VATIS Update New and Renewable Energy . Oct-Dec 2016

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New and Renewable Energy Oct-Dec 2016

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.

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

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IEA raises renewable growth forecast

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said that it was significantly increasing its five-year growth forecast for renewables thanks to strong policy support in key countries and sharp cost reductions. Renewables have surpassed coal last year to become the largest source of installed power capacity in the world. IEA’s latest report sees renewables growing 13% more between 2015 and 2021 than it did in last year’s forecast, due mostly to stronger policy backing in the United States, China, India and Mexico.

Over the forecast period, costs are expected to drop by a quarter in solar PV and 15 percent for onshore wind. Last year marked a turning point for renewables. Led by wind and solar, renewables represented more than half the new power capacity around the world, reaching a record 153 Gigawatt (GW), 15% more than the previous year. Most of these gains were driven by record-level wind additions of 66 GW and solar PV additions of 49 GW.

About half a million solar panels were installed every day around the world last year. In China, which accounted for about half the wind additions and 40% of all renewable capacity increases, two wind turbines were installed every hour in 2015. Over the next five years, renewables will remain the fastest-growing source of electricity generation, with their share growing to 28% in 2021 from 23% in 2015.

Renewable energy tariff catalogue in China

China’s Ministry of Finance (MOF), National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and National Energy Administration (NEA) have jointly released the 6th edition of national renewable energy tariff surcharge subsidy catalogue, which lists the 1,300 new energy power stations approved for the subsidy. Looking at the distribution of the subsidy across the regions, 195 installations in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region stand to benefit from the new surcharge, the highest number of stations in one province.

The aggregate 54 GW in power delivered by the listed facilities include nearly 32 GW allocated to wind power installations, or one fourth of the wind farms in the country benefiting from the subsidies. In addition, 70 percent of the wind farms (mostly in Xinjiang and Gansu) included in the list face serious wind curtailment, meaning they stand to benefit the most from the surcharge.

The surcharge is the source of income for the renewable energy fund and is levied on industrial and commercial users. The higher surcharge is expected to help fill the subsidy gap. By the first half of this year, the subsidy gap had reached roughly 55 billion yuan (US$8.1 billion). Despite the increase in the subsidy, the gap may increase to 60 billion yuan (US$8.9 billion) by the end of this year, as the new installed capacity of renewable energy projects may not have all come online. The gap in Xinjiang and Gansu is more than double the national average.

Wave energy for Pacific Island countries

The Pacific Community (SPC), Fiji, a scientific and technical organisation in the Pacific region, has released a study which states that wave energy could be a cost-effective energy resource for Pacific Island countries and territories. The study ‘Cost analysis of wave energy in the Pacific’ analysed wave energy resources in the Pacific and calculated the costs and potential power generation of a wave energy converter in a variety of locations, to determine whether wave energy could be a feasible alternative to fossil fuels.

It identifies wave energy potential for Pacific Island countries and territories exposed to the southern ocean swells, such as French Polynesia, Tonga, Cook Islands and New Caledonia. The study finds that the cost of generating energy using waves is equal to other renewable energies, such as wind and solar, and that in some Pacific sites it could compete with the cost of diesel generators.

ADB loan for Pakistan’s wind farm

The Asian Development Bank (ADB), along with Tricon Boston Consulting Corporation (TBCC), Pakistan, has approved a loan of $75 million to support the development of the largest wind farm in Pakistan. In a statement issued by the ADB, “The deal is ADB’s third investment in the country’s burgeoning power generation sector. The power generated from the project would be sold under a 20 year take-or-pay energy purchase agreement along with a feed-in-tariff to Pakistan’s Central Power Purchasing Agency.”

“This wind farm was a major contribution to the country’s drive for enhancing renewable energy use and reducing its reliance on coal and petroleum for power generation,” said Mohammed Azim Hashmi, at ADB. The wind farm would prevent the production of 350,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, produced during generation of electricity from non-renewable sources, and would help overcoming the country’s power shortfall. The 50 megawatts (MW) wind farms, situated 100 kilometres northeast of Karachi, would generate a total of 520 gigawatt/hour of power annually.

Wind power in China

According to a study by Bank of China International (BOCI), power related companies to see profits soar between 25 and 64 per cent in the rest of 2017, on the heels of eight newly commissioned ultra-high-voltage (UHV) power lines across the country. Shares in the sector have picked up 67 per cent in price since February, outperforming the Hang Seng China Enterprises index by 9 per cent.

Those linked to the wind energy sector are also likely to continue benefitting from government targets to increase national non-fossil fuel energy sources to 15 per cent by 2020, BOCI analysts Karl Liu and Justin Xu said in the report. Non-fossil fuel sources currently account for less than 10 per cent of China’s total energy use.

A recent Moody’s report claimed under-utilisation in the sector rose from 8 per cent in 2014, to 15 per cent in 2015, to 26 per cent in the first quarter of the year. But BOCI now predicts utilisation of wind will recover by 2 to 9 per cent in the second half, helped by the heavy investment in the more-efficient use of UHV lines, and increased subsidy payments.

Waiver of transmission charges in India

India’s Ministry of Power has announced a waiver of losses and interstate transmission charges for solar and wind projects. India is looking to encourage growth in renewable energy generation, in order to meet ambitious targets. According to a notification released by the Ministry, no interstate transmission charges or losses will be levied on solar projects commissioned before June 30th 2017.

The waiver is only available to projects awarded through competitive bidding, and those that sell their power through the interstate transmission system (ISTS). Once a project is commissioned, the waiver will be available for 25 years. The policy will provide projects with an option to sell power to the national grid without incurring losses or transmission charges. The Ministry hopes to keep up the pace of installation, as well as helping states with lower renewable energy potential to fulfill their Renewable Purchase Obligations.

Philippines to invest more in renewable energy

The Philippines Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi has announced that Net Metering has paved the way for investments in renewable energy (RE) through the distribution utility customers by allowing customers with installed equipment that harnesses either solar, wind, or biomass, to offset their electricity purchases from their local utility and receive credits for the excess power exported to the grid.

The Department of Energy is accelerating efforts to provide consumers with more sustainable energy choices by organizing through its Consumer Welfare and Promotion Office an orientation about the Net Metering Program of Meralco as it observed its 2016 Consumer Welfare Month with the theme, “Consumer Protection: A Shared Responsibility”.

Cusi informed that to help in the widespread dissemination of the Net Metering mechanism, the National Electrification Administration took the initiative in 2014 to gather 80 electric cooperatives in the country to learn about Meralco’s Net Metering implementation which including a visit to the Solar PV Net Metering Pilot Project in their Ortigas compound.

Online system for net metering in Malaysia

Malaysia’s Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) has unveiled a new online system for registered electrical contractors to submit NEM applications on behalf of their clients. The Net Energy Metering (NEM) scheme has been launched by Y. B. Datuk Seri Panglima, minister of energy, green technology and water, in order to complement the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) mechanism and encourage the deployment of renewables.

As implementing agency for the NEM scheme, SEDA opened the eNEM online system from 1st November onwards. SEDA also conducted a stakeholder’s engagement to provide highlights on the NEM scheme mechanism. Malaysia has a FiT for renewable projects up to 30MW in capacity that involves annual degressions.

Finance facility for climate goals in Indonesia

A new facility has been introduced in Indonesia that will be used to promote economic development to stimulate green growth and improve rural livelihoods. The Tropical Landscapes Finance Facility, consisting of a loan fund and a grant fund, aims to achieve climate targets set under the Paris Agreement.

It will make public funding available to finance renewable energy production and sustainable landscape management. Through sustainable production of agricultural commodities, the facility will scale up investment in renewable energy to assist the rural poor. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry fully backs the facility as it falls in line with Indonesia’s sustainable development aspirations.

Along with the facility’s steering committee, French bank and financial services company BNP Paribas, France, and multinational investment manager ADM Capital, Hong Kong, will manage the loan fund. The facility’s secretariat will be managed by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

Boost for renewable energy in Malaysia

Malaysia has approved RM2.07 billion worth of renewable energy investments from January to August this year, surpassing the RM1.37 billion recorded for the whole of last year. Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) deputy chief executive officer II Datuk N. Rajendran said the investments approved for the eight months were 33 per cent, or RM700 million, higher than the whole of last year. “Last year, we approved RM36.14 billion of foreign investments in manufacturing, services and primary sectors,” he said after the opening of the Renewable Energy Symposium 2016.

The event aims to present German technology solutions and expertise to all stakeholders from private and public sectors in renewable energy-related fields in Malaysia, particularly in decentralised and off-grid power generation. “Germany’s investments are strong in electrical and electronics as well as petroleum products, including petrochemicals, chemicals, and scientific and measuring equipment,” he said.

With the increase in approved investments, Malaysia and Germany could see stronger trade ties, particularly in renewable energy. “The sustained inflows of quality German investments into Malaysia, some incorporating the latest technology and high value-added activities, are a reflection of Malaysia’s continued competitiveness for global businesses. “Among the European Union countries, Germany is our largest investor. These investments, which totalled RM41.02 billion, have created 66,430 employment opportunities,” he added.

Among the German companies that had established their bases in Malaysia are Infineon, Osram, SGL Carbon, Continental, BASF, Elektrisola, B. Braun, Robert Bosch, Siemens, X-Fab, Jowat, Schmidt + Clemens, SEW Eurodrive and Mühlbauer. Germany is Malaysia’s 12th largest trading partner globally, with total bilateral trade of RM43.03 billion last year.

ADB grant for solar investments in Nepal

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has announced a USD-20-million (EUR 18.7m) grant aimed at triggering increased private sector interest and investment in utility-scale solar projects in Nepal. The funds are expected to support the deployment of no less than 25 MW of solar power generation capacity by 2018 and “provide a business model that can be replicated and scaled up elsewhere in the energy-strapped South Asian nation,” the ADB explained. Unlike micro- and mini-grid solar power, however, large solar projects of 4 MW and above have received little attention from private sector investors.

The grant will go to finance the difference between the cost of producing solar power and the price the Nepal Electricity Authority is ready to pay for each kWh. The ADB noted that this is the first time that Nepal has ever used viability gap (VG) funding. “Providing some financial security to the private sector should draw more private investment into this critical sector in Nepal and, in doing so, reduce pressure on government finances,” said Aiming Zhou, Senior Energy Specialist at ADB’s South Asia Regional Department.

Companies in Nepal will be able to soon compete for solar projects in an international tender process, with the power purchase agreements (PPAs) going to those who offered the best power sale prices. Bidding is expected to start in the first quarter of 2017. The grant is being financed by the Scaling Up Renewable Energy in Low Income Countries Program (SREP) of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) administered by the ADB.


Interface engineering for perovskite solar cells

Researchers from the Graphene Flagship, working at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT), Italy, and the University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy, have significantly enhanced the stability of perovskite solar cells (PSCs) by including few-layer molybdenum disulphide (MoS2) flakes as an active buffer layer in the cell design. These PSCs retain 93% of the initial light conversion efficiency after 550 h, compared to only 66% for cells without the MoS2 buffer layer.

This represents an important step towards viable PSCs, especially as the addition of the MoS2 interface layer is compatible with low-cost solution processing techniques. MoS2 is a semiconductor material that has a layered structure, and can be exfoliated into few-layer flakes. In this research, 200-600 nm wide flakes of few-layer MoS2 were added into the solar cell device as a buffer layer in between the photoactive perovskite and hole-collecting layers, delivering high stability and increased photovoltaic performance.

Generating steam from sunlight

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the United States, have developed a floating solar receiver capable of collecting ambient sunlight and generating steam. “First, the solar receiver does not require optical concentrators that focus sunlight to generate steam at 100 °C. Second, we have constructed the technology completely out of commercially available materials, such as bubblewrap and building insulation foam. This broadens accessibility of the technology,” said lead author George Wei Ni, at MIT.

The system’s solar energy conversion efficiency depends on the needed temperature of the vapor. “At 100 °C, the solar-to-steam efficiency is about 20%, with improvement expected for larger devices,” Ni added. The team continues to improve the steam generation system to make it fit for the real world. The invention could one day provide the ability to produce steam without relying on electricity, fossil fuels or extensive supporting structures.

The steam can be used in a variety of applications, such as desalination for drinking water and wastewater management. The research could result in making solar thermal conversion much more accessible. “We have demonstrated that low-cost thermal concentration approaches can compete with optical concentrators. Efficiency is important, but oftentimes cost is even more important,” concluded Ni. The study is published in the journal Nature Energy.

Promising solar cell material

A team at the U.S. Deptartment of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), have found that 2D perovskites might promise more efficient, stable performance. “We have a taken a new class of hybrid perovskite materials known as Ruddlesden-Popper phase or layered 2D perovskites that were synthesized by the Kanatzidis group at Northwestern University, the United States, and demonstrated that we can make very efficient PV devices with technologically relevant stability,” said Aditya Mohite at LANL.

The researcher had to resolve a “key bottleneck” to achieve these result. “We have used a technique known as hot-casting, which was previously developed by my team and reported in Science in 2015, to synthesize thin-films of the layered perovskite with single crystalline out-of-plane orientation, which allows for very efficient transport of light generated charge carriers through the conducting inorganic component, which lead to very good efficiencies,” said Mohite.

Before solar cells based on 2D perovskites can become commercially viable, device performance will still have to improve significantly. In addition to pushing the efficiency over the performance hump between the lab and the real world, a next step for the LANL scientists will be to “also expand the application space to light emitting devices, lasing, detectors, modulators etc.”

Ultra-high efficiency arrays

Insolight, Switzerland, is taking the initiative of concentrating sunlight onto space-age solar cells to make such technology affordable for residential photovoltaic (PV) customers, resulting in reduced costs for electricity consumption. This high-end solar technology, which has efficiency levels above 40%, is currently way too expensive to compete with the PV modules that are on the market, so Insolight has come up with some ingenious solutions to make it cost-effective and hopefully to start installing it on residential roofs.

The key to the cost reduction is to concentrate the sun’s rays onto small areas of the high-efficiency cells, so you only have a small area of PV cell. To do this, Insolight has developed plastic lens, which can be layered on top of the solar cell, and which focus light from a larger area onto it. To do this the modules were also required to track the sun to concentrate the light. Using this unique method, Insolight was able to generate an incredible efficiency of 36.4% on a small-scale prototype of their module.

Although this is just a prototype, the company plans to scale this up to reach the same level of efficiency. In terms of costs, the company is predicting that the panels will be significantly more expensive that standard PV modules on the market right now, but with installation costs included, it won’t significantly raise the cost of having one of its systems installed on a residential roof.

Bifacial PV plant

Sunpreme, the United States, has installed the largest bifacial photovoltaic (PV) module plant in the world, giving the technology a fresh landmark. The 12.8 MW project is located in Eastern U.S. and is part of a PV cluster that will go up to 15 MW. The company has used it bifacial double-glass panels on the project, which are frameless and so don’t require grounding. “We are gratified to be part of this large volume, utility scale project utilizing our powerful bifacial panels in a cost-sensitive, ground mount setting,” said Ashok Sinha, at Sunpreme.

Bifacial modules have the obvious benefit of increasing the energy yield, as both sides are able to harvest sunlight. So far, they are somewhat of a niche product in the solar industry, as they are generally more expensive to produce. “These differentiators have resulted in three outstanding cost benefits customer care about: (a) a higher string level AC/DC peak power ratio (b) an increased low-light sensitivity with a greater yield (kWh per kWp) and (c) a correspondingly lower levelized cost of energy,” added Sinha.

Solar electricity-generating glass technology

US-based clean tech developer SolarWindow’s liquid coating technology which can be applied to glass windows and flexible plastics in order to generate clean electricity has now entered into development. Initial work has started on ‘transparent electricity-generating veneers’ that can be applied directly to the existing windows of homes and businesses. SolarWindow hopes that the technology could be utilised by 5 million tall towers in the US, which it estimates consumes 40% of the country’s power.

SolarWindow’s new transparent flexible veneers feature an “innovative fastening system” on one side and a transparent electricity-generating coating on the other. SolarWindow explained in order to convert a window into one which generates electricity, installers cut the veneers to size on location and attach the fastening system to existing glass. Then, using a ‘proprietary interconnection system’, the electricity generated from sunlight hitting the glass can be routed into a building’s electrical system or connected directly to a device.

When newly manufactured glass is coated with SolarWindow electricity-generating liquids and fabricated into a window, it has the potential of turning entire buildings into vertical power generators, reducing electricity costs by up to 50% per year. The technology can provide a one-year payback on investment, producing 50 times more energy on a 50-storey building compared to a traditional rooftop solar installation and producing carbon emission reductions equivalent to the sequestration of 770 acres of forest.

Technology makes solar panels more efficient

Researchers at Technion Israel Institute of Technology recently made a breakthrough in solar cell technology that could boost efficiency of existing photovoltaics by 70 percent or more. The amount of sunlight solar cells can convert into usable energy is typically limited to around 30 percent, with many existing solar panels falling short of that due to less than optimal conditions. The Technion team developed new thermodynamic tools that work to capture energy currently lost, and convert it to electricity, thereby increasing a solar cell’s efficiency to as much as 50 percent.

The university research team, based in Haifa, Israel, has been working to improve solar cell efficiency as a means to increase the benefits of clean, renewable sources of energy. They created a photoluminescence material that absorbs radiation from the sun, and converts the heat and light from the sun into an “ideal” radiation. That illuminates the photovoltaic cell and enables a higher conversion efficiency. The net result is a big boost: a conventional solar cell’s 30 percent efficiency rate is increased to 50 percent.

The team continues to work on their innovation, and is targeting a commercial product release within the next five years. The results of the study were recently published in the journal Nature Communications.


Wind turbine gearbox

In close cooperation Adwen, Spain, and Winergy, Germany, have developed the gearbox for Adwen’s AD 8-180 offshore wind turbine. With an input torque of close to 10,000 kilonewton-meters (kNm) and a weight of 86 tonnes it is claimed to be the largest wind turbine gearbox ever built in the world. Winergy’s gearbox was designed exclusively for the AD 8-180 wind turbine. It is part of a medium-speed drive train concept that will considerably help reduce the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) on Adwen’s new offshore turbine.

At 180 meters the AD 8-180 boasts the world’s largest-diameter rotor. In combination with a nominal electrical power of 8 MW the gearbox attains an input torque of close to 10,000 kNm – a value never before equaled. This 70 % increase in torque capacity was achieved with only a 20 % weight increase compared to other gearboxes used in offshore wind turbines larger than 6 MW. In tests the gearbox attains an efficiency of well over 98 %. Further, by reducing the built-in components its reliability increases.

New inspection system for rotor blades

Reetec, Germany, has developed two new products, its Multi Connection Cabinet RE-MCC for offshore wind turbines and RE-VIS, its vertical rotor blade inspection system. The system RE-VIS (Reetec -Vertical Inspection System) allows for a secure evaluation of nearly 100% of the inner area of a wind turbine’s rotor blade. It uses a high-resolution video camera with rotatable swivel head with laser surveying.

The previously used inspection method presented challenging working conditions for three service technicians in a confined space. This method provides very precise data very quickly and minimises Health, Safety and Environment challenges (HSE) significantly. For external inspection from the ground, Reetec uses a high-resolution camera that assembles single shots into one complete view of the inspected rotor blade.

The new Multi Connection Cabinet RE-MCC for offshore wind turbines is a modular constructed technical solution into which any electrical component or electrical system can be integrated. The idea is to harmonize operations of offshore wind turbines, where at the moment most electrical components such as the monitoring system, obstruction and navigation lights or fire detection systems, work independently from each other.

Portable micro wind turbine prototype

A design student Nils Ferber from École Cantonale d’Art Lausanne, Switzerland, has developed a micro wind turbine prototype which promises to be a lightweight option for providing off-grid electricity in places with abundant winds and problematic access to direct sunlight. The device is designed to pack down into about the size of an umbrella for transport and storage, and then to quickly unfold into a three-bladed Savonius-style turbine which employs a rugged fabric as the blades.

The telescoping mast is then staked to the ground, where it can catch the wind from all directions. The turbine is said to be “suitable for unsteady and gusty winds,” and it could potentially be put to use in conditions which might otherwise be unsuitable for solar, such as overcast days and at night.

The turbine’s rotor is directly connected to the generator shaft at the bottom of the mast, which then outputs the electricity to an integrated USB port for charging other devices. The fully functional micro wind turbine prototype is capable of producing “a constant output of 5 Watts at a windspeed of 18 km/h” and can either charge devices directly, or be used to charge the device’s 24 Wh battery pack.

Innovative wind turbine

Two brothers Arun and Anoop George, through their startup Avant Garde Innovations, India, have developed a low-cost wind turbine that is said to be able to generate sufficient electricity that can power a modern home for an entire lifetime at a cost of just $750. The device can reportedly generate as much as 3-5 kWh per day – more than enough to power a household in under-developed regions.

According to the company, “Our goal is to eliminate energy poverty, reduce dependence on struggling state power grids and create energy self sufficiency for all the needy ones through distributed, localised and affordable renewable energy. In doing so, we believe we can collectively usher in our world a cleaner environment, new economic prosperity and social change.”

The company’s maiden project was launched earlier this year at a church in the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram. The technology is reportedly highly salable for power capacities of 300 kW and higher. The device has been named among the Top 20 Cleantech Innovations in India, while the company itself has made it to the list of 10 clean energy companies from India for the “UN Sustainable Energy For All” initiative.

Multi-rotor wind turbine

Wind turbine giant Vestas, Denmark, is making encouraging progress with its innovative multi-rotor wind turbine project, with the company announced that the four-rotor, 12-blade turbine had produced its first kWh of electricity after a successful round of testing. At 74m in height, the multi-rotor demonstrator unit does indeed cast a shorter shadow than most of its modern counterparts, not least Vestas’s own 8MW V164 turbines, currently being installed as part of the Burbo Bank offshore wind farm expansion project in Liverpool Bay, which reach a towering 220m.

“The time is now right to accelerate the process and bring this idea to its next stage. Others have tried setting up multi-rotor turbines in the past, but with today’s more powerful, fast and deterministic control systems, we believe that the time is now finally right to test the concept of such a configuration,” said Jorge Magalhaes at Vestas. The demonstrator project has already presented some results from initial structural tests, and results from the current dynamic testing are expected to be complete soon.

‘Self-installing’ offshore wind turbine

A team of EU-backed researchers have developed a ‘self-installing’ offshore wind turbine system designed to drive down installation costs and improve worker safety. The “innovative” system was developed as part of the EU’s $3.6m ELISA project and has seen a fully operational 5MW prototype constructed in the Canary Islands. Researchers claim that the system is the first bottom-fixed offshore wind turbine completely installed without the need for heavy-lift vessels.

According to the researchers, the system was developed to tackle the high costs of installing turbines, which is seen as one of the main barriers to widespread roll-out of offshore wind farms. The prototype uses a gravity-based foundation which serves as a floating platform from which an ‘automatically-telescoping’ tower completes with wind turbine is anchored.

Each unit – including the platform, tower and turbine – is completely assembled onshore and then towed to its designated site using a conventional tugboat, where the platform is secured and the tower raised. The ELISA system could allow for “drastic” reductions in the costs of offshore wind energy installation by as much as 30-40 per cent compared to traditional installation processes, while also saving ion maintenance and upkeep.

Offshore wind energy storage system

German researchers have started trialing a 1:10 scale model of the StEnSea (Stored Energy in the Sea). After several years’ research work, the StEnSea project, funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, has now entered the test phase.

In the framework of this project, the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES) is now developing to application level the “marine egg” invented by Dr. Gerhard Luther from Saarland University and Horst Schmidt-Böcking, emeritus professor at Goethe University Frankfurt. The scale model with a diameter of about three meters was brought to the ferry terminal in Constance on 8 November and lowered in the Lake Constance to a depth of 100 meters, about 200 meters from the shore in Überlingen, the next day.

“Pumped storage power plants installed on the seabed can use the high water pressure in very deep water to store electrical energy with the aid of hollow spheres,” said Horst Schmidt-Böcking, emeritus professor at Goethe University Frankfurt. To store the energy, water is pumped out of the sphere using an electric pump; and to generate power, water flows through a turbine into the empty sphere and produces electrical energy via a generator. The system will be tested for four weeks.

“On the basis of our preliminary study, we carried out a detailed systems analysis with a design, construction and logistics concept for the pressure tank, calculated profitability and drew up a roadmap for the system’s technical implementation,” “We will run various tests to check all the details concerning design, installation, configuration of the drivetrain and the electrical system, operation and control, condition monitoring as well” Based on the results of the model trials, the researchers will look for the most suitable areas for a demonstration site in Europe, IWES Head of Division Jochen Bard said.

IWES plans to deploy a sphere with a 30-metre diameter for the demonstration-scale system, which according to Bard, is the most practical size in terms of engineering.


New wave power technology

Wave energy developer Trident Energy, the United Kingdom, plans to begin with the detailed design of its optimised linear generator concept following the technology review by product development company 42 Technology, the United Kingdom. “42 Technology, undertook a detailed design review of Trident’s existing PowerPod linear generator, and has successfully optimised it for performance, robustness and manufacturability,” said Steve Packard, at Trident Energy.

The new re-designed PowerPod II concept is based on a single generic design that can be adapted for use in different types of wave energy converters and certain tidal energy devices, potentially enabling higher manufacturing volumes, lower cost and faster commercial deployment. The new concept is similar in size to its predecessor but it generates 50% more electrical power on each stroke.

The magnetic stack configuration has been optimised to allow the linear generator to operate horizontally, widening the available options for installation and operation. Also, the two companies have implemented improvements to the seal design for ‘in-sea’ operation and to a more robust bearing solution, to further increase reliability and reduce maintenance cycles.

Tidal turbine

Canadian entrepreneur Nofel Izz has invented a tidal turbine designed to harness the kinetic energy found in moving bodies of water could be ideal for India to generate clean energy from a renewable resource with less cost and a smaller carbon footprint. ‘Aqua Dynamo’ is one of the newer and cost effective inventions that would enable India to take an environmentally accountable step in the right direction of clean renewable energy generation.

The Aqua Dynamo’s turbines include a powerful blade that is designed to be hydrodynamic. This means that the turbines can harness the kinetic energy found in moving bodies of water. These turbines generate enough clean energy to power over three million homes while taking up only 200 acres or less of water space. According to Izz, the current cost of constructing tidal turbines that are able to generate 3000 MW is approximately $3 billion.

Due to all of the embedded efficiencies and the unique design, the Aqua Dynamo can generate the equivalent amount of power at a savings of 90 per cent of current costs. “Aqua Dynamo is one of the newer and cost effective inventions that would enable India to take an environmentally accountable step in the right direction of clean renewable energy generation,” said Izz.

Tidal tech reaches new highs

Tidal power kite developer Minesto AB, Sweden, have announced that the results of quarter-scale sea tests of its Deep Green technology now surpass previously noted maximum levels of electricity generation. To be more specific, in October a quarter-scale model of the tidal power kite has produced over 3 kW of electricity at a tidal current velocity of 0.8 m/s. These results correspond to full power generation for a full-scale 500-kW power plant at 1.75 m/s current velocity.

“We now move forward to see how we through various test methods and simulation can increase performance of the technology further,” said CTO Heije Westberg. In the weeks to come, the company will initiate testing of an improved wing design, Westberg added. Minesto has been conducting quarter-scale tests of its technology at a facility in Northern Ireland since 2013.

Powerful tidal turbine installed

The world’s most powerful tidal turbine has been installed at the European Marine Energy Centre, the United Kingdom. The 2 MW SR2000 floating turbine has been developed and manufactured by Scotrenewables Tidal Power Ltd, Scotland. It will now undergo site commissioning and extensive testing at the site. The turbine was towed out of Kirkwall by Green Marine vessels, the United Kingdom, and attached to its moorings on the Fall of Warness, a grid-connected test site situated west of the island of Eday.

“This is a tremendous achievement for the company and the tidal sector. And it has only been possible through the determination, vision and ingenuity of a small, but highly determined team that has worked relentlessly to get to this ... milestone. We see it as a real [achievement] that we’ve managed to execute a construction and installation programme for a 2MW turbine using only low cost vessels,” said Andrew Scott Scotrenewables.

“This announcement from Scotrenewables is a major leap forward for the company, and one of which they’re rightly proud. The installation of the world’s most powerful tidal turbine is another milestone for the sector,” said Lindsay Roberts, at green industry body Scottish Renewables. The Fall of Warness site was chosen for its high velocity marine currents which reach almost 4m/sec (7.8 knots) at spring tides. As tides flow from the North Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea, they speed up as they are funneled through Orkney’s northern islands.

Wave power generator study

Engineers at Sandia National Laboratories, the United States, have conducted the largest model-scale wave energy testing of its kind to improve the performance of wave-energy converters (WECs). The project took place at the U.S. Navy’s Maneuvering and Sea Keeping facility at the Carderock Division in Bethesda, Maryland, one of the largest wave tanks in the world at 360 feet long and 240 feet wide and able to hold 12 million gallons of water.

Sandia project leads Ryan Coe and Giorgio Bacelli spent long days in the dark wave tank, where minimal lighting reduces the growth of algae in the water. They collectee data from their numerical modeling and experimental research to benefit wave energy technology with improved methodologies, strategic control systems design and testing practices for wave energy converters.

To control the dynamics for better, faster results in the wave tank, Coe and Bacelli used modeling and control methods that have been successful in other industries, such as in the aerospace industry. “The systems we used have been around for a while, but strangely enough they had never been applied to wave energy converters,” said Bacelli. Now that Sandia has completed the first round of analyses in the water, the goal is to process all the collected data to develop a new, enhanced model that will make sure the next test yields more valuable results.

Tidal turbine reef technology

Advisian, an independent advisory arm of the Australian engineering company WorleyParsons, will undertake a feasibility study for the development of its tidal energy system known as Tidal Turbine Reef (TTR). Advisian will be testing the viability of the TTR as a reliable energy source that can be integrated into the Australian electricity network, starting from this month, with the completion of the project set for 2017.

The project, which will see Schottel Hydro and EcoFin Solutions working together with Advisian, has received Au$280,000 ($208,000) of funding support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). Bill Barker, Advisian’s Project Director for the new trial, said: “Advisian is increasingly looking to develop our knowledge of innovative technology in the renewable energy space, and we look forward to partnering with ARENA, and other like-minded organisations, into the future on similar projects.”

The TTR is a design developed by Advisian with the aim to harness the abundant tidal energy resource surrounding the Australian coastlines in an economically attractive manner. Similar to the oil and gas installation methodology, the device is manufactured onshore and floated into position, according to Advisian. A single device is expected to be capable of producing 2MW of renewable energy, enough energy to power more than 300 Australian homes.

Wave energy device

After eight years of development, a prototype wave energy device by Sea Power, Ireland, is to hit the open waters of Galway Bay with a quarter-scaled model of the device. The device has been the focus for Sea Power for eight years now, with aims of creating a feasible wave energy generator that could produce clean energy for people on a neighbouring shore.

Sea Power will work with SmartBay Ireland – a not-for-profit company that manages the national marine test facility in Galway Bay – in bringing the device to its next stage of development. In a statement, the Marine Institute has said that following grant support from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, the SeaPower can now hit the open seas for the first time.

With smaller scale versions of the device already tested, the quarter-sized scale model will now make the short journey from Sea Power’s facility in Foynes, Co Limerick to Galway to test its capabilities in much rougher conditions. Eventually, it is hoped the SeaPower will be part of a planned full-scale Atlantic marine energy test site off the Mayo coast.

The Marine Institute’s CEO Dr Peter Heffernan said of this latest development: “Sea Power is a great example of an indigenous Irish company developing novel technology to harness the power of the ocean. “Having brought their device through various small scale prototypes, it is exciting to see this new technology being prepared for testing in the sea at quarter scale.”


Catalyst structure identified in PEM fuel cell

A research done by a team led by Dr. Moniek Tromp of the University of Amsterdam’s research priority area Sustainable Chemistry has revealed the structure of the palladium catalyst for hydrogen oxidation in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. Contrary to current views the results, obtained by applying X-ray spectroscopy under operating conditions, indicate the existence of a hydride phase throughout the operating range.

The current research cooperation bridges the gap between electrochemical studies in liquid electrolytes at room temperature and real operating fuel cells at 80 °C. The researchers present electrochemical isotherms for the absorption of hydrogen into a Pd catalyst as a function of applied potential, temperature, and reaction atmosphere. They were obtained with a new, improved X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) electrochemical fuel cell, allowing the investigation of PEMFC electrodes during operation (operando spectroscopy).

The research was performed at the BM30B/FAME beamline of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble. The operando spectroscopic characterization during hydrogen oxidation unequivocally demonstrates that the hydride phase is maintained under practical operating conditions of a fuel cell anode, even at high anodic potentials. The transition from a hydride to a metallic state, previously observed in electrochemical cells based on a liquid electrolyte, does not occur.

Wastewater to energy storage cells

Researchers from University of Colorado Boulder, the United States, have developed a manufacturing process that uses a biological organism cultivated in brewery wastewater to create the carbon-based materials needed to make energy storage cells. The scientists believe that this unique pairing of breweries and batteries could set up a win-win opportunity by reducing expensive wastewater treatment costs for beer makers while providing manufacturers with a more cost-effective means of creating renewable, naturally-derived fuel cell technologies.

The process of converting biological materials, or biomass, such as timber into carbon-based battery electrodes is currently used in some energy industry sectors. But naturally-occurring biomass is inherently limited by its short supply, impact during extraction and intrinsic chemical makeup, rendering it expensive and difficult to optimise. The researchers utilised the efficiency of biological systems to produce sophisticated structures and unique chemistries by cultivating a fast-growing fungus, Neurospora crassa, in the sugar-rich wastewater produced by breweries.

By cultivating their feedstock in wastewater, the researchers were able to better dictate the fungus’s chemical and physical processes from the start. They thereby created one of the most efficient naturally-derived lithium-ion battery electrodes known to date while cleaning the wastewater in the process.

Hydrogen storage in fuel cells

Researchers at Rice University, the United States, have developed a nanomaterial for fuel cells that consists of layers of graphene separated by nanotube pillars of boron nitride. The material might tick all the boxes established by the US Department of Energy (DoE) for next-generation vehicles. In their research, the researchers demonstrated in computer models that 3D architecture of the hybrid nanomaterial would be able to store enough hydrogen to become a practical fuel for light-duty vehicles.

According to DoE’s benchmark figures, a medium would need to store at least 5.5 percent of its weight in hydrogen to be economically feasible. The Rice team has modeled a material that can store nearly 12 percent of its weight in hydrogen at room temperature. When the temperature is brought down to -196°C that percentage bumps up to 15 percent. To get to these numbers, the researchers juggled a few different combinations of nanomaterials.

The models tested pillared structures of boron nitride and pillared boron nitride graphene doped with either oxygen or lithium. The best of these turned out to be oxygen-doped boron nitride graphene. In the un-doped pillared born nitride graphene, the hydrogen atoms bond to the material because of van der Waals forces, which are forces of attraction or repulsion between molecules that are not based on covalent or ionic bonds.


Researchers split hydrogen from water

Researchers at Washington State University (WSU), the United States, have found the process of creating hydrogen from water for renewable energy production. Professors Yuehe Lin and Scott Beckman at WSU, have developed a catalyst from low-cost materials that outperformed catalysts made from precious metals that are commonly used for hydrogen creation. The research team added nanoparticles of relatively inexpensive copper to a cobalt-based framework to create a cheaper and more efficient catalyst.

The research team was able to store renewable energy using the excess electricity generated from renewables to split water into oxygen and hydrogen, in which the hydrogen can be then fed into fuel-cell vehicles. To create the catalyst the researchers used both theoretical modeling and experimental assessments to demonstrate and fine tune the catalyst’s effectiveness. The work has been published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials.

Hydrogen from grass using sunlight

A team of researchers from Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), the United Kingdom, including experts from Cardiff University, the United Kingdom, have shown that significant amounts of hydrogen can be unlocked from fescue grass with the help of sunlight and a cheap catalyst. It is the first time that this method has been demonstrated and could potentially lead to a sustainable way of producing hydrogen, which has enormous potential in the renewable energy industry due to its high energy content and the fact that it does not release toxic or greenhouse gases when it is burnt.

In their study, the team investigated the possibility of converting cellulose into hydrogen using sunlight and a simple catalyst – a substance which speeds up a chemical reaction without getting used up. This process is called photoreforming or photocatalysis and involves the sunlight activating the catalyst which then gets to work on converting cellulose and water into hydrogen. The researchers studied the effectiveness of three metal-based catalysts – Palladium, Gold and Nickel.

Nickel was of particular interest to the researchers, from a practical point of view, as it is a much more earth-abundant metal than the precious metals. In the first round, researchers combined 3 catalysts with cellulose in a round bottom flask and subjected the mixture to light from a desk lamp. At 30 minutes intervals the gas samples from the mixture were analysed to see how much hydrogen was being produced. To test the practical applications of this reaction, the researchers repeated the experiment with fescue grass, which was obtained from a domestic garden.

Sunlight to produce electricity and hydrogen

Using a simple membrane extract from spinach leaves, researchers from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology have developed a bio-photo-electro-chemical (BPEC) cell that produces electricity and hydrogen from water using sunlight. The raw material of the device is water, and its products are electric current, hydrogen and oxygen. The findings have been published in the journal Nature Communications.

The unique combination of a man-made BPEC cell and plant membranes, which absorb sunlight and convert it into a flow of electrons highly efficiently, paves the way for the development of new technologies for the creation of clean fuels from renewable sources. The BPEC cell developed by the researchers is based on the naturally occurring process of photosynthesis in plants, in which light drives electrons that produce storable chemical energetic molecules, that are the fuels of all cells in the animal and plant worlds.

In order to utilize photosynthesis for producing electric current, the researchers added an iron-based compound to the solution. This compound mediates the transfer of electrons from the biological membranes to the electrical circuit, enabling the creation of an electric current in the cell. The electrical current can also be channeled to form hydrogen gas through the addition of electric power from a small photovoltaic cell. This makes possible the conversion of solar energy into chemical energy that is stored as hydrogen gas formed inside the BPEC cell.

Efficient way to produce hydrogen

A team of researchers from the University of Houston (UH), the United States, and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), the United States, has reported a more efficient catalyst, using molybdenum sulfoselenide (MoSe2) particles on 3-dimensional porous nickel diselenide foam to increase catalytic activity. “The foam, made using commercially available nickel foam, significantly improved catalytic performance because it exposed more edge sites, where catalytic activity is higher than it is on flat surfaces,” said Zhifeng Ren, at UH.

Currently, most hydrogen is produced through steam methane reforming and coal gasification; those methods raise the fuel’s carbon footprint despite the fact that it burns cleanly. MoSe2 and similar layered compounds have shown promise as catalysts, but so far no one has boosted their performance to viable levels in bulk form. Most active catalysis on those layered compounds, known as layered transition-metal dichalcogenides (LTMDs), takes place at the edges, making the idea of a substrate with a large number of exposed edges more desirable.

Better water splitting

Researchers at Washington State University (WSU), the United States, have found a way to more efficiently create hydrogen from water – an important key in making renewable energy production and storage viable. The team led by professors Yuehe Lin and Scott Beckman in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, have developed a catalyst from low cost materials. It performs as well as or better than catalysts made from precious metals that are used for the process.

For their catalyst, the WSU research team added nanoparticles of relatively inexpensive copper to a co-balt-based framework. The new catalyst was able to conduct electricity better than the commonly used precious metal catalysts. It produced oxygen better than existing commercial catalysts and produced hydrogen at a comparable rate. The researchers used both theoretical modeling and experimental assessments to demonstrate and fine tune their catalyst’s effectiveness.

Silicon nanoparticles to produce hydrogen

Recently, a joint team led by Prof. Hangxun Xu and Prof. Yujie Xiong at the University of Science and Technology, China, have demonstrated that highly crystalline mesoporous silicon spheres can exhibit prominent photocatalytic hydrogen production activity under visible light.

The mesoporous silicon spheres exhibit high crystallinity, large surface area, narrow mesopore size distribution, and a broadened band gap, leading to impressive photocatalytic hydrogen evolution performance.

The hydrogen generation rate of 1785 μmol h-1g-1 under visible light (>420 nm) well exceeds commercial Si nanoparticles and other porous Si materials. This work provides a new synthetic method and design principle for the synthesis and application of silicon materials in solar-fuel generation.

Capturing solar energy in hydrogen fuel

An interdisciplinary team at Stanford University, the United States, have developed the most efficient means yet of storing electricity captured from sunlight in the form of chemical bonds is a step toward tapping solar energy’s potential to provide abundant power, alternative to more polluting energy sources now in use.

The basic science behind the Stanford team’s approach is using the electricity captured from sunlight to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen gas, and later recovering the stored energy either by recombining the hydrogen and oxygen into water to release electricity again, or by burning the hydrogen gas in an internal combustion engine. Although the process is well understood, the challenge has been turning this science into an efficient industrial process.

The starting point of the Stanford team’s system, is the solar cell they used in their experiments, one that is very different than the typical rooftop solar arrays. While typical rooftop arrays are based on silicon, the team employed solar cells pioneered by the lab of James Harris that use three less-common semiconductor materials. They are called triple-junction solar cells because each material is tuned to capture blue, green or red light, respectively.


Biocrude oil from wastewater

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the United States, have created a method to turn ordinary sewage and other organic waste into biocrude oil. The novel process, called hydrothermal liquefaction, that mimics the geological conditions involved in creating crude oil. Using high pressures and temperatures, they only need a few minutes and the stuff we flush down our toilets to create a liquid that takes millions of years to form in nature.

This material is very similar to the oil we pump out of the ground, with a little more water and oxygen mixed in. It can be refined through the installations we already have to produce gasoline, diesel, even jet fuel. “The fats or lipids appear to facilitate the conversion of other materials in the wastewater such as toilet paper, keep the sludge moving through the reactor, and produce a very high quality biocrude that, when refined, yields fuels such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuels,” said Corinne Drennan, at PNNL.

Not only that, but the method could provide governments with a method to save significant costs by eliminating the need for sewage processing, transport, and disposal. It’s also very simple to implement. PNNL has licensed the technology to Genifuel Corporation, the United States, which is now working with Metro Vancouver, a partnership of 23 local authorities in British Columbia, Canada, to build a demonstration plant.

From carbon monoxide to ethanol

Researchers at Cornell University, the United States, have developed a new way of creating ethanol – a common ingredient in both adult beverages and biofuels – by way of microbes that eat carbon monoxide. While repurposing both organic and non-organic waste into biofuel has been researched in the past, the Cornell team has made strides in understanding the physiological process underlying ethanol fermentation in the hope of expanding the current biofuel production industry.

The team from Cornell have been using the bacterium Clostridium ljungdahlii, which responds thermodynamically rather than genetically, in the process of tuning favorable enzymatic reactions. They found that the microbe consumes and then ferments carbon monoxide gas by bubbling it in a growth medium solution, where the cells can feed on it. “The microbial cells then turn it into ethanol, an organic molecule. And carbon monoxide, an inorganic molecule, turns into something valuable we can use,” said Ludmilla Aristilde at Cornell.

Pilot plant co-processes biomass, petroleum

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the United States, together with W.R. Grace, the United States, and Zeton Inc., Canada, have built a pilot-scale facility that can produce biomass-derived fuel intermediates with existing petroleum refinery infrastructure. This pilot plant combines biomass pyrolysis together with fluid catalytic cracking – one of the most important conversion processes used in petroleum refineries – to demonstrate the potential to co-process biomass-derived streams with petroleum, at an industrially-relevant pilot scale.

The front end of this innovative pilot-scale system makes use of fast pyrolysis – the rapid heating of biomass to 400-600 degrees Celsius in the absence of oxygen followed by cooling the resulting vapors into a liquid bio-oil – an efficient method for converting all fractions of biomass (about 70 percent of the total mass and energy) into a liquid product. However, upgrading this liquid product poses unique challenges, as bio-oil is acidic, chemically unstable, and contains more oxygenated compounds than petroleum crude oils.

An effective approach to stabilize pyrolysis oil and minimize downstream processing challenges is to catalytically reduce the oxygen content before condensation of the vapors occurs. This step takes place in a separate reactor unit called the Davison Circulating Riser Reactor (DCR). NREL’s custom biomass pyrolyzer produces vapors which are then fed to the DCR, where they undergo fluid catalytic cracking to yield a highly deoxygenated oil consisting mainly of hydrocarbons.

New way to convert CO2 to green fuel

Researchers from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the United States, have “serendipitously” developed a catalyst that transformed carbon dioxide (CO2), a main greenhouse gas, into high yields of ethanol – without the use of rare and expensive elements such as platinum. According to the ORNL scientists, tiny particles of carbon and copper, as well as nitrogen and electrical currents, helped trigger a chemical reaction that unexpectedly converted CO2 into ethanol.

The researchers had been attempting to discover a series of chemical reactions that would revert CO2 – a byproduct of fuel consumption – back to a fuel. They found the first step in the process not only worked, but even cheaply and efficiently produced ethanol. “We’re taking CO2, a waste product of combustion, and we’re pushing that combustion reaction backwards with very high selectivity to a useful fuel. Ethanol was a surprise – it’s extremely difficult to go straight from CO2 to ethanol with a single catalyst,” said Adam Rondinone at ORNL.

The researchers plan to conduct further tests to determine how their conversion technique could be used to produce ethanol on an industrial scale. The process could be combined with other renewables, such as solar or wind power, to more efficiently harness those energy sources. Excess electricity produced by wind and solar is often lost when it is stored in batteries. However, by applying the new discovery, this excess electricity could be used to produce ethanol to power solar factories and turbines when there’s insufficient sun and wind.

New enzyme to make ethanol

Scientists at National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology of the Council of Scientific and Industrial research (CSIR-NIIST), India, have produced an indigenous enzyme complex that could help bring down the cost of ethanol production from biomass to a great extent. To produce the enzyme complex called cellulase, the institute relies on a microbial system which was isolated from soil samples collected from Western Ghats. Normally, enzymes to produce ethanol need to be purchased from multinationals. Since its cost is more than 60 percent of the cost of production, depending on commercial enzymes is not viable.

“Cellulase helps to hydrolyze the cellulosic portion of the complex biomass substrate. Fermentable sugars are liberated. These can be converted to ethanol using yeast cultures,” said K. Madhavan Nampoothiri, at CSIR-NIIST. The pilot-level plant established at the institute can produce 5-10 litres of ethanol a day from 70-80 kilogram of biomass. The plant has been used to produce ethanol from various kinds of biomass, like rice straw, wheat straw, sorgum and sugarcane bagasse.

‘Super yeast’ to enhance biofuel

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, the United States, and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), the United States, have discovered a new method of nearly doubling the efficiency of common yeast strain to convert plant sugars into biofuel. This engineered “super yeast” could improve the economics of making specialty biofuels, biproducts and ethanol.

Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been the preferred yeast of brewers and bakers for centuries. But this yeast poses a unique challenge to researchers who use it to mate biofuel from cellulosic biomass such as woods, grasses, or the nonfood parts of plants. Though the popular microbe can efficiently convert plant sugar into biofuel, it is a picky eater. It does not consume a plant’s xylose, which is a five-carbon sugar that constitutes almost 50% of all plant sugars.

Boost to biofuel production

Chemical engineers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur, India, have uncovered the pore-scale phenomena that result in fourfold increase in the yields of fermentable sugars and bioethanol from hemicelluloses. Apart from water-hyacinth, hemicellulose based bioethanol can also be produced from commonly available grasses, red and green algae, etc., which have 2.5 to 3 times more hemicellulose than cellulose. The research explains that the secret to rapidly producing soluble sugars required for bioethanol production from hemicelluloses lies in their smallest scale – the pores.The average cellulose to hemicellulose ratio in plant cell walls is slightly below 2:1, suggesting that supplementing cellulosic fuels with hemicellulosic ones would enhance biofuel productivity and cost-effectiveness by more than 50%. Simultaneous production of cellulosic and hemicellulosic fuels from the same biomass source would considerably improve the combined Net Energy Value (energy content of ethanol minus energy input) from what it presently is for cellulosic ethanol (about 21.5 MJ/lit).

‘It turns out that three quarters of the soluble sugars we obtain for generation of bioethanol are produced from the pore-scale reactions. So increasing the polymer’s porosity and degree of swelling will enhance the deconstruction of hemicelluloses from plant cell walls, thus increasing bioethanol,’ said Professor Saikat Chakraborty, faculty at the Dept. of Chemical Engineering, and lead researcher of the Bioenergy Research Group at IIT Kharagpur. This novel research work has been published in the Nature’s Scientific Reports.


Biotechnology for Biofuel Production and Optimization

This book is a compilation of current research findings that cover the entire process of biofuels production from manipulation of genes and pathways to organisms and renewable feedstocks for efficient biofuel production as well as different cultivation techniques and process scale-up considerations.

Contact: Elsevier Masson SAS, 65 rue Camille Desmoulins, CS50083, Issy-les-Moulineaux, Paris 92442, France. Tel: +33-1-7116-5500; Fax: +33-1-7116-5199

Wind Energy: An Introduction

This book covers wind energy system types, operation, modeling, analysis, integration, and control. The book includes numerous models, illustrations, real-world examples, and exercise problems. Beginning with a history of the development of wind energy, this comprehensive book explains the aerodynamic theories that govern the operation of wind turbines and presents wind energy statistics to address the stochastic nature of wind speed among others.

Contact: CRC Press. Tel: +44-0-1235-400524; Fax: +44-0-1235-400525; E-mail:

Handbook of Solar Energy: Theory, Analysis and Applications

This handbook aims at providing a comprehensive resource on solar energy. Primarily intended to serve as a reference for scientists, students and professionals, the book, in parts, can also serve as a text for undergraduate and graduate course work on solar energy. The book begins with availability, importance and applications of solar energy, definition of sun and earth angles and classification of solar energy as thermal and photon energy.

Contact: Springer Customer Service Center GmbH, Tiergartenstr. 15-17, 69121 Heidelberg Germany. Tel: +49-6221-345-4301; E-mail:


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