VATIS Update Non-conventional Energy . Mar-Apr 2009

Register FREE
for additional services
Download PDF
New and Renewable Energy Mar-Apr 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.

Editorial Board
Latest Issues
New and Renewable
VATIS Update Non-conventional Energy Oct-Dec 2017
VATIS Update Biotechnology Oct-Dec 2017
VATIS Update Waste Management Oct-Dec 2016
VATIS Update Food Processing Oct-Dec 2016
Ozone Layer
VATIS Update Ozone Layer Protection Sep-Oct 2016
Asia-Pacific Tech Monitor Oct-Dec 2014




Turbines officially spinning in Antarctica

In Antarctica, eight wind turbines are withstanding temperatures of -60C and wind speeds above 90 m/s. The Princess Elisabeth Station is the only polar base operating entirely on renewable energies. It marks a major change as most stations rely on diesel generators, as no wind turbines, until now, were thought to be robust enough for such extreme conditions.

The turbines will endure the most severe weather conditions on Earth. They will be operating in average winds of 85 km/h and winter gusts of over 320 km/h, while providing 230 V electricity for the stations heating, computers, lights and scientific instruments. The electricity generated is expected to be the highest output of any small wind power system in the world.

Proven Energy, a Scotland-based small wind turbine manufacturer, supplied the 6 kW wind turbines. The turbines are designed to work in extreme environments. Previous installations have weathered ice storms in Slovenia and typhoons in Japan. By bringing together international technology and expertise, Princess Elisabeth Station will aim to reduce the stations ecological footprint on the pristine environment of Antarctica, following the principles set forth by the Antarctic Treaty. In addition to the turbines, solar photovoltaic thermal technologies will be used on the building. Contact: Mr. Mark Connolly, Proven Energy, Torus Building, Rankine Avenue, Scottish Enterprise Technology Park, East Kilbride G75 0QF, Scotland, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1355) 597 014; E-mail: mark.connolly@; Website:


International renewable energy body launched

A new organization promoting the development and use of renewable energies was launched recently in Bonn, Germany. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) will advise industrialized and developing nations on ways of reducing their dependency on oil, coal and gas. Representatives from about 60 nations are expected to sign the founding document.

Speaking at the opening event, Mr. Sigmar Gabriel, Germanys Environment Minister, said the potential for renewable energies is large, and needs more help to achieve a global breakthrough. IRENA will be the new mouthpiece for renewable energies, he said. IRENA is intended to counterbalance the International Energy Agency as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency, by becoming a driving force behind renewable energy technologies such as sun, wind, water and geothermal energy sources. It will facilitate the transfer of renewable energy technologies to developing countries rich in renewable energy resources.


Indias first hydrogen fuel pump

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Indias largest oil marketing company by sales, will open the countrys first hydrogen fuel-dispensing station in New Delhi shortly. The hydrogen fuel to be dispensed at this pump will use atmospheric air and electrolyser technology to synthesise pure hydrogen, which will be used to fuel vehicles. This is the culmination of a journey undertaken by IOC to diversify the energy mix of the country that ultimately results in energy security in the future, remarks Mr. R.K. Malhotra, Executive Director of Research & Development of IOC.

At the outset, IOC will target current CNG vehicle-owners in the capital public transport vehicle operators, goods carriers or passenger car owners because these vehicles can be run on hydrogen fuel mix with a little modification, says Mr. Malhotra. The pump will dispense a mix of hydrogen and CNG roughly in 20:80 ratio to a group of test vehicles three-wheelers and passenger vehicles mainly drawn from the governments fleet. But use of 100 per cent pure hydrogen as auto fuel, Mr. Malhotra adds, will require a completely new engine.

The fuel pump will be set up at a cost of Rs 50 million (about US$1 million), with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas funding the project in equal measure. In 2006, the government unveiled its National Hydrogen Energy Roadmap, outlining an ambitious target of converting 1 million vehicles to run on hydrogen.


China launches solar energy action plan

The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has announced the official launch of the Action Plan for Solar Energy. The plan is divided into three phases distributed utilization of solar energy by 2015, substitution utilization by 2025 and extensive utilization by 2035, aiming to make solar energy one of Chinas important energy sources around 2050.

CAS will collaborate with Chinas relevant scientific and technological agencies to set up a number of public platforms for solar energy technologies and research centres. The focus will be on the key scientific issues concerning the transformation and utilization of solar energy such as photovoltaic, photothermal, photochemical and photobiological techniques, covering theory, methodology, materials and techniques. The plan will simultaneously promote the research and development of core techniques and applications through an integrated approach, to eventually form a scientific and innovative value chain for the utilization of solar energy.


Republic of Korea creates renewable energy fund

The government of the Republic of Korea is setting up a US$72.2 million renewable energy fund to increase renewable energy infrastructure. According to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, the fund will be used to attract private sector investments in solar, wind and hydroelectric power projects, including technology development and plant construction.

The government is planning 24 MW worth of new wind projects, about eight small hydroelectric plants and a marine-based biofuel plant. It is also planning to host a large international exhibition on clean energy. The governments goal is to raise the countrys energy export revenues from US$1.2 billion in 2008 to US$2.2 billion in 2009.


Bangladesh lifts duty on solar energy tools

The Government of Bangladesh has decided to withdraw all duties from solar energy equipment to encourage use of solar energy, especially in the remote and economically backward locations. With more than 300,000 households already using solar energy equivalent to 15 MW, mainly in the coastal south-western region, this withdrawal would give a 15 per cent reduction per solar panel worth Tk 10,000 (about US $145). People usually go for a two-panel system. Currently, there is 15 per cent VAT on all renewable energy equipment.

The decision came at a meeting the Prime Minister Ms. Sheikh Hasina, who also holds the energy portfolio, had with the energy ministry officials. It is in line with the Renewable Energy Policy of Bangladesh, approved by the caretaker government last year. The policy exempts renewable energy project investors in public and private sectors from corporate income tax for five years from the date of notification of the policy.

The existing renewable energy financing facility will be expanded and, in addition to commercial lending, a microcredit support network will be established, especially in rural and remote areas, to provide financial support for purchase of necessary equipment. An institution Sustainable Energy Development Agency (SEDA) will be established as a focal point for sustainable energy development and promotion.


Pakistan approves renewable energy policy extension

Pakistans Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) has approved the extension of the short-term renewable energy policy till December 2009. The policy was to be superseded by a more comprehensive medium-term policy. The decision was taken at a meeting of the AEDB Board of Directors chaired by Mr. Raja Pervez Ashraf, Pakistans Minister for Water and Power and AEDB Chairman.

The short-term policy approved by the federal cabinet in December 2006 was intended for business and technology demonstration, appropriate regulatory framework, market and resource assessment, rural energy programme design, pilot testing of decentralized energy provision, capacity building, development of renewable energy financing, and market facilitation measures.
AEDB decided to approach provincial governments for provision of wasteland for biodiesel plantation, as several private sector organizations have shown interest in biodiesel production and have sought land for plantations. It reviewed the progress on wind energy projects and decided to carry out a survey in areas earmarked for rural electrification through solar energy.


Renewable energy development in the Philippines

The state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Constellation Energy Corp., Foundation Markets and Enerasia Renewable Corp. to explore possible joint initiatives in the development of viable new and renewable energy (NRE) projects in the Philippines. Constellation Energy is into the exploration, development, use and commercialization of various NRE projects. Foundation Markets is an investment bank that has expertise in the areas of energy and environment, while Enerasia Renewable is a Canadian renewable energy and investment company.

Firms from Canada and the United Kingdom have agreed to help DBP identify potential sites for NRE projects, both in on-grid and off-grid areas, and in addressing capital needs of identified NRE projects that include the potential involvement of foreign investments in accordance with existing Philippine laws, DBP President and CEO Mr. Reynaldo David informed. DBP is at present working on a US$40 million additional financing under the World Bank Rural Power Project to support additional renewable energy projects in the country.


Viet Nam approves renewable energy, power projects

The Prime Minister of Viet Nam, Mr. Nguyen Tan Dung, recently gave the nod for a US$205 million project to develop renewable energy and upgrade networks supplying power to remote areas around the country. The Renewable energy development and electric grid upgrade and expansion in remote communes programme is being funded by the Asian Development Bank.
With nine major river systems, Viet Nam is considered one of 14 top countries in terms of hydropower potential. But it has failed to make full use of this potential, largely due to the relatively high costs and technology issues. The country has 500 small hydropower stations with a combined output of 135 MW.


Indonesia plans to subsidize biofuel

The Indonesian government is planning to pay a subsidy to biofuel producers beginning this year to encourage them to remain in the business and promote widespread use of alternative energy sources, an energy ministry official said. We will only pay the subsidy if biofuel prices are higher than crude oil-based fuels, said Ms. Evita Legowo, Director General of oil and gas at the energy ministry.

The government wants to make the use of biofuel mandatory from this year to ensure the survival of the fledgling industry, an intent made more urgent since biofuel became more costly than crude oil-based fuel after oil prices dived more than 70 per cent from their peak in July last year. Under the plan, if prices of biofuel products are higher than crude oil-based fuels, the government will pay a subsidy of Rp 1,000 (US$0.09) per litre on average.

In Indonesia, palm biofuel and bio-ethanol compete with petrol diesel, one of the lowest priced in Asia because of generous government subsidies. Palm-based biodiesel prices were around Rp 5,800 per litre, or about Rp 1,500 higher than diesel, said Mr. Paulus Tjakrawan, Secretary General of Indonesian Biofuel Producers Association. The state-run PT Pertamina, which sells subsidized fuel products, is estimated to blend 194,444 kilolitres of bio-ethanol and 580,025 kilolitres of palm-based biodiesel in 2009, a government report showed. Based on such an estimate, the government may have to allocate Rp 774.5 billion (US$74.3 million) in biofuel subsidies this year.


New biodiesel technology in Malaysia

Grand Inizio Sdn. Bhd. of Malaysia, a unit of Asia Bioenergy Technologies Bhd. (ABT), has developed a technology that will enable the renewable energy sector to use various vegetable oils to produce diesel. Grand Inizio is also a specialist in engineering and construction of medium to large biodiesel plants.

ABT Executive Director Mr. Looi Kem Loong said Grand Inizios technology could be used to produce diesel for use in cars and boilers. He said the technology could be used in existing or new biodiesel plants. It will cost about M$16 million (US $4.5 million) to upgrade an existing plant while building a new one that embraces the technology will cost about M$60 million (US$17 million), he said. The payback period on a US$17 million biodiesel plant is approximately three years. Mr. Beh Seng Kee, Grand Inizios Marketing Director said the technology could help customize biodiesel plants to produce diesel from a host of renewable energy sources that were environment-friendly.


China to subsidize fuel cell and electric vehicle purchases

China plans to subsidize the use of energy-efficient vehicles in selected cities, reveals the Ministry of Finance. Its joint statement with the Ministry of Science and Technology, states that the central government will offer a one-off subsidy for purchase of electric, fuel-cell and mixed-power vehicles. The subsidy will be decided by the price premium of the energy-efficient vehicles over conventional vehicles. The subsidy programme will first be trialled in public transport, the taxi industry, and postal and urban sanitary vehicles in 13 cities including Beijing and Shanghai. The programme aims to speed up technology upgrades and structural optimization of the automobile industry.



Record breaking solar cells

At the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), Germany, researchers claim that the new solar cells they devised convert sunlight into electricity at a rate of 41.1 per cent, beating their previous record of 39.7 per cent. The new record was achieved when the sunlight was concentrated by a factor of 454 and at the higher concentration of 880 they recorded an efficiency of 40.4 per cent.

The Group III-V: Epitaxy and Solar Cells, research team achieved success by finding a new way to combine the three component materials gallium indium phosphate and gallium indium arsenide on a germanium substrate. This was achieved by means of metamorphic crystal growth, which allowed the scientists to focus imperfections in the crystals into an inactive part of the solar cell.


Metal nanoparticles for solar cells

Current solar cells cannot convert all the incoming light into usable energy because some of the light can escape through the back of the cell. Additionally, sunlight comes in a variety of colours and the cell might be more efficient at converting bluish light than reddish light. The nanoparticle approach, described in a recent paper in Optics Express, describes a relatively new approach to solar cells lacing them with nanoscopic metal particles to address these problems.

The key to this new research is the creation of a tiny electrical disturbance called a surface plasmon. When light strikes a piece of metal, it can set up in the surface of the metal, electron waves that move about like ripples on the surface of a pond. If the metal is in the form of a tiny particle, the incoming light can make the particle vibrate, thus effectively scattering the light. If the light is in certain resonant colours, the scattering process is particularly strong.

In the study conducted at the Centre for Nanophotonics, FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics, the Netherlands, Dr. Kylie Catchpole and Dr. Albert Polman describe what happens when a thin coating of nanoscopic metal particles are placed onto a solar cell: the scattering process keeps more of the light inside the solar cell. Varying the size and material of the particles further improves light capture, at otherwise poorly performing colours.

In their work, Dr. Catchpole and Dr. Polman show that light capture for long wavelength (reddish) light can be improved by a factor of more than ten. Dr. Catchpoles team at the University of New South Wales had earlier shown that overall light-gathering efficiency for solar cells employing metallic nanoparticles could be improved by 30 per cent.

An important point about plasmonic solar cells is that they are applicable to any kind of solar cell, says Dr. Catchpole, who has now started a new group studying surface plasmons at the Australian National University. This includes the standard silicon or newer thin-film types.


Organic solar cells are a step closer

Recent experiments conducted by Dr. Greg Scholes and Dr. Elisabetta Collini at the Chemistry Department of University of Toronto, Canada, have provided new insights into the way molecules absorb and move energy. The chemists looked specifically at conjugated polymers, believed to be one of the most promising candidates for building efficient organic solar cells.

The research by Dr. Scholes and Dr. Collini found that quantum effects can be used to control what happens after light is absorbed by an organic solar cell one of the biggest obstacles to the development of organic solar cells. The finding opens the way to designing organic solar cells or sensors that capture light and transfer its energy much more effectively.

The scientists used ultrashort laser pulses to put the conjugated polymer into a superposition state or quantum coherence state, wherein it is simultaneously in the ground (normal) state and a state where light has been absorbed. Then they observed whether the quantum state can migrate along or between polymer chains. It turns out that it only moves along polymer chains, says Dr. Scholes. The chains chemical framework is crucial for enabling quantum coherent energy transfer. This means that a chemical property structure can be used to steer the ultrafast energy transfer using quantum coherence, he says.


Polymer solar cells with higher efficiency levels

Currently, solar cells are difficult to handle, expensive to purchase and complicated to install. Researchers at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science of University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), the United States, have found out that these limitations could be overcome. Dr. Yang Yang, a professor of materials science and engineering, and colleagues have described the design and synthesis of a new polymer that would bestow on solar cells notably greater sunlight absorption and conversion capabilities than other polymers.

Dr. Yang and his team found that a polymers photovoltaic properties are markedly improved by replacing a carbon atom with a silicon atom. This silole-containing polymer can also be crystalline, giving it great potential as an ingredient for high-efficiency solar cells. The efficiency reached 5.1 per cent during the time but improved to 5.6 per cent in the laboratory within a few months.

The UCLA team has shown that the photovoltaic material they use on their solar cells is one of the most efficient based on a single-layer, low-band-gap polymer. At a lower band gap, the polymer solar cell can absorb more sunlight. At a higher band gap, light is not easily absorbed and is wasted, reveals the study. Previously, the synthesizing process for the polymer was very complicated. We have been able to simplify the process and make it easier to mass produce, said Dr. Jianhui Hou, UCLA post-doctoral researcher and co-author of the study. We hope that solar cells will one day be as thin as paper and can be attached to the surface of your choice, added co-author Mr. Hsiang-Yu Chen, a UCLA graduate student in engineering.


Organic nanotube solar cell

The University of Surrey, the United Kingdom, will develop carbon nanotube-doped organic solar cells under a three-year programme. Dr. Ravi Silva, Director, Advanced Technology Institute at Surrey, explains, The best organic solar cells are currently 5-6 per cent efficient. We hope to be able to go up to above 10 per cent by the end of the project. A 10 per cent efficiency is viewed as the threshold, beyond which solar cells are commercially viable.

Carefully designed-in carbon nanotubes can increase organic solar cell efficiency in three ways: absorbing photons to create electron-hole pair excitons; separating excitons into available electron and hole carriers; and transferring these carriers to external loads. Unlike conventional solar cell materials, carbon nanotubes have a black body absorption spectrum, which is ideal for solar cell. You make an organic solar cell, tuning the size of the inorganic part [carbon nanotubes] to absorb other parts of the spectrum, says Dr. Silva. Introduced carbon also adds to available excitons separation sites. A heterojunction is produced wherever there is organic contact with defects in the nanotube.

Carrier mobility along carbon nanotubes is very high, and can boost the low conductivity of semiconducting organic materials. This will result in improved carrier transport to the cell electrodes. Although organic solar cells could suffer from UV degradation, lower lifetime is offset by low cost, says Dr. Silva.


Characterization of solar cell energy conversion efficiency

Local loss mechanisms often reduce the energy to current conversion efficiency of solar cells. Optical characterization techniques capable of providing spatially resolved information about the performance of a solar cell are therefore valuable. The Cooke Corporation from the United States and the Institute for Solar Energy Research Hameln (ISFH) in Germany have jointly investigated the use of camera-based electroluminescence (EL) imaging for the characterization of conversion efficiency of solar cells.

The recently introduced camera-based EL imaging technique allows a rapid solar cell characterization with a high spatial resolution. The intensity of luminescence radiation (IEL) is determined by the product of the electron and hole concentrations. The image captured with the CCD camera shows the distribution of IEL. EL images of real solar cells always show inhomogeneities, as the EL signal is considerably higher at the contact grid in comparison to a point midway between the contact fingers. Generally, all effects resulting in a local reduction of the carrier concentration are seen on an EL image. Even though the reason for such a local reduction in the carrier concentration can be varied, they can be clearly distinguished. Thus, local variations in the bulk carrier lifetime are clearly visible on the EL image, captured using a cooled 12 bit CCD camera system.



Robotic inspector for wind turbines

Rotor blades of large turbines have to withstand a great deal of pressure and long-term exposure to the elements. Hence, regular checks are a must to ensure optimal operation and safety. But the general structure and size of these wind turbines can make inspection and maintenance quite a dangerous and tedious task.

At the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation (IFF), Germany, researchers have recently developed RIWEA, a robot that checks the rotor blades of wind turbines. RIWEA can find even minute cracks on the surface of rotor blades and potential weaknesses in bonds and joints. The inspection is through an infrared radiator that conducts heat to the rotor blade surface. A high-resolution thermal camera then records the temperature pattern to identify potential flaws in the material. An ultrasonic system and a high resolution camera are also on board, for the detection of damage that may be missed by the human eye.

RIWEA can pull itself up the support cables. It has sixteen degrees of movement and a specially developed carrier system that ensures the inspection robot is guided precisely and securely along the rotor blade surface.


Off-shore vertical turbine design

A new project in the United Kingdom aims to assess the feasibility of a new design of wind turbines that uses large vertical wings. The Novel Offshore Vertical Axis (NOVA) project is one of four programmes to receive a share of the 20 million funding put forward by the Energy Technologies Institute in the hope of boosting the countrys efforts in achieving its 2020 energy goals.

The consortium, which has been put together by Wind Power Limited for NOVA project, will comprise representatives from the universities of Cranfield, Sheffield and Strathclyde, and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, alongside sub-contractors James Ingram Associates and Qinetiq.

The design of NOVA wind turbine, the aerogenerator, is based on an invention by Mr. David Sharpe that is based on a pair of giant V-shaped composite wings that will be scaled up to 120 m high and rotate around the central axis to create power. The design is expected to benefit from lower lifecycle costs owing to fewer moving parts and a reduced sensitivity to wind direction. It will also feature a relatively low centre of gravity, which makes it suitable for offshore applications and reduces the problem of interference with aircraft radars.


Technology to maximize wind turbine efficiency

The Switch, Finland-based provider of technology packages for wind power and other new energy applications, has launched technologies to enable wind installations to more effectively capture wind power and transform it to significantly higher energy production. The Switch has developed a drive train for wind turbines that uses an optimized permanent magnet generator (PMG) and a full-power converter (FPC). This unique drive train, the Switch Drive, allows active power extracted from the turbine and the reactive power produced to be individually and precisely controlled over the entire operating speed range.

In the wind power industry, PMGs have distinct advantages over conventional double-fed machines. They typically produce efficiency levels up to 98 per cent at the rated point, particularly because the need for a gearbox is eliminated, creating excellent overall drive train efficiency. PMG efficiencies remain very high close to nominal value over a wide range of speeds, thereby producing much higher energy yields.

PMG is a simple form of synchronous generator that requires no connections and energy feed to the rotor. Permanent magnets placed on the rotor create excitation a major factor in delivering greater efficiency, as this design virtually eliminates rotor losses. By driving the generator with an optimal power factor using PMG technology, stator-side losses are also minimized. No slip rings are used, greatly reducing maintenance needs.

Full-power converters enable easy power factor control, which means that all the current can be used for active or reactive power generation. This allows for a 100 per cent reactive power feed, even when there are no winds. Contact: The Switch, yritie 8 C, FI-01510 Vantaa, Finland. Tel: +358 20 783 8200; Fax +358 20 783 8570; Website:


High-altitude wind technology

TWIND, a wind energy innovation from Zanettistudios S.r.l., Italy, exploits the kinetic energy that the high-altitude winds generate owing to their high speed and steadiness. Wind blows for about 6,000 hours/year at an average speed of 7.6 m/s at altitudes over 800 m, as against 3,000 hours/year at an average of 4.6 m/s at the altitude of 80 m, a height at which the traditional Eolic generators are located.

The concept employs two buoyant balloons held at 800 m altitude and anchored by stay cables fixed to a rotating platform on the ground. As the balloons follow the direction of the wind, they transmit the motion through cables. When one balloon opens a sail attached to it, it gets pushed away from the vertical line by the force of high-altitude winds. At that time, the second balloon with closed sail, will be maintaining a vertical line upwards from the platform. The cable of the first balloon will release and unwind till a certain point when it will activate a switch that will signal the balloon to close the sail. Then the second balloon will open sail and will get pushed outwards, while the first one drops sail and will get drawn inwards. Thus, the motion will be reversed.

This alternate moving in and out will get transmitted through cable to the point where they are tethered. This motion is used to generate energy. Each balloon has a diameter of 12 m and their sail has an area of 200 m2. At the altitude of 800 m, air has an average speed of 7.6 m/s and exerts a pressure equal to 1.14 kg/m3, which is equivalent to a power of 210 W/m2 of surface. With a surface area of 200 m2, the sail thus generates more than 40 kW power.

Assuming 92 per cent efficiency in electricity generation on the ground, the power on annual basis reaches a value of 400 MWh, corresponding to 100 tonnes of oil used in a traditional thermoelectric plant, claims the company. Contact: Zanettistudios S.r.l., Ripa di Porta Ticinese 39, Milan, Italy. Tel: +39 (2) 49 451 916; Fax: +39 (2) 41 51 203; E-mail:


Rooftop wind turbine

Mr. Chad Maglaque, an inventor in the United States, has developed a small wind turbine that can be installed on rooftops. The Jellyfish wind turbine generates about 40 kWh each month enough to light a home using high-efficiency bulbs. Mr. Maglaque built a prototype of his turbine for about US$100, but expects that each turbine to initially cost US$400-US$500 at the stores.

The three-foot wind turbine, which has three vertical blades, could be plugged into an outdoor electrical socket. The turbines variable-speed motor is then connected directly to the electrical grid. When its sensors detect an adequate amount of wind, the turbine automatically turns the motor on, generating electricity that can either be used in the home or fed back to the grid. Unlike other small wind turbines, Jellyfish does not need a converter, which makes it easier to use and relatively less expensive. Contact: Clarian Technologies, United States of America. E-mail:; Website:


Statistical forecasting for wind energy

Weather Services International (WSI), a global weather solutions provider in the United States, has launched, a statistical forecasting system that provides wind power and wind speed forecasts for wind farms anywhere in the world. WSI WindCastTM provides hourly forecast (up to seven per day) that include weather-related parameters such as: wind speed, wind direction, atmospheric pressure and temperature, all at turbine height. These values are then used along with additional techniques to provide wind power forecasts for up to a week ahead.

WSI WindCast is based on a proven forecasting model developed by WSI in 2004 to predict wind speeds for wind farms. It has been in use since 2004, consistently outperforming industry standard benchmarks, according to the company. Contact: Mr. Robert Boucher, WSI Corporation, 400 Minuteman Road, Andover, MA 01810, United States of America. Tel: +1 (978) 983 6558; Fax: +1 (978) 983 6400; E-mail:




Tidal power inspired by wind technology

Tidal Energy Limited, a renewable energy company in the United Kingdom, has teamed up with experts in ship propulsion to design a new marine turbine that is believed to be robust enough to withstand life in the harsh and choppy seas. The turbine will draw on the time-tested propeller technology of ships, albeit working in reverse.

The company will test a 1 MW tidal turbine off the Pembrokeshire coast at Ramsey Sound, big enough to supply around 1,000 homes. Their DeltaStream device, invented by marine engineer Mr. Richard Ayre, while he was installing buoys in the will be the first tidal device in Wales and become operational in 2010. To ensure the propeller and electricity generation systems were as tough as possible, the company worked with Converteam, an outfit known for designing propulsion systems for ships. DeltaStreams propellers work in reverse to a ships propulsion system, though the underlying connections between blades and power systems are very much like those on the ship.

A single DeltaStream unit has three propeller-driven generators that sit on a triangular frame. It weighs 250 tonnes, but is relatively light compared with other tidal systems. The unit is simple to install and can be deployed in closely packed units at depths of at least 20 m. Unlike other tidal turbine systems, which must be anchored to the sea floor using piles bored into the seabed, DeltaStreams triangular structure simply sits on the sea floor. The device has a fail-safe feature when the water currents become too powerful, the propellers automatically tilt their orientation to shed the extra energy.


Wave and wind power hybrid machine

Bundling together the benefits of two eco-friendly forms of power generation, Green Ocean Energy Ltd. of the United Kingdom has developed a wave power machine that attaches to an off-shore wind turbine. Each unit of Wave Treader can generate up to 500 kW, the company claims.

The unit comprises two 20 m long floats of moulded glass-reinforced plastic attached to a wind turbine tower by 50 m long pivoting beams. As the floats move up and down due to wave action, the arms move the hydraulic cylinders attached to the beams by levers, which in turn spins a hydraulic motor connected directly to an electric generator. The unit can also turn to face the direction of the wave train to ensure maximum operational efficiency. The device also has active on-board adjustments to allow for the effects of tidal range and a design life of 25 years.

Wave Treader is primarily aimed at off-shore wind farms. Mounting the device on the foundation of an offshore wind turbine would make the technology more commercially viable owing to the relatively low technical risk. Contact: Green Ocean Energy Ltd., Osborne House, 28 Carden Place, Aberdeen AB10 1UP, Scotand, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1224) 651051; Fax: +44 (1224) 636 970; E-mail: info@greenoceanener


OWC power unit

Oceanlinx of Australia, a leading international company in the field of wave energy conversion, has developed proprietary technology for extracting energy from ocean waves and converting it into electricity, or utilizing that energy to desalinate sea water to produce industrial or potable grade water. One Oceanlinx power unit can generate peak power outputs of 100 kW to 1.5 MW.

Oceanlinxs patented core technology is an oscillating water column (OWC). Since the OWC chamber narrows, the air is accelerated to its highest velocity as it passes the turbine, allowing for maximal extraction of the energy. The oscillatory wave motion causes a similar oscillatory airflow through the chamber, and the turbine converts energy on both the up and down strokes. This innovative turbine converts energy in the airflow into mechanical energy, which then drives an electrical generator.

The Oceanlinx turbine uses variable pitch blades that, with the slower rotational speed and higher torque of the turbine, improves efficiency and reliability and reduces the need for maintenance. The turbine uses a sensor system with a pressure transducer, which measures the pressure exerted on the ocean floor by each wave as it approaches the capture chamber, or as it enters the chamber. The transducer sends a voltage signal proportional to the pressure, which identifies the height, duration and shape of each wave. The signal from the transducer is sent to a PLC that adjusts various parameters in real time, such as the blade angle and turbine speed. Contact: Oceanlinx Limited, P.O. Box 116, Botany, New South Wales 1455, Australia. Tel: + 61 (2) 9549 6300; Fax: + 61 (2) 9549 6399.



Worlds smallest working fuel cell

The worlds smallest working fuel cell, which measures just 3 mm across, has been created by chemical engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the United States. The 3 3 1 mm hydrogen-fuelled micro fuel cell is able to generate 1 mA current without consuming any power, according to a New Scientist report.

Inside the fuel cell, a thin porous membrane separates a water reservoir from another containing metal hydride, below which is an arrangement of electrodes. Water molecules pass through the membrane as vapour and then react with the metal hydride to form hydrogen. The hydrogen fills up the reaction tank, preventing more water flowing through. As the fuel is used up, the pressure on the membrane gets eased, allowing more water vapour to enter the chamber. Other pump-less fuel cells use gravity to push water through the system, but the new cell is so small that it can use surface tension instead.


Catalyst for ethanol fuel cell

Scientists working for Brookhaven National Laboratory of the United States Department of Energy (DOE) say they have developed a new catalyst, which could make feasible ethanol-powered fuel cells. This development in fuel cell research marks a step forward in developing clean, renewable energy sources.

This new catalyst, developed in collaboration with researchers from the University of Delaware and Yeshiva University, provides for what the DOE says are two crucial and previously unreachable steps needed to oxidize ethanol. Made of platinum and rhodium atoms on carbon-supported tin dioxide nanoparticles, the catalyst is capable of breaking carbon bonds at room temperature and efficiently oxidizing ethanol into carbon dioxide. Ethanols slow and inefficient oxidation has been a hindrance to the commercial use of direct ethanol fuel cells, said DOE. The scientists say the workaround they developed came courtesy of using X-ray absorption techniques and data from transmission electron microscopy analyses.


New reformed methanol fuel cell

UltraCell, a United States-based producer of reformed methanol fuel cells for mobile power applications, has announced its higher-power XX55 reformed methanol fuel cell, a compact, rugged portable fuel cell equipped with a hybrid battery system. The company says that the XX55 uses an industry first clip-on and clip-off battery module system, which enables a wide range of off-the-shelf batteries to be utilized and tailored to the end-users requirements.

XX55 delivers 55 W of continuous power and 80 W peak power, with a capacity of 250 hours of continuous off-the-grid operation using a single tank of fuel. It was designed to meet the rugged, off-grid power needs of military and commercial users. UltraCell believes that the XX55 is well suited for higher-power electronic applications such as radio and satellite communication equipment, remote or mobile surveillance systems, laptop computers, etc.


Energy-efficient fuel cell technology

A new version of an environmentally friendly, energy-efficient technology that could replace combustion engines in cars and batteries in mobile devices such as phones and laptops is being researched by scientists at the University of Aberdeen, the United Kingdom. The research focuses on a new low-temperature fuel cell that could power vehicles and portable devices in a way that is less harmful to the environment than the current methods.

Hydrogen is used as the main fuel in low-temperature fuel cell technology, but as it is mainly produced from fossil fuels, it contains carbon-containing impurities. The carbon forms carbon monoxide that clogs up the surface of the electrode part of the fuel cell making it less efficient in producing energy. The scientists will work to develop their idea of how the electrode can be modified, so that it is more efficient in dealing with carbon monoxide.

An innovative electrode design will enable the fuel cell to use either carbon-contaminated hydrogen or hydrocarbon fuels such as methanol, biofuels or natural gas without the need for upstream reforming a costly and cumbersome process for cleaning hydrogen fuels prior to use. This makes it a cost-effective compared with the low-temperature fuel cell systems that are currently on the market. The result would be cheaper electricity.



Production of hydrogen from waste

Japanese researchers are reported to have developed a technology to produce hydrogen from cattle dung and urine for use in fuel cells. The new technology jointly developed by Dr. Junichi Takahashi at Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, and Sumitomos research group can be applied also to human waste to generate hydrogen without producing unwanted carbon dioxide.

In the process, cattle dung and urine are fermented in oxygen-free conditions to extract ammonia, which is then electrolysed into hydrogen and nitrogen. The hydrogen is then fed into a fuel cell along with oxygen, and the two react to produce electricity. About US$25,000 was spent by Dr. Takahashi to build an experimental apparatus (2 m 1 m) to produce hydrogen from fermented animal waste. Using the device in conjunction with a fuel cell, the researchers report that they successfully produced 0.2 W of electricity from 20 kg of cattle waste. At a higher power generation efficiency, 6-8 tonnes of cattle waste could produce enough hydrogen to generate electricity for an average household for three days.


New hydrogen generation enzyme

A light-powered bacterial enzyme that releases hydrogen from water could lead to new strategies for power generation. A class of enzymes called hydrogenases are used by organisms to convert hydrogen ions to hydrogen gas during anaerobic respiration.

The metal-containing enzymes are all crippled in varying degrees by the presence of oxygen and are also damaged by the hydrogen they produce. That makes them difficult and costly to use on industrial scales, according to researchers Dr. Erwin Reisner and Dr. Fraser Armstrong of Oxford University, the United Kingdom, and Dr. Juan Fontecilla-Camps at the University of Joseph Fourier, France. In a recent paper in Chemical Communications, the authors have shown that a newly discovered bacterial hydrogenase is much more resistant to both hydrogen and oxygen contaminants.

The enzyme rich in nickel, iron and selenium is produced by a sulphate-reducing bacterium. Its efficiency is not affected by the presence of hydrogen gas, and it continues to work even if the ambient air contains 1 per cent oxygen by volume: ordinarily, even a few parts per million of oxygen would block hydrogenase activity. The new enzyme also binds strongly to titanium dioxide nanoparticles, making it easy to produce a kind of light-powered, hydrogen-generating dust.


Hydrogen storage in zeolite-templated carbon

A team of Japanese and Chinese academic and industrial researchers has investigated high-pressure hydrogen storage at room temperature (30C) in zeolite-templated carbon (ZTC). Many types of ZTCs with different surface areas and a nitrogen-doped ZTC were prepared, and their hydrogen storage performances at room temperature were examined and the results compared with those of commercial activated carbons.

At pressures below 10 MPa, the hydrogen uptake capacity was simply proportional to the specific surface areas of the carbons, and both ZTCs and activated carbon showed almost the same heat of adsorption (6~8 kJ mol-1). On the other hand, at pressures above 10 MPa, uniform micropores of 1.2 nm diameter in ZTCs played a more important role in capacity increase than the specific surface area. As a result, the ZTC with the largest surface area (3,370 m2 g-1) exhibited hydrogen uptake as high as 2.2 wt per cent at 34 MPa.

This value is much larger than that of the activated carbon, and such a difference in the capacity between ZTCs and activated carbon cannot be explained by the difference in specific surface area alone. Moreover, by loading only a small amount of platinum (Pt) nanoparticles (ca. 0.2 wt per cent) onto ZTC, hydrogen uptake capacity was increased from 0.87 to 0.95 wt per cent at 10 MPa. The increase of hydrogen uptake capacity by Pt loading can be ascribed to hydrogen spillover through the supported Pt nanoparticles to the carbon surface.


New method for producing and distributing hydrogen

In the United States, PowerAvenue Corp. has developed a method for producing and distributing hydrogen, the primary fuel in proton exchange membrane fuel cells. The method comprises turning sand into silicon that, when combined with water, produces hydrogen from the water.

Silicon acts as the energy carrier, to be combined locally with water, to then generate hydrogen at the point of use. The yield is 1 kg of hydrogen from 15 kg of sand. The oxidized silicon can be recycled via a renewable energy source, to be used again as a carrier.

The cell systems function at low pressures and temperatures, have a high power-to-weight ratio, and are reliable and efficient. Combined with the portable energy solution provided by the silicon, the systems are able to provide decentralized, modular and point-of-use power. The advantages claimed include:

l  Reliable, clean, quiet and efficient power production;
l  Low weight and volume;
l  Strong membrane electrodes;
l  Optimized thermal and water management; and
l  Rapid response to load fluctuations.

Contact: PowerAvenue Corp., 4215 Harding Road, Suite 1202, Nashville, TN 37205, United States of America. Tel: +1 (615) 383 4906; E-mail:


Hydrogen from cellulosic materials

In the United States, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Virginia Tech, and the University of Georgia have produced hydrogen gas that is pure enough to power a fuel cell by mixing 14 enzymes, one co-enzyme, cellulosic materials from non-food sources, and water heated to about 32C. The group claimed three advances from their one pot process:

1.  A new combination of enzymes;
2.  An increased hydrogen generation rate: as fast as natural hydrogen fermentation; and
3. A chemical energy output greater than the chemical energy stored in sugars the highest hydrogen yield reported to date from cellulosic materials.

According to Dr. Percival Zhang, an assistant professor at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, In addition to converting the chemical energy from the sugar, the process also converts the low-temperature thermal energy into high-quality hydrogen energy. The research team used cellulosic materials isolated from wood chips, but crop waste or weeds could also be used. It is exciting because using cellulose instead of starch expands the renewable resource for producing hydrogen to include biomass, said Dr. Jonathan Mielenz, leader of the Bioconversion Science and Technology Group at ORNL.


Hydrogen production using aluminium clusters

In the United States, scientists at Penn State University and the Virginia Commonwealth University have found a way to produce hydrogen by exposing selected clusters of aluminium (Al) atoms to water. Their findings are important because they demonstrate that it is the geometries of these Al clusters, rather than just their electronic properties, that govern the proximity of the clusters exposed active sites. The proximity of the clusters exposed sites plays an vital role in affecting the reaction of the clusters with water.

The team studied the reactions of water with individual Al clusters by combining them under controlled conditions using a custom-designed flow-reactor. They found that a water molecule will bind between two Al sites in a cluster as long as one of the sites behaves like a Lewis acid, a positively charged centre would accept an electron, and the other behaves like a Lewis base, a negatively charged centre that would give away an electron. The Lewis-acid Al binds to the oxygen in the water while the Lewis-base Al dissociates a hydrogen atom. When this process happens a second time with another set of two Al sites and a water molecule, then two hydrogen atoms are available, which then can join to become hydrogen gas.

The team found that the Al clusters react differently when exposed to water, depending on the sizes of the clusters and their unique geometric structures. Three of the Al clusters produced hydrogen from water at room temperature. The ability to produce hydrogen at room temperature is significant because it means that we did not use any energy to trigger the reaction, said Prof. Shiv Khanna, a research team member from Virginia Commonwealth.


Hydrogen-powered prototype car

A vehicle that travels 500 km on a litre of fuel, with water as an important component: that is the target of Project Garuda RVCE Supermileage of the students of R.V. College of Engineering, Bangalore, India, in their bid to build a vehicle that is energy-efficient and eco-friendly.

The project incorporates the use of water as a source of hydrogen to dope the air intake to the engine, which results in significant gain in mileage. A specially designed hydrolyser kit achieves this. When perfected, claims the team, this innovation could be applied to cars and bikes to almost double their mileage. The team believes that such a system can be made capable of running a vehicle entirely on water alone when converted into hydrogen. An electronic fuel injector has also helped considerably to enhance fuel efficiency.



From agricultural waste to useful energy

Engineer Mr. Alexis Belonio of Iloilo City, the Philippines, regarded rice husk as a resource that can be tapped as alternative source of fuel for domestic cooking, helping households cope with the high cost of conventional fuel like the LPG and kerosene. Cultivated fields in his country produce 2 million tonnes of rice husk every year, and most of it is just burned away to dispose it of. The rice husk gas stove that Mr. Belonio invented has won the recent Rolex Award for Enterprise.

Mr. Belonios low-cost gas stove uses an oxygen stream that converts the burning rice husk fuel to a combustible blend of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and methane gases, yielding a hot, blue flame similar to what a burning natural gas stove produces. He said the stove consumes very little energy 16 watts of electricity to run a small fan that controls the amount of air, which can stimulate a flammable smoke instead of fire.

One kilogram of rice husk can go as far as 30-40 minutes cooking time. The bluish flame produces almost no smoke. The leftover char (burned rice husk) may be spread on the fields or put into plant pots, as it retains water to keep the soil moist, says Mr. Belonio, an associate professor of agricultural engineering at the Central Philippine University.


Methane fuel from coal-eating microbes

Luca Technologies, a start-up company in the United States, is scaling up a process that uses coal-eating micro-organisms to convert coal into methane. The process is designed to operate underground, inside coal beds. Methane, the key component of natural gas, can then be pumped out and used to generate electricity or power vehicles. If the process proves economical, it could help reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, since burning natural gas releases only half as much carbon dioxide as does burning coal.

A significant fraction of natural gas is constantly being produced by micro-organisms that feed on coal. First, one type of microbe breaks the long hydrocarbon molecules in coal into shorter molecules. Other microbes convert these molecules into organic acids and alcohols. Finally, the microbes called methanogens feed on these and produce methane. The researchers at Luca have learned to increase the quantity of methane that these micro-organisms produce, both in coal beds and in laboratory experiments, by adding nutrients and otherwise changing the chemistry of the living environment of microbes. The task was made difficult by the fact that some coal beds host as many as a thousand different microbes, and some of these can interfere with methane production. Besides, the combination of microbes varies from location to location. The company developed combinations of nutrients that favoured the methane-producing organisms.

Conventional techniques for extracting natural gas from coal kill the gas-producing organisms in these coal beds, by removing the water that they need and by exposing them to oxygen that is deadly to them. The new method, by carefully maintaining conditions favourable to the micro-organisms, allows them to continue digesting the coal and producing methane. The technique could also be employed to collect useful fuel from coal that is inaccessible to conventional mining.


Cutting the cost of making cellulosic biofuels

A patented process from Michigan State University, the United States, to pre-treat maize-crop waste before conversion into ethanol means extra nutrients need not be added, cutting the cost of making biofuels from cellulose. The ammonia fibre expansion (AFEX) pre-treatment process, developed by Dr. Bruce Dale, Distinguished Professor of chemical engineering and materials science, uses ammonia to make the break-down of cellulose and hemicellulose in plants 75 per cent more efficient than when conventional enzymes alone are used.

Dr. Dale and Mr. Ming Lau showed that maize cobs, stalks and leaves could be pre-treated using AFEX, and then hydrolysed and fermented to commercially relevant levels of ethanol without adding nutrients. This disproves the idea that agricultural residues dont have adequate nutrients to support fermentation.

Currently, pre-treating cellulose with acid is a common way to break the material down into sugars. But after acid pre-treatment, the resulting material must be washed and detoxified. That removes nutrients, leading to the mistaken idea that maize waste lacks the necessary nutrients, Dr. Dale said. Cellulosic material pre-treated with the AFEX process doesnt have to be washed or detoxified, allowing ethanol to be created from cellulose without added nutrients or other steps. Washing, detoxifying and adding nutrients back into the pre-treated cellulose are three separate steps, Dr. Dale said. Each step is expensive and adds to the cost of biofuel. Using AFEX as the pre-treatment process can substantially reduce the cost of making biofuels from cellulose.


Making biofuels the chemical way

Researchers in the United States have developed the first one-step synthesis of a biofuel precursor from untreated agricultural waste. The work could pave the way to a simple and efficient method of biofuel production. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, biochemist Dr. Ron Raines and his team have directly converted untreated maize stover, the inedible leaves and stalks of the plant, directly into 5-hydroxymethyl-fufural (HMF). HMF is a platform for many commodity chemicals, and for the promising potential fuel dimethylfuran (DMF).

Although DMF is yet to be widely adopted as a fuel, its advocates argue that it has far more potential than ethanol. DMF has the same energy content as petrol 40 per cent higher than ethanol, says Dr. Raines. It is also an effective fuel additive. Since petrols power as a fuel is its high carbon content, the aim when converting cellulose into fuel is to make it more carbon-rich. Cellulose is a polymer of glucose, and glucose has a 1:1 ratio of carbon and oxygen, Dr. Raines says. Combustion adds oxygen to the molecule, so we used some simple chemistry to strip away oxygen, to sort of unburn it.

The one-step HMF production process uses N,N-dimethylacetamide containing lithium chloride as the solvent, and a chromium catalyst. Once the cellulose is broken down into fructose, three hydroxyl groups are eliminated as water molecules, lowering the oxygen content to give HMF. In a second step, hydrogen gas can be used to further reduce HMF into DMF. In previous efforts to convert cellulose into useful products, ionic liquids have been used as very effective solvents. But the team of Dr. Raines rediscovered a simpler approach exploiting the ability of chloride ions to dissolve cellulose. Using lithium chloride, with a small amount of ionic liquid to optimize the process, his team was able to obtain a yield of over 50 per cent.


Novel technology for economic biofuel production

A novel technology for synthesising chemicals from plant material could produce a liquid fuel for just about 0.56-1.04 a litre, say German scientists. Bioliq technology, developed by researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), is able to produce a range of liquid fuels and chemicals from plant materials such as wood and straw.

Bioliq involves first heating the plant material in the absence of air to around 500C, a process known as pyrolysis. This produces a thick oily liquid containing solid particles of coke termed biosyncrude. The biosyncrude is then vaporized by ex-posing it to a stream of oxygen gas, and heated at high pressures to a temperature of 1,400C. This gasification process transforms the liquid biosyncrude into syngas, a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen.

After impurities are removed from this syngas, it can be catalytically converted into a range of different chemicals and fuels, including hydrogen, methanol and a synthetic version of diesel. This stage of the technology is fairly well developed, as syngas derived from coal and natural gas is already used to produce liquid fuels on a commercial scale in South Africa.

Together with the German process engineering company Lurgi, KIT is now taking its first steps towards scaling up Bioliq to address the demands of commercialization. A team of KIT scientists led by Dr. Nicolaus Dahmen has calculated the cost of producing fuel at a Bioliq plant with an annual production capacity of around 1 million tonnes. This is around a tenth of the size of a modern oil refinery, but is a size similar to refineries that produce liquid fuel from oil and gas. Biomass is pre-treated in around 50 regionally distributed pyrolysis plants to produce the biosyncrude, explains Dr. Dahmen. The advantage of this set-up is that it is much cheaper and more convenient to transport liquid biosyncrude than bulky wood and straw. Biosyncrude can then be further processed at a high capacity central fuel production plant.


Coffee: a new source of fuel production

Biodiesel is becoming increasingly popular because it can be made from materials derived from plants that utilize carbon dioxide to grow: biodiesel thus has a much lower carbon footprint than the fuels derived from petroleum. Different plant sources are being experimented with for biodiesel production, and one of the latest sources comes from the remains of a drink enjoyed the world over: coffee.

Once the coffee beans are ground and used, they end up being thrown away or used in gardens as compost. Dr. Narasimharao Kondamudi, Dr. Susanta Mohapatra and Dr. Manoranjan Misra from the University of Nevada at Reno, the United States, have discovered that coffee grounds can yield by weight 10-15 per cent of biodiesel. Furthermore, when run in an engine, the fuel does not have an offensive smell just a whiff of coffee. After the diesel has been extracted, the coffee grounds can still be used for compost.

The researchers work began two years ago when Dr. Misra, a heavy coffee drinker, left a cup unfinished and the next day noticed that the coffee was covered by a film of oil. Since he was investigating biofuels, Dr. Misra enlisted his colleagues to look at coffees potential. They found coffee biodiesel comparable to the best biodiesels on the market. The diesel extraction for coffee grounds is similar to that used for other vegetable oils: a process called transesterification, which reacts coffee grounds with an alcohol in the presence of a catalyst.

The process starts off by drying the coffee grounds overnight and then adding some common chemical solvents, such as hexane, ether and dichloromethane, to dissolve the oils. The grounds are then filtered out and the solvents separated (to be reused with the next batch of coffee grounds). The remaining oil is treated with an alkali to remove free fatty acids (which form a soap). Then transesterification is carried out by heating the crude biodiesel to about 100C to remove any water, and treating it with methanol and a catalyst. On cooling to room temperature and allowed to stand, the biodiesel floats up, leaving a layer of glycerine at the bottom. These layers are separated and the biodiesel is cleaned to remove any residues.

One litre of biodiesel requires 5-7 kg of coffee grounds, depending on the oil content of the coffee used. The biofuel should cost about $1 per gallon (3.78 l) to produce in a medium-sized installation, the researchers estimate.


A revolutionary biofuel technology

Liverpool John Lennon Airport in the United Kingdom is the worlds first airport to trial a revolutionary machine that will convert the breath of passengers into biofuel. A pioneering device called the Eco-box will be able to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) exhaled by travellers for recycling into fuel to be used in the airports diesel vehicles and heating system. The airport had previously planted trees to try and offset CO2 emissions.

Origo Industries, the United Kingdom, has developed a technique to feed captured CO2 emissions to algae, to produce a biomass cake that can be converted into green fuel. It hopes the system will provide biofuel up to 250 litres/day. If the trial is successful, a larger system would be installed which could generate up to 3,000 litres of biofuel each day. The costs of the trial have not been disclosed, but Origo claims that the initial investment could be repaid within a year.

Origos founder and CEO, Mr. Ian Houston, has taken technologies that are already available and pieced them together to create an on-site recycling process something no-one else has done. The project at the airport is an early trial of a system that we believe could have a significant impact on the way companies today can obtain fuel and manage carbon emissions, said Mr. Houston.



Fuel Cell Fundamentals

Filling a glaring gap in the literature on fuel cells, the second edition of Fuel Cell Fundamentals, provides advanced undergraduate and beginning level graduate students an important introduction to the basic science and engineering behind fuel cell technology. Emphasizing the foundational scientific principles that apply to any fuel cell type or technology, the text provides straightforward descriptions of how fuel cells work, why they offer the potential for high efficiency, and how their unique advantages can best be used. Designed to be accessible to fuel cell beginners, the text is suitable for any engineering or science major with a background in calculus, basic physics, and elementary thermodynamics.

Contact: Customer Service Department, John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Ltd., 2, Clementi Loop #02-01 LogisHub@Clementi, Singapore 129809. Tel: +65 6463 2400; Fax: +65 6463 4604; E-mail:

Making Choices about Hydrogen: Transport Issues for Developing Countries

Designs for the production, storage and distribution of hydrogen have not yet been established. Nor have the performance characteristics achieved to a level that will make hydrogen proton-exchange-membrane fuel cells competitive with the existing combustion engine. Yet, costs are coming down and the efficiency and durability of hydrogen fuel cells are improving. Hence, an examination of issues associated with the hydrogen economy in the longer term (2050) and the shorter term (2020) is one that the developing countries need to undertake when they explore their options for the design of national energy, environment and transport policies.

The publication is divided into four parts. Part I deals with the ongoing debate on hydrogen and fuel cells. Making choices about hydrogen for sustainable transport is the theme of Part II, while Part III looks at the role of hydrogen fuel cells in the global automobile industry. The concluding Part IV discusses strategies and roadmaps associated with the use of hydrogen as fuel.

Contact: UNU Press, United Nations University, Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 5-53-70, Tokyo 150-8925, Japan. Tel: +81 (3) 5467 1212; Fax: +81 (3) 3499 2828; E-mail:


This website is optimized for IE 8.0 with screen resolution 1024 x 768
For queries regarding this website, contact us
Copyright © 2010 APCTT | Privacy Policy | Disclaimer | Feedback