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VATIS Update Non-conventional Energy . May-Jun 2004

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New and Renewable Energy May-Jun 2004

ISSN: 0971-5630

VATIS Update New and Renewable Energy (formerly Non Conventional Energy)* is published 4 times a year to keep the readers up to date of most of the relevant and latest technological developments and events in the field of New and Renewable Energy. The Update is tailored to policy-makers, industries and technology transfer intermediaries.

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* This update has been renamed as 'VATIS Update: New and Renewable Energy' from Jan-Mar 2015 onwards.

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Contents

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IN THE NEWS

World solar PV market on the rise

Solarbuzz Inc., the United States-based solar energy consulting firm, reports that solar photovoltaic (PV) installations worldwide reached 574 MW in 2003, a 34 per cent growth over 2002. Among the main three country markets, Germany led the group with 76 per cent growth. The United States, Japan and Germany together accounted for 75 per cent of the solar PV market worldwide. The Japanese market reached 219 MW, Germany 145 MW and the United States 66 MW. World solar cell production rose 40 per cent in 2003 to 742 MW. Manufacturers in Japan raised their share to 49 per cent of world production while the United States share fell to 12 per cent.


Contact: Solarbuzz Incorporated, United States of America. Tel: +1 (415) 9289 743.


Website: www.solardaily.com

Global clean energy market to touch US$92 billion by 2013

A report prepared by Clean Edge Inc., the United States, predicts that the market for solar, wind and fuel cells is set to grow from the present US$12.9 billion to US$92 billion in 2013. The report examines factors influencing clean energy markets and tracks five key trends, including:
 
  • Cleaner automobiles get traction: Hybrids move over from curiosity to mainstream, as a Japanese firm leads the way leaving behind automakers in the United States;
     
  • Green electricity becomes price hedge: A utilitys vision of providing long-term green energy contracts becomes a model for other utility companies;
     
  • Clean power goes local: Flagging federal funding incites state and local governments to pick up the slack, bringing clean energy within reach;
     
  • Wind power takes the European Union by storm: An estimated 14 million households in Europe are being electrified through wind energy, accounting for more than 70 per cent of global installed utility-scale wind power; and
     
  • China harnesses clean energy: Home to seven of the worlds most polluted cities, China and its booming economy will be pivotal in setting the clean energy market on its ear, and several clean energy companies have plans to help.
     

Three factors have been stated as decisive for the transition of clean energy into the mainstream more supportive government programmes, funds for R&D and commercialization, and continued technological advancements. Clean Edge states that wind, solar and fuel cells three high growth markets will exhibit annual double-digit growth rates, with the wind industry increasing from US$7.5 billion to US$47.6 billion, solar from US$4.7 billion to US$30.8 billion and fuel cells and distributed hydrogen reaching US$13.6 billion from US$700 million over the next ten years.


Contact: Website: www.cleanedge.com


Website: www.greenbiz.com


Fuel cell bus demo

In China, the Hi-tech Bureau of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and the China International Centre for Economic and Technical Exchanges together organized an international bid for the China Fuel Cell Bus Experimental Commercial Operation in Beijing. China plans to buy six fuel cell-powered buses and operate them on an experimental basis in Beijing and Shanghai. This initiative is being supported by the Global Environment Fund and UNDP while the municipal governments in Beijing and Shanghai, together with MOST, would be responsible for the projects implementation.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Global wind power increases 26 per cent

Wind systems capable of producing 8,133 MW of energy were set up worldwide, bringing the total installed capacity to 39,294 MW. The global cumulative installed capacity rose by 26 per cent in 2003, 18 per cent higher than 2002s 6,868 MW. These figures were released by the European Wind Energy Association and American Wind Energy Association. Investments in the wind sector for 2003 stood at US$9 billion, compared with US$7 billion in 2002.


The United States and European Union dominated the global market in 2003, accounting for 88 per cent of the new installations. India added 408 MW (5 per cent), the largest single addition outside the United States and European markets. The topmost nation is Germany, despite a slight decline in the rate of new installations, followed by the United States, Spain, India and Austria. Several countries, including Italy, the Netherlands, Japan and the United Kingdom, now have several hundred megawatts installed and are nearing the 1,000 MW milestone.


Website: www.ecologicinvestor.com

China funds solar energy harnessing

An official of the State Development and Reform Commission (SDRC), China, reports that around US$1.2 billion will be invested to help exploit solar energy over the next five years. SDRC and the Ministry of Science and Technology have chalked out plans for developing photovoltaic (PV) technology and the industry. By 2005, total installed PV capacity is expected to reach 300 MW.


In addition, the World Bank initiated an environment fund programme in 2001 and is ready to offer a subsidy of US$25 million to set up 10 MW of PV capacity in rural areas. On completion of this project, about 10 million impoverished population in the country will get access to electricity. At present, Chinas installed solar energy capacity has reached 1 million kilowatts.


Website: www.pe.onlinearticles.printthis.clickability.com

China: Forging ways to exploit renewable energy sources

With its size, population and leadership of the developing world, China is in a unique position to forge the way for massive development of its surplus renewable resources in provinces like Guangdong (wind) and Xinjiang (solar), states Greenpeace. At present, China is seeking to curb pollution, simltaneously addressing the rapidly growing energy demand. The National Peoples Congress of 2003 ordered the drafting of a Renewable Energy Promotion Law by the end of 2004. Greenpeace opines that if China does adopt large-scale renewable energy production, it will bolster worldwide markets, speed up technological advances and allow China to not only tip the balance of the global market but Earths ecological equilibrium as well.


Recently, a high level China-European Union Conference on Renewable Energy Policy and Financing was organized in Beijing, followed by Renewable Energy Asia 2004. These landmark industry events are an indication of the political intent as they were supported and endorsed by several central government and international agencies. Greenpeace was invited to put up a booth and deliver a presentation at the exhibition and had an international team of energy experts from China, the United Kingdom, the Philippines and the Netherlands at the event.


Website: www.solaraccess.com

Wind energy breaks new grounds in the Philippines

In South-East Asia, the Philippines is set to become the first producer of wind energy, as Northwind Power Development Corp. begins construction of a US$47 million wind power project in Bangui. This 25 MW programme will be the pioneering model for future wind power projects in the country. At least 417 MW of wind-based power projects would be set up over the next 10 years. Northwind is a 60 per cent Filipino and 40 per cent Danish-owned corporation. While Northwind would undertake construction and management of the power facility, Ilocos Electric Cooperative will take care of power distribution. A consortium headed by Northwind will provide equity for the project while the debt fund will come from the Danish mix-credit programme.


The Philippine Export-Import Board approved in last February the Danish companys plea for a 100 per cent guarantee of the US$28.873 million credit to Danish International Development Agency. Construction of the wind farm will involve the installation of sophisticated wind technologies that would be located in a single row stretching 9 km along the Bangui Bay shoreline. It will harvest breezes from the South China Sea using 15 giant wind turbines, each standing 70 m tall with rotor blades spanning 40 m.


Website: www.abs-cbnnews.com

India to export wind turbines

NEPC India Ltd. is finalizing plans to export wind turbines to Bangladesh, which aims to achieve 100 MW of wind power capacity over the next three years. For the initial installation and as demonstration programmes, Bangladesh has placed orders for four 225 kW wind turbines.


Turkesthanenergo-NEPC, a 50:50 joint venture firm formed by NEPC in Kazakhstan, will develop a 100 MW wind farm in partnership with the Kazakh government. NEPC is also in the process of establishing another joint venture in Tanzania. The company will have 33 per cent stake in the new Tanzania Wind Power Co. Ltd., which will set up 100 MW wind mills during the next two years. NEPC has also obtained orders from Kenya and the United Arab Emirates.


Website: www.windfair.net

Eco-friendly three-wheelers for India

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has embarked on a project to launch hydrogen-powered three-wheel vehicles in India. This effort is supported by a US$500,000 grant from the United States Agency for International Development. Two vehicles will be shipped by an Indian company, Mahindra and Mahindra, to Energy Conversion Inc. (ECD), which will convert the engines to run on hydrogen, design an appropriate metal hydride storage system, integrate the storage system into the vehicles and perform tests. ECD will employ its proprietary Ovonic metal hydrides to absorb hydrogen. Waste heat from the engine is delivered to the metal hydride bed for releasing the fuel.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Solar cell factory in the Philippines

The United States-based SunPower Corp., a subsidiary of Cypress Semiconductor Corp., has commenced operation at its high-volume manufacturing facility in the Philippines. SunPower Philippines Manufacturing Ltd. (SPML) is the pioneering semiconductor lab in the Philippines and the first large-scale solar cell facility in South-East Asia. Initially, SPML will manufacture 25 MW/y of high-efficiency silicon solar cells, though the building footprint is designed to allow for 100 MW.
The combination of a world-class facility, cost-effective location and proven high volume silicon manufacturing expertise of Cypress will enable SunPower to deliver high-performance and aesthetically pleasing solar cells at a competitive price.


Contact: Mr. Peter Aschenbrenner, SunPower Corp., United States of America. Tel: +1 (408) 4704 267


E-mail: peter.aschenbrenner@sunpowercorp.com


Website: www.solardaily.com

Viet Nams rural energy programme

In Viet Nam, a new energy and rural development project has brought renewable energy to 674 homes and schools, mainly ethnic minorities. Implemented jointly by the southern Binh Phuoc Peoples Committee, Ho Chi Minh City Sub-Institute of Physics and Foundation Energies pour de le Monde, based in France, the US$410,000 project has set up 464 solar batteries, each with 50 Wp capacity. Also, a 2,000 Wp solar system was installed at An Khuong communes Cultural House.


A 40 kW hydroelectricity plant was built in Phuoc Long district, supplying power to over 100 households. Additionally, as part of the National New Energy and Rural Development Programme, 155 solar batteries with a combined capacity of 7,750 Wp and 14 solar batteries, each with a capacity of 150-300 Wp, were installed under a US$120,000 solar energy programme.


Website: www.vnagency.com.vn

Tapping desert wind for energy in India

Rajasthan Power Corp., India, plans to establish a 25 MW wind energy project in Jaisalmer district to tap the desert breeze for generating power. The estimated cost of this project is US$22 million. The state government of Rajasthan has drawn up plans to install 28 such projects in various parts of the state for producing 444.25 MW of electricity. Fourteen leading firms, including the German firm Suzlon Energy, will work along with the government towards this end.


Rajasthan has a gross wind power potential of 5,400 MW. However, its technical potential is about 885 MW. Private developers have also been invited to harness wind resources at Devgarh, Harshnath, Jaisalmer, Kohdal, Mohangarh and Phalodi. The annual mean wind speed at the aforementioned six locations vary from 17.4 km/h to 20.62 km/h. The state government is offering a series of concessions, including rebate for buying land and attractive power purchase agreement (PPA) terms. Wind assessment studies are now underway at ten new locations.


Website: www.hindustantimes.com

Indian law to compel renewable energy use

A proposed renewable energy policy in India could include a mandatory provision for utilities to use a specific quantity of energy from renewable resources. This initiative is a precursor to the central governments goal of installing 10,000 MW of renewable energy capacity by 2012, of which nearly 5,000 MW would be generated from wind resources.


India is the only developing country among global wind power majors like Germany, the United States, Spain and Denmark. The Chennai-based Centre for Wind Energy Technology, an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources for testing and certification of wind turbines, has been admitted into the International Meeting of Test Stations and will be an approval centre for the Asian region.


Website: www.financialexpress.com

Green cars in Japan

By 2030, appoximately 20 per cent of vehicles in Japan would be run on hydrogen-based fuel cells. This target would be achieved under the Hydrogen Energy Dissemination Plan announced by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The plan also includes setting up of 8,500 hydrogen supply stations and urges both public and private sectors to strive for cheaper hydrogen production. Japan hopes to have 50,000 fuel cell vehicles running on its roads by 2010, taking the worldwide lead in fuel cell technology.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Solar power for industries in Thailand

Following the successful completion of the first phase of Thailands solar power project for industrial users, several manufacturers are eagerly awaiting the launch of the second phase. The public-private pilot programme involves cooperation between the Energy Conservation Fund and the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI). Financial as well as technical support are offered to manufacturing plants for installing solar panels and entire systems on factory roofs. In the first phase, 10 FTI members set up solar energy generators with a capacity of 4.2 kW, enabling each participant to save 525 kWh/month, enough power to light up 300 bulbs. Over a year, the electricity saved could amount to 18,000 l of diesel fuel used for power generation and reduce CO2 emissions.


The second phase of the project envisions 40 factories installing solar panels to produce 4.2 kW apiece and another 10 plants each setting up panels for 8.4 kW. According to the Project Manager Mr. Rungruang Saipawan, more than 50 factories have expressed interest in joining the second phase of the project.


Website: www.hoovers.com

Indonesia to develop geothermal areas

The Indonesian government plans to tender 13 geothermal working areas to develop the under-utilized energy resource for electricity production and industrial applications. According to the Executive Secretary of the Directorate General of Geology and Mineral Resources Mr. Sukhyar, a study is under way to measure the proven reserves in the working areas, thus providing accurate data on the geothermal resources to help minimize exploration costs for potential investors.


Geothermal energy is an energy resource produced when groundwater descending from the Earths surface runs into molten magma ascending from the Earths core in exceptionally hot surroundings. This resource has been under-utilized in Indonesia in spite of its abundance. Located in the so-called ring of fire volcano belt, the nation holds 40 per cent of the worlds geothermal reserves or 27,140 MW. At present, Indonesia has several geothermal power plants with a combined energy capacity of 807 MW. The government plans to gradually raise geothermal energy production to 2,000 MW in 2008 and up to 6,000 MW in 2020.


Website: www.thejakartapost.com

Chinas energy development strategy includes hydrogen

China has marked rational use of hydrogen in its energy development strategy and will raise investment for research of automobiles operating on hydrogen. Supportive schemes will also be formulated to promote hydrogen cell automobiles.


At an international symposium, it was reported that China had long ago started development and utilization of hydrogen energy. Shanghai and Beijing, which are assigned with the task of developing hydrogen-powered sedan cars and buses, respectively, have already worked out the second-generation products. According to Prof. Ouyang Minggao with Qinghua University, China will be able to develop buses powered by hydrogen in 2015 and cars in 2020, with the hydrogen cells much cheaper than similar products made overseas.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Renewable energy in Mauritius

Mauritius intends to develop local sources of energy in an attempt to mitigate the increasing demand for petroleum imports. This island nation has no indigenous oil, natural gas or coal deposits. More than 75 per cent of the countrys primary energy requirements come from overseas, with petroleum imports making up 9 per cent of the total value of imports. For the financial year 2003-04, the import bill for petroleum products was US$296 million. The nations energy needs are estimated to grow by 5 per cent annually as a result of development in various sectors of the economy, particularly in the inland transportation sector.


Website: www.planetark.com

Chinas largest wind power project

A 100,000 kW wind power project has taken off in China, the largest of its kind in the country. The US$95 million project, second phase project of the Changjiangao wind power plant, is expected to generate 250 million kWh of electricity annually on completion. Changjiangao is one of the seven funnels in the country where the strongest winds can be found. The potential installed capacity of wind power in Changjiangao is estimated at 150,000 kW/y. The first phase project of the Changjiangao wind power facility, with a capacity of 6,000 kW, commenced operation in October 2000.


Website: www.english.eastday.com

Renewable energy for Indian villages

In India, the government intends to provide electricity to about 25,000 villages, identified by the Planning Commission, by harnessing non-conventional energy resources. The Minister for Non-conventional Energy Sources, stated that geographical barriers were restricting supply of electricity to these villages through conventional means. A vast potential to produce energy from various renewable sources, including wind and solar, is available in the country.


Website: www.indiaexpress.com

SOLAR ENERGY

On the path to optimum solar cell

Researchers in the Berkeley laboratory in the United States report to have developed a new solar cell material capable of achieving extraordinary efficiency. In their latest discovery, a so-called totally new material concept, researchers treat the alloy zinc manganese tellurium (ZnMnTe) in such a way that a single junction of the material may be able to respond to virtually the entire solar spectrum. According to Mr. Wladek Walukiewicz, the new material is a single semiconductor with multiple band gaps. A solar cell with the simplest possible physical structure could achieve 50 per cent efficiency or better, far greater than any yet demonstrated in the laboratory.


The idea of multi-band cells goes back to solar cell pioneer Mr. Martin Wolf, who had put forth the impurity PV effect in 1960, Mr. Walukiewicz stated. The concept was that by introducing impurities with the right electronic properties into a semiconductor, it is possible to obtain a single-junction solar cell capable of absorbing more photons of different energies. Though this sounds easy, nobody knew how to achieve it. In 1999 researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory inadvertently produced the first PV semiconductor with a split band gap, without realizing it at first.


Contact: Mr. Paul Preuss, United States of America.


E-mail: paul_preuss@lbl.gov


Website: www.lbl.gov

PV roofing tiles

SolarCentury, the United Kingdom, has launched its latest solar photovoltaic (PV) roofing tile. C21 is a roof-integrated solar technology which, unlike other solar roofing products, has been specifically developed for the housing sector. An integrated design and aesthetic appeal means that for most developments it will not require any planning permission. As it can easily and quickly fit into standard battens and integrates with common interlocking roof tiles, the tiles can be installed by any roofing contractor. C21 has been listed in the Best Exterior Product group at the Interbuild New Product Awards.


Website: www.solaraccess.com

Commercial roofing photovoltaic system

Eastwood Energy Corp., the United States, has developed a new flexible and cost-effective modular mounting system (MMS) for solar units. The proprietary design is non-invasive and applicable to flat or contoured roofs. MMS also facilitates effective cooling of PV modules. Standard 5 or 10 module tilt results in better energy production and decreased payback time. The end product lasts for more than 30 years and provides access for roof maintenance.


A PV system mounted on MMS was inaugurated in California recently. Made up of 864 Sharp 165 W cells, the new installation covers an area of 12,000 ft2. A tilt angle of 5 enables greater exposure to the sun, thereby increasing the output.


Contact: Eastwood Energy Corp., 100, Larkspur Landing Circle, Suite 114, Larkspur, California 94939, United States of America. Tel: +1 (415) 9259 650; Fax: +1 (415) 9259 636


E-mail: info@eastwoodenergy.com


Website: www.eastwoodenergy.com

High-output solar modules

Sharp Corp., Japan, is scheduled to launch a solar module designed to reduce glares caused by sunlight and raise the power output. ND-155AN module in the Sunvista series is built utilizing textured glass with tiny projections on its surface, in a pyramid type structure, to absorb sunrays more efficiently and thus lower the risk of a glare from rooftop arrays. With a dimension of 1,165 990 46 mm, the module yields 155 Wp, 3.3 per cent more than the companys conventional modules. ND-155AN has a sunlight to energy conversion rate of 13.4 per cent.


Another module, the 142 Wp NE-142AN, introduced recently is aimed at smaller PV roof systems. The new 1,200 802 46 mm module offers a conversion efficiency of 14.8 per cent. This unit will increase the output by 8 per cent for the same equivalent area compared with Sharps existing NE-132AM module.


Website: www.solarbuzz.com

Eco-house: Powered by sun and hydrogen

The Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) campus houses the worlds first fully self-sustainable home. The 110 m2 Solar-Hydrogen Eco-house is part of UKMs new fuel cell and automotive research centre. A PV hydrogen production and storage system, yields hydrogen for use as fuel to operate household devices. A hydrogen tank, sited a little away from the house, is connected to the utility gas line in the Eco-house by a small diameter pipe. Apart from the eco-friendly solar-hydrogen system, the house incorporates low-energy architectural features like shading, natural ventilation and day lighting. A rainwater recycling system is also powered by solar energy.


The PV hydrogen production system uses solar power to convert ionized water into hydrogen, by electrolysis. Forty-two multi-crystal PV panels that can produce a total peak power of 5 kW are mounted on the rooftop. Solar energy produced when sunlight falls on the PV panels is converted into electricity to operate an electrolyser unit inside the house. The electrolyser, with a capacity to manufacture 0.54 m3/h of hydrogen, electrolyses purified water supplied by a water purification system to yield hydrogen and oxygen, which is then vented into the atmosphere. A purifier cleans hydrogen before it is deposited in the 1,500 l vertical-standing storage tank. The hydrogen is used to run a fuel cell, cooking stove and boiler for the absorption air-conditioning system. The storage tank incorporates a gas management system to ensure safety. The PV system is interconnected to the utility power grid, with a reversible current flow and controlled by a 5 kW solar PV inverter.


Website: www.thestar.com.my

High-efficiency solar arrays and cards

IXYS Corp., the United States, has launched a new range of solar cell PV arrays and Cards for charging various battery powered and hand-held devices such as PDAs, mobile phones, cameras, toys, etc. These gadgets can be used for industrial applications like wireless sensors and portable instrumentation. With over 17 per cent efficiency, the solar PV arrays facilitate extended run time even in low light conditions and raise battery run time and life in a small footprint, which can be easily accommodated in the design of portable products.


The PV array family and PV Card comprises multiple series/parallel-connected solar cells that provide a range of output voltages at currents from 30 mA to 100 mA. The solar cells, based on proprietary monocrystalline, high-efficient IXOLAR cell technology, are available in four sizes 120 mm2, 240 mm2, 360 mm2 and 480 mm2. XOA17-12-04 PV array is the smallest commercially available product with four IXOLAR solar cells connected in series and mounted on a FR-4 PCB.


PV Cards are fabricated using IXYS proprietary direct copper bonded (DCB) ceramic as the substrate for the solar cells. Advantages of using DCB substrates include improved thermal conductivity and better reliability because of similar thermal expansion coefficients. Additionally, DCB substrates can be patterned to mount additional chips with the solar cells, e.g. a Schottky diode to prevent discharging of batteries during the night. PV Cards are ideal for high power outdoor concentrator applications like battery back-up in commercial/telecom equipment.


Website: www.commsdesign.com

Standardized solar power generator

Kyocera Corp., Japan, has launched a standardized solar power generation system for commercial and industrial markets. The Solar Power Plant III comprises high efficiency and high output solar modules with an improved power conditioner. The solar modules exhibit 13.98 per cent conversion efficiency and an output of 178.6 W. A standard 10 kW array formerly consisting of sixty 167 W modules can now be made with 56 of the new modules.


Adoption of the new solar module reduces installation space, mounting structure and labour involved in installation work. The cross-section of cable in the system has been increased from 2 to 3.5 mm2, which has reduced voltage drop and improved system efficiency. The power conditioner, Econoline 1000EX, was developed using a lead-free solder. This unit provides 93.5 per cent conversion efficiency and is reported to be the smallest and lightest such system presently available.


Website: www.solarbuzz.com

Photoconductive cells for gadgets

Allguy International Co. Ltd., Taiwan, has introduced Cds photoconductive cells that have applied voltages of 150 Vdc, 200 Vdc and 350 Vdc at 25C. The 9 P, 8 P, 7 P and 10 P types feature outline dimensions of 4.2 mm, 5.1 mm, 7.2 mm and 11 mm, respectively. Potential applications include video cameras, automatic light switches and dimmers.


Contact: Mr. S.C. Kao, President, Allguy International Co. Limited, 4F, No. 19, Lane 31, Kuo Chun Street, Sanchung City, Taipei, Taiwan. Tel: +886 (2) 2981 3645; Fax: +886 (2) 2984 7121.


Website: www.aicl.com.tw

New semiconductor solar cell structures

Researchers at Blackett Laboratory, the United Kingdom, have pioneered the use of nano-structures in strain-balanced third-generation quantum well solar cells (SB-QWSC). These cells are expected to produce electricity at twice the efficiency and half the cost of second-generation thin-film cells and are already deployed on satellites. The SB-QWSC cell offers significant benefits in high concentration systems. The quantum wells, nanometre wide regions of low band-gap semiconductor, absorb low energy photons of light that would otherwise pass through the host cell and thus extend the absorption band-edge of high efficiency GaAs cells to longer wavelengths and produce significant current enhancement while preserving good voltage performance. The resulting carriers break free from the well with high efficiency, leading to extra current at a voltage above that achieved by conventional cells made from the well material as long as the well material has the same lattice constant as the host cell.


Researchers are also developing a novel, non-tracking concentrator that uses the luminescence and quantum confinement properties of quantum dots. A thermodynamic model has been developed to optimize concentrator performance, demonstrating that separation between absorption and luminescence can be optimized by changing the spread of quantum dot sizes. Studies are already under way into the properties of quantum dots such stability, luminescence efficiency and the possibility of tailoring their absorption edge which make them good candidates to replace organic dyes in conventional luminescence concentrators.


Contact: Experimental Solid State Physics Group, The Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College, Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BZ, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (20) 7594 7579; Fax: +44 (20) 7594 7580


E-mail: d.bradley@ic.ac.uk


Website: www.imperial.ac.uk

New solar energy concentrator

Menova Engineering has introduced a solar concentrator that employs a patented system to focus suns energy to yield heat, hot water and electricity. Power-Spar is specifically engineered to offer enhanced performance even when exposed to extreme winter temperatures. This system is 25 per cent more efficient at supplying heat during winter than single-glazed solar thermal panels. Also, it allows for a payback period of less than five years, calculated with propane or electricity as a base heating fuel projected at a 10 per cent increase in cost per year.


Website: www.solaraccess.com

Residential PV systems

Kyocera Corp. of Japan is offering two kinds of solar power generation systems comprising high efficiency and high output solar modules that utilize d.Blue cells with improved characteristics. Econoroots is a PV roof system for span or flat roofs while Samurai, introduced in June 2003, is for hip or complex roofs. The Econoroots residential system features 14.48 per cent efficiency solar modules and use conventional rectangular modules. It will include both 185 W and 175 W modules. The long and short modules used in Samurai PV system have improved output characteristics while external specifications remain unchanged. The conventional 55 W system has been improved to 58 W and the 41 W upgraded to 43 W, an increase of 5 per cent in both cases.


Website: www.solarbuzz.com


WIND ENERGY

Small wind generator with 1.8 kW capacity

Sardar Patel University, India, has developed a small windmill capable of producing approximately 1,800 W of electricity. The 5 m long blades of the small wind generator (SWG) are fabricated using fibreglass. A waterproof five-phase generator is mounted on a 20 ft galvanized pipe. A tail vane ensures that the SWG remains in a specific direction when the wind is low and at high winds it protects the SWG from being damaged by turning it out of the wind. A notable feature of this system is that it can start producing power at a wind speed of just 7.2 km/h.


Website: www.windfair.net

New 5 kW wind turbine

Flowtrack Pty. Ltd., Australia, offers a 5 kW horizontal axis two-bladed turbine. This system integrates a computerized aerofoil design for the blades, from Newcastle University, with robust inductive generation. A NEMA standard induction motor provides the three-phase generation with the benefit of no slip rings or brushes, eliminating the need for maintenance. The 20 m high tower can be transported easily and set up manually. Extensive use of generic parts common semiconductors, NGK bearings and NEMA standard induction motor as the generator assures ready obtainability.


The turbine achieves good charge rates in light winds. The generator is a simple three-phase induction motor that is run as a generator by the control box connected to it. A 5 kW, 3-phase rectifier/transformer converts output from the generator to either 100 V nominal DC or 48 V nominal DC, depending on the way its taps are connected. Between the turbine and the generator is a speed increasing gearbox with 1:8 ratio. It comprises two-stage helical gears, which are very efficient and quiet, made using numerically controlled grinding technology. Key features of the system include:
 
  • Stall governed electronically with emergency band brake tripped by over-speed or vibration;
     
  • Excellent low wind performance, cutting in at 2.5 m/s;
     
  • Excellent high wind performance with no foldback;
     
  • Low noise, even when running on the governor;
     
  • Inherent power transmission up to 1 km with standard three-phase AC wire;
     
  • 16 step output control to allow taper charging of batteries or micro-grid interface;
     
  • No bulky shunt load is required to dispose surplus power;
     
  • Turntable centering mechanism prevents cable twist up without slip rings;
     
  • Lightning toughened, with triacs as control devices;
     
  • Energy from a 240 V back-up generator can be fed into the wind transformer, which acts as a high power factor battery charger;
     
  • The controller/transformer from the wind machine can be used to achieve a high efficiency, low cost auxiliary power unit comprising a variable speed prime mover (diesel, steam, etc.) coupled to a three-phase induction motor; and
     
  • Yaw control with spring loaded tail so as to reduce blade stress.
     

Contact: Flowtrack Pty. Ltd., Australia.


E-mail: Kali@nimnet.asn.au


Website: www.flowtrack.com.au


Turbine for low/medium wind regime

In India, a subsidiary of Denmark-based NEG Micon has launched a 1.65 MW wind turbine system. With a rotor diameter of 82 m and hub height of 78 m, the turbine is suitable for low and medium wind regimes. A turbine unit was commissioned at Kongalnagaram in the state of Tamil Nadu. It is the largest of its kind installed in India, according to NEG Micon.


Website: www.newstodaynet.com

High-efficiency wind turbine

In the United States, Hunt Aviation Corp. is validating a high-efficiency vertical axis wind turbine prototype based on engineering studies undertaken by the company. The novel prototype is expected to produce twice the power within the same area as a conventional horizontal axis wind turbine. This radial wind turbine design could potentially be a disruptive technology for the wind power industry struggling to obtain efficiencies over 20 per cent using rotor blade technology. It utilizes the effect of drag to harness wind power instead of using lift like conventional wind turbines. International patents for the wind turbine have been filed.


The President of Hunt Aviation, Mr. Gene Cox, states that the new wind turbine is capable of being used for many applications where rotor style wind turbines cannot be readily used since the wind can come from any direction and its flat, rectangular shape fits on any horizontal surface. Other models are being designed to power cell towers, for rooftop installation, power barge installations, power water pumping systems for municipal water supply units, office buildings and to replace sails on wind powered boats that will generate and store power. The company is also developing a programme wherein municipalities would mount turbines on city water towers.


Website: www.gee.pennnet.com

BIOMASS ENERGY

Hydrogen obtained from biowastes

At the Danish Technical University (DTU), Denmark, researchers have developed a new method to produce hydrogen using manure and household wastes. Ms. Irini Angelidaki, project leader, states that with the help of micro-organisms hydrogen can be obtained from organic waste material. However, if the manure and household trash are kept in storage for too long, other microbes begin to form methane gas. The hydrogen process only takes 1-2 days while about 20-25 days are required for the biogas process.


The team used a small chamber to store organic material long enough for certain bacteria to commence hydrogen production. From here, manure and household waste are sent into a larger biogas facility, before beginning to generate methane gas. The researchers are now fine tuning the process in an attempt to increase hydrogen production while minimizing methane generation.


Website: www.fuelcellsworks.com

Cheaper extraction of ethanol from biomass

In the United States, Novozymes reports to have succeeded in lowering the enzyme cost of converting cellulosic biomass into sugars for ethanol fuel production, by approximately twenty-fold, with technology developed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Under a US$14.8 million three-year collaborative research subcontract with NREL, Novozymes applied its proprietary biotech research platform to increase enzyme activity and fermentation yield while reducing the production cost for enzymes. Based on NRELs achievements in the pretreatment of cellulosic biomass materials and combining the improved treatment procedure with advances made by Novozymes, the partners have reduced the costs of the enzyme part of the biomass-to-ethanol conversion from US$5 to less than US$0.30 per gallon of ethanol.


Website: www.solaraccess.com

Advanced anaerobic digestion method

JGC Corp., Japan, is offering an advanced anaerobic digestion process with membrane technology, developed in Denmark by Bioscan A/S. Biorek helps achieve volume reduction of organic wastes and provides a natural resource circulation system by treating effluents without any environmental pollution. Many types of decomposable organic matter can be fermented to yield biogas rich in methane, for use in power generation. A Biorek plant incorporates the following stages:
 
  • Particles unsuitable for digestion are removed as compost material, or they are ground;
     
  • Organic matter is transformed into biogas by methane fermentation;
     
  • Methane fermentation becomes more active in the digester with ultrafilter, which recovers bacteria and undigested organic matter;
     
  • Ammonia is stripped as concentrate from the digested liquid;
     
  • Reverse osmosis unit separates clean water, and concentrates liquid fertilizer containing phosphorus and potassium from the bottom fraction of the ammonia stripper;
     
  • Biogas is biologically separated from hydrogen sulphide; and
     
  • A biogas co-generation system generates power and heat.
     

Notable benefits of using membrane technology in conventional biogas plants include utilization of a smaller digester, increased energy recovery, and separation and recovery of liquid fertilizer and clean water by reverse osmosis.


Contact: JGC Corp., 1-13-1, Saido, Kounan-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 233 8550, Japan. Tel: +81 (45) 7213 677; Fax: +81 (45) 7213 679.


Website: www.nett21.gec.jp


Biodiesel technology

Australian Biodiesel Consultancy, Australia, offers a transesterification process to produce biodiesel. The Fully Automated Continuous Technology (FACT) involves removal of glycerol component from triglyceride (oil or fat) and substituting it with alcohol. This procedure yields biodiesel conforming to the strictest standards available. FACT dramatically reduces the capital cost and expenses associated with the ongoing operation and maintenance of the plant.


Contact: Australian Biodiesel Consultancy, P.O. Box 5435, Chittaway, NSW 2261, Australia. Tel: +61 (2) 4388 1369; Fax: +61 (2) 4388 1371.


Website: www.biodiesel.net.au

Biogas plant at pig farm

A pilot demonstration and education plant for Lithuania and the surrounding Baltic countries was recently implemented by the Folkecenter for Renewable Energy, Denmark, with funds provided by AB Vycia Farming Co. and the Danish Environmental Protection Ministry. This programme received support from Lithuanias Environmental Protection Ministry and Energy Agency. The Lithuanian Energy Institute, along with Kaunas Energy Office, helped implement the project, and the Lithuanian Academy of Agriculture was involved in technology transfer.


The biogas plant is based on Folkecenters Farm Biogas Concept, i.e. the plant is scaled to the amount of resource available on the Vycia farm. About 60 m3/d of manure from 11,000 pigs is anaerobically digested to obtain a ready-to-use fertilizer and the biogas produced is converted into electricity and heat. The biogas system comprises three horizontal digesters in a parallel configuration, fed by manure. Each 300 m3 digester receives 20 m3 of manure daily in the 30 m3 individual mixing tanks. Waste additives are added into the tank and mixed. Manure is pumped into the digester at intervals and an equivalent volume of manure displaced at the outlet of the digester.


Contact: Folkecenter for Renewable Energy, Kammergaardsvej 16, Sdr. Ydby, P.O. Box 208, DK 7760 Hurup Thy, Denmark. Tel: +45 9795 6600; Fax: +45 9795 6565


E-mail: energy@folkecenter.dk


Or AB Vycia Farming Co., Roku apyl, LT 4311 Kauno raj, Lithuania.


Website: www.folkecenter.dk

New bioreactor

Collex, Australia, offers bioreactors that are purpose-built to accelerate decomposition of residual wastes and maximize the capture of biogas, which could be used for producing green electricity. This is achieved by placing an extensive network of pipes through the waste and careful control of water, leachate recirculation, acid levels and temperature and microbial level in each bioreactor cell.


The companys bioreactor at Woodlawn is sited at a disused 25 million cubic metre open-cut mine. This unit has a capacity to convert 400,000 t/y of residual waste into 25 MW of electricity. Another bioreactor at the Ti Tree Bioenergy facility, another former open-cut coal mine, is a fully engineered and contained facility, which is used to rapidly stabilize waste, generate power and help rehabilitate the site.


Contact: Collex, Level 4, 65 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont, NSW 2009, Australia. Tel: +61 (2) 8571 0000


E-mail: national@collex.com.au 


Website: www.collex.com.au

Kitchen wastes used to produce biogas

A kitchen waste-based biogas plant has been established at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centres (BARC) premises for eco-friendly disposal of waste generated in various canteens on the campus. Vegetable refuse, stale cooked and uncooked food, extracted tea powder, waste milk and milk products, etc. can be easily processed in this plant. Based on the understanding of thermophilic micro-organisms in particular and microbial processes in general, two key alterations were incorporated while designing the biogas plant:
 
  • A 5 hp mixer is used to process waste before placing it into the predigester tank. Waste is converted into slurry by adding water (1:1); and
     
  • Thermophilic microbes are employed for faster degradation of the waste. Growth of thermophiles in the predigester is assured by blending waste with hot water, supplied by a solar heater, and maintaining the temperature around 55-60C.
     

Slurry from the predigester enters the main tank where it mainly undergoes anaerobic degradation by a consortium of archae-bacteria belonging to Methanococcus group. Gas generated here is a blend of methane (70-75 per cent), carbon dioxide (10-15 per cent) and water vapour (5-10 per cent). A GI pipeline transports biogas for use in lamp posts. Undigested lignocellulosic and hemicellulosic materials are passed on to the settling tank. After about 30 days, high-quality manure can be removed from the settling tanks.


Contact: Mr. S.P. Kale/Mr. S.T. Mehetre, Nuclear Agriculture and Biotechnology Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, India.


Website: www.dae.gov.in


Energy from drains

A research group at Pennsylvania State University, the United States, have demonstrated that electricity could be generated from domestic wastewater, which is full of organic matter from cooking, cleaning or sewage. Apart from cleansing the effluent stream, the new technique facilitates easier treatment of sewage. The process relies on bacteria already present in most wastewaters to gobble up the organic content. These microbes burn anything from sewage to leftover cabbage, mainly turning it into carbon dioxide. As the organisms oxidize their food, they also strip electrons from the organic matter. Electrons thus released can be used to produce electricity.


A microbial fuel cell devised by the researchers consists of a plastic tube 6.5 cm wide and 15 cm long. Eight graphite rods running lengthwise through the tube function as negative electrodes. The positive electrode is a central rod fabricated using plastic, carbon and platinum. When wastewater is pumped into the chamber, bacteria stick to the graphite rods and channel electrons into them as they devour the organic part. Electrons travel through wires to the platinum rod, completing the circuit. Larger the surface area of the graphite rods, greater is the power generated. The team has succeeded in generating 150 mW/m2 of graphite surface. They believe that up to 1,000 mW/m2 of power generation capacity can be achieved. A reasonably sized device could generate enough power to run small devices like light bulbs. Additionally, around 80 per cent of organic waste present in the effluent stream can be removed.


Website: www.nature.com

WAVE/TIDAL ENERGY

Near-shore wave energy converter

In the United Kingdom, Lancaster University Renewable Energy Group has devised a seabed mounted wave energy converter for installation in near-shore waters of 20-30 m depth. The paddle-like, buoyant collector surface is situated normal to the wave direction and just piercing the sea surface. The collector surface oscillates in surge in a shallow arc, carried on the end of a long lever and is arranged to be resonant with the current wave period because of its buoyancy. The lower end of the lever turns on a pivot and drives a hydraulic power take-off system, housed in a base unit, fixed to the seabed. The whole upper part can be driven to rotate about the base part and in this way it can always face the prevailing sea direction.


Being essentially cylindrical and compact, the Frond devices can be lowered from a stabilized barge or ship into prepared sockets in the seabed. In periods of extreme seas the collector surfaces are relocated in a safe configuration, where the frontal area is much reduced by being feathered or controlled otherwise so as to mitigate the destructive stresses that would otherwise be generated in the structure.


Contact: Mr. Martin Widden, Lancaster University Renewable Energy Group, Engineering Dept., Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YR, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1524) 593 017; Fax: +44 (1524) 381 707


E-mail: m.widden@lancaster.ac.uk


Website: www.engineering.lancs.ac.uk

Offshore floating wave energy device

In Japan, Jamstec has developed a floating device known as Mighty Whale. Projected applications for a row of such devices include energy supply to fish farms in the waters behind the devices and purification/aeration of seawater. Theoretical calculations and model tests in 2D and 3D wave tanks have verified the hydrodynamic characteristics of the device and provided information required for the safe and economical design of an open sea prototype.


Based on oscillating water column, the prototype incorporates three air chambers to convert wave energy into pneumatic energy. Wave action causes the internal water level in each chamber to rise and fall, forcing a bidirectional airflow over an air turbine. All the three turbines are self-reciprocating and each turbine has two rotors in tandem configuration. The turbines run three induction generators to produce three-phase AC output at 200 V. A prototype was launched in March 1998.


Contact: Mr. Yukihisa Washio, Marine Technology Dept., Jamstec, 2-15, Natsushima-cho, Yokosuka 237, Japan. Tel: +81 (468) 675 576; Fax: +81 (468) 665 746


E-mail: washioy@jamstec.go.jp 


Website: www.jamstec.go.jp

Successful wave project turns the tide

Marine Current Turbines (MCT), the United Kingdom, has raised US$5.4 million in an equity funding round that will help propel a programme to develop a successor to the companys Seaflow project, the worlds first 300 kW offshore tidal turbine. The new project, known as SeaGen, is a grid-connected twin rotor machine, which follows on as the next stage of the development of a commercial tidal stream turbine. The investment round witnessed major investors increasing their equity stake and new investors joining.


The Seaflow project, with one rotor, has performed better than expected. The system achieved its rated power of 300 kW, has a consistent rotor efficiency exceeding 40 per cent and the energy capture has been up to 25 per cent better than expected. The ocean energy device works on the same principles as a windmill, where big underwater rotors, shaped just like propellers, are driven by the huge mass of flowing water found at certain spots in the sea. The technology comprises rotors mounted on steel piles (tubular steel columns) set into a socket drilled in the seabed. The energy generated, being derived from tides, has the added benefit of being predictable. A key patented feature of the technology is that the rotor and drive train (i.e. gearbox and generator) can easily be raised completely above the sea surface to facilitate maintenance or repairs using a surface vessel.


Website: www.solaraccess.com

FUEL CELLS

High-efficiency PEMFC

Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Japan, has developed a PEMFC co-generation system that has achieved an overall energy efficiency rate of 83 per cent. Developed and reliability-tested with DSS (Daily Start and Stop) and cold weather operation needed for businesses and homes, the new system incorporates a Lossnay humidifier. Development of the crucial Lossnay humidifier and moulded separator was undertaken with funds provided by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization. The Lossnay humidifier is an indispensable component that enables the PEMFC co-generation unit to be simplified and achieve high performance. Key features of the PEMFC include:
 
  • High electrical efficiency (34 per cent) and overall energy efficiency (83 per cent) with heat recovery;
     
  • Moulded separators made from heat-stiffened resin and carbon are used to control fuel and air flow in the fuel cell stack. A large cost reduction of 1/100 compared with the previous separators was feasible. The use of Lossnay humidifier enabled miniaturization of the heat exchanger and an expensive deionized water filter unit; and
     
  • Original long-life reformer.
     

Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com


Home-use fuel cell stacks

In Japan, fuel cell stacks that can operate for over 10,000 h have been developed separately by Ebara Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. The residential fuel cells can operate for three years before any part needs replacement. The systems can extract hydrogen from city gas. Both companies are developing 1 kW fuel cell systems to fulfil the basic power demands of a stand-alone home.


Contact: Matsushita Electric Works Limited, 1048, Kadoma, Osaka 571 8686, Japan. Tel: +81 (6) 6908 1131.


Website: www.powerpulse.net

New patents for fuel cell technology

Medis Technologies Ltd., the United States, has applied for three new patents with the Patent Office. The first patent relates to a system of independent orientation, describing a proprietary system that enables its fuel cell products to operate in any orientation up, down or sideways. While the second application covers further improvements in the proprietary fuel used in Medis fuel cells, the third patent filed is for new improvements in the cartridge system used to deliver fuel to the fuel cell.


Website: www.powerpulse.net

Fuel cell notebook PC

In the Republic of Korea, Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. have together launched a 100 Wh notebook PC. Fuelled by 100 cc methanol solution, the system can operate continuously for 10 h before it needs to be recharged. Utilizing nanotechnology, SAIT succeeded in halving the quantity of catalyst required by devising the Mesoporous carbon material that supports highly efficient nano-catalyst particles 3 nm in dimension.


SAIT has also developed a unique nanocomposite concept to prevent methanol crossover by over 90 per cent. The new composite utilizes a proton conducting membrane that possesses a proton conductivity rate of 0.1S/cm and is 30-100 m thick. Energy efficiency of the DMFC was optimized by a unique stack design with parallel fuel supply flow, which, in combination with a high efficiency controller and Samsung Electronics package technology, was successfully applied to the notebook PC.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Distributed power fuel cells

Ceres Power, the United Kingdom, has devised a stainless steel-based fuel cell that operates at less than 600C. Distributed power generation is where energy is produced at, or close to, the point of use, thereby eliminating the need for a capital-intensive grid distribution system. Utilizing a steel-supported design, the robust low-cost technology could replace domestic boilers, providing hot water, heat and electricity. The fuel cell runs on a variety of widely available fuels, including natural gas. It is suitable for generating heat and power in households and for users of bottled fuels in regions where connection to a gas or electricity network is difficult or impossible.


Website: www.ferret.com.au

Solid fuel cell

Researchers at California Institute of Technology, the United States, have built a fuel cell that employs a solid acid electrolyte and either hydrogen or methanol as fuel. The new phosphate-based electrolyte material offers potential benefits over current polymer solid electrolytes, including the ability to produce power at temperatures over 100C and less chance of fuel leakage. The team demonstrated the fuel cells ability to operate at a temperature of 250C for 100 h. The key to using the solid electrolyte is having enough water vapour pressure, about 10 per cent relative humidity at 100C, to keep the material from dehydrating.


Website: www.trnmag.com

Micro fuel cell

In the United States, researchers from the University of California and Pennsylvania State University have fabricated a tiny methane fuel cell that works at 60C. The new fuel cell uses high concentration methanol to increase operating time. The fuel cell takes in methanol and water on one side and air on the other side of a 750 m wide 400 m deep channel bisected by a membrane. Hydrogen ions diffuse through the membrane, causing electrons to flow. The waste by-products generated are water and carbon dioxide.


Website: www.technologyreview.com

All-ceramic solid oxide fuel cell

The Central Research Institute of the Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI), Japan, has developed a fuel cell made entirely of ceramic materials. Individual cells in this solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) are connected by ceramic connectors, which incorporate a calcium-based inorganic oxide material. The fuel cell can operate at 1,000C and generate 1 W/cm2 of electrolyte, which is five times more than what a conventional cell of its type can manage. Moreover, the all-ceramic system can operate continuously for 2,000 h, a 50-fold increase, since cracking due to the difference in thermal expansion coefficients of metals and ceramics is not a factor.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Advanced 1 kW stationary fuel cell

Ebara Ballard, Canada, has unveiled its advanced pre-commercial 1 kW combined heat and electricity PEM stationary fuel cell generator, building upon its first generation precommercial generator. The advanced fuel cell, incorporating a reformer based on technology licensed from Tokyo Gas, provides an electrical efficiency of 35 per cent and overall efficiency (heat and electricity) of 93 per cent. The combined heat and power fuel cell system uses the existing natural gas infrastructure to efficiently generate electricity.


Website: www.tmcnet.com

PEM fuel cell to be demonstrated

Itochu Corp., Japan, plans to initiate a demonstration project involving a proton exchange membrane (PEM) stationary fuel cell, in collaboration with Hydrogenics Corp. of Canada and Hitachi Zosen Corp., Japan. The system to be demonstrated includes Hitachis PEM water electrolyser and Hydrogenics 10 kW HyPM-10 PEM fuel cell power module. The system will be integrated by Hitachi with support from Hydrogenics and set up at the International Centre for Environmental Technology Transfer (ICETT) in Yokkaichi City, Japan.


Electricity for the electrolyser will be supplied by a PV power generator as well as from the grid. Hydrogen produced by the electrolyser will be reconverted into electricity by the fuel cell for use in ICETT. The combination of an electrolyser, hydrogen storage tank and fuel cell enables the regenerative power system to provide a stable quantity of electric power from renewable sources, thus helping to mitigate global warming. Use of hydrogen during off-peak grid power also assists in levelling the electric load demand. Scheduled to be installed between August and September 2004, this system will be evaluated for its efficacy as a regenerative system. In addition, joint studies for system improvement will be undertaken with research institutes and corporations based in Mie Prefecture. Following the test, Itochu will develop and commercialize more advanced versions of the regenerative system as well as a 10 kW stationary fuel cell system for commercial markets.


Contact: Ms. Naoki Kitajima, Itochu Corp., Japan. Tel: +81 (3) 3497 7293


E-mail: kitajima-n@itochu.co.jp


Website: www.japancorp.net

DMFC technology

MTI MicroFuel Cells Inc., the United States, is offering a new integrated power pack that is less than 40 cm3 in size. Based on patented direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC), Mobion technology can supply energy to portable devices 2-10 times longer than an equivalent-sized battery pack, while allowing for instant and cord-free recharging. The new technology has been incorporated into two concept models, a hand-held entertainment system and a PDA/smart phone.


At the core of Mobion technology is its approach to managing water produced at the fuel cell cathode, and required for chemical reaction at the fuel cell anode. Conventional DMFCs rely on complex water management micro-plumbing around the cell, whereby water produced at the cathode is collected, re-routed and mixed with incoming methanol at the anode. The Mobion architecture uses a proprietary system that manages the water flow internal to the fuel cell without any pumping.


Contact: MTI MicroFuel Cells Inc., 431, New Karner Road, Albany, NY 12205, United States of America. Tel: +1 (518) 5332 222; Fax: +1 (518) 5332 223; Or 419 S. San Antonio Road, Suite 213, Los Altos, CA 94022, United States of America. Fax: +1 (650) 5590 320


E-mail: mtimicro@mechtech.com


Website: www.mtimicrofuelcells.com

HYDROGEN ENERGY

Storing hydrogen

In the United States, researchers at the University of Chicago have proposed a new method for storing hydrogen. The method involves forming icy materials comprising molecular hydrogen, which requires less stringent temperature and pressure storage parameters than essential for liquid hydrogen and compressed hydrogen. The scentists synthesized compounds made of hydrogen and water, hydrogen and methane, and hydrogen and octane in a diamond-anvil cell, employed by scientists to simulate the high pressures found far beneath the Earths surface.


The compound that holds the most promise for hydrogen storage, called a hydrogen clathrate hydrate, was synthesized at pressures between 20,000 and 30,000 atmospheres and a temperature of -132.8C. The compound remains stable at atmospheric pressure and -195.7C temperature, which is the temperature at which liquid nitrogen boils. Hydrogen in a clathrate is released when heated to 97.2C.


Website: www.sciencedaily.com

Next-generation hydrogen station

In Canada, Stuart Energy Systems Corp. has unveiled its configurable water electrolysis infrastructure solution that produces and delivers up to 3 Nm3/h of clean, pure hydrogen at 25 bar for use in industrial, power and transportation applications. The Stuart Energy Station (SES) product line is a modular system comprising hydrogen generation, compression, storage, power and fuel dispenser units. The small SES is designed to safely and reliably produce up to 3 Nm3/h of hydrogen at up to 99.9995 per cent purity, depending on the purity package selected. Based on proprietary Vandenborre IMET cell stack, the small SES uses electricity to efficiently separate water into hydrogen and oxygen.


By configuring the SES modules, a system suitable for industrial and energy applications could be built where a small quantity of hydrogen is required. Potential applications include laboratory fuel cell testing, generator cooling in thermal power plants, battery replacement, vehicle fuelling, small off-grid power and a wide variety of other infrastructure applications. The company is also utilizing the small SES platform in developing its HomeFueler, which is being designed to allow hydrogen vehicle owners to fuel their car in the comfort of their homes.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Electrolysis system hydrogen production

Mitsubishi Corp., Japan, is planning to commercialize a new proprietary electrolysis hydrogen generation system that is compact and cheaper than conventional systems. This unit would be 50-90 per cent smaller and costing 20-30 per cent lower than existing systems based on electrolysers and compressors, or city gas-based hydrogen production systems comprising special membranes and compressors. The unit is designed to pressurize hydrogen by simply storing it in a tank after producing it through electrolysis of water, the system is expected to make up the core of hydrogen supply equipment at gas stations.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

High-pressure hydrogen sans compressor

Mitsubishi Corp., Japan, reports to have achieved the worlds first production of high-pressure hydrogen gas without a compressor through its prototype electrolyser. The high-pressure hydrogen energy generator is a proton exchange membrane electrolyser developed solely by Mitsubishi. This unit incorporates a cell stack in a high-pressure vessel, which stores highly compressed hydrogen gas produced by means of electrolysis. The capacity of the prototype is 2.5 Nm3/h and its maximum pressure level is 35 MPa.


Website: www.fuelcelltoday.com

Ethanol to power future fuel cells

Converting biomass materials such as ethanol into hydrogen is a cost-efficient method to power fuel cells. Researchers are of the opinion that inter-metallic compounds could be used beneficially in the electrodes of fuel cells for oxidizing ethanol. These materials are not alloys but have ordered structures where the atoms are very specifically arranged. Mr. Al Hester, an analyst with the international technology analysis business Technical Insights, opines that a potentially cost-effective technology is light-induced biological hydrogen production. This process uses enzyme systems present in photosynthetic bugs, cyanobacteria and green algae such as Chlamydomonas reinhardt. However, there is a need to detect micro-organisms that are immune to oxygen and that would prove to be good alternatives to produce hydrogen commercially.


A research team with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has developed a sensor that identifies hydrogen-producing microbes by a screening procedure. This system uses a sensitive film that changes colour at a point where the organism being tested indicates the presence of hydrogen.


Website: www.prweb.com

PUBLICATIONS

Fuel Cell Power for Transportation: 2004

This book is a special publication of papers presented at the SAE 2004 World Congress. Technical papers included discuss different aspects of fuel cells.

Fuel Cells: Technology, Alter-native Fuels and Fuel Processing

This book is a compilation of papers discussed at the 2003 International Future Transportation Technology Conference. The collection of papers include predicting the fuel economy impact of cold-start for reformed petroleum fuel cell vehicles, high-temperature fuel cell warm-up influence on vehicle fuel consumption, water and heat balance in a fuel cell vehicle with a sodium borohydride hydrogen fuel processor, etc.

Fuel Cell Powered Vehicles: Automotive Technology of the Future Update

This report reviews the concepts behind fuel cell technology and then describes the improvements and new automobiles that have been developed since 2001. It examines the remaining challenges, in particular the issue of what fuel should be used and the necessary refuelling infrastructure. The book concludes with a peek into the future and discusses when and if fuel cell vehicles will become a reality. Chapters include Fuel Cell, Vehicles, Refuelling Infrastructure, etc.


For the above publications, contact: SAE World Headquarters, 400, Commonwealth Drive, Warrendale, PA 15096 0001, United States of America. Tel: +1 (724) 7764 841; Fax: +1 (724) 7760 790.

The 2003-2008 World Outlook for Renewable Energy Equipment

This guidebook covers the world outlook for renewable energy equipment across more than 200 countries. Comparative benchmarks allow the reader to quickly gauge a country vis-a-vis others. Using econometric models that project fundamental economic dynamics within each country and across nations, latent demand estimates are created.


Contact: ICON Group International Inc., 4370, La Jolla Village Drive, 4th Floor, San Diego CA 92122, United States of America. Tel: +1 (858) 5464 340; Fax: +1 (858) 5464 341


E-mail: iconsubs@san.rr.com


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