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VATIS Update New and Renewable Energy . Apr-Jun 2015

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New and Renewable Energy Apr-Jun 2015

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

Priority sector lending for renewable energy in India

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has revised the priority sector lending norms, and has accorded priority sector lending status for renewable energy. Other categories included under priority sector lending are agricul-ture; micro, small, and medium enterprises; export credit; education; social infrastructure and housing loan. The priority sector guidelines do not lay down any preferential rate of interest for these priority sector loans. In its re-port, the RBI’s internal working group has suggested the revisions in priority sector lending guidelines, said that “the emphasis now, over and above lending to vulnerable sections, is to increase employability, create basic infrastructure and improve competitiveness of the economy, thus creating more jobs”.

Financing woes have hindered the uptake of small-scale commercial and industrial renewable energy pro-jects. The inclusion of renewables under priority sector lending is expected to solve some of these problems, especially for rooftop solar. As per RBI’s notification, banks can now provide loans up to a limit of Rs 150 million to borrowers for solar, biomass, wind, and micro-hydel power generation, and also for renewable energy based public utilities like street lighting systems and remote village electrification. Loans for genera-tion and use of renewable energy in households are already included under priority sector. Besides, all the banks will have to lend at least 40% of their net credit to the priority sector. Foreign banks with less than 20 branches have been allowed time till 2020 to reach this target.
Source: http://www.cleantechnica.com

Sri Lanka to increase renewable power generation

Sri Lanka has set a target to generate 20% of the power supply by renewable energy by 2020. Small Scale Power Generation Sector through renewable energy sources such as wind power, solar power and biomass sources has already contributed effectively to the generation of electricity in the country. To achieve the target, Sri Lanka plans to accelerate the development activities associated with the renewable power generation.

Minister of Environment and Renewable Energy Susil Premajayantha and Minister of Power and Energy Pavithra Wanniarachchi have jointly proposed to set up a committee to make recommendations for the achievement of the goals with regard to renewable energy. The cabinet has approved appointing the Com-mittee to be chaired jointly by the Secretaries of the two Ministries and comprising relevant officials. Although Sri Lanka relies mostly on oil, hydropower and increasingly, coal, generation to meet the country’s electricity demand, it has looked to the possibility of introducing renewable energy sources.
Source: http://www.colombopage.com

IFC to invest in eco-friendly power project

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has announced to invest $125 million in a leading re-newable energy company to support eco-friendly power projects in Pakistan, part of efforts to combat climate change and spur economic growth. President Mamnoon Hussain witnessed the contract signing. IFC will acquire a 15 percent stake in China Three Gorges, South Asia (CSAIL), a subsidiary of the China Three Gorges Corporation, a Chinese state-run firm. IFC’s investment will support a series of hydro, solar, and wind power projects that will provide electricity to more than 11 million people, boost generation capacity by 15 percent, and cut the country’s reliance on imported fossil fuels.

“Pakistan is one of the most important overseas markets of CTGC. We are pleased to contribute to the development of Pakistan’s economy, along with IFC. China Three Gorges South Asia Investment Limited will grow together with Pakistan’s economy, and proactively explore new co-operation oppor-tunities across the region,” said Lu Chun, at CTGC. CSAIL is planning to invest $7 billion in Pakistan, the largest investment in the history of the country’s power sector. CSAIL has already com-pleted a 50 MW wind farm and has six other renewable projects in its pipeline, including three large hydro-power projects. Once completed, those projects will add over 9,500 gigawatt hours to Pakistan’s grid, boosting the country’s output of renewable energy by a third.
Source: http://www.brecorder.com

Solar power plants to get new tariff in Bangladesh

The Bangladesh government has initiated a move to fix a benchmark tariff for electricity that can be added to the national grid from solar-based independent power producer (IPP) plants and rooftop solar sys-tems. “We are trying to fix a benchmark tariff considering expenditure of technology cost of renewable energy, its international market price, investment cost, inflation, current exchange rate, project operating and management cost, project life, capital return, government’s target and economic abilities,” said Power Division Joint Secretary Siddique Zobair. About the concept of benchmark tariff, Zobair said the suc-cess of conventional electricity generation has prompted the government to take a similar move in the non-conventional renewable energy like solar and wind power.

Zobair said one of the substantial conditions of accepting any solar-based IPP plants and rooftop solar sys-tems was for the private firm to have its own land to set up the solar plant. Because managing a clean and undisputed land emerges to be a big issue prior to setting up a solar plant as it needs a large piece of land, he added. The electricity distribution agencies under the Power Division would buy electricity from these IPP plants and solar systems for the national grid on a long-term basis but the benchmark tariff would be fixed separately.

Currently, different ministries and departments, including the Power Development Board, the Rural Electrifi-cation Board, the Local Government Engineering Department, autonomous bodies like Infrastructure Devel-opment Company Limited and also the private sector are working on renewable energy projects. The gov-ernment had earlier announced a renewable energy policy and also plans to increase its share in power generation to 5% by the end of 2015 and 10% in 2020. If the target is achieved, the coun-try’s renewable energy production will go up to 650MW this year, while the total power production in 2015 is expected to be 13,000MW.
Source: http://www.dhakatribune.com

Renewable electricity to rise 85% by 2050 in China

According to a study, China could get 85% of its electricity and 60% of total energy from renewables by 2050. A rapid rollout of wind, solar and bioenergy is technologically and economi-cally feasible, a report led by the China National Renewable Energy Centre claims. In a “high re-newable” scenario, the country’s coal use would peak in 2020 and its greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 – five years ahead of target. “China can no longer rely on coal,” said Li Junfeng, at the National Development and Reform Commission.

There is pressure to clean up air pollution as well as greenhouse gases. The study follows a similar analysis in 2012 finding the US could get 80% of its electricity from renewables by 2050. US and Danish ex-perts contributed to the China report. Going down the high renewables route will take “a big ef-fort,” Li said, with financial and technological innovation as well as policy reform. Economic growth remains top priority for China, with GDP set to grow sevenfold from 2010 to 2050.

High levels of solar and wind power pose challenges for electricity systems, as output fluctuates according to the weather. The Chinese study found that with increased power trading, storage and demand response as well as more flexible use of coal and gas, this was manageable. Portugal got 70% of its power from renewables in the first quarter of 2013 – 37% from the more predictable hydropower. Ireland at times gets half its electricity from wind.
Source: http://www.rtcc.org

China’s large wind farm capacity hits 100.6 GW

China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) has announced that the country’s large-scale wind power capacity has reached a total of 100,640 MW as of the end of March 2015, which is 26.9% more than a year back. The calculations do not include plants with capacities lower than 6 MW. As for the county’s large-scale hydropower plants (HPP), the installed capacity stood at 265,300 MW at the end of the first quarter. It grew by 8% year-on-year.

In January-March alone, China connected approximately 1,590 MW of new HPP capacity. In the first quarter of 2015, the country’s total power consumption grew by 0.8% on the year to 1,290.1 TWh. In March alone, China’s total electricity demand amounted to 444.8 TWh, marking a 2.2% year-on-year decrease.
Source: http://www.renewables.seenews.com

Indonesia impose a levy on palm oil exports

Indonesia, the world’s top palm oil producer, has imposed a levy on exports of crude palm oil to help pay for biodiesel subsidies, replanting, research and development of oil palm farmers to boost their pro-duction. “Palm oil exporters would be levied US$50 per metric ton for crude palm oil (CPO) shipments and $30 for processed palm oil products, when CPO prices stand at below $750 a ton,” said Economic Minister Sofyan Djalil. CPO prices hovered around $590 a ton recently, he added. The funds will be used to compensate the price differences between the regular diesel and biodiesel.

The government is pushing efforts to boost domestic use of biodiesel to reduce dependence on fossil fuels that are largely imported and have added pressure on Indonesia’s current account deficit, the broad-est measure of international trade that has made investors jittery about the country’s assets. The government will keep imposing other tax charges on CPO shipments when prices exceed $750 a ton with rates ranging between 7.5 percent and 22.5 percent for higher prices. It sets the tax monthly, based on monthly average prices in Jakarta, Rotterdam and Kuala Lumpur. But since October last year, duties were cut to zero as CPO prices dipped below the reference price.

Implementation of the new export levy on palm oil would be handled by a steering committee and supervised by a board comprising the government and the private sector. Indonesia has in recent years been boosting domestic use of the more environmentally friendly biodiesel, which is made out of palm oil, to cut carbon emissions and help absorb the increasing supply of the world’s most-traded cooking oil. The admini-stration has also raised biodiesel subsidies to Rp 4,000 (31 US cents) per liter from the previous Rp 1,500 to make the fuel more appealing for consumers.
Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com

Viet Nam gets more EU renewable energy support

At a seminar on sustainable energy development held in Hanoi Ambassador-Head of the European Un-ion (EU) delegation to Viet Nam, Dr. Franz Jessen announced that it will increase non-refundable aid by EUR346 million to assist Viet Nam hammer out an environmentally energy blueprint to curb its chronic en-ergy shortages. The aid would be provided during the period 2014-2020.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Hoang Quoc Vuong in turn stressed that developing renewable en-ergy would help reduce carbon emissions and the negative footprint it has on the environment. At the event, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and EU Delegation to Viet Nam signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) related to strengthening cooperation on renewable energy development.
Source: http://www.en.baomoi.com

Indonesia to focus on developing renewable energy

In an effort to develop alternative sources and renewable energy, the government of Indonesia is turning its attention to developing, among other factors, solar energy and energy from processed urban wastes, in-dustrial refuse, vegetables, and plantations. “The government will seriously implement its program to produce renewable energy from vegetables. The program to generate renewable energy from vegetables is one of our priorities. We hope the mandatory program can generate 1.57 million kiloliters of energy from vegetable wastes,” said Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) Sudirman.

Besides exploring and implementing energy generation programs, the government has also issued a policy raising its mandatory biofuel mix of diesel from 10 percent (B10) to 15 percent (B15). The B15 mandatory policy will be implemented by the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy from April 1, 2015. The govern-ment’s efforts to develop alternative energy and increase its B10 to B15 biofuel mix have gained sup-port from many circles, including lawmakers. Actually, Indonesia is rich in renewable energy sources that can be developed to replace conventional energy. Biofuel can even be produced from household, industrial or plantation wastes.

For example, urban wastes in Jakarta reach 6,500 tons per day; this can be recycled to produce biofuel en-ergy. Therefore, the Jakarta administration is planning to generate renewable energy by recycling wastes as suggested by the National Energy Council (DEN). The Jakarta administration hopes by generating biofuel from recycled garbage it can produce electricity supplies for the capital city. It will also use solar energy for the same purpose. The officials of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) have also lauded the government’s program to generate biofuel. This will make the people more independent and enable them to harbor future aspirations to create a more energy-resilient region.
Source: http://www.antaranews.com

SOLAR ENERGY

Researchers develop new kind of solar cell

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the United States, and Stanford University, the United States, have developed a new kind of solar cell that combines two different layers of sunlight-absorbing material in order to harvest a broader range of the sun’s energy. The development could lead to photovoltaic cells that are more efficient than those currently used in solar-power installations. The new cell uses a layer of silicon, which forms the basis for most of today’s solar panels, but adds a semi-transparent layer of a material called perovskite, which can absorb higher-energy particles of light. Unlike an earlier “tandem” solar cell reported by members of the same team earlier this year, in which the two layers were physically stacked, but each had its own separate electrical connections.

The new version has both layers connected together as a single device that needs only one control circuit. “Different layers absorb different portions of the sunlight,” said Jonathan Mailoa, graduate student at MIT. In the earlier tandem solar cell, the two layers of photovoltaic material could be operated independently of each other and required their own wiring and control circuits, allowing each cell to be tuned independently for optimal performance. According to Mailoa, by contrast, the new combined version should be much simpler to make and install. It has advantages in terms of simplicity, because it looks and operates just like a single silicon cell, with only a single electrical control circuit needed. One trade-off is that the current produced is limited by the capacity of the lesser of the two layers.

To address that limitation, the team aims to match the current output of the two layers as precisely as possi-ble. In this proof-of-concept solar cell, this means the total power output is about the same as that of conven-tional solar cells; the team is now working to optimize that output. Now the team is focusing on increasing the power efficiency – the percentage of sunlight’s energy that gets converted to electricity – that is possible from the combined cell. In this initial version, the efficiency is 13.7 percent, but the researchers have identified low-cost ways of improving this to about 30 percent – a substantial im-provement over today’s commercial silicon-based solar cells – and this technology could ulti-mately achieve a power efficiency of more than 35 percent.
Source: http://www.printedelectronicsworld.com

New world record for PV efficient mark

Tier-1 solar maker Trina Solar, China, has set a new world record for high efficiency p-type multi-crystalline silicon PV modules. Trina Solar’s Honey Plus multi-crystalline silicon module reached a new module efficiency record of 19.14% with an aperture area of 1.515 m2, with the result independently confirmed by the National Center of Supervision and Inspection on Solar Photovoltaic Product Quality (CPVT) in China. This result is a new world record for a multi-crystalline silicon module composed of 60 high-efficiency Honey Plus multi-crystalline silicon cells (156×156mm2), fabricated with technologies including back surface passivation, lo-cal back surface field and half-cell module technologies developed by Trina Solar.

The multi-crystalline Honey Plus solar cells, the brand name for Trina’s PERC solar cells, are now in mass production. The half-cell module technology is not currently part of the Honey Plus prod-ucts, but will be incorporated at a later date. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that a multi-crystalline Silicon PV module reaches an efficiency higher than 19%. It demonstrates that multi-crystalline silicon PV modules can reach an efficiency level that was reserved to the most effi-cient solar cells before, such as mono-crystalline IBC or heterojunction cells. This milestone achieve-ment is the result of a very close collaboration among our silicon crystallisation, solar cell and module scientists,” said Dr. Pierre Verlinden, at Trina Solar.
Source: http://www.businessspectator.com.au

Researchers develop lateral organic solar cell

Researchers at the Pohang University of Science and Technology, Republic of Korea, have de-signed the first lateral organic solar cell (LOSC) that remains fully functional even after being bent hundreds of times. The pioneering LOSC, which consists of laterally pre-patterned asymmetric elec-trodes and a simple solution-deposited bulk-heterojunction active layer, was fabricated using solution-processed organic nanowire blends on a flexible substrate. “The main advantage of lateral-architecture devices over conventional vertical architecture is that they can be fabricated on any sub-strate and can be mechanically deformed without loss of performance,” said Cho Kilwon, at Po-hang and one of the leaders of the research team.

Traditionally, substrates, electrodes and photo-active layers are stacked in solar cells, making the de-vice stiff. Cho notes that a vertical structure, even when fabricated on flexible plastic substrates, limits device flexibility due to unavoidable delamination at interfaces and the brittleness of the transparent conducting ITO electrode, which leads to electrical shorting when deformed. Cho’s cell, by con-trast, has a novel, horizontal structure that includes semiconductor nanowires. The cell with demon-strated photovoltages of over 3 V has only one layer and can maintain photoelectric efficiency even after being bent many times. According to Cho, the developed integrated LOSC module devices on a flexible plastic substrate exhibit continuous and stable operation under mechanical stress, such as bending and folding.

The novel device structure comprises laterally pre-patterned asymmetric electrodes and a simple solu-tion-deposited active layer. To optimize power conversion efficiency, the team incorporated self-assembled polymer nanowires into the active layer for a high photocurrent generation and an efficient charge collection. Because of the lateral composition, the sunlight directly reaches the photo-active layer, rendering a light-collecting transparent substrate inessential. Additionally, the LOSC devices are useful for module integration with parallel or series connections simply by designing interdigitated elec-trode patterns, whereas conventional vertical architectures require the isolation of individual devices connected in series or in parallel. The research is detailed in the journal Advanced Energy Materi-als.
Source: http://www.solarnovus.com

New texturing process enhances solar cell efficiency

Nines Photovoltaics, Ireland, has announced that they have demonstrated solar cell efficiencies over 18% by applying their unique Atmospheric Dry Etching (ADE) texturing process in a standard in-dustrial ALBSF multi-crystalline solar cell manufacturing process. The Nines ADE technology provides an efficient texturing process that lowers the front side reflectivity of the cell, allowing more light in and therefore generating more current. They have been working on cell process integration with the Fraun-hofer ISE, Germany. This +0.3% efficiency uplift follows a number of previous uplifts, obtained with several Tier one Asian cell manufacturers since the beginning of 2015.

The ADE process provides producers with not only an efficiency up-lift, but also a highly competitive cost-of-ownership for large scale (GW) production, through the use of on-site etching gas generation. The atmospheric nature of Nines PV’s process (non-vacuum), allows for higher throughputs than currently possible in the industry (for example with reactive ion etching) and enables in-line processing – a key requirement for efficient manufacturing lines. The ADE tool applies the texture to only one side of the wafer, facilitating integration of the technology into a PERC process by providing surface decoupling without any additional etching/polishing/masking step. The texturing process uses a chemistry compatible with all types of silicon wafers, including mono-Si, mc-Si and cast wafers.

Furthermore, Nines PV have demonstrated with a number of Tier one customers that their texturing process works equally well on Diamond Wire (DW) cut wafers. Texturing has been the main barrier hindering the entry of this cost saving technology into the mc-Si market. The ADE technology will enable this change, and the significant associated cost benefits. “The potential of ADE to re-duce cost and improve efficiency is significant, especially when integrated with other upgrades. It also allows for more flexibility, as it is 100% compatible with any silicon wafer platform and when ADE is included as part of a PERC process flow, enables the cell manufacture to also be DW ready,” said Edward Duffy, at Nines PV.
Source: http://www.pv-magazine.com

WIND ENERGY

New wind turbine in 4 MW segment

At the Hannover Messe 2015, held in Germany, wind turbine manufacturer Enercon, Germany, show-cased the E-126 EP4 with a nominal power of 4.2 MW and a rotor diameter of 127 m, as the first model of its new wind turbine platform in the 4 MW segment. Market launch of the E-126 EP4 is scheduled for 2016. The turbine is designed for Wind class IEC IIA site. A low-wind, IEC III model and a high-wind IEC class I model are scheduled to follow.

Systematic sophistication of the tried-and-tested components, increased use of identical parts and stan-dardisation of components are key factors of the new platform concept. The E-126 EP4 is expected to gen-erate an annual output of approx. 14.8 million kWh at sites with an average wind speed of 7.5 m/s at 135 m hub height.

The E-126 EP4 features 2-part rotor blades whose aerodynamic profiles guarantee maximum yield at mini-mal structural load. These blades are equipped with trailing edge serrations (TES) which are part of the noise-reducing concept. According to Enercon, another “revolutionary development” is the generator design. Enercon promises significant improvements in running smoothness, efficiency and sound power levels. The overall sound power level of the new E-126 EP4 is only 105 dB(A).
Source: http://www.sunwindenergy.com

Innovative way to harness wind energy

A group of students from Delhi University, India, has discovered an innovative way of harnessing wind energy churned out by Metro trains to generate electricity. The project, undertaken by Kalindi College, has also got the backing of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), which allowed the students to install a turbine on trial basis at one of the underground metro stations. “While standing at a metro station one day, the students realised that the wind energy produced in the tunnel by these fast moving trains gets wasted, and they decided to find out how it can be harnessed,” said Dr Punita Verma, Principal Investigator of the project.

The team of ten students, proposed setting up a turbine at an underground metro station to check if it can be successful in harnessing the wind. DMRC officials found the project interesting and gave the nod to install a turbine at a metro station. Without obstructing the operation, safety and security of Metro services, it was decided to put up turbine along the underground tracks at the mouth of tunnel where the maximum wind ve-locity available is 6.5 m/s. “In the first phase, we installed a three-blade turbine and later a five-blade light rotor turbine with a cut-in speed of less than 1.5m/s. We connected it to a battery and meas-ured the power it generates. We also discovered that different stations have different construction and the same turbines cannot be used at all the metro stations,” said Ms. Verma.

The project, which has was started by a different group of students in 2013, has received a grant of Rs. 15 lakh from the university. While the first phase involved the research work, the DMRC engineers were later roped in to test the feasibility, who have asked the team to develop the concept further.
Source: http://www.ndtv.com

“Bladeless” bird friendly wind turbine

An old military veteran Raymond Green of Catching Wind Power (CWP), the United States, has de-signed a bladeless wind turbine which practically eliminates the danger to birds and other wildlife that tradi-tional commercial wind turbines pose. The wind turbine technically speaking isn’t bladeless because the blades are housed inside the windsock. The unit is completely self-contained and slightly cone shaped. This shape compresses the air and allows the turbine to turn in lower wind speeds. It’s also very quiet because all moving parts are contained inside the unit this helps reduce the sound produced.

This reduces and probably completely eliminates the danger to birds caused by traditional open bladed wind turbine designs. According to Green, “Our design does not have any external moving parts to hit the birds. Our unit is easy to see so the birds can avoid it, and all moving parts are internal. The blades are mounted behind the windsock and inner compression cone, therefore making them no accessible to birds. Also, our turbines make virtually no noise.

These patents and IP will become major assets of the company. CWP products will have numerous appli-cations such as military and remote installations; these systems have global market appeal. CSP’s Patented, Inner Compression Cone Technology, squeezes the incoming air and compresses it, creating more power at the turbine. It can also be made for industrial/commercial uses. They are bird and bat safe. There are no exposed blades to injure or kill our flying friends. Contact: Raymond Green, Catching Wind Power, P.O. Box 1045, Jackson, CA 95642, USA. Tel: +1-209-223-5013; E-mail: CatchingWind-Power@gmail.com.
Source: http://www.offgridworld.com

New wind turbine to 3-MW portfolio

Senvion SE, Germany, has added a new wind turbine model to its 3-MW portfolio as it prepares to meet future requirements of network operators for the stable feed-in of wind power into the grids. The company, a unit of Indian wind turbine maker Suzlon Ltd., has launched a new machine for its 3.XM series that will in-clude the Senvion Next Electrical System (NES), consisting of a fully rated converter and an asynchronous generator.

By doing so, the company is getting ready to meet requirements that will take effect from January 2017 for high-voltage connections promoting a continuously stable feed-in of wind energy into the grids. Senvion pointed out it supplies its 3-MW turbines for about 80% of domestic orders. Last year, it erected 185 turbines of the 3.XM series in Germany with a combined capacity of 600 MW.
Source: http://www.renewables.seenews.com

Portable wind turbine that charge gadgets

Designed and built by research group Skajaquoda, the United States, the Trinity (referred to as a “Portable Wind Turbine Power Station” due to its onboard battery) features three alumi-num legs that slide into the body of the turbine for storage and portability, and then expand to become a tripod for deploying the turbine. The device has three wind blades (a Savonius design) that can be folded into the body of the device for transport, and open up when deployed, which spin a 15W genera-tor and charge a 15,000 mAh battery when the wind is blowing.

The Trinity, which is made from plastic and aluminum and weighs about 4 lb., measures 23” high when operating, and folds down into a 12” long cylinder for transport. According to its inventors, Einar Agustsson and Agust Agustsson, a fully working prototype of this micro wind turbine has been built, but in order to put it into production, they’ve turned to Kickstarter to raise the $50,000 to finish the final prototype and start the manufacturing process.
Source: http://www.treehugger.com

New wind generator to keep wind turbine operational

GE Power Conversion, the United States, has developed a direct drive system which has no me-chanical gearbox coupled to the generator. This increases reliability and the turbine’s availabil-ity, while the elimination of the gearbox allows for higher efficiencies. The high reliability also leads to increased production time and fewer maintenance house calls, ultimately driving down the cost of wind energy. High levels of redundancy enable power to be continuously produced even when running in the “degraded” mode – which occurs when one or two of the electric channels are down for any reason. As it is almost impossible to make immediate fixes to offshore wind turbines, this element of redundancy is absolutely critical to their success.

But this is only half of the story. The next generations of offshore wind turbines are massive. They have wind blades stretching out to 73.5 meters, sweeping over an area that can almost span four Airbus A380s. These wind turbines require a ‘large’ generator that has a high power output, and yet stays compact and light to ensure outstanding reliability of the wind turbine’s drive train. This is why GE Power Conversion has been developing the technology for over five years and now manufac-tures a 6MW direct drive permanent magnet generator (PMG), one of the world’s largest wind generators. To put this in context, 6MW of power will enable a single wind turbine to supply enough power for 5,000 households per annum.

The use of PMG also leads to better generation efficiencies; for instance, it allows the Alstom Hali-ade™ 150-6MW to achieve a 15% improved yield compared to the previous generation of offshore turbines. Such PMGs have already been successfully installed in two locations, one in Le Car-net, France and the other in Ostende, off the coast of Belgium. As more offshore wind farms are com-missioned across the world, advanced developments that increase the output and reliability and there-fore reduce the cost of wind power, like the 6MW direct drive permanent magnet generator. Currently new wind generators with even more power density are also under development, ensuring that wind power continues to demonstrate its suitability as a viable source for global energy production.
Source: http://www.gepowerconversion.com

WAVE/TIDAL ENERGY

Pilot project for turning waves into electricity

Under a pilot project of Carnegie Wave Energy, Australia, off the coast of Western Australia, three big buoys floating beneath the ocean’s surface look like giant jellyfish tethered to the seafloor. The steel machines, 36 feet wide, are buffeted by the powerful waves of the Indian Ocean. By harness-ing the constant motion of the waves, the buoys generate about 5 percent of the electricity used at a nearby military base on Garden Island. In late February, the buoys started supplying 240 kilowatts each to the electricity grid at HMAS Stirling, Australia’s largest naval base. They also help run a de-salination plant that transforms seawater into about one-third of the base’s fresh water supply.

Renewable energy is not an urgent matter in Australia, given the country’s plentiful supplies of fossil fuels, particularly coal. But Carnegie’s demonstration project is ultimately aimed at island nations that must import expensive fuel for electricity, as well as military bases looking to bolster energy and water security. “Island nations are all looking to be sustainable,” said Michael E. Otta-viano, at Carnegie. Wave energy could be a good fit, especially for islands where tropical clouds impede solar power or where wind turbines disturb the aesthetics of tourist destinations. Given the ocean’s power, wave energy seems a promising source of renewable energy.

Carnegie’s pilot project, named Ceto 5 after the Greek sea goddess Ceto, began with more than $30 million in financing from investors and the Australian government, including $13.1 mil-lion from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and $7.3 million from the Low Emissions En-ergy Development Program for Western Australia. Carnegie has been working on its Ceto technology since 1999, with cumulative investment of more than $100 million. To battle the elements that make wave energy so difficult to produce, this technology differs from most other wave energy designs. Its buoys sit three to six feet underwater, rather than float on the surface. This helps shield the equip-ment from pounding waves.
Source: http://www.nytimes.com

Floating tidal turbine

A prototype floating tidal energy turbine is being trialled at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC).

Developed by Magallanes, Spain, the 1:10 scale ‘ATIR’ device has been successfully deployed at the centre in the Orkney Islands. Magallanes has been developing the concept of using a floating platform to obtain energy from tidal currents since 2007 and has trialled previous prototypes in test tank and river conditions. The latest trial marks a first step towards testing a full-scale proto-type next year. The device, currently in construction, will be 42 metres long and weigh fully 350 tons.

“This test project allows us to demonstrate the integrity and viability of the concept and its sub-systems in a real sea climate, and help inform the construction of our 2MW floating platform to ensure a stable and optimal designOne of the most important steps was to discover maintenance needs, as well as gaining operational experience at sea,” said Alejandro Marquis de Magallanes. As with float-ing wind turbine designs, developers hope floating tidal arrays could significantly reduce the cost of ma-rine energy by avoiding the need for costly foundations.

Magallanes accessed the internationally-renowned test site through the EU-backed MARINET project, which was formed to accelerate the development of marine renewable energy by covering the cost of testing periods for small models and laboratory tests through to prototype scales and open sea trials.

EMEC is one of 28 partners in the initiative, which spans 12 countries and offers access to 42 marine testing facilities of all scales.
Source: http://www.businessgreen.com

Mega tidal turbine

Scotrenewables Tidal Power, Scotland, a renewable power company is getting ready to take deliv-ery of the world’s biggest and most powerful tidal turbine weighing around 500 tonnes, about the same size as a typical German World War 2 submarine, for its sea-trials off Orkney. The turbine is being built at the Harland & Wolff shipyard, Scotland, the same shipyard that built the world’s largest ever cruise ship – The Titanic. Installation of the mammoth turbine at the European Marine Energy Centre for is planned for this summer, and the device is scheduled for grid connection before the end of the year. “The SR2000 is the culmination of more than 12 years of hard work and incremental testing. We’re delighted to finally offer our low cost floating tidal technology to the tidal market,” said Mark Hamilton, at Scotrenewables.

The mammoth turbine incorporates two retractable rotors of 16m diameter mounted on the 64m hull, which allow the transport draught of the device to be reduced to 6m for towing to and from site. It weighs approximately 500 tonnes and will generate 2 MW of electricity at 3m/s tidal current and has been optimised to maximise energy generation at the EMEC site. The turbine will be towed from Northern Ireland up the west coast of Scotland. The company is planning a two to four year demon-stration programme for the project, focused on maximising reliability and testing ongoing cost reduc-tion strategies. The company anticipates that this new facility will be the main assembly point for fu-ture turbine orders from the UK tidal market.

The same design philosophy was successfully demonstrated with the SR250 prototype that was tested at EMEC from 2011 and 2013. All installation, operation and maintenance operations will be carried out with a single multicat workboat vessel. Furthermore, the design seeks to minimise the use of non-standard components to reduce cost and maximise reliability. The company is currently in talks regarding supply to several projects. When she entered service, the 883-ft long RMS Titanic – one of three Ocean-class liners built by Harland & Wolff – was the largest ship afloat. Human error was blamed for the tragic sinking of Titanic on her maiden voyage after she hit an iceberg in the north Atlantic in 1912.
Source: http://www.greenbuildingpress.co.uk

New wave energy system

The new wave energy system from CorPower Ocean, Sweden, in association with researchers from Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Sweden, uses a gearbox design that generates five times more energy per ton of device, at one third of the cost when compared with other technologies. En-ergy output is three to four times higher than traditional wave power systems. Wave energy has been held back in part because of the cost of electricity generation. The amount of steel and concrete needed in order to produce each MWh has simply been too great to make it into a profitable busi-ness. Even still, the power of waves presents a problem with reliability; and because waves vary greatly in height and timing, it’s difficult to create a conversion system that functions across the full wave spectrum.

Known in the wave energy industry as a point absorber type system, the CorPower converter consists of a buoy that absorbs energy from the waves, plus a drivetrain that converts the buoy’s motion into electricity. The company’s system is based on Swedish cardiologist Stig Lundbäck’ patents, some of which are inspired by his research into heart pumping and control functions. “The new wave energy converter can manage the entire spectrum of waves, unlike competing systems,” said Patrik Möller at CorPower. Methods for phase control, in which compact wave buoys swing in resonance with ocean waves, have been studied by researchers in Trondheim since 1970s, and the CorPower project works closely with researchers from Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway.

The system tested well in Portugal and France and a driveline scale of 1: 3 has recently been in-stalled in a large test setup at KTH. The system also boasts a specially-designed rack and pinion gear solution developed in cooperation with KTH and gear expert Stefan Björklund, among other partners. The so-called cascade gear provides a robust and efficient way to convert linear mo-tion into rotation. The novelty of the invention is its capability to handle heavy loads and high veloci-ties efficiently, with numerous small pinion wheel parts sharing the load. The buoys are compact and lightweight and can be manufactured at a relatively low cost. A buoy with 8 meters in diameter can produce 250-300 kilowatts in a typical Atlantic Environment. A wave energy park with 100 buoys can generate 25 to 30 megawatts.
Source: http://www.engineering.com

FUEL CELLS

New catalyst to improve fuel cells

Researchers from the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), the United States, have developed a metal-free catalyst that can be used in fuel cells. The research team has also developed a conventional cata-lyst that could speed the oxygen reduction reaction in acidic fuel cells. The metal-free catalyst could be an inexpensive solution to some of the problems that fuel cells are facing currently. Conventional fuel cells use a catalyst comprised of platinum, which makes these energy systems quite expensive.

The metal-free catalyst developed by researchers from the CWRU was made using carbon. The research team noted that the carbon-based catalyst corrodes at a slower rate than its metal-based counterparts. The chemical reactions that occur within a fuel cell lead to rapid corrosion of metal-based catalysts, which re-duces their effectiveness over time. The carbon-based catalyst could allow fuel cells to operate for longer periods of time without their capability of producing electrical power being compromised.

The new catalyst makes use of graphene, which is a relatively new material that shows great promise in a variety of applications. Graphene is an atomic-scale honeycomb lattice, which is comprised of carbon atoms. The structure of graphene allows for a great deal of electric conductivity and the material is quite durable and resistant to the chemical reactions that take place within fuel cells. The research team believes that using graphene will increase the energy production of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells, which have become more popular because of their small size and energy production capabilities.
Source: http://www.hydrogenfuelnews.com

High performance fuel cell unveiled

Intelligent Energy, the United Kingdom, has unveiled an innovative 100kW automotive fuel cell, pro-viding vehicle manufacturers with a new high performance option for their next generation of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs). The system has been developed in response to increasing market demand for next generation, high power automotive fuel cell solutions and is the result of extensive research, engineering, cost reduction and test activities. The system builds upon the company’s successes in developing advanced zero emission solutions both independently and with its automotive customers.

Designed to deliver primary motive power within an electric driveline, the 100kW fuel cell architecture and core technology will be available to vehicle manufacturers through technology licensing programmes and joint development agreements. The 100kW platform takes full advantage of Intelligent Energy’s stack technology, which offers high power density whilst being engineered for low cost, high volume series produc-tion. The key enabler for these high power densities is the company’s proprietary, evaporatively-cooled (EC) technology. Compared to conventional liquid-cooled fuel cell stacks, the EC design removes the need for individual cooling channels between each cell.
Source: http://www.nextgreencar.com

Thin-film catalyst for fuel cells

Researchers from Cornell University, the United States, have developed a thin-film catalyst that can be used in fuel cells. The team has reported that this is the first epitaxial thin-film growth of Bi2Pt2O7 pyrochlore, which means that the catalyst will act as a more effective cathode than more conventional catalysts. Researchers believe that the new catalyst could improve the performance of fuel cells, allowing them top produce more electrical power in an efficient manner. According to Araceli Gutierrez-Llonrente, at Cornell University, much of the research that goes into designing thin-film catalysts is focused on the use of perovskite oxides and derivative materials. Cubic pyrochlore structure receive relatively little attention by comparison, but these structures show promise for im-proving the capabilities of fuel cells.

Developing new catalysts for fuel cells has become a major priority for some research organizations. Conventional fuel cells use platinum catalysts, which make these energy systems significantly expen-sive. Platinum is used because of its conductive properties and because it is quite resistant to the corro-sive environments that can be found within fuel cells. Because these energy systems are becoming more popular, efforts to reduce their cost and make them more attractive for commercialization have begun to pick up momentum. The research team noted that it is the first to have developed a thin-film catalyst of this kind.
Source: http://www.hydrogenfuelnews.com

HYDROGEN ENERGY

New material to generate hydrogen from water

Researchers at the University of Bath, the United Kingdom, and Yale University, the United Kingdom, have made a new material that can generate hydrogen from water, meaning it is less reliant on fossil fuels. It uses a newly designed molecular catalyst to split water in an electrolyser and create clean and storable hydrogen fuel. The process splits water into hydrogen and oxygen but, while the first part can be done quite efficiently, the latter was more difficult and lots of energy is lost. With this in mind the team designed a catalyst – a substance that alters the speed of the chemical reaction – to improve the efficiency.

‘Oxygen is the most difficult bit,’ Dr. Hintermair explained. Their catalyst, placed on an electrode used in the production of hydrogen, is much more efficient – and although Dr. Hintermair didn’t have an exact figure, the energy loss using it is ‘almost non-existent’. The major benefit from this breakthrough is that hydrogen could now be used more easily as a way to store energy from renewable sources like wind and solar. The team is in discussions with energy companies about utilising this technology on a large scale and hope the breakthrough marks the start of contributing to providing the world with more sustainable fuels. As regulations tighten on the use of fossil fuels and their emissions, there is a growing focus on the need for cost effective and efficient ways of creating energy carriers from renewable sources.

Solar power is thought to be able to provide up to four per cent of the UK’s electricity by the end of the decade. However, while the price of photovoltaic technology has dramatically decreased in recent years as de-mand has risen, solar energy is problematic as it is intermittent, meaning electricity is only created when it is light. One use of the newly developed catalyst could be to store the energy produced by solar power by using the electricity to produce hydrogen which can then be used on demand, regardless of the time of day.
Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

Hydrogen fuel innovation could work for clean cars

Researchers from Virginia Tech, the United States, have developed a way to drastically cut the time and money necessary to produce hydrogen fuel. By using discarded corn cobs, stalks, and husks, they have im-proved on previous methods deemed too inefficient by energy experts. “This means we have demon-strated the most important step toward a hydrogen economy – producing distributed and affordable green hydrogen from local biomass resources,” said Percival Zhang at Virginia Tech. The research, which was funded in part by Shell, was has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Running an electrical current through water will release free hydrogen gas – but the process, called elec-trolysis, is usually too expensive to be considered practical. Certain microbes can separate hydrogen fuel out of decaying biomass, but only in tiny amounts. So while they look great on paper, hydrogen engines trail behind their electric counterparts in practice. But Virginia Tech’s new method could change that. Corn “stover” – which includes the cobs, husks, and stalks – decays into hydrogen and car-bon dioxide (CO2). Using genetic algorithms, researchers developed an “enzymatic path-way” that speeds up this reaction.

By including two simple plant sugars, glucose and xylose, they were able to increase the rate of hydrogen produc-tion while emitting an “extremely low amount” of carbon dioxide. Cost effective and productive in volume, this method could breathe new life into the hydrogen car. Biomass relies on readily available (and usually discarded) material, which reduces initial fuel costs. The method also increases the reaction rate three times over – as such, the fuel can be produced in smaller, gas station-sized facilities, further driving down cost.
Source: http://www.csmonitor.com

A breakthrough to produce renewable hydrogen

HyperSolar, Inc., the United States, the developer of a breakthrough technology to produce renewable hy-drogen using sunlight and any source of water, has announced that it has identified a low-cost aqueous process to produce artificial photosynthesis particles required for water splitting. One of major challenges in solar-powered water splitting is the use of expensive high voltage solar cells. To address this challenge, the Company’s research team at the University of Iowa (“UOI”), the United States, successfully fabricated a hydro-gen production particle with a low cost high voltage solar cell.

Instead of using conventional and expensive vapor deposition processes to make the solar cell component, the team was able to use a water-based process where a silicon wafer was literally “dipped” into beakers of solutions containing appropriate chemistries to create a high voltage multi-junction solar cell. Unlike conventional multi-junction solar cells that use expensive rare earth materials such as gallium and arsenic, this cell uses inexpensive earth abundant materials. The cell is then bonded to chemical catalysts using a proprietary encapsulation coating to form a self-contained hydrogen generator that can split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, using the power of the Sun.

“We are quite excited that recent results point to the possibility of a very low cost, large scale commercial manufacturing process. The particles we created did not have enough voltage to split water at a commercially acceptable level. However, by adding a small amount of external voltage, we were able to observe a very high hydrogen production rate. This implies that the junctions themselves are quite effi-cient, but require just a bit more voltage. Therefore, our next step is to try different combinations of inex-pensive materials to get more intrinsic photo voltages,” said Professor Syed Mubeen, principal researcher at UOI. “
Source: http://www.wateronline.com

Researcher finds a bacterium to produce hydrogen

A researcher at Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T), the United States, has discovered a bacterium that can produce hydrogen, an element that one day could lessen the world’s dependence on oil. Dr. Melanie Mormile, at Missouri S&T, and her team discovered the bacterium “Halanaerobium hydrogeninformans” in Soap Lake, Washington. It can produce hy-drogen under saline and alkaline conditions in amounts that rival genetically modified organisms.

Mormile, an expert in the microbial ecology of extreme environments, wasn’t searching for a bacte-rium that could produce hydrogen. Instead, she first became interested in bacteria that could help clean up the environment, especially looking at the extremophiles found in Soap Lake. An extremophile is a microor-ganism that lives in conditions of extreme temperature, acidity, alkalinity or chemical concentration. Living in such a hostile environment, “Halanaerobium hydrogeninformans” has metabolic capabilities under conditions that occur at some contaminated waste sites. With “Halanaerobium hydrogeninfor-mans,” she expected to find an iron-reducing bacterium and describe a new species.

What she found was a new species of bacterium that can produce hydrogen and 1, 3-propanediol under high pH and salinity conditions that might turn out to be valuable industrially. An organic compound, 1, 3-propenediol can be formulated into industrial products including composites, adhesives, laminates and coatings. It’s also a solvent and can be used as antifreeze. The infrastructure isn’t in place now for hydrogen to replace gaso-line as a fuel for planes, trains and automobiles. But if hydrogen becomes an alternative to gasoline, “Halanaerobium hydrogeniformans,” mass-produced on an industrial scale, might be one solution – although it won’t be a solution anytime soon.
Source: http://www.news.mst.edu

New cost efficient electrode for splitting water

Scientists from University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia, have developed a highly efficient oxygen-producing electrode for splitting water that has the potential to be scaled up for industrial production of the clean energy fuel, hydrogen. The new technology is based on an inexpensive, specially coated foam material that lets the bubbles of oxygen escape quickly. “Our electrode is the most efficient oxygen-producing electrode in alkaline electrolytes reported to date, to the best of our knowledge. It is inexpensive, sturdy and simple to make, and can potentially be scaled up for industrial application of water split-ting,” said Chuan Zhao, at the UNSW. The research, by Zhao and Dr. Xunyu Lu, has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Inefficient and costly oxygen-producing electrodes are one of the major barriers to the widespread commercial production of hydrogen by electrolysis, where the water is split into hydrogen and oxygen using an electrical cur-rent. Unlike other water electrolysers that use precious metals as catalysts, the new UNSW electrode is made entirely from two non-precious and abundant metals – nickel and iron. Commercially available nickel foam, which has holes in it about 200 micrometres across, or twice the diameter of a human hair, is electroplated with a highly active nickel-iron catalyst, which reduces the amount of costly electricity needed for the water-splitting to occur. This ultra-thin layer of a nickel-iron composite also has tiny pores in it, about 50 nanometres across.

The larger bubbles of oxygen can escape easily through the big holes in the foam. As well, the smaller holes make the electrode surface ‘wetter’, so the bubbles do not stick to it, which is a common problem that makes electrodes less efficient.
Source: http://www.nanowerk.com

BIOFUEL/BIOMASS ENERGY

Scientists turn wastewood into high-octane fuel

A team of researchers led by chemist and chemical engineer Abu-Omar at Purdue University, the United States, has recently developed a new method of catalytic conversion to turn lignin, which makes up a plant’s cell walls and serves as support beams that hold the plant upright and carry its water, into products that can either fuel your car or flavor your cupcake. Before this innovation, lignin’s only value was that this resulting biomass could be burned for heat as a byproduct of processing ethanol from cellulose. “If you’re to think about making the next generation biofuels from biomass, you want to utilize as much as you can from the biomass. It’s a technology that allows us to be more efficient and more sustainable while adding values,” said Omar.

Omar’s work at Purdue for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels did just that, developing a more efficient process to generate an alternative fuel source. But that wasn’t all they did. In the process of squeezing more use out of plant waste, Omar’s team stumbled across one more finding: naturally derived, synthetic vanilla flavoring and fragrances. Normally, these artificial vanilla flavorings and fragrances come from petroleum. According to Omar, the paper and pulp industries typically use acids to strip lignin from plant cell walls when making pulp for paper. Those chemicals interfere with researchers be-ing able to selectively work with specific molecules that produce vanillin and fuel from wastewood.

There’s also money in the vanilla flavorings. According to Omar, wastewood often burns for 40 cents per ton when it instead could be converted into something far more valuable, such as synthetic vanilla flavor-ings, which sell for about $15 per kilo, or thousands of dollars per ton. The Purdue project received $3 million per year as an Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRC) project. The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) purpose in creating the centers is to “pick science problems that, if solved, could have real technological impact,” said Andrew Schwartz, at EFRC.
Source: http://www.pbs.org

New yeast strain to enhance biofuel production

Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas, the United States, have used a combination of metabolic engineering and directed evolution to develop a new, mutant yeast strain that could lead to a more efficient biofuel production process that would make biofuels more economically com-petitive with conventional fuels. Beyond biofuels, the new yeast strain could be used in biochemical production to produce oleo chemicals, chemicals traditionally derived from plant and animal fats and petroleum, which are used to make a variety of household products. Lead researcher Hal Alper, and his team have engineered a special type of yeast cell, Yarrowia lipolytica, and enhanced its ability to convert simple sugars into oils and fats, that can then be used in place of petroleum-derived products.

Alper’s discovery aligns with the U.S. Department of Energy’s efforts to develop renewable and cost-competitive biofuels from non-food biomass materials. “Our re-engineered strain serves as a stepping stone toward sustainable and renewable production of fuels such as biodiesel. Moreover, this work contributes to the overall goal of reaching energy independence,” said Alper.

Previously, the Alper team successfully combined genetically engineered yeast cells with ordinary table sugar to produce a renewable version of sweet crude, the premium form of petroleum. Building upon this approach, the team used a combination of evolutionary engineering strategies to create the new, mutant strain of Yarrowia that produces 1.6 times as many lipids as their previous strain in a shorter time, reaching levels of 40 grams per liter, a concentration that could make yeast cells a viable platform in the creation of biofuels. The strain’s high lipid yield makes it one of the most efficient organisms for turn-ing sugar into lipids. In addition, the resulting cells produced these lipids at a rate that was more than 2.5 times as fast as the previous strain.

Alper and his team improved the performance of Yarrowia through a combination of metabolic engi-neering and directed evolution, which, like the process of natural selection, seeks to identify and cultivate the high-performing cells. In this work, the researchers recognized that cells with high lipid content would float to the top of a tube, whereas cells with lower lipid content would settle down to the bottom. The researchers used this “floating cell scheme” to identify the best-performing cells. The researchers used these high-performing cells, cells that produced more lipids and at a faster rate, to obtain the final yeast with improved function. Their findings have been published in the journal Metabolic Engineering.
Source: http://www.news.utexas.edu

Agricultural waste could be used as biofuel

A new study done by researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA), the United Kingdom, pin-points five strains of yeast capable of turning agricultural by-products, such as straw, sawdust and corncobs, into bioethanol – a well-known alcohol-based biofuel. It is estimated that more than 400 billion litres of bioethanol could be produced each year from crop wastage. The research team said that their findings could help to create biofuel which is more environmentally friendly and ethically sound than other sources because it would make use of waste products. Processes to generate bioethanol from straw and other by-products are currently complex and inefficient.

This is because high temperatures and acid conditions are necessary in the glucose-release process. But this treatment process causes the waste to breakdown into compounds which are toxic to yeast (furfural and hydroxymethylfurfural) – making fermentation difficult. One way to avoid these problems is to use ge-netically modified yeasts, but this research has found five strains of naturally occurring yeasts which could be used successfully in the fermentation process. “Dwindling oil reserves and the need to develop motor fuels with a smaller carbon footprint has led to the explosion of research into sustainable fuels. Bioethanol is a very attractive biofuel to the automotive industry as it mixes well with petrol and can be used in lower con-centration blends in vehicles with no modifications,” said Dr. Tom Clarke at UEA.

Breaking down agricultural waste has previously been difficult because many strains of yeast necessary for fermentation are inhibited by compounds in the straw. Their toxic effects lead to reduced ethanol production. The research team investigated more than 70 strains of yeast to find the most tolerant. They found five strains which were resistant to the toxic compound furfural, and which produced the highest ethanol yield. Of the five furfural tolerant strains S. cerevisiae NCYC 3451 displayed the greatest furfural resistance. The ge-nomic lineage of this strain links it to yeast used in the production of the Japanese rice wine Sake. The re-search has been published in the journal Biotechnology for Biofuels.
Source: http://www.phys.org

Researchers find way to improve biofuel production

Researchers with the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), the United States, in partnership with the Law-rence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), the United States, and the University of California (UC), the United States, have found a way to increase the production of fuels and other chemicals from biomass fermented by yeast. By introducing new metabolic pathways into the yeast, they enable the microbes to effi-ciently ferment cellulose and hemicellulose, the two major families of sugar found in the plant cell wall, without the need of environmentally harsh pre-treatments or expensive enzyme cocktails. “We’ve dis-covered new chemicals generated by fungi and bacteria as metabolites in their strategy for consuming the plant cell wall that are a general part of the global carbon cycle,” said Jamie Cate, at UC.

The cost of gasoline at the pump may be going down, but the excessive carbon being released into the atmos-phere continues to escalate. Clean, green and renewable transportation fuels are needed to replace gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. Also needed are green and sustainable alternatives to petro-chemicals. Microbial fermenta-tion of the cellulosic sugars stored in plant cell walls and other forms of biomass is a highly promising source of biofuels and chemicals provided the process can be done with sufficient economy. Researchers identified meta-bolic pathways in the fungus Neurospora crassa that are used to digest xylose, one of the most abundant sugars in hemicellulose. Yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the microbe most commonly used for the production of biofuels, can’t ferment xylose.

To enable the N. crassa metabolic pathways to work in yeast, Cate and his collaborators introduced five new genes into the yeast. While the new pathways and genes allow the yeast to directly ferment xylose sugars into a desired biofuel or chemical product, those sugars still have to be released from the plant cell walls. This can be done, however, with a simple hot water-pretreatment rather than the acids or ionic liquids that current pre-treatment methods deploy. Harsh chemicals like acids and ionic liquids, unlike hot water, must be removed prior to fermentation so as not to harm the microbes. This is another major expense in addition to the expensive enzymes required to break down the xylose sugars. The results of this research have been published in eLife.
Source: http://www.phys.org

RECENT PUBLICATIONS

Biomass as a Sustainable Energy Source for the Future: Fundamentals of Conversion Processes

Focusing on the conversion of biomass into gas or liquid fuels the book covers physical pre-treatment technologies, thermal, chemical and biochemical conversion technologies. The book provides details the latest biomass characterization techniques and explains the biochemical and thermochemical conversion processes. It discusses the development of inte-grated biorefineries, which are similar to petroleum refineries in concept, covering such topics as reactor configurations and downstream processing. The book also describes how to mitigate the environmental risks when using biomass as fuel and includes many problems, small projects, sample calculations and industrial application examples.

Materials for Low-Temperature Fuel Cells

This book is a concise source of the most important and key materials and catalysts in low-temperature fuel cells. With an emphasis on the technical development and applications of key materials in low-temperature fuel cells, this text covers fundamental principles, advancement, challenges, and important current research themes. Topics covered in-clude: proton exchange membrane fuel cells, direct methanol and ethanol fuel cells, microfluidic fuel cells, biofuel cells, alkaline membrane fuel cells, functionalized carbon nanotubes as catalyst supports, nanostructured Pt catalysts, non-PGM catalysts, membranes, and materials modeling.

For the above two books, contact: John Wiley & Sons Singapore Pte. Ltd., 1 Fusionopolis Walk, #07-01, So-laris South Tower, Singapore 138628. Tel: +65-6643-8333; Fax: +65-6643-8397; E-mail: csd_ord@wiley.com

Biomass and Biofuels: Advanced Biorefineries for Sustainable Production and Distribution

Focused on solving the key challenges impeding the realization of advanced cellulosic biofuels and bioproducts in rural areas, the book provides comprehensive information on sustainable production of biomass feedstock, supply chain management of feedstocks to the biorefinery site, advanced conversion processes, and catalysts/biocatalysts for pro-duction of fuels and chemicals using conventional and integrated technologies. The book also presents detailed coverage of downstream processing, and ecological considerations for refineries processing lignocellulosic and algal biomass re-sources.

Contact: CRC Press. Tel: +44-1235-400524; Fax: +44-1235-400525; E-mail: book.orders@tandf.co.uk


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