VATIS Update Non-conventional Energy . May-Jun 2010

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New and Renewable Energy May-Jun 2010

ISSN: 0971-5630

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

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

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India’s S&T agency working on clean energy fuel

Various laboratories of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India, are working on a project to develop clean energy fuel for electricity generation. The National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) is one of the laboratories that are working out different components for the fuel cell that can reduce the cost and produce hydrogen to generate electricity.

CSIR Director General Dr. Samir K. Brahmachari said that the initiative was under CSIR’s New Millennium Initiative in Technology Leadership programme. “Generating electricity through fuel cell technology is being worked out by NCL under the hydrogen fuel generating programme,” he said during NCL’s diamond jubilee celebrations.

With the project also seeing a tie-up with the private sector giant Reliance Industries Limited, NCL Director Dr. S. Sivaram said the project was an academia-industry interface that will see the industry making use of the NCL process. This initiative entails fuel cells being set up at remote areas along the pipeline to Dahej, in the Godavari basin. “We have prototypes at NCL and will see the same being rolled out in two years,” he said.

Republic of Korea doubles renewable energy sales

Republic of Korea’s fast growing renewable energy sector is expected to post sales of 8.1 trillion won (US$6.9 billion) in 2010. A survey by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy showed that the sales predictions represent a 100 per cent increase from the previous year, with the sector’s exports forecast to gain 125 per cent to US$4.6 billion. The sector covers solar cells, wind power, biofuel, terrestrial heat and advanced fuel cells.

According to the survey, the sector is expected to draw 3.9 trillion won (US$3.33 billion) in private sector investment this year, up by 27 per cent year on year (YoY) and hire 11,715 workers, up by 28 per cent YoY. The government had announced that it would spend 808.4 billion won (US$6.9 million), a 6.6 fold gain from 2003, to promote renewable energy related development projects in 2010. Of the total amount, funds earmarked for technology development will reach 252.8 billion won (US$215.8 million).

The Ministry said that the survey, conducted on 150 local companies from April 2009 through March 2010, showed businesses are more likely to focus on the solar cell and wind power sectors. It showed that solar cell related sales may surge 126 per cent YoY to 5.37 trillion won (US$ 4.58 billion), with exports reaching US$3.38 billion. For wind power, sales could reach 1.82 trillion won (US$1.55 billion), representing a 76 per cent YoY gain as compared to 2009, with exports to top US$1.20 billion.

Bangladesh gets clean energy loan from World Bank

Bangladesh will receive a US$100 million loan from the World Bank to fund clean energy activities. Most of the money will be spent on the government’s solar energy programmes, while the remainder of the loan money will be used to purchase CFL light bulbs. The government plans to finance installation of one million solar panels over the next couple of years and distribute about 27.5 million low-wattage CFL bulbs all across the country.

The state-run Rural Electrification Board and Infrastructure Development Company Limited are jointly implementing the renewable energy development programme of the government. The World Bank will provide the fund by the end of May 2010, an official from the Finance Ministry said, adding that the use of solar energy in Bangladesh had been rising annually by more than 50 per cent since 2004.

Funds for Philippines’ renewable-energy markets

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private-sector arm of the World Bank, is partnering with Banco de Oro (BDO), a major bank in the Philippines, to expand into energy efficiency and renewable energy market. IFC stated that the partnership with BDO would allow it to encourage more investments into projects on energy efficiency and renewable energy that will also help the country manage climate change.

Under the new cooperation agreement, IFC will provide advisory services to BDO to give the local private sector appropriate financing for sustainable energy investments. Mr. Jesse Ang, IFC Resident Representative, said the agreement is part of IFC’s global efforts to help minimize the adverse effects of climate change, especially in developing economies which suffer the most from it. The sustainable energy finance programme of IFC is based on the idea that financing sustainable energy projects can be a good business while, at the same time, helping to combat climate change.

Mr. William Beloe, IFC’s Head of Advisory Services & Sustainability Programme Manager for the Philippines, said his agency and the Department of Energy have found there are about US$8 billion worth of financing opportunities available and needed in renewable energy and energy efficiency. He said that IFC will provide funding and know-how to Philippine banks so that they can provide capital to renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. IFC will also work with end-users and service and technology providers, and engage regulatory authorities to help generate a policy environment conducive to investments in sustainable energy.

Thailand reviews renewable energy tariff

In Thailand, a revision of the tariff incentives for producers of renewable energy is imminent, as new technology has reduced production costs, according to the Ministry of Energy. Mr. Norkhun Sitthipong, the Ministry’s Deputy Permanent Secretary, said the revised rates should reflect the actual costs and also ensure fairness to power producers. Mr. Norkhun said the new adder rates should be finished by July 2010.

The incentive, known as an “adder tariff”, is a special rate that state utilities pay for power from producers using renewable sources. The rates vary depending on the fuel used. “It was crucial for renewable energy that the government help provide support. Otherwise these types of energy would never be able to compete with mainstream fuels, as coal-fired and natural-gas plants have far lower costs of fuel and are more commercially viable,” stated Mr. Norkhun.

However, the rate given to producers requires constant adjustment to ensure fairness among producers. Solar power, for example, has one of the highest production costs, but that cost has fallen to between US$1.50 and US$2.00 per kWh from US$4 in 2005.

The adder scheme will be provided to renewable energy operators only for the first seven years of their operations, except for wind and solar plants, which will be supported for 10 years. Once the adder period is ended, the operator will sell power at the same rate as utilities pay for coal-fired power at that time.

China promulgates revised Renewable Energy Law

The latest revision of China’s Renewable Energy Law formally came into force on 1 April 2010. Compared with the old version promulgated in February 2005, the new Renewable Energy Law has two highlights: the central government has full powers over the acquisition of renewable energy power generation, and it empowers the Finance Department of the central government to set up a renewable energy development fund.

Mr. Li Junfeng, Deputy Director of the Energy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission, said that the detailed rules on the implementation of the new law will not be published before six months. The Energy Research Institute was one of the drafters of the revised Renewable Energy Law.

Malaysia to switch to biofuel next year

Malaysia, the second-largest palm oil producer in the world, will make it mandatory for all vehicles to use biofuel from 2011, the government has announced. Malaysia’s plans to shift to biofuel, a mixture of diesel with five per cent processed palm oil, have been delayed over the past few years due to price fluctuations.

The plan will now be implemented in stages in several central states beginning June 2011, the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry said in a statement, adding that the extra cost will be borne by petroleum companies. The Ministry said it will discuss the implementation mechanism with petroleum companies, while the government will set up six petroleum depots with blending facilities. The switch to biofuel is expected to help reduce the cost of fuel in Malaysia, where petrol is subsidised. Commodities Minister Mr. Bernard Dompok said Malaysia, which aims to be the global leader in biodiesel, has approved 56 biodiesel production licences, accounting for a production capacity of 6.8 million tonnes.

Republic of Korea to invest US$1 billion in tidal power

In the Republic of Korea, the Korea Western Power Corp. (KWP) will be investing a total of 1.22 trillion won (US$1.07 billion) to build 20 tidal power plants, likely from next year through 2014, the government and officials at the utility said recently. The power plants, which are to be located about 200 km southwest of Seoul, are tipped to be the world’s largest with a total capacity of 520 MW, they said.

KWP, wholly owned by state-run Korea Electric Power Corporation, expects the plants to boost renewable energy consumption along with the parliament’s recent approval of a bill with the same goal. The construction of the plants will start after the environmental impact assessment receives final approval, likely by early 2011, a government official stated.

Renewable energy accounted for 2.4 per cent of the Republic of Korea’s total energy consumption in 2008. The country aims to increase that to 11 per cent by 2030.

Bangladesh assesses wind power prospects

The Government of Bangladesh is undertaking a comprehensive wind mapping to assess the prospect of wind power in the country. This was announced by Mr. Tawfik-e-Elahi Chowdhury, Energy Adviser to the Prime Minister, during a roundtable organized recently by the Energy and Power magazine. He said that by 2021, renewable energy could be contributing one-third of the total power generated in Bangladesh.

Currently, the government’s meteorological department maps the wind strength, but the results are often misleading as the equipment used was installed decades ago. Two previous wind-mapping reports – one by Dhaka University and the other by Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology – had indicated that wind power is not a feasible energy resource.

Mr. Md Fazlur Rahman, Managing Director, Pan Asia Power Services Ltd., however, said that to determine whether wind power could be effective in Bangladesh, integrated wind mapping of the 740 km coastal belt in the south was necessary. He also pointed out that wind turbines don’t require much land and can be established in remote areas to produce power at competitive rates.

Indian defence R&D agency to develop biodiesel use

India’s Defence Research Development Organization (DRDO) has formally licensed the technology to develop biodiesel from Central Salt and Marine Chemical Research Institute (CSMCRI), according to Mr. Pushpito Ghosh, CSMCRI Director. DRDO will employ the technology to produce biodiesel for vehicles of the defence forces.

As part of the biodiesel programme, CSMCRI has installed the first zero effluent discharge biodiesel plant, with 1 tonne/day capacity, at a military farm of DRDO to generate fuel from Jatropha seeds, Mr. Ghosh said.

According to a DRDO spokesperson, vehicles are still being tested for biodiesel and final results are awaited. He confirmed that a bio-diesel plant has been installed by CSMCRI for DRDO and vehicles are being tested on blends of bio-diesel. Even a 20 per cent blend using CSMCRI’s Jatropha methyl ester yielded “excellent results on emission control,” said Mr. Ghosh.

China to impose carbon tax from 2012

China will impose a carbon tax on industry from 2012 to curb carbon dioxide emissions, a Chinese business newspaper has reported. The Economic Information Daily quoted Ministry of Finance sources as saying the tax would start at 20 yuan (US$2.95) per tonne of carbon dioxide, and raise it to 50 yuan (US$7.40) per tonne by 2020. The tax would equate to 11 yuan (US$1.63) per tonne of coal and 17 yuan (US$2.50) per tonne of oil.

The decision came after a recent survey conducted by officials in the Ministry concluded that a tax was the most efficient method to reduce carbon emissions from industry. The Ministry of Finance study also said the tax reforms may include concessions for the industries that would be heavily affected by the levy, provided that the businesses agree to work towards reduction of energy consumption and emissions.

Revenue from the tax will be used to fund energy-saving and environmentally friendly industries, reported the newspaper. It also said that the central government will allow local governments to distribute up to a third of the tax revenue to regional schemes. China has significantly increased investment in low-carbon technologies and is the world’s largest clean tech investor. However, until now few policy or tax measures have been brought to cut emissions.


Sphelar cells are the new power windows

Sphelar solar cells, developed by Kyosemi Corporation of Japan, are solidified silicon drops measuring 1.8 mm in diameter and are highly transparent, which is advantageous for a number of reasons. They can be embedded in glass to create a transparent solar cell window that is capable of absorbing light from any direction or angle. Because both sides of the glass can collect light, this should translate into highly efficient energy harvesting.

The cells can also be embedded in flexible surfaces, allowing for them to take on unusual shapes or be bent if necessary. The Sphelar Dome is one such product that is designed to absorb more energy in the early morning and late evening unlike a flatter design. Contact: Kyosemi Corporation, 949-2 Ebisu-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto-shi, 612-8201 Japan. Tel: +81 (75) 605 7311; Fax: +81 (75) 605 7312; E-mail:; Website:

A novel way to thin-film solar cells

Applied Quantum Technology (AQT) in the United States is one among a score of start-ups trying to develop low-cost solar cells made from copper indium gallium (di)selenide, a compound that can be printed or deposited on flexible materials and glass. Mr. Michael Bartholomeusz, AQT’s Chief Executive, claims that by utilizing off-the-shelf machinery from the computer hard drive industry, his company has been able to dramatically cut its capital costs.

Hard drives are manufactured using a process called sputtering that deposits materials in layers on a disk. Mr. Bartholomeusz said his company has developed a process that used “dry sputtering” to make an entire solar cell. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory had verified AQT’s solar cells efficiency of 11.2 per cent, but the recent improvements had raised it to 12 per cent, he said. By the time the cells hit the commercial market later this year or in early 2011, the company expects efficiencies to be at 14 per cent with a finished solar module to be 12 per cent efficient.

Thin film solar cell production

HHV Solar Technologies, India,has developed technology as well as equipment for setting up production facility for thin film solar cells. The cell was designed by Mr. A.K. Barua, Professor Emeritus at the 130-year-old Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science in Kolkata. HHV Solar is the first Indian company to have developed such technology and the equipment for setting up a production facility. It has signed a deal with Solar Source Corp., Canadian renewable energy company, to establish a thin film amorphous silicon solar panel manufacturing plant in Canada.

A global race is on to increase the efficiency of thin cells, from the current 6.75-7.00 per cent to 10.00 per cent and beyond. From its research stable, supported by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, HHV plans to roll out modules with 8 per cent conversion efficiency within a year. Plasma enhanced chemical vapour deposition technology, which is a method of depositing silicon on glass to turn it into an electricity-generating module, lies at the core of the work by Mr. Barua and his team.

Cheaper, better fibre solar cells

Wake Forest University (WFU), the United States, has received the first patent for a new solar cell technology that could double the energy production of today’s flat cells at a fraction of the cost. “This device can make a huge difference,” said Dr. David Carroll, Director, WFU Centre for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials, where the fibre cell was developed.

The technology has been licensed to FibreCell Inc. to develop a way to manufacture the cells, and the company is producing its first large test cells. The new solar cells are made from millions of miniscule plastic fibres that can collect sunlight at oblique angles – even when the sun is rising and setting. Flat cell technology captures light when the sun is directly above. While a flat cell loses energy when the sun’s rays bounce off its shiny surface, the fibre-based design creates more surface area to confine the sun’s rays, trapping the light in the tiny fibre “cans” where it bounces around until it is absorbed almost completely. That means greater energy production with fibre-based cells: the new fibre cells could produce about twice as many kilowatt hours per day as standard flat cells.

To make the cells, the plastic fibres are assembled onto plastic sheets, with a technology similar to that used to create the tops of soft-drink cups. The absorber – either a polymer or a dye – is sprayed on. The plastic makes the cells lightweight and flexible – a manufacturer could roll them up and ship them anywhere cheaply.

Slim integrated-type solar cell module

At the Research Centre for Photovoltaics of Japans’ National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Dr. Shigeru Niki, Deputy Director, Dr. Shogo Ishizuka, Research Scientist and colleagues of the Thin Film Compound Semiconductor Team have demonstrated the world’s highest photovoltaic (PV) energy conversion efficiency of 15.9 per cent (independently certified) for monolithically integrated flexible solar cell sub-modules (aperture area: 75.7 cm2) using a CIGS thin film.

Lightweight and flexible solar cells are gaining attention as a key technology for wider use of PV power generation. However, it was very difficult to obtain PV energy conversion efficiency higher than 10 per cent in a flexible solar cell module of an integrated structure. The researchers worked on the technical challenges of alkali addition control and integration processes, and succeeded in drastically enhancing the PV energy conversion efficiency of an integrated-type flexible CIGS solar cell using a sub-module-size substrate at the practical use level.

Flasher systems for solar simulation test

Germany's Berger Lichttechnik is offering flasher systems for pulsed solar simulation tests. The product is available in different models. The models Pulsed Solar Simulator PSS 10 and Single Cell Flasher PSS 10-S both have a two-step illumination of 1,000 W/m², directly followed by 500 W/m², whereas the Standard Flasher PSS 8 has a variable illumination level of 500-1,000 W/m². All models have a spectrum of 1.5 AM.

Standard Flasher PSS 8 is a high-power flasher with a constant light usable for up to 10 ms. It is built for test surfaces of up to 2.4 m diagonal and has a repetition rate up to 0.5/min. The Single Cell Flasher PSS 10 and PSS 10-S have high-stability capacitors for permanent use in fully automatic assembly lines. The low-pressure xenon lamp generates a two-step single flash, which leads to two I-V curves. It begins at a light intensity of 1,000 W/m² and drops after a flash period of 5 ms to an intensity of 500 W/m² for another 5 ms. This allows the correct measurement of the series resistance according to IEC 904-9 (Simulator Class A) standard. The flasher models have a repetition rate of up to 20/min. Contact: Berger Lichttechnik GmbH, Wolfratshauser Straße 150, D-82049 Pullach, Germany. Tel: +49 (89) 7935 5266; Fax: +49 (89) 7935 5265; E-mail:

Multicrystalline photovoltaic cells

Solar Power Industries, the United States, offers a range of photovoltaic solar cells including the A2M2-XXX-A. Besides solar modules, this solar cell can also be used in various applications such as portable fans, powered toys and residential lighting in yards and decks. The company manufactures the solar cell using multicrystalline cell technology.

This solar cell is made of polycrystalline silicon wafer substrates, with two bus configurations. Each solar cell measures 156 mm × 156 mm, with an average thickness of 220 microns. The A2M2-XXX-A solar-grade polycrystalline cell features advanced technology including front surface texturing. The company employs fully automated manufacturing process to produce this solar cell. As this solar-grade cell incorporates photovoltaic technology, it is independent of electrical wiring as well as battery power limitations. The new solar cell has shunt resistance measurements that enable it to perform efficiently even during low sunlight conditions.

The A2M2-XXX-A solar cell comes in different electrical performance classes ranging from 2.92 to 3.83 W. The cell has two 20 mm silver soldering pads as bus bar in the front and two 3.5 mm silver soldering pads as bus bar in the back. The A2M2-XXX-A solar cell with 3.83 W peak power has open circuit voltage of 0.621 V and short circuit current of 8.07 A.


3 MW direct-drive wind turbine

Siemens Energy, Germany, has launched its SWT 3.0-101 direct-drive wind turbine. The new turbine has a rated power of 3 MW and a rotor diameter of 101 m. It utilizes a completely new direct-drive concept with a permanent magnet generator. With half the number of parts as a conventional geared wind turbine, and much less than half the number of moving parts, the new wind turbine will require less maintenance, according to Siemens.

The new SWT 3.0-101 features a new, gearless drive train design with a compact, synchronous generator with permanent magnets. According to Siemens, the main advantage of permanent magnet generators is their simple and robust design that requires no excitation power, slip rings or excitation control systems, leading to high efficiency, even at low loads. With a length of 6.8 m and a diameter of only 4.2 m, the nacelle can be transported using standard vehicles commonly available in most major markets. The nacelle of SWT 3.0-101 weighs only 73 tonnes, which is less than the nacelle of the company’s standard 2.3 MW wind turbine.

A wind turbine-generator for homes

Passaat wind turbine manufactured by Fortis Wind Energy, the Netherlands, is a wind turbine equipped with a synchronous generator using a three-phase permanent magnet. The turbine is provided in different voltage models – 24 VDC, 48 VDC and single-phase grid applications. Passaat has a maximum output of 1.4 kW and is ideal for low-energy volume applications such as powering private homes, water pumping in remote locations and for powering satellite communication systems.

The maintenance-free Passaat wind turbine has fibreglass reinforced expoxy blades. The diameter of the rotor is 3.12 m. This wind turbine is designed to offer an annual yield of 3.2 MWh at 6 m/s. The safety system used in the Passaat wind turbine is developed from the “hinged vane” concept. It is designed to turn the rotor in a gradual manner out of the wind during adverse wind conditions. The wind turbine employs a short circuit system for addressing emergencies.

Intelligent input to wind turbines

Wind turbines may soon be getting smarter and if the new technology catches on, it can have a profound effect on the worldwide wind power generation. Engineers from Catch The Wind Inc., the United States, say their laser-based sensors can boost energy efficiency and reduce wear and tear on wind farm assemblies, thus improving the bottom line for utilities on two separate fronts.

The Vindicator Laser Wind Sensor is an egg-shaped capsule weighing 25 kg and containing a fibre-optic-based laser module, a processor, control system and lens assemblies. In practice, it provides turbines with a dose of intelligence by sending out beams of laser light and then measuring the infinitesimal changes in the colour of airborne particles as they move along the beams. Then, the device works with the turbine’s motors to change blade pitch or even re-orient the entire nacelle in an effort to maintain efficiency.

Using the Vindicator, utilities can predict the direction of wind gusts as far as 300 m away. Even with a fast-moving 30 m/s wind approaching, it gives the wind turbine about 10 seconds for compensation. This ability can be critical because wind gusts can change dramatically when pressure fronts roll in.

Field trials are proving that the wind sensing strategy works. Nebraska Public Power District implemented the technology on a Vestas V-82 wind turbine, resulting in a power production increase of 12.3 per cent on the turbine where it was used. The company says that when utilities begin to implement the technology, they are very likely to save on maintenance costs, too. It is also counting on modern wind turbines adding pitch control to their current capabilities (most have yaw control), as that would help the turbine to be more responsive to big wind gusts.

Novel vertical axis wind turbine

The objective of the Novel Offshore Vertical Axis (NOVA) project in the United Kingdom is to install 1 GW of vertical axis wind turbines by 2020, via a large-scale demonstrator installed offshore within 6 years. NOVA will develop the unique concept of Aerogenerator designed by Wind Power Limited.

Vertical axis wind turbines offer the potential for a breakthrough in offshore wind energy availability and reduced life-cycle costs due to their inherent design characteristics of few moving parts, insensitivity to wind direction, and the placing of the generator at base level potentially allowing large-scale direct drive. Their relatively low centre of gravity and overturning moments make the turbines highly suitable for offshore installation.

Wind Power Limited has brought together a United Kingdom-based consortium involving world’s leading R&D groups. Cranfield University will provide designs for aeronautic and offshore support structures, while Sheffield and Strathclyde Universities will be designing the drive train and power systems. Others in the consortium include QinetiQ (aerodynamic performance), Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture (environmental impact), and James Ingram & Associates (offshore wind farm development know-how and experience).

First marine wind farm in China

Chinese engineers have completed the installation of the last unit of 34 wind turbines over a marine area in Shanghai. The marine wind farm, with a capacity of 100,000 kW, is the first of its kind in the country and in Asia. The proprietary marine wind farm comprises 34 wind turbines, and is designed with 2,624 annual utilization hours of installed capacity and 267 million kilowatt hours of grid electricity.

The wind farm sits in a marine area with an average water depth of 10 m, and annual mean wind speed of 8.4 m/s at a height of 90 m above the sea level. Researchers developed an innovative high peg bearing foundation design, the first of its kind in the world, and a new technique to load the wind turbine as a whole. A proprietary buffer system with accurate positioning and soft landing helps the turbine installation to function under rough sea conditions.

A wind speed detector helps the wind turbines to switch speeds and direction according to prevailing winds, as well as to avoid strong winds. Vanes automatically readjust on their own to an optimized angle, turning to the least windward side to cease generating electricity when wind speed exceeds 20 m/s.

New 4.5 MW wind turbine and platform

Gamesa, Spain, has launched its new G128-4.5 MW wind turbine and G10X-4.5 MW platform. The turbine has a 128 m diameter rotor and is installed atop a 120 m hybrid tower. With an installed capacity of 4.5 MW, the wind turbine offers lower energy costs and ease of transport and installation similar to that of a 2.0 MW turbine, Gamesa claims. The Gamesa G128-4.5 MW offers technological innovations not seen on the market until now, based on design and validation concepts comparable to those in industries such as aeronautics:

  • Innoblade® is a pioneering structure with a unique combination of materials that substantially reduces blade weight, while its new aerodynamic features minimize noise and maximize output;

  • Multismart® wind turbine control system uses the data it collects to individually modulate the pitch of each blade, reducing vibration and lessening the load borne by some of its components by up to 30 per cent;

  • CompacTrain® drive train designed for Gamesa G128-4.5 MW has a semi-integrated main shaft in a two-stage gearbox with mid-speed range output; and

  • GridMate® permanent magnet synchronous generator using a full converter, which helps to guarantee compliance with the most demanding grid connection regulations.

The energy generated by a G10X-4.5 MW wind turbine can generate enough electricity to annually power 3,169 homes, replace nearly 1,000 tonnes of petroleum equivalent and avoid 6,750 tonnes of atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions. Contact: Gamesa Corporación Tecnológica S.A., Ramón y Cajal 7-9, 01007 Vitoria, Álava, Spain. Tel: (+34) 944037352; E-mail:; Website:

Wind generator for residential use

Skystream 3.7 wind generator from Susitna Energy Systems Inc., the United States, is meant for residential use. This full-fledged wind generator is complete with a built-in inverter and other manoeuvring controls. The rotor used in the wind generator has 12 ft diameter and is designed to make 50-325 RPM. The energy produced by the wind generator can be either channelled directly to a working utility or collected in a battery. This model uses a brushless permanent magnet and gearless alternator. The Skystream 3.7 wind generator has a nominal voltage output of 240 VAC. It is built to offer approximately 400 kWh of electricity per month at 6 m/s wind speed. The wind generator weighs around 77 kg and is available with tower heights measuring from 34 to 70 ft to suite the height requirement of the location.


A power plant for wind and waves

Floating Power Plant, a company in Denmark, has designed a platform that can house wind turbines while harvesting energy from the waves that surround it. The company has built a small prototype, is in the process of completing a larger one, and ultimately hopes to build a commercial version that will sport three 1.5-2.0 MW wind turbines or a single 5 MW turbine.

The commercial version of Poseidon power plant could generate up to 40-50 gigawatt-hours of energy a year, depending on the waves and the wind, claims the company. If it works, it could give a boost to the struggling wave energy market – financiers are particularly skittish about investing in wave and tidal because of the high capital costs and the risks of trying to build a device that needs to work flawlessly for decades on the high seas. Topping a wave system with wind turbines takes out some of the risk, as offshore turbines are a proven, stable technology. Thus, even if the wave generators don’t produce as much energy as planned, the investors will see revenue from wind energy.

The risk is further diminished by the design of the wave power platform: it is big. The platform’s sheer size insulates it from hazards posed by rogue waves and 100-year storms. The current demonstration platform weighs 350 t, or 450 t with ballast. The side facing oncoming waves is 37 m wide, and the platform is 25 m long and 6 m high. The devices that capture wave power beneath the surface are 6 m long and weigh 4.7 t, and bear a resemblance to skateboarding ramps. Underwater, they swing up and down in a 2.5 m range to capture energy. Floating Power Plant will next top its demo platform with three 11 kW wind turbines and will test the complete rig during 2011. Contact: Floating Power Plant A/S, Havnegade 2, DK-4900 Nakskov, Denmark. Tel: +45 3391 9120; E-mail:; Website:

A robot that works tirelessly in oceans

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the United States, has developed a new robot that can tirelessly work in oceans, feeding on the heat of water. The SOLO-TREC is a wax-filled buoy that draws power by the temperature differences in the water around it. The device has been tirelessly diving to depths of 500 m off the Hawaiian coast thrice a day since November 2009.

The SOLO-TREC collects data on temperature and salinity to improve studies of ocean currents. It uses thermal energy from the ocean as it travels from the cold depths to the warmer surface. A compartment with two different waxes surrounds oil tubes on its shell. The waxes flip from solid to liquid when the sea temperature rises over 10ºC, and expand by 13 per cent. The expanding wax squeezes oil from the tubes into the float’s interior, where it is stored at high pressure.

Thereafter, the oil is released to work a generator and charge batteries, which power the pumps that take on and drive out water so the buoy can dive and surface, as well as the float’s GPS receiver, sensors and the transmitter that beam data to satellites when at the surface. “Each full dive generates about 200 watts for 30 seconds,” said Dr. Jack Jones, one of the project leaders at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the United States. The buoy can recharge as it travels to the warm surface.

A tidal turbine with a powering twist

Green-Tide Turbines (G-TT) from the United Kingdom is designing a new turbine for generating electricity from river or tidal streams. The turbine works by causing the flow of water to rotate before capturing the rotational kinetic energy with a reaction turbine. This separates it from the current technologies that use blades or oscillating hydrofoils to convert kinetic energy of flowing water into rotary motion driving a generator.

With the G-TT device, the water first flows through a duct, where it meets a series of stator blades that cause the water to rotate into a vortex. The water then flows through a series of channels that are angled in a way that makes the fluid travel in the shape of a helix. The channels dogleg, causing the water to change direction and lose momentum. The changing direction creates equal and opposite forces that act tangentially to the axis of the turbine rotor. This creates the torque needed to power a generator. This design is said to put less strain on the turbine and reduce failures resulting from fatigue, thus greatly reducing operation and maintenance costs. The ultimate goal is to develop a 2 MW tidal turbine device measuring 15 m in diameter.


Fine mix fuels hydrogen cell

Researchers at Curtin University of Technology, Australia, are a step closer to helping produce cleaner, greener cars using hydrogen fuel cell technology. Professor Craig Buckley, from Curtin’s Centre for Materials Research, said alternative fuel sources such as hydrogen were becoming increasingly important. “We can make it from water and it is turned back into water when it is used as a fuel. So, it is much cleaner than petrol,” he added.

The breakthrough in technology is the use of tiny magnesium nanoparticles that Professor Buckley and his colleagues created to store the hydrogen until it is ready for use. The easy bonding of hydrogen with magnesium makes it a good option as a storage material for hydrogen fuel cells. “The problem is getting it back out to actually fuel the engine, because the temperature required to release hydrogen from magnesium is too high for a standard car engine,” Professor Buckley said.

Nanoparticles are one possible way around this, because there have been theoretical calculations that predict that reducing the size of the magnesium particles would reduce the temperature required to release hydrogen. According to Professor Buckley, using nanoparticles could help lower the 300ºC plus temperature required to get the hydrogen out of magnesium. To do this, the team created magnesium nanoparticles 7 nm in diameter using ball milling. The nanoparticles were embedded in a salt matrix to stop them from grouping back into larger particles. Theoretically, nanoparticles need less heat than larger magnesium particles for hydrogen release, Professor Buckley said. Using this process, he hopes to create even smaller magnesium nanoparticles. “The goal is to get them so small that we only need to heat them to 100ºC to release hydrogen,” he said.

Sorting protons faster to improve hydrogen fuel cells

A team of scientists at University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst, the United States, has found a way to improve proton conductivity under very low humidity conditions, where few materials perform well. One of the basic problems with the current hydrogen fuel cells is that they prefer operating temperatures above the boiling point of water, that is, they like low humidity. However, few efficient materials can conduct protons in such conditions. Now, Dr. Sankaran Thayumanavan, Director of the National Science Foundation’s Fuelling the Future Centre for Chemical Innovation at UMass, and colleagues have developed a principle of materials design capable of addressing this need.

The researchers have shown that materials that can assemble into a structure that provides nanometre channels are capable of efficiently transporting charge. These channels form an excellent conduit for moving protons from one side of the membrane material to another, which is critical for efficient fuel cell operation. Their discovery will help to design materials that could lead to commercial development of longer-lasting membranes that stay stable much longer than the current type, while maintaining efficiencies at the desired operating temperature.

Dr. Thayumanavan says this is an “incredibly exciting development” relying on a polymer nanostructure that achieves superior results by combining both conducting and non-conducting domains in the membrane. The scientists took a cue from naturally occurring proteins that can transport proton groups inside human bodies over distances of a few nanometres at extremely fast speeds without using water. They hypothesized that just as in these proteins, certain shapes or combinations of block co-polymers that combine some conducting and non-conducting nanostructures might conduct protons better than a uniform matrix. This approach has paid off, Dr. Thayumanavan reports.

Carbon nanotubes for platinum-free fuel cell catalysts

At the University of Chicago, the United States, scientists have developed aligned carbon nanotubes (ACNTs) with electro-catalytic activity for oxygen reduction reaction, which is important to powerful proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs). The catalyst uses little or no noble metals such as platinum (Pt) for the electrochemical oxygen reduction reaction (ORR).

The three researchers – Dr. Di-Jia Liu, Dr. Junbing Yang and Dr. Xiao-ping Wang – developed new method of preparing the electrode catalyst with the unique geometric structure of hollow carbon nanotube bundles aligned with the same spatial orientation. These ACNTs are prepared through a chemical vapour deposition method using precursors made of hydrocarbons, optionally nitrogen-containing hydrocarbons and organometallic compounds containing transition metal ions (preferably iron, cobalt, nickel, chromium, manganese and their mixtures and alloys).

At present, the most effective catalyst for these reactions are made of Pt supported on amorphous carbon substrate. A typical Pt weight loading on the catalyst support ranges from 15 to 40 per cent. Since Pt is a precious metal, its usage adds a significant cost to a PEMFC. Furthermore, the current method is very inefficient in utilizing Pt. Fully utilizing the active catalyst is key to reducing cost, particularly for the cathode application since ORR is a more sluggish reaction than hydrogen oxidation, thus often requiring more catalyst.

The new discovery yields a catalyst that is superior to the current catalysts in some aspects. First, the ACNT has a graphitic phase that is different from the conventional amorphous type. By mixing transition metal-organometallic compounds with hydrocarbons in liquid or gas phase, a much more uniform reaction mixture is produced compared with the solid mixing method used currently. This mixture deposits and decomposes continuously on the substrate during the CNT growth, thus allowing a more homogenous distribution of the transition metal throughout the graphitic plane in ACNT. Second, the metal-to-carbon ratio is limited only by the solubility of the organometallics in the hydrocarbon for a solution-type mixture. This limit can be further enhanced for a vapour phase mixture. Such flexibility leads to very high metal-to-carbon ratio thus high density of the catalytic site.

Direct alcohol alkaline fuel cell stack

Researchers from the Indian Institutes of Technology at Guwahati and Delhi have studied direct alcohol alkaline fuel cells (DAAFC), one of the potential fuel cell types in the category of low-temperature fuel cells, which could become an energy source for portable electronic equipment in future. In the study, a simple DAAFC stack has been developed and studied to evaluate the optimum performance for a given fuel and electrolyte at various concentrations and temperatures.

The open circuit voltage of the stack of four cells was nearly 4.0 V. A particular combination – 2 M fuel (methanol or ethanol) and 3 M potassium hydroxide (KOH) – resulted in maximum power density of the stack. The maximum power density obtained from the DAAFC stack (at 25°C) was 50 mW/cm2 at 20 mA/cm2 for methanol and 17 mA/cm2 for ethanol. The stack power density corroborated with that of a single cell, indicating no further loss in the stack. Contact: Mr. S. Basu, Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi 110 016, India. E-mail:

Fuel cells speed up with a new kind of platinum

A new form of platinum that could be used to make cheaper, more efficient fuel cells has been created in the United States by researchers at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the University of Houston. The process could help enable broader use of the devices that use hydrogen to produce emissions-free energy.

“This is a significant advance,” said Dr. Anders Nilsson, who conducts research at the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences, a joint institute between SLAC and Stanford University. Current fuel cell designs would require as much as 100 g of platinum (Pt), pushing their price tags into thousands of dollars. The researchers were able to curtail the amount of Pt required by 80 per cent by tweaking its reactivity, and hope to soon reduce it by another 10 per cent, greatly trimming away the overall cost.

In 2005, Dr. Peter Strasser at the University of Houston started looking for ways to crack the problem not by replacing Pt outright, but by making Pt more reactive. To do this, he and colleagues used a process called dealloying. First, they combined Pt with varying amounts of copper (Cu) to create a Pt-Cu alloy. Then they removed Cu from the alloy surface region. When they tested the binding properties of the dealloyed Pt-Cu catalyst, they found it was much more reactive than it would be otherwise.

Using extremely bright X-ray beam, Dr. Strasser, Dr. Nilsson and colleagues were able to create detailed pictures of the dealloyed metal’s internal structure, revealing that the increased reactivity was caused by lattice strain, by which the arrangement of Pt atoms is modified. By compressing the surface Pt atoms closer together, the process causes them to bind a little more weakly to oxygen atoms and inch closer to that magical balance point between molecule dissociation and catalytic binding. “By changing the interatomic distance, we can manipulate how strongly they form bonds,” Dr. Strasser said.


Safer, smaller delivery system for hydrogen fuel

Until now the major hurdles to using hydrogen as a replacement for fossil fuels in cars and trucks have been the size and weight of the tank, as well as safety issues related to the infusion, transfer and release of the hydrogen. C.En Ltd., Switzerland, has developed an innovative technology based on capillary arrays that reportedly ensures the safe infusion, storage and controlled release of hydrogen gas. The novel technology enables the storage of a significantly greater amount of hydrogen than other approaches, the company claims.

The breakthrough is in the accumulation of hydrogen gas in specially designed glass capillaries that are both very light and very small; each capillary is only slightly thicker than a human hair. Experiments conducted on C.En’s various prototypes at BAM Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, Germany, have demonstrated various uses for this storage system in a variety of industrial applications, including transport, electronics, manufacturing industries and infrastructure.

The capillary technology for storing and transporting hydrogen is said to be a safe method, as each capillary acts as a pressure vessel and will contain only small amounts of hydrogen. The specially designed glass materials have three times the strength of steel and a third of its density. A large number of capillary arrays can be stacked together in a solid tank made of lightweight materials, such as plastics, with the stacked capillaries supporting each other to prevent breaking.

The components of C.En’s technology is said to provide substantial savings compared with the current hydrogen storage tanks based on costly carbon fibres. Operating cost of C.En-equipped cars will be much less than that for cars running on any other fuel or hybrid-type car, the company claims.

C.En-developed tanks will be used to power vehicles with standard internal combustion engine or state-of-the-art hybrid electric fuel cell. No special infrastructure, intermediate storage facilities or piping is required for the filling or “charging” of fuel cells. Contact: C.En Ltd., 3 Sonnhaldenstrasse, Postfach CH-8032, Zurich, Switzerland. Tel: +41 (44) 250 4248; E-mail:

Super bacterium doubles hydrogen gas production

Reforming of methane and electrolysis of water are currently the most common ways to produce hydrogen gas. However, methane gas is not renewable and its use leads to increased carbon dioxide emissions. Electrolysis requires energy, usually acquired from fossil fuels. At Lund University, Sweden, researchers have studied a newly discovered bacterium that produces twice as much hydrogen gas as the bacteria currently used. The results of the study show how, when and why the bacterium can perform its excellent work and increase the possibilities of competitive biological production of hydrogen gas.

The study has found three important explanations for why this bacterium, called Caldicellulosiruptor saccharolyticus, produces more hydrogen gas than others. “One is that it has adapted to low-energy environment, which has caused it to develop effective transport systems for carbohydrates and the ability to break down inaccessible parts of plants with the help of enzymes. This in turn means it produces more hydrogen gas. The second explanation is that it can cope with higher growth temperatures than many other bacteria. The higher the temperature, the more hydrogen gas can be formed,” summarises Ms. Karin Willquist, doctoral student in Applied Microbiology. The third explanation is that the bacterium can still produce hydrogen gas even in difficult conditions – for example high partial hydrogen pressure – that are necessary to make biological hydrogen gas production financially viable.

On the other hand, the bacterium does not like high concentrations of salt or hydrogen, as these affect its signalling molecules and, in turn, the metabolism in such a way that it produces less hydrogen. But the process can be directed to control salt and hydrogen gas concentrations. Alhough C. saccharolyticus was isolated for the first time in 1987 from the hotsprings in New Zealand, it is only recently that researchers have really begun to realize the potential of the bacterium.

Viruses help split water for fuel

A team of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the United States, has succeeded to create what amounts to artificial photosynthesis, utilizing a modified virus and sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen atoms. The hydrogen can then be stored and used to generate electricity using a fuel cell, or to make liquid fuels for cars and trucks. It is said to be the first time sunlight has been used to power such a reaction directly.

The team engineered a bacterial virus called M13 so that it would attract and bind with molecules of a catalyst, iridium oxide, and a biological pigment, zinc porphyrins. The viruses became wire-like devices that could very efficiently split the oxygen from water molecules. To prevent the virus-wires from clumping together and thus losing their effectiveness, the scientists encapsulated the virus-wires in a microgel matrix, so that they maintain their uniform arrangement and keep their stability and efficiency.

The viruses in the MIT team’s system simply act as a kind of scaffolding, causing the pigments and catalysts to line up with the right kind of spacing to trigger the water-splitting reaction. The role of the pigments is “to act as an antenna to capture the light,” explains Dr. Angela Belcher, the Germeshausen Professor of materials science and biological engineering, “and then transfer the energy down the length of the virus, like a wire.” With zinc porphyrins attached, the virus becomes a very efficient harvester of photo-energy.

Currently, the hydrogen atoms from the water get split into their component protons and electrons; a second part of the system, now being developed, would combine these back into hydrogen atoms and molecules. The team is also working to find a less-expensive material for the catalyst.

Fuel cell technology for battle tanks

The United States Army is testing fuel cell technology for an auxiliary power unit (APU) that can bring more electrical power on board an Abrams tank. The APU is designed to convert JP8 diesel fuel into hydrogen and then use it to generate electricity through a fuel cell. The idea is to give the Abrams tank – and ultimately other combat vehicles – the ability to accommodate more on-board electricity for devices and tasks – such as more computers, sensors and other electronics, and battle command technologies – by adding fuel cells.

Cheap hydrogen fuel from seawater

Conventional catalysts capable of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen are generally too expensive or too weak to work on water effectively enough to produce hydrogen as an inexpensive fuel. Recent research has developed a molybdenum catalyst that is effective and cheap enough to do the job. The energy requirement of the process is still too high for it to be of immediate use, but it does open up new possibilities for scientists to follow in the search for the perfect water-splitting catalyst.

The new study by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, the United States, aimed at combining metal atoms with organic molecular groups (called PY5) to produce molecules with the properties of bulk magnets. The scientists, led by Dr. Jeffrey Long, found that one of their molecules, a molybdenum-oxo complex, was capable of transferring electrons. This is a key requirement of water-splitting systems; so, they tested its ability to split water to generate hydrogen gas and found it was highly successful.

The molybdenum compound was so successful that it could work on seawater without any additive. It is stable due to five bonds holding the molybdenum in its place. Dr. Long said the molecule is stable for long periods in aqueous solutions; there was no degradation in catalytic activity over the three-day experiment. The molecule remains stable even when impurities – such as those found in seawater – are present. This would further reduce the cost since no organic acids or solvents are needed.

The compound’s stability makes it more durable than the nickel and iron compounds used previously, but it is slower than the natural hydrogenases and needs a higher electric voltage to operate. The group is experimenting with different metals, and “tweaking” the PY5 groups to see if they can improve the speed and efficiency and reduce the energy requirements. They are also looking at the possibility of linking the system to solar-generated electricity to make it even more viable.


New biofuel technique doubles output

In the United States, a new method of converting biomass feedstock into sustainable fuel developed by scientists at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst and University of Minnesota shows the potential to have a profound effect on the chemical industry. The new “gasification” process developed by this team of researchers not only greatly reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but doubles the amount of fuel that can be made from an acre of biomass feedstock, says Dr. Paul J. Dauenhauer from the Chemical Engineering Department.

Dr. Dauenhauer says using the new approach, researchers gasify biomass in the presence of precisely controlled amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane in a special catalytic reactor they have developed. The result is that the carbon in both the biomass and the methane gets converted to carbon monoxide (CO). He says applying this new technique allows the researchers to use 100 per cent of the carbon in that biomass for making biofuels. That doubles the proportion of fuel-producing carbon produced by a conventional gasification process done in one reactor while converting biomass to biofuels.

Currently, biomass can be converted to fuels by gasification, which uses high temperatures to break feedstock down into hydrogen and CO, which can then be made into various fuels, including hydrocarbons. However, about half of the biomass carbon gets converted to CO2 rather than CO, a precursor for fuels. The question for Dr. Dauenhauer and the research team was how to improve that technology.

To increase the yields from gasification, the researchers added CO2, which promotes a well-known reaction: CO2 combines with hydrogen to produce water and CO. But adding CO2 is not enough to convert all of the carbon in biomass into CO instead of CO2. It is also necessary to add hydrogen, which helps in part by providing the energy needed to drive the reactions. The new gasification process uses methane, the main component of cheap and available natural gas, to generate the hydrogen within the reactor.

Scientists turn coffee into biodiesel

At University of Missouri, the United States, researchers have found a way to extract oil from coffee grounds commonly found in coffee-based beverages. “The extraction process is one of the most energy-intensive processes in biodiesel production,” said Dr. Ali Bulent Koc, Assistant Professor of biological engineering. “Once you have the oil, no matter where you get it, you can convert it into biodiesel.”

Dr. Koc and his staff spent about six months drying coffee grounds, extracting oil from them and converting that oil into biodiesel. Coffee grounds are a better source of oil than soybeans because the latter could be used for food, opines Professor Leon Schumacher. “The amount of oil that is in the coffee is very similar to the amount of oil that is in a soybean.” Ground coffee contains from 10 to18 per cent oil by weight, according to Dr. Mudhafar Abdullah, a post-doctorate fellow at the biofuel lab.

Dr. Abdullah says that the process of turning coffee grounds into biodiesel fuel is not new. However, the University of Missouri team found a way to extract the oil without drying the grounds, which saves time and energy. Wet coffee grounds contain 70 per cent water and can take up to eight hours to dry. The drying process also uses a lot of energy.

For the next few months, the team will test the biodiesel from coffee grounds, as well as other alternative fuels, on a small engine in the biofuel lab. The team will assess how well the engine performs and how each fuel is different from the regular diesel fuel.

Using ionic liquids for biomass conversion

Dissolving plant biomass in “green” solvent ionic liquids, salts that melt at low temperatures, converts more sugars required for biofuel more quickly than traditional methods, reports a new study from Colorado State University, the United States. The study, by Professor Eugene Chen and Dr. Xianghong Qian, is an important step in the move toward the use of non-edible plant biomass as an alternative source for fuel.

Traditionally, plant biomass materials need enzymes or strong acids as catalysts to release the sugars locked within walls of plant cells. The new process takes a different route. When mixed with a suitable amount of water, the non-volatile and recyclable ionic liquids convert the biomass directly into sugars, without added acid catalysts that are normally used in processes that extract sugars from plants.

The sugars extracted from plant biomass can be readily converted into 5-hydroxymethyl furfural (HMF) which leads to biofuel with considerably higher energy density than current ethanol-based biofuel. The new process can also convert the biomass directly into HMF in high yield, without isolating the sugars. “Extracting that sugar and subsequently converting it to biofuel can be costly – one-third of the cost of the entire process is the enzymes,” Prof. Chen said. That process can convert cellulose to glucose almost exclusively, the cost of it is high and the rate of the sugar release is low, he added.

The cost of ionic liquids can be steep as well but they can be recovered, recycled and reused. Ionic liquids are among the very few liquids that can dissolve plant biomass since plants have very tight defence systems that make it difficult to break down cell walls.

Converting solar energy into biofuel

Taking inspiration from nests of a semi-tropical frog called the Tungara frog, researchers at the University of Cincinnati, the United States, have found a way to artificially create a photosynthetic material from foam. The method uses plant, bacterial, frog and fungal enzymes to produce sugars from solar energy and carbon dioxide.

Unlike the not-quite-efficient natural photosynthesis, this artificial process has been designed to convert all of the captured solar energy to sugars. While in natural photosynthesis carbon from the air, sugars from soil and energy from the sun are converted into sugars for the plant and oxygen for earth’s atmosphere, the newly developed process uses enzymes encased in foam to carry out photosynthesis and employs the sugars produced to make ethanol and other biofuels.

Pressure cooking algae could make biofuel

Microalgae form a potential plant source of biofuel because they are easier to break down chemically. Conventional methods require using oilier algae and drying them before conversion. Researchers at University of Michigan, the United States, are studying a way to use pressure cooking to convert microalgae into carbon-neutral biofuels. The process uses a microalgal soup cooked at high temperature for 30-60 minutes to produce crude biofuel. Professor Phillip Savage explained, “It is an integrated process. We are combining hydrothermal, catalytic and biological approaches.”

The high temperature and pressure allow the algae to react with the water and break down. Not only the native oil gets released, but proteins and carbohydrates also decompose and add to the fuel yield. “We are trying to do what nature does when it creates oil, but we don’t want to wait millions of years,” Prof. Savage said. The hard part is taking the tar that emanates from the pressure cooker and changing the properties so that it can become a fuel that flows more easily and is affordable, he added.

If the research proves successful, any ‘wet biomass’ could be used in place of algae. The scientists are examining the reduction of sulphur and nitrogen from the fuel products. Attempts are also being made to recycle any waste products from their conversion process back into the production stream.

New technology for fuel from agri-waste

DSM NV, the Netherlands, has developed a new technology that will improve efficiency in producing biofuel from agricultural wastes. The new bioconversion process includes using an enzyme that breaks down cellulose in wood, plant and other agri-waste products. The sugars produced are then converted by DSM’s advanced yeast strain into ethanol, or biofuel. DSM’s process is claimed to substantially improve the conversion rate (up to 100 per cent yield improvement) of sugars into ethanol. DSM is now marketing both its differentiated enzymes and advanced yeast technologies as an integrated bioconversion solution for the second generation, advanced biofuels market. Contact: Royal DSM N.V., P.O. Box 6500, 6401 JH Heerlen, Netherlands. Website:


Nanotechnology for Photovoltaics

Exploring state-of-the-art developments from a practical point of view, this publication examines issues in increasing efficiency, decreasing costs, and how these two goals can be achieved in a single photovoltaic (PV) device. It provides basic background and places research approaches within their proper physical context as related to performance enhancement. The book reviews the applications of devices and their performance requirements, followed by coverage of thin films and advanced band structure concepts for ensuring high efficiencies. The book also discusses the basic optical properties of nano-materials as related to PV applications and describes nanoscale optoelectronic device physics related to performance. It then explores recent literature in the application of various classes of nanostructures to photovoltaics. The book covers solar cells based on hybrid organic-inorganic nanocomposites structures, quantum wells, nanowires/tubes, and quantum dots. It also discusses the use of nanoparticles/quantum dots to enhance the performance of solar cells and luminescent solar concentrators.
Contact: CRC Press, London, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1235) 400524; Fax: +44 (1235) 400525; E-mail:

Energy Research Developments: Tidal Energy, Energy Efficiency and Solar Energy

The issues surrounding energy supply are of great importance to governments the world over. While calls for “clean” energy technologies are rampant and loud, conventional sources like coal and oil remain the most feasible. However, research continues to plough ahead to find better and more efficient ways to keep the demand for energy met. Nuclear power is a perennially controversial but enticing possibility, although many nations seek to phase-out nuclear power, citing safety and environmental concerns. Issues related to energy industry and electricity hold sway over us all. This new publication presents leading research on energy from around the world with an emphasis on tidal energy, energy efficiency and solar energy.
Contact: Nova Science Publishers Inc., 400 Oser Avenue, Suite 1600, Hauppauge, NY 11788-3619, United States of America. Tel: +1 (631) 231 7269; Fax: +1 (631) 231 7875.


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