VATIS Update Non-conventional Energy . Nov-Dec 2010

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New and Renewable Energy Nov-Dec 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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Twenty countries agree to invest in alternative energy

Twenty countries have agreed to invest in the large-scale use of renewable energy, such as solar, wind and geothermal energy through the Climate Investment Funds (CIF). The first group of 14 countries are planning a radical change in the use of energy from high emission sources to clean and positive energy, CIF said in a recent press statement. The 14 countries are Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine and Viet Nam.

The second group consisting of six countries intends to invest in renewable energy to ensure their citizens’ wide access to such energy as well as to make a breakthrough in the pursuit of climate-friendly energy development. The six countries are Ethiopia, Honduras, Kenya, Mali, Maldives and Nepal, which will receive support from the programme on Scaling-Up Renewable Energy in Low Income Countries (SREP). SREP is a targeted programme of the Strategic Climate Fund (SCF), which works within the framework of CIF. It aims to demonstrate the economic, social and environmental viability of low-carbon development pathways in the energy sector in low-income countries. It strives to help low-income countries use new economic opportunities to increase energy access through renewable energy use.

China to be wind power leader in 2010

China will surpass the United States in cumulative wind power capacity by the end of this year, the People’s Daily reported on its website citing Mr. Steve Sawyer, Secretary-General of Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). China is the world’s largest wind power market and home to the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturing industry, according to Greenpeace International, which recently released a report on global wind energy outlook.

An earlier GWEC report showed global wind power capacity grew 31 per cent, a 37.5 GW increase to 157.9 GW, in 2009. A third of the increase came from China, which doubled its capacity from 12.1 GW to 25.1 GW. In the same year, the United States contributed nearly 10 GW of new capacity, reaching 35 GW. GWEC also forecast an increase of up to 10 times in China’s installed capacity by 2020.

The installed wind power capacity is forecast to reach 1,000 GW by 2020, saving as much as 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year. A total of 34 billion tonnes of CO2 will be saved by 2,300 GW of wind power capacity by 2030. In addition to environmental benefits, wind energy provides thousands of jobs. “In 2010, the 600,000 workers of the wind industry put up a new wind turbine every 30 minutes,” said Mr. Sven Teske, a senior energy expert at Greenpeace International. One in three of those turbines was erected in China.

Bangladesh steps up solar home systems installations

Bangladesh has made significant headway in implementing a renewable energy expansion programme by installing the Solar Home System (SHS) that reduces greenhouse emissions and ensures sustainable development in the energy sector. Every month more than 30,000 SHS are being installed in the country, adding 1.5 MW of electricity, which is more than double the rate noted 18 months ago.

Bangladesh had made a pledge at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference 2008 that about five per cent of its total electricity generation would come from renewable sources by 2015. “To ensure energy security and to reduce carbon emission, we have taken up a massive programme to implement a renewable energy and energy conservation plan,” said Dr. Tawfiq-e-Elahi Choudhury, Advisor to the Prime Minister. Bangladesh is planning to establish a Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA), a separate organization to oversee the renewable issues, he said. “We are moving very fast to achieve our target, as the demand of solar home system is growing 70 per cent yearly,” explained Mr. Islam Sharif, CEO of Infrastructure Development Company Ltd. (IDCOL). He claimed that if the present pace of expansion of SHS continues, the country could add 2.5 MW of electricity every month from 2014.

Philippines gets funds for wind projects

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan will finance feasibility studies on wind power projects of the renewable energy company Alternergy Philippine Holdings Corp. to mitigate energy shortfalls in the nation. ADB said the grant of up to US$630,000 was for three potential wind farm projects on Luzon island in the northern Philippines. The projects could generate up to 150 MW if technically and financially viable, it said. The grant will come from the Asian Clean Energy Fund under the ADB-administered Clean Energy Financing Partnership Facility funded by Japan. The Philippines, which is currently unable to meet national energy demand, plans to double the installed generating capacity from renewable energy to 5,300 MW by 2030. It has only one wind power facility, the Northwind Bangui Bay plant in northern Luzon. ADB said renewable energy development in the country has been relatively slow because of the high cost of feasibility studies and plant construction.

Green bank to power renewable energy projects

The Indian government is planning to set up a green bank by leveraging the Rs 50 billion (US$1.1 billion) national clean energy fund expected annually through a cess on coal. The proposed bank will finance projects to generate electricity from wind, solar, tidal and other renewable sources, which contribute just about 6,000 MW currently in India’s power capacity of around 150,000 MW.

”Our ministry is working on a proposal to set up the green bank,” Dr. Farooq Abdullah, the Minister for New and Renewable Energy. His Ministry plans to use only part of the national clean energy fund for its programmes. “A large part (of the fund) will still be available with other ministries involved in reducing India’s dependence on fossil fuel and protecting our environment,” said the Minister.

The fund set up by Finance Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee in the union budget 2010-11 is expected to raise up to Rs 50 billion this fiscal year, an official from the Finance Ministry said. The government levies a cess of Rs 50 (US$1.1) per tonne on coal, both domestic and imported, to fund research and innovative projects in clean energy technology. The green bank proposed will be linked with the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), a non-banking financial company owned by the government or IREDA itself could be converted into a green bank, an official directly involved with the matter said.

Viet Nam approves 40 MW biomass plant

A US$60 million power plant fuelled by agricultural and municipal waste is now set for construction in the central Phu Tho province, Viet Nam. Local authorities have granted an investment licence for the project, scheduled to operate in 2013 with an annual production of 331.5 GWh, Viet Nam’s official news agency has reported. Viet Nam High-Tech Renewable Biomass Energy Joint Stock Company will construct the plant in Phu Ninh district. The plant will use modern technologies from G8 member countries.

Biomass has been eyed as a promising energy source for Viet Nam that, as a leading rice producer, has an abundance of rice husk, which is often disposed of in rivers and canals. A study by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) – Rice Husk Biomass: Turning Waste into Energy and Profits – found that rice husk could provide a valuable clean energy source for the country. Viet Nam is set to generate 7.52 million tonnes of rice husk in 2010, with about half of that coming from the region of Mekong delta. IFC expects around 1.5 million tonnes to be used to generate 1.2 billion kWh of power annually from 2010.

Thailand to produce green aviation fuel

With the European aviation regulations looming, the CEO of Thailand-based PTT Aromatics and Refinery (PTTAR) Mr. Chainoi Puankosoom has announced that the company is planning a US$150 million investment to produce the first jet biofuel and biodiesel to comply with these regulations. Using technology developed by PTT, the parent company of PTTAR, the jet fuel will be made from leftover hydrogen and condensate residue from PTT’s oil refinery and petrochemical operations.

“This technology will not only provide a high grade of biofuel for jet engines but our product quality will also be similar to diesel used effectively in freezing temperatures,” Mr. Puankosoom claimed. PTTAR’s board is set to discuss the investment proposition soon, after which the environmental and health impact assessment reports will take 12 months, besides the 18-month construction period. The European aviation regulations will come into force in 2012, after which airline firms will be forced to pay penalties if they do not use biofuel.

Chinese CDM Fund to finance clean energy projects

China’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Fund, a government body that invests money obtained from carbon credits, is expected to almost double its available cash for renewable energy projects to 10 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) in 2012, Mr. Jiao Xiaoping, Deputy Director General of the Fund, said. The CDM Fund currently manages 6 billion yuan (US$900 million). The money is mainly raised from Chinese companies that earn by selling certified emission reduction credits (CERs), he said. Chinese companies have sold 229 million tonnes worth of CERs under the CDM mechanism since 2005, he added.

The Fund has been approved by the government to be employed for low-carbon research and planning, equity investment, and preferential loans to energy-saving and renewable energy projects, Mr. Jiao said. China has pledged to reduce its output of carbon dioxide per unit of gross domestic product by 40 to 45 per cent by 2020 from 2005 levels. It has cut energy intensity by 15.6 per cent from 2006 to 2009.

China’s plan to begin carbon trading may be held up by difficulties in negotiations with cities and industries over the method to set a limit for emissions, as any cap set on emissions will inhibit economic development. The country, which relies on coal for almost 80 per cent of its energy use, aims to boost the share of renewable sources – including solar, wind and nuclear – to 15 per cent by 2020 from 7.5 per cent in 2005.

Philippines targets RE assembly hub status

The Philippine government is planning to turn the country into an Asian assembly hub for renewable energy (RE) projects in the near future. Mr. Mario Marasigan, Assistant Secretary at the Department of Energy (DOE), said that the influx of green power projects can help attract additional investments in the manufacturing industry.

Since the passage of the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, DOE has signed 205 contracts for various RE projects and another 382 proposals are awaiting approval. The approved contracts alone are worth over US $2 billion in potential investments and would generate 4,400 MW of clean and indigenous power once realized. DOE targets to achieve its goal of turning the country into an RE hub in five to seven years once these recently inked investments begin to bear fruit. At present, the only global green power developer operating manufacturing facilities in the country is SunPower Philippines Manufacturing Ltd., a unit of SunPower, the solar technology company based in the United States.

Bangladesh’s biggest solar plant goes into operation

The 100 kW solar power plant in Sandwip, the biggest ever solar power plant in Bangladesh, went into operation on 1 October 2010. The power plant has started supplying electricity with feeding power to ten establishments, including few banks and a police station in the island, which is isolated from the national power grid.

A private organization, Purabi Green Energy, has set up the plant with financial and technical supports from the state-owned Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL). Initially, the solar plant will meet the power needs of 400 households in Mochapura village of Chittagong. The project cost is Taka 50 million (US$710,000), of which half is from a German Development Bank grant, Taka 15 million (US$212,000) is a loan from the World Bank, while Taka 10 million (US$142,000) is the investment of Purabi Green Energy. The unit price of the solar power has been fixed at Taka 30 (US$0.43). The consumers will be billed on a monthly basis.

Sri Lanka backs use of renewable energy

Sri Lanka’s Minister of Power and Energy, Mr. Patali Champika Ranawaka, emphasised the need for improving renewable energy as a form of mainstream energy. He referred to Sri Lanka’s experience, and said that a considerable amount of Sri Lanka’s energy come from renewable sources and that Sri Lanka’s emission levels are far below the world average. Mr. Ranawaka was speaking at the Ministerial Session of the Delhi International Renewable Energy Conference (DIREC), held from 27 to 29 October 2010. He attended the event on the invitation of Dr. Farooq Abdullah, the New and Renewable Energy Minister of India.

Minister Mr. Ranawaka said there is good potential for expanding wind power in Sri Lanka but issues pertaining to storage and distribution of solar and wind energy remain to be addressed. Sri Lanka is also focusing on biomass-based energy such as dendro (wood waste) power, he said.


Cheap, paper-thin solar cells

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the United States, have presented early results of research projects funded by Eni, an Italian oil company, including paper-thin solar cells that could have uses such as window covers. MIT showed prototypes of paper solar cells able to generate enough current to light a small LED display. A commercial solar paper device could be available in five years, said chemical engineering professor Dr. Karen Gleason, whose lab is doing the work.

Dr. Gleason envisions using cheap paper-thin solar cells on blinds and shades or perhaps on the cover of a laptop. For instance, a blind could have a storage device integrated into it or be connected to home wiring, she said. Paper cells can also be laminated into flexible, lightweight strips that could be attached quickly onto roofs by untrained people, reducing the cost of solar power, she said. The cells are made on ordinary tracing paper.

The trick behind the paper-thin solar cells is a layer-by-layer manufacturing process developed by the lab of Dr. Gleason and can be adjusted for different purposes. To make a cell, five layers of solid material are deposited onto a paper substrate. Each layer serves a different function, such as the active material that releases an electron when struck by light and the circuit that carries the current, she explained. Unlike many solar cell deposition processes, this one can be done at low temperatures. It is analogous to frost forming on a window where water vapour turns into a solid on a surface, Dr. Gleason explained.

Right now, the efficiency of light-to-electricity conversion is quite low, approaching 1 per cent. The lab’s target is to get to 4 per cent efficiency on paper and higher efficiency on different substrates, said Dr. Gleason. Commercial solar panels with silicon solar cells have efficiencies of 15 per cent and higher. The process uses organic materials and polymers that are abundant and thus not expensive. “We want elements readily available in nature. It is simple metals, nothing exotic,” she said.

Milestone efficiency achieved for CIGS

XsunX Inc., the United States, has announced that it has achieved a conversion efficiency of 15.09 per cent for a copper-indium-gallium selenide (CIGS) solar cell with the company’s CIGSolar™ technology. With this high efficiency, the company claims that co-evaporation production provides the best platform to get the highest efficiency CIGS-based solar cells to compete with, and potentially replace, silicon photovoltaic technologies.

Deposition of the CIGS cell layer was conducted on full size 125 mm square substrates. Test configurations used to measure efficiency results were identical to those used by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of the United States, and XsunX’s AM1.5 solar simulator used for testing was calibrated daily using a reference solar cell calibrated by National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST). Contact: XsunX Inc., 65 Enterprise, Aliso Viejo, California, CA 92656, United States of America. Tel: +1 (949) 330 8060; Fax: +1 (949) 266 5823.

Spray on steel photovoltaic cell

In the United Kingdom, Tata Steel Europe, working with Swansea University, Pilkington Glass and other partners, hopes to use roof area for harvesting solar energy. Working with photovoltaic specialists Dyesol, Tata Steel’s subsidiary Corus Colors aims to produce sheet steel used in roofing for warehouses, offices and other buildings treated with a sensitive coating – solar cells will be “sprayed on” to the surface of the steel sheets. It will allow buildings using these sheets for cladding or roofing to trap the energy of the sun that for decades has merely bounced off back into space unused.

It is thought large buildings could produce 50 times the energy of a wind farm because the energy production would be more consistent. The buildings can use the energy for all internal needs and excess can be sold off to the national grid. If the material is sprayed onto car and lorry roofs they could eventually use solar power to split hydrogen from water for powering hydrogen fuel cells at no cost to the environment. Dr. Dave Worsley, at the Materials Research Centre, Swansea University School of Engineering, said: “One of our engineering doctorate students was researching how sunlight interacts with paint and degrades it, which led to us developing a new photovoltaic method of capturing solar energy.” Unlike conventional solar cells, the materials being developed at the University are more efficient at capturing low light radiation.

Corus Colors currently applies paint to certain steel products when they are passed through rollers during the manufacturing process so that the paint is ingrained into the steel. The same approach is being used to build up solar cell layers within steel sheets. The company is building a roll-to-roll line that will make the integrated photovoltaic cells on flexible steel strips.

‘Black silicon’ boosts solar cells with lasers

SiOnyx Inc., the United States, is commercializing its “black silicon” semiconductor technology to improve solar-cell efficiency and light sensors in digital cameras. It is developing a semiconductor process to blast silicon with a series of laser pulses in a controlled gas environment. The aim is to re-form the crystalline structure of silicon so that the surface captures more light, explained SiOnyx CEO Mr. Stephen Saylor. “It makes it almost a totally anti-reflective surface. Almost no light bounces off the stuff, so it is a very efficient way to capture more light in a layer of silicon,” he said. With changes to the manufacturing process that incorporate its technology, solar-cell efficiency can improve by about 1 per cent.

One of the challenges for getting the technology into production is the cost of changing solar manufacturing equipment, but even a small efficiency improvement is very significant. The laser treatment could lower manufacturing costs as well as eliminate the need to use nasty chemicals for silicon treatment during solar manufacturing.

Ready-to-print solar cells

Irish company SolarPrint has developed a new type of printable solar cells that can generate energy even from fading sunlight, and can be produced quickly and easily. As this dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) uses less raw materials as compared with traditional solar cells, costs can be kept down.

SolarPrint has replaced the liquid part of the DSSC with nanomaterials, so that all the active elements of the cell can be applied through the printing process. These cells are also more efficient because they are based on a rounded nanotech structure instead of the traditional angular crystalline structure of silicon materials. Electrons have to hit the crystalline structures at the right angle to generate electricity; however, in nanostructure cells a curved surface makes the angle of absorption much larger.

As a liquid, the electrolyte layer is “terrible”, said SolarPrint co-founder and CEO Mr. Mazhar Bari. The efficiencies are adequate, he said, but “it cannibalizes the materials in the cell.” The SolarPrint process instead uses a printable electrolyte paste made from nanomaterials, carbon nanotubes, graphene and ionic salts. However, there is a drawback with the mass manufacturing of DSSC.

Mr. Bari believes that the ability of SolarPrint cells to capture low light levels both indoors and outside, and produce reasonable power without much drop in voltage, will give them a competitive edge in the market. Contact: SolarPrint Limited, Ballymoss Road, Sandyford, Dublin 18, Ireland. Tel: +353 (1) 297 3330; Fax: +353 (1) 297 3337; E-mail:; Website:

Quantum dot solar cells double output current

Cost-efficient and energy-efficient solar cells that are beginning to emerge dismiss a theory stated in 1961 by Dr. William Shockley and Dr. Hans Queisser. The two scientists put a theoretical limit of 31 per cent in the maximum efficiency for a single solar cell.

In the United States, Dr. Bruce Parkinson and Dr. Justin Sambur from the University of Wyoming, along with Dr. Thomas Novet from Voxtel, used quantum dots to enhance the possibilities of a solar cell in specific conditions – when incoming photons have more energy than to displace only one electron off its atom. So far, no matter how strong the light was, it had only been able to free one electron, with the rest being mostly lost as heat. The theory that the scientists put into practice could eventually double the harvested current and increase the efficiency of solar cells proportionally. The researchers coated a smooth titanium dioxide electrode with a single layer of lead-sulphide quantum dots, which would absorb 0.85 eV and 1.39 eV to free up one electron. When they illuminated the device with reddish light, in which every photon carries 1-2 eV, 70 to 80 per cent of the relatively small number of photons absorbed released one electron. When they switched to the more energetic blue light area of the spectrum, the photons carried over 2.4 eV, which was 2.7 times more than they needed to free up an electron. At this point, they found the displaced electrons were twice the number of photons absorbed, confirming the presumption that some of them had indeed freed up two electrons at once.


New composite material for wind turbine blades

DSM Composite Resins, Switzerland, has launched an advanced specialty resin material specifically developed for wind turbine blade applications. The high-performance resin, Synolite™ 1790-G-3, was developed and tested in cooperation with major industry players. The low-viscosity resin is particularly suited for vacuum infusion. It offers several improvements in performance over other traditional unsaturated polyester resins and epoxy resin solutions. The new material also displays better wet-out: the rate or speed of resin saturation with the reinforcing glass fibre. This allows for more effective and efficient composite moulding with a broader variety of glass fibres. With Synolite 1790-G-3, the entire curing procedure of the blades can be performed at room temperature. This enables faster production cycles and reduces total system cost by up to 40 per cent compared with epoxy resin-based systems. The material features fast through-cure in thin laminate parts and delivers consistent and reliably robust performance from batch to batch. The resin also shows very low exothermic heat development in thick laminates, ensuring lower mechanical stress in the blade and longer mould life – a major factor in the manufacture of larger blades that require longer gelling times and more complex curing. The use of this resin allows manufacturing at room temperature, with excellent secondary bonding properties and a very short and efficient production cycle. Wind turbine blades from 500 kW to 5,000 kW, and over 60 m in length, can be made with Synolite 1790-G-3.

Affordable wind power for the masses

Totempower Energy Systems Ltd., a clean technology start-up unit backed by City University London, the United Kingdom, is focusing on small-scale wind turbines that are cheaper, more efficient, and easier to install and maintain than current models. The company will focus on the fast-growing micro-generation market, developing wind turbines based on an advanced aerodynamics patent held by City University, the United Kingdom.

At the heart of the new turbines, is the patented system known as the Passive Air-jet Vortex Generator (PAVOG), which was developed by Dr. Simon Prince, Senior Lecturer in Aeronautical Engineering at City University. This low-cost technology increases the aerodynamic efficiency of turbine blades, enabling them to harvest more energy at lower wind speeds, while maintaining optimum efficiency in more windy conditions.

With significant testing already completed at City University, the company’s focus over the next year will be securing additional funding for final prototyping and putting two turbine models into production – a 2,000 kWh pa version for individual households and a 15,000 kWh pa version for commercial or community use, with an average return on investment of around six and three years, respectively. Contact: Totempower Energy Systems Limited, 8 Cloisters Court, No. 77 Cromwell Avenue, London, N6 5XG, United Kingdom. E-mail:

Software to develop smart wind turbines

Global information technology giant IBM, based in the United States, has revealed that the French energy systems supplier, Alstom, and the Spanish energy technology research and development entity, Ikerlan-IK4, are using IBM software to develop wind turbine control systems that significantly improve the performance of sustainable power systems based on wind-generated energy.

The new wind turbines leverage a sophisticated system of electronic sensors and software from IBM that optimize performance based on input regarding wind direction and speed, temperature and other factors. A central control system collects and analyses data from each turbine to remotely control individual turbine sub-systems, perform diagnostics and manage wind farm power generation. Both companies are using IBM software to develop and automate the “system of systems” that controls the turbines and their interconnected communications systems. Alstom and Ikerlan-IK4 are also using Gears Software Product Line Lifecycle Framework, from IBM business partner, BigLever Software™, to customize their designs to accommodate the varying climates and geographies where the wind turbines will operate. Alstom and Ikerlan-IK4 estimate that their use of IBM and Big Lever Software reduces development costs by as much as 25 per cent and decreases development time by a factor of 10 for each product variation.

Novel, mid-size wind turbine

Optiwind, the United States, is one the few companies searching for the middle ground in wind power –somewhere between the gigantic three-blade wind mills and the small turbines for individual homes. The company has recently erected its first mid-size, production-scale wind turbine on a family farm in Connecticut for performance testing. At the farm project, Optiwind engineers will test a single cylinder at different heights to gather data. When complete, the tower will have a generating capacity of 150 kW.

Optiwind’s Compact Wind Acceleration Turbine (CWAT) is designed to boost power production by accelerating the wind. It is designed for places that have less-than-pristine wind resources. Atop CWAT’s 200 ft tower, there are cylinders instead of blades. While the tower height doesn’t sound mid-size, the turbine is considerably smaller than some utility-scale turbines that have 100 ft blades rotating on top of a 300 ft tower. CWAT’s cylinders speed up the wind before it goes through fans, which are connected to a direct-drive generator. The turbine’s design is quiet, with shrouds over the fans to protect birds and bats, and does not cause radar disturbances.

New gear/gearbox optimization software

In response to the gear market’s need for an optimization software, Excel Gear Inc., the United States, has developed Excel-Lent™ gear/gearbox design and analysis software written in Visual Basics.Net. Excel-Lent can be used for wind turbines, equipment for heavy material handling, machine tools, etc. For the wind turbine industry, for example, the designer needs a full understanding of all the operating loads on the gear members to arrive at the required power rating. The key calculations performed are related to power rating and load, including bending strength geometry and pitting resistance geometry factors.

Excel-Lent contains three sections – design, analysis and gear dimensions. Any of the sections can be used individually to run calculations. The design section calculates the size of gears. Key values calculated are the diameter and face width of the pinion required to achieve the desired parameters. The analysis program calculates the power rating of a gear set for 5,000, 10,000, 25,000, 50,000 and 100,000 hours of life as product of reliability factor. It will calculate the power rating of the gear set, along with torque, tangential force and static capacity. The dimension section will calculate the manufacturing dimensions for a new pinion and gear, or the dimensions of a pinion or gear to mate an existing pinion or gear. It will calculate the centre distance, dimension over pins, span, form diameter, roll angles, all gear tolerances, etc. to match the quality required. The program will calculate the helix angle required to match a specified centre distance if the user chooses that option.

Excel-Lent software also provides users the option to balance beam strength or specific sliding of gear and pinion, if desired. This is a key requirement for wind turbine gears. Contact: Excel Gear Inc., #11865 Main Street, Roscoe, Illinois 61073, United States of America. Tel: +1 (815) 623 3414; Fax: +1 (815) 623 3314; E-mail:; Website:

Small wind turbine

The e300i wind power turbine from Kestrel Wind Turbines, South Africa, is a compact and unobtrusive power generator suitable for urban living. The 1 kW turbine is suitable in all wind classes and has a low start-up torque that requires minimum wind to generate energy. The three aerofoil blades, with a diameter of 3 m, are managed by a passive pitch control system that allows the turbine to generate usable energy continuously in wind speeds that exceed rated wind speed. The Axial Flux Alternator remains cool while maximum energy is being generated in the form of polyphase high frequency output, reducing inefficiency through energy losses.

The full aerofoil blades are moulded from fibre glass to protect against dust and moisture damages. The turbine can be used to supplement other renewable energy installations, pump water, power repeater stations, and power houses and other small installations. Contact: Kestrel Wind Turbines, P.O. Box 3191, North End, Port Elizabeth, 6056, South Africa. Tel: +27 (41) 4012500; Fax: +27 (41) 3948183;


Generating energy from ocean swells

In the United States, researchers at the College of Engineering of Florida Institute of Technology (Florida Tech) have conceptualized the Wing Waves – a pair of metal wings that flap to and fro when cradled by the ocean’s swells. The system works by tapping the elliptical motion of waves 30-60 ft beneath the surface, which is first converted into mechanical energy and later into usable electricity.

Advocates of the system state that this system is fully operational beneath the sea. Moreover, at a depth of 40-50 ft, the system works as sea fans. The creators believe that one square mile of wings, which will have about 1,000 units, will be able to power more than 200,000 homes. The trapezoid-shaped wing stands 8 ft in height and 15 ft in width, and each wing can sway 30° from side to side and complete the arc in 8-10 seconds. The prototypes that are currently being tested off the Florida coast are made of aluminium, but operational models would be made from composite material.

Harnessing the power of surge

AW-Energy, Finland, has developed and patented the WaveRoller for harnessing the power from ocean surge. The WaveRoller device is essentially a plate anchored on the sea bottom by its lower part. The back and forth movement of surge moves the plate. The kinetic energy transferred to this plate is collected by a piston pump. A key advantage of WaveRoller is the ability to generate energy on a wider spectrum of wave conditions compared with existing wave energy solutions.

The phenomenon that WaveRoller utilizes for electricity production is called surge. When approaching the shore line, the water particles of a wave are on a rotary movement. As the water depth decreases, this rotary movement becomes more elliptical. On a certain area before the wave breaker line and near the seabed, the shape of water movement is practically horizontal with a continuous back and forth motion. The optimum area for harnessing this surge is from breaker line outwards until the water depth equals half of the surface wave length. This is where the WaveRoller operates. Typical depth for this installation is about 10-25 m.

WaveRoller is environment-friendly. Placed under the sea surface, it is completely invisible. It follows the natural movement of water, and does not generate any noise. Further, WaveRoller design uses materials that are environmentally friendly and contains no hazardous substance. Contact: AW-Energy Oy, Kolamiilunkuja 6, FI-01730 Vantaa Finland. Tel/Fax: +358 (9) 726 2404; E-mail:

Tidal turbine targets largest area of current

In the United Kingdom, Oxford University has spun off Kepler Energy to develop a second-generation tidal turbine. The turbine has the potential to harness tidal energy more efficiently and economically as it is simpler, and more robust and scalable than current designs. Kepler Energy will design, test and develop a horizontal-axis water turbine intended to intersect the largest area of current. The rotor is cylindrical and rolls around its axis to catch the current.

The turbine is the result of research in the Department of Engineering Science at Oxford University by Prof. Guy Houlsby, civil engineering professor, Dr. Malcolm McCulloch, Head of the Electrical Power Group, and Prof. Martin Oldfield, Emeritus Professor of the Thermofluids Laboratory. The researchers are building a 0.5 m diameter prototype to demonstrate the benefits of the design. A full-scale device will be up to 10 m in diameter and a series of turbines can be chained together across a tidal channel.

A low visual impact tidal power solution

Neptune Renewable Energy, the United Kingdom, has completed trials of its Proteus NP1000 tidal stream power generator, with its floating pontoon designed to have a low above-water visual impact. Neptune said that, based on data collected during trials, the device can output at least 1.000 MWh per year or around enough energy to reasonably power 500 or so homes. Proteus, which is designed to work in the “large, shallow water tidal resource in estuarine sites,” weighs more than 150 t and is 20 m long, with a beam of 14 m. It consists of steel buoyancy hulls, a vertically mounted turbine with a 6 m × 6 m rotor, and computer-controlled flow vanes within a Venturi duct. However, more than 80 per cent of its bulk remains hidden under water.


Fuel-cell generator that operates with commercial fuels

Nordic Power Systems (NPS), Norway, has developed what it claims to be the first fuel-cell generator that can operate on commercial fuels such as diesel and bio oils. Based on technology created at RWTH Aachen University, Germany, the system employs an on-board cool flame reformer that converts diesel into reformate hydrogen, which reacts with air in a high-temperature fuel cell to produce electricity and heat.

Using reformate hydrogen will result in lighter and cheaper diesel fuel-cell systems in the future, claims Mr. Tor-Geir Engebretsen, Managing Director of NPS. “Our system can use regular fuels and it is virtually emission free. There are no sulphur or carbon monoxide emissions and there is a significant drop in carbon dioxide,” he says. NPS has already tested a 250W stack with both dilute hydrogen and hydrogen produced by a reformer. The results showed similar performances between the two fuel streams. As the technology is scalable, it can also be used as a range extender, for example, in an electric vehicle. “As the battery levels drop, the clean fuel-cell range extender starts to automatically recharge it. So there is no need for external grid and no need for a regular combustion generator that you find on board hybrid cars,” Mr. Engebretsen explains.

Zinc air fuel cell generator

Leo Motors Inc., a United States public company based in the Republic of Korea, has successfully demonstrated its proprietary zinc air fuel cell generator (ZAFCG) at a dedicated seminar. Demonstrations were done with a 1 kW ZAFCG, including automatic feeding, sludge collecting, electrolyte changing and interrupt stopping. Leo’s ZAFCG does not use such rare metals at all.

Using the power measuring meter, Leo demonstrated the power performance of its 1 kW ZAFCG. It also showed how it can easily scale up generator capabilities by connecting multiple 1 kW systems in modular schemes. All data – including cell voltage, balancing, power (in kW) per amount of zinc fuel (in kg), running time and generation capacity for the ZAFCG – were presented with official test records measured by government laboratories.

Measuring fuel cells’ electrochemical properties

Measuring the overall performance of a fuel cell is relatively easy, but measuring its components individually as they work together is a challenge. That is because one of the best experimental techniques for investigating the details of an electrochemical device in operation is X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), which traditionally works only in a vacuum, while fuel cells need pressurized gases to function.

Researchers in the United States studied the electrochemical properties of a model fuel cell operating at extreme heat, using a new XPS for ambient-pressure (APXPS). A team of scientists from the University of Maryland and the Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory used the APXPS to examine every feature of a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). The tests were made while the sample cell operated in an atmosphere of hydrogen and water vapour at one millibar pressure and at very high temperatures of up to 750°C.

Led by Dr. Bryan Eichhorn of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at University of Maryland, the team measured the fundamental properties of the SOFC under realistic operating conditions. The model fuel cell built combined the essential elements of an SOFC in a special miniaturized design less than 2 mm in length. Except for the yttria-stabilized zirconia electrolyte, which formed the base of the device, the various components were thin films measuring 30-300 nm in thickness. Instead of stacking the components as in a real fuel cell, all the components were placed on the same side of the electrolyte, so that the X-rays could reach them, and direct measurements could be taken.

With their model SOFC, the team saw details never seen before in an operating fuel cell. Where an overall measurement gave only the fuel cell’s total loss in potential energy, the APXPS measurements found the local potential losses associated with the interfaces of electrode and electrolyte, as well as with charge transport within the ceria electrode. The sum of the losses was equal to the cell’s total loss or inefficiency.

“The in situ XPS experiments at 750°C allowed us to pinpoint the electroactive regions, measure length scales of electron transport through mixed ionic-electronic conductors, and map out potential losses across the entire cell,” said Dr. Eichhorn. APXPS can provide this kind of fundamental information to SOFC designers – information not available using any other technique. New fuel cell designs are already taking advantage of this new way to study fuel cells in operation.

Novel pathway to generating power

NDCPower, the United States, has developed a fuel cell that is capable of converting any primary alcohol, including ethanol, into electric power. The company’s technology uses an electrochemical process in a fuel cell to generate electric power and, depending on the feedstock used, various saleable chemicals. For instance, ethanol will produce acetic acid while methanol will produce formic acid.

The fuel cell units are modular in design, which offers a few benefits, according to Ms. Jessica Mitchell, NDCPower’s General Manager. The units are hot-swappable; if a unit is malfunctioning, it can be replaced without taking the entire system off line. Perhaps, the most intriguing aspect of NDCPower’s technology is its ability to provide users with a commodity by-product and eliminate carbon dioxide (CO2) emission at the same time – two characteristics that are otherwise uncommon in fuel cells. For producers seeking to gain a leg up on greenhouse gas regulatory measures in the future, NDCPower’s fuel cells offer two advantages. First, because ethanol is used as the feedstock to generate electricity, it has the potential to be considered a renewable source of energy, which could alleviate some of the pressure to comply with demands for reduced intake of fossil fuels. Second, the technology converts CO2, which would be otherwise emitted into the atmosphere, into a chemical by-product, virtually eliminating all CO2 emissions from the units.

Ms. Mitchell says the technology can be called ‘instant on’. “When you ask it for power it delivers, and when you are done it shuts off.” She says this added feature means that producers could use the units to level out the facility’s peak power requirements. While the final cost of the generator depends on the size of the project, Ms. Mitchell says that the investment would be roughly comparable to installing a turbine generator, for both capital costs and operating costs. Ms. Mitchell claims that 1 tonne of ethanol will generate 1.35 tonnes of acetic acid and 1.4 MW of power.

Handheld fuel cell charger for gadgets

In the United States, Intel Capital has invested an undisclosed amount in Lilliputian Systems in a step towards bringing a handheld fuel cell charger for gadgets to market. The portable fuel cell from Lilliputian is designed to be about the size of a deck of cards. It will be powered by butane cartridges, and can charge small electronics, such as smartphones, through a USB connection. The design of end product, called the USB Mobile Power System, is not fully worked out, but people can expect a handheld device and replaceable butane-filled cartridges about the size of a lighter, explains Mr. Mouli Ramani, Vice President of Business Development at Lilliputian Systems.

The butane is fed into a solid-oxide fuel cell that makes enough power – in the range of 3 W – to charge small electronic gadgets. Inside the Mobile Power System is a miniature fuel cell, which will convert the butane to electricity. Lilliputian has developed a method for placing the fuel cell where the chemical reaction occurs on a silicon wafer, Mr. Ramani explained. On the chip is also a reformer that extracts hydrogen and carbon monoxide from the butanol. When that reformed fuel is exposed to oxygen from incoming air inside the fuel cell, it produces a flow of electricity along with water vapour and carbon dioxide as by-products.

Fuel cell concentration sensor

Direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs) benefit when they employ methanol concentration sensor. Fuel cell efficiency is improved when a constant methanol concentration can be maintained over time and temperature ranges. Integrated Sensing Systems Inc. (ISSYS), the United States, has introduced FC10, a new methanol concentration sensor that offers high accuracy, a wide temperature range of performance (5- 70°C), and a wide and variable concentration range (0-5 per cent, 0-10 per cent, 0-100 per cent, etc.). The FC10 is also small enough for embedded applications. The device measures just 32.5 mm × 44.5 mm × 12.5 mm. Methanol concentration accuracy is ±0.30 per cent w/w and viscosity range is 0-750 cP. Contact: Integrated Sensing Systems Inc., 391 Airport Indl. Drive, Ypsilanti, Michigan 48198, United States of America. Tel: +1 (734) 547 9896; Fax: +1 (734) 547 9964; E-mail:


World’s cheapest hydrogen production process

Fukai Environmental Research Institute Inc., Japan, has announced a new technology for hydrogen production that it claims is less costly and more efficient than anything that has been tried so far. The Fukai process involves adding aluminium or magnesium to boiling “functional water”, a proprietary substance that can be produced simply by running regular tap water through a natural mineral-containing functional water generation unit. The bonds that join hydrogen and oxygen molecules in regular water, which ordinarily need some energy to break, are weakened in functional water.

The liquid yields 2 litres of hydrogen gas per gram of aluminium or 3.3 litres per gram of magnesium. Fukai claims that the cost of producing enough hydrogen to generate 1 kWh of electricity is about US$ 0.18. That cost could be lowered through the use of recycled aluminium. The technology is said to not involve expensive facilities, fuels based on petroleum, or carbon dioxide output of steam reformation. It is also reportedly more energy-efficient than electrolysis, and does not require the growing of crops necessary for experimental biomass-based systems. “If we make the most of this technology, in the future it will be possible to run automobiles using water only – no need to use gasoline or electricity,” stated Dr. Toshiharu Fukai, the developer of the system. “We are also pushing forward with technology that will allow us to generate hydrogen with zero cost. If we succeed in this development, even ordinary households will be able to produce hydrogen.”

Electrolyser to cut cost of hydrogen production

A new electrolyser could cut the cost of hydrogen production by 93 per cent compared with current leading technology, its inventors claim. RE Hydrogen, the United Kingdom, has developed 1 kW versions of the device, which utilizes electricity to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen. The dramatic cost-cutting was achieved by eliminating mechanical parts not related to the electrolysis reaction and using a different manufacturing process, said Dr. Amitava Roy, RE Hydrogen Director.

So far, RE Hydrogen has developed 50 W, 150 W and 1 kW versions of the device for laboratory use and for the bottled hydrogen market. A 5 kW model is on the way, and the firm also intends to build 100 kW units for use in industrial hydrogen production and energy harvesting. Dr. Roy hopes the device’s low costs would make it useful for the energy industry to capture and store intermittent sources of electricity such as wind, as well as aid power management for the national grid and for individual smart home systems.

One advantage of RE Hydrogen’s device is its ability to capture relatively low energy output from unpredictable sources such as small wind turbines. The device is also designed to prevent the potassium hydroxide (KOH) used as an electrolyte from leaking. KOH is much cheaper than alternatives such as proton exchange membranes, which require costly platinum electrodes.

New technology for hydrogen generation

Researchers in the United States have developed a method that uses aluminium and a liquid alloy to extract hydrogen from seawater to run engines in boats and ships, representing a potential replacement for petrol and diesel fuel in marine applications. Previously, the technique had worked only with fresh water, but a new formulation enables the method to generate hydrogen from seawater, said Dr. Jerry Woodall, a distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University. Hydrogen generated by the technology could be fed directly to an internal combustion engine. The new method makes it unnecessary to store or transport hydrogen – two major challenges in using hydrogen for ships and vehicles. “We generate hydrogen on demand, as you need it,” said Dr. Woodall. “It also eliminates the need to store fresh water when used for marine applications,” he pointed out. The waste produced in the process could be recycled using wind turbines and solar cells, which makes the technology offer a new way of storing energy from solar and wind power, Dr. Woodall said.

The researchers led by Dr. Woodall have been developing aluminium-based alloys that generate hydrogen from water, first reporting on the approach in 2007. The aluminium splits water by reacting with the oxygen atoms in water molecules, liberating hydrogen in the process. Aluminium hydroxide, the waste product, can be recycled back into aluminium using existing commercial processes. “Since aluminium is low-cost, abundant and has an energy density larger than coal, this technology can be used on a global scale and could greatly reduce the global consumption of fossil fuels,” Dr. Woodall said.

The material is made of tiny grains of aluminium surrounded by an alloy containing gallium, indium and tin, which is liquid at room temperature. The liquid alloy dissolves the aluminium, and causes it to react with sea water and release hydrogen, Dr. Woodall said. Unlike other techniques for generating hydrogen using aluminium, the Purdue team uses bulk metal, not powdered metal, making the method more economical and practical. Controlling the microscopic structure of the solid aluminium and the gallium-indium-tin alloy mixture is important. The formulation contains 90 per cent aluminium and 10 per cent of the liquid alloy. The reaction also produces heat, which could be used for electricity generation.

Hydrogen production gets more efficient

Splitting water by electrolysis to produce hydrogen works efficiently only if the cathode is equipped with an efficient catalyst. The material of choice is platinum because of its high activity: unfortunately, it is very expensive. Dr. Jingguang G. Chen and colleagues at the University of Delaware, the United States, have introduced a new method for saving on platinum without efficiency loss: they deposit a single layer of platinum atoms onto an inexpensive tungsten carbide substrate.

A problem with this method is that if such a monolayer of metal atoms is deposited onto a support, the atoms interact with the substrate. The electronic structure of atoms can change because the distances between the individual atoms in the layer can be different from those in the pure metal. In addition, bonding between the platinum and atoms of the support can lead to undesired effects. This can greatly disrupt the catalytic properties.

Dr. Chen and colleagues selected tungsten carbide as a carrier, as it has properties very similar to those of platinum. The chemical and electronic properties of these atomic platinum monolayers on tungsten carbide do not differ significantly from those of a block of pure platinum. The catalytic efficiency of the supported platinum monolayer is also correspondingly strong.

New hydrogen storage material may exceed standards

A team of investigators in the United States has discovered a class of power-storing materials that may easily exceed the benchmarks set by the Department of Energy (DoE) in terms of hydrogen storage. Rice University experts recently managed a breakthrough when they discovered the amazing hydrogen-storage abilities of a class of materials known as metallacarborane. The material is better at storing hydrogen than what the DoE’s benchmarks call for under the Hydrogen Programme for 2015.

A single metal atom can bind multiple hydrogen molecules. However, they also tend to aggregate and without something to hold them, they clump into a blob and are useless, explains Dr. Boris Yakobson, a theoretical physicist at Rice who led the new research. Basically, what the new material does is to use a combination of the transition metals scandium and titanium in a way that allows them to hold a load of hydrogen molecules. While it does so firmly, its grip of the hydrogen molecules is not so tight that they cannot be extracted as needed. According to theoretical predictions, a matrix of metallacarboranes can hold up to 8.8 per cent of its weight in hydrogen atoms, a benchmark that reaches, and perhaps even exceeds, that set by DoE. Dr. Yakobson says that the discovery catches on new meaning when considering that technologies already exist to construct materials that can engulf and fix hydrogen gas. If these scaffoldings are made of the new class of materials, then the efficiency of the resulting energy storage devices would be outstanding by today’s standards.


Chemists improve synthesis of biodiesel

Chemists from Brown University, the United States, have developed a more efficient way to produce biodiesel from waste vegetable oil. Dr. Jason Sello, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, and Dr. Aaron Socha, Post-doctoral Fellow, used two catalysts common in organic chemistry to synthesize biodiesel in a single reaction vessel. Traditional methods of synthesizing biodiesel from waste oil require two reaction vessels. The method developed by Dr. Sello and Dr. Socha is six times faster than current methods, consumes less energy overall and is more environmentally friendly.

Biodiesel synthesizing requires one reaction to convert free fatty acids to biodiesel and another to convert triacylglycerols to biodiesel. The former is traditionally catalysed by sulphuric acid, and the latter by hydroxide of potassium or sodium. The reactions must be performed separately or else the acid and base yield soaps. In developing the new procedure, the chemists considered catalysts that could complete the reaction in a single vessel, were readily available, low in cost, low in toxicity and stable in the presence of water and air that might be in the waste oil after cooking.

Dr. Sello and Dr. Socha opted to use bismuth triflate and scandium triflate. When the catalysts did not yield biodiesel under standard conditions, Dr. Socha suggested using a microwave reactor. The combination of the two catalysts and the microwave reactor successfully yielded biodiesel at 150°C. The researchers then sought to minimize the temperature, the amount of catalyst and the time needed for the reactions. Dr. Sello said they also tested all “possible component of waste vegetable oil” to verify that the reaction would still be successful. The catalysts in the free fatty acid reaction can be recycled up to five times while still obtaining a 97 per cent yield.

Biofuel processing gets closer to reality

A biomass-to-liquids (BTL) demonstration plant – jointly operated by the Oxford Catalysts Group (OCG), based in the United Kingdom, and SGC Energia (SGCE), incorporated in Portugal – at the biomass gasification facility in Güssing, Austria, is now up and running. The plant is designed for the small-scale, distributed production of biofuels using Fischer-Tropsch (FT) reaction. Initial results indicate that the equipment – including the Güssing gasifier, a gas conditioning unit supplied by SGCE and an FT microchannel reactor skid developed by Velocys, the United States-based member of OCG – is all operating smoothly.

The FT microchannel reactor, which comprises over 900 full-length microchannels, is proving to be very efficient at controlling temperatures in highly exothermic FT reaction and at maintaining isothermal conditions throughout the reactor. The demonstration plant is producing over 0.75 kg of high-quality synthetic FT liquids per litre of catalyst per hour – 4 to 8 times greater productivity than conventional systems. The unit is also demonstrating robust responsiveness to shutdowns and start-ups.

Microchannel reactors are designed for economical production on a small scale. The FT microchannel reactors have channels with diameters in the millimetre range and are compact. Conventional reactors have channel diameters in the centimetre range and are many times larger. Since the smaller diameter channels in microchannel reactors dissipate heat more quickly than those in conventional reactors, more active catalysts are used to boost the conversion rates to an economic level.

When used with a new FT catalyst developed by OCG, the Velocys microchannel FT reactor exhibits conversion efficiencies in the range of 70 per cent per pass. A single microchannel reactor block, which measures 60 cm × 60 cm × 60 cm, might produce over 30 barrels/day (bbl/d) of liquid fuel. In contrast, conventional FT plants typically exhibit conversion efficiencies in the range of 50 per cent or less per pass. They are designed to work at minimum capacities of 5,000 bbl/day, and function well and economically only at capacities of 30,000 bbl/day or higher.

Stress-resistant yeast for producing fuel ethanol

Biotechnology company iDiverse, the United States, has met success in modifying yeast to be highly resistant to a number of lethal stress conditions normally encountered in the bioproduction of fuel ethanol. In doing so, iDiverse has enabled the yeast to generate significantly more ethanol. If this technology proves effective on a large scale, it could increase the efficiency of installed fuel ethanol plants, enhance yields from feedstock such as corn and sugar cane, and help bridge the fuel ethanol production gap until the next generation biomass plants come on-line, says Mr. John Burr, President and CEO of iDiverse. Mr. Richard Schneeberger, Director of Business Development, iDiverse, says: “Our technology keeps cells alive in extreme conditions including those found in biomass processes.” The company claims that the technology can be used in applications beyond fuel ethanol, such as in the bio-production of industrial enzymes, research reagents and pharmaceuticals, as well as in biomanufacturing cell types beyond yeast, such as CHO, insect, fungal and algal cells.

Micro-algae as future power source

Researchers at the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), India, have developed a process of producing biofuel from four different species of micro-algae. When compared with biofuel sources like Jatropha, these algae can produce 40 times more fuel. They are extremely good at capturing atmospheric carbon dioxide, thus effectively preventing global warming. The process has worked well at the laboratory scale and the scientists from NEERI’s Environmental Health Division involved in the research claim that it could prove to be an alternative source of renewable energy from fresh water bodies. NEERI has scaled up process expertise too. Dr. Tapan Chakrabarti, former Director of NEERI, was the project leader.

Hemp biodiesel with low cloud point

Recent research at the University of Connecticut, the United States, reports that the biodiesel made of industrial hemp has better cold flow attributes. The research led by Prof. Richard Parnas indicates that the blending of biodiesel from hemp with other fuels makes it more tractable for use in cold weather conditions.

The researchers developed a small quantity of hemp biodiesel and subjected it to a division of ASTM tests to assess its performance. Unlike other biodiesel products that have their cloud point near to 0°C, hemp biodiesel did not produce cloud point even up to -20°C during standard tests. The team performed further tests utilizing more sensitive instruments to find out details such as its crystallization and light scattering events and registered the weak cloud point at -5.6°C. Hemp biodiesel does not require any special processing conditions and the most important result of the research is its unique cold-weather properties, according to Prof. Parnus.

Car biofuel from whisky by-products

Researchers at Edinburgh Napier University, the United Kingdom, have developed a biofuel from the by-products of distillation process. The product, they said, could be used to fuel ordinary cars without any special adaptation. The technology uses the two main by-products from the whisky production process – “pot ale”, the liquid from the copper stills, and the spent grains called “draff” – as the base to produce butanol that can then be used as fuel. “The new biofuel is made from biological material which has been already generated,” stated Mr. Martin Tangney, who is leading the research. The most likely way the biofuel would be used is by blending 5 or 10 per cent of the product with diesel or petrol. The biofuel potentially offers new revenues on the back of one Scotland’s biggest industries.

Advanced biofuel processing

INEOS Bio, the United Kingdom, is building the first commercial plant in Europe using its advanced BioEnergy Process technology. The plant is designed to produce per year 24,000 tonnes (30 million litres) of carbon-neutral road transport fuel and generate more than 3 MW of clean electricity for export from over 100,000 tonnes per year of biodegradable household and commercial waste. This would provide the biofuel requirement of about 250,000 vehicles per year running on E10 (a blend of 10 per cent bioethanol and 90 per cent petrol by volume) or the electricity needs of 6,000 homes.

The INEOS BioEnergy technology combines thermochemical and biochemical technologies to achieve energy-efficient and low-cost biofuel production from a wide range of biomass materials, such as industrial and household wastes. At the heart of the INEOS technology is an anaerobic fermentation step, through which naturally occurring bacteria convert gases derived directly from biomass into bioethanol. This process is integrated with combined heat and power generation. The process supports high recycling and high landfill diversion rates. An independent life cycle assessment indicates that the bioethanol produced would deliver 100 per cent greenhouse gas savings compared with using petrol in today’s cars.


Renewables Information 2010

Renewables Information provides a comprehensive review of historical as well as current market trends in OECD countries. This reference document brings together essential statistics on renewable and waste energy sources. It provides a strong foundation for policy and market analysis, which can better inform the policy decision process to select policy instruments best suited to meet set objectives. A greater focus is given to electricity generation and capacity from renewable and waste energy sources in OECD countries. The publication also provides a statistical overview of developments in the world renewable and waste market. A detailed picture of developments for renewable and waste energy sources for 30 OECD member countries is given in tabular form. The book covers energy indicators, generating capacity, electricity and heat production from renewable and waste sources, as well as production and consumption of renewables and waste.

Contact: International Energy Agency, Bookshop, 9, rue de la Fédération, 75739 Paris Cedex 15, France. Tel: +33 (1) 4057 6690; Fax: +33 (1) 4057 6775; E-mail:

Geothermal Energy: Renewable Energy and the Environment

Recent technological advances in geothermal energy have dramatically expanded the range and size of viable resources, especially for applications such as modular power generation, home heating, and other applications that can use heat directly. These recent developments have greatly expanded opportunities for geothermal energy use. Reflecting current interest in alternative energy, this publication explores where geothermal energy comes from and how to find it, how it can be accessed, its successful applications, and potential improvements for future uses. The author reviews the background, theory, power generation, applications, strengths, weaknesses, and practical techniques for implementing geothermal energy projects. Packed with practical implementation steps and real world case studies, the book covers geosciences principles, exploration concepts and methods, drilling operations and techniques, equipment needs, etc.

Contact: Chapman & Hall, Electronic Products, 4th Floor, Albert House, 1-4 Singer Street, London, EC2A 4BQ, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (20) 7017 6331; Fax: +44 (20) 7017 6747; E-mail:


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