight times as much as that produced from fossil fuels. The consortium includes companies such as British Shell Solar and BP Solar, German Deutsche Solar, Deutsche Cell and RWE Schot Solar, Norways Scanwafer, French Photowatt, besides Dutch, Spanish, German, French and Belgian research institutes and universities.


Website: www.today.reuters.co.uk 

New method for dye-sensitive solar cells

At the National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan, Prof. Wan Chi-chao has devised a cost-effective method to produce dye-sensitized solar cells. Prof. Wan estimates that the method would reduce production costs by at least half.


However, people in the industry believe that the production cost of dye-sensitized solar cells employing Prof. Wans methods will be about 10 times cheaper than that of producing silicon solar cells.


Production costs of dye-sensitized solar cells have been too high, while the conversion rates are yet to reach an efficient level. In an earlier effort to reduce power resistance, nanoparticles of platinum was affixed on to the electrode grid, followed by a splash plating or thermal denaturalization process, both of which need an environment of vacuum or high temperature. The machinery used to create such a vacuum or a hot environment (heated to over 100C) proved to be extremely expensive.


In Prof. Wans method, the production process can be carried out at room temperature and there is no need for a vacuum process. This will in itself cuts machinery and hardware costs significantly. Prof. Wan discovered that all one needs to do is add a solution to sodium sulphur organic salt to obtain a protective agent. After a two-stage immersion procedure, the platinum powder is gets stuck to the electrode. Industry analysts have lauded the method developed by Wan as both convenient and cost-effective.


Website: www.english.www.gov.tw

New form of solar cell devised

In the United States, a team led by Prof. Pam Shapiro at the University of Idaho is devising a new form of solar cell that is expected to make solar energy commercially feasible. Prof. Shapiros team has created a compound called a quantum dot, which is made of elements that include copper, indium and selenium. Prof. Shapiro said that the quantum dots, which will be embedded between layers of a solar cell, would absorb energy that gets otherwise wasted due to overheating.


Website: www.physorg.com

WIND ENERGY

Modular hybrid wind-diesel system

WES BV of the Netherlands reports to have developed, field-tested and optimized a novel high-penetration hybrid system aimed at the off-grid power generation sector. The WES Hybrid (wind-diesel) system with its modular design provides up to 100 per cent wind power from nominal wind speeds and above, and can be connected to several diesel generators and WES-type wind turbines. The WES18 Classic (80 kW) and WES30 Classic (250 kW) models have been further optimized by incorporating a power control cabinet that includes an IGBT-type frequency converter. WES Hybrids patent-pending load management technology continuously adjusts system output to the actual power consumption, thus eliminating the need for a traditional system dump load.


Website: www.windtech-international.com

Wind turbine in a new design

Loopwing Co. Ltd., Japan, has developed a new kind of wind turbine by fully overhauling the conventional product design. Loopwings turbine incorporates a highly sophisticated design to allow for excellent operating performance and extremely low noise. The E1500 model turbine is aimed at households. It has a unique wing design that operates with low vibration and at wind speeds as low as 1.6 m/s. Its operational principle is that of the conventional propeller. A wind tunnel test has established E1500s low noise and high torque at low rotation speeds, delivering very efficient performance. Other notable features include capability to self-start with a natural breeze, air brake and automatic deflector protecting it from over-speeding.


Contact: Loopwing Co. Limited, 7F, Taiyo Building, 3-3-3 Misakicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 1010061, Japan. Tel: +81 (3) 3237 0680; Fax: +81 (3) 3237 0681


E-mail: supporting@loopwing.co.jp 


Website: www.loopwing.co.jp

New wind turbine

General Electric Co. in the United States is offering a new 2.5 MW wind turbine with a rotor diameter of 100 m. The enhanced 2.5xl gives a five-point increase in capacity factor and a 12 per cent increase in annual energy yield. It can operate at sites with average wind speeds of up to 8.5 m/s. A 2.5 MW validation machine has been operating at Wieringermeer in the Netherlands since 2004.


Originally installed and commissioned with an 88 m rotor, this turbine was modified in 2006 with the 100 m rotor and other new 2.5xl features.


Website: www.windtech-international.com

Direct-drive wind turbine

Northern Power Systems Inc., the United States, offers a wind turbine that minimizes the size of the drive train and nacelle, while maintaining the power electronics and transformer at the top of the tower. The turbine includes a direct-drive generator with an integrated disk brake that is positioned radially inside the stator. The turbine has provision for mounting a transformer below the nacelle within the tower.


The direct-drive wind turbine has its main shaft coupled to the hub and the nacelle. A generator is coupled to the shaft between the nacelle and the hub. A stator is positioned adjacent to and radially outwards from the rotor and a brake is coupled to the generator and the shaft, such that the brake is positioned radially inwards from the stator. The turbine is also provided with a tower having a yaw bearing attached at one end. The nacelle is connected to the yaw bearing and a transformer is positioned within the tower opposite the nacelle. In one alternative design, the transformer is suspended by a chain. In another, the transformer is suspended in a viscous fluid in a container connected to the tower.


Website: www.freepatentsonline.com

A quiet wind turbine

Stormblade Turbine of the United Kingdom claims to have made an R&D breakthrough with its new wind turbine design, which can convert up to 70 per cent of wind power into electricity, double the current average, at wind speeds of 7-120 mph. The new design is less noisy, with the propeller blades and all moving parts housed within the nacelle.


The new turbine is unique in that it produces less drag and more power per rotation. It is smaller in size than comparable turbines and needs less maintenance. Other key characteristics include: good aerodynamic efficiency; no need to shut down; increased electrical output; safety for birds; and lower operational cost and visual impact than comparable units.


Website: www.stormbladeturbine.com

WIND ENERGY

Solid catalyst lowers production cost

New Century Lubricants, the United States, and the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), India, have signed an exclusive worldwide agreement for the demonstration and commercialization of ENSEL, NCLs double-edged breakthrough technology for trans-esterification of seed oils and etherification of glycerin. ENSEL will overcome most of the problems and limitations associated with conventional biodiesel production methods, according to Dr. William Summers, President, New Century Lubricants. ENSEL allows for less expensive, unrefined oils to be used in a truly continuous process, without generating wastewater. Moreover, biodiesel can be produced with either methanol or ethanol. ENSEL can also manufacture premium biolubricants by running the reaction with higher alcohols such as octanol.


ENSEL technologys another major benefit is that it provides a profitable solution to the glycerin dilemma now faced by the biodiesel industry. Glycerin recovered from the transesterification reaction is etherified with methanol, ethanol or butanol using another proprietary heterogeneous catalyst. The end products, mainly di- and tri-ethers of glycerin, are valuable oxygenates for diesel fuels. Overall, ENSEL is expected to reduce the total cost of making biodiesel by 20-25 per cent over current practices. New Century plans to build and operate a 1 t/d pilot plant in India for evaluating different feedstocks from all over the world.


Website: www.prnewswire.com

Electricity from rice

In Viet Nam, researchers at Hanoi University of Technology are looking to use rice husks for generating electricity. A team from the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF, Germany, is assisting them in this by engineering a fluidized bed firing system.
Fluidized bed firing systems consists of a vertical pipe with an air distribution plate, explains Dr. Eyck Schotte of the Institute. The air distribution plate is covered by a bed material, usually quartz sand, mixed with the fuel. The gas, as it flows through the nozzles, entrains the bed material with the combustible material to the top where the fuel is converted. New fuel is gradually fed into the fluidized bed from the side. Since the temperature in this method is approximately equal in the entire pipe, temperature peaks that would release large quantities of emissions are not generated.


The circulating fluidized bed is fitted with measuring equipment such as volumetric flowmeter, pressure sensors and thermocouples. All values measured are displayed and stored by a PLC so that the researchers can monitor the combustion process and analyse it later on. The tests will include the extent to which energy can be recovered from rice residues and whether they can be mixed with fossil fuels.


Contact: Dr. Ing. Eyck Schotte, Fraunhofer Institut fur Fabrikbetrieb und automatisierung IFF, Sandtorstr. 22, 39106 Magdeburg, Germany. Tel: +49 (391) 4090 357; Fax: +49 (391) 4090 366.


Website: www.fraunhofer.de

Biofuels from greenhouse emissions

In Australia, International Power and Victor Smorgon Group (VSG) are working on a process that aims to convert greenhouse emissions from a power station into environment-friendly biofuels. VSG has obtained from Greenfuel Technologies exclusive rights to technology developed by NASA and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The method employs micro-algae and photosynthesis to turn carbon dioxide (CO2) into biofuels. Under the terms of the deal, VSG will establish a small plant at the Hazelwood power plant to test the process. Theoretically, the process could be used to sequester 42.5 per cent of the output of any CO2-emitting facility.


In this process, CO2 emissions are fed into a network of plastic tubes holding water, algae and nutrients. Photosynthesis occurs through the action of sunlight on the outside of the tubes, and the algae eats the CO2 leaving behind oils, protein and carbohydrates in nearly equal parts. The oils are transformed into biodiesel, carbohydrates converted into ethanol while the proteins can become feedstock. It is estimated that the micro-algae process would annually produce 80,000-120,000 litres of biodiesel from a hectare of land.


Website: www.theage.com.au

Biomass power generation system

In the United States, the University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Centre (EERC) has developed a biomass gasification system that converts low-value waste materials into valuable heat and electricity. This power generation system, developed by EERCs Centre for Renewable Energy, produces heat and electrical power from a variety of fuels, including organic wastes and other feedstock.


A demo installation at the Grand Forks Truss Plant will convert sawdust and wood waste from a building product plant into a combustible gas to produce heat and electricity. The system is designed to match typical power requirements of different manufacturing industries by generating between 10 kW and 1 MW of power.


Website: www.renewableenergyaccess.com

Biogas from kitchen grease

In the United States, Millbraes water pollution control plant is generating biogas using kitchen wastes. New facilities set up by Chevron Energy Solutions (CES) and the City of Millbrae use inedible kitchen grease from restaurants to produce biogas for generating renewable power and heat to treat the citys wastewater. The unique system, engineered and installed by CES, includes a grease-receiving station and an expanded co-generator, as well as other upgrades that give Millbrae annual revenues and energy savings of US$ 366,000 while nearly doubling the amount of green power produced at the plant.


Restaurant grease, washed from grills and pans, is delivered to the plant each day by grease hauling companies, which pay a city fee for disposals. Micro-organisms in the plants digester tanks eat the grease and other organic matter, naturally producing methane gas to fuel the plants new 250 kW micro-turbine co-generator to produce electricity for wastewater treatment. Excess heat produced by the co-generator warms the digester tanks to their optimum temperature for methane production. The grease and other organic matter is estimated to produce sufficient biogas at the plant to generate about 1.7 million kilowatt hours annually, which will meet 80 per cent of the plants power requirements. This lower demand for utility-generated power also reduces carbon dioxide emissions, by about 544,200 kg/y, the same amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by about 170 acres of trees.


Website: www.waterandwastewater.com

New technology for biodiesel production

Advanced Plant Pharmaceuticals Inc. and World Health Energy Inc., the United States, have announced that the latter will be using a more efficient biodiesel production process known as ultrasonication. The higher-yielding process is anticipated to allow for production cost advantages. Currently, biodiesel is produced primarily in batch reactors where the energy needed is provided by heating and mechanical mixing. However, ultrasonic processing is more effective in attaining the required mixing, while providing the necessary activation energy. By using ultrasonication, a biodiesel yield in excess of 99 per cent can be achieved in a remarkably short time of less than 5 minutes instead of 1 hour or more using conventional batch reactor systems.


World Health Energy will use ultrasonication to benefit from the higher efficiency, faster production and superior product quality as compared with the standard batch reactor process. Ultrasonic waves are used to create cavitation bubbles in a solvent material. When these bubbles collapse near the cell walls, they generate shock waves and liquid jets that cause the cell walls to break and release their contents into the solvent. The solvent is then processed into biodiesel.


Website: www.biz.yahoo.com

Notable progress in production of ethanol fuel

In China, researchers at the Institute of Modern Physics have identified four improved varieties of sweet sorghum that have registered a unit yield of 8 t/ha and a sugar content as high as 20 per cent. They have also made substantive progress in developing new techniques for the production of sweet sorghum-based ethanol fuel.


The researchers bred novel bacteria using heavy-particle radiation and obtained an alcohol volume of 9 per cent using the direct fermentation technique. This method shortens the fermentation cycle to 16 h 25 per cent of the time needed by the traditional fermentation process using corn. The project has passed the evaluation of an expert panel organized by the State Development and Reform Commission.


Website: www.most.gov.cn

WAVE/TIDAL ENERGY

Sea wave power plants

SDE Energy Ltd., Israel, offers power plants to generate electricity economically and in an environmentally friendly manner utilizing sea wave energy. The SDE system utilizes sea wave motion the speed, depth, height, rise and fall of the wave, and the flow beneath the approaching wave to create hydraulic pressure, which is then transformed into electricity. The system thus produces energy more efficiently and cheaply than other sea wave and conventional technologies. The system has the potential to produce a net of 38 kWh/m of beachfront occupied. The company reports that its system can generate electricity at the rate of US$0.02 per kilowatt-hour.


SDE built and tested eight energy modules. A full-scale oceanfront model operated in Israel produced 40 kW/h for eight months. SDE has been granted a licence by Israels Ministry of Industry & Trade to build a 50 MW power plant that will operate for 20 years. According to SDE, the expected annual revenue from a 1,000 MW power plant, at 75 per cent output, is approximately US$ 310 million with a net profit of around US$160 million. The system is designed to return the initial investment within three years.


Contact: SDE Energy Ltd., Israel. Tel: +972 (3) 7397 107; Fax: +972 (3) 6319 239


E-mail: abe@shani.net


Website: www.peswiki.comv

Grid electricity from wave energy

Wave Rider from SeaVolt Technologies, the United States, is designed to deliver predictable, reliable and cost-effective electricity to the utility grid. It consists of a special buoy that bobs up and down with the wave action. Electricity generation is by means of a small turbine powered by a hydraulic circuit, which captures the slow rolling energy of the wave and converts it into high-pressure hydraulic fluid flow, spinning a turbine to generate electricity. The rated capacity of a single buoy will range in size depending on the application and can be adapted to fit specific customer requirements.


The hydraulic power take-off sub-system is supported by a complement of sub-systems that leverage state-of-the-art advances in mature and well-established disciplines of information technology, control systems, intercontinental telecommunications and off-shore construction. A multiple-buoy Wave Rider farm can produce 10-400 MW of power, sufficient to meet the needs of a small community or can be fed di-rectly to an electric utility grid.


Contact: SeaVolt Technologies, 2680 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94704, United States of America.


E-mail: info@seavolt.com


Website: www.seavolt.com

Combined wave energy system

Ocean Motion International (OMI), the United States, offers combined energy system (CES) to harness wave energy for generating electricity, hydrogen and potable water. The CES incorporates a sea water wave pump, a hydro-turbine electricity generator, a reverse-osmosis filtration system and an electrolysis hydrogen generation unit. It is de- signed to operate on a large offshore platform basically a modified offshore drilling unit, without any external fuel resources.


The CES functions by using a large buoyant vessel that rides on the wave surface. When a trough passes beneath the vessel and the vessel is no longer supported, it allows a heavy ballast mass to descend and pressurize the water in a sleeve-type pump. The pressurized water is driven up through a cavity in the main shaft into the manifold that combines multiple pump assemblies. The combined pump outputs efficiently drive the hydro-turbine generator, osmosis filters and electrolysis unit.


The pump assemblies are housed in a modified version of a modular offshore drilling unit. The barge type vessel contains 20-35 pumps with diameters ranging from 12 to 36 inches, depending on the average wave conditions. The unit, which is known as a farm, has two hulls, the bottom one is flooded and descends to the ocean floor to become the footing/sand-bed prefilter, and the upper hull has a jacking framework that allows the platform height to be adjusted. In wave fields that average 2-15 ft on a farm of 35 pumps, the system can produce about 134 million litres of fresh water every day.


Website: www.oceanmotion.ws

New turbine

Open-Centre turbine, from Irelands Openhydro Group Ltd., is a turbine with just a single moving part and no seals. It is a self-contained rotor with a solid-state permanent magnet generator encapsulated within the outer rim, minimizing maintenance requirements. This turbine has achieved the stage of permanent grid-connected deployment at sea.


The functionality and survivability of equipment in an underwater environment demands simplicity as well as robustness. The Open-Centre turbine meets these criteria with its slow-moving rotor and lubricant-free construction.


Contact: Openhydro Group Ltd., 66, Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin 2, Ireland. Tel: +353 (1) 70 37 300; Fax: +353 (1) 6610 455


E-mail: info@openhydro.com


Website: www.openhydro.com

Experimental tidal generator

An experimental floating tidal power plant has developed by HydroWGC at its Sevmash plant in the city of Severodvinsk, Russia. The 33 m 10 m plant is fitted with an experimental 1,500 kW orthogonal hydraulic turbine, which is unidirectional and its rotation does not change with the rise and fall of the tide, resulting in efficiency gains of up to 70 per cent. The unique design of the hydraulic unit reduces the construction cost by 30-40 per cent. The unit will be towed to the Barents seashore and installed near the Kislogubskaya tidal power plant, an existing test site.


Website: www.waterpowermagazine.com

Offshore power systems

C-Wave Ltd., the United Kingdom, offers offshore power systems capable of providing green electricity at a cost that is competitive with traditional power generation technologies and established renewables such as wind power. The C-Wave offshore power systems efficiently extract energy from normal waves and dissipate the forces of storm waves. The result is compact, cost-effective and emission-free energy generation.


The C-Wave system uses the continual movement in a wavy sea to drive a generator and produce electricity. The key benefits of the C-Wave systems include:
  •  Wave energy-electrical energy conversion efficiency: The device takes over 60 per cent of the energy incident on the device out of the wave;
     
  • Ability to survive storm waves: The floating device with low mooring loads rides large storm waves akin to a moored ship. The load on the device is determined by the energy it takes out of the waves, not the energy in the waves, so it can limit the load created by large waves;
     
  • Impact of size and complexity on capital and operating costs: The C-wave device is subject to low loads and its structure and moorings are light and cheap. It is simple in its concept, as there are no parts that are not based on known and proven technology, reducing the risks and unit costs;
     
  • Ability to harvest energy from a range of wave sizes and lengths: Gives more electricity most of the time; and
     
  • Access to offshore waves: Taps powerful waves in deep water (>50 m depth).
     

Contact: C-Wave Ltd., SETsquared Southampton, Building no. 27, University of Southampton, Highfield, SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (23) 8059 8565


E-mail: info@cwavepower.com


Website: www.cwavepower.com


Hales tidal turbine

Hales Energy, the United Kingdom, offers a hydro-turbine that combines the simple and proven designs with modern materials and technology to produce renewable energy. The Hales system is based on the horizontal wheel design which was powered by slow moving water in rivers and streams used about 2,000 years ago in the Middle East to grind corn.


In the modern version, the vertical shaft is of metal, rotating and supported by race bearings, reducing friction and drag to almost zero. The turbines water sections are made of thin sheets of material, strong but malleable, easy to procure and cut to size. The turbine can extract useful energy from uni- as well as multi-directional water flows.


Contact: Mr. Paul Hales, Hales Energy, HPM, Normans Bay, East Sussex BN24 6PU, England, United Kingdom.


E-mail: info@halesenergy.co.uk


Website: www.hales-turbine.co.uk

New wave energy converter

WAVEenergy AS, Norway, offers a wave energy converter based on the wave overtopping principle. It uses a total of three reservoirs placed on top of each other, in which the potential energy of the incoming wave is stored. Water from the reservoirs will then run through a multi-stage turbine. The use of multiple reservoirs gives high overall efficiency.


The Seawave Slot-Cone Generator (SSG) is built as a robust concrete structure with the turbine shaft and gates controlling the water flow as virtually the only moving parts of the mechanical system. It makes use of the innovative multi-stage turbine devised by WAVEenergy. The multi-stage turbine uses different water heads on a common turbine wheel. The multi-stage technology minimizes the start/stop sequences on the turbine, even if only one water reservoir is supplying water to the turbine, resulting in high utilization.


Contact: Ms. Monika Bakke, General Manager, WAVE energy AS, Opstadveien 11C, 4330 Aalgaard, Norway. Tel: +47 (51) 610 930; Fax: +47 (51) 610 9 31


E-mail: monika.bakke@waveenergy.no


Website: www.waveenergy.no

FUEL CELLS

Next-generation fuel cartridge technology

Millennium Cell Inc., a developer of hydrogen battery technology based in the United States, has demonstrated a next-generation hydrogen fuel cartridge technology. The fuel cartridge P2, operating using Protonex fuell cell system from Protonex Technology Corp., showed 33 per cent higher power and greater than 35 per cent energy per unit weight than previously achieved. It also exceeded the 500 Wh/kg system energy density targets established by the military. The programme plan is to exceed 550 Wh/kg before final release of the new cartridge technology in 2007.


Website: www.mae.pennnet.com 

Multi-purpose fuel cell power generator

Battelle Science and Technology International, the United States, has developed a multi-purpose fuel cell power generator, demonstrating a major advance in applied fuel cell technology. The Multipurpose Electric Power System (MEPS) generates more than 5 kW of power and is 25 per cent more efficient than generators based on traditional IC engine technology. It is targetted for a variety of military applications at first, with potential for private sector use in the future.


The MEPS unit runs quietly, generates very little heat, odour or toxic emissions and produces up to 20 l/d of useable water. Moreover, the unit solves the problems associated with noisy IC engines and rapidly depleting battery power. It is suitable for use as an auxiliary power source or as a stand-alone power generator for military operations, or commercial/domestic applications. A key feature of the MEPS unit is its ability to operate using conventional fuels the result of a unique technology developed by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

Siemens tests SOFC prototype

Siemens Power Generation, Germany, has tested a prototype solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) that employs high power density technology. The new SOFC is the first tested by the Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance to show no degradation in either its performance or in the fuel cells. The system shows promising potential for the technologys lifetime, an important factor in commercialization. Siemens is expected to deliver pre-commercial models in its 5 kW to multi-megawatt range over the next three years, depending on their rating.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

New high-temperature fuel cell

Spains Centre for Electrochemical Technologies (Cidetec) has created a new proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC), which can work at high temperatures. According to Cidetec, this is the first time that a PEMFC has been made to work at high temperatures, offering greater electrochemical activity of the catalysers. This also means that the fuel cell is able to work without the presence of water and has a greater resistance to poisoning of the electrodes by contaminants. The new fuel cell can operate at temperatures of over 150C and is fed by pure, unhumidified hydrogen and oxygen. As the technology is in the early stages of development, further research is required before the fuel cell can be put to commercial use.


Website: www.platinum.matthey.com

Propane fuel cell

In the United States, Arctic Energy Technology Development Laboratory at the University of Alaska Fairbanks has announced a successful field test of a prototype propane fuel cell manufactured by Acumentrics. The fuel cell, installed at the Kenai Fjords National Parks Exit Glacier Nature Centre, operated for more than 1,100 hours straight and with no measurable degradation in its efficiency. The latest test run was conducted in real-world conditions.


The Exit Glacier fuel cell uses a fuel source (propane) that is more portable and useable in remote areas than hydrogen or natural gas that usually powers fuel cells. It can adjust output to deal with fluctuations in power demand at the centre a phenomenon known as load following. Moreover, the fuel cell can generate relatively small quantities of power. In addition to generating electricity, the fuel cell provided heat to the centre during its test run from mid-August to late September.
Though propane fuel cells are still a long way from being practical for the average consumer, the success of the test shows that the technology is meeting technical milestones.


Contact: Dr. Dennis Witmer, Director, Arctic Energy Technology Development Laboratory, University of Alaska Fairbanks, AK 99775-5910 United States of America. Tel: +1 (907) 590 2836; Fax: +1 (907) 474 7979


E-mail: ffdew@uaf.edu


Website: www.innovations-report.com

Honeycomb-type micro fuel cells

In Japan, a Functional Assembly Development Group (FADG) team headed by Dr. Toshiaki Yamaguchi has developed fabrication techniques for honeycomb-type micro solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) that realize high power output even at low temperatures of approximately 600C. The honeycomb-type SOFCs can respond to quick-start operations within a few minutes in room temperature and thus it is expected to realize small SOFC systems applicable to auxiliary batteries for cars, small co-generators and portable power sources. Apart from the researchers of FADG, NIST Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute, the Fine Ceramics Research Association and NGK Insulators Ltd. also collaborated in the research.


The team produced a honeycomb support with a size of 15 mm 15 mm of a perovskite-type manganate material (LSM) by extrusion moulding. Employing a slurry of scandia-stabilized zirconia (ScSZ) or ceria-based oxides (GDC, etc.), the team coated on the surface of 256 sub-millimetre square channels using a special jig, followed by drying and heating to 1,300C. Then a coating of a nickel slurry, including ceria-based oxide (50 vol% Ni-GDC), was applied, followed by heating at a temperature higher than 1,100C. As a result, a thin layer (20 m) of dense electrolyte and a NiO-GDC layer as an electrode were formed on the surface of each channel in the LSM honeycomb support. Quick cooling tests were carried out on the honeycomb SOFCs and no destruction in the cell structure was observed.


Next, the team carried out a power generation test of cells produced using the same coating techniques. Using humidified hydrogen gas, a power generation performance of 0.23 W/cm2 (700C) was verified, and this corresponds to the worlds highest level in the middle temperature range for cathode-supported SOFC. This indicates that the new method is useful for the fabrication of small and high-density SOFCs.


Website: www.aist.go.jp

Combined reformer fuel cell system

In Germany, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) have joined hands with Liebherr Aerospace to successfully combine a kerosene reformer with a high-temperature solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). The system comprises an autothermal kerosene reformer, which generates a gas containing hydrogen, and an SOFC that converts the gas into electricity. The reformer was developed by hydrogen technologists at ISE in Freiburg.


The DLR Institute for Technical Thermodynamics constructed an SOFC stack developed at the Research Centre Julich (FZJ) and integrated this into a test stand.
Scientists at ISE tested the fully automated reformer system over 300 hours of continuous operation, before their colleagues at DLR combined it with the SOFC stack from FZJ. As part of the test operation, the researchers tested the complete system under stationary operating conditions and rapid reformer load variation at constant SOFC power. The reformer is operated in the autothermal mode, without an external heat source. The fraction of fuel gas from the SOFC that is not converted is subsequently burned in a porous burner and thus supplies the heat needed to adequately evaporate and pre-heat the reactant flows to the reformer and the cathode air for the SOFC. The reformer system, operating with the SOFC, produced synthesis gas at a flow rate of 10-45 nl/min. Desulphurized Jet A-1 kerosene was used as the fuel. Two desulphurization processes were also tested at ISE, as removing sulphur from the kerosene is an important aspect for the future application of such combined systems.


Contact: Ms. Bettina Lenz, Project leader, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, Heidenhofstr. 2, 79110 Freiburg, Germany. Tel. +49 (761) 4588 5367; Fax. +49 (761) 45 88 9367


E-mail: Bettina.Lenz@ise.fraunhofer.de


Website: www.ise.fhg.de

Bipolar metal plate PEM fuel cell

The Research Foundation (RF) was recently awarded a United States patent for the Metallic Bipolar Plate technology developed at Farmingdale State College to produce clean energy and clear water. The energy generation technology will make fuel cells more durable, cost-effective and commercially viable.


Dr. Hazem Tawfik, Director of the Institute for Research and Technology Transfer at Farmingdale State College, New York, invented a bipolar metal plate Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell. Reported to be more economical and durable than graphite, the metal plate developed by Tawfik also reduces the consumption of hydrogen by at least 24 per cent because of its higher electric conductivity.


Contact: Dr. Hazem Tawfik, Director, Institute for Research and Technology Transfer, Farmingdale State College, 2350 Broadhollow Road, Farmingdale, New York, NY 11735-1021, United States of America. Tel: +1 (631) 420 2243; Fax: +1 (631) 420 2194.


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

WAVE/TIDAL ENERGY

Wind energy for hydrogen production

In the United States, Xcel Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have unveiled a unique facility that uses electricity from wind turbines to produce and store pure hydrogen. The facility links two wind turbines to electrolysers, which split water into oxygen and hydrogen using the electricity generated by the turbines. The hydrogen can be stored and used later to generate electricity from either an IC engine turning a generator or from a fuel cell. In either case, there are no harmful emissions and the only by-product is water. A building at the site houses: the electrolysers and a device to compress the hydrogen for storage; four large, hi-tech tanks to store the hydrogen; a generator run by an engine that burns hydrogen; and a control room where computers monitor all the steps of the process.


Website: www.windtech-international.com

Scientists develop hydrogen-producing molecule

A team of scientists at Waseda University, Japan, have developed a new molecule that uses solar energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Working together with Imperial College London, the United Kingdom, the team synthesized the new molecule from two molecules that occur naturally in blood. The blood constituents albumin and porphyrin were modified to create a molecular complex capable of capturing light energy and using it to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. Dr. Stephen Curry, a structural biologist from Imperial College, says that this process could eventually be used to produce hydrogen fuel. Dr. Curry said that in the long-term these synthetic molecules may provide a more environment-friendly way of producing hydrogen, which can be used as a green fuel.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Electricity from soya oil

At the University of Minnesota, the United States, researchers report to have developed a low-cost process to generate electricity using various cheap fuels. The catalytic method they devised can produce hydrogen from fuels such as soya oil and even a mixture of glucose and water. The hydrogen thus obtained could be used in solid oxide fuel cells, which now run on hydrogen obtained from fossil fuels, such as natural gas, to generate electricity.


Moreover, by manipulating the quantity of oxygen injected along with the soya oil or sugar water, the method can be adapted to produce synthesis gas, a combination of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, that can be burned as fuel or converted into synthetic petroleum.


In the new process, fine droplets of soya oil or sugar water are sprayed on to a super-hot catalyst made of small amounts of cerium and rhodium. The rapid heating combined with catalyst-assisted reactions prevents carbon sludge formation that would deactivate the catalyst. The reactions produce heat, keeping the catalyst hot enough to continue the reaction. As a result, although fossil fuels are used initially to bring the catalysts up to the 800C working temperature, no fossil fuels are required thereafter.


According to Prof. Lanny Schmidt who led the study, one of the virtues of this process is that it needs no external process heat it drives itself. The key to the speed of the reactions is the small droplets. Prof. Schmidt states that the process could be modified to work with other biomass such as slurries/powders made from grass or wood, which are presently difficult to convert into practical fuels for electricity generation or transportation because of their high cellulose content.


Website: www.technologyreview.com

Coal-to-hydrogen process

Diversified Energy Corp., the United States, has demonstrated a lab-scale coal-to-hydrogen process. Named HydroMax, the hydrogen production efficiency and basic principles behind the new system have been validated, setting the stage for the development of a pilot plant.


The process uses a high-temperature pressure chamber to turn coal into synthesis gas, which with further processing can be converted into transportation fuels and hydrogen, that can be used to produce electricity in fuel cells. In addition to a carbon source, the process uses water and an iron/tin alloy. More-over, instead of coal, it can use other hydrocarbon feedstocks such as biomass and petroleum coke.


Contact: Diversified Energy Corporation, 2020 W., Guadalupe Road, Gilbert, AZ 85233-2804, United States of America. Tel: +1 (480) 507 0297; Fax: +1 (480) 507 0780;


E-mail: info@diversified-energy.com


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

Ethylene for hydrogen storage

Ethylene could be useful in the development of new hydrogen storage solutions for fuel cell technology applications. The well-known and expensive ethylene can be combined with titanium atoms to create a high-density hydrogen storage material, report researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the United States. The NIST team, together with scientists at Bilkent University, Turkey, found that every ethylene-titanium complex was capable of holding a total of 20 hydrogen atoms. This allows for about 14 per cent of the weight of the material to be made up of hydrogen molecules.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Hydrogen technology to power vehicles

HyPower Fuel, the United States, has fitted a Volkswagen GTi with its H2 Reactor (H2R) hydrogen system that can produce sufficient hydrogen on-board and on demand to power the vehicle using only water. The H2R utilizes electrolysis to convert water into a hydrogen/oxygen gas, which is then used to power the IC engine. It requires 1 Wh to produce 1 litre of hydrogen, which is approximately 2-2.5 times more efficient than the performance of competing technologies. However, these preliminary laboratory results need considerable improvements before any practical transportation application can become a reality.


Contact: HyPower Fuel Inc., 2711 Centreville Road, Suite 120, Wilmington, Delaware, DE 19808, United States of America.


E-mail: info@hypowerfuel.com


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

Solar-powered hydrogen generation

Prof. Michael Gratzel and his team of researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland, recently demonstrated efficient water-splitting solar cells based on a cheap, abundant and long-lasting material rust. The team has shown that by including small amounts of silicon and cobalt, it is possible to grow nano-structured thin films of iron oxide that convert sunlight into the electrons needed to form hydrogen from water. Prof. Gratzels new iron-oxide films can convert an impressive 42 per cent of ultraviolet photons in sunlight into electrons and holes. However, the systems overall efficiency is only about 4 per cent, in part because iron oxide does not absorb all the parts of the solar spectrum.


The researchers doped the rust with silicon, to coax the material to form cauliflower-like structures with an extremely large surface area, thus ensuring that a large number of the atoms in the material were in contact with the water or very close to it. The silicon also improves electron conductivity in the material, which is important for generating hydrogen gas at an opposite electrode. The Ecole research team further improved the process by the addi-tion of cobalt, as a catalyst for the reactions.


Website: www.technologyreview.com

Breakthrough in hydrogen storage

Scientists at the University of Bath, the United Kingdom, report to have invented a material that stores and releases hydrogen at room temperature at the flick of a switch. This discovery holds promise in helping make hydrogen power a viable and clean technology. The new material absorbs the hydrogen into its structure and literally bristles with molecules of the gas. Although the fuel-to-weight ratio is presently not adequate to make an entire hydrogen tank, as the material is made using rhodium, it can be used in combination with metal hydrides to store and quickly release energy.


The team is now looking at ways of printing the material on to sheets that could be stacked together and encased to form a storage tank. This tank could sit alongside a metal hydride tank to kick into action as soon as the driver exerts pressure on the accelerator pedal, giving the metal hydride store the time to heat up to 300C the temperature that normal petrol-powered engines run at. A fully working prototype is expected to be ready within 2-3 years.


Website: www.bath.ac.uk

PUBLICATIONS

Applied Photovoltaics

Photovoltaics manufacturing and engineering has been growing at an exponential rate. This guide provides information that has been carefully designed to meet the needs of the students of photovoltaic applications and renewable energy engineering. Along with exercises and recommended further reading at the end of each chapter, the book features a set of detailed technical appendices, which provide essential equations, data sources and standards.


Contact: Earthscan/James and James, 8-12, Camden High Street, London NW1 0JH, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (20) 7387 8558; Fax: +44 (20) 7387 8998


E-mail: orders@earthscan.co.uk

Handbook of Photovoltaic Science and Engineering

This compendium incorporates the most recent technological advances and research developments in photovoltaics (PV). Topics covered in this book include scientific basis of the PV effect and solar cell operation; the production of solar silicon and silicon-based solar cells and modules; the science and technology of thin-film PV technologies; semiconductor materials and their influence on production costs and performance; new types of organic dye-based solar cells; PV system installation and operation of components such as inverters and batteries; and architectural applications of building-integrated PV.

Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy

The chemistry Nobel Laureate George A. Olah and his colleagues discuss in a clear and readily accessible manner the use of methanol as a viable alternative to our diminishing fossil fuel resources. They look at the pros and cons of our current main energy sources, namely oil and natural gas, varied renewable energies and new ways to overcome obstacles. The authors look at the inter-relation of fuels and energy, and at the extent of our non-renewable fossil fuel resources. The authors point out the continuing need for hydrocarbons and their products despite their negative effects, and also discuss the envisioned hydrogen economy and its significant shortcomings.


Contact: Customer Service Department, John Wiley and Sons (Asia) Pte. Ltd., 2, Clementi Loop, #02-01, Singapore 129809. Tel: +65 6463 2400; Fax: +65 6463 4604


E-mail: csd_ord@wiley.com.sg


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