VATIS Update Non-conventional Energy . Jul-Aug 2009

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New and Renewable Energy Jul-Aug 2009

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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Regional Centre for Energy Efficient Lighting

South Asian Regional Centre for Energy Efficient Lighting (RCEEL) was launched in April in Colombo, Sri Lanka, during the International Conference on Energy Efficient Lighting. The Sri Lankan Minister of Power and Energy, Mr. W.D.J. Seneviratne, speaking at the event, stated that this initiative will bring to light the importance of efficient lighting in developing countries and, in turn, would positively affect both the local and regional socio-economic development.

RCEEL, the Minister hoped, will promote and develop efficient lighting systems by facilitating the transfer of lighting technologies within regional countries and donors, encouraging research that promotes the development of efficient lighting technologies, establishing product standards on efficient lighting systems, promoting efficient lighting applications, catalysing relevant policy changes, and encouraging new investments in research and applications. The Centre will offer clean, low-cost, high-quality energy that will benefit underprivileged communities and control the national demand for energy. The total cost of the RCEEL is estimated as US$5 million. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reportedly provided US$800,000 as initial funding through its South Asia Regional Initiative for Energy programme.

Republic of Korea taps Germany for solar industry growth

Once an importer of solar technology, the Republic of Korea is now partnering with Germany to build up its own home-grown photovoltaic (PV) industry with an eye on supplying the growing Asian market in the future. The countrys shift in strategy is a sign of how emerging solar nations are finding new ways of working together with established players to drive a more dynamic phase in the development of the PV industry around the world.

The Republic of Korea emerged as the fourth largest PV market in the world in 2008 after growth took off spectacularly in 2005. PV installations grew from 1 MW of installed capacity in 2005 to 100 MW in May 2008, because of a feed-in tariff modelled on Germanys, which pays a high rate for solar power. However, in October 2008, the government decided to slash the feed-in tariff by 8-30 per cent and make a concerted effort to build up a home-grown solar industry to produce efficient and low-cost solar modules. By 2012, the government aims to power a million homes using PV and covering 70 per cent of the installation costs. Green villages that use renewable energy are expected to rise from 5 to 100 by 2012.

India on a solar power mission

The Government of India has finalized the draft for the National Solar Mission. It aims to make India a global leader in solar energy and envisages an installed solar generation capacity of 20,000 MW by 2020, of 100,000 MW by 2030 and of 200,000 MW by 2050. The total expected funding from the government for the 30-year period would run to around US$17.6 billion to US$21.8 billion.

Implementation will take place in three phases. The first phase of solar deployment (2009-2012) will aim to achieve rapid scaling-up to drive down costs. It will spur domestic manufacturing through the consolidation and expansion of on-going projects for urban, rural and off-grid applications. This will involve the promotion of commercial-scale solar utility plants, mandated installation of solar rooftop or on-site photo-voltaic (PV) applications in all government and public sector buildings. The target is 100 MW installed capacity.

Further expansion of solar lighting systems through market initiatives including micro-financing, in the rural and urban sectors, is expected to provide access to lighting for three million households by 2012. In this phase, the Mission will make it mandatory for all functional buildings such as hospitals, nursing homes, hotels and guesthouses to install solar water heaters. Residential complexes with a minimum plot area of 500 sq. m will also be included.

In the second phase in 2012-2017, the Mission will focus on the commercial deployment of solar thermal power plants and the promotion of solar lighting and heating systems on a large scale in market mode. The final phase between 2017 and 2020 will target tariff parity with conventional grid power and an installed capacity of 20 GW by 2020. The installation of one million rooftop systems with an average capacity of 3 kW by the same year is also envisaged.

Philippines mulls over using sea currents for power

An equipment that measures the velocity of currents in the San Bernardino Strait is now being used to study the possibility of harnessing the wave and currents to generate electricity for the Visayas, said an official of the Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DoST).

Mr. Albert Marino, a senior science research specialist at the Philippine Council for Industry and Energy Research and Development said that an acoustic Doppler current profiler has been installed at Capul Island to measure the velocity of currents in the San Bernardino Strait. The equipment was placed 80-100 m off the shoreline at a depth of 25 m. A similar equipment lent by the Italian government was installed in the Tanon Strait, south of Cebu.

Unverified data revealed that San Bernardino Strait could produce 4 m/s current velocity. Tanon Strait could produce 2m/s current velocity. DoST plans to use a Kobold Turbine to harness the energy of sea currents. The project is being undertaken in partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, with funds from the Italian government. If the project proves viable, DoST will be providing a counterpart fund, worth P6 million (US$26,000), for the mooring expenses and the barge.

Chinas wind-power boom to outpace nuclear by 2020

China will have 100 GW of wind power capacity by 2020, a senior energy official said recently during a conference in Beijing. Mr. Fang Junshi, Head of the Coal Department of Chinas National Energy Administration, stated: Installed wind power capacity is expected to reach 100 million kilowatts in 2020. That would be eight times more than in 2008. He added that the annual growth rate in wind power would be about 20 per cent.

China, the worlds second largest energy user, has around 12 GW of wind power capacity and has already said it wants to raise that to around 20 GW by next year, suggesting it was on course to smash the 2020 target, which was set in 2007. That means wind is set to be a bigger power source than nuclear, in spite of a construction boom in nuclear power plants, and far larger than solar, which is expected to hit 1.8 GW by 2020, according to the 2007 plan. The country had 9.1 GW of nuclear power capacity at the end of last year and is building 24 reactors with a further 25.4 GW.

Both wind and nuclear have got a shot in the arm from the economic crisis, since Chinas 4 trillion yuan (US$585 billion) stimulus plan promised more nuclear spending and upgrades to the power grid, which should help stranded wind farms get connected.

Pakistan looks to renewable energy

Mr. Raja Pervez Ashraf, Pakistans Federal Minister for Water & Power, said the government would shortly announce a mid-term renewable energy policy focusing on alternative and indigenous resources to generate electricity on affordable prices. He added that more wind corridors are being studied, as the nation has theoretical wind energy potential of 346,000 MW, of which 50,000 MW in Gharo Keti Bandar wind corridor offers excellent opportunities for private sector developers. To support development of wind energy sector in the nation, indigenous fabrication of wind towers has already begun, he informed.

Mr. Ashraf said that the country has huge resources in other sectors too, such as hydropower, which has a potential of over 50,000 MW, and solar, waste-to-energy and geothermal. He revealed that projects for an increase of 400 MW capacity are being developed through public and private sectors in small and micro hydel and waste-to-energy projects. The Alternative Energy Development Board has lined up donor assistance of US$700 million for renewable energy development.

Help for Indonesias geothermal power project

In Indonesia, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) have jointly funded a geothermal power plant project. The power plant will secure electricity supply to North Sulawesi province. ADB provided US$28 million, while JBIC funded US$36 million to the project, called PLTP Lahendong. PT Rekin, Sumitomo Corporation and the state-owned power company PT PLN worked on the project while PT Pertamina Geothermal Energy provided the energy.

First solar panel plant in Viet Nam opens

Viet Nams first solar panel manufacturing factory opened recently in southern Long An Province. The 2,000 sq. m factory in Duc Hoa Ha Industrial Park cost the Mat Troi Do JSC and HCM City Energy Conservation Centre US$10 million. It can make solar cell panels with a capacity ranging from 25 Wp to 175 Wp (peak). Its annual capacity is 5 MW.

Mr. Diep Bao Canh, the factorys Director General, said experts from Europe, Japan and the Republic of Korea provided the required technological and financial advice. The companys solar panels have a life span of more than 25 years and come with a five-year warranty, he said. The panels have a solar efficiency of more than 15 per cent, the highest in the world, and would be 30-40 per cent cheaper than similar products being sold in the market, he claimed.

Mr. Huynh Kim Tuoc, Chairman of the company, said 40 per cent of the plants output would be sold domestically and the rest would be exported to Europe and the United States. In the next phase, the annual capacity will be expanded to 25MWp, he said. Besides panels, the plant will also make equipment like solar water heaters, solar-powered lights, LED-illuminated-marker-boards, and other energy saving products.

Asias first tidal power plant being set up

In the Republic of Korea, a group of engineers has succeeded in generating 1,000 kW of electricity by using an underwater turbine that generates electricity from tidal currents near Jindo, a small island in the South Sea. The electricity is enough for about 1,000 homes and the engineers plan to increase the power output to 1,200 kW in the near future.

The project, being undertaken by a consortium, is the first of its kind in Asia and aims to build underwater power turbines capable of generating 50 MW by 2013. The consortium includes the Ministry of Land, Transport & Maritime Affairs, Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute, as well as Korea East-West Power Corp.

Korea East-West Power Corp. also plans to build tidal power generators in two other locations, which will allow the company to produce an additional 400 MW per day. The green energy could effectively replace 180 billion won (US$135 million) of crude oil consumption per year and reduce 700,000 tonnes of carbon emissions, the company officials said.

Tata BP Solar crosses 100 MW in capacity

Tata BP Solar, a joint venture in India between Tata Power of India and BP Solar of the United States, has produced equipment to generate over 100 MW of power. The company intends to manufacture products to support 300 MW solar electricity by 2012.

Tata BP Solar exports nearly 70 per cent of its products to the United States and European markets. The company invested nearly US$100 million in 2008-09 for manufacturing solar cells and panels. Among its clients are Indian corporate giants such as Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Indian Oil Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation. The company provides services to several states in North-East India, and is looking to tap the potential solar power market in the National Capital Region, besides planning a foray into other areas of renewable energy.

Indonesia welcomes waste-to-energy projects

Indonesias state-owned electricity company PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) has welcomed the biomass power plant projects using palm oil wastes and rice husks initiated by the International Finance Corporation (IFC). PT PLNs Vice President, Mr. Rudiantara said that the company was ready to buy the electricity generated from such power plant projects, as it was in line with the PT PLNs objective to boost the use of renewable energy.

The IFC programmes first phase is targeting the waste from palm oil and rice milling to be used as fuel to generate power. According to the IFC, by implementing these projects these industries are not only able to reduce their production costs by up to 30 per cent, but also to help preserve the environment by substituting for the use of oil and diesel.


Top-end solar panel technology

Solarmer Energy Inc., the United States, has introduced a new plastic solar cell featuring translucent, flexible and lightweight technology and efficiency levels of 6.31 per cent, as independently verified by Newport Corporation. Helping the company to reach its aims of producing 6.2 per cent efficient, three years half lifetime, 100 sq. cm area plastic photovoltaic cells for the commercial market, the development goes some way to producing transparent solar panels that could replace standard windows.

Dyad solar cell breaks record in efficiency

Creating photovoltaic systems without using silicon is a cheaper but less efficient way of turning light into electricity. Therefore, an efficiency rate of 1.28 per cent shouldnt be cause for celebration: silicon-based solar cells can achieve above 20 per cent efficiency. But when the best performance so far for a dyad-based solar cell was just 0.37 per cent, reported by Italys University of Padova in 2002, the more than three-fold increase now achieved by researchers at the University of Tokyo, Japan, is a major step.

The Padova group had employed a fullereneazothiophene dyad as the active layer of a photovoltaic cell to achieve their result. The Tokyo group led by Mr. Takeshi Nishizawa reports that using a novel oligo(p-phenylenevinylene) (OPV) fullerene dyad overcame fabrication problems, which have limited the efficiency of previous dyad-based experiments. While the close proximity of the acceptor and donor in dyads ensures efficient charge separation, the low fill factor of dyad-based devices limits their power conversion efficiencies, the researchers noted. The addition of donor component to the dyad increases the crystallinity of the films, resulting in an improvement in the fill factor, they report.

The OPV acts as a donor group that gives rise to strong pi-pi intramolecular interactions within the system, and thus improves the crystallinity of the material. The increase in power efficiency clearly indicates the importance of crystallinity for improvement in carrier transport in the dyad-based solar cell. This result suggests that the introduction of a highly crystalline donor group with strong intramolecular interactions into the dyad would enhance intermolecular hopping of the charges and thus reduce the charge recombination, write the researchers.

High-efficiency organic solar cell

In the Republic of Korea, a research team has succeeded in developing single-layer, organic plastic solar cells with the highest energy conversion efficiency. The team, led by Prof. Lee Kwang-hee at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering of Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, said that it succeeded in developing this type of solar cells with a conversion rate of 6.2 per cent. The energy conversion efficiency of the solar cells was verified by the United States Department of Energys National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The research was conducted in collaboration with Prof. Alan Heeger of the University of California, Santa Barbara, the United States.

The conversion efficiency of the cells developed by Prof. Lees team is the highest achieved by single-layer organic plastic solar cells developed until now. Plastic solar cells manufactured with organic materials use the principles of photosynthesis. Although they have a lower conversion rate than silicon-based solar cells, organic plastic solar cells have received much attention as they are flexible and cheaper to produce.

In developing the new solar cells, Prof. Lees team combined plastic materials having wide absorption ranges with titanium oxides to increase the conversion efficiency. In addition, the conversion efficiency of the solar cells developed by the team rises to 17 per cent under green light.

High conversion efficiency for solar module

Researchers of the Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) have achieved a conversion efficiency of 16.4 per cent (aperture area) on a full-size solar module a new world-record efficiency for photovoltaic modules with multicrystalline silicon solar cells. The module conversion efficiency was independently verified by TV. The Dutch solar cell manufacturer Solland Solar will be the first to use the new technology in commercial production.

ECN developed the new module design and manufacturing process based on a solar cell design with all contacts at the rear. ECNs rear-contact technology is based on metallization wrap-through (MWT) solar cells, which are interconnected in modules using conductive adhesives and a patterned conductive foil. This has similarities with the surface mounting of electronic components on printed circuit board. The MWT technology has several important benefits such as: improved module conversion efficiency; facility to use very thin solar cells; simplified manufacturing process; and lower costs of module manufacture and solar power generation.

Self-cleaning, low-reflectivity surface for PV cells

Using two types of chemical etching to create features at both the micrometre and nanometre size scales, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the United States, have developed a surface treatment that could boost the light absorption of silicon photovoltaic cells in two complementary ways. The treatment increases absorption by trapping light in 3-dimensional structures and by making the surfaces self-cleaning, allowing rain or dew to wash away the dust and dirt that could accumulate on photovoltaic arrays. The surface has been classified as superhydrophobic because of its ability to make water bead up and roll off.

Silicon etching treatment mimics the superhydrophobic surface of the lotus leaf, which uses surface roughness at two different size scales to generate high contact angles that encourage water from rain or condensation to bead up and run off. As the water runs off, it carries with it any surface dust or dirt, which also does not adhere to the surface because of its unique properties.

Preparation of the superhydrophobic surface begins with use of a potassium hydroxide solution to etch the silicon surface. The solution preferentially removes silicon along crystalline planes, creating micron-scale pyramid structures in the surface. An e-beam process is then used to apply nanometre-scale gold particles to the pyramid structures. Using a solution of hydrogen fluoride and hydrogen peroxide, a metal-assisted (with gold as the catalyst) etching process produces nano-scale features. Finally, the gold is removed with a potassium iodide solution and the surface is coated with perfluorooctyl tricholosilane. The combination of increased light absorption from the textured surface and the self-cleaning ability both help boost absorption of sunlight hitting the silicon surface.

Polymer solar cells connected to the grid

Ris DTU, the National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy at the Technical University of Denmark, claims to have connected a polymer solar cell plant to the grid for first the time in the world. Riss solar energy programme has been conducting research into polymer solar cells, a low-cost alternative to existing silicon-based solar cells. A demonstration plant has already been built at Ris DTUs facilities. Now, as part of an experiment in collaboration with the Danish companies Mekoprint A/S and Gaia Solar A/S, the polymer solar cells have been connected to the grid at Ris.

After the production of the solar cells, and in collaboration with Gaia Solar, Ris DTU has manufactured large panels upon which the solar cells are mounted. The panel is placed on a tracker that follows the movement of the sun. The generated power is added to the grid. Ris claims to have brought down the price to 15 per Watt in March 2009. At the end of 2009, the price is expected to be 4-5 per Watt.

A hybrid nano-energy harvester

Researchers in the United States have combined a nanogenerator with a solar cell to create an integrated harvesting device for mechanical and solar energies. First of its kind, this hybrid generator may be used, for instance, to power the sensors of an airplane by capturing sunlight and engine vibrations. The first nanogenerator was made by Prof. Zhong Lin Wang, Director of the Centre for Nanostructure Characterization at Georgia Institute of Technology. He worked with Dr. Xudong Wang, an assistant professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, to make the new hybrid device.

The device combines two previously developed technologies, both of which rely on zinc oxide nanowires, in a layered silicon substrate. The top layer consists of a thin-film solar cell embedded with dye-coated zinc oxide nanowires. The large surface area of the nanowires boosts the devices light absorption. The bottom layer contains the nanogenerator. On the underside of the silicon is a jagged array of zinc oxide nanowires in a toothlike arrangement. When the device is exposed to vibrations, these scrape against an underlying vertical array of nanowires, creating an electrical potential.

The solar cell and the nanogenerator are electrically connected by the silicon substrate, which acts as both the anode of the solar cell and the cathode of the nanogenerator. The prototype device can generate 0.6 V of solar power and 10 mV of piezoelectric power. Dr. Wang expects to increase the power output by creating devices with multiple layers of nanogenerators.


Smart turbines to improve wind power efficiency

Engineers at Purdue University and Sandia National Laboratories in the United States are using a system of sensors and computational software to improve the efficiency of wind turbines by allowing them to adjust to wind conditions. The goal is to feed information from sensors into an active control system that precisely adjusts components to optimize efficiency, explains Dr. Jonathan White of Purdue.

Sensors called uniaxial and triaxial accelerometers are embedded inside a wind turbine blade during construction. The sensors measure acceleration in different directions as the blade bends and twists in the wind. The data from the sensors are fed into specialist software, developed by Dr. White, that estimates the force being exerted on the blade. Such as system could then feed the data back to the turbine blades, which could be fitted with control surfaces like the flaps on airplane wings. These would allow the aerodynamic properties of the blade to be adjusted to changing wind conditions to maximize efficiency.

Controlling the generator or the pitch of the blades is important to optimize energy capture by reducing forces on the components in the wind turbine during excessively high winds and increase the loads during low winds, explains Dr. Douglas Adams, who is leading the project. An integrated system of sensors and responsive blades would also improve overall reliability and reduce damage.

First commercial wind power system for rooftops

Green Energy Technologies LLC, the United States, has launched WindCube, a 60 kW rooftop wind turbine designed for on-site power generation by commercial and industrial power users in urban and suburban locations. The turbine is available as a single or dual (120 kW) system and in rooftop or tower-mounted design. It generates the same amount of energy in a 22 22 12 ft framework as a traditional turbine with blades 50 ft in diameter, claims Green Energy.

The WindCube features a patent-pending design that relies on the wind tunnel effect, known in physics as the Bernoulli Principle, to capture and amplify the wind to produce more power. As the wind comes into the WindCube shroud, it becomes concentrated, creating increased velocity and in turn, more power. Because of the amplification effect, the WindCube is able to capture wind energy as low as 8 kmph. At an average wind speed of about 24 kmph, one WindCube will generate about 160,000 kWh per year of electricity.

The WindCube generates electricity by running its motor backwards using an impeller, eliminating the need for a gearbox. This lowers the cost of ownership because the gear box is the source of most of the maintenance problems and failures on conventional wind turbines.

Powerful wind turbine for low to medium wind speeds

RSiemens Energy, Germany, has introduced its SWT-2.3-101 wind turbine, which is ideally suited for sites having low to medium wind speeds. The 2.3 MW wind turbine will provide more power at lower wind speeds, significantly increasing the return on investment of wind farms.

The SWT-2.3-101 machine will be equipped with Siemens new rotor blades produced using the proprietary IntegralBlade manufacturing process, which casts blades in one piece in a closed process. This process eliminates any weaknesses from the glue processes used in the manufacturing of traditional blades. With a diameter of 101 m, the rotor of the SWT-2.3-101 has a swept area of 8,000 sq. m. The rugged structural design, combined with automatic lubrication systems, internal climate control and a simple generator system without slip rings, provides exceptional reliability.

Wind energizer

Leviathan Energy Inc., the United States, offers a technology for new and existing wind farms to produce more energy from a relatively small investment. Using aerodynamics modelling, it has developed a unique passive structure, called Wind Energizer, which can be adapted to any make of wind turbine.

Wind Energizer technology is said to increase significantly the power output of existing wind turbines by directing the surrounding wind flow to the critical area of the blades by designing a unique structure near each turbine. After installation, it provides several benefits:

Assured increase in the power output of wind turbines by 15-30 per cent when the turbine is spinning; Reduced cut in speed for the blades; and Likely decreased maintenance costs and longer life span. The investment required per turbine is said to be small and the moderate estimated period of return on investment for the wind energizer is 4-5 years.

Accelerating wind turbine taps new energy fields

Traditional three-blade wind turbines need lots of space, but the Compact Wind Accelerating Turbine from Optiwind, the United States, is ideal for high-density, low-wind areas. The turbines series of small, five-bladed fans funnel in wind and accelerate it, thereby cranking up wind speeds to generate more power.

At 6.5 m in diameter, Optiwinds blades are also much shorter than traditional turbine blades, which often extend to 80 m. That means the turbine can be used in areas that dont have much space to spare, like schools, hospitals and hotels. The 200 ft tall Optiwind is meant for bigger structures, and the user can choose between the 150 kW and 300 kW models, depending on the energy requirement. Contact: Optiwind, 59 Field Street, Torrington, CT 06790, United States of America. Tel: +1 (860) 866 4488; Website:

Automated fabrication of composite turbine blades

MAG Industrial Automation Systems, based in the United States, is revolutionizing the manufacture of composite wind-turbine blades with two patent-pending technologies. The companys rapid material placement system (RMPS) and quick-cure moulding system for wind blades combine to reduce labour content by two-thirds, double the throughput, and produce a consistently high-quality blade from the start to the end.

RMPS is a facility for automated blade moulding, capable of spraying in-mould coatings, dispensing/lay-up of glass and carbon fibre materials, and dispensing/application of adhesive. It provides 3 m/s lay-up speed to placement of materials in blade skin, spar cap and sheer web moulds, with laser and vision-based wrinkle detection in cross or longitudinal directions. Depending on the laminate schedule, the system can reduce lay-up time 85 per cent on a 45 m blade.

The CNC-controlled system consists of a gantry system with multi-axis end effectors capable of manipulating, through offline programming, spray heads and adhesive applicators, as well as tooling for spooling and placing materials. After application of gel-coat with spray-head tooling, a ply-generator with a ten-roll magazine of material cuts and dispenses plies to the lay-up end effector on the gantry. The lay-up end effector spools up the material supplied by the ply generator. As the fabric is paid out onto the mould, a pair of articulated powered brushes smoothens it to the tool surface. The lay-up system is mechanically repeatable to 2 mm, with application tolerance of 5 mm.

Two such gantry systems adjacent to one another can each produce a 45-m blade-shell half in less than two hours, with half the manual labour of conventional methods. The gantry system rides on rails that are flush with the floor. It also carries bulk supply systems for gel-coat and adhesive.

MAGs patent-pending quick-cure mould system uses its own tooling. The moulds are produced using the customers CAD data. The system yields a finished blade to specifications with each cycle. It can be infused with resin in an hour, followed by a two-hour cure, about half the normal time. On the finishing side of blade automation, MAG is introducing a 5-axis machining system for root drilling/milling/sawing.


Innovative tidal turbine

Tidal Energy Pty. Ltd., Australia, has managed to harness the power of the waves, generating record amounts of power and opening up avenues of clean, green energy that are attracting interest from around the world. The company has been collecting data, and testing and honing its patented creations since October 2003, when its founders Mr. Aaron Davidson and Mr. Craig Hill achieved the world record of the highest efficiency 3.84 times (compared with an open turbine in free stream) ever achieved from a water current turbine, beating the former record of 3.25 times.

While wave and wind power are nothing new, Tidal Energy has developed a truly unique system, based on a Venturi, which creates incredible amounts of energy. In essence, a Venturi is a constriction of flow in a channel or pipe that causes a relative velocity increase and pressure drop, as flow speeds up through the constriction. Thus, a smaller turbine can be used for strong flow and larger one for slower flow. The company has developed a standardized working model that people willing to trial in their own environments can invest in and see for themselves.

Anaconda wave-power generator

Checkmate Sea Energy, the United Kingdom, has unveiled the final stages of a proof-of-concept trial of its Anaconda device, reported to be at the forefront of the next generation of robust, cheap wave-power machines that could slash the costs of making renewable electricity. Made from a composite of fabric and natural rubber, the Anaconda rides oncoming waves and utilizes the motion to drive a turbine in its tail. The test device is 9 m long, but a full-scale device could be up to 200 m in length and be capable of producing 1 MW of power, enough for a thousand homes.

Anaconda is non-mechanical: it is mainly rubber, a natural material with a natural resilience and so it has very few moving parts to maintain, said Mr. Rod Rainey, a Chief Engineer with engineering design consultants Atkins and inventor of the Anaconda. The device is tethered to the sea-floor and positioned head-on into the coming waves. Floating under the sea surface, the water-filled rubber tube swims with the waves as a swell hits the front of the device, it creates a bulge that travels to the back of the tube, in the same way a pulse of blood travels along an artery. When the bulge wave reaches the devices tail, the energy is used to drive a turbine and create electricity.

The device has already been given a significant vote of confidence by Carbon Trust, the United Kingdom. Their research showed that, while wave energy in general costs about 0.25 per kWh to generate, the Anaconda has the potential to bring prices down to around 0.09 per kWh (grid electricity from fossil fuels today costs around 0.06 per kWh).

Once the ongoing proof-of-concept trials are complete, Checkmate hopes to build a quarter-size version of Anaconda for possible sea trials. If all goes well, the company thinks the first devices in commercial production could be floating in the seas as early as 2014. Contact: Checkmate Seaenergy Limited, Unit 6, Pegasus Way, Bowerhill, Melksham, Whiltshire SN12 6TR, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1795) 580 333; Fax: +44 (1795) 668 280; E-mail:

New wave energy harnessing device

IAt the Stevens Institute of Technology, the United States, Research Engineer Mr. Michael Raftery has been leading the development of a wave energy harnessing device, a system of submerged platforms and buoys that will utilize a waves motion to create electricity. Waves created will cause the buoys, which rest on the surface of the water, to rise and fall. The buoys motion is transferred to winches attached to submerged platforms and a complex system then converts this wave motion into electricity.

Wave energy conversion has been attempted before, but Mr. Raftery has taken a different approach. His last prototype built in 2007 had problems with variable waves and energy conversion. Mr. Raftery and his team have modified their system to allow for variable springs, to more efficiently harness the wave energy to maximize the wave motion the system can capture.

The team has also introduced wave tuning or shoaling, a fluid dynamic phenomenon where surface waves on a layer of water of decreasing depth will change their wave height. This is mainly because the transport velocity of wave energy will change with water depth. This design alteration enabled Mr. Rafterys team to increase the energy density being fed into their system. The research team also implemented continuous load control, which will store the energy captured in a proprietary system before it is converted. This will help eliminate drops in power output between waves to allow a more stable flow of energy. If successful, the system can effectively utilize energy in regions that have only moderate waves.


Microbial fuel cell commercialization

In the United States, Dr. Baikun Li and her industrial partners are seeking to harness the energy-production capabilities of bacteria to produce power and clean wastewater on a large commercial scale. Dr. Li, an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Connecticut, is working with the engineering consulting firm Fuss & ONeill to develop large-scale, efficient microbial fuel cells.

Sewage treatment plants rely on a mixture of processes, including microbes, to produce clean water. In the process, they use huge quantities of power and release tens of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. Microbial fuel cells could take advantage of the seemingly unlimited supply of wastewater carbohydrates and convert it back into usable energy. The process is green and carbon-neutral, as the carbon supplying the fuel cell has effectively come from the atmosphere.

Dr. Li and her colleagues seek to develop high-energy output microbial fuel cells and units suitable for various commercial applications. She has developed 250 ml and 1 l microbial fuel cells. She plans to build and test a 20 l unit and install pilot-scale units at a wastewater treatment facility in New York.

Test milestone in fuel cell technology

Acal Energy, the United Kingdom, has notched a significant milestone in the testing of its FlowCath fuel cell system. A prototype unit has achieved more than 1,000 hours of continuous running with no deterioration in performance. It replaces an expensive precious metal catalyst in conventional fuel cells with a low-cost liquid catalyst, which reduces cost and improves durability and reliability.

The company said: Demonstrating long- term continuous operation is essential. These results are a critical step forward in proving the commercial and technical viability of the technology. It is now aiming to deliver a 1 kW demonstration model soon, and to have 5,000 hours of continuous running data on a single cell in a years time. Contact: Acal Energy Ltd., Heath Business and Technical Park, Runcorn, Cheshire, WA7 4QX, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1928) 511581; Fax: +44 (1928) 511582; E-mail: info@acalenergy.

New seal for solid oxide fuel cells

Solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC), which has great potential for stationary and mobile applications, also has a flaw the integrity of the seals within and between power-producing units. The seal problem is the biggest problem for commercialization of solid oxide fuel cells, said Dr. Peizhen Lu, Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), the United States.

Composed of ceramic materials that can operate at temperatures as high as 1,000C, SOFCs use high temperature to separate oxygen ions from air. The ions pass through a crystal lattice and oxidize a fuel usually a hydrocarbon. The chemical reaction produces electrons, which flow through an external circuit, creating electricity.

To produce adequate energy for a particular application, SOFC modules are stacked together. Each module has air on one side and a fuel on the other side and produces electrons. Each modules compartments must be sealed, and there must be seals between the modules in a stack so that air and fuel do not leak or mix, causing a loss of efficiency or internal combustion.

Dr. Lu has invented a new glass that can be used to seal the modules and the stack. The self-healing seal glass will provide strength and long-term stability to the stack, she said. The new glass seal materials are free of barium oxide, calcium oxide, magnesia and alkali oxides, and only trace amounts of boron oxide, according to Virginia Tech.

Renewable energy from bacteria

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley in the United States, are investigating a new renewable energy source using living, non-hazardous bacteria to generate electricity. The research team hopes one day to use these microbial fuel cells (MFCs) as household power generators that look like aquariums but are filled with water and microscopic bacteria, instead of fish. When the bacteria inside are fed, the power generator referred to as a biogenerator would produce electricity.

Researchers are studying fuel cells with a single bacterium, which is about 1/100th of the width of a human hair. The micro-scale fuel cells are manufactured with semiconductor fabrication techniques, similar to those used in making a computer chip. Researchers plan to demonstrate larger biogenerators in the future. MFCs generate electricity in direct current form. In addition to generating power, the biogenerators produce clean drinking water as a by-product.

Researchers are working to create as much energy from this process as possible, so that it will provide a useful, affordable source of power. Maintaining the bacteria at room temperature or warmer seems to work best. The bacteria appear to generate more power when fed a diet of vinegar and alcohol, which are products of fermentation, says Ms Erika Parra, a graduate-student researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. The research team is studying ways to combine the biogenerator with a fermenting process in a two-stage system, so that food waste could be added and fermented at one end of the system to collect electricity.

Microbe-powered machine stores energy

Researchers at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU), the United States, have devised a machine that takes advantage of microbes ability to convert electrical energy into methane and thus creates more efficient storage for alternative energies such as wind and solar. The machine gives small jolts of electricity to single-celled micro-organisms known as archea, prompting them to remove carbon dioxide from the air and convert it to methane. The methane can be used to power fuel cells or store the electrical energy chemically.

Prof, Bruce Logan of PSU, whose team discovered the technology, said: We envision this as a way to store electrical energy, to convert electricity into a biofuel. The micro-organism archea are more primitive than bacteria, lacking a nucleus and other cellular machinery. While most archea are still a mystery to scientists, but methane-producing archea, known as methanogens, are well known. They team up with termites to digest wood pulp. With other micro-organisms, they help decompose organic matter. Prof. Logans team found that Methanobacterium palustre, the electricity-drinking, methane-emitting archea, clustered around the cathode.

In the natural environment, various bacteria emit electrons, which the archea use as fuel. The archea are 80 per cent efficient at conserving electrical energy into the chemical bonds of methane good enough that the scientists want to use the methanogen to store energy generated by intermittent power sources like wind, solar or tidal energy in a fuel cell.

New platinum catalyst for cheaper fuel cells

In the United States, researchers from Washington University (WU) in St. Louis and the Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a technique for a fuel cell catalyst that could be two to five times more effective than traditional materials. The team led by Dr. Younan Xia, a WU professor of biomedical engineering in biochemistry and radiology, is developing a less expensive and more stable fuel cell catalyst. The technology, which uses pricey platinum more efficiently, could enable a cost-effective fuel cell technology, said Dr. Xia.

According to Dr. Xia, there are two ways to create a more effective catalyst: one is to make the particles as small as possible, controlling size to give the catalyst a larger surface area in which to spread out; and the other is altering the arrangement of the atoms on the surface. The researchers have done both. The bi-metallic fuel cell catalyst has a palladium core that supports dendritic platinum branches fixed on a nanostructure, thereby increasing the accessible surface area. The catalysts are then synthesized in a water solution. The researchers also tested how the catalysts perform in a reduction reaction process in a fuel cell. They found the catalyst two-and-half times more effective per platinum mass compared with commercial platinum catalysts and five times more active than other popular commercial catalysts.

The teams technique is expected to reduce loading of platinum catalysts, making more-robust catalysts that wouldnt have to be replaced often. This would cut the cost due to platinum, an expensive element because of its limited supply. The teams next steps are to improve further the stability of the fuel cell catalysts, Dr. Xia said. They are also interested in investigating the addition of other metals including gold to the bi-metallic catalysts, making them tri-metallic, using another metal such as gold.


Sun-powered splitting of water

A unique approach developed by Prof. David Milstein and colleagues at the Organic Chemistry Department of Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, takes important steps in overcoming the challenge of using sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. During this work, the team demonstrated a new mode of bond generation between oxygen atoms, and even defined the mechanism by which it takes place. Generation of oxygen gas by the formation of a bond between two oxygen atoms originating from water molecules had been the bottleneck in the water-splitting process.

The Institutes approach is divided into a sequence of reactions, which leads to the release of hydrogen and oxygen in consecutive thermal and light-driven steps, mediated by a special metal complex that Prof. Milsteins team designed in previous studies. Moreover, the one they designed from the element ruthenium is a smart complex in which the metal centre and the organic part attached to it cooperate in cleaving the water molecule.

The team found that upon mixing this complex with water, the bonds between the hydrogen and oxygen atoms break, with one hydrogen atom binding to its organic part, while the remaining hydrogen-oxygen (OH) radicals bind to its metal centre. This modified version of the complex provides the basis for the next stage of the process, the heat stage. When the water solution is heated to 100C, hydrogen is released from the complex and one more OH radical gets added to the metal centre.

In the third light stage, when this third complex is exposed to light at room temperature, oxygen is produced and, importantly, the metal complex gets reverted to its original state, which could then be recycled in the process. Prof. Milstein and his team have also succeeded in identifying an unprecedented mechanism for such a process. During the third stage, light provides the energy required to cause the two OH radicals to join and form hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), which quickly breaks into oxygen and water. The team also showed that the bond between the two oxygen atoms is generated within a single molecule, not between oxygen atoms residing on separate molecules as commonly believed, and comes from a single metal centre.

Controllable process for making hydrogen

Global Hydrogen Inc., the United States, has developed an aluminium nano-nickel hydrogen generator that can be controlled by flipping a switch, generating hydrogen on demand. The simple system is self-contained and portable. While the system is scalable, the first production unit has been designed to produce 4 kg, or 44,000 litres, of hydrogen at 0.5 kg per day. The unit is 0.085 m3 in size.

This system is more efficient, less expensive, smaller and lighter than comparable systems. The generator operates at ambient temperature and produces up to three times the hydrogen at 90C. Dr. Linnard Griffin, inventor and founder of Global Hydrogen, explains that this new system is designed as a replacement for bulky storage batteries and hazardous high-pressure hydrogen storage tanks used in emergency power back-up systems such as cell phone towers and other remote applications. The system is also ideal for use in the automotive industry.

New storage system design for hydrogen

Researchers at Purdue University, the United States, have developed a critical part of a hydrogen storage system for cars that makes it possible to fill up a vehicles fuel tank within five minutes with adequate hydrogen to drive 480 km. The research funded by General Motors Corp. (GM), and directed by GM researchers Mr. Darsh Kumar, Mr. Michael Herrmann and Mr. Abbas Nazri is based at the Hydrogen Systems Laboratory at Purdues Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories.

The system employs a fine metal hydride powder to absorb hydrogen gas. The researchers have created the systems heat exchanger, which circulates coolant through tubes and uses fins to remove the heat generated when the hydrogen is absorbed by the powder. The heat exchanger is critical because the system stops absorbing hydrogen effectively if it overheats, according to Mr. Issam Mudawar, a professor of mechanical engineering, who is leading the research.

Researchers envision a system that would enable motorists to fill their car with hydrogen within minutes. The hydrogen would then be used to power a fuel cell to generate electricity to drive an electric motor. The idea is to have a system that fills the tank and at the same time uses accessory connectors that supply coolant to extract the heat, said Mr. Mudawar.

The metal hydride is contained in compartments inside the storage vessel. Hydrogen gas is pumped into the vessel at high pressure and is absorbed by the metal hydride powder. This process is reversible: when the pressure in the storage vessel is decreased, the powder releases hydrogen gas. The heat exchanger, which is made mostly of aluminium, is fitted inside the hydrogen storage vessel. It contains a network of thin fins that provide an efficient cooling path between the metal hydride and the coolant.

New on-demand hydrogen system

The Energy and Environmental Research Centre (EERC), the United States, has received an allowance for a patent application on a high-pressure hydrogen production process to convert liquid fuels such as ethanol, methanol and petrol to hydrogen. According to Mr. Tom Erickson, Associate Director of Research at EERC, the basic premise of the system is to utilize and compress a liquid fuel to a very high pressure, then convert that fuel to a hydrogen-rich gas, which is then purified under pressure and entered into a dispenser to fuel a vehicle.

Mr. Erickson said the unique aspect of the system is that it does not require large-scale storage or compression of the hydrogen gas, as the gas is produced when it is needed. It removes two of the major cost factors from hydrogen fuel management: pressurization and storage of hydrogen, according to Mr. Gerald Groenewold, the Director of EERC. A station would be able to use existing infrastructure to reduce costs further, he said.

Scientists at the EERCs National Centre for Hydrogen Technology with support from the Department of Energys National Energy Technology Laboratory and more than 85 corporate partners have converted methanol into hydrogen and are working on obtaining similar results for ethanol and hydrocarbon fuels, such as military jet fuel. The technology is also being commercialized for other applications, including industrial applications.

Double-action power stations

Gas power plants could be cheaply retrofitted to generate hydrogen as well as power, say Dr. Gadi Rothenberg and his colleagues at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and the Institute of Research on Catalysis and Environment in Lyon, France. A catalyst would convert methane into hydrogen gas and combustible coke, thus allowing the power station to produce hydrogen alongside electricity.

The researchers have reported that the catalyst could be cheaply installed in the existing plants. This kind of technology could ease the transition to a hydrogen economy, reducing the need for heavy investment in large hydrogen plants. The researchers tested many new catalysts based on ceria doped with other metals, using a mixture of methane and oxygen at 400-550C to simulate conditions in a power station. One nickel-based form has shown excellent catalytic activity, at a cost of only US$10/kg.

Initially the methane burns up all of the oxygen present to generate heat. This allows the catalyst to break down the remaining methane into solid carbon and hydrogen gas. Two molecules of methane, having eight hydrogen atoms between them, will yield one hydrogen molecule this gives an effective hydrogen yield of 25 to 30 per cent from the chemical process.

Tests showed that the catalyst remains active for seven hours before it becomes choked up with solid carbon. Those coke deposits can easily be burned off, says Dr. Jurriaan Beckers from the research team. Altering the mix of gas and air in the combustion chamber also provides a way to cut coke deposits, Dr. Beckers claims.

Improvements on hydrogen processor patent

HyPower Fuel Inc. from the United States has incorporated a number of improvements into its patent filing on a modular electrolysis device, referred to as the H2 Reactor. The improvements to the patents make the H2 Reactor the most efficient and cost-effective processor in the field, claims Mr. Douglas Bender, President of HyPower.

The H2 Reactor uses a unique electrolysis process to create hydrogen and oxygen gases from water. After extensive research and development work, HyPower believes that the H2 Reactors electrolysis process is technologically the most efficient to produce hydrogen. In addition to industrial or household applications, HyPower also hopes to adapt this technology for transportation by enabling vehicles to burn oxy-hydrogen produced on-board and on-demand.


Clean substitute for charcoal

Scientists in Senegal have created what is described as a clean substitute for charcoal that not only helps protect the environment, but also costs far less. The new environment-friendly charcoal is made from agri-waste mixed with a binder, such as clay, to produce small balls that resemble black charcoal, which is traditionally used for heating and cooking. But green charcoal, unlike the normal charcoal, is produced efficiently and burns cleanly. The alternative fuel has just gone on sale in the markets of northern Senegal.

The innovative product was developed by the environmental NGO ProNatura International. The technology, unlike the conventional process, uses a continuous, mechanized process. Mr. Guy Reinaud, Director of ProNatura, believes the technology has a huge potential in a country where over half the population relies on charcoal or wood for cooking and heating.

Mr. Ibrahima Niang, a renewable and sustainable energy specialist at Senegals Ministry of Energy, says the main problem with charcoal consumption is deforestation. About 5 kg of wood is needed to produce 1 kg of charcoal. The Food and Agriculture Organization says that 45,000 ha of forest disappear each year in Senegal.

Petrol and diesel from lignocellulose

Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation, Canada, has successfully produced significant amounts of renewable petrol and diesel from biomass through a novel two-stage upgrading process of BioOil. The process, developed by Dr. Desmond Radlein and his colleagues, involves pyrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass to produce a primary liquid fuel, BioOil, which is then hydro-reformed to a Stage 1 gas-oil equivalent liquid fuel that can be either directly used in blends with hydrocarbon fuels for industrial stationary power and heating applications or further upgraded to transportation grade liquid hydrocarbon fuels (petrol/diesel) in a Stage 2 hydrotreating process. The main by-product from lignocellulosic biomass pyrolysis is biochar, which has emerging value for soil productivity enhancement as well as carbon sequestration. Dynamotive markets its biochar under the trade name CQuestTM.

The upgrading process addresses several critical issues in the development of sustainable fuels from biomass. One is that it uses only residual biomass from agricultural and forestry operations and dedicated non-food crops. Another is that Dynamotives pyrolysis process converts roughly 85 per cent of the total biomass feed into useful solid (char) and liquid (BioOil) fuels. In addition, the net overall yield from whole biomass to diesel/petrol is approximately 25 per cent, one the highest ever reported. The process is projected to be economically viable at 1/7 to 1/15 scale of competing current or developing technologies. Contact: Dynamotive Energy Systems Corp., Suite 140, 13091 Vanier Place, Richmond BC, V6V 2J1, Canada. Tel: +1 (604) 295 6800; Fax: +1 (604) 295 6805; E-mail:; Website:

Faster, cheaper way to make ethanol

Scientists at the Mascoma Corporation, the United States, have successfully demonstrated a new and more cost-effective way to produce biofuel from plant matter by reprogramming bacteria and yeast cells to digest the organic material. The development makes biofuel production more commercially viable, said Mr. Jim Flatt, Executive Vice President of Research, Development & Operations at Mascoma. The company has developed the technique of consolidated bioprocessing, which integrates a multi-step process for producing ethanol into a single step.

The technology uses the metabolic capabilities of micro-organisms to convert plant matter into renewable fuel. One of the advancements involves the bacterium Clostridium thermocellum found in compost heaps. The wild strain of the bacterium degrades cellulose to produce a mixture of ethanol and other organic waste products. Scientists at Mascoma genetically altered the bacteria to produce predominantly ethanol, significantly reducing unwanted waste products and increasing the amount of ethanol that can be produced, Mr. Flatt said. The modified bacteria produce almost 6 per cent weight by volume ethanol from cellulose, an increase of 60 per cent.

Mascoma scientists were also able to genetically alter brewing yeast, enabling it to convert cellulose into ethanol, according to the release. They achieved this by introducing genes that code for cellulase an enzyme that breaks down cellulose into the yeast genome.

Technology to accelerate biodiesel processing

Springboard Biodiesel, the United States, has introduced a biodiesel processing acceleration technology that doubles the capacity of its BioPro biodiesel processors. Springboard Biodiesels processing line will now serve users with an even broader range of processing needs, while providing compelling economic returns. Utilizing the patent-pending fluid separation technology, the clients of BioPro 190 and 380 can now halve the processing time as well as double the processing capacity.

Springboard Biodiesel will now offer two new products to enable the rapid separation of biodiesel from other fluids, and simplify and accelerate the overall biodiesel processing experience: INCOSEP for the rapid settling of bulk glycerine from raw biodiesel; and INCOSEP-Pro, which both rapidly settles bulk glycerine and separates wash water from biodiesel while preventing emulsions. Standard BioPro processors are rated to produce ASTM-fuel every 48 hours. Half of this time is for esterification and transesterification reactions, and glycerine settling. The other half of the time is dedicated to washing and evaporative drying. The INCOSEP unit reduces esterification, transesterification, and glycerine settling processes to 8 hours.

The INCOSEP-Pro also speeds up esterification, transesterification and glycerine settling process to 8 hours. In addition, it also reduces the washing and drying processes to 12 hours, rather than 24. Further, since the INCOSEP-Pro prevents emulsions, all three washes are now turbulent washes, in which the fuel is stirred into a homogenous mixture with the wash water before the water is quickly settled out and removed. Contact: Springboard Biodiesel LLC, 2282 Ivy Street, Chico, CA 95928, United States of America. Tel: +1 (530) 894 1793; Fax: +1 (530) 894 1048; E-mail:

Biodiesel from algae

Researchers at United Environment and Energy (UEE) in New York, the United States, claim to have developed the first economical and environment-friendly process to produce biodiesel from algae. The flow fixed-bed reactor technology developed by Mr. Ben Wen and his colleagues is 40 per cent cheaper than existing techniques and is faster too. It relies on using a new solid catalyst developed at UEE.

Methods for producing biodiesel from algae have not changed much over the last twenty years, and are often costly, inefficient and rely on toxic alkali liquid catalysts. Wastewater is also produced. The new technique developed by Mr. Wen and his team overcomes these problems thanks to a proprietary solid catalyst.

The catalyst, which is made of mixed metal oxides, allows a continuous flow of biodiesel to be produced, unlike in the case of liquid catalysts that need to be neutralized with acid after each batch. No such treatment is needed for UEE catalyst, says Mr. Wen, and algal oil and methanol are input from the inlet of the reactor and flow out of the reactor as biodiesel and glycerol. The continuous flow method could also be easily scaled up or down depending on the size of the production plant and might even be used in the field if portable devices were to be made.

Bringing micro-organisms into the energy grid

Many microscopic organisms are biological factories that are proving to be efficient sources of inexpensive, environment-friendly biofuels that can serve as alternatives to oil. Researchers are looking at alternative biomasses as food for micro-organisms to ferment into ethanol. The most attractive are known as lignocellulosic biomass, such as wood residues, municipal paper waste, agricultural residues and dedicated energy crops. However, in lignocellulosic biomass, the sugars necessary for the fermentation are trapped inside the lignocellulose and needs to be released to make fuel.

In the United States, Dr. Martin Keller at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and his colleagues have adapted high throughput screening method to rapidly test poplar tree samples for their ability to give up sugars. Dr. Kellers team is growing poplar saplings under controlled environments, and is looking for microbes or microbial products that can help reduce lignocellulose into simple sugars. One of the bacteria being studied is Anaerocellum found in a hot spring in Yellowstone. It grows at about 80C and is a consolidate bioprocessing microbe: it can not only break down the cellulosic biomass to sugars but also ferment it to acetate and ethanol, saving time and money.

Dr. Andreas Schirmer from the company LS9 in the United States describes a unique strategy. LS9 has engineered a proprietary microbe to produce UltraCleanTM diesel in a one-step process. It has found a way to exploit the pathway that microbes use to make energy-rich fatty acids synthesising cell membranes and energy storage compounds, and divert them for their own purposes. Inside the fermenter, the microbes and feedstock sit in water, so the oil-like fuel compounds rise to the surface and can be easily collected, much more efficiently than the energy-rich distillation process to produce ethanol.


Biomass as Fuel in Small Boilers

This manual is an outcome of the regional workshops on biomass unitization in industrial boilers organized in Lahore, Pakistan, in August 2008. It covers basic information on the characteristics of biomass, logistic aspects and biomass energy conversion technologies, and describes methods for retrofitting coal/oil-fired boilers for biomass use including the cost economics. It aims at enhancing the understanding of boiler users and managers from SMEs of the use of biomass as fuel and the operation and maintenance of biomass boilers. This manual will prove to be of practical use to SMEs in the region who are interested in changing to the use of biomass as fuel providing them with the relevant information to plan their approach and comprehend key requirements for such a change.

Contact: Asian Productivity Organization, Hirakawa-cho Dai-ichi Seimei Bldg., 2F, 1-2-10 Hirakawa-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 102-0093, Japan. Tel: +81 (3) 52 26 3920; Fax: +81 (3) 5226 3950; E-mail:

Hydrogen Fuel: Production, Transport and Storage

This publication describes various aspects of hydrogen fuel, including production from both renewable and non-renewable sources, purification, storage, transport, safety, codes and carbon sequestration. It examines the unique properties and uses of the hydrogen molecule, its ability to be produced from numerous energy sources, and its separation and purification. The book explains various storage options such as compressed tanks, metal hydrides, carbon adsorbents and chemical hydrides. It also discusses codes and standards, monitoring techniques, as well as safety designs.

Contact: CRC Press, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1235) 400 524; Fax: +44 (1235) 400 525; E-mail:

Solid-State Hydrogen Storage: Materials and Chemistry

The book looks in detail at each type of fuel cell and the specific material requirements and challenges. It covers storage technologies, hydrogen containment materials, hydrogen futures and storage system design. It analyses porous storage materials, metal hydrides, and complex hydrides as well as chemical hydrides and hydrogen interactions.

Contact: CRC Press, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1235) 400 524; Fax: +44 (1235) 400 525; E-mail:


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