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VATIS Update Non-conventional Energy . Nov-Dec 2005

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New and Renewable Energy Nov-Dec 2007

ISSN: 0971-5630

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

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

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Contents

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IN THE NEWS

New energy centre promotes South Asian resources

Energy ministers and senior officials from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka met recently in Islamabad and agreed to set up a Regional Energy Centre in Pakistan. The new centre will promote cooperation in the development and utilization of all forms of energy whether commercial, non-commercial, renewable or non-renewable. It will:
 
  • Set up a regional energy data- base;
     
  • Promote energy trade including establishment of regional energy grids;
     
  • Exploit coal resources using economic, clean fossil fuel technologies; and
     
  • Develop hydropower and renewable energy resources.
     

The countries agreed on sharing of best practices in the energy sector including, but not limited to, rural electrification, compressed natural gas, and solar, wind, bio-fuels and other technologies. They would promote efficiency, conservation and human resource development in the energy sector. They would also exchange experts and cooperate with regional and international agencies.


Website: www.renewableenergyaccess.com


India fourth in wind power capacity

Globally, the installed wind power capacity has crossed 50,000 MW. India figures among the countries with the largest wind generation facilities, and has recently overtaken Denmark to occupy the fourth place in total installed wind power capacity. India now ranks after Germany, Spain and the United States. The total installed wind generation capacity in India added up to 3,595 MW about 3 per cent of the total installed generation capacity in the country. Over 1,100 MW of this has been added in 2004-05. The state of Tamil Nadu takes the lead with over 2,000 MW of installed capacity, while Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Gujarat also have major installations. The main suppliers of wind turbines in India are Suzlon, Vestas and Enercon.


Of the global installed wind power capacity of 50,000 MW, almost 70 per cent is in Europe Germany, Spain and Denmark. The other large user of wind energy is the United States, with almost 7,000 MW of installed capacity. China is also considering wind energy as a potential power source. By the end of 2004, it had 769 MW of installed capacity in wind power of which almost 200 MW was added during that year itself. The website of Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association mentions that the Chinese government has set a target of 4,000 MW wind generating capacity by 2010 and 20,000 MW by 2020.


Website: www.economictimes.indiatimes.com

Malaysia promotes solar townships

Ministry of Energy, Water and Com- munications of Malaysia is moving ahead to incite interest in a renewable energy project that it will launch in 2006. Suria 1000 would give the public the rare opportunity of generating their own solar power. Based on similar projects in Europe and Japan, the project will offer building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) systems at affordable prices that will make them accessible for the public.


As the systems are limited in number, people will have to bid for them. Bidding will start at 25 per cent of the capital price, which is M$25,000 (about US$6,620) for a 1 kW system. An average household will typically need a 2 kW or 3 kW system. The starting bid will be raised each year, to encourage public participation early on in the project. For the first of the four-year project, BIPV systems totalling 1,000 kW in capacity will be offered.


Suria 1000 is part of the Ministrys five-year, M$100 million Malaysia BIPV (MBIPV) project to develop the local solar energy market. The Malaysia Energy Centre (MEC) is implementing the project on behalf of the ministry. MBIPV project will promote BIPV technology which covers PV that can be incorporated into building structures such as the roofs, faades, walls, windows and shades instead of the traditional mounted solar PV. Partially funded by the United Nations Development Programme / Global Environment Facility, MBIPV will include training workshops to create awareness of solar energy, promote a local PV industry and build up expertise in BIPV technology. Laws and policies that encourage BIPV development will also be addressed.


Several facilities one is the new MEC building will incorporate BIPV technology to serve as showcase sites. By 2010, a minimum of 1.5 MW of solar energy would have been added to the grid. PV installations in rural areas presently have a capacity of 2.5 MW, while those in urban areas have 500 kW connected to the grid. Households participating in Suria 1000 will use the solar energy, and any excess will be fed into the electricity grid and sold to Tenaga Nasional Berhad in a net metering system, different from Germanys feed-in system.


Website: www.peopleandplanet.net

Pakistan goes in for solar lighting

Pakistans Ministry of Science and Technology has approved a project on Development of low-power, high-intensity solar lights, which will be completed in one year at a cost of US$6.77 million. Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technology will execute the project. The solar lights would be used by inhabitants in the countrys backward areas that are not connected to the electricity grid, as well as by the ongoing rural electrification projects. In addition, some of these lights would also be utilized in urban areas for creating awareness and popularizing the use of photovoltaics on mass scale.


Ch. Nouraiz Khan, Federal Minister for science and technology, said that Pakistan was investing significantly in solar energy projects, since the weather was suitable for solar power generation. The LED-based solar light would be very useful because it is direct current-based and power consumption is low. The white LED (WLED) has brought a virtual revolution in light bulbs in the past few years. It uses a fraction of energy as compared with the incandescent bulbs and yet delivers adequate light for a variety of tasks. The energy-saving quality of WLED allows the use of smaller solar panels and batteries, thus reducing the overall cost of the system.


Website: www.onlinenews.com.pk

Philippines to get Spanish funding for solar energy

Spain will lend the Philippines US $27 million to set up solar energy systems for remote villages under a land reform programme, said the Philippine government officials. The Philippines would contribute about US$50.2 million to the project. Solar-powered systems would serve to boost agricultural productivity, and electrify various community facilities such as school buildings and potable water systems in areas that does not have access to power grid. Close to 55,000 households in the central and southern Philippines will be provided with photovoltaic energy systems for agriculture and small business.


www.manilastandardtoday.com

Malaysia to use biodiesel as fuel in 2007

Biodiesel will be used as a fuel in the country from 2007, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui. The ministry is currently formulating the National Biofuel Policy that will outline the plans, measures, direction and benefits, he stated in the Parliament. Datuk Peter Chin said that following the rise in the prices of petroleum fuels, many quarters have shown an interest in producing biodiesel, and the government has been seriously involved in R&D of biodiesel.


According to Datuk Peter Chin, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) would build a demonstration plant at a cost of about US$15.8 million (M$60 million) in the coming year. The research on producing biodiesel or methyl ester from palm oil had begun in the country in 1982 and MPOB had put forward its technology to be patented in 1983. Studies on the use of biodiesel were begun in early 1983 with vehicles of MPOB, he added. The studies undertaken included the running of 36 buses on the fuel, and each bus registered a distance exceeding 300,000 km, the mileage recommended by manufacturers of the engine to indicate that palm diesel was suitable as an alternative fuel for diesel engines. However, the production of biodiesel on a commercial basis has not been well received until now because the prices of petroleum fuels had been lower than the cost of producing biodiesel, Datuk Peter Chin said.


Website: www.bernama.com.my

China makes rapid strides in renewable energy usage

China has made great progress in recent years in the utilization of renewable energy resources, with an average annual growth rate above 25 per cent the fastest growth in the worlds energy field. By the end of 2004, the installed hydropower capacity in China had reached 110 million kilowatts.


There are 43 wind power generation fields participating in the power network with a total installed capacity of 760,000 kW. Solar photovoltaic cells account for around 60,000 kW, while solar water heating accounts for above 40 per cent of the worlds total. More than 11 million households in rural areas generate biogas while large and medium methane generation projects total more than 2,000, and have an annual capacity of about 5.5 billion cubic metres.


Website: www.english.people.com.cn

Pakistan wants wind to play major part

Pakistan is beginning commercial exploitation of wind energy, as the government aims to produce some 10 per cent of its power from renewable sources by 2015, with wind to play a major part. Prime Minister Mr. Shaukat Aziz has written into the current five-year plan 880 MW wind power capacity to be reached by 2010, which would mean about 175 MW per year.


The Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB), which reports directly to the prime ministers office, has installed 40 wind masts in the country to study possible locations. The first is now to be developed near the small town of Gharo near the metropolis of Karachi (population about 15 million) on the Arabian Sea. In the coming years, 500 MW wind energy facilities are to be installed here on government lands.


AEDB has chosen ten enterprises, each of which can install up to 50 MW. They include Vestas, Siemens and Fuhrlnder AG. Through New Park Energy Ltd. a group of German and Pakistani investors and developers GE Energy has bagged the first order for 30 plants of the 1.5 MW class. GE Energy says that the 45 MW farm near Port Qasium will be operative by the end of this year. The Karachi Electric Supply Company has assured the feeding-in of up to 800 MW. There are neither fixed rates nor state subsidies, and all tariffs have to be negotiated with the two large electricity companies of the region, which are half-owned by the state.


Website: www.windpoweronline.com

Landfill power plant in Malaysia bags energy award

Malaysias first landfill gas-to-energy plant recently bagged the first prize in the renewable energy project competition at the 2005 Asean Energy Ministers meeting in Seam Reap, Cambodia. The landfill gas-energy project at Jana secured the prize for technical excellence in the competitions on-grid category. The power plant began commercial operation in February 2004. Jana landfill plant is an important first step for the government, which is planning a series of such projects to help the country meet from renewable sources 5 per cent of its energy demands within the next several years.


GE Energy had supplied the two containerized Jenbacher JGC 320 GS-LL generator sets for the Jana landfill plant. The plant was developed by Jana Landfill Sdn. Bhd. which is a joint venture between the TSPL, a Tenaga Nasional Berhad subsidiary, and Worldwide Landfills Sdn. Bhd., which operates the landfill.


The Jana landfill, located 40 km outside Kuala Lumpur, is one of the citys main municipal storage waste sites. The landfills gas is being used to generate 2.096 MW of electricity and an expansion of the plant is on the cards. Utilizing free fuel sources, which would otherwise be flared or vented, as is the case with the Jana site, provides a clear source of cost-effective power generation that countries can tap to meet their renewable energy goals, said Mr. Barry Glickman, general manager, GE Energys Jenbacher gas engine division.


Website: www.theedgedaily.com

Philippines to get its second wind power farm

Smith Bell Wind Technologies Inc., the Danish partner in the San Carlos Wind Farm project in the Philippines, said that construction of the wind power farm would start by the end of next year. According to Ms. Ruth Owen, Smith-Bell president, the company will spend US$55 million (more than P3 billion) for the construction of the wind power farm, which is tipped to have 19-24 turbine generators, each with a capacity of 1.5-2.0 MW. The facility, second in the country, is to be located around Mount Malindog in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental. The first such project was in Ilocos Norte.


Once operational, the wind power farm will supply power to the electric distribution utilities in the Negros and Panay sub-grids. Of the total project cost, about US$31.8 million (P1.7 billion) would be spent for the acquisition of the turbine, with the remaining amount to be used in the construction and development of the facilities. Bulk of the US$ 41.2 million (P2.2 billion) cost is expected to come from loans. The project proponents have sought Danish foreign aid and loan from European banks.


The second phase of the wind-power project would be bigger, with a capacity of 60 MW, and requiring US$ 110 million. In 2000, Smith Bell began monitoring the wind speed in the province using three 20 m high masts. In 2004, it installed a new 60 m net mast to validate the earlier measured data, which suggested an expected gross generation output of 75-80 million kilowatt hours a year, or equal to the consumption of around 150,000 households.


Website: www.abs-cbnnews.com

SOLAR ENERGY

Researchers explore cheaper solar energy

Approximately 50 per cent of the solar cell market is based around the production of solar cells made out of multi-crystalline silicon. Solar cells use the photovoltaic (PV) effect for the conversion of sunlight to usable energy. Researchers at the University of California Berkeley (UCB), the United States, have developed a technique to reduce the cost of producing solar cells made of low-grade silicon. The technique could provide a safer and cleaner energy source.


Solar cells often contain metal contaminants that can reduce quality and performance. As it is difficult and expensive to remove iron and copper that damage the efficiency of energy storage in silicon material, techniques developed to address such problems havent had much success, the researchers said. UCB researchers developed a simple and inexpensive way that would allow them to collect most of the metal impurities in a few large clusters. Our finding is actually based on examining existing solar cells, and we found that some of them contained extraordinarily large amounts of metals but still showed good performance, said Prof. Eicke Weber of the Materials Science and Engineering Department.


Depending on previously developed technologies such as synchrotron-based X-ray microscopy, the scientists were able to detect nano-scale metal particles that were difficult to identify in the past. Synchrotron radiation creates more intense X-ray resolution that can provide sufficient information on spatial resolution, chemical identity of metals and chemical binding. In addition to using synchrotron radiation, researchers found that the distribution of metal impurities could be varied according to different cooling rates applied to the silicon. A slower cooling rate leads to the formation of few large clusters of metal impurities.


This new technique can lead to efficient use and applications of solar cells in many everyday activities. Though the new technique is revolutionary, researchers still hope to further understand more efficient methods for producing solar cells. Researchers hope to make more progress in tweaking current energy manufacturing processes. By doing so, solar energy could offer a cost-effective and more environmentally friendly alternative to the primary use of gas, oil or coal.


Website: www.dailycal.org

New rechargeable solar cell

Solaris Nanosciences Corporation, the United States, has developed and demonstrated a new, nontoxic chemical process designed to yield a fully rechargeable dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC), creating what the company believes to be a long-life photovoltaic (PV) system with the lowest manufacturing cost in the world. Traditionally, DSSCs have suffered from limited operating lifetimes owing to the degradation of the sensitizing dyes. Solaris chemical process allows the degraded dye in already installed DSSCs to be removed and replaced with new dye, restoring the performance of the original solar cell.


The process, which can be performed by the existing base of heating and air-conditioning businesses, requires less than 30 minutes and extends the operating life of these PVs beyond that of silicon to more than 30 years, claims Mr. Nabil M. Lawandy, chief executive officer of Solaris. In addition to replacing the original dyes, the process can also recharge using newer dyes. This allows the original installed system to be upgraded, rather than completely replaced. Solaris recharging process and its performance were independently verified at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at Lausanne, where DSSCs were invented.


Contact: Solaris Nanosciences Corporation, 321 South Main Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02903, United States of America. Tel: +1 (401) 351 6300; Fax: +1 (401) 274 3127


E-mail: info@solarisnano.com


Website: www.masshightech.com

Trapping solar energy in a pond of water

A solar pond that can be used to generate electricity is being tested in Pondicherry, for the first time in India. Such ponds, which employ saline water to trap and store solar energy for long time, can perhaps supply power to remote rural areas, said Dr. Isaac from National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), Bangalore, who explained the workings of a solar pond.


In solar ponds, convection currents that would normally exist between layers of water at different temperatures are suppressed and a layer of hot water formed at the bottom of the pond. The hot water is then drawn off and used to power a turbine and electricity is generated. The layer of water at the bottom is the storage zone, the one above it is the insulation zone and then there is the upper convection zone. A salinity gradient is maintained constantly in the pond by adding more salt such that the layer of water in the bottom is always most dense.


The pond was designed in such a way that water in the storage zone of the pond reaches a temperature of 74C the best suited temperature for the operation of the pond. Next, the solar pond is coupled with an organic Rankine cycle engine to generate electricity. The hot water layer from the pond is drawn off and circulated through a chamber containing methylene chloride, which has a low boiling point. Methylene chloride vaporizes and expands to power a turbine. The salt water is circulated back into the pond. Special funnels are used to remove the water and return it to the pond, as it is critical to avoid turbulence in the pond.


The solar pond, which is currently under testing on the grounds of the Pondicherry Engineering College, is a joint undertaking by the Pondicherry Experimental Solar Pond Power Project Society (funded by the Government of Pondicherry) and NAL. The 500 m2 pond, which can generates 12.5 kW of electricity for one hour a day, is to be followed up with a 2,000 m2 pond to be built on the same premises. Dr Isaac said that the solar pond in Pondicherry is the worlds first Rankine cycle engine that used methylene chloride.


Website: www.deccanherald.com

Affordable plastic solar energy cells

In the United States, researchers at the Henry Samuel School of Engineering and Applied Science of University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) hope to meet the growing demand for alternative energy with a new and more affordable way to harness the suns rays: using solar cell panels made out of everyday plastics. In a research paper published in Nature Materials magazine, professor of engineering Dr. Yang Yang, post-doctoral researcher Dr. Gang Li and graduate student Mr. Vishal Shrotriya showcase their work on an innovative new plastic (or polymer) solar cell that they hope can eventually be produced at a mere 10-20 per cent of the current cost of traditional cells, making the technology more widely available.


The price for quality traditional solar modules typically is around three to four times more than fossil fuel. While prices have dropped since the early 1980s, the solar module itself still represents nearly half the total installed cost of a traditional solar energy system. Currently, nearly 90 per cent of solar cells in the world are made from a highly purified form of silicon, the material used in the manufacture of ICs. The availability of quality silicon has been sharply reduced by the high demand from the computer industry, resulting in prohibitively high costs that rule out solar energy as a viable option for the average consumer.


UCLAs solar cell, which is made of a single layer of plastic sandwiched between two electrodes, is easy to mass-produce and costs much less to make roughly one-third of the cost of traditional silicon solar technology. The polymers employed in its construction are commercially available in such large quantities that Dr. Yang hopes cost-conscious consumers worldwide will quickly adopt the technology. Independent tests at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have already given the UCLA solar cell high marks. The 4.4 per cent efficiency achieved is the highest number yet published for plastic solar cells, according to Dr. Yang.


Given the strides the team already has made with the technology, Dr. Yang calculates he will be able to double the efficiency percentage in a very short period of time. The target for polymer solar cell performance is ultimately about 15-20 per cent efficiency, with a 15-20 year lifespan. Large-sized silicon modules with the same lifespan have typically a 14-18 per cent efficiency rating. The plastic solar cell is still a few years away from being available to consumers, but the UCLA team is working diligently to get it to market.


Website: www.physorg.com

Solar modules for industrial sector

ICP Solar Technologies, Canada, has launched a new range of industrial solar panels, tailor-made for a variety of off-grid solar energy applications with less than 50 W power requirements. Power ratings range from 3 W to 42 W, while voltage outputs may be custom-configured from 6 V to 36 V. Application size can be in fractions or multiples of the standard ICP solar panel that measures 930 mm 330 mm. Based on ICPs proprietary solar technology and manufactured according to strict ISO 9001:2000 processes, ICP industrial solar panels are framed in anodized aluminium to offer exceptional durability. Recent independent product testing by researchers from Humboldt State University and the University of California Berkeley established ICP industrial solar panels as the most powerful in their class.


Contact: ICP Solar Technologies Inc., 6995 Jeanne-Mance, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3N 1W5. Tel: +1 (514) 270 57 70; Fax: +1 (514) 270 36 77


E-mail: info-customers@icpsolar.com 


Website: www.solarbuzz.com 

Nanotechnology to spawn cheaper, durable solar cell

Alternative energy source that can be painted on to a roof or rolled up into a backpack may soon become a reality, thanks to a breakthrough in solar research by a team of researchers from New Mexico State University (NMSU) and Wake Forest University in the United States.


While traditional solar panels are made of silicon which is expensive and very brittle organic solar cells being developed by this team are made of plastic that is relatively inexpensive, flexible, can be wrapped around structures or applied like paint, said Mr. Seamus Curran, a physicist and head of the nanotechnology laboratory at NMSU.


The relatively low energy efficiency levels of organic solar cells have been a drawback. To be effective producers of energy, they must be able to convert 10 per cent of the energy in sunlight to electricity. Typical silicon panels are about 12 per cent efficient in energy conversion. That level of energy conversion has been a difficult reach for organic solar technology, which reach about 3 to 4 per cent. The NMSU/Wake Forest team, however, has achieved a solar energy efficiency level of 5.2 per cent.


Conventional thinking has been that that landmark was about a decade away. Our expectation is to get beyond 10 per cent in the next five years, Mr. Curran said. Our current mix is using polymer and carbon buckyballs (fullerenes) and good engineering from Wake Forest and unique NSOM imaging from NMSU to get to that point. NSOM or near-field scanning optical microscopy allows them to scan objects too small for regular microscopes.


Website: www.physorg.com

Large area solar cell on transparent thin-film plastic

XsunX Inc., the United States, has announced the development of large area integrated solar cell modules on transparent polyester films. This represents a milestone for the company under its Phase III development programme to perfect a scalable manufacturing method for large area solar cells on inexpensive thin film based on polyethylene naphthalate (PEN). In Phase III, the XsunX has been working to refine, enhance and develop additional aspects of its solar cell design and manufacturing process. The company can now provide manufacturers with large area working samples of its Power GlassTM a novel building-integrated photovoltaic solar technology that allows glass windows to produce electricity from the power of the sun films for product integration and development efforts.


The core design of the companys manufacturing process is based on a patented multi-chamber cluster tool approach using cassettes to control or handle rolls of thin plastic films. The rolls of transparent plastic films are loaded into cassettes, and moved between chambers or stations using robots. Transparent semiconductor and conducting materials are deposited in layers onto the plastics in a manner that prevents cross contamination between chambers to get high- performance, semi-transparent, large area solar cell devices.


Contact: XsunX Inc., 65 Enterprise, Aliso Viejo, California, CA 92656, United States of America. Tel: +1 (949) 330 8060; Fax: +1 (949) 330 8061


E-mail: info@xsunx.com


Website: www.primezone.com

WIND ENERGY

Wind power generator for the grid

The Shenyang Industry University of China has successfully developed and connected to grid a megawatt-level vertical shift constant frequency (VSCF) wind power generator, installed at the Liaoning Xianrendao Wind Mill. With a localization rate above 85 per cent, all major components of the wind power generator including vanes, gearbox, turbine and controller are all designed and manufactured in China.


The system is able to produce an output of 1 MW, and is designed with a vane of 60.62 m across, a height of 91.76 m and a weight of 138 t. The generator will go through 2,000 hours of test run in three phases to verify security performance, design functions and parameter indicators. Two such VSCF wind power generators, which can be driven either directly or in varied speeds, are set up for the trial operation. The development marks a raised technical level in Chinas energy equipment manufacturing. China has placed major emphasis for wind power generation in the 11th Five-year Plan period (2006-2010), and is targeting 4 million kilowatts installed wind power capacity by 2010.


Website: www.most.gov.cn

Solutions to abrasion and erosion in wind generator vanes

Wind generator vanes can suffer degradation by erosion, particularly at their outer edge, produced by suspended particles (dust, sand, etc.) in the air. Because of this, the ever-increasing presence of wind parks in zones of extreme climate puts an onus on optimizing the protective coating material, with the aim of guaranteeing good yields, even in the most extreme conditions. The main parameters that affect this phenomenon are the gel-coat characteristics (type, hardness, thickness) and lineal velocity of the vane, and the concentration and characteristics (hardness, granulometry) of the abrasive particles. The time of exposure of the vanes to an aggressive environment is, of course, the determining factor.


The optimization of gel-coat characteristics on wind generator vanes has been the main objective of the project in which the Basque technological centre INASMET, in Spain, collaborated with the vane manufacturer, Fiberblade. The project is based on the study and quantification of the characteristics and pro-perties of the gel-coat habitually used with vanes and the various systems of alternative protection. The factors selected as most relevant for a good protection against external agents were: adherence, erosion resistance, flexibility, lengthening of break, hardness and resistance to atmospheric agents.


Developing specific trials, in which the determining erosion factors are reproduced in a very realistic manner, is one of the main activities of this project. The end aim is to enable a comparison of laboratory tests on various coatings to determine the most suitable to counter the effects of erosion.


Website: www.innovations-report.com

Wind turbines measure up in grid response

Nordex AG, Germany, has raised the grid connection response of its multi-megawatt turbines to a level comparable to that of conventional power stations. Simulation calculations as well as practical field-tests with a 2.5 MW turbine demonstated that the electrical and mechanical protection systems of the turbines complied with the strict requirements of German grid operator EON-Netz. An independent measuring institute also confirmed the results of field-tests on the entire system.


To exhibit a grid response similar to thermal power stations in the event of any grid errors, wind turbines must not automatically disconnect from the grid but, on the contrary, provide additional support. To comply with these requirements, Nordex modified a number of key components fitted to its turbines. Using an artificially triggered short circuit in a wind park, Nordex showed that its turbines fed in reactive power (range of 0.90 ind. 0.05 cap.) within 20 ms of an error occurring, thus fulfilling the public grid connection rules. In the event of grid short-circuiting, the frequency transformer performs a defined sequence of activities permitting swift de-magnetization of the generator and then synchronizing it to the residual voltage remaining after the error has occurred. During short circuit, the turbines remain on line for a defined period and supply reactive power to support the grid. Within 5 seconds of the error being remedied, the turbines go back to supplying 100 per cent of their potential.


Website: www.windfair.net

Silent vertical axis turbine

Carbon Concepts Ltd., the United Kingdom, has developed a vertical axis turbine, for domestic and industrial use, which is claimed to offer an almost silent operation even at high speed and load. The performance and cost-effectiveness of the turbine derive from the advanced technology generator and the aerodynamics and structure of the rotor set. The rotor has been designed in accordance with the best available low-speed aerodynamic technology and is fully optimized for the unusual conditions of the vertical axis wind turbine. Most of the functionality of the turbine is based on the use of carbon fibre, a material that has added fatigue resistance. Testing has confirmed that the rotor is nearly silent even at high speed and load. The wind turbine also has a carbon spar made with glass-fibre skin, which is required to keep the fatigue levels below the endurance limit, providing a virtually infinite life.


The turbine currently drives an electrical generator, but would equally support water or hydraulic pumps and heat pumps. The first models built as fully portable, stand-alone units have completed evaluation of its performance and is currently undergoing endurance and structural testing.


Contact: Carbon Concepts Ltd., Unit A2, Lower Mantle Close, Bridge Str. Industrial Estate, Clay Cross, Derbyshire, S45 9NU, United Kingdom. Tel:  +44 (1246) 250570


E-mail: nickmcleod@carbonconcepts.freeserve.co.uk


Website: www.netcomposites.com

Controllers for variable speed wind turbine

A group of researchers at the Ris National Laboratory, Denmark, has developed wind turbine controller designs based on PI-regulation of rotor speed and power through the collective blade pitch angle and generator moment. The aero-elastic and electrical modelling used for the time-domain analysis of these three controllers differ, but there are similarities in behaviours such as:
 
  • Very similar step responses in rotor speed, pitch angle and power are seen for simulations with steps in wind speed and turbulent inflow; and
     
  • All controllers show a peak in power for wind speed step-up over rated wind speed, which can be removed by changing the parameters of the frequency converter.
     

The dynamic modelling of the power controller is an important result for the inclusion of generator dynamics in the aero-elastic modelling of wind turbines. A reduced dynamic model of the relation between generator torque and generator speed variations shows how the transfer function parameters for the control system with the power PI-regulator can be derived from generator data sheet.


The main results of the numerical optimization of the control parameters in the pitch PI-regulator are the following:

  • Numerical optimization can be used to tune controller parameters, especially when the optimization is employed to refine a qualified initial guess;
     
  • The design model employed to calculate the initial value parameters could not be refined much in terms of performance related to the flap-wise blade root moment (1-2 per cent) and tilt tower base moment (2-3 per cent).
     
  • Numerical optimization of control parameters is not well suited for tuning from scratch. If the initial parameters are too far off track, the simulation might not come through or a non-representative local maximum obtained.


Website: www.risoe.dk


Megawatt series of wind turbines

GE Energy, the United States, has expanded its 1.5-MW series of wind turbines to include the model 1.5xle designed for efficient operation in weak-wind areas. A prototype of the 1.5xle wind turbine is currently undergoing performance testing, which is scheduled for completion by the end of the year. GEs 1.5se wind turbines feature a rotor diameter of 70.5 m for strong or Class I wind areas. The 1.5sle has a 77 m rotor diameter, ideal for Class II, and the new 1.5xle offers a rotor diameter of 82.5 m, for Class III or weaker wind applications. Test bed trials for 1.5xle returned successful results. The 1.5xle series is available with tower heights of 58.7 m, 80 m and 100 m.


GE Energy is launching its new 2.5 MW and 3 MW machines. Evolving from its earlier 2.x MW series design, the new 2.5 MW and 3 MW turbines introduce a number of innovations, including a permanent magnet generator, a modular converter with full power conversion and advanced control technologies. GE already has successfully tested and installed a 2.5 MW prototype wind turbine, while the installation of the first 3 MW tur- bine will be in the summer of 2006.


At the heart of the new turbines is a force flow optimized bedplate: it joins all nacelle components on a common structure, providing more durability. The new 2.5 MW machine will be available with a 100 m rotor diameter, while the 3 MW turbine will offer 90 m and 94 m rotor diameters for higher energy capture. Advanced control features such as a sophisticated pitch regulation system with power/torque control capability and improved use of the drive train damper alleviate the increased loads of the larger rotor. Both units employ a highly efficient permanent magnet synchronous generator, enabling higher efficiency. The turbines are compatible with 50 Hz and 60 Hz grid systems, and come with an on-board crane designed to simplify service.


Website: www.tdworld.com

WAVE/TIDAL ENERGY

Tide is set to turn for clean power

Tidal Hydraulic Generators Limited, the United Kingdom, is designing an underwater turbine, similar to a small wind turbine, which can be submerged in a scour channel an undersea valley through which there is a constant tidal flow of 2-4 knots and can be used as a high-energy power source. The ballasted turbine unit will rest on the scoured seabed at a depth of some 60 m, where it will reap the full benefit of tidal flow. There, it will be deep enough to avoid potential damage from the effects of storms that can whip up violent surface waves, disturbing underwater tidal flows. The turbine head is designed to turn through 360 to seek the tidal direction.


The environmental impact is virtually zero: there is no need for foundations that would disturb the seabed; nothing on the surface of the sea, so no visual impact; and lubrication is by vegetable oil, says Mr. Richard Ayre of Tidal Hydraulic Generators. He adds that the capital investment required for this tidal flow power system is highly cost-competitive. It could generate power at between half and the same cost as offshore wind farms, without any structures to spoil coastal views or hamper shipping. Energy generation would be fully predictable, with operators aware of exactly how much power it would produce and when.


Website: www.engineeringnews.co.za

New device for wave energy capture

In the United Kingdom, the University of Manchester (UM) and the UM Intellectual Property Limited (UMIP) in partnership with Mowlem plc and Royal Haskoning, have developed an innovative wave energy device, the Manchester Bobber. The device utilizes the rise and fall of the water surface. This movement transmits energy, which is then extracted by the mechanics to drive a generator and produce electricity. The devices unique features include:
  • It will respond to waves from any direction without any adjustment;
     
  • The vulnerable mechanical and electrical components are housed in a protected environment above sea level, which makes for easy accessibility;
     
  • All components electrical and mechanical are readily available, resulting in high reliability compared with other devices; and
     
  • The ability to maintain and repair specific generators (independent of others in a linked group) means that supply to the network can continue uninterrupted.

Professor Peter Stansby, co-inventor of the device and professor of Hydrodynamics at UM, said that is was the hydrodynamics of the float employed by the Manchester Bobber that provided the vital connection to generating electricity.


Contact: Mr. Simon Hunter, Media Relations Officer, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (161) 27 58387.


Website: www.manchester.ac.uk


Reliable tidal wave power generator

The Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion, China, has recently rolled out a stable tidal wave power generating system. The new system is composed of three major components: a stand-alone tidal wave power generating system, a system that makes fresh water using wave energy and a floating recharging system. The tidal wave power generating system is able to turn wave energy into steady electric power, while the recharging system is designed to store the surplus wave energy in batteries for back-up or beacon applications. The fresh water making system can directly turn desalinate sea water and turn it into potable water.


It is estimated that a stand-alone tidal wave power generating system, with an installed capacity of 50 kW and maximum wave peak power of 400 kW, may generate 26,300 kWh of electricity a year.


Contact: Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion, 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.most.gov.cn

Seaworthy power

Turbines of existing designs could be placed inside large-bore underwater pipes to form a reliable, clean and cost-effective source of tidal power. An engineering firm in the United Kingdom, is developing such a system in collaboration with Southampton University. A working model generating around 100 kW whould soon be tested offshore. Tides in the English Channel flow in relatively straight lines, at a maximum speed of 5 knots. The design in developed is a simple framework attached to a reinforced concrete base consisting of a hollow box with open ends. The box is fixed to the seabed, and the multi-bladed turbine and generator are placed in the mid-section of the box as a module.The whole assembly is positioned under the sea to minimize environmental impact. The generators would be connected to power cables linked to a shore side converter, which would convert energy into a form suitable for the national grid.


Website: www.imeche.org.uk

FUEL CELLS

Miniaturization of fuel cells

To create a compelling micro-fuel cell technology, scientists have to look at providing power densities that are comparable to that of conventional or rechargeable batteries. Direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC), a popular fuel cell technology, only provides power density in the range of 20 to 50 mW/cm2. DMFCs will have to reach 100 mW/cm2 to avoid an output density shortfall and to meet the requirements of power-hungry devices such as notebook computers, handheld data collection devices and military equipment. A DMFC needs a pump and pipes to carry out electrochemical processes. This creates space constraints and it becomes difficult to mount the system on a miniature scale.


Direct formic acid fuel cell (DFAFC) technology, with power densities five to six times higher, is a very effective alternative to DFMC. Such high densities aid the miniaturization of the fuel cells. They also improve the efficiency of the fuel cell without compromising on the net output of electricity. The use of formic acid as a fuel offers advantages such as less fuel crossover, use of higher fuel concentrations (80 per cent by weight) at the anode side, good anode kinetics at room temperatures and high power densities, says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Mr. Viswanathan Krishnan.


Researchers from Kongkuin University in Japan have improved upon direct borohydride fuel cells (DBFCs) to remedy glitches such as borohydride crossover by using a Nafion membrane electrolyte-based fuel cell. They claim to have achieved a power density of 160 mW/cm2 at an operating temperature of 70C. Taking this further, the Solid State and Structural Chemistry Unit of the Indian Institute of Science in India have proposed a DBFC using hydrogen peroxide as the oxidant. The research team reports power density of 350 mW/cm2 at 1.2 V.


To generate this electricity, it is important to have catalysts to speed up the electrochemical process. Currently, only platinum and ruthenium are used as catalysts in the fuel cells. In their efforts to find non-noble substitute ctalysts that are more cost-efficient for fuel cell technology, scientists are considering nanomaterials consisting of carbon-supported metal particles,says Mr. Krishnan. The nanomaterial structure increases the surface-to-volume ratio of expensive noble metals and plays a vital role in reducing the overall cost of the fuel cell, he adds. At the University of Oxford, researchers have suggested using an enzyme catalyst within a fuel cell. Instead of the platinum-coated anode, they have used hydrogenase-coated electrode to catalyse oxidation of hydrogen. The cathode contains the fungal enzyme laccase, which catalyses reduction of oxygen to water.


Website: www.physorg.com

Breakthrough in fuel cell powered by bottled gas

The British company Ceres Power Holdings PLC said it has made a breakthrough by constructing a fuel cell that will run on propane. In tests the fuel cell reportedly generated a continuous supply of electricity in the 250-400 W range.


According to Ceres Product development director Mr. Andrew Baker, the development is a crucial milestone that proves that our cell will work with a range of readily available fuels. A power generator fed by bottled gas could be used to power telecom base stations, for instance, or the needs of construction sites.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Cow microbes run fuel cell

While a cow-based battery seems a little far-fetched, researchers at Ohio State University, the United States, have used microbes from a bovine rumen (part of its stomach) in a fuel cell. Results showed that the microbes in about a half a litre of rumen fluid fermented, liquefied feed extracted from the rumen produced about 600 mV. Cow dung, which contains the same microbes, has been used in a similar cell by the same team. The power source is cellulose. The research showed how electricity can be created as the micro-organisms in rumen fluid break down cellulose. That breakdown releases electrons, said the University sources, adding that it was the first time that scientists used cellulose to help charge a fuel cell.


The cells anode chamber, which is separated by a proton-exchange membrane, was filled with rumen fluid and cellulose, and the cathode chamber with the oxidizing agent potassium ferricyanide. The electrodes were graphite. Output was 0.58 V for around four days, when it dropped. Adding more cellulose brought the potential back up again. While the cells produced 300-400 mV, it is too early to tell if this kind of fuel cell can produce significantly more electricity.


Last year, Penn State University revealed a microbial fuel cell that runs off sewage water producing 10 to 50 mW/m2 of graphite electrode using a carbon/platinum catalyst and a proton exchange membrane. Two years before this, Prof. Chris Melhuish at University of the West of England produced a fuel cell stack using enzymes from an Escherichia coli strain to break down sugar to liberate protons. His cell produced 15 mA short circuit, 5 V open circuit and 1.93-2.83 V operating.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Prototype DMFC for portable audio player

Toshiba, the world leader in fuel-cell technology for handheld electronic devices, has prototyped two direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) units and begun tests to validate their operation with mobile audio players. The new fuel cell units have an output power of 100 mW and 300 mW and have been used in a flash memory-based digital audio player and an HDD-based digital audio player, respectively. The 100 mW unit, similar in shape and size to a pack of gum at a compact 23 mm width 75 mm length 10 mm depth, can power the flash-based player for approximately 35 hours on a single 3.5 ml charge of concentrated methanol. The 300 mW unit is 60 mm (W) 75 mm (L) 10 mm (D) and delivers enough power to run an HDD-based audio player for approximately 60 hours on a single 10 ml charge.


Toshibas DMFC features a passive fuel supply system that is suited to smaller fuel cells and use with a highly concentrated methanol solution. Fuel cells usually mix methane with water in a concentration of less than 30 per cent, a dilution that supports generating efficiency but requires a fuel tank that is much too big for portable equipment.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

PEM fuel cell

The GenSysTM fuel cell, manufactured by Plug Power Inc., the United States, employs a proton exchange membrane (PEM) to strip hydrogen from high-grade propane. The hydrogen is combined with oxygen from air to produce electricity, and reaction heat is recovered to make hot water. As generation is on-site and waste heat can be used, the fuel cell offers additional reliability, low emissions and energy efficiency levels that are not possible with central power plants.


One such fuel cell is installed at the Schofield Barracks Fire Station on Hawaii, where it demonstrates the benefits of the technology by using 100 per cent of the waste heat and providing emergency power to the critical functions of an essential facility. The fuel cell, which is about the size of two refrigerators and just as quiet, makes enough power and hot water for a large family residence. Up to 5 kW (2.5-5 kWe / 3-9 kWth) of 120/240 V, 60 Hz electricity is produced by the fuel cell and fed into the Schofield electrical distribution system. In the event of a power outage, the fuel cell disconnects from the system and dedicates power to safety circuits.


Website: www.physorg.com

BIOMASS ENERGY

Process for synthetic biofuel

Choren Industries GmbH, Germany, produces a synthetic diesel called SunDiesel via a biomass-to-liquids (BTL) process. The heart of Chorens technology is its patented Carbo-V biomass gasification process that converts biomass into ultra-clean tar-free synthetic gas. Carbo-V is a three-stage gasification process.
  1. Low-temperature gasification. Biomass (with 15-20 per cent water content) is continually carbonized broken down into a gas containing tar (volatile parts) and solid carbon (char) through partial oxidation (low-temperature pyrolysis) with air or oxygen at temperatures of 400-500C.
     
  2. High-temperature gasification. Tar-containing gas is post-oxidized using air and/or oxygen in a combustion chamber operating above the melting point of the fuels ash to turn it into a hot gasification medium.
     
  3. Endothermic entrained-bed gasification. The char is ground down into pulverized fuel and is blown into the hot gasification medium. The pulverized fuel and the gasification medium react endothermically in the gasification reactor and are con-verted into a raw synthesis gas. Once this has been treated in the appropriate manner, it can be used as a combustible gas for generating electricity, steam and heat, or as syngas for further processing.

The syngas can be converted into synthetic biofuel utilizing the Shell middle distillate synthesis (SMDS) technology, developed by Shell Oil for converting natural gas into synthetic oil products. Shells SMDS is a low-temperature, cobalt catalyst-based version of the Fischer-Tropsch gas-to-liquid (GTL) process. The BTL fuel is identical in composition and properties to GTL fuels and has the added advantage of being based on renewable feedstock. It is clear and virtually free of sulfur and aromatic substances.


BTL fuels ignition qualities (a very high cetane number) are excellent, thereby reducing noise and resulting in cleaner combustion than with conventional diesel. Greenhouse gas emissions from it are less than 10 per cent of those from fossil fuels. BTL fuel can either be used as a pure product or blended with conventional diesel fuel.


Website: www.greencarcongress.com


Microtechnology to convert farm products to biofuel

In the United States, scientists at the Oregon State University (OSU) and Oregon Nanoscience & Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI) have developed a new method that uses microtechnology for biodiesel production. Prof. Goran Jovanovic is the leader of the ONAMI-funded effort to revolutionize biodiesel manufacturing. In the classical production method, anyone can whip up biodiesel in a kitchen pot. Mixing an oil (spent cooking oil or soybean oil) with an alcohol (ethanol or methanol) triggers a reaction that creates biodiesel and glycerol by-products. Prof. Jovanovic and his team employ a more sophisticated methodology.


The researchers use microreactors to make biodiesel. The prototype is a plastic plate with 30 microreactor channels, each about the width of a human hair and running parallel to each other. The entire plate can fit in the palm of a hand. At one end of the plate are two indents one filled with alcohol and the other with oil. They flow down the channels, reacting and producing glycerol and biodiesel.


Microtechnology produces biodiesel almost 100 times faster than the classical method. Another benefit is that the small size of the plates makes the microreactors discrete and deployable. OSUs department of research is patenting this microtechnology, after which it would be licensed to businesses.


Website: www.gazettetimes.com

New vegetable oil to clean up power industry

In a breakthrough that could save millions of dollars, a research team led by CSIRO, Australia, has developed a vegetable oil-based fluid for use in power and electricity distribution transformers. The new dielectric fluid could replace the estimated 40 billion litres of toxic mineral oil that is currently used in transformers across the world.


The research to develop the fluid was jointly carried out by CSIRO Petroleums Dr. Mohammed Amanullah, Curtin University of Technologys Prof. Syed Islam, Master Student Mr. Samer Chami and Testing and Commissioning Services (Australia) researcher Mr. Gary Ienco. The new vegetable oil-based dielectric fluid is readily biodegradable. Using it would improve the safety of power and distribution transformers, the occupational health and safety of power workers, and protect habitats around electricity facilities. The technology is patented, and a new company called Biolectric Pty. Ltd. has been formed to take the product to the market after necessary tests in field transformers.


Contact: Ms Pepita Bulloch, Communications Manager, CSIRO Petroleum, P.O. Box 1130, Bentley, WA 6102, Australia. Tel: +61 (8) 6436 8707


E-mail: Pepita.Bulloch@csiro.au


Website: www.csiro.au

HYDROGEN ENERGY

New generation hydrogen power station

Air Products, the United States, is developing a hydrogen power station of a new generation. This could mean a breakthrough in the use of hydrogen in households and buildings. In 2007, the firm plans to start using new technology to produce hydrogen on the spot, primarily on the basis of gas. The station is designed to have an electric output of 250 kW adequate to produce, for example, hydrogen for 20 cars and electricity for a 300-room hotel. The unit is able to produce all the three kinds of energy at a time and has an efficiency of 80-85 per cent of the input energy.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Breakthrough in on-board hydrogen generation

Engineuity R&D Ltd., an Israeli company, has developed a technology to produce hydrogen on board vehicles which it claims overcomes all obstacles presently associated with hydrogen. Using a light metal (such as aluminium or magnesium) wire, water and a special conversion unit, the system produces a continuous flow of hydrogen and steam under full pressure, temperature and power control, to power a modified internal combustion engine. The unit can also be used for producing hydrogen for fuel cells and other applications requiring hydrogen and/or steam. The spent product from the process is a light metal oxide that would be separated for electrochemical recycling; hence no total loss of metal resources. Engineuity is presently working to integrate its production unit with a modified engine.


Website: www.indiacar.net

Hydrogen tablet for better fuel storage and transport

Scientists at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) have invented a technology that may be an important step towards hydrogen economy: a hydrogen tablet that stores hydrogen effectively in an inexpensive and safe material.


Should you drive a car 600 km using gaseous hydrogen at normal pressure, it would require a fuel tank with a size of nine cars. With our technology, the same amount of hydrogen can be stored in a normal gasoline tank, says Professor Claus Hviid Christensen, DTUs Department of Chemistry. The hydrogen tablet is inexpensive and safe: the material can be safely carried in ones pocket without needing any safety precaution. The reason is that the tablet consists solely of ammonia absorbed efficiently in sea-salt. Ammonia contains large amounts of hydrogen. Within the tablet, hydrogen is stored as long as needed; when hydrogen is needed, ammonia is released using a catalyst that decomposes it back to free hydrogen. When the tablet is empty, it is merely given a shot of ammonia and it is ready for use again.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Hydrogen purifiers

PE9000S Series hydrogen purifiers from Power+Energy Inc. (P+E), the United States, incorporates many of the features from P+Es successful bulk hydrogen purifiers. The new generation PE900S purifiers offer a greater capacity range, advanced features and high reliability in a very small package.


The PE9000S Series system provides a highly reliable supply of ultra-pure hydrogen containing less than one part per billion total impurities. The 9000S Series offers models with capacities in the range of 30-650 litres per minute of ultra-pure hydrogen. Multi-unit configurations are available for even greater capacity and redundancy.


The cmpact PE9000S Series comes with PC-based, centralized, remote monitoring and control. The series also has integrated ports and software for helium leak detection of the system, allowing the membranes to be tested in hot or cold condition. The high efficiency counter-flow heat exchanger minimizes power consumption and ensures that incoming hydrogen is pre-heated to the process temperature.


Contact: Mr. Albert Stubbmann, Power+Energy Inc., 106 Railroad Drive, Ivyland, PA 18974, United States of America. Tel: +1 (215) 942 4600; Fax: +1 (215) 942 9300


E-mail: al.s@powerandenergy.com 


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

Solar power for hydrogen production

Large-scale production of hydrogen has been costly as temperatures exceeding 2,500C are required to break water molecules. But release of hydrogen by extracting oxygen from water can also be achieved using pure zinc, at a much lower temperature of 350C and at lower costs. Heat and electricity required to extract zinc from zinc oxide have traditionally been generated using fossil fuels. An international team of scientists from Israel, Sweden, Switzerland and France has discovered that solar energy could be used as a clean, safe and inexpensive power source to produce hydrogen through the extraction of zinc from zinc oxide.


The solar solution to achieve the high temperatures of 1,750C required for the production of zinc from zinc oxide came in 2004, when the European Union and the Swiss Federal Office of Science and Education funded research to explore the option using a 45 kW solar furnace, a 75 kW solar simulator and a very large solar research facility with 1 MW output.


A mixture of zinc oxide and small amounts of coal are placed inside a solar furnace at the top of the solar tower. Sunlight is reflected by a large array of heliostats (computer-guided, highly reflective mirrors) to a hyperbolic mirror located inside the tower, producing highly concentrated heat inside the solar furnace. At a temperature above 1,200C, zinc oxide breaks down into zinc and oxygen, which in turn recombines with carbon to create carbon monoxide as a minor by-product. The zinc is then cooled down into a fine powder that can be safely handled and transported. Production of hydrogen gas from the zinc powder is a simpler process. The zinc is mixed with water at 350C. The oxygen inside the water recombines with the zinc to produce zinc oxide once again and the by-product is pure hydrogen. The team found that adding small amounts of carbon in the form of coal further reduced the temperature required for zinc production.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Hydrogen from water or organic material

Researchers at the Purdue University, the United States, have developed a new technique for producing hydrogen from water and organic material. Though the method has not yet been evaluated for economic feasibility on a large scale, it could solve several problems facing developers of fuel cells, stated Mr. Mahdi Abu-Omar, associate professor of chemistry in Purdues College of Science. It is possible that this technique could lead to fuel cells that are safe, efficient and not dependent on fossil fuels as their energy source, said Prof. Abu-Omar. The technique requires only water, a catalyst based on rhenium metal and an organic liquid called organosilane.


Prof. Abu-Omars team was focusing on converting the silicon-based organosilanes into another type of substance called silanols, which are valuable in the chemical industry. They added a rhenium-based compound to the organosilane in the presence of water. Over the course of an hour, the organosilane changed completely into silanol, leaving the water and rhenium unchanged. But the team also noticed a gas bubbling from the mixture: it turned out to be pure hydrogen.


The team estimates that about 26 litres each of water and organosilane could combine to produce about 3 kg of hydrogen, which could power a car for approximately 385 miles. As to the economic viability of producing organosilane in large scale, Prof. Abu-Omar expects that larger quantities would make the process viable, particularly because the by-product silanol could be recycled or sold to lessen the overall cost.


Website: www.sciencedaily.com

Electro hydrogen generator

OM Energy in the United Kingdom is creating an ultra-green family car saloon in which a generator will convert water into power. The breakthrough is the electro hydrogen generator, which extracts hydrogen from water by spinning it at high speed. The hydrogen is then mixed with the petrol supply to create an environment-friendly fuel that stretches the unleaded fuel, enabling the car to go further on less. The generator is spun using the engines recycled exhaust gases. If proved successful, production vehicles will use water as the main fuel and need only a small amount of petrol, dramatically cutting fuel costs for motorists.


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

Medium-scale hydrogen plant

Filtra Catalysts and Chemicals Ltd., India, has developed a prototype medium-scale hydrogen plant with capacity of 5 Nm3/h. The plant is based on reforming of natural gas/ methanol. Lab-scale and pilot-scale models had returned expected results. Cost of hydrogen generated is expected to be economical.


The methanol reforming process comprises feedstock pre-heating, LT shift converter, CO2 removal and PSA purification. The plant would have three main sections: (1) Facility for reforming of natural gas, followed by HT and LT shift converters; (2) Facility for steam reforming of methanol followed by LT shift system; and (3) Purification system for hydrogen which includes catalytic/absorption-based CO2 removal system. Alternatively, a PSA system with appropriate absorbent could be used for final purification of hydrogen. The output of hydrogen before purification is 75-77 per cent (V/V).


The natural gas reforming process consists of feedstock preheating, desulphurization, reforming, HT shift conversion, CO2 removal and PSA purification.


Contact: Filtra Catalysts and Chemicals Ltd., 18-26 Dev Prayag, Ravi Ind. Compound, Hajuri Lane, Naupada, Thane (West) 400 602, India. Tel: +91 (22) 533 4073; Fax: +91 (22) 533 5614


Email: filtec@bom2.vsnl.net.in


Website: www.tifac.org.in

PUBLICATIONS

Solar Thermal Power

This report describes solar thermal technology for power generation and its development, covering solar collectors, receivers, heat storage systems and energy conversion units. It outlines the alternatives within each of these components. The major direct use solar thermal markets China, India, Japan, the United States and Israel are described and current market sizes provided. Costs review and projections from major studies, and the analyses of these make this report an excellent reference for those needing a reliable and detailed overview of this relatively new technology.


Key topics covered include: the four main technologies; the world market for solar thermal direct use; solar thermal power generation technology; current status of solar thermal electricity generation; and costs of STP solar thermal power.


Contact: Ms. Melany Krangle, ABS Energy Research, 8 Quarry Road, London SW18 2QJ, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (20) 8432 6378; Fax: +44 (20) 8328 7117


E-mail: melanykrangle@absenergyresearch.com

Grid Integration of Wind Energy Conversion Systems

The high installed capacity of todays wind turbines and decreasing plant costs have shown that wind power can be competitive with conventional, more heavily polluting, fuels in the long term. Focusing on the engineering aspects of wind energy, this completely revised second edition gives a detailed treatment of electrical and mechanical components and their interdependency, power control and supervision in wind power plants, and the grid integration facility. The volume incorporates all the recent technical developments in electrical power conversion systems and essential operating conditions.


The publication provides guidelines for the design, construction and installation of wind power plants, and describes the basic characteristics and theoretical tools of electrical and mechanical components. This new edition will continue to be the definitive resource for researchers and practitioners involved in the planning, installation and grid integration of wind turbines and power plants. The thorough approach will also prove highly beneficial to university students.


Contact: John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Private Limited, Customer Service Department, 2, Clementi Loop #02-01, Singapore 129809. Tel: +65 64632400; Fax: +65 64634604


E-mail: csd_ord@wiley.com.sg


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