VATIS Update Non-conventional Energy . Sep-Oct 2004

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New and Renewable Energy Sep-Oct 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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REEEP to lever 25-fold in funding

The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), a global partnership, hopes to lever Euro 20 million into Euro 500 million of support for renewable energies around the world. Launched in 2002 to boost the market for renewables, REEEP has released a draft of its three-year programme for comments by nations supporting the initiative. REEEP notes that the compelling obstacle identified in many assessments, including the G8 Renewable Energy Task Force, is widespread dearth of human and institutional capacity required to create receptive markets with an attractive balance of risk and reward for private capital. With its focus on overcoming this hurdle, REEEP is presently the only systematic attempt to build human and institutional capacity for market growth and innovation in renewables from the bottom up on a global basis.

The Euro 20 million budget, up to March 2008, will enable REEEP to make a decisive contribution over the next decade and its programme of work must evolve over time to fulfil the requirements and expectations of partners. The impact and value of REEEP will be evaluated on its success in providing partnership services and its ability to accelerate market development of renewables. Donor partners will contribute 10 per cent of project costs to support the Euro 2 million secretariat in Austria as the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office decreases its initial support. In the first year, REEEP expects to lever Euro 120 million of which Euro 50 million will be in India, Euro 50 million in China and Euro 20 million in Brazil from multilateral as well as bilateral sources increasing to Euro 160 million in the second year and Euro 200 million in the third year, for a total of Euro 500 million. It has been estimated that REEEPs activities will add 50 MW of additional renewable energy capacity in the first year, increasing to 1,000 MW in the second year and 2,000 MW in the third year.


Palm oil wastes lower GHG emissions

Wastes generated at palm oil mills in Indonesia may help the nation cut down on emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is helping evaluate the potential for using these wastes as a source of commercially viable renewable clean energy, through a US$500,000 technical assistance (TA) grant package. Co-financed by a Canadian government fund, the TA will establish a waste management framework for the palm oil industry and study the options available for energy recovery and conversion from palm oil mill wastes. Indonesia is the second largest producer, after Malaysia, of palm oil in the world and home to around 300 palm oil mills. A mill processing 60 t/h of fresh fruit bunches can yield 11,400 m3/d of methane from wastewater and provide more than 1.5 MW of electricity.

Actions to be developed under the TA would encourage public-private partnerships and provide concurrent global as well as local environmental benefits, including less contamination of soil and groundwater sources, enhanced land productivity and lower GHGs. The total cost of the TA is US$625,000, of which US$250,000 comes from ADBs TA programme and US$250,000 will be provided by the Canadian Cooperation Fund on Climate Change, which is financed by the Government of Canada. The remaining, US$125,000 equivalent, will be supplied by Indonesia.


China provides training in solar technologies

Technicians from African and other developing countries will be trained in the use of solar technologies by China. Around 10,000 technicians are expected to be trained over the next five years. The training includes programmes on small-scale solar power generation and solar-powered heating and irrigation. With funds provided by the central and provincial governments, the Institute of Natural Energy (INE) part of the Gansu Provincial Academy of Sciences has established a training facility powered solely by solar energy on an 8 ha of land. Reported to be the largest in Asia, this facility has to date trained over 400 participants from 70 nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America since 1991. The scale of training will be greatly expanded next year and China will not only host training programmes but also send its faculties to other developing countries, mainly in Africa, to help train people there. Mr. Xi Wenhua, Director of INE and the China Solar Energy Information Centre, stated that Training African technicians to use solar power is part of the China-Africa science and technology cooperation agreement signed by the Chinese Minister for Science and African Ministers last December. At present, about 20 people from Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mongolia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan and Thailand are being trained at INE, with all the training and accommodation costs financed by the government.


BHEL to set up stand-alone systems

In India, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL) was awarded a major contract for establishing five stand-alone solar power systems on the islands of Sunderbans by the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA). Earlier, BHEL had commissioned successfully West Bengals first stand-alone solar power plant at Mousuni island. West Bengal has taken the lead in using solar photovoltaic (SPV) technology for powering remote island areas that cannot be connected to the grid or areas where drawing up transmission lines is not feasible.

BHELs scope in the new contract includes design, production, supply, erection, testing and commissioning of two 110 kWp stand-alone solar power systems and three 55 kWp units, together with the associated overhead distribution lines on five islands under the Sunderbans area. With all the installations scheduled to commence operation by the end of July next year, BHEL will operate and maintain the plants for ten years on a turnkey basis. Each setup will cater to the power requirements of villages. Apart from providing power to houses, street lights, schools, etc., a potable water pumping unit is included as an inbuilt feature of the project. High-efficiency battery banks, state-of-the-art inverters and electronic control systems will be used to ensure reliable and utility quality power supply. For regularizing power consumption and revenue collection, the concept of prepaid metering is being introduced, which is superior to systems available in urban areas, utilizing conventional power plants.


China opens up to hydrogen-based technologies

China has publicly voiced its support for future hydrogen-based automotive powertrain technologies. Ahead of a meeting in Beijing to celebrate the launch of BMWs CleanEnergy project, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Science and Technology stated that Developing and implementing hydrogen technology is of crucial importance to sustainable development, both in China as well as other countries around the globe. BMW is initiating a broad range of activities, including a workshop in which experts will work along with Chinese economists and technologists to explore the possibilities of implementing a hydrogen infrastructure. The group is also opening a CleanEnergy exhibition by teaming up with the Science and Technology Museum in Beijing. This will provide an interactive and informal means to learn about the production, distribution and application of hydrogen.


Auspicious time for renewable energy projects in India

The investment climate for renewable energy programmes in India is showing signs of maturity and rapid improvement. Various reports from the Ministry for Non-conventional Energy Sources (MNES) state that several companies have made substantial investments in wind power programmes and many others, like Reliance Industries, are drawing up plans for large-scale investments. Reliance plans to develop 500 MW wind farms in Gujarat and Maharashtra. It is estimated that the present installed renewables capacity of 5,000 MW will double by 2012. To expedite the process, MNES is providing necessary inputs for the national electricity policy and tariff policy being prepared by the Ministry of Power.

MNES intends to adopt a policy of advocacy and persuasion with the states, aimed to get more renewable energy projects under way to provide electricity and light in every village and house. The ministry has prepared an outline for village energy security through biomass. It also plans to constitute a direct advisory committee for renewable energy in every district. MNES has directed every state to provide 25-30 acres of land to set up renewable energy demonstration projects, centres of training, etc.


Philippines first hybrid wind-diesel plant established

In the Philippines, the nations first hybrid wind-diesel power facility has been set up on Batan island. Initially, 180 kW of electrical energy will be produced using three 60 kW wind turbine generators and two diesel generators, each with a capacity of 500 kW. The US$1 million facility is expected to save US$45,000/y for Napocor, the state-owned power utility. Operated by Napocor, this project is a joint initiative of Napocor, Department of Energy, Department of Science and Technology, First Philippine Energy Corp. and the Batanes provincial government.


Japan pioneers in micro fuel cell commercialization

Presently, laptop computers, PDAs and phones powered by hydrogen are not yet a commercial reality. However, several companies based in Japan are at the forefront of developing micro fuel cells (MFCs) that can substitute batteries in portable electronics. Mr. Atakan Ozbek, ABI Researchs Director of Energy Research, characterizes companies like Hitachi, NEC and Toshiba as nimble, which are capitalizing on their established position making the very devices that first-generation commercial MFCs will power. The companies are also laying down the international regulatory framework required for making such gadgets viable worldwide.

ABI Researchs 2004 study Micro Fuel Cells evaluates major end user market applications for the North American, Japanese and European markets. International regulatory developments have been scrutinized and the growth pattern projected for the next seven years.

Contact: Mr. David Halperin, Allied Business Intelligence Inc., United States of America. Tel: +1 (516) 6243 113



Rosy future for renewables in China

By 2015, China plans to develop new and renewable energy resources totalling to 43 million tonnes of coal equivalent (TCE) annually. This is about 2 per cent of the nations total energy consumption. China Energy Research Association (CERA) has reported that the development of renewable energy could improve the nations energy structure and help to mitigate pollution problems caused by the use of conventional energy sources. It is estimated that by 2015 new and renewable energy sources will lower coal consumption by 60 million tonnes a year, which amounts to a reduction of pollutants that include about 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) and two million tonnes of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and soot. Development of renewable energy sources would provide around 500,000 job opportunities and help solve power problems for five million inhabitants in remote areas, notes CERA.


Korea to source 5 per cent of power from renewables

The Republic of Korea plans to raise the share of alternative and renewable energy to 5 per cent of its total energy pool over the next seven years. At a meeting involving energy officials and experts, the Commerce Minister Mr. Lee Hee-beom stated that the government will drastically expand the use of solar, fuel cell, wind and hydrogen power by 2011 to cushion a possible impact from rising crude oil prices. The government has already earmarked about US$38 million in a supplementary budget to expand energy-conserving facilities like co-generation, the co-production of electrical and thermal energy. As part of its programme, the government will draw up a three-year blueprint to enhance energy efficiency, under which companies are obliged to adopt high-powered electrical motors from 2008. The government will also push for steps that lower interest rates to 3 per cent from the present 5.25 per cent for companies if they are selected as models for energy conservation.


32.4 MW wind project to be set up in India

In India, Rabo India Finance Ltd. has structured an amortizing Rupee and USD project finance facility for MSPL Ltd. to establish a 32.4 MW wind farm project in Karnataka. Rabo acted as the financial advisor for this transaction and also provided part of the project finance facility through Rabo India and Rabobank, Singapore branch. MSPL is among the forerunners in systematic and scientific mining in India and one of the largest exporters of iron ore. It is also one of the leading firms in the renewable energy sector.

Contact: Mr. Rajita Bansal, Director and Head, Corporate Communications, Rabo India Finance Ltd., India. Tel: +91 (22) 2203 4567, ext. 414



Solar-powered street lights

In India, the Minister of State for Non-conventional Energy Sources, Mr. Vilas Muttemwar, stated that solar photovoltaic (PV) technology can fulfil the power requirements of roadside advertisement displays, thus saving conventional electricity for other purposes. Financial viability of the system depends on the size, type and site conditions. In Andhra Pradesh, the state government has instructed Municipal Corporations, Municipalities and Urban Development Authorities to use PV energy for advertising and street lights. Mr. Muttemwar also expressed that the central government should organize a series of consultations with the Municipal Corporations and Urban Development Authorities to develop a plan for wider use of PV in cities.


500 kW fuel cell power station

The China Association for Hydrogen Energy reports that the Guangdong province local government will set up a 500 kW fuel cell power station. The Guangdong local government is scouting for suppliers from around the world. Primary emphasis is for a PEMFC or MCFC system, since a 200 kW PAFC power station has already been set up in the province. The new facility will be located in Shenzhen City with funds provided by the Guangdong government and Hong Kong local government.



High-efficiency,radiation-resistant solar cells

At the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the United States, researchers have designed high-efficiency cascade (tandem) solar cells that are resistant to radiation damage. These cells, currently used to power satellites, are used together with solar concentrators in terrestrial applications. In the two-cell devices, the top cell captures the high-energy fraction of sunlight and allows the unused low-energy part to cascade on to the bottom cell for absorption.

Two models of these patented cells were developed, a gallium indium phosphide/gallium arsenide cell with a conversion efficiency of about 27 per cent and an indium phosphide/gallium indium arsenide phosphide cell with a conversion efficiency of 24 per cent. Both are two-terminal, monolithic cascade units that can be wired easily into large photovoltaic units and are less complicated to manufacture.

Contact: Technology Transfer Team, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 1617, Cole Blvd., Mailstop 1635, Golden, CO 80401, United States of America. Tel: +1 (303) 2753 028; Fax: +1 (303) 2753 040



Photoconductive cells

China National Electronics Import and Export Shaanxi Co. Ltd., China, is offering its latest CEIECSXD6-005 photoconductive cells. Featuring a spectral peak of 520-580 nm and an output of 50 mW to 0.5 W, the new cells are rated at 100-500 V. The optical sensors feature a photo resistance of 5 to 500 kilo-ohms and gamma characteristics of 0.5-0.8. Available in diameters of 4 mm, 5.1 mm, 7 mm, 9 mm, 12 mm and 20 mm, the sensors have a rise and decay time of 20-40 min and 30-40 min, respectively. The cells operate at temperatures varying between
-30C to 70C.


High-performance solar modules

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



30 kW PV converter

In Canada, Ballard Power Systems Inc. has released a 30 kW power converter designed for PV applications. Ecostar is a grid-tied, utility interactive, power converter, which integrates inverter and transformer efficiency while enabling easy installation. It offers improved reliability and uptime while reducing payback period for the product investment.

With peak inverter efficiency of 97 per cent, transformer efficiency of 97.5 per cent and 25 W standby tare losses, Ecostar comes with a five-year warranty. It is now available in two models to support 208 V and 480 V grids.

Contact: Ballard Power Systems Inc., 4343, North Fraser Way, Burnaby, BC V5J 5J9, Canada. Tel: +1 (604) 4540 900; Fax: +1 (604) 4124 700.


New PV inverter line

Magnetek Inc., the United States, announced the introduction of its new line of Aurora PV inverters, which change DC electricity produced by PV cells into utility-grade AC mains power. Connectivity to the utility grid enables the Aurora PV inverter to feed power into the grid as well as to power local loads. The complete product line, including all accessories, will be available by this year-end.

Contact: Magnetek Inc., 10900, Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 850, Los Angeles, California 90024, United States of America. Tel: +1 (310) 6891 610; Fax: +1 (310) 2086 133;



Commercial flat-roof PV mounting system

The United States-based Eastwood Energy offers a mounting system for PV modules on flat roofs. Sun-Link allows to choose from four tilt angles 5, 10, 15 or 20 to maximize energy production. Compatible with all major solar modules, Sun-Link can be adapted to virtually fit any module. Sun-Links unique twin-spar architecture enhances the module strength and yet is light in weight. It is strong enough to be self-ballasting while flexible enough to conform to uneven roof surfaces. Designed and manufactured to ISO 9001-2000 standards, Sun-Link is offered with a 15-year warranty.

Sun-Link features several anchoring and ballasting options for handling extreme conditions. It provides for air circulation to keep the modules cool and efficient. Comprising few and lightweight components Sun-Link can be quickly and easily installed. No pre-assembly or special tools are required.

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



Grid-tied inverter

Solectria Corp., the United States, offers a 13.2 kW photovoltaic inverter (PVI) for grid-connected commercial 3-phase PV systems. The UL1741-certified PVI features a completely integrated design and sets a new industry standard for efficiency, ease of installation and reliability. It includes both DC disconnect and a fused AC disconnect, AC contractor for zero watt standby loss, optional built-in 7-fuse PV combiner, premium efficiency transformer and filter, and a state-of-the-art DSP-controlled, trench-gate IGBT inverter core.

The fully assembled and tested PVI is delivered as a single unit, with nothing to connect, assemble, wire or mount other than PV leads and AC connection to the facilitys AC circuit panel. Designed for indoor or outdoor installations, the PVI can be utilized for other renewable and distributed generation applications. Precision DSP-controlled Maximum Power Tracking Algorithm provides maximum daily energy.

Contact: Solectria Corp., 9, Forbes Road, Woburn, MA 01801, United States of America. Tel: +1 (781) 9329 009; Fax: +1 (781) 9329 219



New lighting system integrates solar cells and LEDs

Sharp Corp., Japan, has launched two new solar products. The first is an Illuminating Solar Panel, which combines long-life, energy-efficient, high-intensity light emitting diodes (LEDs) with thin-film, see-through solar cells into a single module. The other is a solar street light incorporating solar cells with high-intensity LED lights, eliminating the need for underground or overhead wiring. The 35 W output LN-H1W thin-film solar unit with integrated LEDs features:
  • Consolidated power generation, daylight transmission and illumination functions in a single module;
  • Crystalline thin-film tandem cells with a conversion efficiency that is 1.5 times higher than the previous models; and
  • Long-life, high-intensity LEDs, which are free from mercury.
    Main features of the cost-effective 34.3 W LN-L1A7S solar-powered street light are:
  • Slim, attractive stainless steel body with secondary battery and control circuitry built into the interior of the pole; and
  • Eliminates the need for wiring installation work.

Contact: Sharp Corp., Public Relations Division, Tokyo, Japan. Tel: +81 (3) 3260 1870.


Solar energy powers mobile gadgets

In the United States, International Nanotechnology Corp. (INC) has made progress towards developing a solar-powered solution to operate cell phones and laptop computers. Earlier, the company announced that it had signed a letter of intent with the Terra Solar Development Corp. (TSDC), a leading developer of PV and nanocell technology, to acquire substantially all of TSDCs nanotechnology assets from one of its subsidiary and to license certain PV assets as well. Solar-powered laptop and cell phone chargers are the initial products resulting from the planned merger. INCs products are reported to be the first to use PV nanofilms, a combination of PV films and nanotechnology, which can also work indoors in most lighting situations.


High-efficiency solar module

In Japan, Kyocera Corp. will begin commercial-scale production of its new multicrystalline solar module, which has an energy conversion efficiency of 15.7 per cent. With a peak output of 189.17 W, the high-efficiency cell is the result of a fully integrated production system that incorporates several breakthroughs, which include an improved silicon wafer quality, a new cell electrode structure design and high-quality contact electrode forming technology. Through technological developments in the casting procedure, impurities in multicrystalline silicon have been successfully reduced and the quality of silicon wafers raised. Development of thin-wire, thick-film electrodes in cell processing has increased the light-sensitive surface area of cells while at the same time lowering resistance through the use of three bus bars in place of the customary two.

Contact: Kyocera Headquarters, No. 6, Takeda Tobadono-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Japan 612 8501. Tel: +81 (75) 6043 500; Fax: +81 (75) 6043 501




Photosynthesis drives solar cell

In the United States, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Tennessee and Naval Research Laboratory have combined biology and electronics in solar cells that use photosynthetic spinach leaf molecules or photosynthetic bacteria to convert light into electricity. When exposed to sunlight, the photosynthetic component yields electricity, which is harnessed by electrical contacts.

The internal quantum efficiency of the teams first-generation prototypes is 12 per cent. The prototype comprises a self-assembled layer of the photosynthetic molecules blended with surfactant peptides, covered with an organic semiconducting protective coating and sandwiched between metal contacts. This technique has the potential to exceed 20 per cent power conversion efficiency. Moreover, the process can even be used to fabricate solar devices on plastic or other thin, flexible surfaces using inexpensive spray-on methods. Eventually, the technique could be employed to make large area photovoltaic cells and ultra-fast photodetectors. The team is presently striving to improve the devices efficiency and lifetime.


Hybrid vehicle incorporates solar technology

A student at Oxford Engineering College, India, has designed and developed a three-in-one solar-fuel cell-electric vehicle (SFEV). The miniature model comprises a solar panel (12 V) mounted on top of the car, a pair of fuel cells and a plug pin for electric power. According to Mr. N. Senthil Kannan, the hybrid prototype can be powered by either solar, fuel cell or electrical energy or even a combination of the three.

Electrical energy provided by the solar panel is supplied to the motor and transmission systems. In the absence of sunlight, fuel cells take over. The fuel cells produce chemical energy through an electrochemical reaction that involves hydrogen and oxygen, and this chemical energy is converted into electricity. In case the fuel cells run out of hydrogen, electricity from a domestic circuit can be utilized to charge a battery through the plug pin to drive the automobile. Apart from being eco-friendly, the SFEV reduces maintenance costs. The patent-pending technology is scheduled to undergo endurance tests to assess the life of both the solar and fuel cells.


Pure water obtained using solar energy

SolarGen Solutions Ltd., the United Kingdom, is offering a highly efficient water purification system. Powered by two solar panels, the system provides over 400 l/d of potable water from rivers, puddles, streams and lakes. It eliminates pathogens like E. coli, Salmonella and other agents responsible for spreading diseases like cholera. The filtration process includes a sediment filter, a carbon block filter and disinfection through ultraviolet light.

The filtration cartridges are easy to remove, clean and reuse. The ultraviolet bulbs have a life expectancy surpassing 12 months. The system provides 9 l/min of drinking water from unprocessed water entering the unit. The system includes two PV panels, each measuring 1 m2, which provide 178 V to charge a built-in battery for storing energy to operate the purifier continuously for 8 h.

Contact: Mr. Ken Bird, SolarGen Solutions Ltd., Unit 41, Court Road, Industrial Estate, Cwmbran NP44 3AS, the United Kingdom. Tel/Fax: +44 (1633) 868 112/865 003


Advances Wales, Issue 44, 2004


Pilot project for rooftop wind turbine

Renewable Devices Ltd. (RDL), the United Kingdom, has installed five rooftop turbines at primary schools in Fife under a pilot scheme. The revolutionary Swift turbines can be set up on roofs in urban or rural areas to directly power the building. The turbine was developed by RDL with funds provided by the Executives SMART and SPUR award schemes. The pilot project is a joint initiative funded by the Executive through the Scottish Community and Household Renewables Initiative, Fife Council, RDL and ScottishPower. RDL plans to get into large-scale production within 12 months. Each turbine can produce up to 4,000 kWh/y of green electricity, saving up to 1,720 kg of carbon dioxide emissions.


Advanced airfoils

Generally, a key performance criterion for airfoils in wind turbine rotors is that they must have a maximum lift coefficient relatively insensitive to roughness effects. In case of stall-controlled rotors, another requirement is that the peak lift coefficient be restrained towards the blade tip. From a cost and structural viewpoint, thick airfoils are preferred. A team at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the United States, has developed five types of airfoils that are insensitive to roughness effects. They address the needs of both variable pitch and stall-regulated rotors. These include:
  • A family of airfoils with 18 per cent tip thickness ratio and a tip maximum lift coefficient of 1.0, designed for wind turbines with a rotor diameter of 20-30 m incorporating rotating tips for over-speed control;
  • Airfoils with a 16 per cent tip thickness ratio and a tip maximum lift coefficient of 1.2 for 20-30 m diameter turbines;
  • Airfoils designed for 30-40 m diameter rotors that would represent a 500 kW class wind turbine;
  • Airfoils for 10-20 m rotor diameter turbines; and
  • A family specifically designed for small turbines of 3-10 m diameter.

Contact: Technology Transfer Team, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 1617, Cole Blvd., Mailstop 1635, Golden, CO 80401, United States of America. Tel: +1 (303) 2753 028; Fax: +1 (303) 2753 040



Low-cost mountings for offshore turbines

Ocean Energy, the United Kingdom, has exploited the experience of an associate company to develop economical and practical mountings for offshore wind turbines. These include bottom-mounted structures that can be installed in depths of up to 45 m and buoys that can be set up at depths of up to 200 m (and above). Both systems are based on a modular approach that facilitates valuable cost savings for reproducible production.

The bottom-mounted structures incorporate gravity piled, suction piled or pinned foundations to suit a range of different seabed conditions. The floating buoy can support a full-size wind turbine 75 m tall, and is able to carry blades up to 50 m in length. Groups of these floating turbines can be mounted further offshore than existing farms, thereby reducing the pressure on coastal sites and take advantage of strong and consistent wind streams. Furthermore, these installations can be removed or replaced where necessary.

Contact: Mr. David Bone, Managing Director, Ocean Energy and Resource Ltd., Ocean Resource House, 27A Welsh Street, Chepstow, Monmouthshire NP16 5LN, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1291) 634 100; Fax: +44 (1291) 634 106



Advances Wales, Issue 44, 2004

Gearless generator

A gearless synchronous generator, developed by Germanys Siemens Co. and installed at a Norwegian wind energy plant has achieved an efficiency rating of 98 per cent. The device uses permanent magnets to convert wind energy into electricity. This design eliminates losses due to friction and heat, and operates with only low winds or in brief gusts. The wind power plant, the worlds largest, yields a power output of 3 MW/y, adequate for its operator, the Swedish-Norwegian company ScanWind, to cater to the requirements of 3,000 Norwegian households.


Developments in multi-megawatt class turbines

Many manufacturers are going into series production of their turbines from 2 MW upwards, while others have set up prototypes of 3 MW or more and 5 MW windmills are no longer a barrier. Rodsand/Nystedt wind farm in Denmark, at present the largest offshore wind farm in the world at 165 MW, is scheduled for official handover shortly. It comprises 72 wind turbines of type AN Bonus 2.3 MW and a 3 MW plus X turbine, with a rotor diameter of over 100 m, is currently under development.

DeWind, the United Kingdom, is fabricating its D8 type 2 MW turbine in series production. Eight of these turbines have now been set up, with a further 11 scheduled for installation by this year-end. Spanish market leader Gamesa, through its subsidiary Gamesa Energia, has acquired the EBV Group together with its project pipeline. The company is offering its 2 MW product line with different rotor diameters; the G80, G83, G87 and G90 as their genuine developments since the split from Vestas. GE Wind Energy has the most powerful offshore system at present, with an output of 3.6 MW. The most recent model in the onshore programme is the 2X Class, the first prototype of which is to be built next year. The modular designs have a rated output of 2.3 MW (94 m rotor diameter), 2.5 MW (88 m rotor) or 2.7 MW (a strong wind system with 84 m rotor diameter designed for IEC wind category I).

NEG Micon A/S has set up a 4.2 MW prototype with a rotor diameter of 110 m. The nacelle and rotor weigh 215 t. NM4.2/110 is designed exclusively for offshore use. In the 2 MW class, NEG offers the NM 92/2750 with an output of 2.75 MW. Nordex AG is now in a restructuring process and intends to be in the black again by 2004/2005. Development of a 3-5 MW system is proceeding. The N80/2 MW type has been installed at 87 locations and the latest N90/2.3 MW at three sites. REpower will be constructing the prototype of its 5 MW system 5M on a 120 m high tubular steel tower. The system is designed to generate 20 million kWh/y of power at a good offshore location. By the year-end, REpower will have constructed five of its 2 MW turbines MM 70 and 15 of the MM82, with series production commencing next year.


Turbine for households

Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, the United States, has teamed up with weapons scientists from Russia to design a small-scale wind turbine that can be used to power individual homes. This project is an initiative of the Department of Energy aimed at assisting scientists and engineers involved with designing and building weapons to find peaceful and alternative uses for their technology and expertise. It has come up with a prototype that looks nothing like the traditional 100 ft windmill-style system. The new turbine has vertical fibreglass blades that rotate around a mast, like an egg-beater. The first prototype has a mast about 30 ft high, with 12 ft long blades and a rotor diameter of about 10 ft. This design can be either scaled up or down, and a rooftop version does not require a tall mast. More prototypes are being constructed at the main helicopter factory in Russia and will be in Berkeley soon for testing.

The self-starting turbine, a feature that poses hurdles for other vertical counterparts, is relatively quiet, easy to maintain and much safer for birds than conventional designs. Scientists are now working on pairing the turbine with other technologies e.g. an efficient ice maker that can be employed by deep-sea fishermen to keep their catch fresh, or in remote villages to keep food from spoiling. The turbine may also provide power for a water purification system originally designed to make drinking water in submarines. Hydrogen fuel cell technology developed for the Russian space programme may be used for a wind-powered hydrogen storage system.


Multi-axis technology

Mass Megawatts Inc., the United Kingdom, is nearing construction of its wind turbine based on the new Multi-Axis Turbosystem (MAT) technology in the United States. This system needs fewer materials and is less expensive than traditional systems. MAT utilizes a series of blades as its moving parts instead of the propeller-type turbines and integrates a wind technology-based soft start control unit. The steel preparation, including machining and welding, has been completed. The technology allows production of electricity at less than US$0.025/kW in high wind areas. Furthermore, the MAT design allows for a fully functional energy source at comparatively lower wind speed locations.



Hydrogen and methane from kitchen wastes

Energy Technology Research Institute (ETRI), Japan, has established a high-efficiency methane/hydrogen fermentation semi-pilot plant to degrade kitchen refuse, paper, etc. (by employing anaerobic microbes) to recover methane and hydrogen. Nishihara Environment Technology Company Ltd., Kajima Corp., Ebara Corp. and Japan Bioindustry Association are also involved in this project. R&D work was undertaken by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEITDO) and another independent administrative organization.

The semi-pilot facility comprises two-stage processing solubilization-hydrogen fermentation and methane fermentation which is characterized by reduction of overall processing time from 25 to 15 days. Additionally, energy recovery percentage is raised from 40-46 per cent to 55 per cent, and high-speed and high-efficiency decomposition of organic waste to hydrogen and methane, compared with conventional methane fermentation. Element technologies for designing the semi-pilot plant carried out by ETRI-AIST and other collaborative organizations include the development of anaerobic solubilization process, hydrogen-methane fermentation process using recalcitrant organic wastes, improvement of methane fermentation and its bioengineering, and cluster hydrothermal process. Through these efforts, essential element technologies like analysis and control of methane fermentation microflora, solubilization and hydrogen-methane fermentation have been established.


Rotten bananas fuel power station

In Australia, a team of researchers has devised an electrical generator that operates using decomposing bananas as the fuel. Plans are afoot to build a full-scale fruit-fired power station capable of supplying energy to 500 homes. Waste bananas are allowed to decompose in sealed vats and methane released during this process is utilized in an electricity turbine. Efforts are on to assess the cost-effectiveness since the technologys application is limited. About 60 kg of bananas are required to power a household device, e.g. fan heater, for 30 hours.


Cellulose ethanol

Iogen Corp., Canada, has developed and patented a technique to obtain ethanol from cellulose. The new EcoEthanol procedure utilizes enzyme hydrolysis to convert the cellulose part in agricultural residues into sugars, which are fermented and distilled into ethanol fuel using conventional distillation technology. While cellulose ethanol and conventional grain-derived ethanol are the same final products, the production technologies vary. Cellulose ethanol is an advanced fuel with a unique combination of attributes like:
  • Low life cycle greenhouse gas emissions;
  • High level of sustainability;
  • Made from the non-food portion of renewable feedstocks like cereal straws and corn stover; and
  • Has the potential to have a large-scale, worldwide impact.

Contact: Iogen Corp., Marketing and Communications, 8, Colonnade Rd., Ottawa, Ontario K2E 7M6, Canada. Tel: +1 (613) 7339 830; Fax: +1 (613) 7330 781



Hydrogen from groundnut shells

In the United States, an Agricultural Research Service researcher has joined hands with the inventor of a patent-pending process to convert agricultural biomass into hydrogen fuel and charcoal fertilizer. Volatiles and steam released by charring biomass produce hydrogen. Charring turns biomass into charcoal pieces, which become a nitrogen-enriched fertilizer with the addition of ammonia formed by combining a third of the hydrogen with nitrogen. The remaining hydrogen can be used as fuel, both for a hydrogen-based, clean diesel and to run fuel cells.

Contact: Mr. D. C. Reicosky, North Central Soil Conservation Research Lab, 803, Iowa Ave., Morris, MN 56267, United States of America. Tel/Fax: +1 (320) 5893 411/787.



Fuel cell waste used to raise output

Fuel cells extract energy from fuel chemically. Hydrocarbons like fossil fuels and plant matter are widely used as a fuel in fuel cells. However, they produce carbon monoxide (CO) as a waste product, which gets in the way of the fuel cell reaction. CO is generally separated through water-gas shift reaction, a relatively slow process requiring temperatures of at least 227C, which requires a fuel cell to incorporate heating and cooling equipment and a supply of water. A breakthrough achieved by a research team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the United States, enables CO to be used to produce more energy in a reaction that occurs at room temperature. This technique could eventually be used in portable systems that use renewable fuel produced from plant matter and even treat wastewater and contaminated gas streams.

A fuel cell produces energy when fuel flows into the negative electrode and air passes over the positive electrode. Oxygen reacts with water in the electrolyte to form hydroxide ions and the fuel reacts with these hydroxide ions to form water, thereby releasing two electrons for each hydrogen molecule. The team got the idea for a different kind of fuel cell when they observed that CO left over from this reaction could be combined with oxygen to release more electrons during a water-based reaction that employs membranes made from gold nanotubes 200 nm in diameter. Researchers added a chemical reactor stage to the fuel cell process. The reactor comprises a gold nanotube membrane, which is surrounded by water containing dissolved polyoxometalate (POM), a metal complex with a high affinity for electrons. The gold nanotubes convert CO and water into carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen ions and electrons. The POMs are positively charged and thus readily combine with negatively charged electrons. POMs are then pumped past the fuel cell anode together with the hydrogen molecules. The anode strips off electrons from the POMs and hydrogen. The POMs, restored to a positive charge, are returned to the chemical reactor to continue the CO processing cycle.


Patent for fuel cell products

Medis Technologies Ltd., the United States, has obtained a new patent for its proprietary fuel. Liquid Fuel Compositions for Electrochemical Fuel Cells is the third patent issued by the United States Patent Office relating to the composition of Medis fuel. Additional patents, which cover other aspects of the non-inflammable and non-toxic fuel and its use in Medis fuel cell, are still pending.

Basic components of Medis fuels are borohydrides, alkaline solutions combined with alcohols. These compounds are characterized by very high degrees of electrochemical activity, resulting in high levels of power density and energy capacity at a broad range of temperatures, even including room temperature. These are crucial features for working with portable power resources and offer better performance than feasible with methanol, which has its most efficient operating regime starting only from 70C and above. Borohydride inflammability is 250C compared with methanols 11C. In addition, as per the Material Safety Data Sheets data (hazard identification ratings), methanol toxicity is determined to be level/category 3 (high toxicity) while borohydride toxicity is graded as level/category 2 (average).

Contact: Mr. Robert K. Lifton, Chairman and CEO, Medis Technologies Ltd., United States of America. Tel: +1 (212) 9358 484.


Low-cost catalyst for fuel cells

Hitachi Maxell Limited, Japan, has developed a new type of electrode catalyst, which promises to reduce the overall costs of tiny fuel cells for portable devices by nearly 10 per cent. Fabricated using molybdenum oxide, which is 1/100th the cost of platinum, the catalyst promotes reactions at the electrodes where hydrogen ions are extracted from methanol and oxygen ions from air. Utilizing technologies developed for powdering magnetic materials for recording tapes, Hitachi processes molybdenum oxide into crystals that are only 1 nm across and spread them evenly on carbon granules that form the electrode. The company is presently working on a method of mass production and hopes to have the catalyst ready for practical applications by 2006-2008.


Powerful, yet small assembly

Researchers at the University of Houston are refining a new kind of power source that is small and yet so efficient that they could make traditional power plants obsolete while lowering the cost of electricity. The thin-film solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) uses concepts developed at the Universitys internationally recognized superconductivity and semiconductor research projects. These concepts have enabled the team to significantly lower operating temperatures, which is a drawback in other fuel cells. While a traditional fuel cell can take up an entire room, thin-film SOFCs are 1 m thick and two times more efficient. A system about the size of four sugar cubes can yield 80 W of power, sufficient to operate a laptop computer, and one the size of two soda cans can power an entire house. In fact, the new fuel cells could form the basis for a new distributed power system in which energy not utilized by the household can be fed back into the main grid. The fuel cell is expected to be ready for tests, at the Houston Advanced Research Centres Centre for Fuel Cell Research and Applications, within the next six months.


Clean power from sugar cane

Intelligent Energy Inc., the United States, reports to have successfully completed trials of its ethanol-based fuel cell system. The company has demonstrated that adequate energy can be generated for a rural home using equipment a little larger than a shoebox and fuel derived from sugar cane. Intelligent Energy is engaged in a partner programme in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, which focuses on providing rural and urban electricity solutions.

The completely integrated ethanol-in-electricity-out system has been described as at the cutting edge of technology by Dr. Eduardo Torres Serra of CEPEL, Brazils premier energy research lab. The ethanol-based fuel cell is one of a number of solutions for generating clean electricity using Intelligent Energys proprietary MesoChannel Fuel Processor and Fuel Cell System. These solutions transform various fuels into hydrogen, which can be used to produce electricity. Fuels that may be used include light and heavy hydrocarbons (from natural gas to diesel), renewable fuels (ethanol, soya diesel) and decarbonized fuels (ammonia). The process also uses direct hydrogen and hydrogen produced by wind, solar and other renewable energy sources, at scales from a few watts to a few hundred kilowatts, for a wide range of applications.

Contact: Mr. Judith Bradbury, Vice President, Marketing & Communications, Intelligent Energy Inc., United States of America. Tel: +1 (562) 9973 600.


MEMS pumps for fuel cells

Toshiba Corp., Japan, has developed a device based on micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) for fuel cells. The new system pumps fuel and air into a passive fuel cell stack for a portable phone recharger. The company hopes to eventually use MEMS pumps in hybrid passive/active fuel cells for cell phones and PDAs.

Contact: Toshiba Corp., 1-1, Shibaura 1-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105 8001, Japan. Tel: +81 (3) 3457 4511; Fax: +81 (3) 3456 1631/1632.


Breakthrough in fuel cell technology

PolyFuel, the United States, has developed a new family of membranes, one of the crucial component in a fuel cell, which demonstrate a set of performance traits never before simultaneously seen in hydrogen-based fuel cells. The new method uses hydrocarbon-based polymers that show improved operating traits over perfluorinated membranes, at a lower cost. For example, perfluorinated membranes typically require high moisture levels (humidification) for stable operation. Unlike most perfluorinated membranes, PolyFuels membranes operate stably at low relative humidity. Additionally, the hydrocarbon membranes can retain stability at an operating temperature of 95C, thereby reducing complexities and limitations of engine cooling system. Furthermore, the low-cost membranes yield 10-15 per cent more energy in real-time operating conditions than perfluorinated membranes.

Contact: PolyFuel, 1245, Terra Bella Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043, California, United States of America. Tel: +1 (650) 4294 700; Fax: +1 (650) 9300 219



High-performance catalyst for PEMFCs

In Japan, researchers at the Energy Technology Research Institute have designed a high-performance fuel electrode catalyst, which plays key roles in cost reduction and durability enhancement of reformed gas-based fuel cells. Fuel cells generate carbon monoxide (CO), which adversely affects platinum electrodes used in the fuel cell, thereby decreasing efficiency. Platinum-ruthenium (Pt-Ru) catalyst, though resistant to CO, is expensive and fails to protect the electrode when the concentration of CO exceeds 25 ppm.

The new catalyst is made of organic complexes called salen or mqph, which have simple molecular configurations. Organic metal complex is synthesized by combining these compounds with various metal salts such as nickel, iron or vanadium. The catalyst is prepared by mixing Pt precursor with an organic metal complex, incorporating the mixture over carbon particles and baking in inert gas. This yields an adequately stable catalyst. Moreover, it resists CO concentrations higher than 100 ppm. This achievement will eliminate the requirement for a fuel reformer to reduce CO levels.



Hydrogen from sunflower oil

Researchers at Leeds University, the United Kingdom, have developed a new method for obtaining hydrogen from sunflower oil. The experimental hydrogen generator requires only sunflower oil, air and water vapour together with two highly specialized catalysts one nickel-based and the other carbon-based that are alternatively used to store and then release oxygen or carbon dioxide while generating hydrogen intermittently. This technique also works with other types of vegetable oils.

The prototype fits on a standard lab bench. Sunflower oil and water are pumped into the system and passed through a pre-heater to vaporize them. Through a procedure known as steam reforming, the mixture is broken down in the presence of heat to generate carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen, carbon monoxide and methane.

Contact: University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (113) 2431 751; Fax: +44 (113) 2443 923.


Solar hydrogen fuel dream to be realized

Scientists in Australia predict that a revolutionary process to harness solar energy for extracting clean and almost unlimited energy from water will become a reality within seven years. Using special titanium oxide ceramics that harvest sunlight and split water to obtain hydrogen fuel, the team opines that it will then be simple to make an energy-gathering device without any moving parts and which does not release greenhouse gases or pollutants.

Prof. Chris Sorrell and Prof. Janusz Nowotny are together leading a solar hydrogen research programme at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Centre for Materials and Energy Conversion. This group is thought to be the most advanced in developing cheap, light-sensitive materials that would form the basis of the new technology. The UNSW team opted for titania ceramic photoelectrodes since they feature the right semiconducting properties and the highest resistance to corrosion.


Molecular assemblies convert water into hydrogen

In the United States, researchers at Virginia Tech have been designing catalysts to transform water into hydrogen gas. A major challenge is to use sunlight to bring together the multiple electrons required for fuel production reactions. Electrons are negatively charge particles that surround an atoms nucleus, allowing atoms to react and form bonds.

Previous efforts focused on collecting electrons utilizing light energy. Virginia Tech researchers have gone a step further and created molecular machines, which use light to bring electrons together (photo-initiated electron collection) and then deliver electrons to the fuel precursor, in this instance, to produce hydrogen. Supramolecular complexes convert light energy into a fuel that can be transported, stored and dispensed (e.g. hydrogen) in a process known as artificial photosynthesis. Light signals the molecular assemblies to collect electrons and make them available for delivery to substrates. However, so far, the compound has proved to be expensive and the next target is to make it catalytic and combine it with oxygen production. Lead researcher Ms. Karen Brewer stated that the team is working to build a supramolecular complex that will initiate collection and movement of electrons and bonding of atoms without being destroyed in the process. The present systems function catalytically but the efficiency has to be raised.

It is therefore concluded that mixed-metal supramolecular complexes are a promising structural motif for constructing a wide assortment of photochemical molecular devices. Triads of the form LA-BL-Rh(III)-BL-LA can be designed to possess low lying metal-to-metal charge transfer states and function as molecular devices for photo-initiated electron collection. Electrons collected in the system localize on the central Rh core, making them more easily available for delivery to substrates.

Contact: Ms. Karen J. Brewer, Dept. of Chemistry, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia 0212, United States of America.


Hydrogen purifier for natural gas-to-hydrogen fuel station

Babcock Hitachi KK (BHK), Japan, has installed a hydrogen purifier from QuestAir Technologies at its Oume Hydrogen Station, the worlds first mobile hydrogen fuelling facility that produces hydrogen from natural gas. This mobile station is the second Japanese fuelling station to install the H-3200, QuestAirs hydrogen purification technology. The trailer-mounted station comprises several sub-systems, including hydrogen generation, purification, compression and storage. Hydrogen is produced from natural gas by employing reforming technology from BHK. The H-3200 then purifies hydrogen, which is subsequently compressed and stored with equipment supplied by Nippon Sanso Corp. The overall system integration was completed by BHK.
QuestAirs H-3200 cleans hydrogen-containing gas streams to provide high-purity hydrogen for application in industrial processes, hydrogen fuelling stations and stationary fuel cell power plants. The systems optimized Pressure Swing Adsorption process and rotary valve technology deliver higher efficiency than conventional PSA systems in a cost-effective and compact package.


Water-powered engine exhibited

A water-powered engine has been demonstrated in the Philippines. The system is basically a hydrogen reactor powerful enough for use in automobiles. The portable hydrogen reactor operates using minimal voltage to separate enough hydrogen from water to power an automobile engine. The basic fuel cycle starts with water, which, when circulated through the reactor, is degraded into hydrogen and oxygen using a 12 V DC power supply. Hydrogen goes, directly into the combustion chamber of the engine. Oxygen, which is separated and expelled, recombines with hydrogen. Mr. Glenn Castillo, the inventor, demonstrated the reactor and a working engine fitted on a 4,500 cc Lexus SUV. The automobile runs on 80 per cent hydrogen and 20 per cent diesel.


Storing hydrogen

In the United States, researchers at New Jersey Institute of Technology and Brookhaven National Laboratory are investigating sodium aluminium hydride, also called sodium alanate, for storing hydrogen. Sodium alanate is one of a category of solid metal hydrides that can reversibly absorb hydrogen into their atomic structure. However, sodium alanate and other hydrides are rather heavy and can only store 5 per cent hydrogen by weight, and this makes them not so effective as storage mediums. Moreover, high temperatures are needed to force hydrogen into the solid lattice of the hydrides. Unlike cooling or pressurization, they do not pose a risk of explosion or freezing, and as such are viewed as a promising solution.

Researchers headed by Mr. Jason Graetz report that by doping sodium alanate with titanium, it is possible to ensure more effective absorption and release of hydrogen. Titanium appears to act as a catalyst for the process, however, its mechanism is unexpected. The team found that titanium resides on the surface of the hydride as titanium aluminide, a titanium aluminium compound, rather than entering the bulk material and replacing other atoms or occupying empty spots within the lattice. The next step is to study in detail the reactions between hydrogen, sodium alanate lattice and titanium aluminide.


Hydrogen from bread wastes

In Japan, researchers from Sapporo Breweries Limited, Shimadzu Corp. and Hiroshima University report to have obtained hydrogen from bread wastes in an efficient and reliable manner for the first time. The team utilized the original technology that makes it possible to store pertinent bacteria in a tank under stable conditions. The bacteria degrade organic matter and produce hydrogen as a by-product. This process could be integrated into a food waste-based methane production system, as the leftovers can be used.

According to the researchers, their technology enables more hydrogen and methane to be extracted from food wastes in a relatively short time. Moreover, hydrogen thus produced is free from sulphur and ideal for use in fuel cells. Even potatoes and sake lees can be used as the raw material in place of bread wastes. A small-scale hydrogen production system has operated continuously for six months and plans are afoot to test a larger system. The team plans to commercialize the system as early as 2006, and expects that it will be used at food factories to produce hydrogen and methane to power fuel cells and boilers on-site.


Hydrogen-fuelled engine released

The worlds first production-ready hydrogen-fuelled engine has been announced in the United States by Hydrogen Energy Centre (HEC). The HEC-F-C649 is a highly modified Ford 4.9 l engine, which produces 74 hp using commercially available hydrogen. Potential applications for the engine include generator sets, luggage tugs for airports, pumping stations, man-lift systems that must operate in closed buildings, forklifts and subterranean mining equipment.

HEC uses fuel injection rather than fumigation (akin to carburetion) to precisely control the combustion process. Fuel injection raises the engines efficiency and output power while decreasing emissions. If the engine is coupled with a generator, it can yield nearly 30 kW of electricity. HEC is also working on higher power versions of the same engine. Contact: Mr. Tom Daly, Hydrogen Engine Centre, United States of America. Tel: +1 (734) 5253 855





Technology makes most out of trash

In the United States, B&P Process Equipment and Systems is offering a new pyrolysis system capable of burning a good portion of municipal solid waste and converting the remains into a highly burnable coal-like fuel. This technology could help prolong the lifespan of landfills while providing a new energy source. The pyrolysis method burns all types of combustibles, which typically make up 80-90 per cent of waste streams. The remaining 10-20 per cent of non-combustibles, like glass, can go to recycling plants. The refuse derived fuel remaining is a rich burning char that facilitates efficient, low-pollutant combustion in modern coal-fired facilities. Refuse derived fuel, which does not convert into char, becomes gas vapours and are used to produce steam that runs the process.


Thermal cracking technology

GEM Canada Waste to Energy Inc., Canada, offers patented thermal cracking technology for vaporizing waste feedstocks within a second in a closed system. The process can be described as akin to putting a drop of water on to a hot surface to obtain two molecules of hydrogen and an oxygen molecule.

The GEM converters accept fine dry crumbs of waste material into an oxygen-free chamber and instantly the material is heat penetrated by heat radiating from very hot stainless steel walls (about 850C) where the waste thermally cracks into gas. This conversion from solid to gas occurs in parts of a second and the resultant syngas is cooled rapidly from 815C to less than 204C to prevent formation of dioxins and furans. The converters stainless steel inner vessel operates using the synthetic gas generated by the process and is energy self-sufficient. The gas produced exits the system through ducting and is fed into a gas filtration system. Residual mineral solids and other inerts produced as by-products of the conversion fall to the base of the converter and are removed under controlled conveyor conditions.

Test results have proved that the GEM process limits dioxin levels to about 1/10th of the European requirement.

Contact: Mr. Douglas Weltz, GEM Canada Waste to Energy Inc., 26, Laurel Avenue, Summit, New Jersey 07901 3437, Canada. Tel: +1 (908) 6080 491



Waste gasification

Planet Group, based in the United Kingdom, offers a gasification process to convert wastes into ash and gases, which can be oxidized in a secondary procedure to complete thermal treatment and also generate energy for recovery. BOS process is a combination of pyrolysis, gasification and oxidation. Unlike typical incineration procedures, the BOS primary process does not agitate the waste, and can be likened to a cigarette, standing on end, quietly smouldering, from the top, downwards. This occurs at relatively low temperatures of 450 to 550C. As such, production of airborne fly-ash is dramatically lowered and, as the gasification process assures 100 per cent treatment of wastes, the residue is a sterile, white ash with almost no carbon remaining.

After gasification, producer gases proceeds into a high-temperature secondary chamber, where they are mixed with oxygen, obtained from ambient air, and oxidized at 900-1,200C. With no pretreatment of wastes and virtually no moving parts, BOS is a major breakthrough with many benefits over other advanced thermal treatment units. A modular design facilitates treatment of waste volumes from 1 t/day to 60,000 t/year.

Contact: The Planet Group, Planet House, Albert Place, Lower Darwen, Lancs BB3 0QE, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1254) 660 330; Fax: +44 (1254) 674 316



Synthetic crude oil

BioPetrol Ltd., Israel, has developed an eco-friendly method to produce oil. The breakthrough process yields usable synthetic crude oil from sewage sludge, reducing the garbage to only 5 per cent of its original volume. Furthermore, ingredients in the biopetrol could be employed to manufacture petrochemicals.


Plastic waste yields hydrogen

Japans Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co. has developed technology to extract raw materials for petrochemical products from waste plastics. This stable method has a recovery rate of 60 per cent and works on the waste components of polyethylene and polypropylene. Gallium silicate is employed as a catalyst to break down plastic into hydrogen and BTX, which contains benzene, toluene and xylene. BTX, used as a raw material for drugs and plastics, has been in short supply due to soaring crude oil prices. A small recycling plant capable of processing 1 kg/h of plastic waste has been set up. 1 kg of plastic yields about 600 g of BTX and the plant can operate continuously for 100 h.



World Ethanol and Biofuels Report

The report features news, background analysis and statistics on fuel ethanol, biodiesel, industrial and beverage alcohol markets worldwide. It includes world and regional prices and trade statistics, regular ethanol and biodiesel production estimates and ethanol trade analysis as well as reporting on fermentation products like MSG, lysine, citric acid and yeast.

Contact: F.O. Licht, 80, Calverley Road, Tunbridge Wells TN1 2UN, England, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1892) 533 813; Fax: +44 (1892) 544 895



Ocean Energy: Potential to Become Mainstream Energy Source

This book outlines technologies and the status of industries in each sector tidal energy, wave energy, ocean thermal energy conversion and marine current energy together with a directory of manufacturers. Ocean energy has further development ahead of it before it becomes a mainstream energy source, but potential has been demonstrated. The position of each country where ocean energy has a base or is under trial has been described.

Contact: Ms. Laura Wood, Senior Manager, Research and Markets, Ireland. Tel: +353 (1) 4100 980


World in Transition: Towards Sustainable Energy Systems

This report underscores the urgent need to transform global energy systems so that the worlds population has access to energy based on renewable sources. The authors stress that such a reconfiguration of energy systems is both feasible and fundable if rapid and resolute action is taken during the next two decades. They have proposed a road map with specific milestones, making this an indispensable contribution to the scientific and policy debates of these critical issues and makes for essential reading for those engaged with them.

Contact: James and James (Science Publishers) Ltd., Earthscan, 8-12, Camden High Street, London NW1 0JH, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (20) 7387 8558; Fax: +44 (20) 7387 8998



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