VATIS Update Non-conventional Energy . Jan-Feb 2011

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New and Renewable Energy Jan-Feb 2011

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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Asia leads global wind power growth

Asia leads the growth in global wind power, growing 35.8 GW in 2010 and bringing the total global capacity to 194.4 GW – up 22.5 per cent from 2009, says the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). Wind power installations in 2010 represented investments worth US$65.76 billion, but the global wind power market was nonetheless down for the first time in two decades. New installations fell 7 per cent compared with 2009, mainly due to a disappointing year in the United States as well as a slowdown in Europe.

According to GWEC, the fall in new wind power installations occurred mainly due to a combination of the financial crisis, low levels of wind turbine orders, a depressed electricity demand in the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) countries, and the policy uncertainty in the United States. Unlike previous years, more than half of installations were outside the traditional markets of Europe and North America. Asia accounted for 19 GW of new global wind power installations, driven by China that installed 16.5 GW.

Other developing countries are also increasing their wind power capacity: India added 2.1 GW, Brazil set up 326 MW and Mexico installed 316 MW of wind power. North Africa is also shaping up with 213 MW of installations, led by Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. “Wind is now rapidly expanding beyond the tradition ‘rich country’ markets, a clear sign of its growing competitiveness. This is a trend we are expecting to see developing further in the future,” says Mr. Steve Sawyer, the Secretary General of GWEC.

The United States saw its annual wind power installations halve from 10 GW in 2009 to just over 5 GW in 2010. Europe saw a 7.5 per cent fall in new wind installations to 9.9 GW. Offshore wind, however, saw 50 per cent growth in countries such as the United Kingdom, Denmark and Belgium. The European market was also lifted by new developments in Eastern Europe, led by Romania, Bulgaria and Poland.

IFC’s support for India’s green energy

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), an arm of the World Bank, has pledged US$300 million for the development of renewable energy projects in India. The investment would be a mix of equity and debt over the next three years. A quarter of the amount will be invested in the country’s nascent solar energy sector while the rest will go to wind and biomass projects. “India has a huge potential in solar power, and proper study, regulatory framework and indigenous manufacturing could help realize this potential,” IFC Director (Infrastructure), Ms. Anita George, stated.

Currently, solar projects contribute less than one per cent to the total power generated in India. The IFC funding announced is part of the US$1 billion that the international lender plans to spend on renewable energy projects across the world by 2013. According to Ms. George, India is doing well in the solar power sector, but it needed to be more proactive like neighbouring China. “India needs to do the same to spur its renewable energy sector,” Ms. George observed. IFC is supporting financial institutions, such as Infrastructure Development Finance Co., so that they are able to lend more to renewable energy projects. “This way we are trying to ensure that more global players come into the country for the National Solar Mission,” Ms. George said. Further, banks in India were slowly getting interested in funding solar projects. IFC is in advanced talks with some solar power developers in India.

China to reach 248 GW of wind power in 2020

China is expected to reach a total installed wind power capacity of 248 GW in 2020, at a compound annual growth rate of almost 23 per cent. The figures from the Chinese Wind Energy Association show that China’s cumulative installed wind power capacity is tipped to grow by a factor of 10 from 2009 to 2020. China’s wind power increased 20 fold from 2005 to 2009 and is expected to reach 20 GW annually by 2014. China reached 25.8 GW of installed capacity in 2009, overtaking Germany to become the world’s second largest wind market, behind the United States.

Mr. Alex Desbarres, Datamonitor analyst and lead author of the report Renewable Energy in China, states: “Over the past five years China has continually outperformed expectations in the global wind power market. Its increasing power requirements, growing dependency on energy imports and elevated greenhouse gas emission levels make wind power a viable and sustainable complement to China’s existing energy mix.” He says the efforts to exploit China’s large wind resources is being driven by aggressive government policies aiming to diversify the country’s power supply, support the growth of the renewable energy industry and boost levels of investment in infrastructures.

Investment in solar power plants in the Philippines

Youil Ensys, one of the Republic of Korea’s largest renewable and engineering power firms, is looking to invest some US$160 million into the Philippines’ solar power industry. According to Mr. Scott Kim, Youil’s Chief Executive Officer, Youil’s local arm Youil Renewable Energy Corp. will be establishing two solar farm facilities in Negros and Bohol. A 30 MW solar power plant is scheduled to be set up in Negros at a project cost of about US$120 million. Another facility of 10 MW is planned in Bohol, at an estimated cost of US$40 million. Mr. Kim stated that these plants are expected to be set up within six months after securing all necessary approvals. This is the first time that Youil, a publicly listed company in the Republic of Korea, will invest in the Philippines.

Renewable energy facility in Pakistan

Pakistan’s Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have jointly launched a Renewable Energy Guarantee Facility for the country. The facility will provide in total up to US$200 million equivalent in guarantees to help mobilize commercial debt from international and domestic lenders needed to finance wind and other renewable energy power projects in Pakistan. Such finance would otherwise be costly or simply unavailable due to current market concern about ‘off-take’ risks associated with the power sector in Pakistan.

The new facility would speed up the pace of development of renewable energy in Pakistan. It will support the country’s Renewable Energy Development Sector Investment Programme being implemented by AEDB. The facility will also support ‘shovel ready’ wind and other renewable energy projects operated by independent power producers (IPPs), which should have a cumulative generating capacity of 150-250 MW by the end of 2015.

Major Thai investment in renewable energy projects

Mitr Phol of Thailand, Asia’s largest sugar producer, will invest about US$121.7 million in its new renewable energy projects in Thailand and expand the group’s power business to neighbouring countries, starting with a biomass plant in China. The group has also targeted development of other types of power plants including solar and co-generation, revealed Mr. Suwat Kamolpanus, Managing Director of Mitr Phol’s power business.

The company is in the process of submitting the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for Kalasin Bio-Energy Co.’s 57 MW project that will cost US$78.3 million, Mr. Kamolpanus said. It will also spend US$42.7 million on a 32 MW expansion phase for Dan Chang Bio-Energy Co. Construction of these two projects is expected to start during March-April 2011. At present, Dan Chang Bio generates 65 MW while Mitr Phol’s Phu Khieo Bio-Energy Co. produces 75 MW. The power business is projected to generate US$ 65.8 million in revenue in 2011 with another US$49.3 million early next year when the two new projects are operational.

Meanwhile, Mitr Phol has expanded its power business to China by building a 32 MW biomass plant at its sugar factory in Funan on the southern mainland. Through direct and indirect ownerships, Mitr Phol holds 90 per cent in the US$42.7 million project, the first power plant in China that produces electricity from bagasse – others are mostly coal-fired units and wind farms. The company has signed a 15-year contract to supply power to China and is hoping to sell about 70,000 t/y of carbon credits in addition to the 100,000 t each from Dan Chang and Phu Khieo.

Renewable energy in the Republic of Korea

According to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy of the Republic of Korea, about US$4 billion (4.5 trillion Won) is expected to be invested in 2011 by the nation’s renewable energy industry towards expansion and R&D, up 23 per cent from 2010. According to the Ministry, renewable energy exports will likely rise by a sharp 90.9 per cent from last year to around US$9 billion, helped by robust solar power demand. In 2010, the industry invested an estimated US$3.27 billion and generated US$4.71 billion in exports, 49 per cent and 94 per cent increase, respectively, from 2009. The Ministry said that it plans to invest about US$0.89 billion in 2011 to boost the renewable energy sector: up 24 per cent from last year, “which reflects the government’s strong determination to foster the renewable energy business”.

US$1 billion thin-film plant in Viet Nam

First Solar Inc. of the United States, a maker of cadmium telluride thin-film solar cells, is investing US$1 billion in a thin-film solar module plant in Viet Nam. The company began the first phase of construction in January in Viet Nam’s Dong Nam industrial zone in Cu Chi district. The company expects to have the plant operational in mid-2011. In the first phase, it will operate four manufacturing lines capable of producing a total annual capacity of 238 MW. Work on the second phase of the plant is expected to begin in February 2013, with the entire facility expected to be set up by 2015.

First Solar estimates that the first phase of the Vietnamese facility, along with its eight assembly lines in Malaysia, four lines in Germany and two lines in France, will nearly double its production capacity from the current annual capacity of 1.4 GW to more than 2.7 GW in 2012. At the end of September 2010, First Solar claimed an average production cost of US$0.77 per watt of electricity for its solar cells.

Grant for geothermal project in Indonesia

KfW, the German development bank, will provide a US$10.3 million grant to part-finance a geothermal project in Aceh province, Sumatra, Indonesia. A major part of this grant will be utilized to fund exploratory drillings and a feasibility study, a statement from the bank said. Mr. Thorsten Schneider, Project Manager at KfW Entwicklungsbank, a part of KfW, said there is likely to be more than 200 MW of yet untapped geothermal energy potential in the area.

Following the exploration phase of about two years, the project intends to build a 55 MW geothermal power plant. The whole project, including construction of the power plant, will take close to five years. The project is part of the Indonesian-German Partnership on Climate Change. The partnership gives support to Indonesia’s government in geothermal energy, forestry and urban climate protection.

Bangladesh strives to increase biogas plants

In Bangladesh, Infrastructure Development Co. Ltd. (IDCOL), German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and Grameen Shakti have initiated ac-tivities to increase the number of biogas plants for renewable energy in eight districts in Rangpur division. IDCOL, a Government-owned investment company, fixed a target to set up 37,669 biogas plants in Bangladesh by 2012, under its National Domestic Biogas and Manure programme (NDBMP). It has also set a target of 25 per cent of the biogas plants in the northern region, which is not under the national gas grid.

Mr. Nazmul Haque Foysal, Senior Programme Manager, IDCOL, said that Grameen Shakti is a major partner of IDCOL that has set up 1,652 biogas plants in the eight northern districts since 2006. Each of these plants is capable of producing 1.6 m3 to 4.8 m3 of biogas. IDCOL donates about 36 per cent of the cost for each plant while the beneficiary bears 25 per cent. The partner NGO that helps in construction spends the rest of the money. As per contract, the beneficiary has to refund in instalments the money taken from the NGO. Grameen Shakti’s Rangpur Divisional Manager, Mr. Delwar Hossain, said that Grameen Shakti aims to set up 100 biogas plants per month in the region. “We set up 350 large biogas plants that are capable of producing 6 m3 to 30 m3 of biogas,” Mr. Hossain added.

New solar energy projects in Thailand may reach 3.58 GW

As of October 2010, the Thai government had received applications for 3.58 GW of solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) plants through three subsidy programmes, according to an article by renewable energy advocate Mr. Chris Graecen of Palang Thai that clarified Thailand’s solar feed-in tariff situation and the steps taken by the government to limit applications.

“Measuring by the vigorous interest displayed by the private sector, and by the number of applications posted to generate electricity from solar installations, the Thai government’s subsidy programme on solar electricity has been a raging success,” stated Mr. Graecen in “Clarifying the Thailand solar feed-in tariff situation”. As of October 2010 only 16 MW of PV projects were connected to the grid, with no CSP projects operational. Mr. Graecen writes that the remaining 3.56 GW is “in the pipeline in various stages”. He reports that the Thai government has received applications for 1.6 GW of PV systems to its Very Small Power Producer programme and applications for 477 MW of PV applications to its Small Power Producer programme, as well as applications for 1.5 GW of CSP systems.


Patent applications filed for thin-film PV technologies

Magnolia Solar Corp., the United States, has announced the completion of multiple United States utility and International Patent Cooperation Treaty applications for new thin-film solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies. The subsidiary unit Magnolia Solar Inc. has filed patents for both PV cell designs and manufacturing processes, which the company says address fundamental performance limitations in thin-film PV technologies. The engineering employed in the technology is designed to increase the PV operating voltage while capturing a larger part of the solar spectrum. Its unique nanostructure-based optical coatings minimize reflection losses, thus enhancing the light trapping within the PV devices. Magnolia’s Chief Technical Officer, Dr. Roger Welser, says: “These technologies result in higher solar electric conversion efficiency by increasing both the voltage and current output of thin film solar cells.”

Spray-on solar film

A United States-based renewable energy company is convinced that its new transparent spray-on solar PV film will boost energy output by 300 per cent. SolarWindow™, from New Energy Technology Inc., is 1 × 1 ft fully transparent panel that will replace the company’s previous 4 × 4 in model. The new large-area prototype is 300 per cent larger in its axis dimension and 900 per cent larger in surface area.

The company appointed to its board two experts in solar technology to realize the latest incarnation of SolarWindow. Dr. Z. Valy Vardeny, one of the world’s foremost experimental physicists, worked on improving the efficiency of power output of solar energy arrays. Dr. Xiaomei Jiang, the lead researcher on SolarWindow, was responsible for scaling up the prototype model and achieving the “see-thru” capability of the solar panel, while at the same time generating electricity. Another of Dr. Jiang’s breakthroughs is developing a method of spraying the solar photovoltaic (PV) film onto glass at room temperature, rather than at high pressure or in temperature-sensitive environments. This has drastically reduced the manufacturing cost of the panel. New Energy has fought for control of the many patents related to the SolarWindow and hopes to have soon a commercially viable solar PV panel that can be sprayed directly onto glass, according to Mr. John Conklin, CEO of New Energy Technologies.

Solar cell printing at reduced costs

Sun Innovations, Russia, has developed a solar cell printing technology that reduces production costs and enhances the quality of solar panels. Both cost and quality can be significantly controlled through accurate quantity and coverage of every working layer through the new printing technology, the company claims. Sun Innovations is currently testing more efficient structures as an alternative to conventional silicon material. The advancement will enable any kind of flat surface such as flexible substrates to be printed with a solar cell.

The company is working closely with scientific institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The solar panel printing technology is part of Sun Innovations Group’s National Technological Platform, endorsed by the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Economic Development. Sun Innovations experts have also developed a cost-effective and efficient technology to produce ultraviolet-light emitting diode (UV-LED) blocks for UV printers.

CIGS solar cell efficiency improved by 13 per cent

Apart from other influences, corrosion and poor isolation between substrate and carrier material lower the efficiencies of copper-indium-gallium selenide (CIGS) solar cells. Scientists at INM-Leibniz Institute for New Materials (INM), Germany, have developed a glass-like barrier layer that separates the metal carrier from the absorber film, raising the efficiency of CIGS solar cells. The barrier layer functions “as iron diffusion barrier and thus prevents corrosion and oxidation of the carrier,” explains Mr. Peter William de Oliveira, Head of the Programme Division. “At the same time, the barrier works as an insulating layer and reduces unintentional electrical currents from the absorber to the carrier,” he added. Both the functions raise the efficiency of metal-based CIGS solar cells by about 13 per cent.

The glass-like diffusion barrier is applied on the metal carrier using the sol-gel process. It is transparent and flexible and has a thickness of only a few microns. The INM scientists both developed the layer and scaled up the process. By means of dip coating and slot coating, the scientists produced foils in DIN A3 size. The conventional roll-to-roll printing process allows the production of continuous layered foils up to 50 m length and about 0.5 m width.

Cost reduction PV technology wins UL certification

BioSolar Inc., a United States-based developer of a breakthrough technology to produce bio-based materials from renewable plant sources that reduce the cost of photovoltaic (PV) solar modules, announced that production samples of its innovative BioBacksheet have successfully completed all critical initial material property tests of the Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) and is expected to officially obtain full UL material certification soon.

The initial material property UL certification tests included material identification, partial discharge test, resistance to catching fire, and a long list of other tests that are required before BioBacksheet can be used commercially in solar panels. The last remaining test for the product is the measurement of relative thermal index (RTI) – the temperature below which the material will retain its desired mechanical and electrical properties, and not be compromised via thermally induced chemical degradation. A provisional RTI value will be assigned to BioBacksheet approximately 90 days into the RTI testing. Following that, commercial solar panels using the product can be submitted for final panel certification or re-certification under UL 1703 prior to sale in the general marketplace. Contact: BioSolar Inc., 27936 Lost Canyon Road # 202, Canyon Country, CA 91387-3219, United States of America. Tel: (661) 251 0001; Fax: +1 (661) 251 0003; E-mail:

High-efficiency CdTe PV cell on glass

EPIR Technologies Inc., the United States, has announced that it has repeatedly fabricated high-efficiency polycrystalline cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cells on commercial glass substrates. According to Dr. Siva Sivananthan, founder and CEO of EPIR Technologies, “EPIR has been collaborating closely with a team of scientists from National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Together we developed a CdTe solar cell with a maximum of 15.2 per cent efficiency.” The combination of EPIR expertise in CdTe materials and NREL expertise in CdTe solar cell device technology enabled the researchers to gain excellent results in a short time frame.

According to Dr. Chollada Gilmore, EPIR’s CdTe Solar Cell Technical Lead, “Our champion cell efficiency was officially verified by NREL at 15.2 per cent efficiency. The high efficiency was driven by a fill factor of 77.6 per cent, which is one of the highest fill factor values ever recorded for this type of solar cell. These results are significant because our solar cells were fabricated using inexpensive commercial TEC-series glass substrates as opposed to technical-grade glass, which is commonly used in champion cell fabrication.” Dr. Timothy Coutts, NREL Fellow Emeritus and founder of the NREL Device Development Group, stated, “This achievement elevates EPIR to the very small group of solar companies and research facilities that have reproducibly fabricated CdTe solar cells with greater than 15 per cent efficiency. This clearly validates EPIR’s expertise in CdTe solar cell growth and fabrication.”

Improved solar cell creation process

Researchers in Japan have reported success in producing solar cells by heating glass plates coated with liquid silicon, a significant improvement over conventional methods. The new method devised by a team from Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, headed by Prof. Tatsuya Shimoda, enables the production of solar cells at a much lower cost than by conventional processes. The process can be used also to create multilayer solar cells, which are difficult to produce. Prof. Shimoda said that the new method makes it theoretically possible to significantly improve solar cell performance.

Current solar cell production methods require expensive equipment and special conditions. For instance, high-purity solid silicon is used and the silicon molecules are turned into gas through a vacuum-based process. Focusing its attention on liquid silicon, the research team coated glass plates with polysilane, and used heat from electric heaters to create silicon films on the plates’ surface. This process was repeated three times. The team succeeded in producing a solar cell with three silicon layers, each with different characteristics, by mixing boron and other materials with polysilane. While the new cells can only generate about 20 per cent the power of conventional models, the team said it was possible to increase cell performance using higher precision silicon layers.


New transmission concept for wind turbines

Most large wind turbines currently operate at variable speeds. Yet, a wind turbine may only feed alternating current with the exact frequency of the electric grid. That is why the alternating current from generators is transformed into direct current by way of giant rectifiers. In a second step the direct current is transformed back into alternating current of the right frequency. This two-fold conversion takes a loss of close to 5 per cent. Scientists have now developed an active transmission system does away with this problem.

Scientists from the Chair of Machine Elements at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM), Germany, took a closer look at the gears and generator system. To attain the grid frequency of 50 Hz, a generator with the two-pole pairs must operate at a synchronous speed of 1,500 rpm. To fulfil this requirement in spite of the variable input rotational speed, the researchers developed a novel active torque-vectoring gear analogous to a controlled differential in motor vehicles. This torque-vectoring gear has a supplemental electric motor that can be used both as a drive and as a generator. This permits the power from the rotor to be either boosted or diverted, leading to a constant rotational speed of the generator. Applying this concept to a 1.5 MW wind turbine, an electric motor of only about 80 kW is sufficient. The advantage of the concept is a lighter power train that requires a much smaller nacelle for the wind turbine. Further, a low-maintenance synchronous generator can be used, to eliminate power electronics for frequency adjustment and thereby increases the overall efficiency.

A new turn to floating wind power

Wind turbines attached to floating buoys can harness stronger, more sustained winds in the open ocean. But such floats may prove prohibitively expensive because the buoys needed to keep them above water are huge. A project now underway in France could provide a low-cost alternative. Technip, an oil and gas engineering company, and Nenuphar a wind power start-up company, are developing Vertiwind, a floating 2 MW wind turbine. The turbine used has a vertical axis. The benefit of this design is that it lowers the turbine’s centre of gravity.

Vertiwind design stands 100 m tall but places the generator, weighing 50 t, inside a sealed tube beneath the turbine’s rotating blades, 20 m above the sea. This makes the turbine less top-heavy, allowing for a significantly smaller flotation system, which would extend only 9 m below the surface of the ocean. In contrast, a horizontal-axis turbine with the same power output and blades also reaching 100 m high would need its generator to be 60 m above the sea. The buoy too will extend several metres beneath the surface. Technip and Nenuphar plan to build two vertical-axis turbines with a power output of 2 MW each, one onshore and one offshore, at a cost of US$28 million. By pursuing a vertical-axis design, Vertiwind is using technology that was all but abandoned for onshore wind power more than a decade ago, as they do not catch stronger winds at high altitudes. This should be less of a disadvantage offshore, since wind speed increases less with height over open water than it does over land.

World’s largest wind turbine blade

Alstom, the French energy systems supplier, and LM Wind Power Group, a leading wind turbine blade supplier based in Denmark, are in a strategic partnership to develop the world’s longest wind turbine blade ever produced. The new blade is a unique development designed specifically for Alstom’s next-generation 6 MW offshore wind turbine. Development of the blade will require more than 20,000 h of work by LM Wind Power’s specialists. The use of specifically developed material compounds will enable LM Wind Power to maximize durability and strength while producing an exceptionally light blade. Furthermore, the blade will feature a structural design tailor-made for Alstom’s turbine.

The design uses LM Wind Power’s proprietary aerodynamic profiles based on its latest GloBlade® that offers an 4-5 per cent more annual energy production than the standard designs. The geometry of the new blade has already been validated in LM Wind Power’s own wind tunnel – the world’s only wind tunnel customized for aerodynamic testing of wind turbine blades. The prototype blades will be ready for installation at Alstom prototype sites in Europe to start testing during the winter of 2011.

Two prototypes of Alstom’s 6 MW turbine will be installed in 2011 and 2012, a pre-series in 2013 (the final rollout step before full commercialization) and series production in 2014. The turbine has leading-edge technologies to meet the challenges of the tough marine environment and bring down the cost of energy (COE), including the turbine’s very large rotor diameter. High yields help offset wind farm investment and operating costs, lowering COE. The turbine’s weight has also been optimized to reduce installation and infrastructure costs. It features the Alstom Pure Torque™ technology, which protects the turbine’s drive train by deflecting unwanted stresses from the wind safely to the tower. Only torque gets transmitted to the generator, thereby boosting the turbine’s reliability. Furthermore, the turbine’s permanent magnet direct drive system enables a compact, lightweight design that reduces service costs and improves operating efficiency. The system’s low number of rotating parts further increases reliability and reduces maintenance costs.

A wind turbine without any blade

A research company in New Hampshire, the United Kingdom, recently patented its bladeless wind turbine, which is based on a patent issued to Nikola Tesla in 1913. The Fuller Wind Turbine, developed by Solar Aero, has only one rotating part, the turbine driveshaft. The machine is assembled inside a housing, to avoid harm to birds and bats and to reduce noise to residents living nearby.

The Fuller Wind Turbine is expected to deliver power at a cost at par with the coal-fired power plants. The total operating costs over the lifetime of the unit are expected to be about US$0.12/kWh. The bladeless design and magnetic bearings limit maintenance needs to a minimum. Furthermore, all of the generating equipment are kept at ground level, which allows for easy maintenance of equipment. Solar Aero’s current prototype is a modest unit. When commercialized, the models “should be capable of 10 kW output with no problem,” the company claims.

High-performance wind power system

Nordex SE, Germany, will be soon unveiling its new N117/2400 wind power system. The Gamma Generation turbine, with a nominal output of 2.5 MW, is specially developed for inland locations. Thanks to a rotor diameter of 117 m and a rotor sweep of 10,751 m2, the N117/2400 is the highest-yielding IEC 3 turbine in its class. In typical inland regions, it will achieve a capacity of over 3,500 full-load hours – that is, 20 per cent more than other turbines in this category. This translates into a capacity factor of 40 per cent, which would allow high and steady electricity production in regions with lighter winds. The acoustic power level is a maximum 105 dB, allowing the turbine to be used closer to residential areas and ensuring an optimum turbine array in the wind farm. The N117/2400 is designed with construction height limits in mind: with a hub height of 91 m on the standard tower, it stays below the critical threshold of 150 m.

By optimizing the interaction of the core components, Nordex had earlier boosted the yield by 2 per cent. Now, it has implemented a second efficiency package, which boosts the yield of the 2.5 MW turbines by 2.6 per cent more. This has been achieved through the Nordex Advanced Power (Nordex AP) control module in the Nordex control operation management system. Nordex AP measures the wind speed and direction as well as the air density. Using these inputs, the management system is able to adjust the generator to optimum effect, resulting in greater yields at low and medium wind speeds. Contact: Mr. Felix Losada/Mr. Ralf Peters, Nordex SE, Germany. Tel: +49 (40) 30030-1000; Fax: +49 (40) 30030-1101; E-mail:

Patent on wind turbine generators

General Electric Co. of the United States has patented “methods and systems for wind turbine generators” developed jointly by seven inventors from China, the United States and Germany. The invention provides methods and systems for reducing heat loss in a generator system. The generator system includes an electrical generator and a power converter. The method basically involves generating electricity in the generator at a first power factor and converting it in the converter at a second power factor. In one mode of operation electricity is generated at a third power factor, which is greater than the first power factor and converting it at a fourth power factor, which is less than the second power factor in a second operation mode. The power output of the generator system in the second mode is nearly equal to the power output of the generator system in the first mode of operation, says the abstract.


Cost-effective wave generator for harsh environments

An engineer from the United States Air Force Academy has developed a wave energy converter that is expected to provide a cost-effective method to generate power from the oceans and be resilient enough to endure harsh conditions. Dr. Stefan Siegel’s cycloidal wave energy converter appears similar to the sorts of cycloidal turbines that have been used previously in vertical-axis wind turbines. In such a turbine, blades are mounted in parallel to, and at a specific distance from, a vertical main shaft. But while the geometry of the turbine and the wave energy converter might look identical, the modes of operation are different.

To be useful as a wave energy converter, the cycloidal wave energy converter is synchronized to an incoming wave to ensure extraction of the maximum amount of energy from it. This is achieved by means of a sensor that measures the incoming wave amplitude, the wave phase and the wave frequency, and a feedback control system that uses that data to control the device, the pitch of the two wave energy converter blades and the main shaft power take-off from the system used to drive the generator. By controlling simultaneously all these parameters through a closed-loop control system, the device’s performance can be optimized to extract almost all the energy from an incoming wave, explains Dr. Siegel.

The approach differs markedly from more conventional floating buoys that bob up and down at specific frequencies to extract energy from the ocean. While such mechanically resonant devices are simpler than the devices based on electronic feedback control systems, they are harder to tune over a range of waves with different wavelengths.

Simulation results have indicated that the converter has a bandwidth covering a factor of five in wavelength change while maintaining the same efficiency. According to Dr. Siegel, the optimum size and shape of the converter’s blades depend on the wavelength of the waves from which energy is to be extracted. “We have found from simulations that the optimal size of the diameter of the converter is about one-third of the wavelength of the water wave. In a typical deep ocean setting, the wavelength would be 100-200 m, so the diameter of the wave energy converter would be one-third of that,” Dr. Siegel stated. As the cycloidal wave energy converter is entirely submerged, in a storm it will not be subject to the tremendous loads imposed on surface-bound devices that are exposed to wind and breaking waves. To survive a storm, the cycloidal converter will feather its blades and, if needed, submerge deeper where the effects of a storm are much smaller.

First bi-directional turbine set in motion

The Dutch company Tocardo International BV has commissioned its first bi-directional turbine at its test-cum-demonstration facility in Den Oever. This new turbine with reversible blades is considered to be a significant step towards full-scale deployment of commercial offshore Tocardo technology. The innovative bi-directional functionality can be utilized on all existing Tocardo turbine models to extend the product range to ocean models. The novel feature offers a reliable and cost-efficient solution for deployment at tidal locations. First full-scale commercial installation of the technology is planned for 2011 at estuary and ocean barrage locations. Contact: Tocardo International BV, De Weel 20, 1736 KB, Zijdewind, The Netherlands. Tel: +31 (226) 423 411; Fax: +31 (226) 423 433; E-mail:; Website:

Turbines for power from marine current

In Canada, New Energy Corp. will supply turbines for the proposed Canoe Pass Tidal Commercialization Energy Project of Canoe Pass Tidal Energy Corp. New Energy has current turbines installed in closed containment channels at irrigation and sewage treatment systems in Manitoba, Alberta, British Columbia, Alaska and the North West Territories. “We are developing the design engineering through this project, by building out to the 125 kW and 250 kW scale,” said Canoe Pass Tidal Energy President, Mr. Chris Knight.

New Energy produces 5 kW, 10 kW and 25 kW power generation systems and is working to scale up its core technology to provide 125 kW and 250 kW models. Another reason this technology was selected is that the shaft and the housing of the turbine are the only parts in the water. This means that the gearbox and the generator are above the ocean, which suits the site. “This technology lent itself most appropriately to the site... The main challenge is the torque and the forces created by a devise of this scale. We have to anchor the bearings at the bottom of the turbine housing,” Mr. Knight said. Contact: Canoe Pass Tidal Energy Corporation, No. 3875 Discovery Drive, Campbell River, British Columbia, V9W 4X5, Canada.


High-temperature fuel cell technology

EnerFuel, a United States-based company dealing in high temperature proton exchange membrane (HT-PEM) fuel cell stacks, offers a stack design that has tight temperature regulation through the use of a sophisticated and very compact air-cooled design. These characteristics allow the stack to exhibit long operating life times and good electrochemical performance even when operated with reformate, that is hydrogen-rich gas derived from hydrocarbon fuel reformation.

EnerFuel has tested its HT-PEM fuel cell stacks with hydrogen and reformate with demonstrated good performance. An important distinction of HT-PEM, with respect to the more traditional low-temperature PEM technology, is its low susceptibility to the presence of carbon monoxide in the hydrogen stream. By operating at an elevated temperature (120°C to 180°C) hydrogen’s affinity to the fuel cell catalyst is increased, while carbon monoxide’s affinity is decreased.

SOFC system for generating grid electricity

At VTT Technical Research Centre, Finland, researchers have developed a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) system that could be used to generate grid electricity. According to Dr. Matias Halinen, a research scientist at VTT, this is the first time that a 10 kW SOFC gets used in a complete fuel system. Dr. Halinen said that researchers were trying to measure the reliability and endurance of the stack and other components, including burners, valves and blowers, as there was no mass market for fuel cell components readily available. Funding for this project was obtained from Tekes, a Finnish funding agency as a part of the Tekes Fuel Cell Programme.

The current SOFC model has operated continuously and reliably for more than 1,500 hours from November 2010 and produced electricity sufficient for five apartments. The new SOFC technology is a low-emission energy system that can utilize a variety of fuels, including biogas. Along with VTT, the Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland, also contributed to building the system’s power electronics, enabling direct current produced by the SOFC to be changed into grid-suitable alternating current. According to Dr. Halinen, 50 per cent or higher efficiency could be achieved by reducing losses in the current collection and enhancing the power conversion in the optimized solution and components of the prototype.

Less expensive hydrogen fuel cell

In the United States, Bing Energy Inc. has entered into a commercialization agreement with Florida State University to use a revolutionary nanotechnology to make hydrogen fuel cells that are smaller, lighter, more durable and less expensive than their successors. Dr. Jim P. Zheng, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, has designed a thin membrane using a nanomaterial known as “buckypaper” that reduces the quantity of platinum needed in a standard fuel cell. The membrane is thinner and lighter than components presently available, allowing for smaller fuel cell designs while retaining energy output, not to mention reducing the cost by cutting down on the expensive platinum needed. Dr. Zheng’s invention provides a dramatically better solution for the proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell: performance improvements of more than 40 per cent, durability improvements of 25 per cent – all at a lower cost.

Commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell technology

In the United States, Dr. James Dye, a chemistry professor at Michigan State University in East Lansing, has developed a process for making inexpensive hydrogen fuel cells to generate cheap electrical power. Dr. Dye also helped start a business, SiGNa Chemistry, to bring that technology to market. SiGNa Chemistry recently introduced its hydrogen cartridges, which provide energy to fuel cells designed to recharge cell phones, laptops and GPS units. This green power source is geared towards outdoor enthusiasts as well as residents of places where homes do not have access to electricity. The Swedish company myFC has used the hydrogen cartridges from SiGNa Chemistry to demonstrate its PowerTrekk portable recharge. The PowerTrekk is both a portable battery pack and a fuel cell. The fuel cell can charge a depleted battery by inserting a fuel pack and adding water.

Molten carbonate fuel cells for ships

A new application of molten carbonate fuel cell (MCFC) developed by the European-funded MC WAP research project will be used eventually as an alternative power supply for ships. This new energy source will be cleaner and avoid the pollution typical of marine diesel engines that currently provide power in the vast majority of the world’s ships. MCFCs demand very high operating temperatures (600°C and above) and most applications for this kind of cell are limited to large, stationary power plants. The initial application envisaged is associated with waste heat, industrial processing and in steam turbines to generate more electricity.

The MCFC developed by the MC WAP project uses hydrogen supplied by a system, which converts diesel oil into a hydrogen-rich gas, and air coming from the compressor of a microturbine. The reaction produces electricity and heat, without combustion. MC WAP project researchers developed two major elements for incorporating the fuel cell on board a ship: the Fuel Processor Module and the Fuel Cells Module. The Fuel Cells Module is a chemical plant fed from one side by compressed air and from the other side by syngas (from diesel) by the Fuel Processor Module. The chemical reaction between air and syngas generates electricity. The energy produced by the system amounts to about 250 kW and represents one production unit of reserve energy that can power the essential systems on board, such as the control systems, communication, lighting and main auxiliary systems.

Low-temperature fuel cell demonstrated

For the first time in the world, scientists have demonstrated power generation with low-temperature direct reforming of methane fuel with a micro solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) capable of generating electricity at a temperature of 450°C. Dr. Toshio Suzuki [Senior Researcher, Functional Integration Group, Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute of Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)], Prof. Nigel Sammes (Colorado School of Mines in the United States), and others developed a micro SOFC with a catalyst layer that can use various hydrocarbon fuels through direct reforming. This technology allows power generation by direct methane fuel reforming at temperatures up to 450°C.

Typically, SOFCs are operated at high temperatures – 700° to 1000°C – and have the highest energy conversion efficiency across various fuel types. However, their use is limited to applications such as large and stationary power supplies. AIST has been conducting research on micro SOFCs for application in compact, high-demand power supplies. Technology for using hydrocarbon fuels is very important in such applications. However, hydrocarbons do not reform sufficiently at operating temperatures less than 600°C, making it difficult to generate electricity directly by using them as fuel. Thus, lowering the operating temperature has been an issue of critical importance in SOFC development.

AIST developed a technology for the direct reforming of a methane-steam fuel at low temperatures by forming a nanometre-scale ceria-based layer as the reforming catalyst on the inner surface of a tubular micro SOFC with a nickel-based fuel electrode (anode). In addition, for the first time in the world, it demonstrated electricity generation by directly reforming the fuel at the low temperature of 450°C. The developed cell structure allows design and application of reforming catalysts suitable for various hydrocarbon fuels. Use of the new fuel-cell technology is expected to lead to the early development of compact SOFC systems that can directly use hydrocarbon fuels at low temperatures and lower fuel-cell start-up energy.


Key to cheap hydrogen for fuel

The production of inexpensive hydrogen for automotive or jet fuel may be possible by mimicking photosynthesis, according to Dr. Thomas Mallouk, Evan Pugh Professor of materials chemistry and physics at the Pennsylvania State University, the United States. Dr. Mallouk says, “We are creating an artificial system that mimics photosynthesis, but it will be practical only when it is as cheap as petroleum or jet fuel.”

Currently, the yield of hydrogen is only 2-3 per cent. “For systems like this to be useful, we will need to get closer to 100 per cent,” stated Dr. Mallouk at the recent annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “The oxygen side of the cell is making a strong oxidizing agent and the molecules near can be oxidized,” Mr. Mallouk said. Natural photosynthesis has the same problem, but it has a self-repair mechanism that periodically replaces the oxygen-evolving complex and the protein molecules around it, he observed. So far, the researchers do not have a fix for the oxidation, so the catalysts and other molecules used in the cell structure eventually degrade, limiting the life of the fuel cell. At present, the researchers are using only blue light, but would like to use the entire visible spectrum from the sun. They are also using expensive components – a titanium oxide electrode, a platinum dark electrode and iridium oxide catalyst. Substitutions for these are necessary, and other scientists in the United States are working on solutions. A group in Massachusetts Institute of Technology is investigating cobalt and nickel catalysts, and Princeton and Yale Universities are investigating manganese.

Rust as agent in water splitting

Coating Nanonets, a lattice of tiny wires, with iron oxide – known more commonly as rust – creates an economical and efficient platform for the process of water splitting, an emerging clean fuel science that harvests hydrogen from water, say researchers at Boston College, the United States. Led by Dr. Dunwei Wang, the researchers tested their Nanonet design as a platform for clean energy applications.

Coating the highly conductive titanium disilicide core with hematite, iron oxide in mineral form, dramatically improved the performance of the material at its fundamental state. Transmission electron microscopy image showed the structural complexity of the Nanonet and additional images detailed the hematite Nanonet spacing, as well as the electron diffraction pattern of hematite. Dr. Wang said: “Recent research has shown that the use of a catalyst can boost the performance of hematite. What we have shown is the potential performance of hematite at its fundamental level, without a catalyst. By using this unique Nanonet structure, we have shed new light on the fundamental performance capabilities of hematite in water splitting,” Dr. Wang added.

On its own, hematite faces natural limits in its ability to transport a charge. A photon can be absorbed, but has no place to go. By giving it structure and added conductivity, the charge transportability of hematite increases. Water splitting, a chemical reaction that separates water into oxygen and hydrogen, can be initiated by passing an electric current through water. However, as that process is expensive, gains in efficiency and conductivity are required to make large-scale water splitting economically viable.

“The result highlights the importance of charge transport in semiconductor-based water splitting, particularly for materials whose performance is limited by poor charge diffusion. Our design introduces material components to provide a dedicated charge transport pathway, alleviates the reliance on the materials’ intrinsic properties, and therefore has the potential to greatly broaden where and how various existing materials can be used in energy-related applications,” explain the researchers.

Breakthrough for bacterial hydrogen production

Scientists in China have developed a device that can produce hydrogen from organic materials using bacteria at temperatures below 25°C. Dr. Defeng Xing and his team at the Harbin Institute of Technology have optimized hydrogen production from organic matter between 4° and 9°C by using a microbial electrolysis cell (MEC). This eliminates the cost of heating and could enable hydrogen production to be carried out at high latitudes and mountainous regions where the air temperature is below 10°C. MECs generate hydrogen directly upon applying an electric current to bacteria. Bacteria consume acetic acid produced by fermenting plant matter and release protons, electrons and carbon dioxide. Addition of an electric current enables the protons and electrons to join together to make hydrogen gas, and the higher the current, the more hydrogen is produced.

Methanogenesis (methane formation), a common problem in MECs, occurs at higher temperatures as a result of bacterial anaerobic respiration. This can reduce the efficiency of electron transfer to the cathode, reducing the overall output of hydrogen. However, at temperatures methane is not generated below 10°C, since the growth of methane-producing organisms is inhibited and the yield of hydrogen produced is comparable to that at temperatures above 25°C. The researchers aim to increase the efficiency of hydrogen production by increasing hydrogen recovery and exploring new electrode materials. They hope that in the future MEC technology could be considered for biohydrogen production in cold environments.

Protein-polymer system for light-to-hydrogen conversion

Researchers at the United States Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have developed a bio-hybrid photoconversion system based on the interaction of photosynthetic plant proteins with synthetic polymers that can convert visible light into hydrogen fuel. In a step towards synthetic solar conversion systems, the ORNL researchers have demonstrated and confirmed with small-angle neutron scattering analysis that light harvesting complex II (LHC-II) proteins can self-assemble with polymers into a synthetic membrane structure and produce hydrogen. They envision energy-producing photoconversion systems similar to photovoltaic cells that generate hydrogen fuel, comparable to the way plants and other photosynthetic organisms convert light to energy.

“Making a self-repairing synthetic photoconversion system is a pretty tall order. The ability to control structure and order in these materials for self-repair is of interest because, as the system degrades, it loses its effectiveness,” said Dr. Hugh O’Neill, a researcher at ORNL’s Centre for Structural Molecular Biology. “This is the first example of a protein altering the phase behaviour of a synthetic polymer that we have found in the literature. This finding could be exploited for the introduction of self-repairing mechanisms in future solar conversion systems,” explains Dr. O’Neill.

Small-angle neutron scattering analysis performed at ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) showed that the LHC-II, when introduced into a liquid environment that contained polymers, interacted with polymers to form lamellar sheets similar to those found in natural photosynthetic membranes. The ability of LHC-II to force the assembly of structural polymers into an ordered, layered state – instead of languishing in an ineffectual mush – could make possible the development of bio-hybrid photoconversion systems. These systems would consist of high surface area and light-collecting panes using the proteins combined with a catalyst such as platinum to convert the sunlight into hydrogen that could be used for fuel. The research builds on previous ORNL work on the energy conversion capabilities of platinized photosystem I complexes and how synthetic systems based on plant biochemistry could become part of the solution to the global energy challenge.

Micro-beads store liquid hydrogen to fuel cars

Plastic micro-beads that can store hydrogen at room temperature as a liquid are being commercialized for fuel applications by technology start-up company Cella Energy, the United Kingdom. This development follows five years of research into storable hydrogen fuels led by Prof. Stephen Bennington at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxford and the London Centre for Nanotechnology at University College London, both in the United Kingdom.

Currently, storing hydrogen in vehicles requires either high-pressure cylinders at up to 700 times atmospheric pressure or super cooling to a liquid at -253°C. Hydrides, powdered solids made up of hydrogen bonded to a more electro-positive element or group, have been presented as one solution. Prof. Bennington and his team devised a way of attaching the hydrides to nanoscale polymer fibres via a process called electrospinning. In this form the hydrides have a longer life and are safer. The hydrogen is released almost instantaneously upon heating. The group then began investigating micro-beads rather than fibres, which have the added advantage that they can be poured and pumped like a liquid. In tandem with the automotive application, Cella Energy is also looking at portable fuel cells for military personnel. A portable hydrogen bag that incorporates the polymer fibres could be a lighter and more efficient solution.


Enzyme cocktail could eliminate a step in biofuel process

In the United States, researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the University of Georgia have produced hydrogen gas pure enough to power a fuel cell by mixing 14 enzymes, one co-enzyme, cellulosic materials from non-food sources and water heated to about 32°C. The group announced three advances from their “one pot” process: a new enzyme combination; an increased hydrogen generation rate – to as fast as natural hydrogen fermentation; and a chemical energy output greater than the chemical energy stored in sugars – the highest hydrogen yield reported from cellulosic materials.

“In addition to converting the chemical energy from sugar, the process also converts the low-temperature thermal energy into high-quality hydrogen energy – like Prometheus stealing fire,” explained Dr. Percival Zhang, Assistant Professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences at Virginia Tech. The process is exciting because using cellulose instead of starch expands the renewable resource for producing hydrogen to include biomass. The researchers used cellulosic materials isolated from wood chips, but crop waste or switchgrass can also be used.

Simple process to get diesel from waste

For the past 10 years, biodiesel in the form of fatty acid methyl ester has been promoted as a replacement for fossil fuel-based diesel fuel. It was soon found that this has its problems because the required plants, such as rape, occupy cropland that can then no longer be used to grow food. Dr. Avelino Corma and his team at the Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, Spain, have introduced a very promising process that is energy efficient and delivers high-quality biodiesel fuel. The usable materials in biomass – sugar cane bagasse, almond shells, oat hulls, sunflower seed shells, corncobs and waste from olive oil press – consist of cellulose-like carbohydrates.

Dr. Corma and his team developed a simple, cost-effective process that is energy-efficient and also does not require any organic solvents. The first step is the conversion of biomass into furfural, an established industrial process. In an adaptation of another current process, furfural can be converted with high selectivity into 2-methyl furfural (2MF), a ring consisting of four carbon atoms and one oxygen atom, with a side chain consisting of a methyl group (-CH3). This 2MF is the starting material for the new diesel synthesis. First, three molecules of 2MF are linked together. This requires water and an acid catalyst. This reaction causes one-third of the rings to open and each link to two other rings (hydroxy alkylation/alkylation). The aqueous phase – which also contains the catalyst – separates from the organic phase – which contains the intermediate product – on its own. It can easily be removed and the catalyst recycled.

In a second reaction, the two other rings must also be opened and their oxygen atoms removed. This reaction, hydrodeoxygenation, uses a special platinum-containing catalyst. “In the end we obtain 87 per cent of the diesel fraction in the form of branched hydrocarbon chains with 9 to 16 carbon atoms. This is the best yield reported in the literature so far for biodiesel synthesis,” Dr. Corma claims. Gas-phase and lower molecular weight by-products can be used to produce heat. The biodiesel that results has an excellent quality (cetane number 71, pour point -90°C) and can be mixed directly with conventional diesel fuels.

Wastewater-grown algae yield biodiesel and clean the water

Scientists at the Rochester Institute of Technology, the United States, report to have produced biodiesel using a combination of wastewater and algae. In this “doubly green” process, the algae neutralize water pathogens, as they feed and eat out carbon dioxide to produce fuel. “Algae, as a renewable feedstock, grow a lot quicker than crops of corn or soybeans. We can start a new batch of algae about every seven days. It is a more continuous source that could offset 50 per cent of our total gas use for equipment that uses diesel,” said researcher Mr. Eric Lannan, working with Dr. Jeffrey Lodge, Associate Professor of biological sciences.

The scientists isolated and extracted the lipids from Scenedesmus, a single-celled alga that they grew in a treatment plant. Algae will take out all the ammonia, 88 per cent of the nitrate and 99 per cent of the phosphate from the wastewater. In three to five days, the pathogens are gone. The first lab tests have been made using about 114 litres of water. A tank that they used at Environmental Energy Technology used about 379 litres, and the plans are to use as much as 3,785 litres to produce fats that Northern Biodiesel will process into fully usable biodiesel.

New technologies for cheap biofuel

Researchers at Lulea University of Technology, Sweden, have managed to find a cost-effective way to clean synthesis gas from carbon dioxide (CO2) by using zeolite membranes. With extremely small holes in the membranes, the gas can be purified from CO2 and developed into affordable biofuels such as methanol and dimethyl ether (BioDME). “Because our membrane technology is cheaper than conventional technology, we could lower the price of methanol so that we can afford to buy it as a vehicle fuel,” says Prof. Jonas Hedlund. The research group headed by Prof. Hedlund made a big step in the process of separating CO2 using zeolite membranes.

Zeolite membrane is a super filter with extremely small holes (0.5 nm) that can be tailored to what will get through it. While there are other technologies for separating CO2 from synthesis gas, they tend to be expensive. The objective of the project is to develop membranes that do this in a more cost-effective manner, which the researchers are well on track to succeed. In a plant that was built on the Energy Technology Centre (ETC) in Pitea, researchers have recently been able to conduct some initial tests and separate CO2 from synthesis gas. Mathematical modelling and an earlier study that found a more efficient way to make zeolite membranes suggest that it is possible to achieve even better results if higher pressure is used.

Algae oil from coal-fired power plant

OriginOil Inc., a biofuel developer in the United States, has secured the first commercial order for its algae oil extraction system from the Australia-based company M.B.D. Energy Ltd. for application at one of Australia’s largest coal-fired power plants. M.B.D. Energy plans to use OriginOil’s algae-extraction technology to support a pilot bio-based carbon capture and storage algal synthesizer at the 1.47 GW Tarong Power Station in Queensland. The proof-of-concept project is scheduled to take place in late 2011. The biofuel company has developed a patent-pending process called the Single-Step Extraction System that is reported to be more efficient and simpler than current systems.

The Single-Step system can be deployed in two ways. Initially, it can be applied in dewatering for conversion of an entire algae mass into refinable bio-oil. Secondly, it can be used to create products other than fuels. The project’s first phase at Tarong will involve using M.B.D.’s proprietary growth membranes to capture carbon dioxide emissions and using these to produce oil-rich algae. The second phase will see the use of algae-extraction technology to harvest algae oil and biomass from the algae for real-world applications.

Groundbreaking biofuel research

Glycerol – a colourless, odourless liquid – is a by-product of biodiesel production, and the sheer quantity that is created affects the economic viability of this industry. Dr. Sergei Markov, an Associate Professor of biology at Austin Peay State University (APSU), the United States, has an idea that could help push the alternative fuel race to new levels.

For several years, Dr. Markov and two of his students – Ms. Barbara Waldron and Mr. Jared Averitt – have studied the effects of the bacterium Enterobacter aerogenes on glycerol. E. aerogenes converts the liquid into another biofuel, molecular hydrogen. Bacteria ferment glycerol into hydrogen (and ethanol) with a minimal amount of other by-products. “Our bioprocess for conversion of glycerol into hydrogen fuel is ready for practical application. We were able to inject hydrogen from the bioreactor directly into a small fuel cell and generated enough electricity to power a small fan,” Mr. Markov said. Contact: Dr. Sergei Markov, Austin Peay State University, Department of Biology, Sundquist Science Complex, D125, Clarksville,TN 37044, United States of America. Tel: +1 (931) 2217 440; E-mail:


The International Directory of Wind Energy 2011

The revised and updated 14th edition of this standard reference for the entire wind energy industry provides a comprehensive list of contacts in the industry, sorted by category and country. It is easy to find manufacturers of turbine, mechanical engineering components, measurement technology and electrical engineering products; servicing and maintenance companies; and banks, suppliers, and service providers from around the world.

Contact: SunMedia Verlags GmbH, Hans-Böckler-Allee 7, 30173 Hannover, Germany. Tel: +49 (511) 8550 2424; E-mail:

Design of Smart Power Grid Renewable Energy Systems

This book integrates three areas of electrical engineering – power system engineering, control systems engineering and power electronics – to address the modelling and control of smart grid renewable energy system into electric power systems. The approach to the integration of these three areas differs from classical methods. Owing to complexity of this task, the basic concepts is presented first, followed by a simulation test bed in matlab to use these concepts to solve a basic problem in development of smart grid energy system. Each chapter ends with a set of problems and projects.

Contact: John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pte. Ltd., Singapore Distribution Centre, CWT Commodity Hub, 24 Penjuru Road, #08-01, Singapore 609128. Tel: +65 6302 9838; Fax: +65 6265 1782; E-mail:

Power Conversion and Control of Wind Energy Systems

Wind energy is clean, sustainable and one of the fast-growing renewable energy resources in the world. This publication covers a wide range of topics on wind energy conversion and control from the electrical engineering aspect. It includes wind generators and modelling, power converters and modulation schemes, operating principle of fixed and variable-speed wind turbines, advanced generator control schemes, active and reactive power controls of individual wind. It is a valuable reference book for academic researchers, practicing engineers and other professionals.

Contact: John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pte. Ltd., Singapore Distribution Centre, CWT Commodity Hub, 24 Penjuru Road, #08-01, Singapore 609128. Tel: +65 6302 9838; Fax: +65 6265 1782; E-mail:


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