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VATIS Update Non-conventional Energy . Sep-Oct 2006

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New and Renewable Energy Sep-Oct 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

GE wind turbine assembly facility in China

The GE Energy (Shenyang) Co. Ltd. facility in China is GE Energys first wind turbine assembly plant in the country. Commissioned to produce 1.5 MW wind turbines, this facility will also provide local support for the growing wind power industry in the country and Asia. The wind plant in Shenyang meets the requirements on wind turbine localization set by Chinas National Development and Reform Commission, said Mr. Victor Abate, GE Energys Vice-President. It expands our local capabilities to provide technology and services to help meet Chinas growing power capacity requirements, he added.


Wind power is expected to play a significant role in supporting Chinas national target to create 30 GW of new renewable energy capacity by 2020. With a potential wind power capacity of 250 GW onshore and 750 GW offshore, China possesses the worlds largest wind resource. Over the past two years, GE has committed a total of 700 MW of its advanced wind turbine technology to China, which can power around 700,000 homes and prevent future carbon dioxide emissions of more than 1.4 million tonnes/year.


Website: www.renewableenergyaccess.com

Viet Nam focuses on wind energy

Viet Nam has a huge wind power potential: according to a World Bank survey, 8.6 per cent of land in Viet Nam is capable of large-scale wind energy development, compared to only 2.9 per cent in Laos and 0.2 per cent in both Thailand and Cambodia. The Vietnamese Ministry of Industry plans to harness this resource for generating 3 per cent of the nations total electrical capacity by 2010, with production doubling to 6 per cent by 2030. Dr. Herrmann Scheer, General Chairman, World Council for Renewable Energy, said that hydropower electricity and wind energy can supplement each other to ensure power security.


Wind power is especially appealing in the context of fluctuating world oil prices, pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels and the fact that oil and gas reserves will eventually be depleted. Viet Nams wind energy potential is estimated to reach 513,360 MW/y. About 41 per cent of agricultural areas nationwide are suitable for small-scale wind turbines. However, despite interest in the business community in the central coastal and southern provinces in wind power, there are currently no government policies encouraging investment. In order to attract investors, the government is drafting wind energy development plans as a sustainable way of dealing with power shortages.


Website: www.vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn

Indian joint venture for energy recovery from waste

In India, a new initiative by an environmental company to set up power plants for converting solid waste into electricity applying biomethane technology is expected to kill two birds with one stone tackle waste disposal while generating power. Pyramid Projects India has formed a joint venture with Aqua Consult, Germany, after acquiring 51 per cent share in the company. The alliance, Pyramid Aqua and Waste System, will carry out its operations in India and the Asia-Pacific region from its office in Pune, Maharashtra. It plans to set up power plants on a Build-Operate-Transfer basis in various parts of the country. These facilities will be able to use any kind of solid waste, other than plastic and hazardous waste to produce biogas. Energy generated in these plants will be supplied to both private and governmental bodies.


According to Pyramid Asia-Pacific Chairman Mr. Sanjeev Kulkarni, the potential of the new power plants is immense. Biodegradable slush formed as a by-product can be used as an organic fertilizer, which will be provided to farmers at subsidized rates. Each plant can generate more than 200,000 kg/d of organic fertilizer. The company already has over 550 such plants running successfully in many parts of the world, including China, Greece, Germany, Estonia and Turkey. The company is also planning to set up an environmental management institute and invest in biodiesel refineries.


Website: www.cities.expressindia.com

Sino-Malaysian pact on biodiesel development

Chinas third largest oil company, China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC), has inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Malaysias Bio Sweet Sdn. Bhd. which specializes in biotech and palm diesel R&D to develop palm oil-based biodiesel. According to the MoU, CNOOC will build a plant in Hainan Island in 12 months, with a capacity of 120,000 t. Apart from this, a joint venture called CNOOC (M) Biofuel Sdn. Bhd. would be set up for eventual listing in Malaysia. According to Mr. A.K. Liew, the managing director of Bio Sweet, more plants may be built in Shanghai and Guangzhou.


Website: www.biz.thestar.com.my

Green pricing to save energy

In 2007, the Republic of Korea government is scheduled to introduce a green pricing system in a move to get public companies to contribute to energy conservation and development of clean, reusable energy. According to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, this governmental plan calls for state-run companies and organizations to make mandatory use of electricity generated by renewable energy such as solar power. The ministry stated that using alternative forms of energy is necessary as the price of Dubai crude is expected to stay above the US$60-US$70 range in the near future. Some surveys have revealed that considerable public support exists for reusable energy.


Website: www.korea.net

Ethanol-blended fuel launched in Pakistan

In light of the ever-rising fuel costs, and in a bid to diversify the sources of energy, Pakistan will begin selling blended fuel in the country. Prime Minister Mr. Shaukat Aziz said that introduction of blended fuel will help the government meet the shortfall in energy needs. The blended fuel will be initially sold under a pilot project through Pakistan State Oil (PSO) petrol pumps at Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. Based on results of this project, the blended fuel will be made available throughout the country. The project was proposed by PSO and Hydrocarbon Institute of Pakistan.
This is the first time that the concept of ethanol blending with petroleum is being introduced in the country. The blended fuel will have up to 10 per cent ethanol and 90 per cent petroleum. Moreover, the blended fuel is environmentally friendly and cheaper as it contains a higher percentage of octane. Mr. Aziz said that the provinces would be directed to amend existing rules to allow for the sale of the new blended fuel. Production of biofuel would also be encouraged.


Website: www.paktribune.com

Thailand to produce more power from renewable sources

In Thailand, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) will produce 80 MW of electricity and buy another 60 MW under the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) programme. According to Mr. Norkhun Sitthipong, Chairman of the EGAT board, six hydropower plants will be built at six dams for the production of 80 MW of electricity, with construction slated for completion in 2009. Another 60 MW, which will be produced from renewable energy sources like solar, wind, garbage and biomass, will be bought from the private sector, Mr. Norkhun said.


Website: www.thaisnews.com

Indonesia turns to biofuel as alternative energy resource

Faced with its own depleting oil reserves and fluctuating world oil prices, Indonesia has launched an intensive biofuel production programme that aims at reducing fossil oil consumption by 10 per cent in 2010. The President, Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, said that the country is planning to implement the programme in 2007.


Apart from lowering dependence on fossil fuels, cultivation of biofuel crops like oil palm, cassava, sugar cane and Jatropha curcas is also seen as a way to help boost local economies. In order to carry out the programme, the Indonesian government will set up a national team and put it in charge of formulating policies for the development of biodiesel or biofuel programmes. Chaired by the former Human Resources Minister Mr. Al Hilal Hamdi, the team will formulate policies on matters such as infrastructure, cultivation of land, processing, marketing and funding.


The government has also unveiled a crash programme to build 11 biofuel plants, with production targets of 187 million litres next year and 1.3 billion litres by 2010, or equivalent to 3 per cent of the countrys total fuel consumption of 41 million kilolitres in 2005. Fiscal incentives like tax holidays, tax allowances and reductions for research activities, and value-added taxes are also being examined.


Website: www.antara.co.id

SOLAR ENERGY

Silicon-plate solar cell

BP Solar, based in the United Kingdom, reports to have developed a silicon growth process that significantly increases cell efficiency over traditional multicrystalline silicon solar cells. Solar cells fabricated with these wafers, in combination with other advances achieved by the company in cell process technology, will be able to produce nearly 5-8 per cent more power than those made with conventional processes. This translates into an equivalent module power increase and hence, a substantial cost reduction at the installed system level.


The new technique, named Mono2, enhances BP Solars technological expertise in the silicon growth and wafering arenas, where silicon ingots and wafering technology are key to future growth. The first modules to incorporate this process would be available in 2007. The development of Mono2 is funded in part through a contract with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the United States Department of Energy.


Website: www.azom.com 

New rooftop solar power system

PowerLight Corp., the United States, introduced its new PowerTiltTM solar power system at the recent American Solar Energy Society conference. PowerTilt draws on the same features as our flagship, groundbreaking solar roof product, PowerGuard, said Mr. Tom Dinwoodie, CEO and Chairman of PowerLight. This next-generation product is engineered with a sloped-angle (10) design so that the solar photovoltaic module can leverage maximum exposure to sunlight for increased electrical output.


PowerTilts non-penetrating modules interlock for secure, fast installation on rooftops without compromising the building envelope. Fabricated employing durable and lightweight materials, the PowerTilt solar array design resists winds up to 193 km/h without securement. It is uniquely flexible to adapt to the requirements of virtually any rooftop, and can be deployed on non-soil ground sites. While PowerGuards performance is optimized in constrained rooftop environments, where it contributes to maximum PV density, the performance of PowerTilt is optimized for larger roofs with less space constraints, as well as under-utilized tracks of land like ground reservoirs.


Website: www.solarbuzz.com 

Residential PV system

GE Energy, the United States, has unveiled its new residential solar energy system that allows homebuilders to buy the required components in an all-inclusive package. BrillianceTM solar electric packages integrate individual system components for performance and reliability, thereby eliminating additional costs and time needed to purchase the components from different suppliers. As part of the system, GE has launched a 66 W, roof-integrated solar module for new home constructions, further raising the industrys standards of performance and aesthetics for residential solar applications.


Designed for residential applications, GEs all-inclusive solar electric packages are available in sizes from 1 kW to 10 kW. The system features proprietary roof-integrated solar mod-ules in the industry-leading, 66 W power for new home construction applications and in the high-power, 200 W GE solar module for retrofit applications.


Contact: GE Energy, 4200 Wildwood Parkway, Atlanta, Georgia, GA 30339, United States of America.


Website: www.solarbuzz.com 

Semi-transparent organic solar cells developed

In the United States, Global Photonic Energy Corp. (GPEC) and its research partners at the University of Southern California, University of Michigan and Princeton University have demonstrated organic solar cells that are semi-transparent to visible light while delivering approximately half the power output of a non-transparent cell. A major benefit of semi-transparent organic solar cells is that they can transform regular window glazing into a window that generates electrical power while retaining its basic functionality. According to GPEC this achievement is a part of overall R&D efforts to raise the operating performance of its OPV technology and develop new application areas.


Traditional silicon-based PV or solar cells are difficult and expensive to produce. They are also fragile, heavy and opaque limiting applications. As solar-generated power costs 4-6 times more to consumers than coal-generated power, cost is a critical factor in the solar cell industry.


Organic semiconductors contain carbon and have the potential to achieve ultra-low production costs and high-power output in solar cells. Furthermore, these solar cells are ultra-thin, flexible and can be used on large areas, including curved or spherical surfaces. The researchers focused on organic small-molecule devices that are assembled literally a molecule at a time in highly efficient nanostructures. These cells leverage the superior absorption capacity of organic semiconductor materials and nanometre-scale films to achieve a high level of visible light transparency with little power loss.


Website: www.renewableenergyaccess.com 

Start-up promises cheaper solar panels

In the Netherlands, a spin-off company from the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) has developed a photovoltaic (PV) system that promises to bring solar power to households worldwide. According to Mr. Marcel Artz, the Business Director of Maxxun, Our technology reduces the required area of PV cells...less than 5 per cent of the surface area need consist of PV cells.


The solar energy system is based on combining Maxxuns patented Luminescent Solar Concentrating (LSC) technology with a small solar cell. Sunlight is channelled from a large surface area, low-cost, predominantly plastic plate to a small, efficient solar cell that converts the light into electricity. This is preferable and cheaper to having a large solar cell for both collection and conversion. The system consists of a dye-impregnated plastic waveguide, mirrors on three sides and bottom, and a wavelength-selective mirror on the surface. Sunlight shining on the LSC system passes through the selective mirror and is then absorbed in the waveguide by the dye molecules, which re-emit the light at longer wavelengths. A part of the light is emitted by the dye molecules at such an angle that it is trapped by means of total internal reflection in the waveguide until it reaches the solar cell and gets converted into electricity.


A unique feature of the system is the patented wavelength-selective mirror. In previous systems, most of the re-emitted light escaped the surface of the LSC. The wavelength-selective mirror is a proprietary composition of chemical elements and a key innovation in LSC technology. At present, the team is working on a lab-scale (5 5 cm) module.


Website: www.optics.org

WIND ENERGY

Breakthrough in wind power technology

A breakthrough in hydrogen storage
Researchers at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, Republic of Korea, have developed a new method of storing hydrogen as a solid. This development alleviates potential complications associated with the commercialization of fuel cell technology.


As hydrogen is a gas and therefore has a large volume, storing enough of it is a major obstacle in making hydrogen vehicles efficient. Though options like tanks pressurizing hydrogen at 700 times ground level atmosphere or liquefying it at high pressure and low temperature are available, both pose potential safety concerns. The new technique binds hydrogen using titanium into a stable solid that can be stored at relatively high temperature and low pressure. According to Mr. Lee Hoon-kyung, The material binds hydrogen with absolutely no energy input and the hydrogen can then be extracted using relatively small amounts of energy. Though further testing is necessary at this juncture, this discovery could pave the way for the commercialization of efficient and safe fuel cells in vehicles.


Website: www.platinum.matthey.com

New hydrogen fuel storage system

Prof. Puru Jena and his team at the Virginia Commonwealth University, the United States, have discovered a new storage system to hold large quantities of hydrogen fuel. This landmark, although theoretical at this stage, moves researchers a step closer in the exploration of alternative fuel sources and methods to store hydrogen fuel. According to Prof. Jena, the theoretical composition of the material is a lithium-coated buckyball (fullerene).


Essentially, the lithium buckyballs absorb hydrogen, one lithium atom storing five hydrogen molecules. The theoretical buckyball designed using computer modelling has 12 lithium atoms and can store 60 hydrogen molecules.
In titanium-coated buckyballs, proposed by other researchers for hydrogen storage, it was observed that the titanium atoms had a tendency to react with each other and form clusters on the surface. Once this takes place, the properties of the buckyball are no longer effective for storing hydrogen in large quantities. Industry standards require hydrogen storing materials to have a gravimetric density of 9 weight per cent, and volumetric density of 70 g/l.


Research undertaken by Prof. Jena and his team is part of the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative. Prof. Jena is at present working with scientists who will conduct experiments to prove that hydrogen can be stored in the lithium buckyballs. In addition, the investigators will determine the necessary temperature and pressure conditions for storage and removal of hydrogen from the lithium buckyballs, and how to produce these materials in large quantities. The research is supported by a grant from the Department of Energy.


Website: www.news.mongabay.com

Photocatalysts and visible light aid hydrogen generation

Scientists at the Tokyo University of Science, Japan, have developed an efficient means of generating hydrogen from water through the use of photocatalysts and visible light. By employing a special pair of photocatalysts and adding a small amount of iron, water can be dissociated completely to generate hydrogen in quantities up to 10 times more than current processes. This innovation represents a step forward in the quest to make hydrogen for fuel cells using only water and sunlight, without any fossil fuels.


The two photocatalysts bismuth vanadate, and strontium titanate with added rhodium and surface-coated with ruthenium in combination can absorb light in wavelengths as great as 520 nm. Harnessing more of the light spectrum for the dissociation of water yields more hydrogen. Iron assists in the exchange of electrons, helping to completely dissociate the water molecules. In one experiment, 50 mg of each photocatalyst and around 0.3 mg of iron were added to 120 ml of water, which was then exposed to a light source simulating sunlight. The yield was equivalent to 180 ml/h of hydrogen per square metre of area exposed to the light source.


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

Compact hydrogen generator

A tiny hydrogen gas generator that can be developed into a compact fuel cell package has been devised for power laptops, digital cameras and portable music players. According to researchers at Arizona State University (ASU), the United States, the newly developed generator can power devices that last 3-5 times longer than conventional batteries of the same size and weight. The generator uses a special solution containing borohydride, an alkaline compound that has an unusually high capacity for storing hydrogen. In laboratory experiments, prototype devices have been used to provide sustained power to light bulbs, a radio and a DVD player.


Study team leader Mr. Don Gervasio said that efforts will be to maximize the usable hydrogen storage capacity of borohydride to make the fuel cell power source last longer, which could lead to the most potent power source ever produced for portable electronics. The fuel cell system can be packaged to be of the same size and weight as conventional batteries, and the system is recharged by refilling the fuel cartridge.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Bigger need not be better for storage!

Scientists at the University of Nottingham, the United Kingdom, have made a breakthrough that could help the development of next-generation environmentally friendly cars. On investigating materials that have a porous sponge-like structure, which would facilitate hydrogen storage, they found that bigger pores do not necessarily mean larger quantities of the gas are stored. This discovery has boosted attempts to cram hydrogen into a small space so that it can be used practically as a fuel.


A possible solution is to pack hydrogen into porous materials, which soak up the gas like a sponge. Prof. Martin Schroder and his colleagues have been investigating so-called metal organic frameworks (MOFs) molecular scaffolding filled with tiny cylindrical pores that hydrogen gas can be forced into. As the University of Nottingham study revealed that middle-sized pores can hold the highest density of hydrogen, scientists concluded that for any given material there is an optimum pore size. Prof. Schroders team has obtained the highest percentage of hydrogen uptake of any such material thus far reported. According to Prof. Schroder, MOFs appear to be a viable alternative technology to other materials currently being investigated for hydrogen storage since they can show excellent reversible uptake-release characteristics and appropriate capacities.


Contact: Mr. Martin Schroder, Head of Inorganic Chemistry, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (115) 9513 490


E-mail: martin.schroder@nottingham.ac.uk


Website: www.research.nottingham.ac.uk

On-line condition monitoring system

SKF Group, Sweden, is offering on-line condition monitoring systems for supervising windmills. SKFs WindCon systems have vibration sensors mounted on the main shaft bearings, drive train gearbox and generator of each turbine. By continuously monitoring vibration signals from the rotating mechanical components and taking data from the turbine control system, engineers can be warned of any change in turbine performance. This usually means the start of abnormal operation, which can be a transitionary problem or the start of a serious fault development. By having such an early warning system, the management of a wind park can identify the machine or a component in a machine that is operating below optimum and can study the rate of deterioration of operation. This information allows them to incorporate any necessary inspection and repair work during planned machine stops, which means no unexpected downtime that mitigates unanticipated costs, while maintaining optimum uptime of the turbines.


WindCon systems have been developed to withstand the extremely tough conditions of off-shore wind parks. For instance, the systems installed at the Enertrag wind farm in Germany have proved their robustness, weather-resistance as well as performance of the sensors and related cabling. At this facility, a Windows-like graphical user interface allows the key components being monitored to be seen with easy-to-recognise traffic light signs to indicate normal running, caution or danger. For a normal inspection of the turbines, this is enough and judgement about machine performance can be made by even a non-specialist person. Green light indicates normal operation, while red or orange signal calls for a specialist vibration engineer who can click on any of the sensor positions to obtain historical data from measurements that have been taken. Using these historical trends the engineer can identify an underlying Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) and extract that for analysis. Such an FFT would tell which frequencies have been responsible for high vibration levels or alarms, which is the kind of information that vibration specialists require and can work with easily.


Additionally, different speed classes and point configurations can be isolated for review. This allows speed-related trends to be specifically built, which is a special feature of the SKF WindCon system.


Contact: SKF Group, SE-415 50 Goteborg, Sweden. Tel: +46 (31) 3371 000; Fax: +46 (31) 3372 832


E-mail: info@skf.com


Website: www.skf.com


Website: www.engineerlive.com

Domestic wind power system

Southwest Windpower, the United States, is offering a small residential wind generator. Skystream 3.7 is reportedly the first fully integrated wind generator designed specifically for the grid-connected residential market. A combination of new technologies, developed jointly with the Department of Energys National Renewable Energy Laboratory, has provided a product that produces electricity quietly and at low a cost. Skystream 3.7s low profile and low cost provide homeowners an affordable energy supplement source that is appropriate for installation in most residential areas. It connects directly to the home power supply, thus eliminating the need for batteries. In the absence of wind, the house is powered by the electric utility. Depending on the local utility, excess electricity can be sold back to the utility or used at a later date. With a typical cost of about US$ 8,000-US$10,000 to purchase and install, Skystream can pay for itself in 5-12 years. It is anticipated that this system can save the average householder US$500-US$ 800 per year, based on 4,800-6,600 kWh produced per year and a US$0.12/kWh cost of electricity. This output would provide 40-90 per cent of an average homes energy needs.


Website: www.e4engineering.com

Open-access database covers wind blade composites

The wind industry now has another tool to help advance its knowledge of key blade components as well as materials, thanks to a new database. Compiled by Mr. John Mandell and colleagues at Montana State University, the United States, the MSU/DOE Fatigue Database for Composite Materials, holds data from 10,000 results on about 150 different composite materials accumulated over 17 years at Sandia National Laboratories. According to the government laboratory, this database is one of the worlds largest open-access libraries on wind turbine materials. Most importantly, the data are being made available to the public.


Wind turbine blades are composed of different combinations of fibreglass, carbon fibre and resin. With modern blades reaching lengths of up to 200 ft and weights of up to about 22,675 kg, they may spin half a billion times or more in their expected 20-year lifespans. However, no one is willing to wait 20 years to see if a composite material for a blade holds up or not. That is where the new database comes in.


Website: www.renewableenergyaccess.com

WAVE/TIDAL ENERGY

United States first tidal project

In the United States, the sea floor off Point Wilson is being eyed as the potential site for a tidal power generation facility. About 450 turbines will make use of the forceful tides at the site to generate electricity. As such, this location could eventually be the first tidal power project in the country. The field of generators called Tidal In-Stream Energy Conversion (TISEC) devices would produce the bulk of electricity for an underwater Snohomish county Public Utility District (PUD) plant. The windmill-like devices, with 20 m diameter propeller blades, will be anchored to the ocean floor and the moving action of the tides would spin the blades to generate electricity. Snohomish County PUD aims to a conduct a three-year study of a group of sites that includes Deception Pass and Agate Passage, and install some test TISEC devices.


Snohomish PUD is examining a turbine similar to a prototype developed by Verdant Power, a company installing six TISEC units for a trial run in New Yorks East River. The turbines spin at about 32 rpm slow enough for fish and other marine life to swim out of the way, according to Verdant co-founder and President Mr. Trey Taylor. Verdant is installing six hydroacoustic transducers to monitor how fish negotiate each one of these turbines.


The 450 turbines in Admiralty Inlet are expected to produce 146.2 GWh/y of electricity, sufficient to meet 10 per cent of the power needs of the 600,000 residents of Snohomish county. The devices would harness between 10 and 20 per cent of the force of the tidal flow, which is the maximum amount currently recommended by EPRI.


Website: www.ptleader.com

Tidal turbine with two-way operation

UEK Corporation, the United States, is developing a tidal turbine that is designed to operate in both tidal flow directions with the same efficiency as the river turbine version. The tidal system development currently under way is based on the Bidirectional Hydroturbine Assembly for Tidal Deployment invented by Mr. Philippe Vauthier.


The Delaware Indian River project, scheduled to come up on a site at the Indian River inlet is presently in the preliminary stages. It involves the installation of a demonstration unit, to be followed by the installation of 25 twin Tidal UEK systems in the inlet with a combined installed capacity of 10 MW. The twin units have a dimension of 3 m diameter 6.7 m width 3.5 m length and will each generate 400 kW in a water velocity of seven knots. The capacity factor is approximately 64 per cent due to the tidal cycle. Electricity is delivered to a location close to the coastguard station where the DC current is converted into 60 Hz, 3-phase AC power and interconnected to the grid perfectly synchronized. Only the amperage is variable. Protective devices would disconnect generators within 0.006 s in case of malfunction. This project is slated for completion within four years at a cost of about US$11 million.


Website: www.waterpowermagazine.com

New development at tidal energy site

The only grid-connected tidal energy testing site in the world is set to take a significant step forward. A specialized offshore construction vessel will be used to install the first tidal energy device to be tested at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC). Ireland-based OpenHydro has developed a device that includes a turbine placed on the seabed to convert tidal currents into usable energy. The turbine will generate electricity for the national grid, while undergoing a comprehensive test programme at EMECs new Eday-based marine laboratory.


The jack-up barge called Octopus will install structure, mounted on the seabed, which will support the tidal turbine in fast-flowing tidal currents at Fall of Warness off the island of Eday. The specialist barge, which is 30 metres high, has four legs that stand 26 metres above its deck while the barge is under tow. Once set in position, the legs will be lowered on to the seabed, lifting the barge out of the water to form a stable platform. A three-legged frame will then be lowered to the seabed using a 110 tonne crane that would be erected on the platform. The frame will be employed to guide the precision drilling operation that forms the next phase of the project.


According to Mr. James Ives, OpenHydros chief executive, It will be the first grid-connected tidal turbine in the United Kingdom and we are looking forward to starting the testing programme later this year. The turbine is one of the first tidal technologies in the world to reach the stage of permanent deployment at sea and is the accumulation of ten years of design and development work.


Website: www.hi-energy.org.uk

FUEL CELLS

Milestone towards multi-kW fuel cells

Microcell Corp., the United States, has announced to have reached a significant milestone in its fuel cell commercialization process. Using its modular design, the company achieved the scale-up of its multi-core fuel cell to 0.4 kW, as building blocks for distributed generation applications. At the core of the technology is the microcell design concept. Its extrusion-based scaleable process for cost-effective large-scale production, and plug-and-play core technology separates it from other fuel cell technologies. It incorporates all the critical components of a planar Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell in a single fibre, the microcell. The microcell has a diameter of around 500-1,000 m and is produced by extrusion process.


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

Fuel cells for mobility

A recent breakthrough achieved by researchers at the Fraunhofer-Institut fr Keramische Technologien und Systeme (IKTS), Germany, will help make cost-effective and long-lasting fuel cells a reality. Ceramic high-temperature fuel cells can convert a wide range of fuels into heat and power. Ceramic high-temperature fuel cells are ideal as mobile power generators for motor homes, boats, trucks or cars, as well as for many stationary applications generating electricity, heating and cooling, etc.


The heart of the high-temperature fuel cell is the cost-effective, long-lasting stacks. These are made up of thin ceramic plates on the surface of which fuels are converted into electrical power by means of an electrochemical process. When compared with the polymers used in low-temperature fuel cells, these ceramic cells offer a distinct advantage. Apart from pure hydrogen, they can also generate power from biogas, methane, natural gas, diesel or petrol. The process is simple from an engineering viewpoint and therefore cost-effective. Efficiency of more than 90 per cent can be achieved if the fuel cell is part of a combined heating/cooling and power system.


Contact: Prof. Alexander Michaelis, Fraunhofer Institut fr Keramische Technologien und Systeme IKTS, Winterbergstr. 28, 01277 Dresden, Germany. Tel: +49 (351) 2553 512; Fax: +49 (351) 2554 300


Website: www.fraunhofer.de

Portable fuel cell

Voller Energy, the United Kingdom, has developed a portable fuel cell that can be used to power digital music players, mobile phones and other portable electronic devices. The new ABC cell is a 100 W fuel cell system packaged so that it is easy to carry and use anywhere.


Available in 110 VAC or 230 VAC voltages, the device has a 12 VDC output and a USB charging port for plugging in and devices like Apple iPod music player. The unit, which is the size of a handbag, also has a frost sensor that allows usage in below-freezing conditions. A serial port allows ABC to be checked for statistics and fuel level reporting.


Website: www.platinum.matthey.com

New PEFC

Seiko Instruments has developed a new polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) that is around one-third the size of its existing PEFCs. With a capacity of 3 W, the system has a hydrogen generator, a cell that produces electricity and booster/control circuits. The product was developed using sodium boron hydride. This PEFC is expected to be available by the end of 2007 for application as an external power source for electronic devices such as mobile phones, digital cameras and notebook computers.


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

Fuel cell with high energy density

A direct-methanol fuel cell (DMFC) stack recently developed by NEC, Japan, offers greater gravimetric energy density than comparable cells. The system provides a gravimetric energy density of 400 kWh/kg, which is more than double that of a lithium ion secondary battery. The company managed to reduce methanol crossover by 30 per cent by deploying a swelling-resistant hydrocarbon membrane instead of fluorine-based membranes and optimized the amount and concentration of fuel used by establishing a new methanol-electrode assembly. Thereby, the DMFC is able to deliver a power output density of 45 mW/cm3 while using a methanol concentration of 50 per cent by volume.


Website: www.platinum.matthey.com

Prototype direct methanol fuel cell

Hitachi Ltd. has unveiled a prototype direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) to be used as an external recharger for mobile devices. The DMFC prototype has been designed for use in portable devices that can be recharged through the USB interface. It includes four units of power generation cells. The foldable main body can be spread into the shape of a left angle bracket (<) upon power generation. In this position, the four surfaces of the chassis work as the air electrodes for each of the power generation cells. The fuel cell prototype is equipped with a control circuit and a capacitor that can store electricity before charging the mobile devices. The company, moving away from the traditional detachable fuel cartridge, has adopted a so-called satellite structure in which methanol is injected into the fuel cell body. The fuel cell measures about 9 cm 9 cm 2 cm.


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

Powerful fuel cells

Australias Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd. (CFCL) recently announced a further major step towards its next generation fuel cells that have shown significant performance improvements, particularly in power density, and will be used in micro-combined heat and power (m-CHP) units to provide clean power for homes. The new fuel cell and re-designed system components are intended to optimize the efficiency of the fuel cell stack, reduce the size of power systems and cut system cost in preparation for volume manufacture. The fuel cell stacks are designed to produce 1 kW of electricity and significantly less than 1 kW of heat.


The new cells are more than twice as powerful as CFCLs current cells, and match or exceed other SOFC figures in terms of power density. Early versions of CFCLs new cells achieved a power density of more than 200 mW/cm. Current versions of the new cells have doubled that again, bringing the power density to over 400 mW/cm and further improvements are underway. Higher power density means that the same amount of electricity can be produced from a much smaller fuel cell stack. A smaller stack is cheaper and much easier to integrate into commercial appliances like m-CHP units. The new cell technology provides an electrical efficiency of 50 per cent and significantly better fuel utilization of up to 85 per cent. The total efficiency of the integrated m-CHP unit will be higher still, as waste heat is captured and reused.


Contact: Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd., 170 Browns Road, Noble Park, Victoria, VIC 3174, Australia. Tel: + 61 (3) 9554 2300.


Website: www.fuelcellmarkets.com

New hydrogen fuel cell catalysts

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the United States, have developed a new class of hydrogen fuel cell catalysts that exhibit promising activity and stability. The new catalysts are made of low-cost non-precious metals entrapped in heteroatomic-polymer structure, instead of platinum materials typically used in fuel cells.


While the electrical energy producing activity of the catalyst is lower than that of platinum-based catalysts, the new material shows exceptional performance stability for over 100 h of continuous testing, a result never before obtained with non-precious metal catalysts in polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs). The chief advantage of these composite catalysts for oxygen reduction is that they can operate in the acidic environment of the PEFCs.


Website: www.physorg.com

HYDROGEN ENERGY

A breakthrough in hydrogen storage

Researchers at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, Republic of Korea, have developed a new method of storing hydrogen as a solid. This development alleviates potential complications associated with the commercialization of fuel cell technology.


As hydrogen is a gas and therefore has a large volume, storing enough of it is a major obstacle in making hydrogen vehicles efficient. Though options like tanks pressurizing hydrogen at 700 times ground level atmosphere or liquefying it at high pressure and low temperature are available, both pose potential safety concerns. The new technique binds hydrogen using titanium into a stable solid that can be stored at relatively high temperature and low pressure. According to Mr. Lee Hoon-kyung, The material binds hydrogen with absolutely no energy input and the hydrogen can then be extracted using relatively small amounts of energy. Though further testing is necessary at this juncture, this discovery could pave the way for the commercialization of efficient and safe fuel cells in vehicles.


Website: www.platinum.matthey.com

New hydrogen fuel storage system

Prof. Puru Jena and his team at the Virginia Commonwealth University, the United States, have discovered a new storage system to hold large quantities of hydrogen fuel. This landmark, although theoretical at this stage, moves researchers a step closer in the exploration of alternative fuel sources and methods to store hydrogen fuel. According to Prof. Jena, the theoretical composition of the material is a lithium-coated buckyball (fullerene). Essentially, the lithium buckyballs absorb hydrogen, one lithium atom storing five hydrogen molecules. The theoretical buckyball designed using computer modelling has 12 lithium atoms and can store 60 hydrogen molecules.


In titanium-coated buckyballs, proposed by other researchers for hydrogen storage, it was observed that the titanium atoms had a tendency to react with each other and form clusters on the surface. Once this takes place, the properties of the buckyball are no longer effective for storing hydrogen in large quantities. Industry standards require hydrogen storing materials to have a gravimetric density of 9 weight per cent, and volumetric density of 70 g/l.


Research undertaken by Prof. Jena and his team is part of the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative. Prof. Jena is at present working with scientists who will conduct experiments to prove that hydrogen can be stored in the lithium buckyballs. In addition, the investigators will determine the necessary temperature and pressure conditions for storage and removal of hydrogen from the lithium buckyballs, and how to produce these materials in large quantities. The research is supported by a grant from the Department of Energy.


Website: www.news.mongabay.com

Photocatalysts and visible light aid hydrogen generation

Scientists at the Tokyo University of Science, Japan, have developed an efficient means of generating hydrogen from water through the use of photocatalysts and visible light. By employing a special pair of photocatalysts and adding a small amount of iron, water can be dissociated completely to generate hydrogen in quantities up to 10 times more than current processes. This innovation represents a step forward in the quest to make hydrogen for fuel cells using only water and sunlight, without any fossil fuels.


The two photocatalysts bismuth vanadate, and strontium titanate with added rhodium and surface-coated with ruthenium in combination can absorb light in wavelengths as great as 520 nm. Harnessing more of the light spectrum for the dissociation of water yields more hydrogen. Iron assists in the exchange of electrons, helping to completely dissociate the water molecules. In one experiment, 50 mg of each photocatalyst and around 0.3 mg of iron were added to 120 ml of water, which was then exposed to a light source simulating sunlight. The yield was equivalent to 180 ml/h of hydrogen per square metre of area exposed to the light source.


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

Compact hydrogen generator

A tiny hydrogen gas generator that can be developed into a compact fuel cell package has been devised for power laptops, digital cameras and portable music players.


According to researchers at Arizona State University (ASU), the United States, the newly developed generator can power devices that last 3-5 times longer than conventional batteries of the same size and weight. The generator uses a special solution containing borohydride, an alkaline compound that has an unusually high capacity for storing hydrogen. In laboratory experiments, prototype devices have been used to provide sustained power to light bulbs, a radio and a DVD player.


Study team leader Mr. Don Gervasio said that efforts will be to maximize the usable hydrogen storage capacity of borohydride to make the fuel cell power source last longer, which could lead to the most potent power source ever produced for portable electronics. The fuel cell system can be packaged to be of the same size and weight as conventional batteries, and the system is recharged by refilling the fuel cartridge.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Bigger need not be better for storage!

Scientists at the University of Nottingham, the United Kingdom, have made a breakthrough that could help the development of next-generation environmentally friendly cars. On investigating materials that have a porous sponge-like structure, which would facilitate hydrogen storage, they found that bigger pores do not necessarily mean larger quantities of the gas are stored. This discovery has boosted attempts to cram hydrogen into a small space so that it can be used practically as a fuel.


A possible solution is to pack hydrogen into porous materials, which soak up the gas like a sponge. Prof. Martin Schroder and his colleagues have been investigating so-called metal organic frameworks (MOFs) molecular scaffolding filled with tiny cylindrical pores that hydrogen gas can be forced into. As the University of Nottingham study revealed that middle-sized pores can hold the highest density of hydrogen, scientists concluded that for any given material there is an optimum pore size. Prof. Schroders team has obtained the highest percentage of hydrogen uptake of any such material thus far reported. According to Prof. Schroder, MOFs appear to be a viable alternative technology to other materials currently being investigated for hydrogen storage since they can show excellent reversible uptake-release characteristics and appropriate capacities.


Contact: Mr. Martin Schroder, Head of Inorganic Chemistry, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (115) 9513 490


E-mail: martin.schroder@nottingham.ac.uk 


Website: www.research.nottingham.ac.uk

New hydrogen storage technology

Scientists at Queensland University, Australia, report to have developed a new magnesium-based hydrogen storage system that is significantly better than current technologies. The new magnesium alloy developed is claimed to safely store hydrogen at greater densities and at lower costs than feasible currently. A company called Hydrexia has now been set up to take commercial advantage of the new technology. A prototype of the storage system has been built for on-site industrial hydrogen storage.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

New process for clean hydrogen production

QuantumSphere Inc. (QSI) in the United States has recently applied for a patent relating to clean hydrogen production. This patent, which complements QSIs focus on renewable energy, would enable efficient and low-cost hydrogen generation by electrolysis of water.


QSI is well ahead of the Hydrogen Economy 2010 technical targets set by the Department of Energy, with its new patent filing and recently published results for low-cost hydrogen generation at an efficiency greater than 75 per cent using its new porous nanometal electrode. Enabled by high surface area metal particles and a novel structure, this innovation has surpassed pertinent technical targets to produce hydrogen from water without generating any greenhouse gas. This process is a critical step in working towards a hydrogen-on-demand system for direct feed into fuel cells that would eliminate the need for storing hydrogen storage, which has safety, logistical and cost issues.


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

BIOMASS ENERGY

Corn waste potential: More than ethanol

Researchers at Penn State University, the United States, report that leftover corn stover can be used to generate electricity. The process developed by Dr. Bruce E. Logan and his team uses a microbial fuel cell to convert organic material into electricity. Previous work had shown that these fuel cells can generate electricity from glucose and municipal wastewater. These cells can even generate hydrogen gas directly.


Corn stover is about 70 per cent cellulose or hemicellulose, complex carbohydrates that are locked in chains. A steam explosion process releases organic sugars and other compounds in the corn waste that can be fed to microbial fuel cells. A microbial fuel cell contains two electrodes and anaerobic bacteria, which consume the sugars and other organic matter and release electrons. These electrons travel to the anode and flow to the cathode in a wire, producing electrical current. The water in the fuel cell donates positive hydrogen atoms that combine with the electrons and oxygen to form water.


Following successful trials, the team reported that the conversion of organic matter to electricity, on the basis of biological oxygen demand (BOD) removal, was relatively high with greater than 93 per cent of the BOD removed. Hence, there is no organic matter left to cause problems when disposing of the remaining liquid because there is nothing left to oxidize. The process converts all the available energy into electricity about 1 W/m2 at about 0.5 V. Wattage can be raised by increasing the surface area voltage can be hiked by linking fuel cells in series.


Website: www.innovations-report.com

Sugar yields diesel fuel and industrial chemicals

Prof. James Dumesic at the Univer-sity of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States reports that fructose can be used to produce a chemical intermediate called hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), which can be converted into plastics, a diesel-fuel additive or even diesel fuel. The new, patent-pending method for making HMF is a balancing act of chemistry, pressure, temperature and reactor design. After a catalyst converts fructose into HMF, the HMF moves to a solvent that carries it to another location for HMF extraction.


Although conversion of fructose into HMF is not new, Prof. Dumesics team made a series of improvements that made extraction of HMF easier and raised the HMF output. HMF is fairly easy to convert into plastics or diesel fuel. Prof. Dumesic is also exploring methods to convert other sugars and even more complex carbohydrates into HMF and other chemical intermediates.


Website: www.greenbiz.com

New finding leads to better waste-to-fuel technology

GreenPower Inc., the United States, reports to have achieved a major breakthrough in the conversion of ordinary landfill waste into high-quality diesel fuel. The new process, called catalytic depolymerization, was invented by Dr. Christian Koch of Germany. This process uses a special catalyst that when heated to 350C changes from an inert compound to an active decomposition agent, breaking down complex, long carbon molecules into short ones, the basis of light oil and diesel fuel.


The process works on all carbon-based material, including biomass of plant and animal origin, plastics, rubber, waste oils, etc. Rock, glass, porcelain and metals are pre-sorted using conventional technologies, as the cannot be broken down. Fuel obtained by this process, dubbed NanoDiesel, is a very high-grade diesel that is thought to be easily usable as jet fuel.
The operating temperature of this process is 390C, which is below those of typical refinement processes that create green house and other toxic gases. Additionally, the means of heating the material to the reaction temperature is not by flame but by friction, created by pumping the material through a specially designed and patented turbine. Thus, there are virtually no emissions in the process. On average, 500 tonnes of typical waste would yield about 386,410 litres of fuel.


Website: www.mmdnewswire.com

Bio-oil from agricultural waste

Researchers at the University of Science and Technology, China, are reported to have successfully reduced the cost of converting agricul-tural waste crop stalks, chaff and sawdust into bio-oil, an alternative source of energy. According to Prof. Guo Qingxiang at the Universitys Biomass Clean Energy Laboratory, bio-oil produced using this technology is 56.8 per cent cheaper than diesel oil and 39.1 per cent cheaper than heavy oil. However, it yields only about two-fifths of the heat as the same amount of diesel oil and only half that of heavy oil.


The new technology can produce more than 6 kg of bio-oil from 10 kg of sawdust. A tonne of bio-oil can be produced by this process at a cost of around US$100. Biomass Clean Energy Laboratory has developed a machine that can process 120 kg of biomass per hour. The bio-oil can be used directly in boilers and after refining in motor vehicles. It can also be employed for ethanol extraction.


Website: www.news.xinhuanet.com

Marine algae provide clean oil

Researchers in Spain are developing a system for producing energy from marine algae. Eco-friendly fuel obtained from this new process can be used as an alternative to fossil fuels. Mr. Bernard Stroiazzo-Mougin, President of Biofuel Systems SL (BFS), the company developing the project, said that the system would produce huge amounts of biopetroleum from phytoplankton in a limited space and at a very moderate cost.


BFS, with assistance from the University of Alicante, has designed an energy converter system for producing biopetroleum. The new fuel will offer all the advantages of petroleum, including the possibility of extracting the usual oil derivatives, albeit without its disadvantages, as it will reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. It will not emit sulphur dioxide and no toxic by-products will be created.


BFS system is expected to produce 400 times more oil than any other source of biofuel. It is estimated that a surface area of 52,000 km2 can yield 95 million barrels per day of biopetroleum, an amount equivalent to the world production of crude oil at present, at a considerably lower price. The system will thus ensure a permanent, inexhaustible source of energy, which also uses up excess CO2, thus helping to curb the greenhouse effect and global warming, for which CO2 is one of the main causes.


Website: www.ipsnews.net

Energy from organic waste

A recent development achieved by Canada-based Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI) holds out promise in reducing the dependence on fossil fuels. An anaerobic biodigester system developed at PAMIs facilities in Humboldt can transform organic waste into heat and electricity.


The PAMI system is essentially a set of tanks, boilers and specialized equipment that creates a controlled environment to enhance a natural phenomenon bacterial decomposition of organic material that produces biogas in the process. Biogas thus obtained comprises a mixture of about 70 per cent methane and 30 per cent carbon dioxide, with hy-drogen sulphide in trace amounts. The methane can be combusted in generators to produce electricity. The system is versatile: feedstock for the device can essentially be any organic material, including manure, plant matter, seeds, grain, fat or a combination thereof.


A biodigester demonstration project is currently operating in Cudworth. The project converts pig manure into biogas to run four 30 kW microturbines that are plugged into the provincial distribution grid, generating enough electricity to power 30-40 homes. Waste heat produced by the microturbines is captured and used to heat the biodigester. Solid remnants from the biodigestion process are spread on the surrounding fields as a compost-type organic fertilizer.


Website: www.discovermoosejaw.com

Fuel production using bacteria

Researchers from the Institute for Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology, Munster, Germany, report to have achieved a milestone in the production of biofuels through their microdiesel technology. The technology uses specially engineered bacteria for producing biofuels from food crops.


This process is different from other production methods, as it can not only utilize the same plant oils used to obtain biofuels by conventional means, but also use readily available plant materials or even recycled waste paper, if engineering of the production strain is more advanced. Additionally, unlike many other biodiesels, it does not rely on the addition of toxic methanol from fossil resources. Bacteria developed for use in the microdiesel process make their own ethanol instead. This could help keep production costs low apart from ensuring that the fuel is made from fully renewable resources. The researchers say that, as raw materials used in the process is cheaper and easily available, this technology can result in widespread production of biofuel at a competitive price.


Website: www.sciencedaily.com

PUBLICATIONS

Renewable Energy Systems: Design and Analysis with Induction Generators

This handbook offers the first comprehensive presentation of induction generator design, analysis, control and applications. It includes an in-depth introduction to the performance of self-excited induction generators and addresses reactive compensation techniques for induction generators. Focusing on renewable energy applications, the book addresses virtually all aspects of the design, operation and analysis of these systems, from the very basics to the latest technologies.

Renewable Resources and Renewable Energy: A Global Challenge

This book presents research on the production of bio-based products, environmentally degradable plastics and renewable energy. It reveals the processes behind the use of renewable feedstock for the development of sustainable industrial processes, highlighting the role of catalysts in transformation. While addressing the fundamental importance of improving the production and use of renewable energy, special emphasis has been placed on the development of efficient fuel cells and photovoltaic systems. It also describes current trends in a hydrogen-based economy.


For the above publications, contact: CRC Press LLC, 6000 Broken Sound Parkway, NW, (Suite 300), Boca Raton, Florida 33487, United States of America. Tel: +1 (561) 9940 555; Fax: +1 (561) 9899 732.

Alternative Energy Resources: The Quest for Sustainable Energy

Providing a balanced introduction to tomorrows energy sources, this guide examines the options available for energy sources, focusing on hydrogen as a large-scale, secondary energy vector parallel to electricity. The author analyses alternative energy sources, including renewable energy (hydroelectric, solar, wind, biomass and geothermal), nuclear and hydrogen. Each energy sources pros and cons are examined, based on our needs, availability and environmental impact aspects.


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


E-mail: csd_ord@wiley.com.sg


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