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VATIS Update Non-conventional Energy . Jan-Feb 2004

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New and Renewable Energy Jan-Fep 2004

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

Supportive policies increase renewable energy projects

A reference scenario developed by the International Energy Agency for its World Energy Investment Outlook predicts that US$16 trillion has to be invested globally over the next thirty years to maintain and expand energy supply under present trends. The report forecasts that by 2030, renewables would account for 17 per cent of electricity output from OECD member countries, representing an investment of US$477 billion. The share of renewables could increase to 25 per cent under the alternative policy scenario when OECD nations implement aggressive schemes to curb carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and lower energy imports, including promotion of low-carbon fuels and increased efficiency. This requires an investment of US$724 billion or 50 per cent of the investment in new power facilities. Power generation, transmission and distribution would absorb 60 per cent of the worlds energy investment of US$16 trillion, with transmission and distribution accounting for more than half.


New technologies relating to carbon sequestration, hydrogen, advanced nuclear reactors and fuel cells could dramatically alter energy investment sequences and requirements in the long term. Governments would play a vital role in creating the appropriate environment for energy investment. The report observes that since other generating options are less costly, investors in renewables would seek guaranteed markets for the output from their projects. As such, to boost renewables governments may have to create a market framework that rewards those who invest in renewable energy projects. Implementation of policies aimed at promoting renewables will have considerable implications on investment in this source of electricity, concludes the report. Capital costs of renewables are expected to continue to decline in the future but the ratio of decline depends on the rate of deployment and maturity of the technology. To achieve investment in renewables at the level expected in the Alternative Policy Scenario, governments will have to develop vigorous incentive strategies, including feed-in tariff mechanisms, portfolio quotas and tax incentives, with green pricing another instrument to attract investment, although this voluntary type of measure has not proven to have a significant impact.


Website: www.sparksdata.co.uk 

Partnership for hydrogen economy

Ministers from several nations have signed an agreement to establish the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE). Representatives of Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States signed the Terms of Reference formally, creating IPHE as an international mechanism to coordinate hydrogen research and hydrogen technology development and deployment. All these countries share a common interest in R&D cooperation, which will support the future deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. International cooperation will also help countries to more efficiently achieve national hydrogen and fuel cell technology programme goals for both transportation and stationary applications.


IPHE will provide a mechanism to organize, evaluate and coordinate multinational R&D and deployment programmes that advance the transition to a global hydrogen economy. IPHE will leverage limited resources, bring together the worlds foremost intellectual skills and talents to solve difficult problems, and develop inter-operable technology standards. It will foster public-private collaboration that addresses the technological, financial and institutional barriers to a standardized, widely accessible, cost-competitive, safe and environmentally benign hydrogen economy.


Website: www.energy.gov 

PV market on the rise

The international photovoltaic (PV) market has been growing at a constant pace, at remarkable growth rates, for several years. However, this progress is supported on only three pillars Japan, Germany and the United States, where over 4/5th of the worlds PV capacity can be found. Yet, there have been no surveys providing an accurate picture of the global market, and all the assessments to date have depended on estimated data. The International Energy Agency publishes statistics covering 20 member nations of the Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme (IEA-PVPS). The market in these countries expanded from 208.7 to 260.1 MWp during 2001. Installed capacity over the rest of the world, for the same period, is estimated at 30 MWp.


Effective national support schemes for grid-linked PV systems in Japan and Germany have led to sustained positive market development. In the United States and other countries, grid-independent island PV systems prevail. In Japan, a programme to promote PV installations on private homes is driving sales. In Germany, it is the so-called 100,000 Roofs Programme, which grants low interest loans, together with the Renewable Energies Act, which guarantees PV system operators a fixed remuneration for inputs into the public grid.


Sun and Wind Energy, 1/2003

Global market for fuel cells

According to a study on global fuel cell market scenario, undertaken by the technology research firm ABI, lack of commercial products along with stressed power markets have inhibited development of the market for stationary fuel cells. While overall activity in the fuel cell sector has kept its pace in the United States, market activity in Japan and Western Europe has been on the rise. ABI predicts that fuel cell cumulative shipments will rise to nearly 18,000 MW in 2013 from 55 MW in 2003.


ABIs report Stationary Fuel Cell Markets: A Global Market Analysis, Major Player Strategies and Forecasts has revealed early potential opportunities for markets that can see deployments from 50 W to 30 MW in the United States, Western Europe, Japan and other regions of the globe. It also shows that quality power and industrial power supply markets are expected to see higher growth rates than in the residential market sector. Industrial markets are opting for fuel cell power systems and would continue to do so in the future. The largest growth potential here will be in the small to medium-sized industrial markets.


Summary discussions of the current regulatory practices, tax practices, environmental regulations and even business considerations affecting the present as well as future uptake of stationary fuel cell technologies are also provided. Other major topics examined include the influences of legislation governing restructuring, net metering, privatization, carbon emissions and use of specific fuels, on a worldwide basis. 


Contact: Mr. Jake Wengroff, ABI, United States of America. Tel: +1 (516) 6243 113 


E-mail: pr@abiresearch.com  


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com 

Multi-pronged solar project for Malaysia

An ambitious programme aimed at raising the profile of solar energy in Malaysian cities is set to take off. This project, funded partially by the Global Environment Facility, will be led by the Energy Communications and Multimedia Ministry, Malaysia Energy Centre and UNDP. The five-year Malaysia Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) project will look into ways to increase awareness on solar energy utilization and boost local manufacture of PV equipment to reduce costs. According to Mr. Daniel Ruoss, international consultant for the project, BIPV systems can fulfil the total energy requirements of a building at an additional cost of just 5-10 per cent. Savings are accrued since BIPVs are used in place of building elements and materials. And often, use of BIPVs enhance building aesthetics. BIPV doubles up as an energy efficiency device as the PV can easily reflect heat and thereby reduce the need for air-conditioning.


A major part of the Malaysia BIPV project is to raise public awareness and overcome adverse perception towards solar energy. Four demonstration facilities would be set up for this purpose. One of them is the new Energy, Communications and Multimedia Ministry building, which will have its glass awning replaced with BIPV sunshade capable of exploiting solar energy. Other facilities under consideration are a budget hotel in Putrajaya (PV roof for its walkway), a food court in Selangor (PV in the roofing and sunshade) as well as residential buildings. During the later stages of the project, BIPV applications will also be extended to other government buildings.


A component of the Malaysia BIPV project that would be of interest to the general public is the Suria 1000 programme, that will enable a small group of house owners to install PV systems at reduced costs. However, house owners would have to bid for the PV systems. The Suria 1000 programme is scheduled to start in 2006 and end in 2010. During the first year, PV installations capable of producing 100 kWp will be offered for bidding and the capacity will be raised to 300 kWp for each of the next three years. Overall, approximately 1,000 homes are expected to install PV units under this scheme. However, details on people making their bids are yet to be finalized.


Website: www.thestar.com.my 

Solar for rural India

The Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy (BASE), a UNEP Collaborating Centre, is distributing solar modules to supply power for people in rural and semi-rural areas of India. These systems, worth about US$1 million, was donated by BP Solar. They would be used to power water pumps, lighting and telecommunications services. Each individual panel measures 2 2 feet and, combined, can provide 635 kW of electricity equivalent to 10 per cent of annual solar installation in India.


A portion of the panels will be sold to buyers by the Syndicate Bank of India, which has set up schemes to promote solar pumping and lighting in rural areas. Revenues thus procured would be utilized to fund the installation of the remaining panels, along with other donations, in economically backward communities. Many partners are providing assistance in making this initiative work. International courier company DHL is shipping the panels at cost, and donating funds, as are Swiss Re and Good Energies Inc. Bangalore-based Netpro Renewable Energy India is helping to implement the project.


Website: www.edie.net 

Indian cooperation for hydrogen economy

At the inaugural session of the International Partnership for Hydrogen Economy, Mr. K.C. Pant, the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of India stated that India will work with other partners to realize the goals of the Partnership, as the road to overall global security lies in reducing the dependence on fossil fuels. Mr. Pant added that India has an ongoing programme in the area of renewables, hydrogen in particular. In India, scientists have been studying various aspects of hydrogen for several years. Comprehensive research by the government, scientific institutions and industry has led to significant progress, including production, storage, as well as applications.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com 

Geothermal plants in Indonesia

Japans Marubeni Corp., Philippine National Oil Company and Pertamina, Indonesias state-owned oil company, have signed an agreement to jointly construct three geothermal facilities in Indonesia. This US$750 million project will include a 110 MW facility in Lampung, a 330 MW plant in South Sumatra and a 60 MW unit in North Sulawesi. Presently, a feasibility study is in progress.


Website: www.solaraccess.com 

New solar cell manufacturing plant

In China, Baoding Yingli New Energy Resources Co. Ltd. has set up the nations largest solar cell production plant, which has a projected annual capacity of 50 MW. The Yingli manufacturing base for photovoltaics took eight years to be completed. The United States-based GT Solar was awarded the contract to supply a turnkey GT-CELFAB PV cell fabrication line, designed to manufacture high-efficiency solar cells from round or square, mono- or multicrystalline silicon. 


Contact: Baoding Yingli New Energy Resources Co. Limited, No. 11, Huaxian Road National New and High-tech Industrial Development Zone, Baoding 071051, China. Tel: +86 (312) 3131 800/3117 357; Fax: +86 (312) 3151 881


E-mail: ylxny@heinfo.net  


Website: www.solarbuzz.com 

India plans to reach 5,000 MW milestone

A report by the Indian Wind Energy Association and the Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources states that India could install 5,000 MW of wind power capacity by 2007. The Ministry has been conducting wind resource assessments to determine sites suitable for wind farms, as have private-sector developers. The report, evolved from an industry meeting, concludes that a system should be put in place to examine claims from the private sector to declare which sites are ideal for turbines. Services for micro-siting are necessary on a larger scale and competitive basis. The document expresses that the Centre for Wind Energy Technology should release its data collection on wind speeds to manufacturers and developers. It further states that the level of activity in wind resource assessment needs to be scaled up and a Wind Energy Technology Enhancement Fund should be set up to develop indigenous capacity and ability for technology development, engineering and turbine production.


The document observes that many wind farms in prime land at potential sites have outdated or non-functional machines and a programme must be evolved to re-power and retrofit such turbines. Large-scale integration of wind farms with the grid will have systemic implications on scheduling and other issues, which have to be assessed by competent institutions and consultants. Power utilities and large oil companies must be involved in mega wind farms of 100 MW or more, and a wind farm development company should be created as a public sector group to develop 1,000 MW of high-performance projects.


Website: www.sparksdata.co.uk 

Thailand opts for net metering

Thailand has recently introduced net metering legislation, which provides streamlined procedures for small-scale renewable energy generators to get connected to the grid and also guarantees both market and good prices. The new policy is consistent with several long-standing government priorities. It creates income opportunities for rural communities based on locally produced, clean, renewable energy supplies and concurrently offers significant potential to reduce the nations dependence on imported fuels. Grid-connected small-scale renewable electricity is particularly suitable for Thailand. As per statistics with the government, the national grid reaches over 99 per cent of all villages, making it economically and technically feasible for virtually any community to connect their renewable energy generator.


The legislation, entitled Regulations for the Purchase of Power from Very Small Renewable Energy Power Producers, comprises two sections commercial and technical. Rules related to the former discuss permitted renewable energy fuels, application and connection procedures, costs incurred by each party, tariffs and billing arrangements. The technical rules specify the requirements for a small renewable energy generator to connect to the grid. These include:
  • The discussion of responsibilities for each party (utility or customer generator);
  • The criteria for synchronization (power factor, frequency, the level of voltage, harmonics); and
  • Required protection relays and rules for emergency disconnect.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has developed a set of technical standards that address most of the technical issues IEEE 929 for PV systems utilizing grid inter-tied inverters and IEEE 1547 for small rotating generation (synchronous and induction). The existence of international guidelines along with the fact that the Thai utilities are members of IEEE has made it easier to reach on agreement on specific technical needs.


The rules incorporate several notable features. First, they allow renewable energy generators to export up to 1 MW of electricity. Secondly, they provide for aggregate net metering, which enables an entire renewable energy generating community to get connected as a single customer and manage their own distribution. Third, net metering regulations combined with time-of-use metering allow the possibility of increasing revenues by generating electricity during peak tariff hours and consuming less expensive power during off-peak hours. This arrangement is expected to be of particular benefit to solar electric units and renewable energy technologies such as biogas and biomass, which can store fuel.


Website: www.re-focus.net 

BHEL to upgrade solar PV capacity

In India, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) plans to scale up its PV capacity to 15 MW from the present level of 2 MW/y. Approximately US$9.8 million will be spent over a two-year period towards this end. BHEL has also entered into an agreement with the Indian Space Research Organization for fabrication and delivery of novel space-quality batteries for use in satellites. Additionally, the company is now eyeing rapid electrification of rural areas in various parts of the nation, following the successful commissioning of the largest island electrification project using solar power in Lakshwadeep.


Website: www.hinduonnet.com 

Hydrogen filling stations in India

Oil companies in India plan to set up hydrogen gas dispensing stations in select cities over the next 2-3 years. This pilot project is intended to prove the efficiency of hydrogen as a clean and eco-friendly automotive fuel. An exclusive fleet of two- and three-wheelers, which can use hydrogen in an admixture with compressed natural gas (CNG), is another option arising out of the project. According to Mr. B.K. Chaturvedi, Petroleum Secretary, with the cooperation of leading automobile manufacturers and research institutes in India and abroad, the nations oil sector would chalk out programmes for taking up a few projects to demonstrate the use of hydrogen, initially in applications such as three-wheelers and portable gensets. The challenging task is to put on the road at least 1,000 two- and three-wheelers that run on hydrogen by the year 2005, and later on extend its use to light commercial vehicles.


The Indian Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has proposed the formation of a consortium and to create a corpus fund for hydrogen research in the country. As part of this initiative Indian Oils R&D centre at Faridabad, which has been made the nodal agency, is establishing links with different national and international R&D institutes working on hydrogen gas, apart from enrolling in some of the ongoing hydrogen research programmes. The centre is also considering associating itself with a project on Hydrogen Pathways by an international consortium headed by the Institute of Transport Studies of the University of California, the United States.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com 

Subsidy for solar units in Bangladesh

According to the Finance Minister of Bangladesh, the government is mulling on a 20 per cent subsidy for solar power units. This step would provide 50,000 families with electricity within five years. A statement to this effect was made by the minister while inaugurating a private solar unit at Korney village. At present, 10,000 solar power systems have been set up in the country.


Website: www.thedailystar.net

SOLAR ENERGY

Solar system based on lead-free solder

Kyocera Corp., Japan, has developed solar modules using lead-free solder. These systems use tin-based solder and will be included in Kyoceras solar product line-up for public and industrial use. The company has installed 1,200 PV panels in a 200 kW system, covering an area of 1,600 m2, on the office building of Sony EMCS Corp. 


Contact: Kyocera Solar Inc., 7812, East Acoma, Scottsdale, Arizona 85260, United States of America. Tel: +1 (480) 9488 003; Fax: +1 (480) 4836 431.


Website: www.solarbuzz.com 

Clear solar modules

The United States-based Spire Solar Chicago is offering a clear version of its 75 W PV module and powder-coated frames in a variety of colours to suit architectural and design requirements. Apart from successfully passing environmental and safety tests undertaken at the Underwriters Laboratory and Arizona State Underwriters Photovoltaic Test Laboratory, these modules also conform with international stability and performance standards (IEC 61215 testing). 


Contact: Spire Solar Chicago, 445, North Sacramento Blvd., Chicago, IL 60612, United States of America. Tel: +1 (773) 6388 700; Fax: +1 (773) 6388 701.


Website: www.oikos.com 

Production facility for CIS solar cells 

In Germany, Wrth Solar GmbH and Co. KG has set up one of Europes most modern PV production plants to fabricate copper-indium-selenium (CIS) solar modules. The estimated output for 2003 is 10,000 modules with a total capacity of 420 kWp. CIS cells are suitable for systems of all sizes. The coating method enables manipulation of the modules traits during manufacture to suit specific requirements. The type of application determines the design and also the electrical characteristics of the module. Apart from custom installations, the company also produces standard modules with ratings of 5-70 Wp. For small systems, the CIS units can be tailored to size. Wrth modules can be used in garden and camping lighting fixtures, automatic car-park ticket devices, emergency call boxes and roller shutters. 


Contact: Wrth Solar GmbH & Co. KG, Reinhold-Wrth-Strae 4, 71672 Marbach am Neckar, Germany. Tel: +49 (7144) 94140; Fax: +49 (7144) 941 419


E-mail: wuerth.solar@we-online.de 


Website: www.wuerth-solar.de 

Solar-electric vehicle

In Sri Lanka, a team of researchers from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Moratuwa University, has developed a new solar-electric vehicle. The Korea International Cooperation Agency assisted the team in this project. The two-seater car is powered by a DC electric motor, that is supplied with electricity from a battery bank. The batteries can be charged using either solar panels fixed on the body of the vehicle or household mains. Designed to have a maximum speed of 40 km/h, the vehicle can cover a distance of 40 km on a single charge.


Website: www.powerpulse.net 

Protection against grid failure

In the United States, SatCon Technology Corp. and ZBB Energy Corp. have delivered two 50 kWh Z-BESS systems for a project partially funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to promote clean and reliable power generation. SatCons power conditioning system (PCS) will work as part of the solar energy system to generate and store electricity in coordination with the utility grid. The system will offset peak power needs during the week and use solar power for recharging during the weekend, when consumption and power costs are much lower. The PCS units are integrated with the battery module to create a turnkey system, which combines new technology with the grid to prevent power failure when the grid goes off-line.


The PCS has been specifically designed to provide high-performance energy conversion for distributed power, alternative power generators, including fuel cells and PV arrays. The PCS could even be configured to integrate energy generators with power storage devices like batteries and flywheels, to provide uninterruptible power. Application of PCS technology in alternative power systems yields key benefits to the manufacturers and municipalities by freeing-up critical resources, and lowering the cost of energy and dependence on fossil fuels.


Website: www.solaraccess.com 

Evacuated tube solar collectors

Ritter Solar GmbH, Germany, is a manufacturer of high-efficiency tube collectors, with an annual production capacity of 35,000 m2 of collector area. Plans are afoot to raise this output to 50,000 m2. Available in a variety of sizes and designs, these evacuated tube collectors provide a clear advantage over flat collectors; thanks to their higher system temperatures. Accessories available with these units include assembly and mounting kits, a control system, a filling and flushing station, as well as products for sales support.


Along with series production, Ritter is also offering customized designs. Modules containing 6, 12, 16, 18 or 20 tubes are manufactured in several lengths and widths. The symmetrical design of the collectors permits diverse hydraulic connections. This implies that both small installations, purely for supplying hot water, and larger systems to augment space heating as well as large-scale units for group solar heating concepts or solar cooling can be implemented. Efficiency of the collector tube is raised by integrating highly reflecting compound parabolic reflectors at the back of the tube. Using fully automatic profiling machines, a special geometry is imparted to reflectors, which are resistant to corrosion, ageing and climate. 


Contact: Ritter Solar GmbH, Kuchenacker 1, 72135 Dettenhausen, Germany. Tel: +49 (7157) 53590; Fax: +49 (7157) 535 920


E-mail: info@rittersolar.de 


Website: www.rittersolar.de 

Sun and Wind Energy, 1/2003

Special PV modules

In the United States, the First Solar US offers cost-effective thin-layer technology using cadmium telluride. FS-45, -50 and -55 correspond to laminates of 46 Wp, 52 Wp and 57 Wp outputs. The units, manufactured to the IEC standard 61646, measure 1.20 0.60 m with efficiencies of 6.4-7.9 per cent. These unframed laminates come with a 20-year performance guarantee. It can be used in island applications, while large mains-connected systems in flat roof installation can be achieved in combination with EZ mount system.


In Japan, HIT-J54BE2 hybrid module from Sanyo has achieved a landmark cell efficiency of 17.3 per cent and module efficiency of 15.2 per cent. HIT, which stands for heterojunction with intrinsic thin layer, refers to a centre of monocrystalline n-silicon covered with amorphous silicon on both sides. The p-doped 0.01 m thin surface layer enhances utilization of the daylight spectrum. Another firm, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, manufactures the largest commercially available thin-layer module. The MA100 system is based on a single junction layer of amorphous silicon and has a rated output of 100 Wp, resulting in an efficiency of 6.4 per cent. The performance tolerance is 5 per cent. Both units are offered with a two-year product warranty and a 20-year guarantee on 80 per cent of minimum output.


In Germany, six-inch polycrystalline cells supplied by Q-Cells and Ersol are being used in a variety of solar modules manufactured by several firms. Solara AGs S866TI module comprises 50 six-inch cells, with a tolerance of 4 per cent, and yields an output of 166 Wp. It comes with a 26-year performance guarantee on 80 per cent of the minimum output and 5-year warranty on the product. Heckert-B.X.T also relies on the new six-inch format in its recent product series. Offering a performance tolerance of 5 per cent, the HS 115 and HS 120 modules have a rated output of 115 and 120 Wp, respectively, and incorporate 36 polycrystalline cells each. They are marketed with a 25-year performance warranty and two-year product warranty. Both units are available in either laminated or framed versions. Total Energies TE 1250 Q6 comprises 36 of the six-inch cells. Four models are available (with an output tolerance of 2.5 per cent) 115 Wp, 120 Wp, 125 Wp and 130 Wp. The firm plans to launch a bigger version with 54 cells.


Sun and Wind Energy, 1/2003

New material could increase  solar cell efficiency

A new crystal discovered by a team of researchers at the United States-based Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is reported to have the potential to raise the efficiency of solar cells to 50 per cent. Modules in laboratories can achieve 30 per cent efficiency while commercially available solar cells have stagnated at 20 per cent.


The novel semiconductor material comprises an alloy of manganese, zinc and tellurium. When the team appended oxygen impurities to the crystal they obtained a crystal with three band gaps instead of a single band gap. Researchers state that since these three absorption edges span much of the solar spectrum, the alloys are good candidates for the multi-band semiconductors envisioned for high-efficiency photovoltaic devices. They further theorize that the efficiency could be raised to as much as 56 per cent by altering the ratio of the atoms or replacing manganese with magnesium.


Website: www.sciam.com 

Semi-transparent building integrated PV product

In Japan, MSK Corp. and Kaneka Corp. have developed a new building material that transforms any glazed surface into an eco-friendly power station during daytimes and a full colour screen by night. The PV-TV, based on amorphous silicon solar technology, is laminated in double glass and is available with 10 mm standard glass as well as 13 mm strengthened glass thicknesses. In the manufacturing process, a laser scribes a series of fine lines, allowing 10 per cent of visible light to be transmitted through the panel. This level of light transmission is optimal to allow sufficient light into the building in cloudy conditions while protecting against excessive solar gain.


The 1 m2 framed PV-TV is designed to fit a wide range of building applications. Its extremely high aesthetic standards combined with the unique edge-mounted electrical connection system assures the highest quality appearance. The panels have a 38 Wp rating and weigh around 20 kg. A unique uniform finish enables the panel to act as a display screen, making PV-TV the first solar panel that can be used 24 hours a day. A standard projector is mounted on the ceiling or floor of the building. Large-scale displays can be formed by combining multiple units. 


Contact: MSK Corp., 19F STEC Joho Bldg., 1-24-1 West Shinjuku, Shinjuku Ward 0023, Japan. Tel: +81 (3) 3342 3838; Fax: +81 (3) 3342 6534; E-mail: staff@msk.ne.jp  Or Kaneka Corp., 3-2-4, Nakanoshima, Kita-ku, Osaka 530 8288, Japan. Tel: +81 (06) 6226 5050; Fax: +81 (06) 6226 5037.


Website: www.solarbuzz.com 

Solar PV deposition

Heliovolt Corp., the United States, is striving to prove the viability of its patented technology developed for fabricating thin-film copper-indium-gallium diselenide (CIGS) PV cells. The process involves depositing two thin chemical reactant layers and rapidly heating them to bond CIGS films to sheets of glass or any other surface. The company plans to begin commercial production of advanced solar cells by taking advantage of the National Renewable Energy Laboratorys (NREL) unique facilities and capabilities. Heliovolt and NREL are presently working under the aegis of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement to produce a prototype of a CIGS PV cell, from which commercial production could be later established.


Website: www.solaraccess.com 

Solar pumps

Wilo AG, Germany, offers special solar pumps that function extremely efficiently and economically in solar circuits. The Stratos pump, intended for large solar systems, incorporates EC motor technology, which doubles the efficiency when compared with asynchronous motors while lowering operating costs by around 80 per cent. The synchronous motor with a permanent magnet rotates as fast as the rotating field, achieved by a microprocessor that continuously records the position of the rotor and provides for a power supply in the coils which is precise to the point. This helps mitigate engine losses. Also, higher speeds than feasible with conventional motors guarantee optimum hydraulics. This module requires 2 W of electricity and runs at 24 V DC, and as such can be operated directly from a PV module. The company also offers a model for small thermal systems.


Laing GmbH has developed a DC pump with synchronous motor and a permanent magnet as stator. The Ecocirc series can be used in island applications like hot water heating systems and may even be operated directly from a PV panel or installed in a solar system. Power is supplied directly from the power pack of boiler controllers, rendering the pump suitable for process water circulation and accumulator charging systems. A wide performance range is available by variation of voltages. Direct current, supplied via an integrated circuit, runs an electronically commutated motor. The stators rotating magnetic field drives the rotor synchronously. Magnetization of rotor is not essential and keeps power demand low. Three types of 12 V/24V pump systems are offered at rated consumptions of 6, 10 and 14 W.

Contact: Wilo AG, D-Dortmund, Germany. Website: www.wilo. de. Or Laing GmbH, D-Remseck, Germany. 


Website: www.laing.de.


Sun and Wind Energy, 1/2003

WIND ENERGY

Vertical axis wind turbine system

Solwind Ltd., New Zealand, offers vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs) designed to start up at wind speeds of 1.5 m/s, begin power generation only in 3.7 m/s winds and produce their rated output at 10 m/s. The SW VAWTs special design guarantees extremely quiet operation; the units blades do not create coning noise usually associated with conventional horizontal axis wind turbines. The blades, fabricated from composite fibreglass, stainless steel and lightweight aluminium, are very strong yet flexible and easy to handle. The SW series incorporates low speed magnetic levitation alternator (MLA) that features only one moving part. This minimizes component wearing and as such raises the life of the wind turbine.


The SW 10/10,000 Whirlwind VAWT produces 10,000 W of electricity at wind speeds of 10 m/s. This system includes a 10 m tall galvanized mast assembly, wind speed anometer remote turbine braking system, 10.5 kW inverter and charger system. SW 10/30,000 Tornado VAWT unit yields a power output of 30,000 W in 10 m/s winds. With a 12 m high (15 m and 18 m also available) mast, remote braking system, inverter/charger, this unit weighs around 220 kg. Other components integrated in both models are SW wind isolator, AC isolator, remote 2-wire starter with back-up generator, a system monitor, cable harness and system enclosure. The VAWT models can be used to run household devices within the rating of their inverters and wind input. 


Contact: Solwind Ltd., P.O. Box 4295, Kamo Whangarei, New Zealand. Tel: +64 (9) 4337 213; Fax: +64 (9) 4337 273


E-mail: info@solwind.co.nz  


Website: www.solwind.co.nz

Micro-wind generator

In Spain, the Fatronik Technological Centre has designed and installed a 2.5 kW micro-wind generator to supply power for a boarding centres four refrigerators, control room, data reception sensors and PCs. Four 120 kW PV panels have also been incorporated into the system, thus yielding a hybrid unit, which takes maximum advantage of natural resources. The wind generator starts to rotate at wind speeds of 3.5 m/s and reaches maximum power at 9.5 m/s. In winds exceeding 16 m/s, the passive power control system (side furling) of the generator comes into operation automatically.


Each vane of the three-bladed wind generator, designed by Bolwell Corp. of Australia, is 2.1 m long, with an aerodynamic profile chosen for working with low Reynolds values they have a variable angle of torsion right from the base to the tip. As such, the angle of attack of the wind with respect to the vane is kept constant all along its entire length. The rotor is directly coupled to a multipolar generator consisting of permanent magnets without any intermediate multiplier. AC current is generated with variable voltage and frequency. After passing through a voltage regulator, which converts the AC current to DC power and eliminates surplus voltage, this electricity is stored in a battery bank.


These systems can be used as a substitute for the grid in areas where the latter is prohibitively expensive. The hybrid system is designed to operate autonomously, i.e. outside the electric grid system. 


Contact: Mr. Iker Lain Carrascosa, Fatronik, Spain. Tel: +34 (943) 748 020


E-mail: ilcarrascosa@fatronik.com 


Website: www.innovations-report.com 

Ready-to-install pitch drives for generators

Bosch Rexroth AG, Germany, offers ready-to-install assemblies for pitch control. The robust and reliable technology is for material-saving adjustment of rotor blades on windmills. As the wind gets stronger, the hydraulic pitch drives actively turn the rotor blades away from the wind so that the turbine can continue to generate the nominal output. In the case of storms and strong gusts of wind, the rotor blades are brought to the neutral 90 position. This measure significantly reduces the forces that act on the mechanics of the wind turbine. In addition, this technology provides operators with the means o control the output of wind turbine farms and adapting it flexibly to the grid demand.


The maintenance-free pitch drives use hydraulic actuating cylinders that are controlled through advanced proportional valves, which communicate with the turbine through a current or voltage interface or directly via a field bus. The required working pressure is provided by modem axial piston pumps with pressure controller. Developed specifically for wind turbine generators, the bladder-type accumulators store adequate energy for an emergency operation of the pitch control and perform their function even at extremely low temperatures. As a central drive component, the hydraulic control block integrates all parts in a consistent assembly.


Rexroth also offers all relevant drive, control and motion technologies mechanics, hydraulics and pneumatics through to electronics and other associated services. 


Contact: Bosch Rexroth AG, Zum Eisengieer 1, Lohr 97816, Germany. Tel: +49 (93) 5218 4735; Fax: +49 (93) 5218 1638


E-mail: roland.koenig@boschrexroth.de 


Website: www.boschrexroth.com

New wind turbine

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Limited (MHI), Japan, offers its novel 1,000 kW wind power generating system. MWT-1000A is a low wind speed unit (6-8 m/s) based on the conventional 1,000 kW model. The new system has a rotor diameter of 29.5 m and yields 25 per cent more output in low wind speed regions. The first MWT-1000A unit was set up in the United States and its performance tested by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, according to IEC 61400, with satisfactory results.


MWT-S2000 is MHIs latest in the synchronous wind turbine systems (S-series) developed together with Mitsubishi Electric Corp. Models in the S-series are highly evaluated for their technical creativity and low load to the electric power grid systems. MWT-S2000 has a rated output of 2,000 kW.


Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. Technical Review, Vol. 40, No. 4, August 2003 

Permanent magnet technology

ABB Oy, Finland, recently developed synchronous motors and generators based on permanent magnet technology suitable for a wide variety of applications from paper machines and marine propulsion systems to wind turbines. Permanent magnet technology provides several benefits over conventional solutions. For instance, the speed of a permanent magnet motor can be regulated without the need for gears and very high torque can be easily achieved at low speeds. Speed regulation using a frequency converter is also considerably more accurate. Also, greater flexibility is feasible in the structural design of permanent magnet motors, which means they can be smaller and lighter. As such, higher output levels can be achieved without the need to increase size.


Permanent magnet generators offer an optimal solution for variable-speed wind turbines, using either a gearless or a single-stage gear configu-ration. This eliminates the need for separate base frames, couplings, gearboxes, shaft lines as well as pre-assembly of the nacelle. Another benefit is that this technology does away with the need for separate excitation or cooling systems. Robust construction and compact design, combined with the systems slow operating speed, ensure maximum reliability, minimum maintenance requirements, lower life cycle costs and a design lifetime of nearly 30 years. Operating costs are also low.


Using the latest technology, output from a permanent magnet synchronous generator can be fed to the grid through a frequency converter. This gives a high overall level of efficiency, while at the same time keeping the mechanical structure of the turbine quite simple. 


Contact: ABB Oy, Substation Automation, P.O. Box 699, FIN65101 Vaasa, Finland. Tel: +358 (10) 2211; Fax: +358 (10) 2241 599.


Website: www.hightechfinland.co 

Mini-turbine

In New Zealand, a mini wind turbine that could revolutionize the global energy market has been developed. Dr. Mouafak Zahers turbine will be small enough to fit on the roof of an average house, with far less noise and vibration than conventional windmills. Funds for further developing the turbines design, over the next four years, have been provided by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology. Dr. Zaher opines that the turbine should not be larger than the antenna of a TV aerial and would generate electricity in typical wind conditions found in most parts of the world.


Website: www.nzherald.co.nz 

Advanced technology makes wind power profitable

FPL Energy, the United States, has installed windmills that rise more than 300 ft above ground level at its High Winds Energy Centre (HWEC). The new turbines can swivel with the winds direction, produce electricity at wind speeds of 13 km/h and yield 20 times more energy than earlier systems. The 90 turbines at HWEC have a maximum electricity output of 162 MW, sufficient to cater to the needs of 75,000 households. Their increased height, longer blades and improved positioning also lets them better tap the winds power. Each turbine generates 1.8 MW, 18 times more than the 100 kW turbines built over two decades ago. The towering turbines 125 ft blades turn steadily and almost noiselessly in winds of about 16 km/h. Projects like HWEC receive government incentives like federal tax credits. Environmentalists hope that such incentives and improved technologies would boost wind from its status as a minor player in the energy market.


Website: www.theithacajournal.com 

New domestic mini-turbine system

Windsave, the United Kingdom, has developed and launched a new wind power system designed to be set up on almost any roof or wall to supplement grid electricity. The system is a 3 2 ft sealed box incorporating three blades that face into the prevailing wind. Unlike traditional wind power generating systems, the new unit does not need batteries for power storage as it tops up the existing mains supply. A single system can produce up to 750 W, sufficient for powering lights but not high-energy appliances like kettles or heaters.


According to the inventor Mr. David Gordon, though his system is not technically as efficient as turbines sited on high poles to collect the optimum wind, the annual supplementing of household power makes it suitable for buildings. The machine starts working at a wind speed of 4.8 km/h and is believed to be most efficient in a 32 km/h breeze. Using remote metering technology, each unit installed will be automatically phoned every quarter to assess the quantity of power it has generated. Windsave will then collect subsidies from the government and distribute it back to owners according to how much power they have generated.


Website: www.politics.guardian.co.uk 

Advanced 50 kW wind turbine unit

Bergey Windpower Co., the United States, is developing an advanced technology 50 kW turbine system as part of the Department of Energys Advanced Small Wind Turbine Programme. BWC XL.50 has a rotor diameter of 14 m and peak output of around 70 kW. It combines the simplicity and reliability of BWC 10 kW Excel with advanced technical features designed to improve performance and lower power generation costs. This model, with a rated output of 50 kW in wind speeds of 11 m/s, will be available for three-phase utility interconnected applications with outputs of 480 VAC, 60 Hz for domestic consumers, and 380 VAC, 50 Hz for overseas. An uninterruptible power supply option would also be available for customers facing grid reliability problems. For off-grid use, a stand-alone version will be available with an integral 70 kW inverter.


XL.50, like all Bergey turbines, is mechanically simple, with only three moving components, and has been designed to require only a minimal level of maintenance. As a variable speed machine with a direct-drive alternator, it does not need a gearbox. The tail provides orientation into the wind and the passive AutoFurl system provides storm protection in winds up to 54 m/s. The blades are fabricated using fibreglass pultrusions, which feature high strength and outstanding fatigue resistance. The new BWC SH-3032 airfoil has been optimized utilizing the latest computational fluid dynamics programmes and verified with extensive wind tunnel tests.


The pre-prototype XL.50 is presently undergoing trials. Structural tests have been performed by NREL to verify the blades strength. 


Contact: Mr. Steve Wilke, Customer Service, Bergey Windpower Co., the United States. Tel: +1 (405) 3644 212; Fax: +1 (405) 3642 078


E-mail: swilke@bergey.com  


Website: www.bergey.com 

Longest wind turbine blade installed

A prototype blade set developed by LM Glasfiber, Denmark, has been installed on NEG Micons 4.2 MW test turbine, located in Hovsore. The 54 m offshore turbine blade weighs just 13.5 t, less than half the weight of some competing blades. Based on LMs Future Blade technology, the new glass-reinforced structures weight was decreased through extensive finite element analysis and aerodynamic calculations, followed by in-house laminate design, prototyping and testing. The company has also delivered a 61.5 m blade set to REpower Systems AG, Germany, for installation on a 5 MW system. The blades will use carbon fibres in highly-loaded areas and along the trailing edge.


Website: www.compositesworld.com

BIOMASS ENERGY

New bagasse co-generation plant

In India, Kakatiya Cement Sugar and Industries Ltd. (KCSIL) has set up the nations first 87 ata and 515C cycle bagasse co-generation facility. During crushing season, the plant generates 16.80 MW and exports a net power of 10.85 MW to the Andhra Pradesh Transmission Corporations grid. In the non-crushing season, the plant operates with saved bagasse and cane trash or coal and yields a net power of 16.80 MW while exporting about 14.8 MW to the grid.


The multi-fuel fired boiler generates 90 t/h of steam at 87 ata and 515C, while taking feedwater at 170C from a high-pressure feedwater heater. The boiler uses 27.47 t/h of bagasse and 6.6 t/h of cane trash at a steam to bagasse ratio of 2:46 and a steam to cane trash ratio of 3:4. Electrostatic precipitators are installed to contain dust emissions from the co-generation plant to a level less than 115 mg/Nm3 during bagasse firing. A dense phase pneumatic handling system is also incorporated to remove fly-ash. Major design aspects include a control system to relieve the operator of continual regulating duties and is backed up by interlocks and safety systems that take pre-planned action in instances where unsafe trends and/or conditions develop faster than the operators ability to respond. Continuous self-checking features are incorporated in the system with automatic transfers to healthy/redundant circuits to raise reliability of the complete system.


All the closed loop analogue signals are processed by Distributed Control System. All safety/interlock/digital signals are processed by a redundant PLC, which communicates with the distributed control unit in serial communication mode. 


Contact: Avant-Garde Engineers and Consultants Ltd., Chennai 600 116, Tamil Nadu, India. Tel: +91 (44) 2482 7843; +91 (44) 2482 8531


E-mail: avantgarde@vsnl.com 


Cane Cogen India,
September 2003

RDF plant to utilize combustible wastes

Kyokuto Kaihatsu Co. Ltd., Japan, is offering an RDF facility to solidify combustible wastes for use as fuel. The solidifying device, the main component, uses a screw mechanism to grind and compact waste under high compression, as well as the resultant self-generated frictional heat, in order to solidify plastics, paper and wood wastes. Wastes can be compacted individually or mixed. Key features of the RDF plant include:
  •  The screw mechanism enables continuous processing;
  • Since screws are used as the main compressing force, the need for an external heat source using kerosene or electricity is eliminated;
  • The two-step compression unit provides a powerful pressing force and facilitates compression of paper, wood and plastic wastes; and
  • Some materials can be directly supplied to the plant without crushing or other preliminary processing.

Contact: Kyokuto Kaihatsu Co. Ltd., 2-4-1, Hamamatstu-cho, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105 6112, Japan. Tel: +81 (3) 3435 5366; Fax: +81 (3) 3435 5365.


Website: www.nett21.gec.jp 

Hydrogen from biomass

In the United States, researchers at Iowa State University embarked on a project to obtain hydrogen from bagasse using a thermally ballasted gasifier. The aim of this project was to optimize performance of an indirectly heated gasification system that converts switchgrass into a gas rich in hydrogen for powering fuel cells. Researchers have developed a thermally ballasted gasifier that uses a single reactor for both combustion and pyrolysis. In this unit, instead of spatially separating these processes, they are temporarily isolated. The producer gas is not diluted either with nitrogen or the products of combustion. Heat released during combustion at 850C is stored as latent heat in the form of molten salt sealed in tubes that are immersed in the fluidized bed. During pyrolysis, which takes place between 600 and 850C, the reactor is fluidized with steam or recycled producer gas instead of air. Heat stored in the phase change material is released during this phase of the cycle to support endothermic reactions of the pyrolysis stage.


This project has accomplished the following:
  • Established analytical methods for precise and repeatable measurements of H2S and NH3;
  • Characterized producer gas from gasification of switchgrass;
  • 95 per cent total tar and 99 per cent condensable (heavy) tar reductions have been achieved;
  • Reduced CO in producer gas to less than 0.5 volume percentage by water-gas shift reaction; and
  • Demonstrated operation of ballasted gasifier in production of raw producer gas with hydrogen concentrations averaging 20 volume percentage (before gas upgrading).

Contact: Mr. Robert Brown, Centre for Sustainable Environmental Technologies, Iowa State University, 283 Metals Development Bldg., Ames, IA 50011 3020, United States of America. Tel: +1 (515) 2947 934; Fax: +1 (515) 2943 091


E-mail: rcbrown@iastate.edu 


Website: www.eere.energy.gov

FUEL CELLS

New alkaline fuel cell model launched

Astris Energi Inc., a Canada-based developer of alkaline fuel cell technology, has unveiled a completely self-contained and portable 2.4 kW unit. The emission-free E8 model is the latest in Astris series of AFC generators. It is powered by Powerstack MC250 fuel cell designed, built and tested over the past two years which performed 30-60 per cent above the original design specification in tests.


The E8 generator provides 48 V DC power at 50 A of current and can handle overloads up to 60 A. It is fuelled by compressed hydrogen at 6 bar to 200 bar. At full power, fuel consumption is 1,600 l/h. Electrical efficiency of the generator exceeds 50 per cent. 


Contact: Astris Energi Inc., 2175-6, Dunwin Drive, Mississauga, Ontario L5L 1X2, Canada. Tel: +1 (905) 6082 000; Fax: +1 (905) 6088 222.


Website: www.powerpulse.net 

Progress in micro fuel cell technology

Researchers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Australia report to have made an important breakthrough that may make micro fuel cell technology cheaper to own and operate. CSIROs Manufacturing and Infrastructure Technology unit has extended the life of membranes used in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell stacks to over 1,500 working hours. In PEM technology, electricity is produced by squeezing hydrogen atoms through a very thin polymer membrane, a process that strips an electron from the atom. This electron is captured as electricity and the remaining hydrogen is then combined with air to produce water and some heat, the only by-products of the reaction. At present, NEC and Toshiba have announced the debut of fuel cell-powered laptops, during 2004, offering battery life exceeding five hours.


Website: www.zdnet.co.uk 

1 kW fuel cell system achieves record yield

A 1 kW fuel cell-based co-generation system for home use, developed by Kyocera Corp., Japan, has achieved 54 per cent power generation efficiency the worlds highest. A co-generation system produces energy and heat, which can be utilized to provide hot water and air-conditioning. Kyoceras system has adopted a mechanism in which oxygen ions move in an electrolyte, and its core cell is fabricated using ceramics.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com 

Fuel cell scooter

In Singapore, a researcher at the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, working together with GasHub Power, has come up with a skate scooter that uses fuel cells to rev up the wheels. This vehicle operates on a 200 W fuel cell, has a maximum speed of 20 km/h and offers a clean ride.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com 

Hydrogen generator

Proton Energy Systems Inc. (PES), the United States, offers HOGEN H series hydrogen generators. This is PES latest and most advanced system, which provides a safe, pure and reliable source of hydrogen. It delivers ultra-pure hydrogen, with an output capacity of 80-240 ft3/h, at a fraction of the cost of cylinder or tube trailer gas. Designed to meet the demands of high-volume customers in power generation, semiconductor, electronics and heat-treating fields, the H series generators also offer the flexibility to incorporate additional cell stack modules, which produce hydrogen from electricity and water, to further raise the output without altering the units compact footprint. 


Contact: Ms. Marilynn Meek, Proton Energy Systems Inc., United States of America. Tel: +1 (212) 4458 451


Website: www.protonenergy.com 


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com 

Fuel cell powered by natural gas

Idatech LLC, the United States, has introduced a 5 kW natural gas and LPG-based fuel cell system. The dual-fuel, combined heat and power system is part of a range of multi-fuel solutions, which are based on a flexible modular design, supporting interchangeable components that enable Idatech to accelerate product development incorporating proven components and subsystems into customized configurations. Additionally, these innovations incorporate patented fuel processing technology and operate on a variety of fuels. 


Contact: Idatech LLC, 63160, Britta Street, Bend, Oregon 97701, United States of America. Tel: +1 (541) 3833 390; Fax: +1 (541) 3833 439


E-mail: info@idatech.com 


Website: www.idatech.com 

New prototype fuel cell stack

Energy Visions Inc. (EVI), Canada, reports to have started development of its proprietary flowing electrolyte direct methanol fuel cell (FE-DMFC) stack. Working with Hibar Systems Inc., EVI is at present engineering refinements to its fuel cell design for the hybrid FE-DMFC/rechargeable battery portable power supply. By presenting the high efficiency and general applicability of its flowing electrolyte technology at the 2003 Fuel Cell Seminar organized in the United States, EVI has achieved a significant milestone. 


Contact: Mr. Stephen Meldrum, Energy Visions Incorporated, Canada. Tel: +1 (905) 7649 457


E-mail: smeldrum@peb.ca


Website: www.energyvi.com 


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com 

Silicon electrodes used in fuel cells

Researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan, have designed a fuel cell using very thin sheets of silicon as the electrodes. The use of semiconductor production technologies facilitates miniaturization and mass production.


The 0.25 mm thick direct methanol type fuel cell is fabricated from an electrolyte film sandwiched between two sheets of silicon. The surface of each sheet incorporates trenches, that serve as pathways for hydrogen, methanol and oxygen. The underside is etched in order to create a multiporous structure, which is then plated with platinum and ruthenium catalysts. The fuel cell can produce 1.5 mW per cm2 in the presence of hydrogen and oxygen and 50 mW can be produced when methanol is supplied to the fuel cell.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com 

High-performance electrolyte membrane for DMFCs

Toyobo Co., Japan, has developed a new electrolyte membrane for direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs). This high-performance membrane is fabricated using a hydrocarbon polymer material, which features three times as much sulphone bases as conventional fluorine-based electrolyte membranes. Hydrophilic sulphone bases enable migration of hydrogen ions across the membrane, boosting the fuel cells energy efficiency. The company has stated that a fuel cell based on the new membrane is 30 per cent more energy efficient.


The hydrocarbon polymer material has a molecular structure that does not swell when it is wetted, so there is less chance for methanol to interact with water and pass across the membrane. When methanol passes through the membrane on the side with the air electrode, it reacts with air to form water, which brings down energy efficiency. This feature will enable the fuel cell to operate using a more highly concentrated form of methanol, thus extending the fuel cells operating period on a limited quantity of fuel.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com 

New SOFC

In Japan, Kansai Electric Power Co. and Mitsubishi Materials Corp. have used solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) powered by city gas for generating electricity. These systems have a power generation efficiency of 40 per cent, which surpasses the average 25-30 per cent efficiency for similar types of fuel cells. The companies have succeeded in decreasing the operating temperatures of the fuel cells to less than 800C from the 1,000C required for many SOFCs. Fuel cells capable of producing tens of kilowatts of power are expected to be available by March 2007. The SOFC is ideal for small businesses.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com 

New anode catalyst material developed

A team of scientists at the Technical University of Denmark report to have developed ternary and quaternary anode catalyst materials, which are carbon monoxide (CO) tolerant and corrosion-resistant, for use in low-temperature PEM units and direct methanol fuel cells. Platinum is the main active surface material, while ruthenium or osmium are used as substrate for the catalysts. Other metals that may be used in the third and fourth layers include iron, cobalt, ruthenium, iridium, nickel, copper, palladium, silver, gold or tin.


Researchers explain that the basic idea of the catalyst is to modify the surface traits of platinum to adjust absorption energies of hydrogen and CO, respectively, such that the rate of proton formation is increased and the occupation of CO is depressed. Modification of surface properties is achieved utilizing contributions from the underlying substrate metal as well as from modifying surface metal atoms other than platinum. The catalysts have been patented in the United States.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com 

High-capacity micro fuel cell technology

Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd., Japan, has developed a new fuel cell material technology, which enables the use of 30 per cent methanol as a fuel source. This technology has even been incorporated into a prototype power unit, which requires 300 ml of high-concentration methanol to power a notebook PC for 8-10 h.


Fujitsus technology involves an aromatic hydrocarbon solid electrolyte material, which allows slow permeation of methanol, that is covered with highly active platinum-based nanoparticle catalyst with the ability to block methanol. This reduces the total membrane electrode assembly methanol crossover effect to 1/10th that encountered with typical fluorinated polymers. 


Contact: Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd., Japan. Tel: +81 (46) 2508 257


E-mail: organicmat@ml.labs.fujitsu.com  


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

WAVE/TIDAL ENERGY

Equipment to harness wave energy

Global EnviroScience Technologies Inc., the United States, is offering an environment-friendly system to generate electricity from the ocean. The patented equipment uses highly efficient and reliable technology to capture the potential of tidal waves. Energy is gathered from the visible surface waves and also from below the wave surface, inherent in ocean waves, which is far greater than from surface waves only. While the cost of power generation by this system is around US$0.01 per kW/h, the capital cost is competitive with coal, diesel and natural gas-fired power facilities. 


Contact: GET Inc., P.O. Box 90756, Long Beach, CA 90809 0756, United States of America. Tel/Fax: +1 (562) 9895 400/9895 405


E-mail: info@get-inc.com 


Website: www.get-inc.com 

Worlds first sub-sea power station

A commercial power station, which exploits tidal currents of the open sea for power generation, is supplying electricity to the town of Hammerfest in Norway. Similar to an underwater windmill, this installation is the first in the world to harness the power of the open sea and be connected to an electricity grid. It produces 300 kW of energy, enough to power about 30 houses in Norway (60-80 homes in Britain). Hammerfest Stroen, the systems designers, hope to start mass production of these devices within the next two years.


The device harnesses tidal energy in much the same way as windmills tap into the power of air currents. The generator consists of 10 m diameter blades that rotate as water passes over them. The whole mechanism is held aloft by a 20 m steel column anchored to the seabed. Successful results of the prototype would spur the installation of up to 20 such mills off the coast of Hammerfest.


Website: www.newscientist.com 

Asias wave-powered desalination plant

A desalination plant that operates on energy generated from sea waves was commissioned near Vizhinjam port, in Kerala, India. This is the first such unit in Asia. A tidal energy plant currently yields 6-7 kW for producing 7,000-8,000 l/d of desalinated water. Sea waves dashing into a 3,000 t cassion create pressure variations to turn a turbine. The desalination facility employs reverse osmosis membrane technology. Project consultant Mr. C.S. Padmanabha Iyer states that the next step would be to shift the cassion on to a floating platform to harness the power of 7 m high monsoon season waves.


Website: www.financialexpress.com 

Offshore tidal power generators

Tidal Electric Inc., the United States, offers technology for offshore tidal power generators. Offshore power generation resolves economic and environmental complications of the barrage system. Rather than blocking an estuary with a barrage, the new generators use an impounded structure, making it completely self-contained and independent of the shoreline. As such, environmental problems associated with blocking off and changing the shoreline are avoided. The impoundment structure is a traditional rubble mound breakwater with ordinary performance 
specifications and is built using the most economical materials. In case of failure, the consequences do not involve safety issues or collateral damages. The structure need not be more than a few metres beyond the low tide level. Additionally, the cost per unit output from the offshore tidal power generator is less than that of the barrage.


The optimal site for offshore power generation is the shallow waters of near-shore sites. While boats and ships navigate past the structure, migratory fish can swim around it. The turbines are situated in a powerhouse which is contained in the impoundment structure and is always underwater. The equipment consists of mixed-flow reversible bulb turbine, generator and control system. Power is transmitted to shore using underground/underwater cables and joined to the grid. 


Contact: Tidal Electric Inc., P.O. Box 3, West Simsbury, Connecticut 06092, United States of America. Tel: +1 (860) 4081 400; Fax: +1 (860) 4081 402.


Website: www.tidalelectric.com 

New system to exploit wave potential

Independent Natural Resources Inc. (INRI), the United States, plans to field test its Seadog pump system, which captures energy from ocean waves. The new system is based on a small, floating pump that uses the energy of passing waves to drive a piston. When several pumps are arrayed together, these pistons then force water to a land station where it is utilized to turn a hydroelectric turbine, such as a waterfall would.


A major advantage of the Seadog system is that it generates hydroelectric power without the need for dams. In 9 ft high waves, 750 MW of electricity could be generated by installing Seadog systems over an area of 1.609 km2. INRI is planning to install a 14-pump pilot project and successful results would lead to a 200-pump (2.1 MW) project.


Website: www.bizjournals.com

PUBLICATIONS

Energy from the Desert

This book explores a potential method to harvest solar energy from the worlds desert landscapes. Deployment of large-scale PV generation systems in desert regions could fulfil global energy needs while promoting environmental sustainability. This book examines the financial models, technology, environmental impacts and policy implications of this concept.


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


E-mail: jxj@jxj.com


Website: www.jxj.com 

Pyrolysis and Gasification of Biomass and Waste

This book includes more than 70 papers and case studies presented by leading experts from Europe and North America. It provides an authoritative review of the current state of thermal biomass conversion technologies and their implementation now and in the future.


Contact: CPL Press, Suite 36, Liberty House, Enterprise Centre, New Greenham Park, Newbury RG19 6HW, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1635) 817 408; Fax: +44 (1635) 817 409.

Small Wind Systems for Rural Energy Services

This book deals with all the key aspects of promoting wind energy for domestic end uses and provides insights to needs assessment, resource assessment, the economics of small wind machines and technology choice. It lists all the steps essential to set up wind business services in developing countries. Factors critical for sustainable development of small wind systems in rural areas have also been addressed.


Contact: ITDG Publishing, 103-105, Southampton Row, London WC1B 4HL, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (20) 7436 9761; Fax: +44 (20) 7436 2013.

Wave Energy Conversion

This book investigates the full potential of wave energy. A review of the basic academics of waves is presented, as are chapters on the application of methods, etc.


Contact: Customer Services, Elsevier Engineering, Elsevier, 84, Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8RR, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (20) 7611 4202; Fax: +44 (20) 7611 4479.


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