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VATIS Update Non-conventional Energy . Jul-Aug 2004

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New and Renewable Energy Jul-Aug 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

Bioenergy: boon for developing nations

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that bioenergy holds out immense potential for generating income and labour opportunities for developing countries. However, this sector is often neglected by policy-makers and needs to be integrated with agricultural and forestry plans. Bioenergy includes fuel wood and charcoal, energy crops like sugar cane, sweet sorghum and rapeseed, and agricultural and forestry residues. These resources are utilized to produce heat, ethanol, biodiesel, bioelectricity or biogas. At present, energy from biomass accounts for 15 per cent of global energy consumption worldwide up to 90 per cent in some developing countries. Bioenergy in general, wood energy in particular, is the dominant source of energy for about half the worlds population. Wood fuels account for 60 per cent of forest products use.


FAO is promoting sustainable bioenergy systems for poverty alleviation and assists its member nations in the integration of wood energy and agro energy into agriculture, forestry and rural energy development efforts. Biogas from livestock wastes was encouraged as fuel for cooking in Nepal. In association with Shenyang Agricultural University, China, FAO is developing new sweet sorghum varieties and technologies aimed at producing a substitute for petroleum, ethanol. In Brazil, FAO is developing bioenergy activities focusing on the integration of energy and conservation agriculture.


Sustainable bioenergy systems can help prevent forest degradation, or deforestation, deterioration of watersheds and loss of soil fertility and biodiversity. Interestingly, bioenergy contributes to diversifying forestry and agricultural production. Positive examples include ethanol production from sorghum, sugar and cassava, biodiesel from rapeseed and other energy crops, etc.


Website: www.solaraccess.com

Renewable energy output to be doubled in the Philippines

At the Renewables 2004 conference organized in Germany, participants from 154 countries pledged to substantially increase with a sense of urgency the share of renewables in the global total energy supply. The Philippines made a commitment to double its capacity for production from alternative energy sources by 2013. Germany, Denmark and New Zealand also promised to increase wind and other renewable sources while the United States agreed on research efforts to lower the cost of renewable energies. The World Bank guaranteed a sharp increase in funding.


However, Greenpeace stated that the assurances were too vague and delegates lacked the political will and seriousness needed to prevent dangerous climate change. Furthermore, the quantum of funds pledged by rich countries was inadequate. The congregation gained a sense of exigency because of soaring oil prices and rising attacks on foreign workers in Saudi Arabia.


Website: www.manilatimes.net


World Bank promotes renewable energy

In order to ensure more institutional focus on fostering the transition towards cleaner energy sources, the World Bank will commit to an annual renewable energy growth of 20 per cent over the next five years. The initiative requires approval from the Banks Board of Directors and will cover renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. This strategy, involving programmes and policies, will strive to ensure that both renewable energy and energy efficiency are seen as economically viable and essential ingredients in the energy choices of member nations. Also, increased lending would double the World Banks current annual level of US$200 million by the year 2010. The strategy includes:
 
  • Transition from donor-driven subsidy programmes to market-based solutions;
     
  • Development of regulations and policies to promote renewables;
     
  • Openness towards the adoption of new technologies and business models;
     
  • Elimination of market distortions that keep nations tied to financially unsustainable or environmentally damaging energy regimes; and
     
  • Expansion of carbon markets to mitigate climate change and speed the transformation to clean energy.
     

The Bank is prepared to accelerate and enlarge its role by encouraging nations, institutions, civil societies and businesses to develop an action agenda on development of renewables and energy efficiency. It will report on its operations with sector-specific information and compare the results with energy investments of other institutions, as well as raise staff capacity, resources and performance incentives for renewables.


Website: www.sparksdata.co.uk


Exploring renewable energy potential in Bangladesh

The Energy Ministry of Bangladesh plans to establish a special cell to seek out opportunities for exploiting renewable energy. This was stated by Mr. Iqbal Hassan Mahmood, the State Minister for Power Division, at a function organized to celebrate the installation of 20,000 solar home systems financed by Infrastructure Development Co. Ltd. (IDCL). IDCL is financing the programme under a World Bank loan of US$18 million. The Coastal Association for Social Transformation Trust, BRAC Foundation, Grameen Shakti, Thengamara Mohila Sabuj Sangha and SRIJONY Bangladesh have been implementing the solar home systems throughout the country. Mr. Mahmood reported that by 2010 about five per cent of the nations energy needs would be supplied by renewable sources. The government has waived import duties on solar panels and several private entrepreneurs have shown interest in manufacturing solar units.


Website: www.thedailystar.net

1.5 MW BIPV project for Malaysia

Enecolo, Switzerland, has made a proposal to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for installing building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) units with a total capacity of 1.5 MW in Malaysia. The principal objective of Malaysia Building Integrated Photovoltaic Technology Application Programme is to reduce the long-term cost of BIPV systems in the local market. In addition, financing mechanisms and economic assessment models will be developed. Enecolos proposal includes four main components, namely:
 
  • Enhance the level of understanding and awareness of BIPVs through an extensive education campaign;
     
  • Upgrading the BIPV market as well as infrastructure development by first setting up six highly visible demonstration systems with a total output of 100 kW. At a later stage, demo projects will be established on government and private buildings with a total capacity of 400 kW over a three-year period. In addition, a national BIPV project named Suria 1,000 will be implemented with the goal of installing 1,000 PV systems on residential as well as commercial buildings within four years;
     
  • Assimilate a package of legal, policy, institutional, financial and fiscal measures that will enable the government to define a national BIPV target in the 10th development plan, 2010 to 2015; and
     
  • Develop manufacturing capacity.
     

The 1.5 MW scheme is to follow a pilot project that ended in January 2004. With US$130,000 granted by GEF, Enecolo has prepared a feasibility study and conducted several workshops to advertise the idea of a BIPV programme. Scheduled to commence in January 2005, this five-year project is estimated to cost about US$25 million. While GEF will provide US$4.7 million, the balance would be covered by the government of Malaysia, donors and industry.
 

Photon International,February 2004


Alternative energy: first on Chinas priority list

Renewable energy has now been ensconced as a basic national policy in China and a law is being drafted to provide legal support to develop it. A proposal of the draft has been completed by the National Development and Reform Commission and is expected to be submitted to the Environmental Protection and Resources Conservation Committee of the National Peoples Congress, the countrys top legislative body. According to the draft, development and utilization of renewable energy would be driven by the government, however, with strong encouragement from market forces. Notable features proposed in the draft and other highlights include:
 
  • Capital, regardless of the source, will be encouraged to be injected into the industry;
     
  • Priority will be given for developing renewable resources in rural and remote areas, to meet the lifestyle and work demands of locals;
     
  • Preferential loan and tax policies would be implemented for attracting enterprises to invest; and
     
  • Environmental protection will be accorded due importance as ecological damage and pollution needs to be prevented during the process of development and utilization.
     

China depends mainly on coal for its energy requirements, which has presently led to severe environmental problems. Experts opine that even if all the coal resources in the nation are explored and harnessed, it can fulfil just another centurys energy demands. However, in a research report issued jointly by the Europe Wind Energy Association and China Renewable Industry Association, Greenpeace has stated that the countrys abundant wind energy reserves could provide a vital source for solving the energy issue.


The Wind Force 12 report predicts that Chinas wind energy reserves will surpass the total amount of the nations current power generation in future decades. Moreover, by 2020 electricity produced in China from wind sources would possibly reach 14 per cent of the global wind energy output. The report further suggests that 170,000 MW of wind capacity could be installed to produce 417 TWh a year, at a total cumulative investment of 105 billion euros. This would create 382,000 jobs and reduce annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 325 mega tonnes. The report also states that the cost of power generation will be reduced.


Website: www.chinadaily.com.cn


www.zhb.gov.cn


www.sparksdata.co.uk


BP Solar bags largest contract in Thailand

A US$20 million contract to supply solar power products and services for Thailands Solartron Co. Limited has been awarded to BP Solar. The products and services will be used in the construction of solar power systems for the government-funded Mega Rural Electrification Project, which will provide light to 120,000 homes. Financed by the Provincial Electricity Authority of Thailand, this project is one of the worlds largest rural solar electrification efforts. The project will benefit over 500,000 inhabitants who will use solar power as their prime energy source. BP Solars Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Steve Westwell opined that this was a great export award for Australia.


Website: www.solarbuzz.com

Solar home systems project in Pakistan

Three hundred solar home systems (SHSs) funded by the private sector have been set up in Pakistan. Akther Computers of the United Kingdom, LEDtronics from the United States and Hilton Phoarma Privated Ltd. of Pakistan sponsored 100 SHSs each. This is the first batch of the 5,000 SHSs expected to be installed under a government PV rural electrification project.


Secretary to the Alternative Energy Development Board, Mr. N. Khan, said that the government intends to enact a law targeting a 10 per cent share of the nations total electrical power generation from renewables by 2015. Mr. Khan stated that two foreign companies had presented proposals to the government to start solar module production, if they get a market of 10 MW/y.


Photon International,February 2004

Sharp to increase production

Sharp Corp., Japan, plans to raise its annual solar cell production capability to 315 MW from the previous level of 248 MW announced last November. A new cell production line will be installed to boost capacity by 27 per cent. Investment will also be made towards upgrading existing lines. As such, the Shinjo plant expansion would result in eight production lines, six for polycrystalline and two for monocrystalline solar cells. Furthermore, a recent manufacturing line in Nara Prefecture will start production while the module assembly lines in the United States, which presently have a capacity of 20 MW in each of the regional United States and European markets, will increase production capacity.


Website: www.solarbuzz.com

PV roofs programme launched in Korea

The Republic of Korea commenced its Solar Land 2010 programme with the goal of setting up 3 kW photovoltaic (PV) units in 30,000 homes by the end of 2010. Participants can avail of a very generous buy-down of US$8.94/W, covering up to 70 per cent of installed costs. Furthermore, PV owners are permitted to feed the grid with up to 20 MWh/year of PV-generated electricity at a rate of US$0.56/kWh, guaranteed for 15 years. This feed-in tariff has been calculated by subtracting the units marginal price for electricity, which is calculated periodically, from the standard charge for PV-generated power of US$0.60/kWh stipulated by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy.


The Ministry is presently working on interconnection guidelines, which is anticipated to be in place within the next 2-3 years. Meanwhile, PV owners will be allowed to connect their systems to the grid without any problems. The roofs programme is tied to an initiative by the Ministry to help the country reach a target of generating 5 per cent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2011, up from 1.4 per cent in 2002. At the end of 2003, the country had an installed PV capacity of 6.6 MW, of which 4.8 MW was off-grid.


Photon International,February 2004

US$500 million for alternative energy in Pakistan

The Pakistan government expects investments to the tune of US$400-US$500 million for alternative energy generation. According to Alternative Energy Development Board Chairman (Retired) Air Marshal Shahid Hamid, 54 investors from overseas have shown keen interest to invest in wind and solar projects. However, investors would be invited only on the condition that they will transfer technologies. An Indian company, Suzlon, is one of the investors. The Chairman stated that about 1,064 km long areas in south Pakistan are available where wind mills can be set up, as these areas have the required flow of air throughout the year.


Website: www.pakistanlink.com

SOLAR ENERGY

Solar tents provide field power

In the United States, Iowa Thin Film Technologies Inc. (ITFT) has developed three solar tent prototypes for use by army personnel Quadrant, Temper fly and PowerShade field shelter products. Based on a new fabric integrated solar technology for field shelters, these units incorporate PowerFilm flexible solar panels directly with the tent fabric. The project began with the armys growing demand for rapid-response portable and remote power. Through the Small Business Innovation Research project, the armys Natick Soldier Centre scouted for technology available commercially with the potential for developing tents with their own built-in solar power generation. Mr. Jean Hampel, Project Engineer of the Fabric Structures Group at Natick, opined that ITFTs solution complies with the armys goal of reducing dependence on fuel-fired power generation and reducing logistics footprint.


The Quadrant is designed to go over the top of existing tents while Temper fly has a modified design of standard army tent design. PowerShade, which has a mesh fabric, can either be used over an existing tent or as a stand-alone structure. Power output from the three tents ranges from 200 W to 1 kW. Several tents can be joined together to raise capacity. Energy thus generated can easily be stored in a battery bank and used for various purposes, ranging from lighting and ventilation to supply power for GPS systems, field communication devices, and recharging satellite phones and laptops.


PowerFilm was the solar technology of choice as it is thin, light in weight and fabricated utilizing durable plastic. While the Natick Soldier Centre provided extensive inputs on the portable and remote power needs and targeted applications of the army, ITFT selected the development partners with world-class expertise in tents and tensile structure design.


Website: www.solarbuzz.com

Transparent PV

At the Nanoelectronics Research Institute, Japan, a research group is studying transparent p-n junctions based on oxide semiconductors for use in solar cells. While most conventional solar cells absorb visible and infrared light to produce energy, the new model is designed to concurrently transmit visible light and transform ultraviolet radiation into electricity. This device can even be developed into a functional window to enable heat carried by infrared rays to be passed on to a houses interior. The prototype fabricated by pulsed laser deposition technique measures about 0.1 cm2.


Plans are afoot to develop a larger cell with these features so that conventional glass windows could be replaced by solar sheets made up of such cells.


Contact: Mr. Kazuhiko Tonooka, Nanoelectronics Research Institute, Japan.


E-mail: tonooka-k@aist.go.jp


Website: www.aist.go.jp

Multicrystalline solar cell efficiency peak

Researchers at Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy (ISE), Germany, have designed a multicrystalline PV cell with an efficiency value of 20.3 per cent, a nearly 5 per cent increase than the historically low efficiency values for this technology. Mr. Oliver Schultz succeeded in developing a process that allows the problematic defects of multicrystalline silicon to be partially deactivated e.g. grain boundaries and dislocations. Though at present 55 per cent of all solar cells are manufactured with multicrystalline silicon, their efficiencies have been less than 20 per cent.


Mr. Schultz states that the trick is to choose temperatures during the production process such that the electrical properties of multicrystalline silicon are improved and a high-efficiency solar cell structure is built up simultaneously. He matched the temperatures required to create a highly efficient solar cell model with temperatures that are acceptable to the material, and are feasible in an industrial production procedure. Another component in reaching the goal was the process for producing back-surface contacts for the solar cell. The Laser-Fired Contacts (LFC) technology offers an ideal combination of potential for high efficiency values and low production expenses. The highly priced and slow photolithographic steps used to date can be eliminated. LFC can be readily transferred to industrial production, though further development steps are required to achieve this for the highly efficient front structure.


Website: www.solaraccess.com

New coating process for solar cells

In Germany, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy (ISE) has developed a new coating technology for wafer-based solar cells in partnership with Applied Films Corp. The sputtering process forms an alternative method for depositing commonly used silicon nitride (SiN) layer. SiN is applied to the front surface of polycrystalline cells as an anti-reflection coating and passivation layer for electronic defects in the bulk material, thereby raising the efficiency of solar cells. During the project, financed by the Ministry of Environment, efficiencies of 15 per cent were achieved with sputtered SiN layer. This result is on par with the best values achieved using commonly employed PECVD technology.


The ATON 500 prototype machine is an in-line sputter coater with a throughput of 1,800 wafers/h. Key features and some of the technologically inherent benefits include:
 
  • No toxic and explosive gases are used;
     
  • From display and architectural glass coating business, sputtering is known as a very reliable process enabling 5-10 days of continuous production. Therefore, planning of maintenance and plant utilization can be improved;
     
  • Sputtering is a mature industrial technology for large area coating. The wafers are loaded on horizontal carriers that are continuously guided through the process section of the coater;
     
  • Homogeneity of this process is better than 2.5 per cent even on large areas, thereby belonging to the best in class values; and
     
  • The wafer size, present standard is 125 125 mm2, can be adjusted easily owing to the horizontal carrier concept. Thus, this system is well-suited for the upcoming cell sizes of 200 mm and larger.
     

Website: www.solarbuzz.com


Tracking system for rooftop solar units

Elettropiemme s.n.c., Italy, offers a tracking system for flat and slightly inclined rooftops. The Syncro Sun System, or 3-S, is expected to help raise energy production by at least 35 per cent. Each circular basement can take either one solar module with a nominal power of 140-185 W or two panels, each with a maximum power of up to 110 W. A single motor can move up to 40 modules along the east-west axis, vertical orientation must be adjusted manually.


3-S is also available together with modules and inverters on a two-year warranty period.


Contact: Elettropiemme s.n.c., Via delle Crosare 60, 38014 Gardolo, Trento, Italy. Tel: +39 (461) 991 935; Fax: +39 (461) 991 936


E-mail: massimo.pegoretti@elettropiemme.it


Website: www.elettropiemme.it


Photon International,February 2004

210 W solar module makes debut

Sunpower Corp., the United States, has launched its new solar power product line incorporating the breakthrough all-back-contact solar cells. With a conversion rate approaching 17 per cent, these modules provide exceptional power density. An all-black design, optional, enhances the aesthetic appeal of roof-mounted PV arrays. This product line comprises two module types SPR-210 and SPR-90. Both products utilize A-300 all-back-contact solar cells to produce up to 50 per cent more output that their counterparts. The A-300s low voltage-temperature coefficient, exceptional low-light performance and high sensitivity to light across the complete solar spectrum allow both module types to transform virtually every accessible photon into usable electricity, thus maximizing output.


SPR-210 is designed specifically for use in grid connected applications such as rooftop systems and power facilities. It has a minimum power rating of 210 W. A high conversion efficiency allows customers to set up more kilowatts of solar electricity within a limited roof area while significantly lowering per-kilowatt installation cost. SPR-90 is designed for charging 12 V batteries in remote power applications. It delivers higher battery charging power than feasible using conventional modules over a wide range of weather conditions from a significantly smaller footprint. The high power density of these units reduces costs typically associated with remote power systems, including transportation, array support structure and installation labour.


Contact: Sunpower Corp., 430, Indio Way, Sunnyvale, CA 94085, United States of America. Tel: +1 (408) 9910 900; Fax: +1 (408) 7397 713


E-mail: sales@sunpowercorp.com


Website: www.sunpowercorp.com

Date(s) with sun

The National Agricultural Research Centre, Pakistan, has developed a solar system for drying dates. This device is intended to help minimize post-production losses, estimated at nearly 50 per cent of total production. The Solar Dates Drying System (SDDS) comprises eight flat-plate solar collectors, a fan and a drying chamber. Nearly 20 to 60 per cent moisture is reduced within five days as against 10-14 days required by the traditional sun drying method. Also, SDDS can dry 3 t of dates with better quality standards than feasible with conventional techniques.


Website: www.dawn.com

WIND ENERGY

500 W windmill

In India, an inventor in Gujarat has developed a small windmill, which can produce 500 W of electricity. Mr. Shrilal Jha, a technical director in the physics department of Sardar Patel University, expressed that the US$ 1,432 prototype can generate power at wind speeds as low as 10-12 km/h. It can be installed at small farms, factories, bungalows, fishing boats and in army camps. Among Mr. Jhas numerous inventions, a tricycle for the physically challenged and a computerized Braille language laboratory for the visually impaired are worthy of note.


Website: www.newkerala.com

Largest wind turbine blades unveiled

Denmarks LM Glasfiber supplied gigantic rotor blades, recently, for a wind turbine to be set up in Germany by REpower Systems. The blades generate adequate power to cover the annual power requirements of about 5,000 households. With a rotor diameter of 126 m, LM 61.5 P is yet another development in the super-sizing of wind turbines. The 18 t blade is considerably lighter than some of its smaller competitors. This low weight is the direct result of LMs FutureBlade technology, which has been further developed to combine fibreglass and carbon fibres in an innovative way. Secondly, a new root concept that allows for the design of blades 20 per cent longer than previously fabricated without increasing the diameter of the blade root. SuperRoot helps create a blade and hub that are lighter and cheaper.


Carbon fibres used in the LM 61.5 P has enabled to further the development of LMs sophisticated (patent-pending) lightning protection system. Incorporation of carbon fibres in the lightning protection system allows a lightning strike to be conducted through these fibres. Electricity conducting carbon fibres do not represent any risks in terms of lightning strikes. A new condition monitoring system, LM BladeMonitoring, integrates technology within optic fibres, software and hardware, and LMs blade design to continuously keep track of critical conditions such as load, temperature, damage and lightning strikes.


Contact: LM Glasfiber Group, Rolles Mollevej 1, DK-6640 Lunderskov, Denmark. Tel: +45 (79) 840 000; Fax: +45 (79) 840 001.


Website: www.solaraccess.com


www.jeccomposites.com

New protocol for testing rotor blades

A team of researchers at Fraunhofer Institute, Germany, have developed a new automatic method for testing wind turbines. Based on thermal flow thermography, originally used for quality control of laminate floorings, this reliable method is much quicker than manual inspection. In this process, with a heating element mounted on a moving measuring cart, the surface of either the rotor blade or glider is heated. Then an infrared camera films the thermal image of the surface. A computer analysis of the film helps determine faults such as swellings, cracks and problems with glue or adherence up to 1 cm in size.


Dynamic evaluation of the image is essential since it is not sufficient to just measure temperature variations on the surface at a given moment, since heat tends to distribute itself equally. The procedure reveals faults concealed up to a few centimetres deep. This process of quality and defect control is presently the only example of its type in the world. Surfaces of several square metres can be easily completely scanned in a minute. The team is now looking for industrial partners to fine-tune the procedure and continue the development of a completely automatic testing process.


Contact: Mr. Peter Meinlschmidt, WKI, the Fraunhofer Institute, Germany.


E-mail: peter.meinlschmidt@wki.fraunhofer.de


Website: www.eep.org

Wind power system on wood chip carrier

In Japan, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. (MOL) is testing a new wind power generator installed aboard the wood chip carrier Taiho Maru. Reported to be the first such test in the world, electricity produced by the on-board system would power the bridge air-conditioning. MOL, Tokai University Research Institute of Science and Technology, and Nishishiba Electric Co. Ltd. began developing the device in 2002 and succeeded in producing a prototype. The compact, straight-wing vertical axis type wind system is of omnidirectional nature, enabling power generation irrespective of the wind direction. It is installed at the place where a ship comes across the strongest winds. As the device can be scaled up, it is adaptable to various types of vessels, making it more practical for future use. The system includes:
 
  • Generator to produce electricity;
     
  • An accumulator battery to store the generated electricity;
     
  • A control system that oversees the output and braking, according to the wind speed; and
     
  • A data collection device that will be used for future development.
     

Contact: Mr. Masaaki Yutani, Ship Planning and Development Group, Technical Division, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., Japan. Tel: +81 (3) 3587 7206; Fax: +81 (3) 3587 7722


E-mail: spdmo@mail.mol.co.jp


Website: www.mol.co.jp


BIOMASS ENERGY

Bio-refinery to help reduce GHGs

Researchers from the University of Georgia (UGA), the United States, are developing a bio-refinery as an environmentally sound alternative to crude oil refineries. The bio-refinery will process biomass like agricultural wastes and biofuel crops to produce fuel. According to Mr. K.C. Das, a bioconversion engineer with UGAs College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the bio-refinery actually sequesters carbon, i.e. a potential source of carbon dioxide (CO2) is transformed into a form of carbon that is harmless.


The team started off with a small concept. The chemical difference between hydrocarbons like coal and oil, and carbohydrates present in plants is small. Therefore, a process mimicking natures technique for converting biomass into fossil fuel was required. Pyrolysis provided the solution. Pyrolysis converts biomass and agricultural waste products into a fuel and chemical feedstock called bio-oil. One by-product of pyrolysis is hydrogen, a much cleaner fuel and a substance used to produce ammonia fertilizer. However, most hydrogen ammonia/nitrogen fertilizer producers commonly utilize natural gas, which creates large amounts of greenhouse gases (GHGs).


At the other end, agricultural waste is a renewable resource with net-zero emissions of GHGs. Another exciting feature of the technology is that it also generates carbon char, a solid form of carbon. Unlike CO2, the analogous by-product of crude oil refineries and a major environmental problem, char is harmless and even beneficial. Eprida, a private company, has teamed up with UGA to develop a process for transforming char into a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. Studies have shown that char in this form restores soil fertility and increases crop yields. Since the bio-refinery uses agricultural wastes like peanut hulls, poultry litter and other by-products, it could turn an environmental hurdle into an environmental advantage.


Contact: Mr. K.C. Das, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of Georgia (UGA), United States of America. Tel: +1 (706) 5428 842


E-mail: kdas@engr.uga.edu


Website: www.uga.edu

Hydrogen obtained from biowaste

Researchers at the German Technical University have come up with a process to produce hydrogen from biowaste. In this eco-friendly and energy-efficient biological process, micro-organisms are fed with a substrate from fermentation of energy crops and biowaste. Hydrogen part in the resulting biogas reaches levels of 60 volume percentage.


Website: www.forums.biodieselnow.com

New biogas plant and steam cooker

Researchers at Appropriate Rural Technology Institute (ARTI), India, have developed a compact plant to produce biogas from a wide range of farm wastes. This system uses starch and sugar as the feedstock. Starch/sugar sources include rain damaged grains, banana rhizomes, non-edible seeds from various tree species, oilcake of non-edible oilseeds, etc. About 1 kg of starch/sugar yields the same quantity of methane as 40 kg of cattle manure. Moreover, while cattle dung requires about 40 days to be transformed into biogas, starch/sugar requires just 6-8 h. The new system is as large as a household refrigerator, unlike the smallest traditional domestic biogas plant with a volume of 2 m3.


ARTI also offers a stainless steel cooker for preparing foods that need to be steamed or boiled. A notable feature of the Sarai is that only 100 g of charcoal or honeycomb briquette is required to prepare a meal for 4-5 individuals. The cooker is a non-pressurized vessel into which about 150 ml of water is added and lowered into a wire cage, which carries three cook-pots one atop the other. The steam pot has a lid which is kept closed while food is being cooked. Heat is provided by the charcoal burner, designed to hold just 100 g of fuel. After the coal is set alight, the pot assembly with the food to be cooked is placed on the stove. A hollow cylinder, also fabricated using stainless steel, encloses the entire assembly. The surrounding annular gap is around 5 mm. Flue gases produced during combustion escape through this gap, thus heating the pot on all sides rather than from just the bottom alone. Boiling and evaporation tests have recorded 70 per cent efficacy.


Website: www.goodnewsindia.com

New gasification technology

Researchers led by Swine Nutrition Specialist Mr. Theo van Kempen have been evaluating gasification technology as a tool for converting animal manure into an energy source and mineral ash (a feed ingredient for pigs). A gasifier supplied by BGP, a Canada-based firm, allows for unattended processing of pig wastes. The original design with no moving parts other than a door for loading and unloading, and down-draft blower was re-designed to incorporate a simple but automatic loading and unloading unit. It is easy to run and delivers fail-safe operation.


In the BGP gasification system, a down-draft burner is used to heat the L-shaped combustion chamber to 800C. Heat transfers from the combustion chamber to the gasification chamber via heat-conducting tiles, while the rest of the unit is lined with insulating firebricks. Pig waste is introduced in batches into the gasification chamber through a hatch at the top of the unit. High temperatures inside the gasification chamber degrade the waste. Gases formed during this process escape from here and into the combustion chamber, where they are burned and, in turn, fuel the system. Ashes left over after gasification are dumped into an ash chamber using a tilting floor in the gasification chamber. There, any remaining carbon portion is burned off. Ash removed from the bottom of the ash chamber is of high quality and can be used as a feed ingredient. This results in complete recycling of phosphorus. Approximately 4 h is required to gasify a batch of pig manure.


A significant characteristic which makes gasification appealing is that it is more environmentally friendly than regular combustion processes. Though gasification technology is also a combustion procedure, both temperature and oxygen availability can be monitored. This control is responsible for the lower levels of pollutants e.g. NOx emissions are temperature-dependent, with production becoming pronounced at temperatures over 700C and becoming of concern over 1,000C. A key benefit of gasification of faecal matter is that bioactive compounds are destroyed. This includes antibiotic residues, bacteria, viruses and prions.


Website: www.thepigsite.com

Oil from pig manure

In the United States, researchers at the University of Illinois are striving to convert pig manure into a form of crude oil that could be refined to heat homes or produce electricity. The thermochemical conversion procedure employs intense heat and pressure to degrade the molecular structure of manure into oil. A similar process is being used at a plant to convert turkey entrails, feathers, fat and grease into a light crude oil.


Dr. Yanhui Zhang et. al. found that converting manure into crude oil is possible in small batches. However, more research is needed to develop a continuously operating reaction chamber capable of handling large amounts of manure. Dr. Zhang predicts that in future, a home furnace could process manure generated by 2,000 pigs at a cost of about US$10 per barrel.


Contact: Website: www.age.uiuc.edu


Website: www4.fosters.com 

Biogas production process developed

Researchers at the University of Bonn, Germany, have developed a new process for increasing methane production in biogas plants while lowering costs. Generally, biogas production for use in combined heat and power plants or fuel cells involves enzymes produced by bacteria to transform plant matter or biowaste into methane. Producing standard concentrated and purified enzymes is relatively expensive. Apart from this, not even a blend of different enzymes can convert all organics in the biomass into methane.


A scientific research group at the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Botany conducted trials on fungi as additional decomposition agents. It was found that enzymes produced by certain extremely adaptive fungi could increase biogas yield by 30-50 per cent if added in the right concentrations. In addition, production costs is just a fraction of the global market price for conventionally produced purified enzymes. The team, headed by Dr. Udo Hlker, university research scientist and the CEO of Bioreact has been working on this development and expects to soon have a process ready for launch.


Website: www.german-renewable-energy.com

Fuel from biomass

Nippon Steel Corp., Japan, offers a new plant to convert wood wastes like timber scrap into a mixed gas for use as fuel in the production of electricity. Scrap wood is first ground into small chips and then reacted chemically with oxygen in a partial oxidization process, which yields a combination of carbon monoxide, hydrogen, carbon dioxide and water. This gaseous blend can easily fuel gas engines and gas turbines. The company reports that the plant can capture 80 per cent of the calorific value of the original waste, making this process 4-5 times as energy efficient as a co-generation system that burns wood to generate power. Moreover, Nippons plant can also operate on mixtures of wood scrap and plastic waste.


Website: www.quotes.freerealtime.com


WAVE/TIDAL ENERGY

WEC design gets into national programme

In the United Kingdom, designs for a wave energy converter (WEC) developed by researchers at Lancaster University have been selected for additional research under a national programme. The PS Frog device can convert energy stored in sea waves into electricity. It is among the eight marine energy prototypes picked for further development by the Carbon Trust, an independent firm funded by the government. The other WEC developers are Evelop (Wave Rotor), SeaVolt Technologies (Wave Rider), AquaEnergy (AquaBuOY), Ocean Power Delivery (Pelamis), Embley Energy (Sperboy), Clearpower Technologies (WaveBob) and lastly Wave Dragon (Wave Dragon). The Marine Energy Challenge is a new project for assessing the potential of marine energy devices to achieve competitive power generation costs against other renewable energy resources and fossil fuels. Key focus areas of the programme include:
 
  • Review devices and concepts to establish the potential of achieving cost-competitiveness;
     
  • Engage engineering design companies to produce detailed reports, including drawings, for assessing wave and tidal viability at a higher degree of accuracy than previously undertaken;
     
  • In so doing confirm if the costs of energy generation can be decreased, and if so, transfer technology, boost capacity and move device development forward;
     
  • Provide clearer picture of the cost and performance of the types of device and the fundamentally different proce-dures employed to harness energy from waves and tides;
     
  • Help clarify other obstacles to commercialization; and
     
  • Allow assessment of the nations position as a technology supplier.
     

Website: www.domino.lancs.ac.uk


New ocean wave energy converter

Ocean Wave Energy Co. (OWEC), the United States, is offering a new Ocean Wave Energy Converter. This device is a modular, buoy-based network of linear-rotary type electrical generators. Primarily intended for near, offshore and deep ocean deployment, these modules use wave induced relative motion of the point absorber buoys and neutrally buoyant frames. Each buoy/generator operates independently and specifically to a range of local instant wave force. Electrical output is additively combined within and between other modules of an integrated, truss-like array.


Contact: Ocean Wave Energy Company, 20, Burnside St., Bristol, Rhode Island 02809, United States of America. Tel/Fax: +1 (401) 2534 488


E-mail: foerd@owec.com


Website: www.energyocean.com

New prototype tested

Ocean WaveMaster Ltd., the United Kingdom, has developed technology to utilize wave energy for producing electricity. WaveMaster operates like a rectifier, enabling energy to be collected in the open sea, using turbines. It comprises two pressure chambers connected via a series of turbines and is located below the water surface so that the device is covered at all times. The upper surface of each chamber is an active surface covered with many one-way valves controlling the flow of water through the device. Valves on the high-pressure chamber allow water to flow into the chamber, provided that the outside pressure is higher than in the internal chamber. This typically occurs under wave crests. If the outside pressure is less than the internal pressure, then the valves remain closed. Valves on the low-pressure chamber operate when the above conditions are reversed i.e. water flows out of the chamber when the internal pressure is higher than outside, which typically occur under wave troughs. These valves remain closed when the internal pressure is less than that outside.


A feasibility test was conducted by Smith Rea Energy Limited, financed by a Smart Award from DTI. A 3 m prototype exhibited the principle in practical trials in flumes at both UMIST and Newcastle Universities.


Contact: Ocean WaveMaster Ltd., CAPCIS House, 1 Echo Street, Manchester M1 2DP, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (161) 9334 000; Fax: +44 (161) 9334 001


E-mail: enquiries@oceanwavemaster.com


Website: www.oceanwavemaste.com


www.merseybasin.org.uk

FUEL CELLS

Kerosene-based home fuel cells

Idemitsu Kosan Co., Japan, has developed a kerosene-based hydrogen cell, which can be used to produce electricity for households, provided the test runs at a pilot plant yield favourable results. Sulphur-free kerosene, obtained employing Idemitsus proprietary technology, is used to produce hydrogen, which is then fed into a fuel cell for power generation. Each fuel cell will be able to produce up to 1 kW of electricity, equal to the volume a household consumer typically uses. A 5 kW hydrogen fuel cell developed earlier by Idemitsu is also undergoing trials.


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com


New type of PEM raises energy output

Researchers at the Sandia National Laboratories Department of Energy, the United States, are developing a new type of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM). PEM is a critical component of a working fuel cell. Its function is to conduct protons efficiently and should possess low fuel crossover properties. Also, it must be robust enough to facilitate easy assembly into a fuel cell stack and have long life.


The new Sandia Polymer Electrolyte Alternative (SPEA) is expected to help realize a micro fuel cell, which operates on diverse fuels such as glucose, methanol and hydrogen. The membrane research is part of a three-year internally funded Bio-Micro Fuel Cell Grand Challenge. The team led by Mr. Chris Cornelius recently demonstrated that SPEA could operate at as high as 140C, yielding a peak output of 1.1 W/cm2 and 2 amp/cm2 at 80C.


Under identical operating conditions, the SPEA material can deliver higher power outputs with methanol and hydrogen than Nafion, recognized as a state-of-the-art PEM material for fuel cells. Since SPEA can even operate at elevated temperatures, it provides several advantages not feasible with Nafion. These include smaller fuel cell stacks (because of better heat rejection), enhanced water management and significant resistance to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.


Contact: Mr. Chris Cornelius, Sandia National Laboratories, United States of America. Tel: +1 (505) 8446 192


E-mail: cjcorne@sandia.gov 


Website: www.sandia.gov

A step towards hydrogen economy

Researchers in the United States and Greece have devised a reactor capable of producing hydrogen from ethanol. According to Mr. Lanny Schmidt (University of Minnesota, the United States) and Mr. Xenephon Verykios (University of Patras in Greece), this efficient and cost-effective reactor is a major stride towards a realistic hydrogen economy. It can be used in small fuel cells to produce sufficient hydrogen for 350 Wh of electricity.


The team passed an ethanol-water-air mixture across a porous metal catalyst that incorporated rhodium. Reaction on the rhodium surface heated the catalyst to 800C and produced a blend of hydrogen, recyclable carbon dioxide (CO2) and some minor by-products in a few milliseconds. The conversion rate of ethanol to hydrogen exceeded 95 per cent. Furthermore, this method decreased the build-up of carbon, which would have deactivated the fuel cell. As such, the reactor performed for nearly 30 h. Researchers opine that with process optimization, five molecules of hydrogen could be produced for every molecule of ethanol rather than the present four molecules.


Website: www.physicsweb.org

Smallest DMFC

The United States-based Toshiba America Electronic Components Inc., along with its parent company Toshiba Corp., Japan, has developed the prototype of a highly compact direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC). This unit could be integrated into devices as small as digital audio players and wireless headsets for mobile phones. Weighing only 8.5 g, the slim DMFC has a dimension of 22 56 4.5 mm, with a maximum of 9.1 mm for the fuel tank. The size advantage offered by this fuel cell facilitates greater design freedom for developers of hand-held electronic gadgets. The DMFC yields 100 mW of power and can do so non-stop, for as long as users top up the fuel tank. An MP3 music player can operate for 20 h on a single 2 cm3 charge of highly concentrated methanol fuel.


The DMFC adopts a passive fuel supply system that feeds methanol directly into the cell. To minimize fuel crossover, in which methanol and oxygen combine without an energy-producing reaction, Toshiba optimized the structure of the fuel cells electrodes as well as polymer electrolyte membrane which trigger the reaction. This approach enables the application of highly concentrated methanol solution as fuel.


Contact: Ms. Lisa Nemec, Toshiba America Electronic Components Inc., United States of America. Tel: +1 (949) 4552 293


E-mail: lisa.nemec@taec.toshiba.com


Website: www.chips.toshiba.com 


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

New patent-pending developments

In Japan, Toyota has designed a solid electrolyte with a number of diffusion channels in. This helps to avoid flooding the fuel cell membrane with water (which worsens performance) and may be able to lower the cost of (or even remove the need for) other components in the balance-of-plant, like humidifiers and water pumps. The other patent application involves a ram jet fuel cell system, developed by Siemens, where the vehicles forward motion feeds air into the fuel cell at high speed.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Direct fuel cell plant

In the United States, Yale University won a certificate of recognition from EPAs Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Partnership for its Direct FuelCell (DFC) power plant. The Energy Star CHP award is conferred upon projects that use at least 5 per cent less fuel than state-of-the-art separate power and heat generation. Manufactured by FuelCell Energy Inc., the DFC provides 250 kW of electricity and heat for controlling humidity. Prof. Marian Chertow, the Director of Industrial and Environmental Management at Yale states that Using the ultra-clean fuel cell power to operate the Environmental Sciences Centre has supported the Universitys goal of a low environmental footprint for this strategic building. The power plant supplies 50 per cent of the buildings electricity needs while the heat is used to maintain the controlled humidity environment for artefacts at the Peabody Museum.


DFCs can efficiently generate clean electricity at distributed customer locations, which includes schools, hospitals, universities, hotels and other commercial as well as industrial facilities. They work just like large, continuously running batteries except that they require a fuel to generate power, e.g. natural gas or digester gas from wastewater treatment facilities. This high-efficiency technology produces more power from less fuel and, importantly, with less carbon dioxide emissions than traditional combustion methods.


Yales sub-megawatt fuel cell power plant is a collaborative effort using DFC technology of FuelCell Energy and the Hot Module balance of plant design from MTU CFC Solutions GmbH, a division of DaimlerChrysler.



Contact: Ms. Janet R. Emanuel, Yale University, United States of America. Tel: +1 (203) 4322 157


E-mail: janet.emanuel@yale.edu


Or Mr. Steven P. Eschbach, Fuel Cell Energy, United States of America. Tel: +1 (203) 8256 000


E-mail: seschbach@fce.com


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

DMFC technology

PolyFuel, the United States, reports that its new direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) membrane will make fuel cells smaller, cheaper and lighter. The membrane, a small fragment of plastic resembling cellophane wrap, sits at the heart of a DMFC separating a mix of methanol and water from a catalyst. A major obstacle faced by developers is preventing methanol from crossing across the membrane, something that lowers overall efficiency of the fuel cell since fuel is wasted and this also results in generation of heat. To counter this problem, scientists have been maintaining methanol concentrations at around 10 per cent though a higher concentration is preferred. On the other hand, PolyFuels membrane allows for much higher concentrations, between 50 and 100 per cent, implying that DMFCs can be made one-third smaller, lighter and more cheaply. The membrane is already in sample production.


Website: www.computerweekly.com

Electricity from carbohydrates

While ethanol production from cane or tapioca has received considerable attention as an alternative energy source, Cellennium Thailand, a small R&D company in Thailand, is looking at applying agricultural commodities together with vanadium-based fuel cells. Cellennium has developed and commercialized a fuel cell that uses carbohydrates from sugar or tapioca to generate electricity. The fuel cell operates by electrochemically converting carbohydrates energy into electricity.


According to Mr. Krisada Kampanatsanyakorn, Chairman of Cellennium, the fuel cell, which has already been patented in Sweden, is capable of storing electricity for up to 15-20 years, nearly five times the life cycle of normal batteries. The fuel cell system could even serve as micro-cells, generating and storing electricity for the grid during off-peak periods and then supplying it back to the grid at times of high demand. The company has also developed wind and solar power generation systems to store power using a prototype 1 MW vanadium fuel cell system. Efforts aimed at commercializing this system are under way.


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

HYDROGEN ENERGY

Hydrogen reactor

In the United States, researchers at the University of Minnesota, report to have produced hydrogen from ethanol in a prototype reactor that is compact and efficient enough to heat small homes and power cars. The 2 ft high apparatus of tubes and wires produces hydrogen from corn-based ethanol.


Website: www.cnn.space.printthis.clickability.com

Pure hydrogen for fuel cells

Fuel cells combine hydrogen and oxygen without combustion to produce electricity and water directly. However, hydrogen often contains high levels of carbon monoxide (CO), which is created during hydrogen production. Within a fuel cell, CO poisons or degrades the expensive platinum catalysts used to convert hydrogen into electricity.


In the United States, Mr. Devinder Mahajan at the Brookhaven National Laboratory has developed a low-cost method to produce hydrogen with very low CO content. In this process, ruthenium trichloride or similar metal catalyst is blended with a nitrogen complex to obtain a homogenous solution in a methanol and water mixture. Hydrogen feed containing CO is then introduced, and, at the relatively low temperatures of 80-150C, the catalyst reacts with CO and water to convert nearly 100 per cent of CO into carbon dioxide (CO2) plus additional hydrogen.


The resulting hydrogen feed contains only a few parts per million of CO and is at the correct temperature to be fed directly into a fuel cell. Moreover, this process minimizes the amount of wastes produced during the reaction owing to low-temperature operation, high product selectivity and high catalytic activity. According to Mr. Mahajan, this method works with impure hydrogen produced by any process, including coal and biomass. It can also be scaled up to increase production.


Contact: Mr. Devinder Mahajan, the Brookhaven National Laboratory, P.O. Box 5000, Upton, New York 11973 5000, United States of America. Tel: +1 (631) 3448 000.


Website: www.bnl.gov

Sunlight utilized to extract hydrogen from water

In Canada, Solar Hydrogen Energy Corp. (SHEC Labs) has exhibited the feasibility of obtaining hydrogen from water using its proprietary solar thermochemical process. Using sunlight and a solar concentrator developed by SHEC Labs, researchers at the Arizona Public Service Solar Test and Research Facility in the United States were able to extract hydrogen from water by using solar heat. This successful demo is the second for SHEC Labs. Earlier, it had produced hydrogen from natural gas using a similar technology.


SHEC Labs solar thermochemical process has the potential to become an economically viable method for commercial-scale synthesis of clean renewable hydrogen. It is based on a thermal-catalytic cycle that needs heat as an input. Instead of burning fossil fuels (generating greenhouse gases in the process) to obtain the necessary process heat, SHEC Lab process will use solar energy with the help of mirrors to focus sunlight on to a chemical reactor.


Researchers in the United States, Japan, Canada and France have investigated thermal water splitting, a radically different technology to generate hydrogen. This process needs temperatures up to 3,000C to split molecules of water. On the other hand, SHEC Labs catalytic process operates at around 400C. It also dramatically lowers radiant energy losses and curtails material problems associated with higher temperatures. An 18 inch diameter solar concentrator has been able to achieve temperatures exceeding 750C. SHEC Labs has also developed advanced high ratio solar concentrators capable of focusing the power of the sun by 5,000 times.


Contact: Mr. Ray Fehr, V.P. Marketing, Solar Hydrogen Energy Corp., Canada. Tel: +1 (306) 2440 122


E-mail: information@shec-labs.com


Website: www.shec-labs.com

Cold recovery system for storing liquid hydrogen

An economy of hydrogen (H2) based on liquid H2 is considered by some as not feasible since the energy required to liquefy H2 is more than 50 per cent of the useful energy of H2. However, a recent breakthrough achieved by an engineer in Costa Rica could offset this perception. Mr. Carlos Roldan has developed a new process for storing gases at low temperature using a patent-pending cold recovery system where cold recovery materials (CRMs) are used to recover the refrigeration delivered when a low-temperature gas stored in a tank is being sent to the consumption line at low pressure.


In the case of H2, CRMs recover the refrigeration that the liquid H2 has and use both Joule-Thompson effect and isoentropic expansion to produce just the refrigeration necessary to remove the heat leaked, as such considerably reducing energy consumption. Since H2 is the second substance with the lowest normal boiling point (-253C), at this temperature, only substances that are gases at ambient temperature have a melting point suitable for use as CRMs for liquid hydrogen. The cold recovery system (CRS) used for H2 is designed to avoid vaporization of CRMs, which eliminates the need for adding more CRMs during normal operation of the system.


A CRS developed for H2 comprises several insulated tanks known as cold recovery vessels (CRVs) which contain CRMs. One CRM used is nitrogen, which has a freezing point of -210C. When liquid H2 exits the storage tank, it passes through an expansion valve where the pressure reduces at 1 bar. This expansion decreases the temperature of H2 to -250C, sufficient to freeze nitrogen in the last two CRVs. In this manner, when the storage tank is refilled, H2 at a pressure of 20 bars enters into the CRVs, passing through a coil submerged in the CRMs. Thus, H2 temperature reduces to -208C without energy consumption. Later on, H2 is passed into an independent liquefaction unit where a recycle gas liquefies H2. This liquefaction unit uses the fusion heat of nitrogen in the last CRV to cool the recycle gas to -208C. Cooled recycle gas at a pressure of 40 bars enters a recycle turbine where its temperature reduces enough to liquefy H2. As the liquefaction unit utilizes part of the cold recovered in the CRS, its energy needs are about 40 per cent lower than conventional processes and need a single recycle compressor.


Contact: Mr. Carlos Roldan, Manager, Consultoria SS-Soluciones, Costa Rica.


E-mail: info@ss-soluciones.com


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Hydrogen from algae

At the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the United States, researchers have developed technology to extract hydrogen from a renewable resource. Mutant algal hydrogenases is a new process that produces hydrogen using sunlight and green algae. Overall, this process has achieved excellent results and demonstrated high market value through the use of inexpensive and abundantly available components to obtain hydrogen. However, there are some performance limitations that are being investigated, e.g. this technique is sensitive to oxygen, a co-product of photosynthesis. NREL is striving to overcome this obstacle by focusing on genetically engineering the reversible [Fe]-hydrogenase, the enzyme that releases hydrogen gas.


Contact: Mr. Richard Bolin, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, United States of America. Tel: +1 (303) 2753 028


E-mail: Richard_ bolin@nrel.gov


Website: www.federallabs.org

Device to produce and store hydrogen

Hydrogen Solar, based in the United Kingdom, reports that new nanotechnology innovations have helped it to develop fuel cells that transform sunlight into hydrogen and store the energy, a breakthrough that experts opine would advance a case for a hydrogen economy. Tandem Cell can convert 8 per cent of sunlight directly into oxygen and hydrogen gas, with electricity separating the hydrogen for storage. The company is now trying to increase the energy efficiency to allow the Tandem Cell to convert at least 10 per cent of sunlight, a standard that would make the fuel cell commercially viable.


Improvements in nanotechnology allowed Hydrogen Solar to develop its Tandem Cell, which could help the firm build a few square miles of hydrogen farm in about five years, company CEO Mr. David Auty said. We are not yet in the hydrogen economy, but it has the potential to take over when the oil economy becomes untenable. It turns out these devices work because we are using nanocrystalline layers.Mr. Auty stated. He felt that it was the move to nanotechnology that had brought Tandem cell technology forward.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Renewable hydrogen

Virent Energy Systems LLC of the United States has devised a method to obtain hydrogen from a renewable source sugars in corn and other plants. The proprietary technology may have potential applications for next-generation designs of cars and for powering fuel cells large enough to supply all the electricity needs of a house or building. Known as aqueous phase reforming, the process extracts hydrogen from sugars found in corn and other such plants without raising emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2).


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

WASTE-TO-ENERGY

Waste to fuel plant

Researchers at the Institute for the Study of Nanostructured Materials, Italian National Research Centre (INRC), have devised a pilot facility for degrading wastes. Based on an ultra-milling process with reduced energy use and high sustainability, the new system converts waste into powdered fuel. Waste is reduced by rings and spheres to 20-30 m sized particles. Apart from fragmenting wastes, this process also causes specific structural, chemical and physical changes like dehydration, sterilization and an increase in the specific surface area. These alterations help obtain a high-quality fuel that can be pelletized and used as an energy source. The pilot plant treats 25 kg/h of waste.


Website: www.eep.org

Refuse derived fuel

Japans Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. offers J-Catrel process to harness energy stored in municipal refuse. Refuse derived fuel (RDF) obtained from garbage can be stored for long periods and does not need special equipment like municipal waste incinerator to release the energy for use. The J-Catrel process involves the following stages: Reception bin Primary crusher Magnetic separator (to remove metallic contaminants) Secondary crusher Main reactor (which includes an additive feeder) Gravity separator (to segregate incombustible parts) Pelletizer Drier End product. Some notable features of J-Catrel process include:
 
  • The use of an additive results in dehydration through hygroscopic exothermic reaction, prevention of blazing on to the drier walls, quick pelletization with the additive acting as a binder, reduced gas emission when the RDF is burned, prevention of putrefaction of the garbage and formation of biologically stable and sanitarily harmless solid fuel;
     
  • Refuse is automatically cleaned of metals and other incombustibles for recovery;
     
  • By placing the pelletizing stage before drying, the use of a compact drier is facilitated; and
     
  • As the feed undergoes repeated mixing and temporary storage, the composition is equalized remarkably, to yield RDF of highly stabilized quality.
     

Contact: Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co. Ltd., Japan.


Website: www.ihi.co.jp


Website: www.nett21.gec.jp


Efficient waste-to-energy system

Richway Energy (China) Inc. offers a cutting edge, state-of-the-art, two-chamber system that yields higher output than conventional waste-to-energy technology. The Richway system is more efficient in terms of cost and production, eliminating harmful elements, adaptability to local conditions and flexibility to handle changing needs of waste and revenue. It processes waste in two steps at temperatures adequate to produce steam-generated electricity, while eliminating virtually all harmful by-products. In addition, the system uses less moving parts within the oxidation chambers and as such there are no metal or alloy parts suffering distortion and damage under the high heat.


The controlled air pyrolysis system (CAPS) is based on the principles of controlled air and pyrolysis and gasification. Its features include small construction area, modular capacity, clean emissions and high automation. It can operate either continuously or intermittently. The system comprises a primary operation chamber (POC) for drying, pyrolysis, gasification and partial burning and conversion of the combustible materials into gas and a second operation chamber (SOC), that consumes the combustible gas as well as a majority of the entrained combustible particles. This system reduces the volume of wastes by 95 per cent and an advanced control technology prevents dioxins from forming during the incineration process. Ash obtained as a by-product is used to make bricks.


Website: www.richwaygroup.com

Non-degradable plastics yield fuel

Ozmotech Pty. Ltd., Australia, offers Thermalysis system for transforming non-biodegradable plastic wastes into high-grade green distillate fuel. This technology has been proved to be economically viable in yielding a virtually non-polluting and 100 per cent synthetic fuel. Existing diesel engines can run smoothly on this green fuel and comply with current emission standards without the need for any engine modifications. Post-consumer, post-industrial unwashed and unsorted waste plastics can be used as feedstocks for the process. A production efficiency of over 95 per cent can be achieved. The green fuel weighs approximately the same as virgin diesel and provides the same energy (BTU rating) per litre.


The distillate can replace virgin diesel fuel in unmodified diesel engines and is an ideal fuel for boilers, internal combustion engines and turbines. Contact: Ozmotech Pty. Ltd., Monash Corporate Centre, 752, Blackburn Road, Notting Hill, Victoria 3168, Australia. Tel: +61 (3) 9550 3300; Fax: +61 (3) 9550 3333


E-mail: info@ozmotech.com.au


Website: www.ozmotech.com.au

PUBLICATIONS

Renewable Energy Market and Policy Trends in IEA Countries

This report reviews the experience of IEA countries after the oil crisis in the 1970s initiated a surge of investments in renewables R&D. It features statistical data on more than 100 specific markets and details nearly 400 policies and measures, which IEA nations have established, ranging from R&D to support for market deployment. Overall, the share of renewables in total primary energy supply in IEA countries increased from 4.6 per cent in 1970 to 5.5 per cent in 2001. Most of this increase took place between 1970 and 1990, when renewables supply grew by 2.8 per cent a year.
However, renewable energy sources which fuelled 24 per cent of total electricity production in 1970 accounted for a mere 15 per cent in 2001. The study finds that new renewables have already achieved substantial cost reductions as a result of their market experience, indicating the success of government intervention.

Biofuels for Transport: An International Perspective

The document scrutinizes recent trends in biofuel production and considers how the future may look if recent initiatives in IEA countries and around the world are fully implemented. It provides a global outlook on the nascent biofuels industry, assessing regional similarities and differences, as well as the cost and benefits of various biofuel options and technologies.


For the above publications, contact: The International Energy Agency, 9, rue de la Federation, 75739 Paris, Cedex 15, France. Tel: +33 (1) 4057 6500/01; Fax: +33 (1) 4057 6559


E-mail: info@iea.org

Wind Power: Renewable Energy for Home, Farm and Business

This book includes chapters on how to evaluate modern wind turbine technology, install wind turbines safely, design a stand-alone power system for living off-the-grid and using electricity-producing wind turbines to pump water in rural areas. An extensive appendix provides easy-to-use tables for estimating the annual energy output of any wind turbine anywhere in the world and lists manufacturers around the globe.


Contact: Chelsea Green Publishing Co., P. O. Box 428, White River Junction, VT 05001, United States of America. Tel: +1 (802) 2956 300; Fax: +1 (802) 2956 444.


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