VATIS Update Non-conventional Energy . Mar-Apr 2006

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New and Renewable Energy Mar-Apr 2007

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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Record efficiency by fuel cell power plant

The Direct Fuel Cell Turbine, from FuelCell Energy in the United States, has achieved a benchmark of 56 per cent electrical efficiency in the sub-MW class for 800 continuous hours. This significantly exceeds the electrical efficiency of other distributed generation technologies of similar size, according to the company. For example, the electrical efficiency of gas engines is 30-42 per cent.

The system is based on FuelCell Energys 250 kW Direct Fuel Cell power plant and an integrated 60 kW microturbine from Capstone Turbine Corporation. Heat generated by the fuel cell is used to drive a modified microturbine to generate additional electricity. The supplemental microturbine power increases the electrical efficiency while reducing the cost of power generated without the use of additional fuel.


Charcoal-fired fuel cell

In the United States, University of Hawaii researcher Mr. Michael Antal has developed a working fuel cell that uses charcoal as its fuel and operates at bread-baking temperatures. The Antal system, termed aqueous alkali biocarbon fuel cell, is unlike other fuel cell technology both in that it uses a renewable fuel and that it does not require very high temperatures. This is effectively a battery that uses charcoal to make electricity, Mr. Antal said.

Antals cell operates at approximately 205C. By contrast, a carbon cell that was developed by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory operates at 815C. The key to the cells operation is the very chemically reactive property of charcoal, which has a large surface area and burns at relatively low temperatures. The cell functions somewhat like a car battery. It has two terminals, an anode and a cathode, in a liquid solution, and when an electrical load is put between them, electrical current flows one terminal to the other.

In Antals cell, however, the electrolyte is alkaline potassium hydroxide, not sulphuric acid. It is kept under pressure to prevent it from boiling away at 205C. The cathode, which acts as a catalyst, is made of nickel and silver or platinum. The anode is a porous ceramic column filled with charcoal powder. A piston keeps it pressurized, and serves as the attachment point for the electrical connection. In operation, hydroxide ions in the electrolyte attack the carbon, creating carbon dioxide and water. The process releases energy. The cell is fed air to provide the process with new oxygen.

The charcoal burning reaction occurs entirely within the liquid of the fuel cell. While his charcoal fuel cell works as it is, Mr. Antal said it needs to be more efficient, and his team is now fine-tuning it working with different catalysts, different electrolyte strengths and other changes. They also need to figure out how to continuously feed charcoal fuel to the system.


SOFC with high power density

Gas Technology Institute (GTI), the United States, has demonstrated operation of a high-power-density solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) using JP8, a real-world military logistics fuel containing 600-700 ppm of sulphur. This is a key milestone in the development of SOFC technology that can provide efficient, clean and quiet power for military applications.

The JP8-fuelled SOFC generation concept employs an innovative and efficient steam reforming process that tailors the product gas for the SOFC stack, enabling effective thermal management, which is key to achieving high system efficiency. The JP8 fuel processor uses an advanced sulphur tolerant catalyst, novel JP8 burner and radiant heat transfer system to convert JP8 into hydrogen and other fuel gases. The overall system is designed to capture and recycle water so that it can operate without an external source.

The latest generation SOFC stack was supplied by Versa Power Systems (VPS), a leading developer of planar SOFC stacks and systems. The 21 cell stack produced about 800 W on this fuel with an impressive power level of 315 mW/cm2. Contact: Dr. Michael Onischak, R&D Manager, Hydrogen Energy Systems Centre, Gas Technology Institute, 1700 S. Mount Prospect Road, Des Plaines, Illinois 60018, United States of America.




New microbial fuel cell technology

The new microbial fuel cell technology being developed at the Oregon State University (OSU), the United States, could revolutionize the treatment of wastewater, using organic material that until now has literally been wasted and creating either usable electricity or hydrogen to help run the cars of the future. With slight adaptations, these systems could take almost any biodegradeable organic matter and produce a useful product such as the electricity to help operate a waste treatment plant or hydrogen for fuel cells.

When used with sewage, another fringe benefit of the process is that it also cleans the water by a completely different method than the traditional use of aerobic bacteria. These systems would use oxidation to remove up to 80 per cent of the pollutants in wastewater, and at the same time provide a substantial portion of the energy used to operate the treatment plants, said Ms. Hong Liu, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Engineering.
It is now clear that, besides high-energy materials such as glucose, many organic waste materials in-cluding grass straw, wood pulp and wastewater can be used to run microbial fuel cells. Bacteria oxidize the organic matters and, in the process, produce electrons that travel from the anode to the cathode within the fuel cell, creating an electrical current. As a new concept in sewage treatment, this approach eliminates the need to pump oxygen in to a mixture of sewage and aerobic bacteria in one stroke eliminating almost half of the cost of a conventional sewage treatment plant.

One of the challenge, scientists say, will be to identify cheaper materials that produce results similar to those achieved in laboratories with costlier materials such as platinum. They believe it may be possible to create sewage treatment plants that are self-sufficient in energy production.


Low-temperature solid oxide fuel cell

In Japan, Hosokawa Microns R&D subsidiary Hosokawa Powder Technology Research Institute has developed a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) which can operate at low temperatures. The subsidiary has devised a nickel-ceria fuel electrode by leveraging its proprietary nanomaterial technology, and used it to operate SOFC at temperatures under 600C.

Hosokawa Micron expects that the new fuel electrode enables SOFCs to reduce time required for start-up/stop, improve its reliability and expand options for materials used. Accordingly, the company can produce SOFCs at low cost and will accelerate their commercialization.


Smallest fuel cell for automobiles

PSA Peugeot Citroen, France, has unveiled what it claims to be the smallest fuel cell currently available for cars. According to PSA Chairman Mr. Jean-Marie Folz, the best way to save on fuel consumption of cars in the short term is by boosting the use of diesel and by adding bio-fuel to diesel. For the medium term, hybrid diesel engines would offer further reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, while fuel cells are for a later stage, he said.

PSAs Genepac fuel cell is an 80 kW power unit, the size of a large suitcase, that can be used in light municipal vehicles. It can run for 500 km, which is more than previous fuel cell projects, but still insufficient for general use. PSA officials said that the size of the fuel cells remains a problem though at 57 litres, Genepac is much smaller than previous versions. Another problem remains starting with cold temperatures.


Platinum brightens nano-scale fuel cell prospects

A new technique using nano-scale pieces of copper and platinum wire has enabled scientists to develop a fuel cell just 200 nanometres in width. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, the United States, have devised a fuel cell that they say can function for decades by accessing a hydrogen reservoir.

By exploring the nano-composition of platinum and copper wires, the team had been able to make the breakthrough. Our goal is a nano fuel cell on a chip, but to do that you need 3-D, because the usual planar structures inside chips do not provide enough surface area, Lawrence Berkeley researcher Dr. Kenneth Lux explained. The trick we used was to adapt our technique for making copper-platinum nano-wires. By removing copper atoms from the alloy, we basically destroy the nano-wire, but what is left behind is a highly porous three-dimensional electrode, he said.

With the arrays of copper-platinum nano-wires, Dr. Lux was able to devise a functioning cell in liquid electrolyte with the team now experimenting with the use of a solid oxide, potentially opening the door to mass layered nano-scale fuel cells capable of producing power. Now the key is to ramp up the fuel cells capacity such that an improved power density is achieved with the prospect of commercial applications following on.




Hydrogen fuel technology for cars

HFT Sdn Bhd, Malaysia, claims to have developed hydrogen fuel technology (HFT) that can enable a car to run on equal parts of petrol and water. With HFT, vehicles can save up to 50 per cent in fuel consumption, said company chairman Mr. Mohamad Isa Abdullah, adding that water acts as a complementary additive to petrol.

A tank, which can store up to 10 litres of water, is installed in the boot of the car. A high compression processing canister divides the water into hydrogen and oxygen particles, which are then injected into the petrol fuel line. The mixture of petrol, hydrogen and oxygen will flow into the carburettor and the engine, enabling the car to run as usual.

Mr. Mohamad Isa said the HFT application is expected to be commercialised by Jul 2006, where about 5,000 units will be manufactured for the 1.3 Proton Iswara and introduced to taxi drivers. The HFT application is for all car types and we are also actively looking at commercialising the application for trucks and other fleet vehicles, he added. The HFT unit will be sold at M$3,000 (US $835) each and can last up to five years depending on the car heat temperature, after which the system needs to be replaced.


Technology for on-demand hydrogen generation

AirGen Corporation in the United States has demonstrated ambient temperature on-demand hydrogen generation from an aqueous solution. The development is one of many derivative technologies that AirGen has discovered from novel chemistry involving colloidal metal catalysis reactions. Several patents have been filed covering broad claims in three general applications bulk hydrogen generation, metal reduction and on-demand hydrogen generation.

Initial estimates by the company indicate an energy density nearing 600 Wh/litre of solution, double the current energy density of lithium-ion battery technologies. The effective density can increase if the water output from the fuel cell is recycled as feedstock to the reaction. Furthermore, since the process uses metals that are commercially available in large quantity at low cost, the cost of the AirGen cell is expected to be significantly lower than competing chemical hydride technologies. The company has demonstrated cells producing hydrogen gas under several different selections of metals and colloidal metals. The latest demonstration unit, which has a reaction solution volume of 250 ml, has produced hydrogen continuously for 15 days now powering a fuel cell at ambient temperature without any external power input. AirGen believes the rate generation can be enhanced by a factor of at least five times through enhanced cell designs.


New hydrogen production method

A researcher at the Sandia National Laboratories, the United States, has proposed a mechanical solar water splitting device, which uses a chemical catalyst to speed the reaction that breaks down water molecules. The Counter-rotating ring receiver reactor recuperator is a horizontal stack of rings made from iron oxide mixed with the oxide of another metal like cobalt, magnesium or nickel. First, the rings rotate through concentrated sunlight, where oxygen is stripped from the rings. They then pass through the cold side of the device, where they remove oxygen from water, leaving hydrogen.

Each ring rotates in the opposite direction of its neighbours, which transfers heat between them to conserve energy. The device would be used with solar collectors that resemble large dish antennas with mirrored interiors. They could be used to produce hydrogen gas that could be used as fuel for hydrogen-powered vehicles.


High-tech sieve sifts for hydrogen

Hydrogen is commonly generated from natural gas in a process called steam reforming, wherein treatments with hot steam convert methane in to a gaseous mixture consisting of mainly carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen. To isolate the tiny hydrogen molecules, however, engineers must first remove impurities, and the currently available methods require substantial equipment or toxic chemicals. In the United States, a team of engineers has announced the development of a simpler, safer material that can potentially assist, and in some places replace, existing processing methods.

Dr Benny Freeman of the University of Texas collaborated in this research with colleagues at both the University of Texas and the Research Triangle Institute to develop a membrane sieve to purify hydrogen produced from coal. The rubbery, plastic film which is similar to membranes already in use in biomedical devices has applications for isolating not only hydrogen but also natural gas. The membrane is more permeable to impurities than to hydrogen. Until now, existing membranes had the opposite property they were more permeable to hydrogen than to impurities.

In a phenomenon that at first seems paradoxical, larger gas molecules like CO2, and polar molecules, pass through the new film, while the much smaller hydrogen molecules stay behind. The membrane works because the molecules in its structure have relatively positive parts that attract electrons and relatively negative parts that repel electrons. CO2 has some of these polar characteristics, so it is attracted to the membrane, dissolving into it as salt dissolves into a glass of water. The molecules diffuse through the membrane at a rate that increases as more polar molecules become entrenched in the rubbery polymer, the researchers found.

Even when the membrane is saturated with impurities, the polar properties will continue to funnel the undesirable molecules along at a faster rate than for hydrogen, thus retaining most hydrogen molecules on the upstream side. Further, unlike other methods, the new reverse-selective process can capture hydrogen at a pressure close to that of the incoming gas. This is an important advantage for the membrane because high pressure is essential for transport of the gas and many applications in such systems, yet it adds significantly to the costs.


Water into fuel for hydrogen cell-powered cars

In Australia, the CSIRO has been turning water into fuel for hydrogen cell-powered cars. Developed under a programme to position Australia for a future hydrogen economy, the new solid-state unit uses water electrolysis to extract enough hydrogen each day to power a family car for 150 km.

While there are a number of companies throughout the world already using hydrogen fuel, that hydrogen often comes from a process that requires natural gas, creating unwanted carbon dioxide. The CSIRO model is more environment-friendly and it also reduces transport costs by making it possible to generate hydrogen wherever there is water and electricity.

Though the unit currently runs on mains power, researchers are investigating how to power it with renewable energy, such as solar or wind energy. CSIROs system reduces initial infrastructure costs by making it possible to generate and store energy on site and on demand. The new system is also reported to use approximately 85 per cent of the energy created.


Hydrogen from biomass system

Virent Energy System, the United States, has installed the first ever demonstration system capable of directly converting sugars and glycerin into power. The new system is based on Virents patented Aqueous Phase Reforming (APR) process a carbon neutral, one-step method for on-demand production of hydrogen, natural gas and other fuel gases for distributed power systems from widely available renewable biomass. The system has the ability to deliver a minimum of 10 kW of environment-friendly power to the grid.

Virents APR system offers a cost- effective method for low- temperature production of hydrogen and/or fuel gas. Virent was able to customize the gas production from its APR system to deliver desired compositions of hydrogen, natural gas and other fuel gases to the generator set. The system currently operates on pure glycerin. In the future, the company will use a lower grade of glycerin that is generated as a by-product of the biodiesel production process. The APR systems can be designed to deliver predominantly hydrogen or alkanes (such as ethane, butane and propane), or a customized blend of these fuels.



Six-nation clean energy initiative

Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate Change, also called AP6, is a new voluntary initiative of six major Asia-Pacific nations aiming to deploy and commercialize cleaner energy technologies. It was formally launched at its inaugural meeting on 12 January 2006 in Sydney, Australia. The non-treaty partnership among Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States is designed to accelerate the development and use of cleaner, more efficient technologies in a way that promotes economic development as well as reduces poverty.

The new initiative is a complement, not an alternative, to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to that pact, said a statement issued during the launch. The participating nations have formed task forces to study cleaner fossil energy, renewable energy and distributed generation, power generation and transmission, aluminium, steel, cement, buildings and appliances, and mining. Areas for mid- to long-term collaboration include hydrogen, nano-technologies, advanced biotechnologies, and next-generation nuclear fission and fusion energy.
The United States has a specific two-phase regulatory target to cut air pollution from power plants by nearly 70 per cent in 2010 , said the statement. Another target is to cut sulphur from diesel fuel by 99 per cent in 2007 and then cut nitrogen oxide by 90 per cent in new vehicles starting in 2007. Australia and the United States have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol. China has a new regulatory commitment in its five-year plan to desulphurize 46 per cent of the coal-fired power plants and improve their energy efficiency by 20 per cent by 2010.


Indias interest subsidy works for solar water heaters

Solar water heaters are now being installed in thousands of homes in India, thanks to the low-cost financing provided by many commercial banks in both urban and rural parts of the country. The interest rates are being subsidized by Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources (MNES), Government of India. For example, Canara Bank offers loans for solar water heaters at 2 per cent for individuals, 3 per cent for institutions and at 5 per cent to commercial entities. Typically, it finances 85 per cent of the project cost on a loan period of five years, besides the benefit of 80 per cent accelerated depreciation that private enterprises could tap.

Till the early 1990s, a capital subsidy which was monitored by the nodal agencies of MNES across the country was provided for solar water heaters. The bureaucracy of the process of availing this subsidy, however, deterred the growth of the market. For example, in the State of Karnataka, India, there were less than six solar waters manufacturers in the early 1990s. Even a 30 per cent capital subsidy did not entice new manufacturers or clients.

In the mid-1990s, a policy change from capital subsidy to interest subsidy totally changed the scenario. Numerous banks began to finance solar water heating systems and that in turn led to the growth of a number of manufacturers from less than six to more than 60 in 2005 in the State of Karnataka alone. The involvement of banks ensured the sustainability of the programme. As the solar water heater makers have to collaborate with the financial institutions for their systems to be qualified under the programme, quality product and service were ensured to the end-users. Non-performance of the system would lead to non-payment of the loan, thus leading to disqualification of the supplier.

The financing programme has led to the installation of solar water heater in houses, hotels, hospitals, small-scale businesses, medium enterprises, sugar mills, milk processing plants, food processing units all places where there is a need for hot water. Similar shift from capital to interest subsidy could be brought about in areas of solar photovoltaic, biogas and other technologies.


Korea to build 17 MW solar PV farm

In the Republic of Korea, the South Jeolla provincial government said it plans to soon start construction on one of the worlds largest solar photovoltaic (PV) facilities to generate up to 17 MW of electricity per hour. The facility will far outstrip a similar plant in Germany, which can generate 5 MW/hour and currently is the largest solar PV power plant to be built. Earlier, the provincial government reached an agreement on the project with Kore Group, a wholly owned local subsidiary of the United States-based High Quality Marketing (HQM). The project will be implemented with the aid of US$150 million of foreign investment.

The agreement follows a 2004 memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the regional government and HQM to build the facility in the provincial city of Sinan on the southwestern tip of the Korean Peninsula. Under the agreement, Japans Sharp Corporation will provide components for the generating facility, which will be designed and installed by Sun Power and Geothermal, a United States company that specializes in producing this kind of equipment. Sharp has over 27 per cent of the global market for solar cells, a key component needed for buiding such a generator.


World Bank loan to Chinese renewable energy project

The World Bank has approved a US$ 86.33 million loan to scale up Chinas use of renewable energy, since the countrys demand for power is on the increase. The Banks Board of Executive Directors approved the follow-up project to the 2005 China Renewable Energy Scale-Up Programme Phase I, which would develop a large wind farm in Chinas Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and rehabilitate and develop selected small hydropower projects in Zhejiang Province, the Bank said in a statement.

The overall renewable energy scale-up programme aims to develop the Chinese commercial market for energy suppliers to provide renewable energy to the electricity grid on a large scale in an efficient and cost-effective way. The follow-up project provides investment funds to help demonstrate the success in large-scale renewable energy development by local developers of renewable energy.

The idea behind the programme is to increase the commercial, large-scale utilizatiion of renewable energy sources like wind, solar and small hydropower so that they contribute to meeting the fast-growing electricity demand from homes, farms, and businesses, says Mr. Noureddine Berrah, lead energy specialist. As Chinas GDP quadrupled from 1980 to 2000, its energy consumption more than doubled to about 1.3 billion tonnes of coal equivalent. This could double or almost triple in the next 20 years, even if energy efficiency efforts were increased, the Bank said.


Thailand accelerates ethanol production

The Energy Ministry of Thailand is speeding up the countrys ethanol production capacity to the extent that it is now confident of the alternative fuel replacing Benzene 95 retroactive from 1 January 2006. The Energy Minister Mr. Viset Choopiban recently expressed his confidence that ethanol output projected from at least six plants will be sufficient to supply gasohol production. The Thai government plans to make gasohol an alternative to Benzene 95, the sale of which it wants stopped from January 2007.

A national committee, chaired by Public Health Minister Mr. Pinij Jarusombat, to promote development of bio-energy will be meeting to review whether the 24 plants licensed to produce ethanol have actually commenced production as planned or not. Those who have not yet contracted to buy machinery will have their licence revoked, so that others can be licensed in their place, said Mr. Viset.


China to witness greater development of renewable energy

China will see a greater development and use of renewable energy in the years to come as the country has adopted policies to encourage more efforts in this regard. The Renewable Energy Law, which came into effect on 1 January 2006, stipulates that development and use of renewables are of priority for future energy development.
In accordance with the law, real estate developers are required to take the use of solar energy into consideration in designing and constructing buildings in order to provide solar energy application with basic conditions. The Chinese Ministry of Construction has laid down a goal in an energy-efficient programme for buildings of the 2000-10 period, stating the availability of solar panel heaters in Chinese homes should be 20-30 per cent.

Mr. Luo Zhentao, head of solar energy thermal application with the China Association for Renewable Energy in Rural Areas, says it is also imperative for the central Chinese government to give preferential tax treatment to businesses engaged in converting solar energy into heat. Lowering the current 17 per cent added value tax for thermal use of solar energy to 6 per cent will help reduce operating costs for enterprises, as well as encourage them to increase investment in technical upgrading, he says. Mr Luo believes rural areas of the country would be a key region for spreading affordable home solar panel heaters in the future.

China now leads the world in the production and application of solar panel heaters. It has about 2,000 businesses engaged in the thermal application of solar energy. China produces 75 million square metres of solar panel heaters, or 60 per cent of the worlds total. It is estimated that the Chinese market demand for solar panel heaters will rise to 300 million square metres by the year 2020.


More apply for biodiesel plant licences in Malaysia

Applications of 16 local and international parties for licences to build biodiesel plants in Malaysia are at present under evaluation, said the Plantation Industries and Commodities Deputy Minister Datuk Anifah Aman. To date, only three companies have licences from Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) to set up palm biodiesel plants, using the MPOB patented technology. Each have an annual production capacity of 60,000 tonnes, he said.
Meanwhile, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin said Malaysias palm oil output is expected to be lower for the first half of 2006 compared with the same period in 2005 and this would influence the price. Bernama reported on 22 February that the spot price of crude palm oil (CPO) for March stood at M$1,460 (US$405) per tonne. MPOB recently reported that CPO production has continued to increase for seven consecutive years, reaching 15 million tonnes in 2005 from 14 million tonnes in 2004.


Green-power spending in Korea to increase

The government of the Republic of Korea has announced that it would increase its budget this year for the development of different forms of reusable energy. Koreas Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said it would inject 409.5 billion won (US$415 million) into projects to expand the countrys sources of energy. Current years budget for energy development is 26.3 per cent higher than the amount spent in 2005, it said.

Government spending in the field, which stood at 119.3 billion won, or US$120.9 million, at the start of this administration in 2003 has risen by roughly 100 billion won every year, a ministry official said. He added that the budget had to be increased because Korea needs to cut back on greenhouse gases to meet the standards of the Kyoto Protocol. Currently, Korea is not obligated to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. However, experts said that as a leading industrialized economy, the country will eventually be pressured to do so.

Development of technology in such areas as commercially viable fuel cells, solar energy and wind power is crucial for achieving sustainable economic growth, officials said. As part of such efforts, Korea is aiming to replace fossil fuels with hydrogen power by 2040. The government proposed a hydrogen-based economic master plan last year. The plan calls for Korea to fuel a sizeable part of its transportation and electrical equipment through eco-friendly fuel cells. The 2006 budget for reusable energy calls for 124.4 billion won (US$126 million) to be spent on R&D and 137.5 billion won (US$ 139.3 million) on clean-energy projects such as solar-panelled homes.


Malaysia to host worlds largest solar product plant

Terengganu, one of the three east coast states on Peninsular Malaysia, will become the worlds largest solar product manufacturer with the setting up of a state-of-the-art production facility in Teluk Kalong in April. This follows the move by Denmark Solar Industry (DSI), a world leader in the fabrication of solar panels and other solar energy products, to relocate its plant here.

DSI has entered into a joint venture with SOLARin group to set up the facility with an initial investment of M$200 million (US$55.6 million). The amount would be increased by five times when the facility becomes fully operational in 2008, said Datuk Naser Ismail, SOLARin Holdings president and group executive chairman, revealing the companys plans to turn Teluk Kalong into the first solar valley in the world.

DSIs CEO Per Vejrum Pape said the availability of high-grade silica oxide was the prime reason for the facility to be located in Kemaman. He said a study by DSI found that the white sand in Kuala Abang in Dungun had the highest content of silica the main raw material to produce solar cells. It is 99.5 per cent pure and such a high content cannot be found in China, Vietnam or Thailand, Mr. Pape said. He added that the high quality of silica would lower the production cost of solar cells, a major component of the solar module.



Geothermal Energy: Utilization and Technology

Geothermal Energy: Utilization and Technology is a detailed reference text, describing the various methods and technologies used to exploit the earths heat. Beginning with an overview of geothermal energy and the state of the art, leading international experts in the field cover all main applications of geothermal energy, including: electricity generation, space and district heating, space cooling, greenhouse heating and industrial applications.

The final third of the book focuses upon environmental impact and economic, financial and legal considerations, providing a comprehensive review of these topics. Each chapter is written by a different author, but to a set style, beginning with aims and objectives and ending with references, self-assessment questions and answers. The book has case studies included throughout for the benefit of professionals.

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


Fundamentals of Renewable Energy Processes

Fundamentals of Renewable Energy Processes contains the technical detail necessary to understand the engineering principles that govern renewable energy application at many different levels. Focused on the fundamental mechanisms and processes that underpin energy management, it provides students with the foundation for all energy process courses. This text is organized according to the main forms of energy heat engines, hydrogen energy, energy from the sun, and wind and water energy with an introductory chapter of basic energy terms. From fuel cells, electrolysers and processes for hydrogen production to biomass and windmills, the author provides a thorough examination of all aspects of renewable energy processes.
The book is meant for students of environmental engineering, chemical engineering and mechanical engineering, besides renewable energy professionals and managers.

Contact: Elsevier B.V., Customer Service Department, 3 Killiney Road, #08-01, Winsland House I, Singapore 239519.Tel: +65 6349 0222; Fax: +65 6733 1817



Titania nanotube arrays harness solar energy

Pennsylvania State University researchers are finding new ways to harness the power of the sun using highly ordered arrays of titania nanotubes for hydrogen production and increased solar cell efficiency. This is an amazing material architecture for water photolysis, said Prof. Craig Grimes, faculty member of the departments of electrical engineering, and materials science and engineering, referring to some recent finds of his research group.

The highly ordered titanium nanotube arrays, under UV illumination, give a photoconversion efficiency of 13.1 per cent. This means that a high amount of hydrogen can be derived out of the system per photon put in. If we could successfully shift its bandgap into the visible spectrum we would have a commercially practical means of generating hydrogen by solar energy, said Prof. Grimes.

The initial results of the research cover application of highly ordered transparent titania nanotubes on the negative electrode in dye solar cells. These solar cells show promise as a relatively low-cost solution to efficiently producing electricity from the sun. The highly ordered nanotube arrays provide excellent pathways for electron percolation, in effect acting as electron highways for directing the photo-generated electrons to where they can perform useful work. Their results suggest that highly efficient dye solar cells could be made simply by increasing the length of the nanotube arrays. The researchers feel that solutions to this and other processing issues are within reach and will result in a considerable, possibly quite dramatic increase in solar cell efficiency.


Three-dimensional photoelectric module

The Robotiker-Tecnalia Technological Centre in Spain has developed three-dimensional photoelectric modules that allow greater capture of sunlight and has a higher capacity of energy generation. The research, which started a few years ago, focused on Intelligent Photoelectric Systems. It involved the development of new topologies for photoelectric plants as a solution to the high losses experienced by the current photoelectric systems.

This new topology, known as modular architecture, is based on the incorporation of a small electronic system into each photoelectric module in order to carry out the distributed control of the energy provided. This helps minimize the losses of the photoelectric systems, enabling each solar panel to operate to its maximum potential independently of the rest of the modules. This advantage would be more evident in larger photoelectric systems connected to the grid.


Nanocrystals hold promise for solar technologies

Scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the United States, have discovered that carrier multiplication in which semiconductor nanocrystals respond to photons by producing multiple electrons is applicable to a broader array of materials than previously thought. The discovery increases the potential for the use of nanocrystals as solar cell materials for higher electrical outputs than current solar cells.

The scientists have published papers recently in Nature Physics and Applied Physics Letters, the scientists demonstrate that carrier multiplication is not unique to lead selenide nanocrystals, but also occurs with very high efficiency in nanocrystals of other compounds, such as cadmium selenide. In addition, these new results shed light on the mechanism for carrier multiplication, which likely occurs via the instantaneous photoexcitation of multiple electrons. Such a process has never been observed in macroscopic materials and it explicitly relies on the unique physics of the nano-scale size regime.
The absorption of a single photon could produce two or even three excited electrons. Carrier multiplication relies upon strong interactions between electrons squeezed within the tiny volume of a nano-scale semiconductor particle. In nano-size crystals, strong electron-electron interactions make a high-energy electron unstable. This electron only exists in virtual state for an instant before rapidly transforming into a more stable state comprising two or more electrons.

The Los Alamos findings point to practical photovoltaic technologies that may use such traditional solar cell materials as cadmium telluride, which is very similar to cadmium selenide. Other interesting opportunities may also be associated with the use of carrier multiplication in solar-fuel technologies and specifically, the production of hydrogen by photo-catalytic water splitting.


CIS thin film module for grid-connected applications

Shell Solar, Germany, is extending its PowerMax module product line with the release of Eclipse, the new product based on the companys leading CIS thin film technology. The module is the largest and highest power CIS thin film solar module ever produced by Shell Solar. It is also the first commercially available CIS thin film module to achieve international certification for grid-connected applications.

The new product provides additional performance benefits for systems installed in low light, cloud or shaded conditions, while maintaining field performance and reliability. The new Shell PowerMax Eclipse 80-C also features an elegant appearance, particularly important for discerning customers who value aesthetics as much as performance. It has obtained IEC 61646 and TV Safety Class 2 (1000V) certification.

Contact: Shell Solar GmbH, Domagkstrasse 34, 80807 Munich, Germany. Tel: +49 (89) 45 2340



Improved solar cell efficiency

XsunX Inc., the United States, developer of Power GlassTM has produced improved solar cell efficiencies. The efficiency improvements were the result of efforts to increase the band gap properties of the cell structure. An increase to the band gap properties allows the cell to capture and convert a larger portion of the available solar energy into electricity. Another area of improvement associated with this effort was the increase of the open circuit voltage capabilities of the solar cell structure.These improvements in combination produced more transparent, thinner cell structures than previous baselines, and conversion efficiencies of 5 per cent in lab tests.

An improvement to the band gap properties of solar cell materials is an area of industry wide effort, said Mr. Tom Djokovich, CEO of XsunX. Improved band gaps allow the same materials to produce more power. This translates into low per watt costs and is why there is so much work being done in this area. Making the cell more transparent, thinner and more efficient may allow us to use these gains to improve yield and throughput under mass production conditions, Mr. Djokovich stated.

Contact: XsunX Inc., 65 Enterprise, Aliso Viejo, California, CA 92656, United States of America. Tel: +1 (949) 330 8060; Fax: +1 (949) 330 8061




Breakthrough in PV-based solar energy generation

Prof. Vivian Alberts of University of Johannesburg claims that he can make solar panels that are around five microns thick: conventional photovoltaic devices are 350 microns thick. He also says the cost of the technology is a fraction that of less effective silicon solar panels. The claims are yet to be substantiated by audited performance data.

The work is part of a joint project of the University of Port Elizabeth, the University of Pretoria and the Rand Afrikaans University (RAU). It was launched to address the urgent need for environmentally neutral, renewable energy sources. It involved work on an industrial method for producing copper-indium(gallium)-diselenide (CIGS) solar panels at very low cost.

The project is based on predictions that CIGS panels could supply electricity at low costs. It plans to put a full-scale commercial production plant into operation and two Germany-based solar energy companies have shown strong interest in the technology. IFE Solar Systems, which has invested around US$83 million in the technology, plans to start manufacturing panels in Europe later this year. If the claims made are true, the solar panels will be capable of generating a sensible amount of solar energy in Europe. The technology is also meant for rural power generation projects.


Solar-diesel hybrid power plant

Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd., India, has commissioned at Bangaram Island in Lakshadweep the countrys largest solar-diesel hybrid power plant, which it hopes would efficiently supply power, besides considerably reducing the consumption of high speed diesel and conserving the ecology and environment. The hybrid system comprises a 50 kW solar photovoltaic (SPV) array containing SPV modules manufactured with high-efficiency single crystalline solar cells, maintenance-free lead-acid battery bank, two numbers each of 75 kVA diesel generators, besides a power conditioning unit and other associated auxiliaries.

The system works in full automatic mode by prioritizing on solar power. Depending on the site load, solar availability and the battery state of charge, the diesel generator set automatically turns on and supplies power to site loads and also charges the battery bank. The Electricity Department of Lakshadweep had previously commissioned a 10 MW SPV plant on the island in order to help meet increasing demand for power. Based on its success, Lakshadweep administration decided to commission a 50 kW solar diesel hybrid power plant to ensure round-the-clock power supply.



Generating device to harness tides

In the United Kingdom, the Department of Trade and Industry is co-funding the initial stage of a 1.7 million trial project in which a new electricity-generating device called Pulse Stream 100 will be installed to harness some of Humber estuarys massive tidal power. The one-fifth scale, car-size generator device will be sited a few hundred metres from the shoreline at North Killingholme, close to two massive gas-powered stations. Using high-performance hydrofoils that are similar to airplane wings, Pulse Stream 100 will move up and down in the water to take energy from tidal currents. It would produce electricity to power up to 70 homes.

The project is being carried out by a consortium that comprises Pulse Tidal, IT Power, BMT Renewables, CIC Omec, Econnect, the University of Hull and LIFE industrial cluster. The consortium will develop the technology through prototype testing to commercial product. The team behind Pulse Stream 100 hopes it will be the first of its kind actually linked into the national grid. Eventually large-scale models could be used offshore, or a number of units could be linked together in docks, rivers and estuaries, even shallow ones.

In the first stage, Pulse Tidal will test and cost its tidal power system in a two-year project. The device has already proved a success in tank tests at the University of Hull. Tidal Pulse joint managing director Mr. Howard Nimmo said the system had significant advantages over wind power, with machines being much smaller and able to be much more compactly arranged. The pollution involved is almost zero and the tides are predictable for years in advance.


Large-scale energy extraction from marine currents

Pure Energy Systems (PES) Network Inc., Utah, the United States, has introduced a patented concept for the large-scale energy extraction from tides and marine currents. PES claims that the installation cost for Water Wall Turbine would be in the range of US$1,000/kW for a 40 MW unit and energy production cost would be in the range of US $0.03/kWh.

The energy extraction capacity of Water Wall Turbine is claimed to be typically more than 40 MW, but varies with the tidal range and thus with the size of the equipment. The larger the unit, the more efficient it would be since energy losses would decline. All relative-moving parts bearings, gearbox and generator are well above water level (normally at least 4 m). The unit is shaped like a giant paddle wheel and can be assembled on site. It is reported to need only minimal maintenance.

The blades move with the current, with almost no relative speed differences between the blades and the water, unlike other turbine blade tips that move at around 17 m/s perpendicular to the current that moves at around 2.5 m/s. The turbine generates energy by means of a full continuous cross-sectional frontal attack on the current using the large blades. The blades rotate with the current, resulting in extremely efficient energy generation.


Simple generator to tap wave power

Trident Energy, a British company based in Southend-on-Sea, has unveiled a system that uses the up-and-down motion of a floating buoy to move an electrical coil along a stack of magnets, and thus generate an alternating current in the coil. At a stroke you get rid of all the hydraulics that the rotary generators used by other wave power devices need, says Mr. Hugh-Peter Kelly, the founder of Trident. This should make the device relatively cheap and reliable. Furthermore, since the generator only moves up and down it takes up very little space, so that a number of them could be fitted into a small area.

The generator needs to be attached to a platform in the sea, rather like a small oil rig. That would involve construction, but it would use well-established techniques, says Mr. Richard McMahon, an engineer from the University of Cambridge who helped Trident to refine its prototype. Results of tests run using a one-fifth scale model show that each full-scale generator should supply up to 100 kW of power. Mr. Kelly calculates that a wave farm covering at the most 1.5 square kilometres would generate about 100 MW of power the equivalent of a small power station.

Tridents floats would be the only thing exposed to the corrosive salty water, as all the electronics are kept high and dry on the rig. The floats could be drawn up out of harms way during a storm. The system works most efficiently when the waves are 0.5-5 m high.



Food waste into biogas and hydrogen

Leftover rice, vegetable peels and chicken bones could end up lighting homes and even running gas- powered cars, says scientists at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Researchers have found a way to convert food waste into biogas and hydrogen and have started building a trial plant in Singapore to test the technology.

The plant will initially be used to produce only biogas, said Associate Professor Wang Jing-Yuan, leader of the project. The city-state churned out about 1,400 t of food waste enough to fill almost 200 garbage trucks every day last year. Estimates show that recycling of food waste can reduce the load on incinerators by up to 20 per cent.


Turning organic waste into energy

Kobe Steel, Japan, has developed a refuse-derived fuel (RDF) manufacturing plant that offers an efficient recycling solution for municipal solid waste. In the standard process flow of Kobe Steels RDF manufacturing system, most incombustibles in the refuse are rejected at the crushing and selection stages. Using a dryer, the refuse is dried to 10 per cent moisture. Remaining coarse incombustibles are removed in the air blow selector. The waste left is crushed again and formed into pellets by the pelletizer. The plant capacity is 8-80 t/d.

The advantages claimed for the plant include:
  • Good quality fuel from waste;
  • Remote controlled rejection system for unsuitable waste;
  • Ozone and catalyser deodorizing system to fully eliminate bad smell; and
  • Optimized and adaptable design suited to different types of refuse collection system and plant capacities.

The RDF pellet measures 10-20 mm in diameter and 20-40 mm in length. Specific gravity in bulk is 0.6-0.7 and the lowest calorific value is 3,500-4,500 kcal/kg.

Contact: Kobelco Eco-Solutions Co., 4-78, 1-chome, Wakinohama-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe 651-0072, Japan. Tel: +81 (78) 232 8018; Fax: +81 (78) 232 8051.



Anaerobic digestion to produce energy

In the United States, University of Florida (UF) researchers have developed a manure management system for livestock farms that saves valuable nutrients for fertilizers, produces energy, cuts greenhouse gas emissions, all without any offensive odors. Anaerobic digesters can process 5-10 times more waste than aerobic systems,stated Ms.Ann Wilkie, an associate research professor with UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Furthermore, odors, files and pathogens are reduced by as much as 95 percent.

The methane produced using anaerobic digestion can be used to heat water or generate electricity, eliminating greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus can be recovered and used to fertilize crops. About 40 cubic feet of methane per day can be produced from each dairy cow, Ms. Wilkie said. Each cubic feet of methane has about 1,000 BTUs, which add up to a huge amount of useable energy.

To demonstrate the technology at a working dairy farm, a large-scale anaerobic digester at UF's 500-cow Dairy Research Unit in Hague is now generating biogas from manure that is flushed from the animal barns and the milking parlors. The fixed-film anaerobic digester set up at Hague iss a 100,000-gallon tank that has a relatively small footprint. In fixed-film digesters, the bacterial growth occurs on the surfaces of the internal media that the waste must flow over, thereby assuring frequent contact. According to Ms. Wilkie, higher volumes of wastewater can be processed this way.


Building-mounted wind turbines

Renewable Devices Swift Turbines Ltd. (RDST), a company based in Edinburgh, the United Kingdom, has designed and brought to market the Swift roof-mounted wind turbine, which has a rated power output of 1.5 kW. The Swift wind turbine is claimed to reliably generate sufficient energy and require very little maintenance, and be small enough to mount on the building, quite in operation and low in operational costs.

The Swift has a five-blad rotor with a ring connecting the tips of all the blades. The current model is sized to be suitable for mounting on small public buildings and schools, and has a blade diameter of 2.1 m. The rotor and blades are made from carbon fibre with an inner Kevlar layer for impact resistance, and rotate about a horizontal axis. The five- blade design makes a turbine that is structurally stronger than the typical 3-bladed system. It also enables the turbine to rotate at a lower speed, and this reduces noise. The ring helps reduce noise, augments the air flow and energy yield, aligns the rotor to face the wind, and increases turbine robustness and safety.

The rotor is attached to a permanent magnet generator, which gen-erates AC electrical power at the rotor frequency. Innovative software gives maximum-power-point tracking (MPPT), which keeps the turbine operating at optimum efficiency over a wide range of wind speeds, and converts the AC to DC. There is a learning process in the MPPT software which enables the turbine to optimize itself for different wind climates. RDST has developed a low-vibration system for mounting the Swift on buildings, using variable tension bolts and rubber brackets to damp out different frequencies of vibration.

The current model of Swift generates 1.5 kW electricity at the rated wind speed of 12.5 m/s. The measured characteristics of the Swift suggest an electrical output of 4 MWh per year at an average wind speed of 8 m/s. This is confirmed by initial measurements of about
3 MWh/year.

Contact: Mr. Charlie Silverton, Renewable Devices Swift Turbines Ltd., SAC Bush Estate, Edinburgh EH26 0PH, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (131) 535 3301; Fax: +44 (131) 535 3303.




Mobile rotors for wind power

The Magenn Power Air Rotor System (MARS), from Magenn Power Inc., Canada, is a novel lighter-than-air tethered rotor that rotates about a horizontal axis in response to wind, efficiently generating clean renewable electrical energy at a lower cost than other competing systems. Helium sustains the Air Rotor, which ascends to an altitude for best winds. Its rotation causes the Magnus effect, which provides more lift, keeps the device stabilized, keeps it positioned within a very controlled and restricted location, and causes it to pull up overhead rather than drift downwind.

A closed three-dimensional structure (cylinder), MARS provides high torque, low starting speeds, and superior overall efficiency, thanks to its ability to deploy higher. This tethered device generates electricity as it rotates about a horizontal axis at wind speeds between 1 m/s and 28 m/s. Large MARS units may be deployed to supplement established grid systems supporting the electrical needs of large urban areas. Small MARS units could be set up in disaster-struck areas for emergency electrical power for medical and other disaster relief situations.

Other main advantages of the Magenn Air Rotor System design are as follows:
  • Less expensive per unit of actual electrical energy output, when compared with competing wind power units.
  • Delivers time averaged output closer to its rated capacity than the capacity factor typical with conventional designs.
  • Wind farms can be placed much closer to
    demand centres, redu-
    cing transmission costs and losses.
  • Can be raised to higher altitudes (400-1,000-ft above ground level), thus capitalizing on higher winds.
  • Can be easily moved to different locations to tap changing winds.

Contact: Magenn Power Inc., Windmill Centre, 105 Schneider Road, Kanata, Ontario, Canada K2K 1Y3. Tel: +1 (613) 733 8488; Fax: +1 (613) 733 3260.


New models of wind energy predictions

In Denmark, Ris National Laboratory (RNL), the Denmark Technical University (DTU), the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), Elsam and Energi E2 have jointly developed a new method for predicting the energy produced by wind turbines. The method would save millions for electricity producers and consumers.

For more than ten years, scientists from RNL and DTUs Department of Informatics and Mathematical Mod-elling have been providing wind energy predictions, based on DMIs me-teorological data, to the electric utilities 48 hours ahead. Now, a new class of models is able to calculate the uncertainty of predictions up to a week ahead: the uncertainties are calculated by including predictions from an ensemble of meteorological models. The new models are able to predict the amount of the energy production in the coming week at a certain location for example, a wind farm or an entire region and make an uncertainty estimate for that particular prediction.

These models allow the electricity utilities to save money, says Mr. Gregor Giebel, Senior Scientist at Ris. In Denmark, the electricity utilities must typically trade power for the next 24 hours by 12 noon the previous day. With a certain prognosis, the utilities are able to plan optimally and if it is uncertain, they need to have costly back-up reserves. Good prognoses help in reducing the electricity price and the risk of power outages. Moreover, the new models can be used to predict fuel consumption at power plants, or to decide when to disconnect a unit from the system for maintenance. The models for predicting wind energy are primarily supplied to electricity utilities which in this way would know how much power they need to purchase on the liberalized electricity market in order to meet demand and ensure a stable power supply.


Next-generation small wind turbine

Zephyr Corporation, Tokyo, Japan, has started marketing its small wind turbine with a radical new concept: the Airdolphin Mark-Zero. Airdolphin is able to generatie power under conditions ranging from light breeze to gale-force winds. It achieves non-stop power generation between 2.5 m/s and 50 m/s wind speed. Extensive tests have shown that the Airdolphin actually generates more power in variable wind conditions, even when the average wind speed is small, which makes it more cost-effective than large wind turbines. Airdolphin generates 100-120 kWh per month for an average wind speed of 6 m/s.
Other main features are:
  • Rated power output of 1 kW at 12.5 m/s wind speed, and a maximum power output of 3.2 kW at 20 m/s wind speed.
  • Multi-stagger propeller design, which combines carbon fibre skin with the latest manufacturing technology for a rigid, lightweight, low-noise propeller (diameter 1.8 m).
  • New rudder design, which makes it possible to instantaneously follow changes in wind direction, dramatically improving power generation efficiency.
  • Rigid, corrosion-resistant aluminium die-cast body, assembled using traditional Japanese construction methods for greater durability.
  • In the absence of wind, the turbine boosts itself with a starter motor once a minute for 10 seconds, creating enough aerodynamic lift to catch even a small breeze and keep on turning. This function also helps to prevent freezing in winter.
  • Advanced power management system.
  • The turbine, with a weight of 7.5 kg and a maximum output of 4.5 kW, has a powerful regenerative brake damping force.

Contact: Mr. Jack Muroi, Zephyr Corporation, Tokyo, Japan. Tel: +81 (3) 3299 1910; Fax: +81 (3) 329919 77




Vertical axis wind turbine

Turby, developed by Turby B.V. in the Netherlands with research input from the Delft University of Technology, is a vertical axis Darrieus wind turbine. The three vertical aerofoil blades have a helical twist of 60, similar to Gorlovs water turbines. Since the wind turns each blade around on both the windward and leeward sides of the turbine, the torque spreads evenly over the entire revolution, thus preventing the destructive pulsations of the straight-bladed wind mill.

Another advantage of the helical twist is that the blades generate torque from upwards-slanting airflow. This is negligible in open country, but tall buildings and cliff faces generate a bow wave, which directs airflow up and over them. Turbines mounted on top of building roofs or cliffs are exposed to significantly slanting flow, and the Turby can extract more useful energy from it than can a propeller-type turbine.

The turbine measures 2 m in diameter and 2.9 m in height (including generator), and weighs 136 kg. It is rated to generate in winds of between 4 m/s and 14 m/s, and can survive winds of 55 m/s. Rated power at 14 m/s is 2.5 kW. The AC output from the synchronous generator is rectified to DC, and then inverted to AC at 230 V 50 Hz.


Spiral-vane wind turbine

Oy Windside Production Ltd., Finland, has developed wind turbines in which the wind rotor is rotated by two spiral-formed vanes. The safe, silent and efficient turbines provide substantial benefits, especially in demanding conditions and remote places. These wind turbines are used in professional applications, such as for charging batteries in lighthouses, maritime boards, oil platforms and telecommunication towers. But the turbines can also be used in homes, leisure houses, boats, streetlights and even on top of skyscrapers.

The turbine starts producing electricity at very low wind velocities of 1-2 m/s, and it is totally soundless. They work well both in hot deserts and freezing poles. A series turbines withstand stormy winds of 60 m/s, B-series 40 m/s and C-series 30 m/s. Windside turbines are made of special steel, aluminium, fibreglass and stainless steel. Need of maintenance is minimum.


Silent and vibration-free wind turbine

In the United Kingdom, XCO2 has designed and developed an elegant vertical-axis wind turbine, which is virtually silent and free from vibration. Th eturbinr, called quietrevolution, is ideally suited to both urban sites and exposed locations. The simple and robust design incorporates just one moving part, maximizing reliability and minimizing maintenance needs.

Quietrevolution is also available in a unique model capable of creating a striking visual display that is part illuminated billboard, part artwork, part renewable energy device. Light emitting diodes embedded in each of its three S-shaped blades fire in sequence as the blades rotate, thus painting a video screen that seems to hang in the air. This full colour and motion image is clearly visible day and night.

The rotor blades are made of carbon fibre and epoxy resin. The turbine, which has a design life of 20 years, stands 5 m tall and has a diameter of 3.1 m. Operational wind speeds are 4.5 m/s to 16 m/s. The turbine has a direct-drive, mechanically integrated, weather-sealed 6 kW permanent magnet generator. Other features include over-speed braking above 14m/s wind speed and auto shutdown in wind speeds above 16m/s.

Contact: XCO2, No. 1-5 Offord Street, London N1 1DH. United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (20) 77 00 1000; Fax: +44 (20) 7700 4455



New model wind turbine

A team of engineers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the United States, and the Makeyev State Rocket Centre, Russia, has developed a new model of wind turbine for home use. The turbine, which will be produced by Wind Sail, is a vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) to be used as generator for off-the-grid and distributed-grid systems.

The first VAWT prototype has vertical, fibreglass blades that rotate around a mast like an eggbeater. It is about 30 ft high with blades 12 ft tall with a diameter of about 10 ft. But the design can be scaled up or down, for large-scale farms or home use. VAWT systems have several advantages over more traditional horizontal axis wind turbines, such as quieter operation and a much lower rate of bird kills.



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