VATIS Update Non-conventional Energy . Sep-Oct 2008

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New and Renewable Energy Sep-Oct 2008

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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China unleashes “clean revolution”

A recent report, brought out by the Climate Group, hails China as the world’s leading renewable energy producer, overtaking more developed economies in exploiting valuable economic opportunities, creating green-collar jobs and leading development of significant low-carbon technologies. The Climate Group is an independent institution, which works internationally with government as well as business leaders to advance climate change solutions and accelerate low-carbon economy.

The report, entitled “China’s Clean Revolution”, reveals that China’s transition to a low-carbon economy is well underway, led by supportive government policies that are not only driving innovation in low-carbon technologies but also diverting large amounts of investment into energy efficiency and renewable energy. China’s combination of cost advantages, a clear policy framework, a dynamic and entrepreneurial business environment, and abundant abatement opportunities is proving that developing nations have much to profit from investments in lowcarbon solutions to create greencollar jobs, economic growth as well as social benefits.

Despite its coal-dependent economy, says the report, the Chinese government and businesses have embarked on a clean revolution that has already made the country a global leader in the manufacturing of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology. China is also on the way to become the world’s leading exporter of wind turbines and compete aggressively in other low-carbon markets, including rechargeable batteries, solar water heaters and energy-efficient home appliances.


Asia’s biggest solar thermal plant to be set up in India

India’s Minister for New and Renewable Energy, Mr. Vilas Muttemwar, has said that Asia’s biggest solar thermal energy plant would be set up at Nagpur, India, where a special economic zone is being established to manufacture equipment and appliances related to wind, solar and biogas energy. The 10 MW thermal energy generation plant is to be set up by Acme Tele Power.

The Minister said that the government is implementing a scheme to give financial incentive to those youth who would promote solar thermal energy systems. He said that India is currently ranked at number four in wind energy followed by Germany, Spain and the United States. In the case of solar energy, India has a potential to generate 5,000 trillion megawatts and could supply solar energy to the entire world, Mr. Muttemwar claimed.


Republic of Korea to step up alternative energy research

The Republic of Korea plans to develop new and renewable energies (NRE) such as solar energy, wind power, and fuel and hydrogen cells as next-generation growth engines and export items. The Ministry of Knowledge Economy recently said that the government will increase its spending on research and development in NRE by 60 per cent from last year to about US$198 million. The amount is almost double the total that the country spent on developing NRE technologies for 13 years from 1988 to 2000. Combining the allocation of about US$46.7 million for NRE projects in the supplementary budget submitted to the country’s National Assembly, this year’s investment in the area will stand at some US$248.5 million.

The Ministry will make particular efforts to commercialize organic solar cells, develop floating offshore wind power systems, manufacture equipment for producing polysilicon for solar cells and develop low-speed direct-drive wind generators. These efforts to developing core technologies, components and equipment are aimed at securing advantageous positions in the future energies market. Further, the government will work on completing a road map for developing NRE technologies by the first half of next year. The road map will include a review of the global market environment, domestic and foreign technological levels, patent analyses and feasibility studies.


Malaysia, Indonesia to use palm oil surplus for biodiesel

Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed to use the surplus from their palm oil stockpiles to produce biodiesel as part of the mechanism to boost the palm oil price. Malaysia’s Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui and the Indonesian Agriculture Minister Dr. Anton Apriyantono said both countries would continue to do so until the edible oil achieves price equilibrium in the world market. The price of crude palm oil (CPO) fell to around US$871/t, the lowest in 15 months.

Describing the low price as worrying, Datuk Chin said Malaysia and each had 1.9 million tonnes of surplus, which would be used for the purpose. The amount was over and above the 6 million tonnes of palm oil, which both countries had agreed to set aside for biofuel production. The Minister hoped that the move could create a balance in the world palm oil market, resulting in a better price for the commodity.

Dr. Anton said the move was to control supply in the market and prevent the price from going further down. Both ministers assured, however, that the move would not result in the shortage of edible oil in the global market because it was being implemented at a time when there was a surplus in the supply.



Thai PTT and GM sign deal on biofuel research

Thailand’s top energy firm PTT has signed a deal with General Motors (GM) to collaborate on research into alternative fuels such as ethanol for cars. “The strategy will focus on alternative energy that is socially responsible, economic, environment friendly and with practical technology,” stated GM chief executive Mr. Richard Wagoner. “GM and PTT will cooperate to study possible markets as well as the infrastructure needed to realize benefits from increased use of alternative energy,” he added. The research will include finding ways to expand ethanol production from crops not used for food. The firms will also study hydrogen fuel, low-cost hybrid engines and other fuel-saving technologies in Thailand and the rest of Southeast Asia, Mr. Wagoner added.


Viet Nam looks into biofuel development

Viet Nam is planning to develop its great potential for renewable energy sources, a government official stated. Speaking at a recent symposium on biofuel development in Ha Noi, Mr. Nguyen Kim Son, the director of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agricultural and Rural Development, said that a possible energy crisis will push up oil prices, and Viet Nam would not be able to annually import more than 15-17 million tonnes.

Like many other countries, Viet Nam has begun to use wind power and solar energy, as well as biogas, but with low outputs and on a small scale. However, Viet Nam boasts huge potential for biofuel development as it has vast plantations of many plants suitable for biofuel such as sugar cane, cassava, jatropha and castor oil trees and seaweed. As part of a biofuel development project to be carried out until 2015, around 250,000 t of ethanol and vegetable oil would be produced by 2015 to meet 1 per cent of the annual petroleum demand of Viet Nam.


Philippines pushes renewable energy programme

The Philippine government is exploring and harnessing all possible alternative energy sources to reduce the country’s dependence on imported fossil fuel and to shift to the use of renewable energy amid the rise in oil prices and the ill effects of global climate change. Notably, the country now has a Biofuels Law that calls for the use of environmentfriendly blends of ethanol and biodiesel in petrol and diesel.

President Ms. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo is also enjoining congressional and community support to the proposed Renewable Energy Resources Act – an Act promoting the development, utilization and commercialization of renewable energy resources and for other purposes – to help move the country towards a high level of energy sufficiency.“Renewable energy is a big help in our Green Philippines programme,” the President said. The proposed legislation aims to achieve energy self-reliance through the exploration, development and utilization of renewable energy resources that include, but are not limited to, biomass, solar, wind, hydro, ocean and geothermal energy sources or hybrid systems.

President Ms. Arroyo has asked the influential Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (CAMPI) to support the new and renewable energy programme of the government. She specifically requested CAMPI to lobby in the Senate for the Renewable Energy bill which was passed last June by the House of Representatives. She also called on CAMPI to provide more hybrid models and more vehicles using liquefied petroleum gas, compressed natural gas or biofuel.



Wind power potential in India

The wind power potential in India is 45,000 MW, while the present production is 8,760 MW. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has decided the target for the 11th plan at 10,500 MW. It has initiated new “Generation-Based Initiative (GBI)” scheme for wind power generation. The objective of the scheme is to attract new and large independent power producers to the wind sector. The GBI would be paid only to grid interactive plants of 5 MW capacity or more. The rate of GBI will be Rs 0.50 per unit of electricity and will be paid for a period of 10 years.



Solar energy storage breakthrough

In the United States, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have reported a breakthrough in solar energy storage, inspired by photosynthesis and using a catalyst made up of cobalt metal. Prof. Daniel Nocera has developed a process that uses electricity generated from the sun or other renewable sources to split water into hydrogen and oxygen using abundant, non-toxic natural materials. The gases can then be stored and reintroduced into a fuel cell to produce electricity.

The key to this process hinges on a catalyst made up of cobalt metal and phosphate that is attached to an electrode placed in water. By running solar energy through the electrode, the catalyst produces oxygen. Another catalyst like platinum can make hydrogen from water. The work will now focus on integrating this technology into existing intermittent renewable energy systems.

The project is part of MIT’s Solar Revolution, an initiative with the goal of making large-scale deployment of solar energy a reality within a decade.


Low-cost solar cell technology

IBM and Tokyo Ohka Kogyo (TOK), Japan, are collaborating to establish low-cost methods for bringing the next generation of solar energy products to market – products that will be more affordable and easier to install than those currently available. Specifically, the companies have agreed to jointly develop processes, materials and equipment for the production of copper-indiumgallium- selenide (CIGS) solar cell modules. At present, the relatively high cost of electricity produced by solar cells compared with electricity from other energy sources is an inhibitor to widespread adoption of solar energy.

IBM research has developed new, non-vacuum, solution-based manufacturing processes for CIGS solar cells, and is targeting efficiencies around 15 per cent and higher. At present, thin-film product efficiencies are 6-12 per cent. Combining IBM’s technology with the proven coating technique and high-purity chemicals of TOK has the potential to bring the large-scale production of thin-film solar cells to market.

Thin-film CIGS solar cells can be 100 times thinner than silicon wafer cells, can be deposited on cheap glass substrates and thus, have correspondingly lower cost. Thinfilm solar cells also have the advantage in that they can be arranged on a flexible backing, suitable for the tops and sides of buildings, tinted windows and other surfaces. Solution processing allows printing on to rolled backing of a flexible module or a glass plate, eliminating many of the high-energy and equipmentintensive processes that are typical in conventional manufacturing of photovoltaics.


Flexible nanoantenna arrays to capture solar energy

In the United States, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) have developed a cheaper way to produce plastic sheets containing billions of nanoantennas that collect heat energy generated by the sun and other sources. The new technology is hailed as the first step towards a solar energy collector that could be mass-produced on flexible materials.

While methods to convert the energy into usable electricity still need to be developed, the sheets could one day be manufactured as lightweight “skins” to power everything from hybrid cars to iPods with higher efficiency than traditional solar cells. The nanoantennas could also be employed as cooling devices that draw waste heat from buildings or electronic equipment without using electricity. The research team was led by Mr. Steven Novack, an INL physicist.

The nanoantennas target mid-range infrared (IR) rays that the Earth radiatescontinuously as heat after absorbing solar energy during the day. In contrast, traditional solar cells can only use visible light, rendering them useless after dark. The nanoantennas are gold squares or spirals set in a specially treated form of polyethylene.

The researchers found that with the right materials, shape and size, nanoantennas could harvest up to 92 per cent of the energy at IR wavelengths. Real-life prototypes were then built using conventional production methods to etch a silicon wafer with the nanoantenna pattern. The nanoantennas absorbed more than 80 per cent of the energy over the intended wavelength range. A stamp-and-repeat process was then used to emboss the nanoantennas on thin sheets of plastic. Initial results suggest that it also captures energy at the IR wavelengths. The ability of nanoantennas’ to absorb IR radiation makes them promising cooling devices. As objects give off heat as IR rays, the nanoantennas can collect those rays and re-emit at harmless wavelengths. Such a system could cool down buildings and computers without the external power source required by fans and air-conditioners. However, further technological advances are needed before the nanoantennas can funnel the energy into usable electricity.


Best-yet dye-based solar cells

A research group has created a dyebased solar cell with high efficiency and high stability. The group of researchers, from China’s Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, developed the dye-based solar cell without employing volatile chemicals that are normally found in similar cells.

According to Mr. Peng Wang, the study’s corresponding scientist, the type of organic solar cell produced by the group contains three key parts. Two components are a semiconductor – such as silicon – and an electrolytic liquid – a conducting solution commonly formed by dissolving a salt in a solvent. The semiconductor and electrolyte work in tandem to split the closely bound electron-hole pairs, called excitons, produced when sunlight hits the cell. The third part is a photosensitive dye, the source of these chargecarrying excitons. A nanomaterial is also often used to hold the dye molecules in place like a scaffold.

The highest efficiency solar cell ever made is dye-sensitized, having an efficiency of 11 per cent, compared with 8.2 per cent achieved by the China-Switzerland team. However, the high-efficiency dye-sensitized cells contain volatile solvents in their electrolytes that can permeate across plastic, and also present problems for sealing the cells. Such cells are therefore unattractive for outdoor use due to potential environmental hazards.


Flexible CIGS with higher energy conversion efficiency

In Japan, researchers have developed a technique for dramatically improving the energy conversion efficiency of flexible photovoltaic (PV) cells that use copper-indiumgallium- selenide (CIGS). Using this technique, high-performance PV cells with a variety of flexible substrates– such as ceramics, metal foils and polymers – can be fabricated. The technique was developed by Mr. Shigeru Niki and Mr. Shogo Ishizuka from the Research Centre for Photovoltaics, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), in cooperation with Teijin Limited. The thickness of the photoelectric conversion layer in solar cells that use CIGS can be reduced to several microns. Owing to this feature, lightweight and flexible PV cells that can be installed on a curved surface and portable PV cells can be produced. So far, it has been difficult to develop high-performance flexible CIGS PV cells. The development of alkali-silicate glass thin layer technique– a new controlled alkaline addition technique and a new polymer substrate handling technology– have now dramatically improved the energy conversion efficiency of the flexible CIGS PV cells.

In the new technique, first a silicate glass layer is formed on the substrate. Then, by adjusting the film formation conditions of this silicate glass layer, the quantity of alkali metal that passes via the backside electrode layer and diffuses into the light absorbing layer is controlled. The method therefore increases the reproducibility of adding the alkali metal, significantly improving the conversion efficiency of PV cells. AIST has tested three substrates– ceramic, transparent plastic film and titanium foil with a coarse surface. The conversion efficiencies achieved were 17.7 per cent for the ceramic substrate, 14.7 per cent for the plastic film and 17.4 per cent for the titanium foil: some of the highest for a CIGS solar cell on a flexible metal substrate.

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New paradigm for solar cells

Wakonda Technologies Inc., the United States, is developing an inexpensive material that is claimed to enable the production of highperformance solar cells. Photovoltaic cells developed for satellites exceed 30 per cent efficiency – well above the efficiency of commercially available silicon and thin-film cells. However, these cells are very costly, as they are produced on expensive single-crystal wafers made Solar Energy CIGS cell with ceramic substrate from III-V compounds like gallium arsenide. Wakonda’s proprietary technology and process enable a low-cost, commercial material to simulate the costly single crystal IIIV wafer. The result is a new paradigm in solar cell manufacture that could translate into significant cost efficiencies for almost all photovoltaic market applications.

According to Mr. L. Marty Murphy at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the low manufacturing costs and high efficiencies of the approach “could be a step-change for the solar industry”. Wakonda has been developing its technology in conjunction with the Rochester Institute of Technology, the Cornell University and the NASA Glenn Research Centre. Contact: Wakonda Technologies Inc., 2A Gill Street Woburn, Massachusetts, United States of America. Tel: +1 (781) 460 2200; Fax: +1 (781) 460 2222; E-mail:


Organic dye lets window panes harvest the Sun

An exotic organic dye developed in the United States reportedly facilitates easier harvesting of sunlight before converting it into electricity. Coated onto an ordinary sheet of glass, the dye traps light inside the glass allowing it to be channelled to photovoltaic cells (PV) placed along the edges of the sheet. This technique could turn up to 20 per cent of incident light into electricity at a fraction of the cost of conventional PV cells.

The dye molecules, developed by a team headed by Mr. Marc Baldo, an electrical engineer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, absorb sunlight over a wide range of visible wavelengths and then emit light at a longer wavelength. About 80 per cent of the emitted light then becomes trapped within the glass by “total internal reflection”, which guides the light within the sheet in the same way it is guided through optical fibres. Solar cells along the edges of the glass that are designed to work most efficiently at the longer wavelength then convert this trapped light into electricity.

To reduce absorption, the team used dyes that absorb light only weakly. Furthermore, the team was able to increase the range of light absorbed by using two dyes in separate layers. While the upper layer absorbs shorter wavelength light, the lower layer absorbs longer wavelengths. According to the team, the dyes can absorb light across the visible spectrum and emit it at the longer frequencies needed for optimal conversion. The power conversion of the prototype would be about 6.8 per cent efficient, about the same as commercial silicon cells, team has calculated based on experiments. The technique can eventually provide an efficiency of more than 20 per cent, Mr. Baldo


Development of Cd-on-Si solar cells

In the United States, Sunovia Energy Technologies Inc. and EPIR Technologies Inc. have developed new solar cell materials that they believe will rival the performance of the most efficient existing multijunction solar cells, but at much lower cost. The firms aim to achieve this by combining cadmium telluride (CdTe) and silicon (Si) in a multijunction solar cell, which leverages the economies of scale and manufacturing infrastructure associated with the materials.

While solar cell materials such as CdTe had shown promise, the lack of suitable low-cost substrates on which to deposit high-quality singlecrystal thin films had, until now, relegated these very efficient materials to polycrystalline films having lowefficiency on heavy glass substrates. In contrast to the efficiency of about 16 per cent attained under the best conditions at different laboratories for amorphous or polycrystalline CdTe solar cells, calculations for single-crystal CdTe solar cells by EPIR give an efficiency of 24 per cent, using realistic assumptions and numbers characteristic of CdTe of typical crystal quality for material grown on silicon employing highthroughput molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) deposition methods developed by EPIR. The companies believe these new results show that EPIR’s CdTe/Si has the potential to displace high-cost technologies. The results also indicate that technologies based on EPIR’s MBE deposition technique could displace existing amorphous or polycrystalline CdTe cells and Si cells.



New vertical axis wind turbine

Tangarie Alternative Power of the United States has introduced the Greenpower Utility System (GUSTM) line of vertical axis wind turbines. The GUS wind turbines have design considerations that make them versatile and environmentally friendly.

These turbines produce up to 50 per cent more electricity on an annual basis than a prop-type turbine of equal swept area, generates electricity in winds as low as 1.5 m/s and continues to generate power in wind speeds up to 60 m/s. They can survive extreme weather such as frost, ice, sand and humidity.

GUS units require little to no maintenance and weigh less than comparable products. Key features of the GUS turbines are:

• Low cut-in speed of 1.5-2 m/s (varies with size of unit);
• Low maintenance (bearings tha do not require lubrication);
• Quite operation (produces virtually no noise);

• Aesthetically unobtrusive (blends itself with architecture);

• Do not collect and shed ice; and
• Optional colouring, logos or rotor shape may be set to customer specification.

Contact: Ms. Debe Besold, Tangarie, Alternative Power, P.O. Box 697, Flagtown, NJ 08821, United States of America. Tel: +1 (908) 3690 361; Fax: +1 (908) 3690 361; E-mail:


“Anti-noise” silences wind turbines

In wind turbines, one source of noise is the motion of the rotor blades, and another is the cogwheels that produce vibrations in the gearbox. These are relayed to the tower of the wind turbine, where they are emitted across a wide area. Damping systems cancel out this noise by creating counter vibrations. However, the effectiveness of passive damping systems used until now is somewhat limited; they only absorb noise at a certain frequency. Since modern wind energy converters adapt their rotational speed to the wind velocity to maximize the electricity generated, however, the frequency of the noise also varies. A research group led by Dr. Andre Illgen at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology (IWU), Dresden, Germany, has developed an alternative to the expensive active damping system used to eliminate the noise produced in wind turbines.

In cooperation with Schirmer GmbH and ESM Energie- und Schwingungstechnik Mitsch GmbH, the team developed an active damping system, which reacts autonomously to any change in frequency to dampen the noise – regardless of how fast the wind generator is turning, says Dr. Illgen. The key components of the system are piezo actuators that convert electricity into mechanical motion and produce “negative vibrations”, or a kind of anti-noise that precisely counters the vibrations of the wind turbine and cancels them out. These actuators, mounted on the gearbox bearings that connect the gearbox to the pylon, adjust to the noise frequencies with the help of sensors integrated into the system. They constantly measure the vibrations arising in the gearbox and pass on the results to the actuator control system.

The team has already developed a working model of the active vibration dampers and the next step will be to perform field trials. Contact: Dr. Andre Illgen, Fraunhofer-Institut für Werkzeugmaschinen und Umformtechnik, Nothnitzer Str. 44, 01187 Dresden, Germany. Tel: +49 (351) 4772 2332; Fax: +49 (351) 4776 2332.


Low-cost wind energy conversion system

Hawaii Consulting Group, the United States, has developed a low-cost wind energy conversion system that is reported to reduce electricity generation costs from US$0.06/kWh to US$0.034/kWh – well below most conventional wholesale electrical generation costs. HeliWind replaces the blades and tower of a conventional wind turbine with a lighterthan- air helical balloon and lowers the generator to the ground. The buoyant fluid can be hot air, helium, hydrogen or a combination of these gases.

Compared with conventional wind turbines, the major advantage of HeliWind is that a balloon is more economical than blades, a tower and caisson foundation. Another advantage is that it is easier to install, service and maintain a wind system with the generator (genset) on the ground rather than 150 ft in the air. Finally, the HeliWind is silent, and eliminates bird and bat kills. The WIND ENERGY A GUS vertical axis wind turbine main disadvantages are the fragile balloon envelope, intermittent energy supply and its ugliness.

Many HeliWind configurations will be developed to optimize energy production over a wide range of environmental conditions. Two balloon cross-sections are being tested – the sausage (easier to build) and the ribbon (easier to fly). A gimbaled support frame allows the balloon to rotate 360º into a downwind position and tilt into a stable position that aligns with the balloon’s lift and drag. Its free rotation delivers torque to a power unit (in most cases an electrical generator). Contact: Mr. Geoffrey Goeggel, Hawaii Consulting Group, 98-711 Iho Place #3- 903, Aiea, HI 96701 2500, United States of America. Tel: +1 (808) 46 91 523; Fax: +1 (808) 4868 522; Email:


Vertical axis Tesla wind turbine

Tesnic Inc., Canada, offers a wind turbine based on the principles of the Tesla turbine, extracting wind power through adhesion, in addition to the classic drag and lift extraction. This enables the Tesnic turbine to achieve very high efficiency, with the cost of electricity produced below the utility price.

The vertical axis wind turbine comprises a rotor assembly having more than 200 disks stacked one on top of each other with a 2 mm gap between them. The rotor also includes on the circumference of the stacked disks a plurality of twisted airfoil blades to redirect the air flow tangentially onto the disks surface. A stator assembly around the rotor boosts wind capture and neutralizes rotor turbulences.

The Tesnic turbine can operate with the same efficiency in turbulences,as the vanes disposition shields the rotor. The turbine is very lightweight (a 3.6 kW turbine weighs less than 150 kg) and can be mounted on rooftop. Contact: Tesnic Inc., 101 Ave. Lavoisier, Laval, Qubec, H7N 3J3, Canada. Tel: +1 (514) 8801 845; Email:


New high-wind power technology

In the United States, an aircraft designer named Mr. Bill Montagne has engineered a technology to produce a new type of high-wind generator. The technology developed by Mr. Montagne allows generators to produce more energy at less cost. In addition, this technology can generate electricity at high speeds. It is claimed that the technology will recover costs faster than most wind generators, and that it would cost
just about 25-33 per cent of the current commercial systems.

Mr. Montagne has developed a set of guidelines for his generator technology based on the limitations of existing technologies. The concept is a power generator that employs a specially designed propeller that quietly steals the natural energy of the wind. Using a formula for a wind turbine to make power that goes up with the square of the wind velocity, the Montagne technology is said to cut power costs to one-quarter of the cost in 40 mph blows than in 20 mph winds. However, the numbers are yet to be proven.


New wind systems

BroadStar Wind Systems in the United States offers new wind systems that are nearly 30 per cent smaller than conventional turbines. The AeroCam wind turbines feature breakthrough turbine technologythat easily adapts to changes in wind direction as well as extremes of wind speed. Thus, the AeroCam can easily handle highly turbulent environments that are problematic for conventional horizontal axis wind turbines. With capacities ranging from 10 kW to 500 kW, the new systems can operate at wind speeds from 4 mph to 80 mph.

The design is based on Darrieus turbine. However, while the Darrieus machines typically have vertical axis, the AeroCam design has horizontal axis with multiple blades, giving it the appearance of a water wheel. According to BroadStar, a major innovation in the design is the ability to automatically and interactively adjust the pitch of the aerodynamic blades as the turbine rotates, thereby optimizing its performance.

Key benefits of the new systems are:

• 20 per cent or more power than conventional fixed blade designs;
• Very wide operating range (~4- 80 mph);
• Can be deployed where conventional turbines cannot be; and
• Slow rotation speed.

The scalability and ease of installation enables these systems to be brought closer to the point of use. Because the turbine does not spin much faster than the wind speed, bird casualties are expected to be less than with traditional horizontal axis wind systems. Beta models of the turbine will begin deployment in November 2008, while
commercial installations for buildings are expected to commence in March 2009. Contact: BroadStar Wind Systems, 1323 North Stemmons, Dallas, Texas 75207, United States of America. Tel: +1 (214) 46 88 811; Fax: +1 (214) 4688 822; Email:



Increasing ethanol yield from grasses and yard waste

In the United States, University of Georgia researchers have developed a new technology that promises to dramatically increase the yield of ethanol from readily available nonfood crops such as Bermuda grass, switch grass, Napier grass or even yard waste. “Optimizing the breakdown of the plant fibres is critical to the production of liquid transportation fuel through fermentation,” says Prof. Joy Peterson, who developed the new technology with Ms. Sarah K. Brandon and Prof. Mark Eiteman.

The new technology features a fast, mild, acid-free pre-treatment process that increases by at least 10 times the amount of simple sugars released from inexpensive biomass for conversion to ethanol. The technology effectively eliminates the use of expensive and environmentally unsafe chemicals currently used to pre-treat biomass. The technology is available for licensing from the University of Georgia Research Foundation Inc., which has filed a patent application.


“Oil from algae” – climate-friendly fuel

Sapphire Energy, the United States, reports to have developed a liquid fuel from algae that is chemically identical to crude oil but does not contribute to climate change when it is burned or, unlike other biofuels, needs agricultural land to produce. The single-celled plants are used to produce a chemical mixture from which the company extracts fuel. When burned, the fuel releases into the air only the carbon dioxide absorbed by the algae for its growth, making the process carbon neutral.

Sapphire Energy recently reached its most significant milestone yet, refining high-octane petroleum from the green crude. “The resulting petroleum is completely compatible with current infrastructure, meaning absolutely no change to consumer’s cars,” said a Sapphire spokesperson. An added advantage is that this petroleum does not have contaminants such as sulphur, nitrogen and benzene that are contained in standard crude oil. The company believes the cost of its fuels will be comparable to standard fossil fuels on the market.

According to Sapphire, with algae there is no need to use valuable agricultural land to grow the basic resource. In fact, the process uses non-arable land and non-potable water and delivers 10-100 times more energy per acre than cropland biofuels. Where the company departs from other algae ventures is that its goal is not to produce standard biofuels such as ethanol or biodiesel. Instead, it takes its inspiration from the way crude oil was created in the first place, millions of years ago.


Glycerol converted to synthesis gas

In the United States, Florida Syngas LLC, has developed and patented a technology that converts waste glycerol produced during biodiesel production into a clean burning synthesis gas. According to Mr. John Sessa, Chief Operating Officer of Florida Syngas, the process involves creating plasma out of glycerol. The plasma is not combusted, but is put through a process of partial oxidation; a catalyst is then added.

Mr. Sessa says the process is exothermic and creates extra heat that is recovered and employed in subsequent processes. According to Mr. Lawrence Bell, Vice President, marketing, the synthesis gas can be integrated with a micro-turbine engine to create electricity. Mr. Albin Czernichowski, who holds a doctorate in plasma technology, created the process, which has been trademarked as GlidArc. According to a presentation by Florida Syngas, the process is estimated to be 90 per cent energy efficient.


Mutant yeast reduces need for corn in ethanol production

At the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), the United States, Prof. Mark Goebl, a yeast geneticist, is close to developing a mutant yeast that would reduce or eliminate the need to use corn in the production of ethanol. Production of biofuels from basic plant material, rather than corn and other crops, would address such concerns as making corn-based ethanol is pushing up food costs, says Prof. Goebl.

Prof. Goebl, whose work is part of the programmes at the Richard G. Lugar Centre for Renewable Energy, reports that the crux of the problem of employing basic plant material to make ethanol involves how yeast decides what it will eat. Yeast likes corn used to make ethanol. Corn kernels are ground well to produce starch, which is broken down into glucose. Yeast is then used to ferment glucose into ethanol. Unlike corn kernels, one-third of basic plant material consists of compounds that produce pine resins for which there are many uses. One-third is cellulose, which can be converted to glucose and used to make ethanol. But one-third is another kind of sugar, xylose, from which yeast turns away.

Prof. Goebl has developed strains of yeast that will use the xylose as well as glucose. This means nearly doubling the amount of ethanol one gets from the same volume of basic plant material. Another advantage of reducing or eliminating the need to use corn to make ethanol is that the rich agricultural land needed to grow corn is not needed to grow basic plant material.


Nanotech derives ethanol from garbage

In the United States, a method of making potentially cheap ethanol fuel out of garbage and other waste materials by deploying a combination of new and old technologies is under development by government and university scientists. The process employs nanotechnology and gasification to convert organic materials into synthesis gas (syngas), which in turn can then be made into ethanol.

“The great thing about using syngas to produce ethanol is that it expands the kinds of materials that can be converted into fuels,” says Dr. Victor Lin, Director of the Chemical and Biological Science Programme at the Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory. “You can use the waste product from the distilling process or any number of other sources of biomass, such as switch grass or wood pulp. Basically, any carbonbased material can be converted into syngas.”

Ames researchers, working with colleagues at Iowa State University, are employing gasification to make syngas. Carbon-based feedstocks are subjected to high temperature and pressure in oxygen-controlled atmosphere to get syngas, which is composed mainly of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, along with a smaller amount of carbon dioxide and methane. Although there have been several attempts to convert syngas into ethanol, most processes produced methane, aldehydes and a number of other undesirable products along with ethanol. The fault lay with the catalysts used. Dr. Lin and his colleagues replaced traditional catalysts with invisibly small nanoparticles of a metal alloy. “If we can increase the amount of surface area for the catalyst, we can increase the amount of ethanol produced,” Dr. Lin explains.


New catalyst for small-scale efficient biofuel production

Oxford Catalysts, a spin-off company of the Oxford University in the United Kingdom, has developed a new cobalt-based catalyst that can enable small-scale efficient biofuel production from agricultural waste.

Because it takes 1 t of agricultural waste to produce a barrel of biofuel, it makes environmental and economical sense to go for local conversion of waste. For such small-scale, locally distributed waste conversion, special micro-channel reactors are ideal. This kind of waste conversion relies on a process called the Fischer-Tropsch reaction. Microreactors allow efficient and precise temperature control, which is very crucial for optimizing this process, and also dissipate the heat generated by the reaction more efficiently than more conventional systems. The new catalyst improves the performance of micro-channel reactors. Oxford Catalysts is currently working with a developer to adopt the technology. Contact: Oxford Catalysts, 115e Milton Park, Oxford, OX14 4RZ, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1235) 841 700; Fax: +44 (1235) 841 701; E-mail: info@oxfordcata



Simple converter for energy from waves

At the University of Southampton, the United Kingdom, engineers are embarking on a programme of largescale laboratory experiments and mathematical studies to try to advance the development of a simple wave energy converter concept that promises wave-generated electricity at lower cost. The device, called the Anaconda, is a large distensible rubber tube that is closed at both ends and filled with water. It is designed to be anchored just below the sea-surface, with one end facing the oncoming waves.

A wave hitting the end squeezes it and causes a bulge wave to form inside the tube. A bulge wave is a wave of pressure produced when a fluid oscillates forwards and backwards inside a distensible tube. The bulge wave travels at a speed that is determined by the geometry and material properties of the tube. Inside the tube, the bulge waves are accompanied by a periodically reversing flow. One way of extracting power from the Anaconda is to use a pair of duck-bill valves to convert this into a rectified flow past a turbine between reservoirs of high and low pressure. Power thus produced is then transmitted to shore via an electric cable.

The Anaconda is the invention of Mr. Francis Farley (an experimental physicist) and Mr. Rod Rainey (of Atkins Oil and Gas). It is much lighter than other wave energy devices because it is made of rubber, and dispenses with the need for hydraulic rams, hinges and articulated joints. This reduces capital and maintenance costs and scope for breakdowns. The concept has only been proven at very small laboratory-scale, so questions about its potential performance need to be answered. The University of Southampton experiments will assess the Anaconda’s behaviour in regular, irregular and extreme waves, using tubes with diameters of 0.25 m and 0.5 m. When built on full scale, the Anaconda device would be 200 m long and 7 m in diameter, and deployed in water depths of between 40 and 100 m. Initial assessments indicate that the Anaconda would be rated at a power output of 1 MW and be able to generate power at a cost of US$0.12 per kWh or less. Although around twice as much as the cost of electricity generated from traditional coal-fired power stations, this compares very favourably with generation costs for other leading wave energy concepts.


Power and fresh water from ocean

CETO technology, from Carnegie Corporation Ltd. in Australia, delivers zero-emission power and fresh water from the energy of ocean’s waves. Unlike other wave energy systems currently under development around the world, the CETO wave power converter is claimed to be the first unit to be fully submerged and to produce high-pressure seawater from the power of waves. The units are permanently anchored to the sea floor, meaning that they are out of sight and are safe from the extreme forces that can be present during storms. They are self-tuning to tide, sea state and wave pattern, making them able to perform in a wide variety of wave heights and in any direction.

By delivering high pressure seawater ashore, the technology allows either zero-emission electricity to be produced (similar to hydroelectricity) or zero-emission freshwater (using standard reverse osmosis desalination technology). It also means that there is no need for undersea grids or high voltage transmission or costly marine-qualified plants.

Other advantages of CETO include:

•The units are designed to work in harmony with the waves rather than attempting to resist them. This means there is no need for massive steel and concrete structures to be built.
•The wave farms operate in water deeper than 15 m in areas where there are no breaking waves.

•CETO units attract marine life.
•It is the only wave energy technology that produces fresh water directly from seawater by magnifying the pressure variations in ocean waves.

•Contains no oils, lubricants, or offshore electrical components. It is built using components with a known sub-sea life of over 30 years.
•The ratio of electricity generation to fresh water production can be quickly varied from 100 to 0 per cent, allowing for rapid variations in power demand.
•CETO uses identical units each of which can be mass produced.

Contact: Carnegie Corp. Ltd., P.O.Box 1902, West Perth, WA 6872, Australia. Tel: +61 (8) 9486 4466; Fax: +61 (8) 9486 4266.



New cathode hope for cheaper fuel cells

A new cathode built by researchers from the Australian Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science at Monash University could pave the way for a much cheaper fuel cell. Cathode in conventional fuel cells contains expensive platinum nanoparticles. Prof. Maria Forsyth, who contributed to the development of the new cathode, says the amount of platinum needed for a passenger car would make up the major cost of a fuel cell. Besides, the nanoparticles can lose their effectiveness by clumping together or by being corrupted by carbon monoxide.

Prof. Forsyth’s team developed a new cathode using an electricity conducting polymer called poly(3,4- ethylenedioxythiophene) or PEDOT. The cathode material for a green car can be made more easily and will cost very less, while producing the same amount of electricity per unit area as the platinum cathode. Furthermore, the new cathode is much more stable than the platinum one and immune from being affected by carbon monoxide. The researchers are confident the cathode could be used in zinc air batteries, which are being developed for storing energy in cars. Patents are pending on the cathode.


Breakthrough for SOFC-based power systems

Two technologies developed under the United States Department of Energy’s Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) fuel cell programme have passed successful proof-of-concept tests by the Naval Undersea Warfare Centre Division. The tests mark a breakthrough for solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC)-based power systems and underline the potential of SOFC technology for other spin-off market applications as well. The proof-of-concept tests covered SOFC stacks from Delphi Corporation and a special blower from R&D Dynamics. The blower tested was successful in recycling high-temperature fuel exhaust flows back to the fuel reformer. The proofof- concept system met the Navy’s parameters for system size, power output and efficiency.

SECA fuel cells operate by separating and transferring oxygen across a solid electrolyte membrane, where it reacts with a fuel – such as synthesis gas from coal, natural gas or biofuels – to produce steam and carbon dioxide (CO2). Condensing the steam results in a pure stream of CO2 gas that can be readily captured for storage or ready use in a central location. This feature and the fact that fuel cell efficiency does not depend on high temperatures ensure near-zero emissions at equivalent or reduced cost of electricity compared with today’s power generation.



Fuel cell advance could lower cost

A superlattice electrolyte with far greater conductivity could significantly improve fuel cell efficiency while cutting down costs, as compared with current solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs). Researchers from Spain’s Universidad Complutense and Universidad Politecnica report that their superlattice electrolyte achieves almost 100 million times greater ionic conductivity than conventional fuel cell components. The
operating temperature required for SOFCs is more than 538°C, but the new superlattice electrolyte design offers not only greater permeability – for greater fuel cell efficiency – but also operate near room temperature, thereby eliminating the “warmup” delay usually associated with SOFCs.

Fuel cells based on the new superlattice electrolyte are being touted as much more efficient and cheap for use in automobiles. Ms. Maria Varela of the Materials Science and technology division of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the United States, which characterized the new superlattice electrolyte, says: “Our direct images show the crystal structure that accounts for the material’s conductivity. We can actually see the strained, yet ordered, interface structure and how it opens up much wider pathway for the ions.” The wide gaps that allow oxygen ions to pass without having to be handed from atom to atom accounts for the huge increase in ionic conductivity near room temperature. The new material uses alternating layers of zirconium oxide and titanium-strontium oxide, which have mismatched crystalline lattices that account for the membrane’s greater permeability for oxygen ions.


New high power fuel cell stack

Nissan, Japan, has developed a new fuel cell stack that doubles the power density of its previous technology. Using half the platinum of previous designs, the fuel cell also achieves a 35 per cent cost reduction in its production. Power in the stack has been raised from 90 kW to 130 kW – enough to power a large vehicle.

Stack size has been reduced using a more densely packed cell structure to permit more flexibility. The carbon separator has been replaced with a thin metal separator, which breaks down the hydrogen, oxygen and water necessary for a chemical reaction. A coating applied to the separator serves to improve conductivity and increase efficiency and durability throughout the life of the fuel cell stack. Nissan has also been able to reduce the amount of platinum used by half after using a higher durability electrode.


Fuel cell with zeolite proton exchange micro-membrane

Mr. Siu Ming Kwan and Mr. King Lun Yeung from the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology have developed an inorganic zeolite proton exchange micro-membrane and assembled it into a workable micro fuel cell. Mr. Yeung claims that this is the first time that a nanoporous zeolite membrane has been used as a proton exchange membrane for hydrogen fuel cells. The researchers discovered that the HZSM-5 micromembrane achieved performance on a par with a commercial membrane, Nafion 117. They believe their work shows remarkable progress in inorganic proton conducting membranes as sufficient proton conductivity is currently only achieved at significantly higher temperatures. The zeolite micro-membrane could offer greater avenues for designing more efficient micro fuel cells either based on hydrogen or liquid hydrocarbon fuels, predicts Mr. Yeung.


Energy-efficient cell

In Japan, the Energy and Environmental Systems Laboratories of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT) has developed a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) that is both highly energy-efficient and durable. By improving the cell structure and the way unspent gas fuel is recovered and reused, NTT has built a 1 kW class unit from a stack of 50 cells that generates power with an energy efficiency of 54 per cent and can operate for 1,000 h. A smaller 30-cells stack can operate with the same energy efficiency for 3,500 h.

Typical SOFCs with around 55 per cent efficiency last for only several hundred hours. Through connecting cells serially to boost durability, the system can operate for tens of thousands of hours, but with an energy efficiency of about 20-30 per cent. NTT used a lanthanum-nickel-iron oxide compound for air electrode to improve overall performance. This durable material permitted NTT to fashion the cells in large diameters of 12 cm, which is not possible with brittle zirconia material. A tube inserted inside the cell recovers fuel gas to further boost efficiency. If the amount of fuel used in power generation can be raised to about 80 per cent, it would lift the fuel cell’s energy efficiency well above 60 per cent. NTT will continue working to improve the cell.


Carbon electrode catalyst for fuel cells

In Japan, Nisshinbo Industries Inc. has worked with the Tokyo Institute of Technology to develop a technology that uses carbon instead of expensive platinum as the electrode catalyst for fuel cells. The commercialization of the new catalyst is expected to start in fiscal 2009 with a product for the electrodes of fuel cells for home use.

The carbon catalyst promises to remove the cost barrier, which along with the needed infrastructure for hydrogen filling stations is a major roadblock to the adoption of fuel cells for homes and cars. The new catalyst is made from nanospheres of carbon. For a fuel cell catalyst, 10 times more carbon is required than platinum; but even then, the cost is just one-tenth that of using platinum.


Hydrogen-powered fuel cell mopeds

Shanghai Pearl Hydrogen Power Resource Technology Co., China, has started exporting the nation’s first hydrogen-powered fuel cell mopeds. The fuel cell e-bikes have a hydrogen container under the seat that is used to generate electricity for powering the bike. The fuel cell moped can cover a distance of 70- 80 km on 50 g of hydrogen after taking 20 minutes for one charge, costing US$0.29. A normal leadacid e-bike usually rides 30 km and needs 4-6 h to charge the battery completely. The company has invested US$294,118 in developing the fuel cell e-bikes and has already applied 20 patents, including three registered on the overseas markets.



Scientists replicate photosynthesis step to split water

An international team of scientists led by Prof. Leone Spiccia of the Monash University, Australia, has used chemicals found in plants to replicate a key process in photosynthesis, thereby paving the way to a new approach that uses sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. This breakthrough could revolutionize the renewable energy industry by making hydrogen – the clean and green fuel of the future –
cheaper and easier to produce on a commercial scale.

The research team – which included scientists also from CSIRO of Australia and Princeton University, the United States – developed a system consisting of a coating that can be impregnated with a form of manganese, a chemical that is crucial to sustaining photosynthesis in plant life. Prof. Spiccia states, “A manganese cluster is central to a plant’s ability to use water, carbon dioxide and sunlight to make carbohydrates and oxygen. Human-made mimics of this cluster were developed by Prof. Charles Dismukes some time ago and we have taken it a step further, harnessing the ability of these molecules to convert water into its component elements, oxygen and

The breakthrough came when the researchers coated a proton conductor, called Nafion, onto an anode to form a polymer membrane, which is just a few micrometres thick and acts as a host for the manganese clusters. When the research team bound the catalyst, normally insoluble in water, within the pores of the Nafion membrane, it was stabilized against decomposition and water could reach the catalyst where it is oxidized on exposure to light. This process of oxidizing water generates protons and electrons, which can be converted into hydrogen gas. Contact: Dr. Leone Spiccia, School of Chemistry, Box 23, Victoria 3800, Monash University, Australia. Tel: +61 (3) 9905 4526; Fax: +61 (3) 99 05 4597; E-mail: Leone Spiccia@


Producing hydrogen from biofuels

In the United States, researchers at Ohio State University have found a way to convert ethanol and other biofuels into hydrogen very efficiently. A newly developed catalyst makes hydrogen from ethanol with 90 per cent yield, using inexpensive ingredients and at a workable temperature. Dr. Umit Ozkan, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, said that the new catalyst is less expensive than others being developed around the world because it does not contain any precious metals, such as platinum or rhodium. Further, the catalyst is easier to make and use compared with others currently under investigation worldwide: catalysts made from precious metals often work only at very high temperatures.

Prof. Ozkan states, “Our research lends itself to what is called a distributed production strategy. Instead of making hydrogen from biofuel at a centralized facility and transporting it to gas stations, we could use our catalyst inside reactors that are actually located at gas stations. So we would not have to transport or store the hydrogen – we could store the biofuel and make hydrogen on the spot.” The new catalyst, a dark grey powder, is made from tiny granules of cerium oxide – a common ingredient in ceramics – and calcium, covered with even smaller cobalt particles. It produces hydrohydrogen with 90 per cent efficiency at around 350ºC – a low temperature by industrial standards.

The process begins with a liquid biofuel such as ethanol, which is heated and pumped into a reactor, where the catalyst spurs a series of chemical reactions that ultimately convert the liquid to a hydrogenrich gas. A major challenge that the researchers faced was how to prevent coking, the formation of carbon fragments on catalyst surface. The combination of metals – cerium and calcium – solved that problem by promoting the movement of oxygen ions inside the catalyst. When exposed to enough oxygen, the carbon gets oxidized and is converted into carbon dioxide. At the end of the process, waste gases removed and the hydrogen gas is purified. To make the technology more energyefficient, heat exchangers capture waste heat and put it back into the reactor. Methane recovered in the process can be used to supply part of the energy.


Bacterial process for hydrogen from food waste

In the United Kingdom, scientists have combined the efforts of two kinds of bacteria to produce hydrogen in a bioreactor, with the product from one providing food for the other. This technology has a bonus – leftover enzymes can help scavenge precious metals from spent automotive catalysts to make fuel cells that convert hydrogen into energy.

“There are special and yet prevalent circumstances under which microorganisms have no better way of gaining energy than to release hydrogen into their environment,” says Dr. Mark Redwood from the University of Birmingham. “Microbes suchas heterotrophs, cyanobacteria, microalgae and purple bacteria all produce biohydrogen in different ways,” he adds. When there is no oxygen, fermentative bacteria use carbohydrates such as sugar to produce hydrogen and acids. Others like purple bacteria use light to produce energy (photosynthesis) and make hydrogen to help them break down molecules such as acids. As the purple bacteria can use the acids produced by the fermentation bacteria, the two reactions fit together.

Prof. Lynne Macaskie’s Functional Bionanomaterials Unit at the University has created two bioreactors that provide the ideal conditions for these two types of bacteria to produce hydrogen. With a more advanced pre-treatment, bio-hydrogen can even be produced from the waste from food crop cultivation, such as corn stalks and husks. The University has teamed up with Modern Waste Ltd. and EKB Technology Ltd. to form Biowaste2energy Ltd., which will develop and commercialize this waste-to-energy technology.


Hydrogen generation without the carbon footprint

A greener, less expensive method to produce hydrogen for fuel may eventually be possible with the help of water, solar energy and nanotube diodes that use the entire spectrum of the Sun’s energy, according to researchers at Penn State University, the United States. The process developed by Prof. Craig A. Grimes and his team splits water into its two components – hydrogen and oxygen – and collects the products separately using commonly available titanium and copper.

Splitting water for hydrogen production is an old and proven method, but in its conventional form it needs electricity. Although photolysis of water or solar splitting of water has also been explored, it is not yet a commercial method. Prof. Grimes and his team produce hydrogen from solar energy, using two different groups of nanotubes in a photoelectrochemical diode. The team reports that using incident sunlight, such photocorrosion-stable diodes generate a photocurrent of approximately 0.25 mA/cm2, at 0.30 per cent photoconversion efficiency.

In Prof. Grimes’ photoelectrochemical diode, one side is a nanotube array of electron donor (n-type material), titanium dioxide, and the other is a nanotube array that has holes that accept electrons (p-type material), cuprous oxide-titanium dioxide mixture. While titanium dioxide is very absorbing in the ultraviolet (UV) part of the solar spectrum, many ptype materials are unstable in sunlight and are damaged by UV light. To solve this problem, the research team made the titanium dioxide side of the diode transparent to visible light by adding iron, and exposed this side of the diode to sunlight. The titanium dioxide nanotubes soak up the UV light in the 300-400 nm range. The light then passes to the copper-titanium side of the diode where visible light from 400 nm to 885 nm is used, covering the light spectrum.


New process to lower hydrogen costs

Global Hydrogen Inc., the United States, has introduced a new lowvoltage, low-temperature and highefficiency DC voltage electrolysis generator for producing hydrogen inexpensively. This system, which employs proprietary electrode and electrolyte solution, produces 1 kg of hydrogen per 41.2 kWh with approximately 90 per cent efficiency. Comparable systems produce the same amount of hydrogen utilizing around 53.4 kWh.

The industry goal is to produce hydrogen for less than US$3/kg, or about US$0.06/kWh. Currently, the most efficient systems in use are producing hydrogen at US$3.20/kg. Global Hydrogen’s system produces hydrogen at US$2.47/kg, and does it efficiently on any power grid, including residential power grids.


Bacteria as a fuel of the future

Scientists at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom have shown how bacteria could be used as a future fuel. Using mathematical computer models, the Sheffield team has mapped the metabolism of the cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) known as Nostoc. Nostoc fixes nitrogen and, in doing so, releases hydrogen that can be used as fuel. It was not entirely clear as to how Nostoc produces the energy needed to perform nitrogen fixing, an energy-intensive process. Now a new computer system has been used to map out how this happens.

Dr. Guido Sanguinetti, from the Department of Computer Science, who led the study, says that the research uncovered a link between the energy machinery of the Nostoc bacterium and its core nitrogen metabolism. Further investigation of this pathway might lead to understanding and improvement of the hydrogen production mechanism of the bacterium. The next step will be further investigation into hydrogen production, as well as constructing more mathematical models capable of integrating various sources of biological data.



Renewable Energy Engineering and Technology: A Knowledge Compendium

This book covers major renewable energy resources and technologies for various applications. Conceived as a standard reference tool for students, experts and policy makers, this handbook has been designed to address the needs of these diverse groups. Besides covering the basics of scientific and engineering principles of thermal engineering, heat and mass transfer, fluid dynamics and renewable energy resource assessments, the book further deals with the basics of applied technologies and design practices for renewable energy resources.

Production and Technology of Biodiesel: Seeding a Change

The book is based on the work that TERI has been doing in the field of biodiesel production from Jatropha. It covers the entire value chain involved in the production of biodiesel, right from the nursery stage for the saplings to the production of biodiesel for use in diesel-powered engines. The user will get valuable information pertaining to the production of biodiesel, a process that requires inputs from various disciplines. It will be a very handy book for biotechnologists, productions engineers, entrepreneurs, policy makers and other professionals interested in biofuels.

For the above publications, contact: TERI Press, Darbari Seth Block, IHC Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi 110 003, India. Tel: +91 (11) 2468 2100/2111; Fax: +91 (11) 2468 2144/2145

E-mail: teripress@

Renewable Energy: Sustainable Energy Concepts for the Future

This publication, written by well-known scientists in the area who discuss the topic soberly and without ideology, provides a contemporary overview on this key topic of the 21st century. The book is full-colour printed with catchy and informative diagrams and information boxes. It offers a sound overview of possibilities of environmental friendly techniques, energy conversion, storage and transportation.

Contact: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, P.O. Box 10 11 61, 69451 Weinheim, Germany. Tel. +49 (6201) 6060; Fax: +49 (6201) 606328



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