VATIS Update Non-conventional Energy . Nov-Dec 2004

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New and Renewable Energy Nov-Dec 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.

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

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First Asian fund for renewable energy

The FE Global-Asia Clean Energy Services Fund, Asias first fund for energy service companies (ESCOs) and clean energy projects, came into existence as a result of investments made by various Japanese businesses, including Chubu Electric Power Co., Hokkaido Electric Power Co., Mitsubishi Corp. and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). An ESCO is a special type of company that provides services to boost energy efficiency through equipment improvements, and receiving returns based on the customers reduced energy costs. ESCO services and renewable energy projects in developing nations involve high levels of risk owing to the lack of information and uncertainty regarding environmental regulations and policies.

Besides capital participation, JBIC brings its negotiating strength with governments, and provides authentic information on country risks and local investment conditions. Chubbu Electric Power and Mitsubishi plan to assign an employee to the fund management firm to evaluate prospective investments, taking advantage of the companies technology, expertise and networks.


Asias largest solar power generation unit

The Institute of Electric Engineering under the Chinese Academy of Sciences has constructed a 1 MW solar power generation system. With an estimated annual output of 980,000 kWh, this facility is the largest of its kind in Asia. The new solar generation system operates by converting solar energy into electricity with the help of numerous semiconductors. Compared with fire-powered generators of the same size, this clean energy-based power station reduces annual emissions of carbon dioxide by 170 tonnes and sulphur dioxide by 7.68 tonnes.


Thin-film solar PV facility in Malaysia

Mayang Kukuh, Malaysia, plans to invest US$92.1 million over a five-year period to set up and operate a solar cell manufacturing plant based on copper indium gallium diselenide thin-film photovoltaic (PV) technology. The company has entered into an agreement with its counterpart based in the United States for distribution rights in Malaysia. Development efforts will help the company to deliver a prospect for commercial application that will produce thin-film PV modules costing less than US$1/W.


Alliance to take solar water pumps to rural markets

A strategic alliance between WorldWater and Power Corp., a United States-based manufacturer of high horsepower solar energy systems, and Kirloskar Brothers Ltd., India, aims to provide improved water and power supplies for rural and urban poor around the world. Under the five-year pact, the companies will develop water management systems that combine WorldWaters proprietary solar power technology with Kirloskars broad range of pump and motor products. The Memorandum of Understanding outlines how the companies will use solar power to reach clean water, irrigation and reliable power supplies to the people in developing and war-torn countries, where public infrastructure is inadequate or damaged.


German-Sino pact on wind energy

China intends to make greater use of renewable energies and diversify its energy range in the future. It is planned that not less than 12 per cent of the nations power would be sourced from renewables by 2020. Know-how from German companies will play a key role in extending the wind power potential of China. Licensing agreements for construction of wind farms have already been signed between the manufacturers of the two countries. Repower Systems AG has executed a contract agreement with Dongfang Steam Turbine Works for the construction and sale of 1.5 MW wind farms.


Hydrogen to fuel Chinas future autos

China, along with multinational automobile companies, is gearing up to launch hydrogen-fuelled vehicles in the country. The government has allocated about US$290 million for R&D into hydrogen and other alternative vehicle fuels since 2001. Mr. Lun Jingguan, coordinator of Chinas Fuel Cell Bus Programme, expects to see the first hydrogen-powered vehicles produced in small numbers during 2010-15. DaimlerChrysler, a multinational company (MNC), also predicts a similar scenario. Another MNC, General Motors, is jointly developing Phoenix, an eight-seater fuel cell vehicle, with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. The Phoenix is powered by compressed hydrogen, creating power from its fuel cell and storing it in a battery that can drive a 47 hp electric motor.

Most experts view hybrids as an interim solution, bridging the funding and technology gaps until hydrogen-fuelled vehicles become the industry standard. Dongfeng and FAW, two of Chinas largest vehicle producers, are among those researching both hybrids and hydrogen technology. DaimlerChrysler has emphasized the need for strong government policies to promote widespread use of hydrogen-fuelled vehicles.


Alternative energy technology in Korea

The Republic of Korea will invest US$ 34 million to develop technologies for harnessing alternative and renewable sources of energy. According to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, the project involves 50 companies such as Samsung SDI, SK, LG Chem and POSCO, besides 19 research centres and 29 universities. This project is part of the Ministrys strategy to raise the level of renewable energy to 5 per cent by 2011.

The government recently unveiled plans to dramatically increase the use of solar, wind, hydrogen and fuel cell power by 2011 to cushion the impact from any rise in crude oil prices. It has already earmarked US$38 million in a supplementary budget to expand greener energy projects like co-generation. As part of the plan, the government has set a three-year deadline to encourage greater energy efficiency. Under this, companies are required to adopt high-powered electric motors from the year 2008.


Indian island chain taps into solar power

An island chain off Indias southwest coast is tapping into roughly a full megawatt of solar photovoltaic (PV) power. Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. constructed the projects in Lakshadweep, the latest being a 100 kW solar plant at Kalpeni island, which is the ninth such solar project commissioned by BHEL. This recent set-up brings the total solar power generating capacity of the coral islands to 800 kW.

BHEL is currently executing a US$4 million project comprising six grid-tied PV power plants of 100 kW each and one of 150 kW in Lakshadweep. Funded jointly by the Union Territory of Lakshadweep and the Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources, this project will establish solar power plants on the Indian islands of Agatti, Amini, Andrott, Chetlat, Kavaratti, Kadmat and Kalpeni. Furthermore, BHEL is upgrading existing stand-alone power stations at Bitra and Bangaram islands to 50 kW each.


China: a gold mine of geothermal energy

Chinas Tibet Autonomous Region has geothermal energy resources capable of generating a minimum of 1 million kilowatts of electricity. A preliminary survey has revealed that the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau at the average altitude of 4,000 m is a gold mine of geothermal energy. Tibet accounts for about 80 per cent of Chinas geothermal resources. Incomplete statistics show that the region has more than 700 geothermal areas. Of these, 342 are exploitable and possess energy equal to 31.53 billion tonnes of coal. To date, three geothermal plants with a combined installed capacity of 28.18 MW have been established. However, experts opine that the regional geothermal power industry has massive potential as, at present, the new energy contributes only 30 per cent to the local power grid.


Renewables form part of Indias policy on environment

In India, the government has issued a draft National Environment Policy for comments. This will replace many existing policies for environmental management contained in forestry, conservation, pollution and other regulations. The document reports that in terms of primary energy use, Indias share of renewable energy at 36 per cent is far higher than industrialized nations can hope to achieve in decades. It asserts that clean technologies are superior to end-of-pipe abatement technologies, as they minimize generation of waste streams in the production process, rather than treating the waste after generation. In general, clean technologies are less intensive in the use of raw materials and energy than conventional technologies, which rely on pollution abatement after generation. For this reason, they may also offer significant cost benefits to the producer.

Environmental protection is an integral part of the development process, and sustainable development requires environmental protection to be an integral part and not viewed in isolation. The principle of Polluter Pays must be included and the impacts from externalities must be employed to restore economic efficiency by making the perpetrator of the externality bear the cost (or benefit) of the same. The policy suggests an action plan to foster capacity building in the financial sector for appraising clean technology switch-over project proposals, and consider use of revenue-enhancing fiscal instruments to promote shifts to clean technologies in both existing and new units. The policy will be reviewed and updated every three years following consultations with stakeholders and, after the three-year review, a more comprehensive examination of the scientific and policy understanding of environmental issues will be carried out to develop a new National Environment Policy.


Agency to promote renewables in remerging markets

In the United States, Department of Energy (DOE) and Overseas Private Investment Corp. (OPIC) have signed an agreement for creating a renewable energy programme focusing on innovative financing to promote environmentally sound economic growth in developing nations. The Memorandum of Understanding advances two energy initiatives the Clean Energy Initiative (CEI) and the Clean Energy Technology Export Initiative (CETE) designed to lower poverty in the developing world through development of and access to modern, efficient, clean and affordable energy using technologies developed in the United States. DOE and OPIC are presently collecting data regarding opportunities for wind power and efficiency in developing countries, to determine the most promising targets for investment.


China raises wind energy production

China has accelerated the pace of harnessing wind energy. Poyang Lake basin, the countrys largest freshwater lake, has been selected as one of the key areas where the nations largest wind farm is slated to come up. A recent survey revealed that even by conservative estimates, wind energy in the lake basin could produce at least 1.25 million kilowatts. Annual wind speed averages 5-7 m/s and up to 5,000-7,000 h of effective wind force is available each year. Seven generators have been planned, each with a minimum production of 60 million kWh per year. In terms of thermal power generation, such production would require over 25,000 t of coal and 12 million m3 of water, discharging 7.2 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide. The wind farms would also reduce seasonal power shortage in East China where hydroelectric power stations are normally plagued by low water levels in winters.


Pilot project to use hydrogen fuel in India

Indias National Hydrogen Energy Board (NHEB) has sought a financial package, including budgetary support of US$54.1 million, for developing fossil fuel alternatives to meet the nations growing energy demands. A pilot project scheduled is to enable the use of hydrogen as automobile fuel by 2010. NHEB has accepted the recommendations of a Planning Commission working group to set up a corpus for R&D on hydrogen energy and provide fiscal incentives. The group proposed a budgetary provision of US$54.1 million for hydrogen energy projects in the following three years, and provision of low-interest loans at 3 per cent and 100 per cent accelerated depreciation on investments in hydrogen energy development activities.

NHEB has under consideration three proposals relating to large-scale production of hydrogen through nuclear technology, infrastructure for hydrogen-gas blending in CNG vehicles in Delhi and hydrogen applications in automobiles.


China to explore new energy resources

For sustainable economic growth, China is exploring new energy resources, as uncontrolled exploration and consumption of fossil resources have led to depletion of resources and environmental degradation. Coal bed methane is a clean and non-polluting gas, which can be used in homes and electric power generation industry, and as a raw material in chemical industry. In recent years, China has made progress in the exploration and utilization of coal bed methane, which has been included in the future plan of Chinas energy development. Statistics reveal that coal bed methane reserves in the country could touch a whopping 30 trillion cubic metres.

Besides coal bed methane, China is also tapping, on a trial basis, the burning mixture of natural gas and water, or burning ice, which also constitutes a kind of clean and non-polluting energy resource. China has abundant reserves of the burning mixture. It has been predicted that the burning mixture reserves in the world is twice the combined deposits of coal, petroleum and natural gas, and can meet the world energy demands for about 1,000 years.



Solar aviation lights

SolarPower Ltd. of Israel has developed and supplied aviation solar obstruction lights for the Israel Electricity Co. (IEC). SolarPower won the bid to supply solar navigation light systems complying with the FAA AC 70/7460-1 standard, which was recently adopted by the Israeli standardization body. Designed and developed wholly by SolarPower, SPL-810L incorporates the latest solar, storage, control and lighting technologies. SPL-810L does not need any power source, consumes less power than incandescent light and lasts longer. PV modules used in this system belong to the KC series (KC50W-KC80W) and the batteries are of solar grade gel type.

Among the products main features are auto-operation (dusk to dawn), switch-over to stand-by by a sophisticated controller and a double-head LED L-810 light system. SPL-810L is designed to withstand harsh environmental conditions. IEC employs these systems to indicate tall high-voltage electricity poles in areas with heavy aircraft traffic.

Contact: Solar Power Ltd., 40, Giborey Israel Street, Poleg Industrial Area, Netanya, P.O. Box 8440, Israel. Tel: +972 (9) 8654 904; Fax: +972 (9) 8654 951



Film-type dye sensitized solar cell

Peccell Technologies Inc., Japan, a developer of film-type dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs), reports to have achieved a high voltage of over 4 V equivalent to that of a lithium ion battery under illumination. The cell incorporates electrodes fabricated using titanium oxide paste, which is based on fine particles of titanium oxide supplied by Shoa Denko KK (SDK). The paste is applicable to both film-type DSCs for portable applications and conventional glass-substrate DSCs. In DSCs, the flow of excited electrons, which result from the absorption of sunlight by the dye, is led to electrodes made of semiconductor particles, including titanium oxide, thereby causing an electromotive force (photon-to-electron conversion). Low cost and high performance are characteristics of DSCs.

SDKs technology allows nano-scale control of primary particle sizes of titanium oxide, producing fine particles of any size between 10 and 500 nm. The very fine particles have a large surface area, which facilitates greater quantity of dye to be adsorbed on the particles surface. Furthermore, the specially designed titanium oxide structure ensures smooth electron flow and electrolyte diffusion inside the film.


PV roof tile products for residential use

Shell Solar GmbH, Germany, offers its most recent line of solar electric modules. Designed to provide a new set of solutions for grid-connected and off-grid use, PowerMax products are 10 per cent more powerful than Shells present crystalline portfolio. They integrate outstanding performance with the proven reliability of providing a dependable source of green electricity. PowerMax Ultra is based on monocrystalline silicon, ensuring premium performance in a limited installation space. Based on multicrystalline silicon, PowerMax Plus yields a cost-effective solution for a broad range of end uses.

The PowerMax range can be used to tailor multi-megawatt solar power plants for private households, remote telecommunications, etc.

Contact: Shell Solar GmbH, Domagkstrae 34, 80807 Munchen, Deutschland, Germany. Tel: +49 (800) 5076 527; Fax: +49 (180) 3076 527



High-efficiency solar module

Kyocera Solar, the United States, has introduced a new PV module featuring a breakthrough in energy conversion efficiency using d.Blue technology. KC187G is the largest and most efficient PV module yet to be produced by the company. The newly developed d.Blue manufacturing process incorporated in the KC187G creates a microscopic texture on the multicrystalline silicon surface of the cell, reducing reflectance and maximizing the amount of sunlight that the cell can absorb. KC187G d.Blue module yields 187 W of maximum power. It measures 56.2 39 1.4 inches and features quick-connect output cables, a box type, heavy-duty anodized aluminium frame and a 25-year power output warranty.

KC187G modules are ideal for all types of residential and commercial buildings.

Contact: Kyocera Solar Inc., Headquarters, No. 7812, East Acoma, Scottsdale, Arizona 85260, United States of America. Tel: +1 (480) 9488 003; Fax: +1 (480) 4836 431.


New type of solar cell

Scientists at Toin University, Japan, have developed a device that converts solar energy into electricity and then stores the electric charge. The new photocapacitor comprises two electrodes, a light-absorbing photoelectrode made of semiconducting titanium oxide and a counter electrode made using platinum coated glass. Both electrodes, separated by a resin film, include a porous layer of activated carbon that has a large surface area. All the three layers are filled with an ionic solution and form a capacitor that has a light collection area of 0.64 cm2. The device is is twice as efficient as the silicon-based solar cells in weak light.

Photons are collected by photoreceptor dye molecules present on the surface of the titanium dioxide layer. When exposed to light, electrons from the dye molecules are transferred to the conducting band in the titanium dioxide layer, thus producing electricity. They then transfer to the layer of activated carbon at the counter electrode via an external circuit. Conversely, the positively charged holes left behind are transferred to the carbon layer at the photoelectrode. Accumulation of positive and negative charges at different carbon layers therefore allows the device to store energy or charge like a capacitor. Energy is released by simply discharging the device.


Solar electric generator system

SolarOne, the United States, offers Harverster, its new ground-mount, solar-electric generator system that complements the mobile harvester platform. All components in this system including the solar panels, the power centre and accessories are interchangeable between platforms. The unit is designed for quick set up and securing in a wide range of environments. Both platforms are now available with either a 50 W or 75 W solar panel array, in a modified or true sine inverter configuration.

Contact: SolarOne Solutions, 51, Marble St., Framingham, MA 01702, United States of America. Tel: +1 (508) 6207 652; Fax: +1 (508) 6207 650



New solar module

In the United States, United Solar Ovonic LLC, or Uni-Solar, recently extended its Eco-series line of solar modules by launching Model # ES-62T, a 62 W solar module. The new module can be assembled to meet virtually any load, making it perfect for off-grid or grid-tie systems.

ES-62T is fabricated using black anodized aluminium frames and has a new look design. The model and is within the companys strict specifications of 5 per cent on rated power, and fulfils UL, TUV and IEC requirements. The system offers a 20-year warranty on power output at 80 per cent and delivers up to 20 per cent more real energy than crystalline modules of same power rating.

Contact: United Solar Ovonic LLC, 3800, Lapeer Road, Auburn Hills, Michigan, MI 48326, United States of America. Tel: +1 (248) 4750 100



Low-cost electricity from silicon thin films

In Australia, Prof. Martin Green at the University of New South Wales has developed a pioneering thin-film silicon-on-glass technology, which has the potential to realize low-cost and eco-friendly electricity. A consortium led by Q Cells, the largest conventional cell manufacturer in Europe, will invest to commercialize the new technology during 2005-06. The era of widespread uptake of photovoltaics that can raise quality of life and living standards in poorer rural areas is drawing closer, says Prof. Green. Potential application areas for the new technology include health programmes, to provide safe drinking water and vaccine refrigeration, and as a major new energy source.

Contact: Prof. Martin Green, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia. Tel: +61 (2) 9385 1000.



Long-term testing of wind turbine blades

Researchers at the Sandia National Laboratories of the United States Department of Energy are testing three small wind turbines as part of an experiment series to better understand the intricacies of harnessing wind energy. The wind turbines will be used to measure loads caused by unusual events, such as turbulence, in the inflow and to study ways of building better blades. The long-term data will enable researchers to develop design tools and components that will raise the efficiency of the turbine and its ability to produce reliable electrical power.

The Bushland turbines will be used for two experimental projects the Long Term Inflow Structural Testing (LIST) project and Blade Manufacturing Initiative (BMI). As part of the LIST project, automated instruments will measure wind speed, wind direction and blade loads at regular intervals, 30 per second, over a year. Data thus gathered will be stored on CDs and sent to Sandia for analysis. The BMI project will spend the next several years determining how to build a better blade.

Contact: Mr. Herb Sutherland/Mr. Tom Ashwill, DOE Sandia National Laboratories, United States of America. Tel: +1 (505) 8442 037/8458 457

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Solution to optimize wind turbine systems

Samtech, the European technology leader in integrated CAE solutions, has launched SAMCEF for Wind Turbines, a new professional solution for the design, FE analysis and optimization of all wind turbines, including their transmission systems. SAMCEF for Wind Turbines is a vertical application that addresses the numerical simulation of complex wind turbine systems. It offers an innovative solution based on the in-tegration into a unified modelling environment of complementary disciplines, such as non-linear FEM technologies for composite blades and structures, state-of-the-art gearbox modelling capabilities, generator models, servomechanisms as well as turbine controllers.

SAMCEF aids users to easily and quickly create a complete model of the wind turbine within the unique SAMCEF field environment, based on CAD geometries that can be imported from well-known commercial CAD systems. Direct import of existing FE models from external FEA codes is also feasible. SAMCEF provides engineers with an very easy access to detailed linear or non-linear analyses of all relevant wind turbine components. It also includes ad-vanced modelling capabilities for most usual gearbox designs. Many models for synchronous and asynchronous generators are available, and these can be controlled either directly in SAMCEF or alternatively through digital control boxes imported from external functional simulation tools such as Matlab Simulink.


New distributed wind turbine inverter

Princeton Power Systems (PPS) of the United States has embarked on a project to design and develop an advanced technology power inverter to control the power output from wind turbines, using its patented AC-link conversion technology. The PPS project has received a grant from the Department of Energy and National Renewable Energy Laboratory. This August, the concept and feasibility system prototype was completed and hooked up to a test device that simulates a wind turbine of 50 kW. Data collected over the following few months will prove the systems efficiency and demonstrate power control at low and high speeds. PPS expects that the new inverter will be able to reduce generator noise due to less voltage distortion, yield a higher system efficiency and protract the generators life. Although designed for a 50 kW turbine, the inverter can be stacked for use in a 100 kW turbine.

According to Mr. Darren Hammell, President and CEO of PPS, the AC-link converter is expected to operate at a system efficiency of 96-97 per cent, whereas typical inverters in present use operate at full system efficiencies of 92-93 per cent. This would lower energy costs by 30 per cent. The technology breakthrough that PPS is investigating is advanced software control, which allows use of a silicon controlled rectifier (SCR) transistor in place of the insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) that is normally employed in wind turbine inverters. The next phase would be to optimize the component and then package it as a commercial product.


Magnetic filtration for turbine gearboxes

Fluid Conditioning Systems of the United Kingdom has designed and developed a magnetic filtration device for gearboxes of wind turbines. Known as a pre-filter unit, Magnom spins on before the conventional filter and brings an array of benefits. The device is designed not to incur a significant pressure drop and can therefore be introduced to the system without risk of compromising fluid flow. The fluid passes through regions of very high magnetic flux gradient that cause ferrous as well as some non-ferrous contaminant, less than 1 m, to be pulled out. The contaminant is then kept out of the flow in 3D storage zones.

Initial trials have demonstrated that Magnom increases the life of conventional filters dramatically and, most importantly, removes the fine contaminant that is responsible for the chain reaction of wear, thus extending the gearbox and valve lives.

Contact: Fluid Conditioning Systems, Innovation Centre, University of Warwick Science Park, Gallows Hill, Warwick CV34 6UW, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1926) 623 170; Fax: +44 (1926) 623 171.


High-power wind turbines

The multinational energy company Suzlon Energy offers its Megawatt series wind turbines. A direct grid-connected high-speed generator, in combination with the multiple-stage combined spur/planetary gearbox of the Megawatt series, offers much greater robustness and reliability than a low-speed generator connected to the electrical grid via AC-DC-AC-inverter systems. The turbines deliver harmonics-free, grid-friendly power. Salient features of the 1.25 MW unit include:
  • High efficiency;
  • Minimum stress and load;
  • Shock load-free operation;
  • Intelligent control;
  • Maximum power factor;
  • Unique micro-pitching control;
  • Climate shield; and
  • Grid-friendliness.

Also available is a 2 MW wind turbine system featuring a unique micro pitch system, unmatched macro slip mechanism, advanced control system, high-quality power generation, well-balanced design, state-of-the-art manufacturing technology, etc.

Contact: Suzlon Energy, India. Tel: +91 (20) 4022 000; Fax: +91 (20) 4022 100



Wind turbine for cities

Free GEN Research Ltd., the United Kingdom, offers a wind turbine for use in urban areas. The turbine uses a space reasearch technique and has its nacelle fixed on a horizontal axis, inside a short aerodynamic conduit, which controls the airflow that arrives at the blades. Named the Combined Augmentation Turbine Technology, the process works with wind speeds of 3-7 m/s, compared with the 8-10 m/s generally encountered on exposed sites. According to the company, the turbine is also less sensitive to wind variations and less noisy than a conventional wind turbine. An aluminium prototype is now under construction.



Direct drive for wind turbines

Scanwind, Norway, is opting for a design that dispenses with gears and employs the kind of direct-drive technology more readily associated with the factory floor. Scanwinds system is equipped with a permanent magnet, designed by engineers at Siemens. The 80 m high tower and 43.5 m rotor blades make this system the worlds largest gearless wind turbine. A 3 MW prototype has been generating power for the past year at Norways Hundhammerfjellet wind farm. The system reaches its rated power at a wind speed of 14 m/s. Scanwind is presently setting up an assembly line for the turbine at its Verdal harbour factory.

Contact: Scanwind Group AS, Vegamot 8a, NO-7048 Trondheim, Norway. Tel: +47 (7) 3820 210; Fax: +47 (7) 3820 211


Japans largest turbine slated for installation

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is slated to install Japans largest wind turbine in March 2005 and put it into demonstrative operation. The gigantic 2,400 kW model features a 92 m diameter rotor and a built-in 3-blade independent pitch control mechanism. At present, the rotor diameter of competing wind turbines in the 2,000-3,000 kW class is about 66-90 m. MHIs 92 m rotor offers the benefit of a larger catching area that consequently translates into more power generation. The system can generate power even at wind speeds of 3 m, though it offers optimum performance at 8.5 m average velocity.


Vertical wind turbines

Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the United States have assisted Russian engineers in developing a wind turbine that provides energy at a more efficient rate, lower noise and maintenance, and fewer bird fatalities than traditional windmills. The vertical turbine blades spin at about twice the speed of wind, much lower than the tip speeds of horizontal turbine blades. The vertical turbine system has an alternator designed to spin at the speed of the turbine and generate about 200 V of energy. The alternator and turbine form a single moving part of the system and lead to less maintenance requirements. A computer keeps the turbine operating at maximum efficiency for a given wind speed.



Integrated biogas plant

Kurimoto Ltd. of Japan offers integrated methanation and composting (IMC) biogas system for processing a wide range of organic wastes and to obtain biogas through high-speed fermentation. A co-generating unit recovers electricity and heat with the help of a gas engine or fuel cell system. Weight-reduced, dewatered sludge cake, obtained after solid-liquid separation of the digested organic wastes, is composted or dried for use as fuel. Key features of this system include the following:
  • Efficient fermentation system Two fermentation stages, hydrolysis and methanation, are carried out independently and speedily under optimized conditions for each process, resulting in short processing time and space savings.
  • Foreign matter adaptability The system can adapt to sorted food waste collection, including plastic sacks. After constant feeding/shredding, coarse/heavy foreign matter separators are installed. In case of collection that is not properly sorted, a screw press for solid/liquid separation is set up under the hydrolysis tank to separate coarse structure residuals and the remaining foreign matter.
  • The enclosed processing system eliminates odour problems.
  • Excellent energy savings.
  • Low running costs.

Depending on the waste composition, each tonne of waste could yield 90-140 m3 of biogas with a methane content of 60-65 per cent, while the co-generator unit produces 180-220 kWh/t. Organic wastes that can be fed to the IMC biogas plant include sorted kitchen waste from households and food industries, vegetable/fruit waste, garden grass/trees, etc.

Contact: Kurimoto Limited, 12-19, Kitahorie 1-chome, Nisiku, Osaka 550 8580, Japan. Tel: +81 (6) 6538 7681; Fax: +81 (6) 6538 7753



Manure converted into useful products

Mr. Steve Dvorak, President of GHD Inc., and his wife have refined an old technology to convert animal droppings into bedding, nutrients and electricity (from methane gas). GHD holds three patents on a two-stage mixed plug-flow anaerobic digester system developed in 2001. Fresh manure is continuously shovelled into an underground anaerobic tank where the combination of heat and bacteria break it down into methane gas, which is converted into electricity. Solids are used for bedding and soil enrichment, while the liquid nutrient is used on crops. The land-spread manure has a lot less odour while the bedding is a fairly sterile product and without weed seeds.

One drawback is the high installation cost, which works out to US$500-800 per cow when installed in a farm. At a minimum, there would have to be 400 to 500 cows to make it economically feasible, Mr. Dvorak said. The anaerobic digester is custom-built. A typical GHD digester capable of handling manure from 3,500 cows would be about 220 72 14 feet (length width depth). The engines dimension is about 5 16 6 feet and weight about 2,267 kg.

Contact: Ms. Myrna Collins, United States of America. Tel: +1 (920) 99 31 000, ext. 283



High-rate digestion of sewage sludge

Fraunhofer IGB of Germany has succeeded in significantly reducing the amount of municipal sewage sludge, with micro-organisms converting it into biogas at a high rate. This high-rate process for sewage sludge digestion has been adopted by four German municipal sewage facilities.
Benefits of the two-stage high-rate digestion process include:
  • Shorter residence time Even in the case of a high solids content, the sludge must remain in the digestion tower only for 5-10 days, instead of the previous 20-30 days, allowing volumetric loads of organic dry matter of 8-10 kg/m3/day.
  • Smaller digestion volume The digestion volume is only 4 l instead of the normal 60 l per capita.
  • Higher biogas yield High-rate digestion produces 0.6 m3 of biogas per kilogram of organic dry matter.
  • Less organics to deposit The high-rate digestion also reduces the organics by 50-70 per cent, depending on the process combination.
  • Stable operation Operational problems such as excess foam formation no longer occur.



New fuel cell technology tested

Michelin, an industrial group based in France, and a Swiss technical institute have jointly built an experimental pollution-beating electric car that uses a fuel cell, which combines oxygen and hydrogen. Key traits distinguishing the Hy-Light prototype from other similar models are that it is light, uses oxygen and has very low consumption. The car refuels with a mix of oxygen and hydrogen that powers two electric motors situated inside the front wheels. Hy-Light achieves the speed of a medium-sized family car with up to 102 hp on tap as well as a relatively long range (400 km) compared with many other experimental fuel cell cars. The working prototype features several innovations.


Prototype micro-fuel cell

NTT DoCoMo, Japan, has unveiled a prototype micro-fuel cell aimed at boosting battery life for its powerful third-generation FOMA handsets. Developed and manufactured jointly with Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd., the micro-fuel cell will last four times longer than conventional lithium-ion batteries by the time it is ready for the market. The micro-fuel cell generates energy through a chemical reaction by mixing hydrogen and methanol. The prototype measures 152 57 16 mm and weighs 190 g. FOMA users can talk via videolink and download and transmit large amounts of data, including moving pictures.


Sugar fuels cell

Matsushita, Japan, has developed a fuel cell that operates using sugar as the fuel. The prototype measures 2 5 cm and uses enzymes to separate the sugar into carbon dioxide and water. It can produce about 300 W power. Potential applications for these models include as a power source for heart pacemakers, using blood sugar to create electricity.


Breakthrough in SOFC technology

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in the United States have reported a technology breakthrough in solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). Normal SOFCs operate at temperatures of around 1,000C. The Caltech model operates at 600C while achieving more power output, about 1 W/cm2 of fuel cell area. This goal was realized by modifying the chemical composition of the cathode electrode.

In conventional cathodes oxygen diffusion is slow even if the electrochemical reaction is fast. Therefore, oxygen ions are slow in getting to the electrolyte. In Caltechs SOFC, the reaction is fast as is the oxygen ion transport. This combination is what gives the very high power outputs from Caltechs fuel cells.


Fuel cells for electronic gadgets

In Japan, Hitachi and Toshiba have unveiled new fuel cell prototypes for a range of applications that could be commercialized early next year. Hitachis prototypes are for laptop PCs and battery recharger for mobile telephones. Hitachi will also offer a lithium ion battery replacement fuel cell in 2007. All the prototypes are based on direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) technology. The demonstration model PC fuel cell, measuring about 25 20 cm and 1-2 cm thick, is designed to latch onto the back of a laptop screen. It includes a cartridge containing methanol, which is diluted to a 20-30 per cent concentration to produce power in the fuel cell. The prototype provides at least 5 hours of continuous operation for even the most power-hungry laptops while they are running multiple applications. The prototype for PDAs is cartridge type, with a length of 5-6 cm and a diameter of 1 cm.

Hitachi and Toshiba have both developed prototypes of fuel cell-based lithium-ion battery supplementary power sources for mobile phones. While Hitachis fuel cell recharger is smaller than Toshibas, the latters design provides power for a longer duration. The Hitachi version uses 46 per cent methanol concentration fuel to provide 700 mW and 3.5 V, which is capable of providing at least 5 hours of supplemental power when a lithium battery is exhausted. The prototype of Toshiba uses 100 per cent concentration methanol fuel to provide about 10 hours of power.


Carbonate fuel cell stack

GenCell Corporation has announced the completion of assembly and initial operation of a proof-of-technology MCFC stack. The fuel cell incorporates an internal reformer with the ability to directly convert a hydrocarbon fuel into usable hydrogen.

The patented reformer is housed within chambers that are uniformly distributed throughout each cell of the fuel cell stack. The reforming catalyst within the chambers is isolated from direct chemical contamination from the electrolyte, yet is in direct thermal communication with each cell. The fuel cell stack also has the ability to replenish electrolyte directly to individual cells while the fuel cell stack is operating. These features are expected to significantly improve longevity and performance of the fuel cell. GenCell has also developed and patented unique sheet metal-based bipolar plates that have been successfully adapted to all leading varieties of fuel cells and to the full range of cell size.

Contact: GenCell Corp., 1432 Old Waterbury Road, Southbury, CT 06488, United States of America. Tel: +1 (203) 264 2515; Fax: +1 (203) 264 0466



Home fuel cell system

Toho Gas Co., Japan, is slated to shortly launch on trial a home-use fuel cell co-generation system. The eco-friendly and highly efficient system runs on hydrogen extracted from city gas supplied to households. It generates 1 kW and also supplies hot water using heat produced when generating electricity. Hot water recovered from the fuel cell itself is accumulated in a storage tank for use when needed in the home. The prototype costs about US$180,000 and is scheduled for commercialization in 2008, by which time the system is expected to cost about US$9,000.


Plankton to power fuel cells

Scientists have been successfully tapping chemical reactions from decomposing organic matter on the ocean floor to create fuel cells that can provide low levels of electricity. Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) of the United States report to have taken this process a step further by harnessing the same power-producing decomposition activity from plankton taken from the upper water column. According to Prof. Clare E. Reimers, harnessed plankton power could potentially fuel autonomous and mobile instruments that would glide through the water, scooping up plankton like a basking shark and converting to electricity. Such instruments carrying sensors are used presently to map the changing chemical and physical properties of the ocean.

In three experiments conducted on the ocean floor, scientists from OSU Naval Research Laboratory, University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute have successfully tested prototype fuel cells in Yaquina Bay, Oregon. During his recent cruise off the Oregon coast, Prof. Reimer deployed eight ocean floor fuel cell prototypes along the Oregon shelf. These will remain embedded into the sediment 20 km offshore for a year before scientists recover them.


Hydrogen fuel cell

In India, scientists from the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) and few other agencies have successfully demonstrated a 5 kWh hydrogen-based fuel cell, with both stationary and mobile applications. The three collaborators of NCL are the Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd., Sud-Chemie and SPIC Science Foundation. The team reports that after successful commissioning of the integrated fuel cell power pack capable of generating 5 kW of power using hydrogen produced by steam-reforming LPG, the next goal is to increase the output while reducing the fuel cell size. The fuel processor designed by NCL consists of an integrated unit to convert LPG into hydrogen gas.The researchers are currently striving to obtain hydrogen from several other sources, including hydrocarbon and biomass.


Clean diesel fuel cell system

In the United States, researchers at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory and SOFCo-EFS, a fuel cell company, have jointly developed a system to convert diesel fuel into a quiet, self-contained and efficient source of energy. The six-year US$25 million project will enable the Navys destroyers to run quieter, halve the fuel requirement, pollute less and have a smaller heat signature for enemies to detect. The new system converts diesel into a 30 per cent hydrogen mixture. By using the diesel to run a fuel cell, instead of burning it, the system yields twice the energy output without sulphur or nitrous oxide emissions. The experimental system is presently running a 5 kW fuel cell. It is the only system designed to operate using high-sulphur content diesel available throughout the globe.


New fuel cell design

NexTech Materials, Ohio, the United States, has introduced an advanced Electrolyte Supported Planar Cell for use in SOFC demonstrations, prototyping, research and benchmarking. NextCell employs the patent-pending Hionic electrolyte, which is more than four times stronger than the popular fully stabilized YSZ-8 material, with conductivity surpassing that of YSZ-8. Improved mechanical flexibility makes the cells less brittle and therefore more enduring during operations like testing and stack assembly.

NextCell modules, designed to operate at temperatures above 800C, have a demonstrated area specific resistance of 0.52 ohm-cm2. NextCell is available in both custom and standard configurations. Standard shapes are 5 and 10 cm squares and discs, with cathode and anode print areas providing a 5 mm electrolyte-only border for sealing.


Copper-based fuel cell technology

Franklin Fuel Cells (FFC), the United States, has broken new groung with a unique SOFC technology that can directly generate energy from hydrocarbon fuels petroleum, diesel and natural gas as well as hydrogen, without fuel pretreatment, processing or reforming. An energy system based on FFCs new technology can operate on a hydrocarbon fuel supply, switch to a hydrogen fuel and/or switch back to a hydrocarbon fuel without entailing expensive changes to the design, architecture or operating parameters of the system. The core patented technology was originally developed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. The Gas Research Institute provied additional supportive technology.


SOFC enabled with nanotechnology

NanoDynamics Inc. of the United States, a leading nanotechnology company and manufacturer of superior nanomaterials, has launched a ground-breaking portable SOFC. Revolution 50 fuel cell system is lightweight, portable, compact and can be operated using conventional hydrocarbon fuels such as propane. Selective use of advanced nanotechnology and nanomaterials made a state-of-the-art power density and specific power output possible. The SOFC designed for a wide range of applications, including portable refrigeration systems and battery recharger systems is controlled by a microprocessor and offers rapid start-up without any external power and features internal reforming capabilities.

Contact: NanoDynamics Inc., # 901, Fuhrmann Boulevard, Buffalo, New York, NY 14203, United States of America. Tel: +1 (716) 85 34 900; Fax: +1 (716) 8538 996



Portable fuel cell

IdaTech, the United States, has unveiled a scalable 100 W to 500 W portable fuel cell system prototype. The liquid fuel system incorporates an on-board reformer and is part of a portfolio of multi-fuel solutions. The complete fuel cell system, including reformer and hydrogen purification modules, measures about 12 8 6 inches. The fuel used is a pre-packaged methanol-water mixture, which provides a compact and long- lasting source of power. Prototypes to be released for field testing by the United States army will have an output of about 250 W. Besides this fuel cell system, IdaTech has also developed a EtaGen 5 Combined Heat and Power natural gas/propane system, the FCS1200 methanol 1 kWe portable power system and the 5 kWe hydrogen power system.


Fuel cell/electric hybrid scooter

The second generation of the worlds first patented fuel cell/electric hybrid maxi-scooter, developed jointly by Parker Hannifin Vectrix Corporation and Protonex has rolled out. VX-FCe promises consumers and fleet operators clean, efficient and convenient personal transportation. VX-FCe fully integrates the Protonex NGen 500 W fuel cell system with Vectrixs high-performance battery-powered maxi-scooter. The fuel cell system continuously charges the batteries, which in turn provide power via the motor controller, to drive the motor. The cell more than doubles the range of the scooter and frees it from the constraints of charging from a fixed power outlet.
VX-FCe boasts a top speed of 100 km/h, rapid acceleration 0-80 km/h in 6.8 s and a range of up to 240 km. The patented throttle-activated regenerative braking system further extends the range of the VX-FCe by directing energy back into the battery pack. These second generation vehicles feature 50 per cent lighter, smaller and cheaper fuel cell system, which is integrated within the bikes frame. The hybrid configuration was selected, as it uses the best aspects of each individual technology. The battery pack gives quick bursts of power needed for acceleration and steep inclines while the fuel cell provides a steady trickle charge to keep the batteries topped up, extending the range of the vehicle. The fuel cell shuts down automatically when the battery pack is fully charged. Key benefits include:
  • Longer battery life Deep discharge cycles are minimized as the fuel cell is constantly charging the battery pack.
  • Extended fuel cell life The fuel cell operates at a constant level.
  • Reduced weight The size of the fuel cell is minimized as the battery pack provides peak power to the motor. The battery pack can also be reduced as it is being constantly charged by the on-board fuel cell.

Contact: Mr. Tom Ollila, Fuel Cell Marketing Manager, Parker Hannifin Corp., United States of America. Tel: +1 (781) 9394 711


Or Mr. J. Banks, Director of Marketing, Vectrix Corp., United States of America. Tel: +1 (401) 8489 993




Breakthrough in hydrogen storage

Scientists in the United have made a discovery that could signal the end of the petrol engine. Researchers from two universities have found a new, safe way of storing and releasing hydrogen to produce energy. This breakthrough could pave the way for eco-friendly hydrogen-powered vehicles. At present, hydrogen is not a practical fuel alternative as storing enough of the gas to provide sufficient power has proved impossible.

Scientists from the Liverpool and Newcastle-upon-Tyne universities believe they have taken the first step towards solving the problem when they uncovered the kinetic trapping effect that allows hydrogen to be adsorbed. They injected hydrogen at high pressure into tiny pores in special materials that act as a sponge for the gas. Pressure was then reduced, trapping hydrogen safely in place without the risk of explosion. Prof. Matt Rosseinsky from the University of Liverpool opines that tiny channels in the porous material act like a molecular cat flap.


Hydrogen scooter

Samsung Engineering Company of the Republic of Korea has successfully tested a hydrogen-powered motorcycle. The vehicle can cover a distance of 140 km using 6 litres of hydrogen fuel three times more than feasible with a scooter powered by a nickel-cadmium cell. In order to produce hydrogen, the newly developed technology employs a water-based solution of sodium borohydride, made from sodium borate. This technology could also be applied to automobiles, laptops and mobile phones.


New hydrogen source for fuel cells

HyRadix Inc. in the United States offers a fuel processor whose innovative heat recovery scheme puts process heat to optimum use. The proprietary HyRadix process technology enables the residential-scale fuel processor to deliver state-of-the-art efficiency and hydrogen purity. HyRadix technology achieves gross hydrogen efficiency of 80 per cent while the HyRadix hydrogen processor yields a reformate stream with hydrogen purity of 45 per cent.

To enable on-site reforming alternatives for industrial and refuelling customers who require high purity hydrogen, HyRadix has integrated its innovative fuel reforming technology with a purification system. The resulting products, Aptus industrial hydrogen generator and Ado hydrogen fuel generator can provide hydrogen with purities up to 99.999 per cent. Aptus industrial on-site hydrogen generator is an economical solution for hydrogen supply for edible oils hydrogenation, metals processing, float glass, electronics and other industries. Ado hydrogen fuel generator yields high purity hydrogen for refuelling applications, eliminating the need to deliver hydrogen by truck. Both products are available for reforming natural gas, biogas or LPG to 50 or 100 Nm3/h of high purity hydrogen. The hydrogen purity required is attained through pressure swing adsorption technology. Using this technology, HyRadix has developed compact on-site hydrogen plant solutions, which produce high-purity hydrogen.

Contact: HyRadix Inc., 175, West Oakton Street, Des Plaines, Illinois 60018 1834, United States of America. Tel: +1 (847) 3911 200; Fax: +1 (847) 3912 596



Thermal plasma process yields hydrogen

In the United States, researchers at Idaho National Engineering and Environmental laboratory are investigating the use of plasma thermal process for producing hydrogen from methane. Thermal plasma technology optimizes hydrogen production by controlling the pressure, temperature, gas mixture, residence time and cooling rate. High cooling rates freeze the composition, inhibiting back reactions and helping to control the size and morphology of the solid carbon produced by the process. The solid carbon produced is of high quality. The process design can be tailored to maximize the value of the carbon produced, thereby improving overall process economics.

Contact: Mr. Bruce Reynolds, De-partment Manager, Fossil Energy Technologies, Idaho National Engineering & Environmental Laboratory, United States of America. Tel: +1 (208) 5261 992



CO2-free hydrogen production

Dr. Nazim Muradov at the Florida Solar Energy Centre (FSEC), the United States, is investigating the technical and economic feasibility of large-scale production of hydrogen and carbon by catalytic dissociation of natural gas. This concept offers an environmentally friendly way to produce hydrogen. Most industrial hydrogen production processes are based on steam methane reforming process, a significant source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Dr. Muradov has been studying the production of CO2-free hydrogen and carbon via thermal decomposition, or cracking, of methane. His team has uncovered that at certain operational conditions, carbon itself becomes a catalyst for the process. This eliminates the need for costly metal-based catalysts and simplifies the process. Techno-economic eva-luation of the catalytic methane decomposition process revealed the sensitivity of hydrogen production cost to the selling price of carbon. Comparative economic assessment indicates that the FSEC-developed process becomes competitive with steam methane reforming process at a carbon selling price of US$100 -US$300/tonne. Carbon produced by this process is a pure product that could be sold at a price of US$ 300/tonne or more for production of electrodes and composite materials.

Contact: The Public Affairs Division, Florida Solar Energy Centre, United States of America. Tel: +1 (321) 63 81 015; Fax: +1 (321) 6381 010.


Organic hydrogen storage materials

In Japan, Dr. Masayuki Shirai has developed technology for synthesizing decalin, a promising material of hydrogen storage for fuel cells. The process the combination of supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) with a supported rhodium catalyst has merits of lower temperature, high selectivity, high efficiency, long life owing to lack of catalyst ageing, easy recovery of decalin, and capability of recycling CO2 solvent. It could contribute to the implementation of hydrogen storage materials synthesis system to reduce the environmental burden. The newly developed technology is superior to the conventional method with respect to the following aspects:
  • Hydrogenation of naphthalene at temperatures as low as 60C, much lower than the reaction temperature in conventional technology (above 200C), which prevents the catalyst activity from being degraded.
  • Improved the yield of decalin.
  • Ready isolation of the products, and easy recovery of both catalyst and CO2 for recycling.


Hydrogen with low carbon monoxide content

In the United States, University of Wisconsin researchers have developed a process that allows for the production of hydrogen with a low carbon monoxide (CO) content. Hydrogen produced from fossil fuels using conventional processes contain a large amounts of CO, which has a negative effect on the efficiency of fuel cells and can only be removed through multiple expensive production steps. The new method does not employ steam reforming of petroleum products, but rather of oxygen-containing compounds that can be derived from biomass, such as carbohydrates.

Ethylene glycol is a simple molecule in this class of reactants and acts as the starting material. In a catalytic reforming process under pressure, at about 225C, these molecules in liquid water are split into hydrogen and CO. During a second reaction, called the water-gas shift, CO and water are converted into carbon dioxide and more hydrogen. Since both reactions occur in the same, relatively low temperature range, they can be carried out in the same reactor, which is especially beneficial for transportable hydrogen sources.

In the reforming process, CO and hydrogen are produced as gases, which form bubbles within the liquid phase. The water-gas shift occurs within these bubbles. It is an equilibrium reaction, which means that the reactants are not fully converted to products; instead, there is always a certain ratio of one to the other. To minimize the amount of CO, conditions within the bubble is set so as to push the equilibrium as far as possible towards the product side. This is achieved by maximizing the amount of water vapour in the bubbles. Under these conditions, however, the starting materials for the reforming process may decompose. The solution developed by the researchers to circumvent this problem involves dividing the reactor into two areas. The reforming process takes place in the lower area, resulting in gas bubbles with relatively little water vapour. These then rise into the upper area, where the temperature is 10C higher. This causes a large amount of water to vaporize and the water-gas shift to occur under optimum conditions, bringing the CO content down to a level tolerable in fuel cells.


Hydrogen from ethanol

Researchers at the Gas Technology Institute (GTI), the United States, have developed a two-step steam reforming-shift fuel processor to efficiently convert ethanol into hydrogen. According to Mr. Gerry Runte, Executive Director of GTIs Hydrogen Systems Centre, the hydrogen produced is of high quality, similar to results using natural gas. A key focus area of GTI is to use ethanol as the primary fuel to produce hydrogen in a hydrogen fuelling station platform, similar to the natural gas-to-hydrogen station being developed by GTI under another programme.

Contact: Gas Technology Institute, # 1700 S. Mount Prospect Road, Des Plaines, Illinois 60018, United States of America. Tel: +1 (847) 76 80 500; Fax: +1 (847) 7680 501.



Power from wastewater

In the United States, Pennsylvania State University (PSU) researchers have devised a microbial fuel cell that converts raw sewage into raw power. Quite similar in design to a hydrogen fuel cell, the microbial fuel cell captures electrons that bacteria naturally releases when they digest organic matter, and then it converts the electrons into electrical current. Wastewater flows on one side of the cell and air flows on the other, con-tinuously producing electricity while simultaneously removing all organic matter from the water. According to Mr. Bruce Logan, an environmental engineer at PSU, We generated up to 72 W/m2, which is 2.8 times that generated in a larger device reported earlier this year. Potential applications for the microbial fuel cell would be in wastewater treatment plants, which essentially could power themselves as they treat water,and to treat wastes from food processing industries, farms, etc.


Integrated MSW-based power plant

Shiram Energy Systems Ltd. in India has insalled a 6 MW MSW-based power facility at Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. Capable of processing 500 tonnes of garbage per day, this plant is based on technology developed by the Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) in combination with a critical and unique shredding operation for better homogenization of the heterogeneous input.

Major modifications were made in the processing equipment for flexibility and adaptability to seasonal fluctuations of the input feed, and to maintain the recovery levels of combustibles. An RDF-based steam boiler supplied by Alstom, Germany, is used to generate energy from the combustibles.

IREDA News, June 2004

Solid waste digester produces energy

In the United States, a researcher from the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering has developed an anaerobic phased solids digester to obtain electricity from waste. A pilot plant being constructed will serve as a proof-of-concept of the new technology. This relatively small digester can handle 3 t/d of waste when it becomes operational early next year. It is almost totally computer automated, requiring only minimal labour when it is loaded and unloaded.

The technology behind the digester is relatively simple. Organic waste is broken down by bacteria into a mixture of 60-70 per cent methane, along with carbon dioxide. Methane is then used to power a microturbine generator, which produces 25 kW of electricity. Waste heat generated by the generator is used to heat the tanks to 57-60C, sufficient to kill weed seeds and harmful bacteria. By-products of the process include fibre products that can be used to produce particle board, liquid fertilizer and other commercially viable products.


Algae appetites may transform waste into energy

Researchers at GreenFuel Technologies Corp., the United States, have demonstrated in lab-scale trials that single-cell algae could consume carbon dioxide (CO2) or nitrogen oxides and then be harvested in a reusable form. This form, a biomass similar to an artists soft charcoal, can be burned like coal or liquefied into oil or used to make plastics, nutraceuticals or food. In an effort to determine if the system can be scaled up, GreenFuel has installed 30 bioreactors on the roof of a co-generation plant at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The plant is the main steam, chilled water and electrical power plant of MIT.

Each bioreactor comprises a polycarbonate tubing in the shape of a triangle. The tubes are clear, to allow sunlight in, and inside each tube, exhaust will mix with the algae. Using photosynthesis, the algae will consume CO2 and pollutants, grow in volume and give off oxygen and nitrogen. The algae will be harvested and dried into the charcoal-like solid for reuse as fuel.

Contact: GreenFuel Technologies Corp., #1 Broadway, 14th Floor, Cambridge, MA 02412, United States of America. Tel: +1 (617) 2254 321




High-temperature SOFCs: A Practical Handbook

This book provides comprehensive and practical information relating to the fundamentals, design and applications of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs). This handbook is a valuable tool as it presents in-depth discussions on SOFCs materials, fuelling, development of stacks and systems, applications and future outlook. Some of the topics discussed include electrode polarizations, fuels and fuel processing, cell and stack designs, cell and stack modelling, and cell and stack testing.

Handbook of Fuel Cell Modelling

This publication examines how engineers can model fuel cell systems to achieve optimal results for any application. It provides practical accounts of how to create models, manipulate them as well as interpret the results. A must-read for fuel cell manufacturers, electrochemical engineering companies, utility companies, consultants and researchers. Major topics covered include diffusion limitations of reactants and products, modelling examples for different fuel cell types, modelling of fuel cell stacks, and modelling of fuel cell plants.

For the above publications, contact: Elsevier Advanced Technology, P.O. Box No. 150, Langford Lane, Oxford OX5 1AS, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1865) 843 825; Fax: +44 (1865) 843 971.

Directory Indian Wind Power: 2004

This latest edition provides comprehensive data on potential wind sites, the governments promotional policies, incentives offered by different states, supportive role of the Centre for Wind Energy Technology, technical particulars of the machines and review on wind power development. As regular coverage, it also includes current installed capacity, power generation, cost economy and business opportunities under the Clean Development Mechanism, the relevance of the Electricity Act 2003 for wind power projects and a study on year to year variation in generation observed in windfarms representative of different regions.

Contact: Consolidated Energy Consultants Ltd., 162, Maharana Pratap Nagar, Zone-II, Bhopal 462011, Madhya Pradesh, India. Tel: +91 (755) 2553 681/2555 479; Fax: +91 (755) 2550 481




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