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VATIS Update Non-conventional Energy . Mar-Apr 2005

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New and Renewable Energy Mar-Apr 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

ADB promotes solar energy development in Afghanistan

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has announced that it would assist Afghanistan to develop solar energy technologies in isolated rural areas, through a US$750,000 technical assistance (TA) grant. The TA will demonstrate how solar energy could be used to enhance the quality of life for low-income communities living in remote villages with no prospects for grid electricity as well as how a community-based approach can make such programmes a success.


According to ADB, solar radiation in Afghanistan averages about 6.5 kWh/m2/d and the sky is sunny for about 300 days a year. More than 80 per cent of the population live in rural areas and rely on traditional fuels for cooking and water heating, and kerosene for lighting, which have an adverse impact on forests and watersheds. Lighting provided by solar energy could be used to run literacy and other programmes in the evenings that benefit children and adults working in the fields during the day. Solar-powered pumps could facilitate irrigation for agricultural activities, in which 85 per cent of Afghans are engaged.


Website: www.news.xinhuanet.com

Sino-Korean project on renewable energy

The Republic of Korea and China have stated that they will cooperate in developing ways to harness new and renewable energy resources, beginning with a joint solar energy project. The two nations have agreed to establish a US$1.4 million 100 kW solar farm in western China for feasibility testing over a three-year period.


The cost of the study will be shared, with each nation investing US$0.7 million. While Korea would take care of supply and installation of the photovoltaic panels, China will be responsible for construction and operation of the complex. Chinas generation of electricity from solar energy is expected to increase from 50 MW in 2003 to 400 MW in 2010 and 10 GW in 2020. The Republic of Korea, which provided 300 homes with PV solar panels this year, aims to have 100,000 houses powered with solar electricity by 2012.


Website: www.powerpulse.net

Solar home project in the Philippines

The Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) recently launched its Solar Home Systems (SHSs) Distribution project in Negros Oriental. Implemented by PNOC in partnership with the Netherlands government and in cooperation with the Department of Energy, the goal of this effort is to address rural electrification problems in the Philippines. It also hopes to contribute to the pro-poor project of the government, promote a sustainable form of new/renewable energy, and promote environmental improvement and sustainable development.


Mr. Ramin Nadimi, the President of Shell Solar Philippines Corp., stated that the five-year project involves installation of 15,100 SHSs in rural areas that are not energized. These include Regions 1 to 7 and CAR. Negros Oriental is the first provincial government to have requested for implementation of the project and has allocated a subsidy fund for rural people desiring to own a solar power system. The SHSs provide 167-200 Wh/d of electricity, i.e. about 10 h usage for a maximum of four 10 W light bulbs, 5 h for radio cassette and 3-4 h for a small television set. While a unit costs about US$667, subsidies from the Dutch government and the provincial government will enable an interested party to own a system by paying just US$270. Furthermore, loans payable over a three-year period are available from the provinces partner rural banks. The target pilot area for the project is Barangay Nagka in Bayawan City.


Website: www.au.news.yahoo.com

Solar-powered water distillation

A subsidiary of the Australian firm Solco, Solar Energy Systems Infrastructure, began work two years ago to establish a solar distillery on the island of Kulhudhuffushi, Maldives. Approved by the Maldives Foreign Investment Services Bureau (FISB), this project will supply bottled water. Fabricated in Perth, Australia, the PV-powered Solarflow unit set up at Kulhudhuffushi, produces 1,000 l/d of water. The system combines a reverse osmosis unit with a Sun Mill solar water pump, a Sun Tracer tracking array, solar panels and a purpose-built stand with two storage tanks. It can be erected wherever clean water is required as long as an acceptable water source is in the proximity.


Contact: Solco Ltd., P.O. Box 1650, Osborne Park, DC 6916, Australia. Fax: +61 (8) 9204 1519


E-mail: info@sesltd.com.au


Website: www.sesltd.com.au


Website: www.renewableenergyaccess.com

Chinese wind project to get Vestas turbines

The Vestas Group will supply fifty V80 wind turbines for the Rudong Wind Power Concession project in China. Placed by Jiangsu Unipower Wind Power Co., the total capacity of this order for 2 MW turbines is 100 MW. This is also the first order for megawatt turbines from China. It comprises wind turbines delivery, remote control system and a service and maintenance agreement. The Rudong Wind Power Concession project will be installed in Jiangsu province and commissioned during the autumn of 2006.


The Vestas order is one of twenty 100 MW concession projects, which the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) plans to establish before 2010. Furthermore, NDRC anticipates that 500,000 MW of new generating capacity will be set up in the nation before 2020. A significant part of this new capacity is likely to be based on wind power projects. The concession projects are based on the condition that part of the project must be manufactured in China. As a consequence of the order for the Rudong project and the potential for wind power, Vestas is planning to set up a turbine blade factory in China.


Website: www.ecologicinvestor.com

Focus on renewable energy sources

The Philippine government is looking at natural gas, local oil finds and geothermal resources for transport and industrial use as it seeks a 60 per cent sufficiency in energy by 2010. The Department of Energy (DOE) presented its medium-term programme, citing exploration and commercial use of renewable resources for wider usage in public transport, household and industrial operations. DOE has entered into seven service contracts, with mostly foreign companies, to investigate reported finds of oil and natural gas fields. It hopes that more contracts would be signed to increase geothermal capacity in existing fields at Mt. Apo on the North Cotabato side, Tiwi, Albay and Sorsogon. The energy plan ending in 2014 focuses on lowering heavy dependence on imported oil and oil products.


The country relies on a mix of energy sources oil and oil products (42 per cent), biomass, solar and wind energy (30 per cent), coal (12 per cent), geothermal energy (17 per cent), hydropower (5 per cent) and natural gas (4 per cent). This year the government intends to reduce dependency on oil to 41 per cent, coal to 10 per cent and geothermal to 6 per cent. By 2014 the target is to reduce imports of coal to 7.7 per cent, from 8.9 per cent in 2004, and oil imports to 29.5 per cent of the energy requirement, from 39.2 per cent in 2004. DOE has entered into contracts with Malaysia and Japan for joint exploration and production of natural gas. Japan has already been scouting the areas in Cebu and Negros. DOE also anticipates Viet Nam and China to explore the South China Sea segment of the Philippine territorial waters in the next few months. Three companies of local and foreign equity have filed their bids over two contract areas for petroleum deposits.


Website: www.abs-cbnnews.com

Wind power in India

India ranks fifth in the list of largest wind energy producers around the globe, with a total capacity of 2,500 MW. However, the Ministry for Non-conventional Energy Sources has put the nations potential at 45,000 MW. Germany is negotiating a bilateral cooperation agreement on wind energy with India. Enercon India, a subsidiary of Germanys Enercon, has achieved a 24 per cent market share for wind generators in India. Suzlon, the market leader, constructs windmills under licence based on a product of the former German manufacturer Suedwind.


Website: www.german-renewable-energy.com

Chinese efforts to tap solar energy

China is pushing harder to develop its solar energy industry. By this year end, the production capacity of solar heat panels is expected to reach 51 million square metres, posting a production value exceeding US$1.2 billion to put China as the leader. The countrys solar energy power generation industry has maintained an average growth rate of 28.6 per cent over the past decade on the international scale, and the figure rose to 36.8 per cent in the previous five years.


At present, strategic schemes are being framed for renewable energy development and utilization for the period before 2020, bringing development and utilization of renewables into state strategies, according to Mr. Zhang Guobao, Vice-Minister of the National Development and Reform Commission. According to the drafted law, residents will receive extra allowance for using renewable energies. Power generation units are required to use renewable energies for a certain portion of their power generation. In line with the nations west development strategy, US$241 million has been spent on building solar power units in western Chinas rural towns, with a total production capacity of 18 MW.


Environline, Issue No. 123,January 2005

R&D on fuel cells and hybrid cars

China has invested about US$106.4 million into a state research and development (R&D) project on fuel cells and hybrid cars. The first fuel cell-powered car covered more than 4,000 km while the first fuel cell bus was tested for 8,000 km. Electrically powered bus fleets were deployed in Beijing, Wuhan, Tianjin and Weihai. Six tryout centres have already been set up in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Dalian. The electric car has a maximum speed of 120 km/h and requires 70 kWh every 100 km. The state project also stimulated over 200 corporate and individual investors to provide financial assistance in developing energy saving and eco-friendly products.


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

Hydrogen motorcycle

In India, scientists have designed a hydrogen motorcycle as part of the national programme on hydrogen energy. Dr. S.K. Chopra, a senior advisor at the Central Ministry, has stated that several breakthroughs have been achieved in the area of hydrogen energy, including efficient production processes in laboratory conditions and using hydrogen fuel in motorcycles and three wheelers. Success has even been achieved in biological production of hydrogen from organic wastes and biogas. India is now working on a hydrogen energy road map and programme to bring about transition to a solar-hydrogen economy.


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

Korean investment in renewables rising

The Republic of Koreas spending on new/renewable energy projects has increased, according to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy. Also, the ratio of new and renewable energy to overall energy usage will be raised from 2.1 per cent in 2003 to 2.6 per cent this year. A ministry official reports that 2005 will see an increase in the governments resolve to develop new/renewable energy as well as enhance the quality of power generated.


Renewable energy is expected to account for 5 per cent of the total energy use in the nation by 2011. Research and development funds will be used to focus on developing hydrogen fuel cells and harnessing solar and wind resources. These areas hold the greatest potential for successful development in the short term for commercial purposes. International collaboration in the renewable energies sector would also be strengthened by furthering joint research with China to build a pilot 100 kW solar farm and studying the establishment of a combined solar-wind power plant in Mongolia. Other projects in the pipeline include construction of a windmill farm and provision of solar energy to 100,000 households. State funds will bolster efforts to incorporate solar energy generation in apartment complexes. Furthermore, plans have been drawn up to invest about US$12.5 million for building an energy education and research theme park in North Jeolla province.


Environline, Issue No. 123,January 2005

Law to promote use of renewables

Chinas National Peoples Congress (NPC) will examine a draft law to encourage the use of renewable energy. A spokesman for NPC has stated that the country is facing a worsening environmental situation and must urgently develop renewable energy sources. The draft law lists wind, solar, hydropower and geothermal energy as renewable options. It also contains regulations for their exploitation and development. At present, 50 countries have enacted laws to promote development of renewable energies.


Website: www.news.xinhuanet.com

SOLAR ENERGY

Intelligent solar cell follows sunlight

In Germany, a team of researchers at the Institute for Energy and Automation Technology has developed a revolutionary technology that automatically finds its own ideal alignment to sunlight. Sonnenfinder, a backpack-sized solar module, offers complete freedom of movement and independently performs all of the position adjustments necessary to follow the sun. It can even turn on its axis without being caught up in electric cables. Unlike commercially available solar tracking devices that are designed for fixed mounting and move according to pre-set clock settings, Sonnenfinder automatically determines the exact position of the sun and aligns itself regardless of its current location, even on a moving platform such as a boat or camper.


Contact: Dipl.-Ing. Kay Rethmeier, Project Lab Manager, Faculty IV - Electrical Engineering & IT, Institute for Energy and Automation Technology, Germany. Tel: +49 (30) 3142 6850.


Website: www.german-renewable-energy.com

Solar-electric system

In the United States, Chromeworks Inc. has recently commissioned a solar-electric system. The system, engineered by RWE Schott Solar Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of solar-electric units, and installed by Ericson Solar, incorporates two distinct solar arrays into one 52 kW unit. Two sections make up the rooftop array, using 80 ASE 300 series modules. The modules on the south-facing section are parallel to the roof. A mounting system on the north- facing section raises the remaining modules to face south as well. An additional 96 modules constitutes the roof section of the free-standing parking lot carport, creating shaded parking while at the same time generating clean and renewable energy.


Contact: RWE Schott Solar Inc., # 4, Suburban Park Drive, Billerica, MA 01821, United States of America. Fax: +1 (978) 6632 868


Website: www.rweschottsolar.com


Website: www.powerpulse.net

Plastic material to harness solar energy

At the University of Toronto, Canada, researchers have developed a plastic material that can produce energy from infrared light. This breakthrough takes solar technology beyond the visible part of the solar spectrum. The new material is five times more efficient than conventional solar technology, converting 30 per cent of solar energy compared with 6 per cent gained from other plastic-based solar panels.


The material is formed by combining minute particles known as quantum dots with a polymer. Just a couple of nanometres thick, this plastic material can catch solar energy, which can then be used to power or recharge devices. The range of devices it can be used on is far wider than standard solar panels since it can be combined with solvents and applied like a layer of paint, meaning any surface, even electronic devices, could be covered with the material.


Website: www.powerpulse.net

Lead-free solder PV module

Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Japan, has commenced sales of lead-free polycrystalline silicon solar modules in overseas markets. Sales are mainly focused in the expanding potential markets of the United States and Europe for on-grid use. Weighing 15.5 kg, notable traits of the eco-friendly PV-MF170EB3 model are 15.1 per cent conversion efficiency (with the adoption of new process developments and mass production) and 170 Wp high power module, by employing high-efficiency PV cell.


Contact: Mr. N. Shimada, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Nakatsugawa Works, Photovoltaic Power System Business Centre, Japan. Tel: +81 (573) 668 019


E-mail: shimada.n@naka.melco.co.jp 


Website: www.home.businesswire.com

Breakthrough in SPV electricity

Nanosolar Inc., the United States, has reported a major breakthrough in solar photovoltaic (SPV) electric power. The company reports to have developed a commercial-scale technology that can deliver electricity at about US$0.05/kWh. This latest development is based on the use of nanotechnology for the creation of components through molecular self-assembly, including quantum dots (10 nm large nanoparticles) and nanotemplates with structural order extending through three dimensions.


Nanosolar has demonstrated that the three dimensionally engineered nanotemplates can be conformally coated or solidly filled with semiconductor paint to create ultra-thin solar cells with layers that are yet another factor, 100x thinner than conventional thin-film amorphous silicon solar cells. This facilitates a 10x larger surface area of these structures to be used to achieve a 10x increase in efficiency for such thin layers, thus making it possible to use even less material for similarly efficient cells.


Generally, inorganic semiconductors tend to require intricate processing to ensure large grains of crystallinity so that charges can travel hundreds of nanometres without being trapped and getting lost (at internal crystal boundaries). The 3D nanocomposite architecture of the ultra-thin absorber cells facilitates absorption of a substantial proportion of the incoming sunlight despite the ultra-thin layers since the charges are required to be transported only several nanometres without much opportunity for a loss. This implies that the needs on the semiconductor material can be relaxed and low-cost materials like inorganic semiconductors of the IIb/VIa and Ib/IIIa/VIa families as well as solution-coatable organic semiconductors can be used.


Website: www.zpenergy.com

Solar array exhibits commercial potential

In the United States, a state-of-the-art solar array is providing a unique opportunity to exhibit the latest in high-efficiency solar cells available for terrestrial application at a site at NASAs Dryden Flight Research Centre. Manufactured by Sunpower Corp., the A-300 silicon cells were derived from those developed for the NASA/AeroVironment Helios and Pathfinder-Plus solar powered aircraft under the recently concluded Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology (ERAST) programme. The experimental site hosts two fixed angle solar arrays and a single-axis sun-tracking array. Together they produce up to 5 kW of direct current electric power on a sunny day. The sun-tracking array tilts to follow the sun utilizing an advanced real-time tracking device rather than normal pre-programmed mechanisms. One of the fixed arrays contains standard cells, which are less efficient, and is being used as a baseline comparison for the newer fixed-cell array.


The new cells are up to 50 per cent more efficient than older technology. This increase in efficiency is due largely to the routing of cell electrical connections behind the cells, which was required in the original design for the solar-powered aircraft, in order to maximize the limited space available atop the wings. The system showcased yields significant power to the 7,870 ft2 Public Affairs and Commercialization building. This demonstration system will help to compare potential benefits of the tracking array over the fixed array and also evaluate the effectiveness of the dirt-repellant coating over the protective glass housing of the solar cells, and the effect, if any, of dust and dirt on the arrays. The array efficiency is monitored remotely on a computer.


Website: www.spaceref.com

Amorphous solar panels

Hankey Asia Ltd., Hong Kong, has launched amorphous solar panels having a capacity of 7 Ah with a sealed lead-acid battery. Available in dimensions of 356 1,220 mm, the products have a rated power of 15 W, a current of 0.8 A and a voltage of 12 V. The panels can support 60 W LED lights and lasts for 5-6 nights when fully charged.


Website: www.powerpulse.net

Amorphous solar panels

Hankey Asia Ltd., Hong Kong, has launched amorphous solar panels having a capacity of 7 Ah with a sealed lead-acid battery. Available in dimensions of 356 1,220 mm, the products have a rated power of 15 W, a current of 0.8 A and a voltage of 12 V. The panels can support 60 W LED lights and lasts for 5-6 nights when fully charged.


Website: www.powerpulse.net

Flexible solar panels

Scientists working on a European Union research project called H-Alpha solar (H-AS) have developed lightweight, flexible solar panels that can be sewn on fabrics and placed on surfaces for charging objects ranging from cell phones and DVD players to batteries. Pliable panels sewn on a jacket, costing less than US$19.35, can recharge a mobile phone during a summer stroll.


The panels are constructed in a manner similar to conventional solar panels but are only slightly thicker than photographic film. The panels are thin and bendy but unlike the best solar cells that work at efficiencies above 20 per cent the pliable panels have an efficiency of only 7 per cent. However, the low efficiency is offset by the variety of potential applications. The Swedish-Dutch owned Akzo-Nobel, one of the partner firms in the H-AS research, already has a pilot plant producing rolls of silicon cells 40 cm wide.


Website: www.planetark.com

Building-integrated solar module

Kyocera Solar Inc., a United States-based subsidiary of Kyocera Corp., has launched MyGen Meridian, a UL listed photovoltaic module and mounting system designed to blend in with tile roofs. This module is the first in Kyoceras building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) product line. Meridian integrates the companys highly efficient d.Blue solar cells with black frames, making the product powerful and inconspicuous. When combined with standard concrete roof tiles, Meridian visually blends with the buildings architecture.


MyGen Meridian also incorporates two unique design features a free airflow framing system for increased thermal efficiency and a cassette type module installation. The latter feature allows for easy installation and simple replacement of damaged units without disturbing the roofing material.


Website: www.kyocerasolar.com

WIND ENERGY

New wind turbine technology

Clipper Windpower Inc., the United States, is offering patented turbine technology which has the potential to substantially decrease the cost of generating electricity from wind resources. This latest technology incorporates innovations in turbine design which enhance wind energy capture and lower the cost of major turbine components, while raising the reliability of these components. A new Distributed Generation Drivetrain (D-GEN) accounts for a major part of the turbine economics. Key characteristics of D-GEN include:
 
  • Design life of 30 years for Class II winds, 20 years for Class I winds;
     
  • Variable speeds, with up to 6 per cent more production;
     
  • Very quiet operation;
     
  • Robust and compact;
     
  • Higher availability via generator redundancy;
     
  • Component change-out does not need large crane; and
     
  • Standard mounting dimensions.
     

Contact: Clipper Windpower Inc., 6305, Carpinteria Ave., Suite 300, Carpinteria, California 93013, United States of America. Tel: +1 (805) 8999 199; Fax: +1 (805) 8991 115


E-mail: info@clipperwind.com


Website: www.clipperwind.com


Vertical wind turbine

Shield Innovations, Finland, is offering vertical wind turbines for mobile, naval and estate-based applications. Aiolos mobile is a lightweight collapsible wind turbine. It is a portable system that can be set up when required. Electricity produced by this system is adequate to power low-energy electronic devices, such as communication equipment. Model Aiolos Naval is designed for marine conditions. Its special shape also prevents entanglement with ropes or textiles in a sailing boat.


Aiolos range of wind turbines also includes larger turbines for stationary applications, with Aiolos Energy, which has a nominal power of 2 kW, being the lower-end model. Aiolos Estate model,with a nominal power in the range of 2-10 kW, is designed for single family dwellings, weekend cottages and farm houses. This system can also be used to pump up water.


Contact: Mr. Risto Kilpi, Shield Innovations, Administration and Marketing, P.O.B. 204, 00151 Helsinki, Finland.


E-mail: Risto.Kilpi@shield.fi


Website: www.shield.fi


Wind-electric water pumping system

Whisper wind turbine from Southwest Windpower, the United States, has revolutionized wind-powered water pumping. The wind-electric water pump allows the generator to be located at windy sites while the pump can be set up at the water point, even miles away. The wind-electric water pump unit can deliver water at a fraction of the cost of windmills, solar photovoltaic or gas/diesel engines. It uses any conventional off-the-shelf hp 3-phase 230 VAC centrifugal submersible or surface pump. Installation can be as simple as setting up the Whisper turbine on an existing windmill tower and connecting its three-phase AC wires directly to the pump by means of the controller.


Whisper wind generators, made by World Power Technology, have been designed for gusty wind areas and marine sites. The main frame rotor shaft and boom are fabricated using stainless steel. The tilt-up governor does not depend on springs and eliminates the need for adjustments. The rotor is constructed using high-strength injection-moulded material that is fibre-reinforced. Bearings are sealed and permanently lubricated. The turbine is of a cast aluminium design that incorporates a unique patented side furling angle governor for over-speed protection.


Website: www.nooutage.com

New wind turbine prototype

Enercon GmbH, Germany, has developed a prototype turbine that offers 30 per cent more yield than its predecessor, the E-40/6.44 (600 kW). The first E-48 prototype has been erected and commissioned in East Frisia. It incorporates three modifications, namely:
 
  • An aerodynamic shape to help increase yield;
     
  • Decreased load in the rotor area facilitates the rotor diameter to be increased without having to change the machine construction; and
     
  • The rated power output has been increased to 800 kW.
     
  • Besides the new rotor blades, only a few alterations and adjustments were made on the construction of the previous model. Another notable improvement is the modified cooling concept. The cooling system has been moved, and the incoming air is directed between the rotor and stator and around the coil on the stator through the air gap with new air conductor plates. Turbines with 76 m hub height are planned for the German market. Prefab concrete towers of 56 m and 74 m height are also available.
     

Contact: Enercon, Otto. Lillenthal-str. 25, 28199 Bremen, Germany. Tel/Fax: +49 (421) 2441 520/539


E-mail: sales.international@enercon.de 


Wind Blatt, Issue 05, 2004


Prototype of 5 MW wind turbine

The worlds largest wind turbine, a 120 m behemoth capable of yielding 5 MW at full output, was recently inaugurated and connected to the German electrical grid. Designed and built by Germanys REpower, the system can generate about 17 GWh of electricity annually. The turbines LM Glasfibre 61.5 m rotor blades, the largest of its kind in the world, are constructed using a glass and carbon fibre hybrid-fabric that is held together by synthetic resins. Each blade is equipped with its own electrical pitch system. Winds as low as 3.5 m/s will disengage the electromagnetic disc brakes and the turbine achieves peak performance in winds of 13 m/s. Winds of 25 m/s or more will cause the turbine to cut-out. The nacelle was designed with a helicopter platform on the roof for ease of access in offshore areas, which the turbine is designed for.


Website: www.renewableenergyaccess.com

Wind technology verification testing successful

A subsidiary of McKenzie Bay International Limited, Dermond Inc., has successfully completed the first level of technology verification for McKenzies new, improved, vertical axis wind turbine designed for WindStorSM installations. Core operating features, which include coordinating interface and control functions, have been thoroughly evaluated. Technology verification testing began immediately after completion of the installation and commissioning of the WindStor wind turbine at the Universite du Quebec en Abtibi- Temiscamingue in Rouyn-Noranda, Canada. The WindStor wind turbine has successfully:
 

  • Performed as designed at all rotational speeds, including its 54 rpm maximum;
     
  • Demonstrated that audible noise at the base of the turbine tower is virtually absent at all speeds;
     
  • Proved that turbine construction, control systems as well as sensor effectiveness have the capability to smoothly navigate the resonance frequencies without affecting power production and safety;
     
  • Operated through all weather conditions, including snow and ice, and even in very low temperatures, confirming design specifications to generate power in extremely adverse weather conditions;
     
  • Demonstrated that electronic load-torque control systems and mechanical braking have functioned as designed;
     
  • Demonstrated full redundancy of mechanical to electrical emergency braking and vice versa; and
     
  • Exhibited that a lightweight guy-wired wind turbine tower is an ideal solution for controlling the natural vibration frequencies of the wind turbine structure over the range of power producing rotational speeds and, as such, simulating the support structure of a rooftop wind turbine.
     

Testing of the 100 kW WindStor wind turbine prototype is transitioning to autonomous operation and performance with the Universite du Quebec en Abtibi-Temiscamingue. The long-term testing phase would continue for an unspecified time, gathering power measurement data serving as a basis for developing technology and performance upgrading in operational functionality and economics.


Website: www.windfair.net


New range of wind turbines

Inventus GmbH, based in Germany, recently launched a new series of Inventus 6 wind turbines. Inventus 6 is the result of upgrading the first generation of wind power plants, which have proved their efficiency and durability in multiple ways under partially extreme working conditions since 1987. This system includes considerable improvements, mainly in the area of electronic connection and interfacing as well as the brake and safety systems. The well-tried components and assemblies crucial for certification and stability have been retained, some improved and modified to achieve a sophisticated marine concept that realizes the increased requirements of profitability and reliability.
Inventus 6 has received Certificate of the Germanic Lloyd as well as German Type Examination Attestation. Key features of the Inventus 6 series include:
 

  • Good low wind qualities owing to an aerodynamically optimized 4-blade rotor;
     
  • Controlled power production even in severe storms, owing to the use of patented passive pitch regulation for power and r.p.m limitations;
     
  • Simple installation of the plant, by cable winch;
     
  • Low noise levels because of a moderate high-speed value of the rotor and decoupling of structure-borne sound of the machine body;
     
  • Electrical power generation in mains-parallel operation for use in residential buildings, agriculture and small-scale industries;
     
  • Mains-parallel and stand-alone versions; and
     
  • Easy to transport.
     

Contact: Inventus GmbH, Technologiepark West, Zum Frenser Feld H6, 50127 Bergheim, Germany. Tel: +49 (2271) 989 190; Fax: +49 (2271) 981 042


E-mail: info@inventusgmbh.de


Website: www.inventusgmbh.de


BIOMASS ENERGY

Green Energy from pig manure

In Canada, Bio-Terre Systems has devised an innovative environmental solution for manure management in collaboration with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). The technological approach combines low-temperature anaerobic digestion, solids concentration and production of green energy. It facilitates the transformation of organic matter into value-added by-products, thereby offering a solution that benefits agricultural producers. Key features of the technology are listed below:

  • Robust anaerobic microbes that can tolerate low temperatures are used;
  • No pretreatment or solid-liquid separation required;
  • Stable process even if antibiotics are present and also under a variety of operating conditions;
  • Continuous production of biogas with high energy potential; and
  • Automated system with nominal monitoring and upkeep needs.


Bio-Terres patented technology for anaerobic digestion of pig manure utilizes anaerobic micro-organisms adapted to low temperatures (15-25C). These microbes are kept in sequencing batch reactors where the following sequence of processes occur filling, reaction, settling and decanting. Liquid portion of treated manure is stored in tanks before it is applied to the fields as fertilizer.


Digestion concentrates phosphorus in the sludge settled at the bottom of the bioreactors and holding tanks. This sludge is purged to decrease phosphorus concentrations in the manure that is to be used on fields. The purged sludge can easily be dehydrated utilizing a coagulation-flocculation procedure with static filtration that produces bio-solids with a dry solid content of 12-20 per cent. The treatment also produces methane-rich biogas, which can be used either as a source of thermal or electrical energy. Less than 10 per cent of the energy produced is consumed by the operation of the bioreactors.


Contact: Mr. Richard Royer, Bio-Terre Systems, Canada. Tel: +1 (819) 5623 871; Fax: +1 (819) 5638 984


E-mail: bioterre_systems@yahoo.ca


Website: www.qc.ec.gc.ca

Anaerobic digester

In the United States, a commercial dairy anaerobic digester has been set up at a dairy farm in Lynden, Washington state. Electricity will be produced using manure from up to 1,500 cows. This project won a cost-share grant from USDAs Rural Development Renewable Energy System Improvement Programme, as well as some assistance from the Washington State Universitys Climate Friendly Farming Project.


The proprietary digester system was devised by GHD Inc. Unprocessed manure from the dairy is collected in a receiving pit and then pumped directly into the anaerobic digester vessel. During the first stage in the digester vessel, the raw manure is mixed and heated to about 38C. This step is designed to facilitate the growth of acid forming bacteria that degrade the raw manure into simple volatile fatty acids and acetic acid. Residuals from this stage gravity flow into the second stage, which is the largest stage because of the slower growth rate of the methanogenic bacteria that convert volatile fatty acids into biogas. After 20 days of retention, the treated residuals gravity flow into an effluent collection pit for further processing.


Biogas collected from the first two stages in the digester vessel is used as fuel in combined heat and power gensets. About 20 per cent of the digester bio-solids, surplus in methanogenic bacteria, is recycled from the end of the third digestion zone and reused at the beginning of the second digestion zone of the digester vessel as seed stock for the process that involves methanogenic bacteria. The remaining 80 per cent of bio-solids is pumped from the effluent pit at the end of the digester tank to a manure solids separator, where separation of solid and liquid portions takes place.


Website: www.harvestcleanenergy.org

Biogas from agro-industrial wastewater

In Thailand, a research team at King Mongkuts University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) has developed an anaerobic fixed film reactor to produce biogas from agro-industrial wastewater. The media inside the closed type reactor are organized neatly to support micro-organisms that degrade pollutants present in the wastewater. Advantages of this system over other anaerobic treatment systems include:
 
  • Micro-organisms can be kept in the system for a long time;
     
  • Highly efficient wastewater treatment and biogas production;
     
  • Wastewater with high quantity of suspended solids can be treated without requiring any pretreatment;
     
  • Low cost of chemicals used to operate and control the system;
     
  • More resistant to toxic wastewater than other systems; and
     
  • The necessity for complicated maintenance is eliminated.
     

A 5,200 m3 KMUTT reactor built to treat wastewater from a rice flour factory receives about 2,000 m3/d of wastewater with a COD content of 5,500 mg/l. The reactor eliminates 80-90 per cent of organic material while producing 2,500-3,000 m3/d of biogas. Apart from lowering odour levels of the wastewater, the final BOD content of the treated water is less than 20 mg/l.


Website: www.kmutt.ac.th


Biogas-fired heat recovery type co-generation system

In Japan, Kyoto Brewery of Suntory Co. Ltd. has introduced a gas turbine co-generation system, of a supplementary fired heat recovery type, which burns biogas as auxiliary fuel in a duct burner. The duct burner is a stabilizing burner that burns fuel using oxygen in the exhaust gas. The co-generation unit was acquired to further raise power and fuel consumption savings. The company is already treating brewery wastewater by employing anaerobic fermentation and uses the biogas, composed mainly of methane recovered from the treatment process, as fuel for its boilers.


The supplementary fired heat recovery type co-generation system uses gas turbine exhaust with high oxygen content for combustion, thus utilizing energy in high-temperature turbine exhaust and raising energy efficiency. This is the first attempt to use digestion gas as auxiliary fuel for this kind of system. Since the concentrations of methane in the digestion gas fluctuate widely, two key hurdles encountered were to secure stable combustion of the biogas with varying methane contents and the capability to follow up the change in loads on steam supply in brewing processes. A duct burner designed by Osaka Gas Co. solved the former problem and a steam accumulator with an appropriate capacity integrated into the system dealt with the latter problem. The system improves the unit usage of biogas for steam production by 25 per cent from the amount burnt in the existing water tube boiler.


The system is designed to satisfy base loads on power and steam in the brewery and its operation has exceded 6,000 h/y. Utilization rate of biogas increased from 60 to 90 per cent while fuel purchases were lowered by 12 per cent. The system also generated 9,000 MWh/y of electricity and reduced the amount of power bought from a public utility by 22 per cent. This resulted in an energy saving of 60,500 GJ/y and a CO2 emission reduction of 4,134 t/y. In a trial run, the system reached an overall energy efficiency of 93.5 per cent.


The supplementary biogas-fired heat recovery co-generation system may be used to achieve substantial energy savings, to not only the alcoholic and beverage industry but also several other production plants where anaerobic fermentation processes are employed, such as wastewater treatment technology low in environmental loads.


Website: www.caddet.org

Co-generation unit utilizes animal waste

Setec Co. Ltd., Japan, has devised a biogas co-generation system that uses animal waste as the feedstock. A notable feature of this system is that the residual fermentation liquid is purified to a level that enables it to be legally discharged into water bodies. Setecs system integrates a complete animal waste treatment system together with a micro gas turbine.


Animal waste is fermented by employing anaerobic methane fermentation bacteria. Then, after biogas (60 per cent CH4, 40 per cent CO2 and about 0.2 per cent H2S) is extracted, the remaining residual liquid is fermented by aerobic photosynthesis bacteria, lowering BOD levels from 20,000 ppm to about 2,000 ppm.


Animal waste is fed to a receiving tank, acidified for 3-5 days and then supplied to a double-layer fermenter, which comprises an inner part for methane fermentation and an outer part for photosynthesis fermentation. Anaerobic methane fermentation does not produce heat unlike aerobic photosynthesis fermentation. As such, the inner part of the fermenter is warmed by heat produced in the outer part. Following photosynthesis fermentation, the residual liquid is transferred into a purification tank where it is biologically purified with residual photosynthesis bacteria. Effluent after purification can be used as washdown water for livestock barns. Biogas extracted from the methane fermenter is supplied to a micro gas turbine co-generation unit and utilized for power generation. Turbine exhaust heat is recovered by a heat exchanger to produce hot water.


Contact: Setec Co. Ltd., 16, Nishi 6-chome, Minami 1-jo, Chuo-ku, Sapporo Hokkaido 060 0061, Japan. Tel: +81 (11) 2107 120; Fax: +81 (11) 2106 664


E-mail: kamada@setec.jp


Website: www.caddet.org

Compact biogas generator

The Appropriate Rural Technology Institute, Pune, India has developed a compact, cost-effective and time-efficient biogas generator. Conventional biogas plants produce about 10 kg of methane from 1 t of feedstock (organic wastes) in 40 days. However, the compact biogas plant uses starch or sugar as feedstock and has an overall efficiency about 1,000 times more than the conventional plants, according to the Institute. The plant needs to be fed twice a day, each time with 1 kg of feedstock, to generate enough biogas to cook food for one family.


Website: www.123bharath.com

Compact biogas generator

The Appropriate Rural Technology Institute, Pune, India has developed a compact, cost-effective and time-efficient biogas generator. Conventional biogas plants produce about 10 kg of methane from 1 t of feedstock (organic wastes) in 40 days. However, the compact biogas plant uses starch or sugar as feedstock and has an overall efficiency about 1,000 times more than the conventional plants, according to the Institute. The plant needs to be fed twice a day, each time with 1 kg of feedstock, to generate enough biogas to cook food for one family.


Website: www.123bharath.com

FUEL CELLS

Composite metallic material for SOFCs

Hosokawa Powder Technology Research Institute, Japan, has come up with a new composite material for solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) that more than doubles electricity generating performance. SOFCs fabricated using this material can generate 0.8 W/cm2, compared with the standard 0.3 W. The composite material is made from a uniformly distributed brew of powdered metals, among which are nickel oxide and zirconia. Spacing between individual granules allows the flow of oxygen ions required for power generation, boosting the fuel cells performance.


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

New advances in fuel cell stack technology

Ballard Power Systems, Canada, has announced significant achievements in three areas crucial to the commercialization of automotive fuel cell stack technology freeze start capability, durability and cost reduction without compromising performance. A new stack design has been shown to be capable of starting repeatedly from -20C and operate for more than 2,000 h at a substantially lower cost without any performance trade-off.


Freeze starts were demonstrated from -20C. The test maintained the fuel cell stack and its supporting systems at -20C and subjected the unit to a drive cycle test from start-up through power down. The unit was then allowed to cool to -20C and the test repeated. Fifty consecutive freeze start cycles were conducted with no degradation in performance or damage to the stack. In addition, actual testing results demonstrated durability to nearly 2,200 h before a 5 per cent reduction in performance was observed. The new stack design incorporates 30 per cent lower platinum catalyst loading without any adverse effect on performance. Baseline catalyst loading was reduced from roughly 1 mg/cm2 to 0.7 mg/cm2. Meeting performance, durability and freeze-start requirements is more difficult with less platinum catalyst.


Contact: Ballard Power Systems, Marketing Dept., Canada. Tel: +1 (604) 4533 520; Fax: +1 (604) 4123 100


E-mail: marketing@ballard.com


Website: www.ballard.com 


Website: www.home.businesswire.com

New electrolyte membrane for DMFC

Tokuyama, Japan, has developed an electrolyte membrane for use in direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs). The commercially viable membrane will be marketed from 2006-07 to manufacturers of mobile tools. The hydrocarbon electrolyte membrane reduces the penetration of methanol into the electrolyte, thus facilitating more efficient power generation. The membrane and electrode can be connected utilizing the companys new unique polymer adhesive, thus halving assembly costs compared with that of fluororesin membranes.


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

Fuel cell for combat vehicles

In the United States, Battelle and United Defense Industries Inc. have jointly developed and exhibited a prototype fuel cell auxiliary power unit (APU) on a Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV), which is designed to enhance fuel efficiency and lower logistics burden for the army. The APU is designed to provide sufficient power to indefinitely operate the BFVs electronics without engaging the main engine. The fuel cell was developed at Battelles laboratories with funding aid from the armys National Automotive Centre and Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Centre and United Defense integrated the fuel cell into a BFV.


Raising fuel efficiency while concurrently maintaining effectiveness will further raise combat effectiveness of the battle-proven Bradley, a key vehicle system for the army in urban combat and rural scenarios.


Contact: Mr. Herb Muktarian, United Defense Industries Inc., the United States. Tel: +1 (717) 2258 004


E-mail: herb.muktarian@udlp.com


Website: www.home.businesswire.com

Micro fuel cell

In the United States, researchers at Saint Louis University who had earlier developed a fuel cell using enzymes to produce electricity from ethanol, have built a microchip-based version of the device. The solution to fabricating the biofuel cell was creating a sheltered environment for the sensitive enzymes. The team coated the carbon anode of the fuel cell with polymethylene green, an electrocatalyst, then added a nafion membrane having the immobilized enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase. The biofuel cell demonstrated an electrical potential of 0.34 V and current density of 53 microamps/cm2. Multiple cells can be stacked and the device can also be integrated into a computer chip. The microchip biofuel cell may eventually be used in place of rechargeable batteries.


The prototype comprises a 200 m wide, 3 cm long channel in a plastic chip. The bottom of the channel is lined with the carbon anode, which is covered by the electric catalyst and membrane. Researchers tested the fuel cell by measuring electricity generated as 1 l/min of ethanol flowed through the channel. A drop of water contains about 50 l. The biofuel cells enzyme catalysts are renewable.


Website: www.trnmag.com

Patent awarded to hydrogen fuel cell

Manhattan Scientifics, the United States has been issued a patent for its new NovArs fuel cell stack with cooling fins and use of expanded graphite in fuel cells. Weighing about 900 g and smaller than a brick, the hydrogen-powered NovArs fuel cell has had successful demonstrations in many prototype pre-commercial trials. NovArs can power a bicycle or a motor scooter for a few hundred kilometres without having to refuel, depending on type of use, weight of the rider, road conditions and size of the fuel cell tank.


Contact: Mr. Marvin Maslow, CEO, Manhattan Scientifics Inc., Chrysler Building, # 405, Lexington Avenue, NY10174, United States of America. Tel: +1 (917) 9233 300; Fax: +1 (212) 7520 077


E-mail: maslow@ix.netcom.com 


Website: www.mhtx.com

Electronic technology advances fuel cell development

In the United States, researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, have developed a highly efficient converter that can boost direct current (DC) voltage produced by solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) stacks to the higher voltage needed for conversion to alternating current (AC) for domestic as well as commercial applications. This breakthrough is significant because it provides another technological step in lowering the efficiency, size and cost of fuel cells. Virginia Tech developed its converter under the Department of Energys Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) programme, created to hasten the development of SOFCs so that they could be affordably marketed for power generation.


The system, when combined with highly efficient switching and digital control technique, converts 22 V to 400 V power at 97 per cent energy efficiency. The device is able to boost voltage and reduce 120 Hz ripple current to 2 per cent without the costly, bulky capacitors or additional converters that are usually required. The net effect is that fuel consumption, the size of fuel cell systems, and costs are reduced, taking a significant step towards SECAs goal of 40-60 per cent overall fuel efficiency at a cost of around US$ 400/kW by 2010. SECA studies indicate that a 1 per cent improvement in inverter efficiency can bring down fuel cell stack costs by US$5 to US$10 per kilowatt.


Website: www.sciencedaily.com

Next-generation fuel cell system

General Motors Corp., the United States, has unveiled its new Sequel fuel cell vehicle, which features a 25 per cent more powerful fuel cell stack that helps the Sequel achieve a range of about 483 km and zero to 96 km/h acceleration in less than 10 s. Advances in high-pressure storage enable the vehicle to carry 8 kg of hydrogen, thus extending the vehicles mileage range. Three lightweight, carbon composite tanks can store hydrogen at 10,000 psi, compared with 5,000 psi in the Hy-wire, Sequels predecessor. The fuel cell power module comprises the actual fuel cell stack, hydrogen and air processing subsystems, cooling system and high-voltage distribution system. It delivers 73 kW of high-voltage power for the electric traction motors as well as auxiliaries such as heating, AC and ventilation, by-wire electronics and the battery.


The fuel cell transforms hydrogen directly into electric power to drive torque control of all wheels. A high-voltage, lithium-ion battery system provides extra power to the three electric motors during acceleration. It even stores power regenerated during braking to help extend the vehicles overall mileage range. The propulsion system is integrated into the vehicle package; the drive motor development is linked with the rest of the system, increasing overall efficiency and performance. Contact:


Website: www.gm.com


Website: www.powerpulse.net

New fuel cell technology

In Australia, Powerco has signed an agreement with Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd. to trial Ceramics new fuel cell energy system in New Zealand. The fuel cell converts natural gas into electricity, delivering 1 kW of electricity and sufficient hot water for an average household. Ceramics fuel cell technology offers flexibility in using natural gas, bio-methane and ethanol as the primary fuel.

Contact: Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited, 170, Browns Road, Noble Park, Victoria 3174, Australia. Tel: +61 (3) 9554 2300; Fax: +61 (3) 9790 5600


E-mail: enquiries@cfcl.com.au


Website: www.cfcl.com.au


Website: www.powerpulse.net

HYDROGEN ENERGY

Hydrogen from dung

In Japan, Prof. Masaru Ichikawa at the Hokkaido Universitys Catalysis Research Centre has developed a catalyst that yields hydrogen and benzene from methane gas derived from cow manure. The eco-friendly catalyst does not release any heat-trapping carbon dioxide during the process. The zeolite catalyst has pores of 5-6 angstrom, the size of a benzene molecule. When mixed with methane gas heated to 700-800C under a barometric pressure of 3-5, the catalyst can segregate hydrogen molecules directly from methane, transforming them into benzene. An experimental facility operating continuously for 100 h yielded 50 kg of benzene and 120 m3 of hydrogen from about 200 m3 of methane gas derived from manure.


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

Nanotubes crank out hydrogen

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University, the United States, have constructed a material based on titanium dioxide nanotubes that is 97 per cent efficient at harvesting the ultraviolet part of sunlight and 6.8 per cent efficient in extracting hydrogen from water. The low-cost material is easy to make and photochemically stable. Researchers are working to find a way to shift the response of the nanotube arrays into the visible spectrum as ultraviolet light comprises only 5 per cent of the solar spectrum.


The key to fabricating titanium dioxide nanotubes, which efficiently capture energy from light, lies in controlling the thickness of the nanotube walls. Nanotubes 224 nm long with 34 nm thick walls are three times more efficient than those that are 120 nm long having 9 nm thick walls. The team made the titanium dioxide nanotube material by mixing titanium with acid and electrifying the mixture, which caused the tiny tubes to grow, then heating them to cause the material to crystallize.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Reactor for hydrogen extraction

Researchers at the University of Minnesota, the United States, have devised a reactor that is capable of efficiently producing hydrogen from ethanol. This project was financed by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council, and Minnesota Universitys Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment. The team believes that their reactor yields hydrogen exclusively from corn-based ethanol at a cost lower than presently feasible using conventional methods. The use of corn ethanol to generate hydrogen would benefit both rural and urban economies, and the environment.


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

Hydrogen from sugar

Virent Energy Systems, the United States, is devising a demonstration system capable of converting sugar into energy through an aqueous-phase reforming (APR) process. The proprietary process is a simplified, carbon neutral, one-step method to chemically convert widely available sugar-based liquids into hydrogen and other fuel gases for distributed power systems. The final prototype will integrate a Virent APR system with a hydrogen/natural gas-fuelled generator set that will deliver 5 kW of power to the grid. Funding for both the system and integration to the grid will be partly provided by Madison Gas and Electric, a public utility.


Website: www.renewableenergyaccess.com

Cheaper hydrogen

In the United States, researchers from Cerametec Inc. and the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory report to have devised a method to produce pure hydrogen utilizing less energy than conventional techniques. At the core of this method is an improvement on the most convenient method to make hydrogen, which is by passing electricity through water to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The new process involves passing electricity through water maintained at a very high temperature. As the water molecule breaks up, oxygen and hydrogen are separated using a ceramic sieve. The hydrogen thus obtained has about half the energy value of the energy put into the process. The ultimate goal is to develop a reactor that would produce about 300 MWe for the grid.


Website: www.powerpulse.net

Hydrogen by-product fuels power plant

In the Netherlands, NedStack Fuel Cell Technology and Akzo Nobel Base Chemicals have successfully demonstrated the operation of a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell unit at the latters chlorine electrolysis pilot plant. Measured electric efficiency of the fuel cells is 61.8 per cent. Installation and operation of the pilot plant is the first step towards development of a 50 MW fuel cell power plant.


The Akzo Nobel chlorine pilot plant yields chlorine through a membrane electrolysis process that generates chlorine and caustic soda lye as the main products and hydrogen. NedStack has installed PEM fuel cells that utilize the hydrogen thus generated to produce electricity. Power supplied by the fuel cells is used in the same pilot plant for the electrolysis process.


Contact: Mr. Paul van der Boor, Akzo Nobel Base Chemicals, The Netherlands. Tel: +31 (33) 4676 556; Mr. Erik Middelman, CEO, NedStack Fuel Cell Technology BV, The Netherlands. Tel: +31 (26) 3664 278.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Hydrogen fuel cell for mobile phones

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT), Japan, has developed a fuel cell prototype that could be launched commercially within three years at a size small enough to fit inside mobile phones and other portable consumer electronic devices. The micro polymer-electrolyte fuel cell works by combining hydrogen with oxygen, generating electricity and water. More powerful than DMFCs presently available, NTTs fuel cell boasts a power density of up to 200 mW/cm2. Once commercialized, the fuel cell would provide a third-generation mobile that uses 2.5 W of power with about 9 h of talk time. NTTs prototype measures 13 42 80 mm and weighs 104 g.


Website: www.infoworld.com

Hydrogen from coal

A research team from Ohio State University, the United States, have developed a chemical catalyst that increases hydrogen production without using a toxic metal common to other catalysts. This breakthrough represents an important step towards the use of coal to power alternative fuel vehicles and equipment. The catalyst uses a combination of iron, aluminium and other metals in order to harvest hydrogen from carbon monoxide and water. In tests, the catalyst performed up to 25 per cent better than a commercially available alternative.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Hydrogen from ethyl alcohol

Researchers at the Catalytic Processes Laboratory of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, have devised a technique to obtain hydrogen from ethyl alcohol (ethanol) derived from vegetable sources such as sugar cane and cereals. This procedure yields ultra-pure hydrogen with 20-30 parts carbon dioxide per million, the right amount to avoid corroding vehicle fuel cells.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Storage and release of hydrogen

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the United States, have uncovered a way to release hydrogen from ammonia borane faster than previously thought possible. Ammonia borane is a solid compound that releases hydrogen at temperatures below 80C at an extremely slow rate. However, in the nanophase state hydrogen comes off very fast, nearly 100 times faster compared with conventional bulk ammonia borane.


Researchers first dissolved the solid compound in a solvent and then added the solution to a nanoscale mesoporous silica material, which acted as a scaffolding material. Capillary action of the material pulls ammonia borane into the pores of the support. When the solvent was removed, nanosized pores (6.5 nm diameter) filled with ammonia borane were left. Based on computational thermodynamic analysis, the team believes that their process could be designed to be reversible, thus allowing the storage material to be regenerated and thereby provide a sustainable hydrogen storage compound with a longer life.


Website: www.e4engineering.com

Technology for hydrogen storage

In the United States, General Motors Corporation and Sandia National Laboratories have teamed up on a four-year US$10 million project to develop vehicle tanks that can store sufficient hydrogen to provide the same driving range as that of a tank of petroleum. The project focuses on storing hydrogen as complex metal hydrides, which are formed when metal alloys combine with hydrogen. Metal hydrides absorb and ensnare hydrogen within their structures, releasing it when heated.


The project will be carried out in two phases. In the first stage, the team will investigate engineering designs for a sodium alanate storage tank. The designs will be analysed using thermal and mechanical modelling. Researchers will develop control systems for hydrogen transfer and storage and design external heat management units. Various shapes, from cylindrical to semi-conformable, will be studied to determine which one holds out the greatest potential. During the second phase, researchers will conduct rigorous safety testing on the promising tank designs and fabricate pre-prototype sodium alanate hydrogen storage tanks based on research results from the projects first phase.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

WASTE-TO-ENERGY

RDF technology

Hitachi Ltd., Japan, is offering refuse derived fuel (RDF) technology suitable for realizing a dispersion type fuel system. Manufactured utilizing wood waste, paper and plastic trash, RDF finds use as a coal substitute. Some of the advantages offered by RDF technology include:
 
  • Transportation, storage as well as handling are easy, because of compact volume and solidity;
     
  • RDF manufacturing system can be installed dispersedly; and
     
  • High and stable calories good for stable incineration.
     

An RDF power plant can be easily constructed utilizing high-efficiency optimum design for a small system, such as a conventional stoker and multi-stage steam turbine. A high performance exhaust gas filtering system decreases dioxin density.


Contact: Hitachi Limited, 6, Kanda Surugadai 4-chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101 8010, Japan. Tel: +81 (3) 3258 1111; Fax: +81 (3) 3258 9747


Website: www.hitachi.co.jp


Website: www.nett21.gec.jp


Power from municipal and industrial wastes

Fortum, Finland, offers a service concept for utilizing municipal and industrial wastes to produce heat and electricity. Fortum has adopted a flexible approach to the various technologies that are available for electricity production from wastes, selecting the one best suited to each individual project. In Finland, the company operates seven power plants fired by waste in parallel with other fuels while in Sweden, the companys established combined heat and power plant has produced energy from local municipal wastes for 30 years. Industrial sludge is burnt in three power plants in Finland.


Technologies suitable for firing waste include grate boilers, fluidized bed combustion and gasification. Grate boilers and fluidized bed units are the two most widely used, with grate boilers better suited for unsorted waste and fluidized bed units ideal for homogenous waste. Gasification-based technologies applicable for waste-to-energy production are still under development.


Website: www.hightechfinland.com

Plasma gasification of wastes

Recovered Energy Inc. (REI), the United States, is offering technology based on zero-waste concept for converting municipal solid waste (MSW) and other waste materials into energy and useful by-products. The Recovered Energy System begins with thermal transformation of waste to obtain clean combustible gas or fuel gas, which is used to obtain electricity in a combined cycle gas/steam turbine. Alternately, the fuel gas could be used to produce ethanol (denatured ethyl alcohol), a fuel that can either be blended with petroleum or burned in an engine as a neat fuel. Heat generated by the process is utilized to produce electricity and superheated steam, to heat boiler feedwater and to distil.


REIs process can be categorized into four key subsystems material handling, thermal transformation or plasma gasification, gas clean-up and steam and energy production. Key benefits of the process are:
 
  • Conversion of any carbon-based material is in excess of 99 per cent. Non-carbon materials are converted into vitrified glass. Molten metals are separated from the glass and recovered;
     
  • Fuel gas yielded by this process is cleaner than that obtained from standard gasification processes and contains traces of some elemental contaminates such as particulates, chlorine, sulphur and metals. There are no tars, furans or dioxins. Most of the particulate is removed by a cyclone back into the procedure, becoming part of the vitrified glass. Chlorine is scrubbed out leaving behind dilute hydrochloric acid (HCl) while sulphur is removed in a wet scrubber, yielding sodium bisulphite;
     
  • The dilute HCl contains some amount of particulate and metals, which are removed at this point to levels as low as a fraction of 1 per cent of the original feedstock;
     
  • Dilute HCl can be concentrated to make a 20 per cent saleable HCl product. Water removed by either process is reused in the plant for make-up water. The only water discharge is cooling tower and boiler blowdown;
     
  • The sole discharge into the air is from the turbine; and
     
  • Heat from the process is used internally to produce electricity, distil ethanol and HCl.
     

Contact: Recovered Energy Inc., 3411, Hawthorne Road, Pocatello, Idaho 83201, the United States. Tel: +1 (208) 6370 645, ext. 7012/7015; Fax: +1 (208) 2388 248


E-mail: richard@recoveredenergy.com


Website: www.recoveredenergy.com


PUBLICATIONS

Photovoltaics: Design and Installation Manual

This handbook offers an overview of photovoltaic (PV) electricity and a detailed description of PV system components, including PV modules, batteries, inverters and controllers. Electrical loads are also addressed, including lighting systems, refrigeration, water pumping, tools and appliances. Chapters on sizing PV systems, analysing sites and installing PV systems are included.

Microhydro: Clean Power from the Sun

This highly illustrated guide is the first complete book on solar energy. It covers both AC and DC systems. Topics discussed include principles, design and site considerations, equipment options, and legal, environmental and economic factors.

Solar Hot Water Systems: Lessons Learned

This book is aimed at the contractors who need to know what works successfully and the homeowner who wants basic facts for comparison shopping. It covers different solar water heating systems, estimating performance and savings, piping, insulation, storage tanks, system monitoring and testing, marketing solar hot water and a glossary of manufacturers, organizations, etc.


For the above publications, contact: Solar Energy International, P.O. Box 715, Carbondale, CO 81623, United States of America. Tel: +1 (970) 9638 855; Fax: +1 (970) 9638 866


E-mail: sei@solarenergy.org

Renewable Energy Projects Handbook

This guide is a succinct and user-friendly reference publication to facilitate successful identification and implementation of viable renewable energy projects in different categories. It provides a brief overview of the leading renewable energy resources biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind. State-of-the-art technologies have been listed and existing policies and drivers summarized. Practical guidance is offered to select projects using a set of evaluation criteria.


Contact: World Energy Council, 5th Floor, Regency House, 1-4, Warwick St., London W1B 5LT, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (20) 7734 5996; Fax: +44 (20) 7734 5926


E-mail: info@worldenergy.org


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