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VATIS Update Non-conventional Energy . May-Jun 2005

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New and Renewable Energy May-Jun 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

Renewable Energy Law passed in China

With Chinas Standing Committee of the National Peoples Congress endorsing the Renewable Energy Law on 28 February 2005, one of the largest economies has now made one of the largest state-sponsored commitments on renewable energy. Mr. Hu Jintao, the President of China, later signed and announced this law.


Chinas Renewable Energy Law is designed to help protect the environment, prevent energy shortages, and reduce dependence on imported energy. Effective next year, the law requires power grid operators to purchase all the electricity generated by approved renewable energy facilities located in its service area. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), a regulatory department of the State Council, will fix the grids buying price for renewables. NDRC will adjust the buying price from time to time as needed. The cost of purchasing this power will be spread across all customers on the grid.


The law also offers financial incentives such as a national fund to foster renewable energy development, and discounted lending and tax preferences for renewable energy projects. NDRC will also implement a national renewable energy plan, which will include specific renewable energy targets that will act as the framework for implementation of the law. Provincial planning agencies will then develop their more specific implementation plans. The law includes details related to the purchase and use of solar photovoltaics (PV), solar water heating as well as renewable energy fuels, and gives specifics of penalties for non-compliance with the law.


Website: www.renewableenergyaccess.com  

Indias renewable power capacity goes up to 5,500 MW

The Minister for Non-Conventional Energy Sources, Mr. Vilas Muttemwar, has informed the Rajya Sabha (the Council of States) that around 5,500 MW grid interactive renewable power installed capacity has been set up in the country by the end of 2004. The country has an estimated renewable energy potential of some 80,000 MW in the from small hydro, wind and biomass. Current installed capacity includes around 2,980 MW from wind, 1,690 MW from small hydro and 2.80 MW from solar photovoltaic (SPV).


The Minister informed that during the first two years of the 10th Plan, 10 percentage points of grid interactive power installed capacity has come from wind, while small hydro power has contributed 2 percentage points and bio-energy accounted for 3 percentage points. Thus, the country has a total of 15 percentage points of grid interactive renewable power installed capacity. Mr. Muttemwar added that over 25,000 villages have already been identified as remote where SPV systems are being deployed along with other renewable energy technologies. The Ministry is also setting up some test projects in selected remote villages to try out the concept of providing energy for entire needs of cooking, lighting and motive power through the biomass route in conjunction or otherwise with micro-hydel power and other renewable technologies.


Website: www.pib.nic.in  

China surveys its renewable energy resources

China is surveying the renewable energy around the country to exploit the full potential. The survey on water energy has been completed, while the survey on wind resources is under way. The next focus is bioenergy. Studies on solar and geothermal energy will be launched soon, said Mr. Ou Xinqian, Vice Minister of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), at a recent symposium on the implementation of the Renewable Energy Law.


Data from the commission show insufficient exploitation of renewable energy in China. Wind farms have realized a capacity of 760,000 kW, compared with the 1 billion kilowatts potential estimated for the wind resources. Solar energy, which should have worked well on two-thirds of the land of the country, has not got much attention while research on bioenergy is in a very preliminary stage. Mr. Ou said that a resources management system will be in place for renewable energy and related information will be open to the public. Renewable energy would be added to the power supply and liquid fuel production and a quota system is under consideration. NDRC will draft a guideline for the focuses, prices and industrialization to boost the development of renewable energy.


Website: www.english.people.com.cn 

Malaysia for partnership to make biodiesel

Malaysias Commodities Minister, Mr. Peter Chin, said that the country wants to partner with companies from the United States to produce and market biodiesel for the automotive industry. He said Malaysia, the worlds biggest producer of palm oil, wanted assistance to produce and market a blend of palm oil and petroleum in the United States. We are able to produce it now but we need to tie in with people here in the United States willing to import it, Mr. Chin was quoted by Malaysias official Bernama news agency as saying in Washington. The Minister has held talks with senior United States officials at the Food and Drug Administration and Department of Agriculture. Malaysia has been experimenting with cars that run on palm oil-based diesel for many years but officials said they still lacked technical know-how to take the product to the market. The government hopes to soon launch a biodiesel policy, identifying alternative energy sources to offset a rising fuel bill.


Website: www.climateark.org

Korea to increase renewable energy use

The Republic of Korea will increase the proportion of new and renewable energy used to power its needs this year in order to cope with higher oil prices and to lay the foundation for the development of alternative energies, said government sources. The move is part of a long-term plan of the government to establish a hydrogen-based economy by 2040, when the worlds existing fossil fuel resources are expected to dry up.


An official at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Energy said that the country relied heavily on fossil fuels, but with high crude oil prices and the global move to limit greenhouse gas emissions necessitated development of alternative energies to keep the country moving forward. As part of this effort, the Ministry will invest 325.9 billion won (US$ 321.9 million) this year, up 66 per cent year-on-year, to raise the reliance on new and renewable energy resources. Use of solar, wind, thermal, biomass fuel and other green energies will be raised from 2.30 per cent of primary energy consumption in 2004 to 2.63 per cent this year. New and renewable energies also include the recycling of various oils, the generation of power from the burning of wastes and the use of fuel cells.


New and renewable energy would need to supply 6.07 million tonnes of oil equivalent (TOE), up from 5 million TOE last year, of the nations energy needs to achieve the target set for this year. The Ministry said it would devise a master plan in 2005 on how the economy can transform itself from one reliant on fossil fuels for its energy needs to one based on hydrogen.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Pakistan considers incentives for renewable energy

The Government of Pakistan is considering extending several market-based incentives, including import duty cutbacks on various items and tax holidays, to attract foreign and local investment in renewable energy (RE) in the next budget. The Prime Minister, Mr. Shaukat Aziz, has instructed the Alternative Energy Development Board to finalize new incentives and concessions to help attract the much needed local and foreign investment in RE. The board was asked to come up with further fiscal as well as non-fiscal incentives, especially the introduction of long-term tax holidays, to facilitate new investment in RE sector.


Currently, there are a few market-based and fiscal incentives available for RE, such as accelerated depreciation for investors and low import duties and taxes for RE technologies. The experience around the world, however, is reported to indicate that unless opportunities equal to conventional energy (mainly thermal power from oil or coal) are made available, the establishment of RE will be very difficult and the government will not be able to realize its goal of 10 per cent of its energy mix from RE resources. It was in that backdrop, sources said, the board was directed to come up with viable recommendations to offer maximum incentives and concessions to the RE investors. The government has requested the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to provide project preparatory technical assistance for developing RE to help realize the countrys target of 10 per cent of energy mix coming from renewable energy sources by 2015. The ADB technical assistance will focus on specific RE technologies.


Website: www.dawn.com

Solar power demand to soar in Thailand

In Thailand, demand for solar energy is projected to soar over the next six years, propelled by the government programme to promote renewable energy. According to a source from the Energy Ministry, demand for solar energy will increase to 250 MW in 2010 from the 6 MW in 2003. Renewable energy sources currently represent less than 1 per cent share of fuel used in electricity generation in the country.


The energy conservation plan aims to increase the share of renewable energy to 8 per cent by 2011. Then, renewable energy sources would consist of solar, 250 MW; wind, 100 MW; hydro, 350 MW; municipal solid waste, 100 MW; and biomass, 1,040 MW. The plan calls for the Energy Ministry to issue a regulation under the Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires that 5 per cent of the energy from new power facilities be generated from renewable sources. The source added that the government would provide incentives such as tax credits and privileges, and capital subsidies for the purchase of power generated using renewable energy sources.


Recognising solar power as the best renewable energy resource available, the Board of Investment has designated solar cell manufacturing as a specially promoted industry.


Website: www.climateark.org

First wind farm in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asias first wind farm, located in the Bangui Bay in Ilocos Norte, the Philippines, is set to be commissioned soon following the erection of the first of the 70 metre, 1.6 MW wind turbines. It took three days to raise the first wind turbine. The other 14 turbines could each be erected in 12 hours, during winds below 8 mps, estimates showed. The 25 MW wind farm will provide electricity to customers of the Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative (Inec), starting this May. Energy production is estimated to be about 74.48 GWh per year.


The first wind farm in the country and in Southeast Asia is a project of Filipino-Danish consortium Northwind Power Development Corporation. Constructing the wind farm on a turnkey basis is the Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems A/S. Financing for the US$ 44 million project came from a mixture of soft loans and grants from Danida, the Danish development bank. The project cost covers not only the actual construction of the wind turbines, but also the rehabilitation of a 57 km long transmission line linking the wind farm to Inecs substation in Laoag City.


The electricity produced by the wind farm will be exported to the Luzon grid and will displace highly polluting diesel-based power generation at the margin, thereby reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants. The certified emission reductions (CERs) generated by the project will be purchased by a public- private partnership called Prototype Carbon Fund (PCF), made up of six governments and 17 private companies, which authorizes the World Bank, as Trustee, to purchase CERs from projects on behalf of the participants of the fund. Over 10 years of project life, the PCF will purchase a total amount of CERs targeted at 356,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).


Websites: www.windfair.net  & www.worldbank.org  

GE eyes wind power in Thailand

GE Energy, the United States, has identified wind energy as the renewable energy with highest potential, after hydropower, for Thailand. Solar energy is the next most appropriate source of energy for the country, said Mr. John Rice, President and CEO for GE Energy. In the coming 12-18 months, new low-speed wind turbine power generators will be launched in Thailand and other countries that have similar climates . At the same time, GE Energy will better its solar cell equipment by making the size smaller and providing higher solar density, added Mr. Rice.


In Thailand, sales volume of GE renewable energy delivery equipment is forecast to rise on the back of a state regulation that requires independent power producers to produce at least 5 per cent of its total power from renewable energy sources, said Mr. Rice. The company expects to post a double-digit growth rate this year. Its total revenue in Thailand grew 40 per cent to US$150 million in 2004 from US$110 million in the previous year. It expects to position Thailand as its Asian service centre in the near future, as the company has strong relationship with partners and customers in the country.


Website: www.bangkokpost.com

Solar irrigation system for Sri Lanka

The Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC), the Australian export credit agency, has finalized financing for BP Solars A$21.2 million (about US$16.2 million) project to supply 5,000 Australian-made, solar-powered drip irrigation systems to the Sri Lankan Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Land and Irrigation. The programme will be implemented by the Ministry through an outreach programme designed to supply low-cost irrigation kits to farmers to increase crop yields while conserving water and energy.


The supply of the irrigation systems is the first of a two-phase contract potentially valued at A$42.5 million (US$32.44 million). According to Mr. Les Poole, a Director of BP Solar, 5,100 families will benefit from the first phase. This is the first time a solar-powered drip irrigation system is being used on such a large scale. Besides irrigation, the system will result in a reduction in the fossil fuel alternatives currently used, soil erosion associated with previous flood irrigation methods and the dangers related to transporting and running kerosene-fuelled pumps.


Website: www.asia.news.yahoo.com 

SOLAR ENERGY

Residential photovoltaic modules

Sharp Corporation, Japan, has developed a new photovoltaic module that has top-in-its-class conversion efficiency. The NE-152AR is claimed to feature the industrys highest conversion efficiency for polycrystalline solar modules. To accommodate for the diverse range of roof styles and configurations in Japan, Sharp will introduce a full 15-model line-up that includes metal-roof models, flat-tiled-roof models, and peaked-roof/flat-roof/hipped-roof models that mount perfectly on the roofs of newly built or remodelled houses.


Manufactured using Sharps unique proprietary production technology, the high-density NE-152AR (152 W output) achieves the highest energy conversion of 15.8 per cent for polycrystalline modules. The Dark Blue Cells with a specially processed surface improves the appearance of the product to harmonise and coordinate with roofing materials. Of the new models, 14 will incorporate the new Dark Blue Cells, including the flagship model, the ND-157AR (157 W) high-efficiency module.


Website: www.sharp-world.com

High-efficiency solar concentrator

Concentrix Solar GmbH, Germany, is planning to develop high-efficiency concentrator PV systems. Based on the Flatcon module which combines high-efficiency solar cells with cost-effective module and lens technology developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, these PV systems concentrate solar radiation onto special concentrator solar cells. This allows the use of ex-pensive but highly efficient materials, since it reduces the required area of solar cell material. A definitive breakthrough is expected with major increases in the efficiency of high-performance solar cells based on III-V semiconductors.


The Flatcon module is essentially a glass box. The top consists of 4 4 cm2 Fresnel lenses that concentrate the sunlight by a factor of 500 and then direct it onto the high-performance cells (2 mm diameter) mounted on the bottom surface. A Flatcon system consists of many individual modules, which are mounted on a dual-axis solar tracker.


Concentrix Solar plans to develop an industrial series product and is mostly targeting large power stations from 100 kW to several MW in sunny regions, as the cost of electricity for Flatcon power stations depends strongly on the amount of solar radiation available.


Website: www.three-fives.com

Flexible solar cells using plastic film substrates

A research project of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) of Japan has succeeded in developing lightweight, large-area flexible solar cells and modules, using flexible resin film substrates and roll-to-roll production process. These solar cells and modules enable the installation of PV systems on a variety of structures, including previously difficult applications, such as gymnasiums, schools and factories whose structures would not support the weight of traditional PV panels or whose shape is complex.


The basic technologies of the process were developed earlier by Fuji Electric Advanced Technology Co. Ltd. under a research subsidy from NEDO. The roll-to-roll CVD-process developed uses a resin substrate, 50 cm wide and 1 km long, to fabricate Si/a-SiGe solar cells with areas of 40 cm 80 cm. The amorphous silicon film is applied by plasma enhanced chemical vapour deposition. Through techniques for controlling reaction pressure, electrode geometry, temperature distribution and plasma excitation frequency, film deposition rate was increased from the conventional 12 nm/min to over 30 nm/min without deterioration of the film quality. The number of cells processed in one operation raised from the conventional 300 to 1,000 per roll.


A cell structure called series connection through apertures formed on film (SCAF) was modified to omit the masked surface areas that did not generate electricity. The new device structure that resulted showed an increase in active area from 88 per cent to 93 per cent.


Contact: New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, MUZA Kawasaki Central Tower, Omiya-cho, Saiwai-ku, Kawasaki City, Kanagawa 212-8554, Japan. Tel: +81 (44) 520 5100; Fax: +81 (44) 520 5103


E-mail: inf-r5@nedo.go.jp


Website: www.nedo.go.jp
 

Solar absorber for flat collector

The Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion (GIEC) of China has developed a novel copper-aluminium complex absorber for flat solar collectors. The solar absorber, produced using a new technique that avoids the shortfalls of roll-bonding process, has anodized selective coating. The copper tube and aluminium fin are attached seamlessly for excellent heat conduction. Since there are no connect pipes between absorption plate and collection tube, welding can be cut by 50 per cent. The absorber measures 1,060 mm 1,925 mm and the collection tube has a diameter of 25 mm. The rated work pressure is 0.8 MPa and absorptivity 0.92.


The innovation has been employed in water heating units developed by GIEC. The units can be natural or forced circulation type and may be fitted with auxiliary heater or boiler powered using conventional energy sources. Other products developed include solar lights, solar lanterns, etc.


Contact: Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion, No. 1, Nengyuan Road, Wushan, Tianhe District, Guangzhou, China 510640. Tel: +86 (20) 87057228; Fax: +86 (20) 8705 7677


E-mail: web@ms.giec.ac.cn


Website: www.giec.ac.cn

Grid-connected solar PV systems

Nextek Power Systems Inc., New York, the United States, supplies grid-connected, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. According to Nextek, the California Energy Commissions Rule 21 Working Group has determined that these PV units do not require a utility interconnect agreement. The Direct Coupled commercial PV system of Nextek takes the dc power generated by PV panels and uses it where, when and how it is generated. Apart from lighting, the units can power variable-speed motor drives, dc computer power supplies and other loads. Besides solar panels, power for the system can come from wind turbines, fuel cells, batteries or any dc power generation equipment.


Contact: Nextek Power Systems, 89 Cabot Court, Suite L, Hauppauge, New York, NY 11788, United States of America. Tel: +1 (631) 750 1000; Fax: +1 (631) 750 1011


E-mail: info@nextekpower.com


Website: www.powerpulse.net

High-efficiency HIT solar cell

In Japan, Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. and the Clean Energy Company have jointly developed a Hetero-junction with Intrinsic Thin layer (HIT) solar cell with the highest power generation efficiency among practical size cells available and at the research level. The HIT solar cell measures 10 cm2, almost the same size as solar cells currently used for home and industrial applications.


Sanyo has claimed an efficiency level of 21.6 per cent for the cell, achieved through measures such as lowering the current collectors resistance level, improving the aspect ratio, optimizing the design for transparent electrodes, and improving the cells junction formation. This betters the 21.3 per cent, which was the highest level for Sanyo HIT solar cells.


Website: www.solarbuzz.com

Waterproof, solar-integrated roofing system

Solar Roofing Systems Inc. (SRS), Canada, has announced the launch of SolarSave, a waterproof, solar-integrated roofing system for commercial, industrial and institutional flat or sloped roof applications. SolarSave modules are adhered to single-ply roofing membrane, resulting in a waterproof roof that overcomes many of the challenges associated with using other renewable energy alternatives. Its benefits include:
 
  • Maximum power output Model SP 480 Premiere series generates 15 W/sft of useable roof space;
     
  • Waterproof Fully waterproof, allows water run-off to keep the roof substructure dry;
     
  • Lightweight Weighs only 1.3 kg per square foot, and does not need structural roof reinforcement;
     
  • Minimal power drop To minimize power loss from shading, dirt or debris, incorporates double the industry standard number of embedded bypass diodes; and
     
  • Ease of installation Uses plug and play MC connectors and does not require roof penetrations.
     

Contact: Solar Roofing Systems, 226 Edward Street, Aurora, Ontario, Canada L4G 3S8. Tel: +1 (905) 841 9100; Fax: +1 (905) 8419600


E-mail: sales@solarsave.com


Website: www.solarbuzz.com


WIND ENERGY

Next generation wind turbine design

McKenzie Bay International Ltd., the United States, has introduced the commercial production design of its WindStorSM wind turbine. WindStor is a wind energy system designed to integrate distributed generation wind power installed on or near a building with grid power. Its innovative design features three curving blades coming together at the top of the mast, combining good looks with both strength and efficiency. The design is reported to enjoy many advantages over other wind turbine technologies for urban applications including, innovative safety redundancies and noise reduction engineering. WindStorSM Power Co., a wholly owned McKenzie Bay subsidiary, intends to sell electricity to customers and, following power purchase agreements, start to contract-manufacture and install WindStor wind turbines.


Website: www.mckenziebay.com

Small wind turbines

Point.of.com GmbH of Germany is offering three models of wind power generators. The low-noise turbines have aerodynamic fiberglass wings, which can be adjusted to regulate their revolutions, and stainless steel casing. The synchronous generator has an oer-heat prevention system. A wind pressure switch provides auto-stop function at above-rated wind speeds. Cut-in wind speed is 3 m/s.


The Cyclon Marine is a 600 W (at 12 m/s, maximum power of 800 W) standard model, with 1 kW or 2 kW option. The turbine weighs about 4 kg with rotors and transmissions. The wings have a rotating radius of 0.68 m. The model is usable for 12, 24 and 48 Vdc applications. Cyclon 1 kW model weighs approximately 6 kg with rotors and transmissions. The wings rotate at a radius of 0.95 m. It delivers 1,000 W at wind speed of 12 m/s and can be used for 24, 48 and 198 Vdc applications. The higher model Cyclon 2 kW has a rotor radius of 1.33 m and weighs about 10 kg. It can deliver a power of 2,000 W at a wind speed of 12 m/s. It is recommended for operations that require 24, 48 or 400 Vdc.


Contact: Point.of.com HmbH, Kragenhfer Strasse 2, D-34127 Kassel, Germany. Tel: +49 (561) 861 9671; Fax: +49 (561) 861 9670


E-mail: junitz@wind-generatoren.com


Website: www.wind-generatoren.com

Wind turbine blade testing

As blades of wind turbines become longer and more flexible, they also become more difficult to test for endurance. At the same time, tests developed for smaller blades have become more expensive and less effective. For testing the new, larger blades, researchers at the United States National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have developed a novel hydraulic resonance blade test system.


The new system replaces the conventional one that uses a hydraulic actuator to push the blade up and down in millions of cycles for up to 4 months. It contains a 700 -1000 lb (317.5 - 453.5 kg), hydraulically actuated weight housed in a fixture attached to the end of the blade. The exact weight used depends on the size of the blade, and the weight is precisely controlled to oscillate up and down and excite the blade at its natural flap frequency. The system uses one-third as much energy as the conventional one does, and the blade oscillates at more than twice the conventional rate. It now takes less than 2 months to apply three million cycles to fatigue-test a blade. The new system, which will test blades manufactured for giant multi-megawatt turbines, will be the only one of its kind in the world.


Website: www.e4engineering.com

Innovative hovering wind turbine

Briza Technologies Inc., the United States, has developed a Hovering Wind Turbine (HWT) for producing wind energy less expensive than the typical propeller-driven turbines.


An HWT is like a Darrieus turbine with a horizontal axis. However, it has a crank mechanism to change the pitch angle of its blades to blow air downwards to generate a lift component force. It eliminates the need of expensive towers and provides the means to capture the energy available in high-altitude winds. Its modular configuration allows impressive economy of scale. An HWT array consisting of 70 30 kW will weigh just over 7 tonnes, while a 2,000 kW propeller-driven turbine could weigh close to 450 tonnes, including the tower and the foundation.


The array is anchored to a much smaller foundation and kept aloft using a blimp. The blades are the most critical parts of the HWT structure, as they have to support large loads and be light enough to be lifted by a small blimp. Therefore they are designed like an aircraft wing, which consists basically of a framework of spars and ribs covered by a skin. Spars run the length of the blade, while the ribs cross the spars, and extend between edges of the blade.


Contact: Briza Technologies Inc., 601 Route 206, Suite 26N720, Hillsborough, NJ08844, United States of America. Fax: +1 (309) 402 8751


E-mail: info@briza-technologies.com 


Website: www.briza-technologies.com

WAVE/TIDAL ENERGY

Ocean tidal stream technology

Lunar Energy Limited, the United Kingdom, has developed an Ocean Tidal Stream technology with tech- nical collaboration from Rotech Engineering Ltd., which has patented the developed technology under the name Rotech Tidal Turbine (RTT). Lunar has an exclusive worldwide licence to exploit this tidal energy generation technology. It currently offers RTT 1000, RTT 1500 and RTT 2000, which produce 1 MW, 1.5 MW and 2 MW, respectively, at 6 knots tidal flow.


Lunar RTT 1500 has an inlet diameter of 21 m and an overall length of 27 m. The five-bladed turbine has 16 m diameter. The minimum depth required is 35 m. The unit weighs 1,200 tonnes. This predictable energy resource permits fully predictable generation of electricity. Because each Lunar RTT unit is located on the sea-bed without any above-water feature, a complete farm of these units is invisible at all times. The units weight ensures stability on site without piling, and unit location and maintenance do not require diver or ROV intervention. Analyses show that the unit will be competitive with other conventional forms of electricity generation and that the mature technology will be comparable with the cost of electricity from gas/ coal.
The Lunar RTT uses a symmetrical turbine in a bi-directional Venturi duct, which caters for flow reversals that deviate from 180, doing away with the need for yawing or blade pitching mechanisms. Use of a duct augments the power available at the propeller, and power increases as tidal flow moves away from the normal axis; power is not lost inside some 40 sector from the device axis. Gearing is hydraulic and all hydraulic motor and electrical generator components are placed in a hermetically sealed unit. A removable module permits the on-shore maintenance of all key components.


Contact: Lunar Energy Ltd., Parkgate House, Hesslewood Country Office Park, Ferriby Road, Hessle, East Yorkshire HU13 0QF, United Kingdom. Tel/Fax: +44 (1482) 6489 64


E-mail: info@lunarenergy.co.uk


Website: www.lunarenergy.co.uk

Tidal power pilot plant

Statkraft, Norway, is currently planning a pilot tidal power plant in the Kvalsundet Strait outside Troms. The plant is based on the idea of Mr. Svein Henriksen, an entrepreneur from Harstad. Statkraft and Mr. Henriksen jointly developed it to the pilot level. The plant will initially run on one turbine. The annual volume of energy produced by the pilot plant in the Kvalsundet Strait is expected to be 3.6 GWh, while later plants may produce almost 5 GWh. If the tests are successful, tidal power stations cmnprising several production units may be built.


The project is environment-friendly, as turbines and generators lie under the surface of the sea and will therefore not disfigure the environment. Since the tidal power stations float in the water, they do not have any major, permanent effect on the seabed either. The tidal power potential for the whole of Norway is still un-certain, though an estimate puts it at 2 TWh in north of Norway alone. At the consumption of 25 000 kWh, this is equal to the annual electricity consumption of 80 000 households.


Contact: Statkraft, PO Box 200, Lilleakererveien 6, Lilleaker, NO-0216 Oslo, Norway. Tel: +47 2406 7000; Fax: +47 2406 7001


E-mail: info@statkraft.no


Website: www.statkraft.com

Turbine in pipe

Turbines using existing designs can be placed inside large-bore underwater pipes to produce a reliable, clean and cost-effective source of tidal power, according to Mr. Don Cutler, founder of Tekflo, Weymouth, the United Kingdom. Mr. Cutler has now set up a company, SusGen, to develop his system in collaboration with Southampton University. A working model generating around 100 kW is to be soon tested offshore.


In the Channel, tides flow in relatively straight lines, varying from five knots to zero before the process reverses as the sea flows back. In the new design, a simple framework is attached to a reinforced-concrete base consisting of an open-ended hollow box, which is fixed to the seabed by anchors or screws. The turbine and generator are positioned in the mid-section of the box, and are fitted as a module so they can easily be removed for maintenance. Each end of the box is slightly flared to act as a funnel for the water, gathering it into a narrower section that forms the entrance to the turbine. This also extends the useful energy capture when the tides direction changes.


The design uses multi-bladed turbines driving electric generators, all of which are positioned under the sea to minimize their environmental impact. Simple six-blade turbines have achieved an efficiency of 50 per cent in tests, but SusGen is working to develop a more efficient system, featuring a twisted design where the angle of attack changes along the blade length.


Website: www.e4engineering.com

New tidal turbine under test

A C$4-million joint project among Pearson College, EnCana Corporation of Canada and Clean Current Power Systems of Vancouver will harness the turbulent tides tumbling by Race Rocks ecological reserve near Metchosin and test how well a new tidal turbine generator stands up to the harsh West Coast environment. Clean Current built the prototype of a tidal turbine generator, while EnCana is investing C$3 million in the project.


The prototype being tested is 3.5 m in diameter and can produce enough electricity for 10 houses. Testing will take place in about 15 m of water. Underwater cameras will monitor the turbine. The tidal turbine generator, which functions like an underwater windmill, will be anchored to the seabed and cables will carry away the electricity it generates. The prototype has been tested in fresh water but not in saltwater. Clean Current will know in about 18 months how the model and its one moving part the rotor stands up to corrosion in a harsh marine environment.


Website: www.sqwalk.com

Helical turbine gets a test run

Dr. Alexander Gorlov, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Northeastern University in Boston, the United States, is having his deceptively simple-looking prototype a barrel-shaped 36 40 inch turbine tested to assess its efficiency in harnessing the power of currents and tides. Tests are currently being conducted at a tidal pool in Maine, the United States, and in a remote area of the Amazon River in Brazil.


Dr. Gorlovs helical turbine is based on the Darrieus turbine, developed for windmills in the 1930s, which did not prove practical. When Dr. Gorlov tested it in flowing water, however, he found it worked better than any other turbine, although it still had vibration problems. After laboratory testing, he found that twisting the blades into a helix would solve the problem. In flowing water, the turbine captures 35 per cent of the waters energy, compared with 23 per cent for a straight Darrieus turbine and 20 per cent for a conventional turbine. In full production, the cost of an installed open-river hydropower system of the new turbines would be US$400-US$600 per kW, before operating costs of fossil-fuel plants are taken into account.


Website: www.commondreams.org

Novel tidal power technology

Woodshed Technologies, Australia, has been granted a United Kingdom patent for a new marine energy technology that relies on the natural rise and fall of bodies of seawater. Tidal Delay tidal power technology uses an existing natural land formation, such as a peninsula or isthmus, that creates a natural tidal barrier separating moving, rising and falling bodies of seawater. As the seawater on each side of the natural barrier rises and then falls, the turbine captures the energy resulting from the difference in water levels across the barrier, using proven hydro-electric technology in a novel configuration.


Woodshed Technologies, together with fellow Australian companies Lloyd Energy Systems and SMEC Developments, intends to develop and implement the combined Tidal Delay/Lloyd Energy Storage System projects in Britain, supporting local engineering firms in the design and construction phases of the project.


Contact: Woodshed Technologies Pty. Limited, Level 50, 101 Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia. Tel: +61 (3) 96539264; Fax: +61 (3) 86602334


E-mail: info@woodshedtechnologies.com.au


Website: www.woodshedtechnologies.com.au

A leap in tidal technology

Hi-Spec Research & Developments Ltd., Cornwall, the United Kingdom, has developed a breakthrough in tidal technology, with a unique system that uses the tidal stream in conjunction with the natural rise and fall of the tide to create electricity. The offshore Ocean Hydro Electricity Generator (OHEG) power plant allows electricity to be generated around the clock. Based on the use of tidal and chamber turbines, combined with energy accumulators, energy is created through the natural tidal stream and the rise and fall of the tide a far more reliable energy source than wind or solar energy.


The offshore OHEG structure would consist of three rows of chambers and two outer walls, creating four channels, with the tidal stream then being diverted through these channels. Within the chambers would be groups of energy accumulators. The accumulators create power from the rise and fall of the tide. Placed between the rows of chambers and the outer walls are banks of tidal turbines, with four banks per channel. The OHEG plant holds back over 6 million tonnes of water every six and a half hours and in doing so, creates power through the chamber turbines.


Website: www.prnewswire.co.uk 


BIOMASS ENERGY

Biodiesel from inedible shrub

The Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute, Gujarat, India, has developed a process to refine oil from the seeds of Jatropha curcas, a tropical shrub that grows well on degraded lands, and prepare biodiesel from it. The German University of Hohenheim, a partner in the study, has done extensive research on this plant, and has developed the pest- and disease-resistant and high-yielding varieties that are being grown in India as part of a five-year project which began in 2003.


Biodiesel is made by trans-esterification, a chemical process in which an oil or fat reacts with an alcohol, often methanol, in the presence of a catalyst to produce glycerin and methyl esters. The most common catalysts are sodium or potassium hydroxide. Processing Jatropha is a little easier than processing many edible oils, because its fat content is very low. Researchers say it does not require the initial degumming process of washing oil with water, salts and acids to remove impurities.


Making biodiesel from Jatropha-seed oil is not difficult. The challenge is manufacturing high-quality biodiesel at a reasonable cost, according to Dr. P.K. Ghosh, director of the Institute. Although oil companies have developed processes for making biodiesel, the Institutes contribution lies in developing an energy-saving and cost-effective process that improves the way residue is removed from the waste stream. The biodiesel meets the countrys current emission standards, according to Automobile Research Association of India, though new more stringent standards, equivalent to those now used in Europe, will be adopted in April 2005.


Website: www.spectrum.ieee.org

From crops to fuels

Lurgi AG of Germany, a leading plant contracting and process engineering firm, operates in the area of customized, grain-based biofuel production technology, focusing on biodiesel and bio-ethanol. Bio-ethanol is produced by the fermentation of starch or sugar-containing materials, such as cereals. The process involves production of ethanol, its purification and handling of stillage (the residue remaining in still after fermentation, containing solids but no alcohol).


Essential features of Lurgis process design include energy reduction by energy saving within process units and using energy from waste and putting stillage to other applications, such as the production of biogas. Lurgi has designed biogas systems with a generation rate of approximately 450-550 Nm3 gas per tonne of DS in the substrate. In a combined rye-based bio-ethanol-biogas plant, the whole stillage is used for the production of biogas. The biogas is purified, burned off in a steam generator and the high-pressure steam is used in a turbine for electricity generation. The low-pressure waste steam from the turbine is returned to the bio-ethanol plant. Wastewater from the biogas plant is recycled for mash preparation (for bio-ethanol production) and the sludge, dried by the flue gas of the burner, can be used as fertilizer.


Contact: Mr. Klaus Kilian, Lurgi AG, Lurgiallee 5, 60295 Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Tel: +49 (69) 5808 4254; Fax: +49 (69) 5808 1109


E-mail: kommunikation@lurgi.de


Website: www.lurgi.de

Bio-gasoline synthesis technology

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

Sangi, a Japanese manufacturer famous for its toothpaste products, has announced that it has developed a novel technology for producing raw chemical materials as well as an alternate fuel from biomass. The new technology uses biomass ethanol derived from rice straw or sugarcane, with hydroxyapatite (HAP) as a catalyst, to synthesize 1-butanol, 3-butadiene and bio-gasoline. Sangi aims to create a green ethanol industry.


Website: www.japancorp.net

Simplified biodiesel production

Dr. Michael Haas, a biochemist with the United States Department of Agricultures Agricultural Research Service (ARS), has developed a new approach to synthesizing biodiesel that removes a costly component of biodiesel production. The method developed by Dr. Haas and team at the ARS Fats, Oils and Animal Co-products Research Unit in Pennsylvania, eliminates the use of hexane, an air pollutant regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, from the production of soybean oil for biodiesel synthesis.


Hexane a colourless, inflammable liquid derived from petroleum is traditionally used to extract vegetable oil triglycerides from the raw material before biodiesel production. The new technology eliminates the conventional oil extraction step. Instead, the oilseed is incubated with methanol and sodium hydroxide.
The researchers found that the moisture naturally present in soybeans as much as 10 per cent in soy flakes requires a large amount of methanol to be used in the reaction. However, using dried flakes greatly reduced the methanol requirement, and cut down the processing cost by more than two-thirds. Dr. Haas and team are at present working to refine their economic model.


Website: www.ars.usda.gov

FUEL CELLS

Alkaline solid polymer fuel cell

ITM Power of the United Kingdom, which aims to provide the enabling technology for the hydrogen economy, has announced that it has successfully demonstrated an alkaline solid polymer fuel cell using its alkaline membrane technology operating by using two liquids a fuel and an oxidant. The device was built to demonstrate the application of ITM Powers technology to a micro fuel cell, a size that could be used in a hand-held telecommunication or any other portable electronic device.


The fuel cell has the potential to operate at high energy density at room temperature using a safe oxidant/fuel combination of sodium borohydride (non-inflammable, as it is used as a solution in water) and hydrogen peroxide (also in diluted form). Using two liquids enables the device to operate at high altitudes, such as in aircrafts, in polluted environments (including the presence of carbon monoxide in atmospheric air), as well as underwater.


Additionally, ITM Power has developed and filed a British patent on a new early warning system, which indicates when the liquid-fuelled fuel cell is in need of refuelling. The system consists of a colour indicator that allows the colour of the fuel (or the oxidant) to change as the material is exhausted, giving a timely warning of the need to recharge the device.


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

Fuel cells for notebook PCs

Toshiba Corp. of Japan has demonstrated for the first time an operating prototype fuel cell for notebook PCs, although the technology may not be commercialized for another three years because of size, weight and regulatory concerns. The prototype direct methanol fuel cell produces about 20 W of power and can power an A5-size Protege M300 notebook PC for about 10 hours on a single charge of nearly 100 per cent concentration of methanol, according to the company.


The prototype, which has a volume of about 1 litre and weighs about 1 kg, needs to be shrunk to about half or one-third of its present size and weight before it is put on sale, said Mr. Tomoaki Arimura, a specialist at the companys Methanol Fuel Cell Group. Future versions will provide 25-30 W of power. Toshiba will start testing evaluation models of the prototype this year, as there are no basic issues with the technologys power production.


Antig Technology, Taiwan, has developed what it claims is the worlds first CD-ROM-sized fuel cell that can slot into the CD-ROM drive space of a notebook PC. This 435 g direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC), which works on a 10-15 per cent concentration of methanol fuel, produces 10 W and 7.2 V, and measures 190 mm 128 mm 30 mm. Antig has also developed a DMFC-based, 128 g battery charger that can refresh the battery for a third-generation mobile phone in about an hour. The battery recharger produces 3 W and 5.5 V, and has a size of 170 mm 80 mm 15 mm. A 629 g notebook PC version produces 12 W and 17 V, and measures 310 mm 55 mm 50 mm.


Website: www.pcworld.idg.com.au

Fuel cell technology breakthrough

EcoComposite of the United States, a designer of commercial fuel cell systems, has announced the successful test of its proprietary Becker Fuel Cell Plate technology by the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis. The neutral, third-party tests were performed on prototype fuel cells built using the Becker plate technology in a standard configuration.


Test results over a period of two days demonstrated that EcoComposites proprietary plate technology (named after its inventor, Mr. Rolf Becker, founder of EcoComposite) performed appropriately and the performance was similar to that expected from graphite plates normally used in fuel cells, said Mr. Marshall Miller, Senior Development Engineer at the Institute. He added that, based upon the results, there was every expectation that the fuel cell plates would perform well in fuel cell systems and could be used as a more economic alternative to standard graphite and other plate systems available.


Website: www.powerpulse.net

Major reduction in fuel cell costs

Smart Fuel Cell (SFC), Germany, has made an important breakthrough in reducing the costs of fuel cells. A new membrane allows substitution of a minimum 50 per cent of the expensive catalytic platinum. SFCs direct methanol fuel cells follow a simple principle: liquid in-current out. It avoids the high complexity of reformers as well as the difficulties and safety concerns associated with hydrogen storage. SFC products are a reliable a life time of up to 5,000 hours and have cumulatively completed approximately 500,000 operating hours.


Until now, the greatest challenges in marketing fuel cells were the size and the manufacturing costs. In the past, an expensive platinum catalyst was needed to kick-start the electron flow and begin the chemical reaction. Naturally, the larger the fuel cell, the more platinum is needed. SFC has solved both challenges. Another factor in saving on manufacturing costs is the construction. Conventionally, bipolar construction is used for the stacks, but SFC used a monopolar stack design that permitted 70 per cent reduction in stack parts. The result is a miniaturized fuel cell. In a classic fuel cell, these parts account for roughly 90 per cent of the volume, according to SFC.


Contact: Smart Fuel Cell AG, Eugen-Saenger-Ring 4, 85649 Brunnthal Nord, Germany. Tel: +49 (89) 6074 5460; Fax: +49 (89) 6074 5469


E-mail: kontakt@smartfuelcell.de 


Website: www.smartfuelcell.com

New fuel cell production method

Researchers at the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan, the United States, are employing microfabrication, instead of traditional manufacturing processes, to produce fuel cells at a fraction of the current cost. Microfabrication involves the creation of physical structures, devices or composite materials whose component parts are sized around 1 m. The research group is making proton-exchange membrane fuel cells that are the prime candidate to replace batteries in hand-held electronics and vehicles, employing fabrication processes adopted by the modern microelectronics industry. Instead of assembling the separate parts, the fuels cells are made by growing layers upon layers, the same way microelectronic devices are made.


Employing the lower-cost microfabrication manufacturing methods, combined with materials that are less expensive, the scientists hope to reduce the cost of fuel cells from nearly US$10,000 per kW to less than US$1,000 per kW. At this cost, fuel cells could compete with lithium-ion batteries, the power supply for many portable electronic devices.


Website: www.powerpulse.net

Improved catalyst for fuel cells

Hitachi Maxell Ltd. of Japan has developed technology for creating very fine catalysts that could help lower the cost of fuel cells. It added phosphorus to platinum-ruthenium, which is widely used as a catalyst in fuel cells. This made the catalyst finer, which in turn increased reactive surface area and boosted efficiency. Another characteristic of the new catalyst is that there is little variance in granule size: the grains are uniformly 1.5-2.5 nm in diameter. In evaluations with direct methanol fuel cells, the new catalyst achieved a maximum output density 1.7 times as great as conventional platinum-ruthenium catalyst. Hence, platinum usage can be reduced by two-thirds, thus lowering manufacturing costs.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Membrane-free alkaline fuel cell

In the United States,researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, have built a membrane-less alkaline fuel cell that operates without a solid membrane separating fuel and oxidant. The cell, which functions with alkaline chemistry in addition to the more common acidic chemistry, has been developed by exploiting the way liquids do not mix in ultra-narrow channels. The new technology could offer cheaper and more efficient fuel cells.


Eliminating the membranes not only simplified the fuel cells design, but also enabled the first alkaline fuel cells to be built. These cells could potentially be 40 per cent more efficient than the acidic units used now. The new system exploits a phenomenon called laminar flow, where tiny streams of liquid become so viscous that they do not mix as they squeeze past one another. The cell is a 3 cm 1 mm 1 mm cuboid, and produces 0.25 W of power. It has already been used to power a miniature fan in the lab. To power laptops or battery chargers, however, hundreds of tiny cells would have to be arranged in parallel. The chambers of the fuel cell have been reduced to about 0.25 mm so that the liquids were always moving, and that the two could flow past each other without mix, even in the absence of a separating membrane. They still allow the diffusion of protons or hydroxide ions from one side of the cell to the other.


Website: www.powerpulse.net

HYDROGEN ENERGY

Hydrogen caught in glass beads

Dr. James Shelby and Dr. Matthew Hall, two glass scientists from Alfred University School of Engineering, the United States, are developing a new technology for a storage system for hydrogen to power a new generation of vehicles. They have proposed a system that would encapsulate hydrogen at 10,000 psi in microspheres, tiny glass beads that have a 50 micron diameter, about that of a human hair. Glass microspheres are used for a variety of purposes, including delivering minute amounts of radiation to deeply embedded malignancies, such as those in the liver. As they are cheap to produce, glass beads offer an inexpensive way to store the hydrogen.


Hydrogen needs to be stored under pressure and released on demand. The glass spheres themselves hold the pressure on the hydrogen at around 10,000 psi, according to Dr. Shelby, thus eliminating the need to contain the hydrogen in an on-board pressurized tank. The glass beads are extremely strong and even pounding on them does not cause breakage. Even if one of the beads were to break, the amount of hydrogen released would be so small that it would not be dangerous. In the event of an accident, the beads would spill but without pooling under the under the vehicle, and could be safely swept up. Pooled fuel is the major fire risk in accidents.


Recent work done by two graduate students of Dr. Shelby had demonstrated that when a light is shined on the microspheres that have been doped (chemically treated) with an optical activator (something that reacts to light), the hydrogen is rapidly released through microscopic pores. The brighter the light, the faster the hydrogen diffusion, said Dr. Shelby. The hydrogen, which is under high pressure inside the spheres, will diffuse through the pores to the fuel cell. Among the questions still to be answered are what kind of light will be employed and how it will be powered, besides how would the refuelling work.


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

Microbial fuel cell for highhydrogen yield

Penn State environmental engineers and a scientist at Ion Power Inc., the United States, have developed the first process that uses bacteria to coax four times as much hydrogen directly out of biomass than can be generated typically by fermentation alone. They employed a new electrically assisted microbial fuel cell (MFC) that does not require oxygen, and can be used to obtain high yields of hydrogen from any biodegradable, dissolved, organic matter human, agricultural or industrial wastewater, for example and simultaneously clean the wastewater, according to Dr. Bruce Logan, one of the inventors of MFC.


Dr. Hong Liu, a researcher in environmental engineering, Dr. Stephen Grot, president and founder of Ion Power Inc., and Dr. Logan describe the new approach in a paper titled Electrochemically assisted microbial production of hydrogen from acetate. Hydrogen production by bacterial fermentation is currently limited by the fermentation barrier the fact that bacteria, without a power boost, can only convert carbohydrates to a limited amount of hydrogen and a mixture of fermentation end products such as acetic acid and butyric acid. A little assist with a tiny amount of electricity about 0.25 volts to the bacteria can make them leap over the fermentation barrier and convert acetic acid into carbon dioxide and hydrogen.


In the new MFC, when the bacteria eat biomass, they transfer electrons to an anode. The bacteria also re-release protons, which go in to solution. The electrons on the anode migrate via a wire to the cathode, the other electrode in the fuel cell, where they receive electrochemical assistance to combine with the protons and produce hydrogen gas. A voltage of 0.25 volts or more is applied to the circuit by connecting the positive pole of a programmable power supply to the anode and the negative to the cathode.


The researchers call the hydrogen-producing MFC a BEAMR, for Bio-Electrochemically Assisted Microbial Reactor. The BEAMR, besides producing hydrogen, simultaneously cleans the wastewater used as its feedstock.


Website: www.sciencedaily.com

Metal-organic grid for hydrogen storage

A research team from the University of North Carolina and the Department of Energy, the United States, has developed a metal-organic material whose cavities keep hydrogen molecules trapped, paving the way for the design of new storage media. Dr. Wenbin Lin and team worked with compounds of the metal zinc and special organic molecules with six to eight aromatic six-member rings as their central structural element. These metal-organic building blocks crystallize as a three-dimensional grid with very large cubic cavities. These tiny caves are accessible from the outside by means of open channels.


When the crystal is freshly formed, the cavities are first unevenly occupied by solvent molecules, which can easily be removed without the the framework collapsing. The empty cavities can take up hydrogen molecules. At a pressure of 48 bar, it was possible to store 1.12 per cent (for the six-ring compound) to 0.98 per cent (for eight-ring compound) by weight of hydrogen and to release it. This storage capacity is approximately equivalent to that of carbon nanotubes, another material being considered for hydrogen storage. The multiple nested grids allow the hydrogen molecules in the cavities to come into contact with a larger number of aromatic rings than they do in pores of ordinary single grids, and trap them by the highly aromatic, strongly interlocking grid structure.


Website: www.physorg.com

Improving hydrogen storage

In fuel cells, hydrogen is stored at high pressures or very low temperatures. However, Mr. Gijs Schimmel, a researcher at Technological University Delft, the Netherlands, has found that the storage of hydrogen in metal hydrides in fuel cells can be greatly improved by increasing the working temperature of the fuel cell.


Hydrogen storage in metal hydrides has been studied for a long time. However, the problem remains that a high amount of energy and too high a temperature is needed to extract the hydrogen from the compound, which negatively affects the efficiency of the process.


If the fuel cell were to work at a temperature that is higher than normal (200-300C instead of about 80C), then the excess heat from the fuel cell could be used to efficiently extract hydrogen from the storage tank. In this way, the storage of hydrogen using magnesium hydride could be a very interesting option. Another advantage of a higher working temperature is that less deterioration of the catalysts takes place.


Website: www.physorg.com

Adsorbent materials for hydrogen storage

Researchers at the Public University of Navarra, Spain, has begun a study of the design and development of adsorbent materials that enable the storage of hydrogen for use as a fuel. The storage of this element is a key process in the change over from internal combustion engines to those that powered by hydrogen fuel cells.


The project is entitled Development of materials for storage of hydrogen by means of physical adsorption. Currently, hydrogen production is not a problem. For some years now, the gas has been obtained by means of catalytic reforming or by the electrolysis of water. However, the issue hanging over the use of hydrogen as a fuel is its secure and efficient storage in quantities required for a means of transport the has is highly inflammable. Under normal conditions, hydrogen is in gaseous state and thus has to be kept under high pressure or, if the pressure is to be reduced, in low temperature. These two conditionalities raises technological difficulties, besides the added safety concerns.


There are various ways to store hydrogen: pressurized, liquidized, absorbed into metals (as hydrides) and physically adsorbed in suitable materials. This last method, involving the physical adsorption onto porous materials, is what is being studied in this current research project, the end of which is projected for next year. In concrete terms, the study is being carried out employing nanoporous materials the pore size of which is as small as 10-6 metres.


The mentioned research team has commenced work on three families of materials activated carbons, zeolites and stacked clays. These materials fulfil four requisites: they have mechanical resistance and are safe, light and cheap.


Storage based on physical adsorption holds the potential for higher energy efficiency than the rest of the storage options, given that hydrogen is retained at a low temperature and 100 per cent of the hydrogen adsorbed can be recovered. The low boiling point of hydrogen (-253C) makes it necessary to work with temperatures of about -196C so as to attain sufficient quantitative adsorption of hydrogen. The freeing of the physically adsorbed hydrogen can be, moreover, a rapid process and can be carried out easily with small changes of pressure and/or temperature.


Website: www.sciencedaily.com

WASTE-TO-ENERGY

Fuel from waste rubber

Scientists from the Centre for Biomass Energy, under the Karunya deemed university in Coimbatore, India, have developed a method for extracting fuel from waste rubber through flash pyrolysis process.


The tyres consist of three components: organic rubber, which constitutes 70 per cent of the tyre mass, the filler carbon black, which forms 25 per cent of the tyre, and a number of additives that comprise the remaining five per cent. In the process developed, waste tyre is first granulated and then fed into a fluidized bed maintained at 500C. In the absence of oxygen, the organic material undergoes pyrolysis, during which a number of hydrocarbons evolve. The light hydrocarbons escape as gas while the majority of heavy hydrocarbons condense into a liquid, which can be used as fuel. The remaining char after grinding is very close to carbon black in its properties and can be used as filler for various rubber products. According to the researchers, about 60-65 per cent of liquid fuel can be obtained through this process. The technological challenge in the process lies in the optimization of three process variables temperature, particle size and residence time of raw material to ensure maximum yield. The process is said to be energy-efficient, besides being self-sustaining and economically viable.


Website: www.keralanext.com

Liquid hydrocarbon from biomass- plastics mixtures

Polyolefins contain high amounts of hydrogen, which they yield when subjected to thermal co-processing with coal, increasing the yield of light hydrocarbon fraction. Earlier studies have successfully converted mixtures of wood biomass and polyethylene into liquid products. A research team from the Institute of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, Russia, Laboratoire de Chimie Industrielle of Universit de Metz, France and Instituto de Carboquimica, Spain, recently studied the influence of co-treatment process conditions on the composition and yield of liquid products from plastics/ biomass mixtures and concluded that liquids resulting from pyrolysis and hydropyrolysis of such mixtures can be used as chemical feedstock and their light hydrocarbon fraction as motor fuel component.


The research team found that the degree of biomass/plastic mixture conversion (72-80 per cent) did not significantly change with temperature variations of co-pyrolysis in the range 370-460C. The main effect of high temperature was increased amount of gaseous products with corresponding decrease in liquids yield. The maximum yield of liquids (about 50 per cent wt.) was obtained at 370-400C. As was expected, the degree of conversion increased with the increase of plastic concentration in biomass/plastic mixture, while variations in biomass type had much less effect. The highest yield of light hydrocarbon fraction (25.0 per cent wt.) was obtained with cellulose and the lowest (17.1 per cent wt.) with hydrolytic lignin. Gas products from biomass/plastic co-pyrolysis contain 10 times less olefins than that of plastic (PE, PP) pyrolysis.


The researchers found that hydropyrolysis of biomass/plastic mixture resulted in higher degree of conversion (by 1.2 times) and increased yield of light liquids with bp <180C (by 1.6-1.8 times) as compared with co-pyrolysis in an inert atmosphere. The addition of activated iron ore catalyst increased the degree of mixture conversion and the yield of light hydrocarbon fraction. Pyrhotite catalyst yields the highest amount of light fraction (40 per cent wt. for beech-wood/PE mixture with ratio 1:1 at 400C). The highest degree of conversion (91 per cent wt.) was observed for activated haematite catalyst. The formation of light liquids is promoted by hydrogen pressure, which suppresses the char formation and facilitates the thermal cracking of heavy liquid products. It was found that the degree of pinewood conversion increased with the plastics content in the mixture.


According to the researchers, the composition of heavy liquids of co-pyrolysis process greatly depends on the biomass/plastics ratio. The contents of wood pyrolysis liquids are mostly polyaromatics (eluted with dichlormethane TGF mixture) and polars (eluted with n-hexane). The addition of plastics to wood biomass increases the concentration of saturates and light aromatics with corresponding decrease (by a few times) in polar compounds. In fractions eluted with hexane, more significant influence of plastics nature was detected on their composition. For example, beech wood/a-PP co-pyrolysis liquid contained branched hydrocarbons, which were absent in the beach-wood/PE co-pyrolysis liquid fraction.


Website: www.bioproducts-bioenergy.gov 

PUBLICATIONS

Renewable Energy 2005

The publication provides an informative and detailed review of technical issues, policy matters, management and financial considerations, environmental factors, sustainable development issues, as well as technological developments. It covers every aspect of renewable energy including developments in wind technology, hydro-energy, solar energy, photovoltaic power, geothermal processes and biomass. Renewable Energy 2005 is published by the World Renewable Energy Network (WREN).


Contact: Sovereign Publications Ltd., Meridien House, 42 Upper Berkeley Street, London W1H 5QJ, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (20) 7616 0800; Fax: +44 (20) 7724 1444


E-mail: sales@sovereign-publications.com

Planning and Installing Bioenergy Systems

Planning and Installing Bioenergy Systems reviews the main bioenergy technologies and offers relevant best-practice examples. It includes clear technical details, data tables and illustrations explaining the fundamentals of different bioenergy projects.


Beginning with an overview of the technologies and types of system available, this guide is packed with essential know-how on anaerobic digestion, biofuels, small-scale ovens, large-scale boilers and gasifiers. Each technology is explained by examining the overall system and its components, planning, operation, maintenance, installation and economics.


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


E-mail: orders@jxj.com

Wind and Solar Power Systems: Design, Analyses and Operation

This second edition of the widely appreciated book includes new chapters and sub-chapters that describe new technologies developed during the last five years. It presents methods for extracting maximum power from a given site and covers fundamentals of wind and solar power generation. The book also explains how to design key features of a power system.


Contact: CRC Press LLC, 6000 Broken Sound Parkway, NW, (Suite 300), Boca Raton, FL 33487, United States of America. Tel: +1 (561) 994 0555; Fax: +1 (561) 989 9732.


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