VATIS Update Non-conventional Energy . Sep-Oct 2010

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New and Renewable Energy Sep-Oct 2010

ISSN: 0971-5630

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

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

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ADB plans US$1 billion investment in Asian renewables

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) plans to invest another US$1 billion in renewable energy projects and private equity funds devoted to clean technologies. The Bank has been a strong backer of clean energy in recent years, investing over US$10 billion in the sector. This latest investment comes after ADB said it would deploy US$1 billion of capital for renewables in the Philippines.

ADB had announced earlier that it would invest US$2 billion per year to provide support for countries that need access to more energy. With ADB’s help, a good chunk of that energy will come from renewable resources. Developing countries in Asia are representative of the unique energy challenge. Countries such as China, India and the Philippines are hungry for more energy. While these countries do support clean energy, they are also consuming massive amounts of fossil energies. Although many of these nations see it as their right to grow like developed countries before them, some are more vulnerable to the impact of climate change, which potentially hinders their ability to grow. According to ADB, the key is to help these countries realize their aspirations in the cleanest and most sustainable way possible.

Jet biofuel to take flight from 2012 in Thailand

Biofuel for jets would be developed to meet demand from 2012, when European aviation regulations calling for green airplane fuel take effect, according to the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency (DEDE), Thailand. The average annual jet fuel demand in the country is about 4 billion litres. To meet the demand for biofuel to mix in with jet fuel, the country will need to expand the area of oil palm plantations, or turn to other fuel crops, such as algae or sweet sorghum. So far, the output of crude palm oil for biodiesel production is balanced and adequate for the government policy of replacing B3 (a mix of 3 per cent biofuel and high-speed diesel) with the higher biofuel content B5 (5 per cent biofuel mix) in January 2011.

Dr. Twarath Sutabutr, the Deputy Director-General of DEDE said that at present there are two organizations spearheading fuel crop development – DEDE and PTT Group. While DEDE has provided financial support to universities for research into making biofuel from algae and sweet sorghum, PTT conducts its own R&D on aviation biofuel.

Winds of prospect

The Government of India initiated wind energy projects in the 1980s through demonstration projects in a few states – Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. These projects demonstrated the capability of wind-generated electricity as a pollution-free energy source that could also be grid connected and distributed. Accelerated depreciation, custom duty exemption and other fiscal incentives offered by the Government of India since the establishment of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has resulted in significant developments pushing India to the forefront of wind power exploitation. At present, the installed capacity of wind energy projects – wind electric generators (WEG) – has placed India in the fifth position worldwide. However, the present installed capacity of about 12 GW spread over 8 states is essentially only about 25 per cent of the 48 GW projection of Centre for Wind Energy Technology.

With the new initiatives of MNRE – like Generation-Based Incentive (GBI), Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) and Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) – and the 11th Five-Year plan target of reaching about 5,000 MW/y capacity addition by 2015, wind power development in India is likely to get a boost in the years to come. The projection of 48 GW assumes 1 per cent availability of land with wind power density of 200 W/m2 at a hub height of 50 m. The wind power potential in the country could be as high as 100 GW on land, according to Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). With such enormous potential and matured technology, wind projects also have equitable resources distribution in about 10 states in peninsular India. The major challenges would be: wind forecasting, development of roads and logistic needs, grid capacity enhancements, and declaration of forest areas for wind power development. Contact: Mr. S. Gomathinayagam, Executive Director, Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET), Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

Finland to fund renewable energy programme

Viet Nam, together with Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, will benefit from the Energy and Environment Partnership Programme for the Mekong Region (EEP Mekong) programme funded by Finland. A memorandum of understanding under the EEP Mekong framework was signed on 17 August 2010 between the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry & Trade and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland (MFA) in Hanoi, Viet Nam.

EEP Mekong – implemented in the 2009-2012 period with a budget of 7.9 million euros – was funded by MFA and North European Development Fund. The programme aims at supporting wider provision and use of renewable energy and combating climate change in the four countries. Through this programme, access to renewable energy in rural areas – especially for the rural poor, ethnic minorities and women – will be increased and projects to invest in efficient energy will be developed. The programme’s activities include funding for projects, studies, capacity development and sharing of information related to these issues.

Renewable energy tariff proposed in Malaysia

In a presentation in July 2010, Mr. Ahmad Hadri Haris, the Chief Technical Advisor to Malaysia’s Minister of Energy, announced the proposed feed-in tariffs (FiT) for solar photovoltaics (PV), biomass, biogas and mini-hydro. Implementation of FiT has progressed at a steady pace in Malaysia. It is expected that the programme would be passed into law and launched by the second quarter of 2011, following a debate in the Parliament on the Renewable Energy Act and the Act for a Feed-in Tariff Implementing Agency. The latter legislation will establish the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) that will manage the FiT programme.

The new detailed tariffs announced by Mr. Haris did not include tariffs for wind or geothermal, two technologies that previously appeared in the proposed programme, which includes some aspects unique to the country. For example, a majority of the project equity must not be owned by an electric utility or a foreign entity. Malaysia’s proposal also seems designed to avoid several of the problems encountered with solar PV in Spain, including annual technology caps, and project registration. The proposal limits the programme to 219 MW in 2011, increasing to nearly 1,000 MW in 2015. The bulk of the new generating capacity to be installed under the programme is set aside for biomass and mini-hydro..

Indonesia establishes renewable energy Directorate-General

The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry of Indonesia has established a new Directorate-General for managing renewable energy and energy conservation. Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Mr. Darwin Zahedy Saleh appointed Mr. Luluk Sumiarso as the first Director-General for renewable energy and energy conservation. Mr. Sumiarso would have to immediately formulate a road map for new and renewable energy development as well as for energy conservation. Mr. Sumiarso previously advised the Minister on technology and human resources issues, and had held positions such as Director-General for oil and gas and as Director-General for electricity and energy utilization.

To reduce fossil fuel consumption, the Indonesian government has since 2008 mandated fuel retailers to mix biofuel in their products. At present, the country produces bioethanol and biodiesel. Subsidized premium petrol contains at least 1 per cent of bioethanol, while subsidized diesel contains at least 5 per cent of biodiesel. Indonesia is the largest producer of crude palm oil – the source of most biofuels – with production estimated to hit 21.5 million tonnes this year. The Ministry’s Directorate-General for oil and gas revealed that the country produced 4.1 million kilolitres of biodiesel per year and 120,000 kilolitres of bioethanol per year. The Ministry estimates biofuel consumption to reach 777,075 kilolitres this year and increase to 982,000 kilolitres in 2011.

India to add 100 MW solar power capacity

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), India, has signed power purchase agreements of up to 100 MW to speed up solar power capacity addition in the country. Mr. Farooq Abdullah, Minister of New and Renewable Energy, stated that MNRE had received around 300 applications from various companies for the construction of solar projects. Further, MNRE has sought expressions of interest from companies to construct solar capacity of 700 MW. “We have also approved yet another 25 MW for off-grid power,” said Mr. Deepak Gupta, Secretary, MNRE.

Off-grid power would help supply power to villages, border areas and other remote places that are not connected to the solar grid. The government’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission has recommended the implementation of an installed capacity of 20,000 MW by the end of the 13th Five-Year Plan, in 2022. This will be implemented in three stages: the first stage would involve setting up 1,100 MW of grid solar power and 200 MW capacity of off-grid solar applications utilizing both solar thermal and photovoltaic technologies, by March 2013. In addition, MNRE stated that 12,000 MW of wind power capacity is in the pipeline and it plans to scale this up to 48,000 MW in another 15-20 years.

Alternative energy project reduces fossil fuel use

The switch to alternative sources of energy – such as wind, hydro and solar power – is a matter of selecting the correct alternative energy source available in a specific location. In Sri Lanka, a large percentage of the energy used comes from fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas. Having identified the importance of alternate power generation with regard to import substitution, increasing power generation, reducing dependency on non-renewable sources, and environment protection, the Board of Investment (BOI) of Sri Lanka is striving to attract investments for projects to generate alternative power.

BOI approved investment proposal of Powergen Lanka Ltd. to set up a 10 MW wind power plant. The agreement signed with Powergen Lanka is for a project to generate wind power and represents an investment of US$18.55 million. The venture is expected to commence operations by June 2011 and will utilize seven 1.7 MW wind turbines for power generation.

Green policies drive China’s wind energy and PV markets

In China, government policies designed to promote the adoption of green technologies are delivering the desired effect, with the country enjoying productivity in wind power capacity and photovoltaic (PV) installations that are powering the establishment of a new generation of global green energy suppliers, according to iSuppli Corp. Senior analyst Mr. Isaac Wand remarks, “Overall, the newly energized green initiatives [of the Chinese government] come in the wake of a pledge from Beijing, [having] announced in December 2009 at the Copenhagen World Climate Conference in Denmark, to cut China’s carbon emissions in 2020 by about 45 per cent from their 2005 levels. To achieve the target, China has indicated its willingness to reduce reliance on noxious coal sources while also bolstering its fledgling renewable energy industries in order to produce cleaner power.”

For the wind energy market, new wind capacity generated in the country amounted to 25,100 MW in 2009, more than double the 12,100 MW of power posted in 2008. iSuppli data show that China’s output last year accounted for nearly one-third of new wind capacity generated worldwide. At that time, continuous growth in the sector over the past five years propelled China to surpass Spain in 2009 to become the world’s third largest provider of wind power, from 10th position only three years ago.

A wall of support for the Chinese wind power market emanates from local sourcing regulations. Particularly, the state-run National Development and Reform Commission has ruled that domestic sourcing rates must comprise at least 70 per cent of wind power mills for facilities to gain construction approval. As a result of the policy, locally manufactured wind turbines now account for more than 76 per cent share of new orders, while also making up 62 per cent of the country’s total wind market. Together, the top Chinese players in 2009 – Sinovel Wind Co., Goldwind Science and Technology Co. and DEC – accounted for 55 per cent share of the market. More than US $900 million in new business related to the sector will be created each year over the following three years. In 2008, China produced approximately 2GW of PV cells. China is currently the world’s largest PV cell manufacturing country and leading global exporter. Five Chinese firms are among the world’s top 10 PV cell manufacturers – Suntech Power, JA Solar, Yingli Green Energy, Ningbo Solar Electric and China Sunergy.

Development of B10 diesel goes smoothly

Thailand is on track to start developing B10 (diesel with 10 per cent biofuel) to address the possibility of surging oil prices, according to Mr. Peerapol Sakarin, Director-General of the Energy Business Department. The Department is awaiting the results of a 100,000 km field test by Toyota on B10 diesel. B10 performed well in a previous pilot project and laboratory test, showing no adverse engine effects. “Although the present palm oil plantation area nationwide is sufficient for B5 [5 per cent biodiesel] production in 2011, we must prepare for boosting the methyl ester [biodiesel] content by expanding the plantation area,” said Mr. Sakarin.

Thailand introduced B2 biodiesel in 2009 and B5 early this year as a voluntary scheme among oil traders. High-speed (100 per cent) diesel has been phased out completely, replaced by B3 in June 2010. B3 in turn will be replaced by B5 in January 2011. Energy experts opine that another global oil price crisis may occur after 2012, once the world economy has fully recovered.


New efficiency record in CIGS solar cell

In Germany, researchers from the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW) report an efficiency record for thin-film copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) solar cells. The area of the world record cell is 0.5 cm2. The semiconducting CIGS layer and the contact layers have a total thickness of only four thousandths of a millimetre: that is, 50 times thinner than standard silicon cells. The research team produced a 20.3 per cent efficient cell, only a fraction less than the best multi-crystalline cells on the market.

CIGS cells have received increased attention in recent years because of their high efficiency. But scaling the technology outside of the lab has been difficult because of the complexity of manufacturing. Many companies have been bogged down in building new manufacturing lines and have burned through copious amounts of capital with little to show. The efficiency of the relatively low-priced CIGS thin-film solar modules will rise from about 11 per cent to 15 per cent in the next few years, ZSW researchers state. However, the question is: Will companies be able to finally capitalize on that efficiency gain, or will they continue to be bogged down by high capital needs and low product volumes?

Improved InGaN solar cell performance

In the United States, Texas Tech University scientists have developed an indium gallium nitride (InGaN) solar cell with characteristics ‘significantly higher’ than previously reported values (~35 per cent) for devices with similar indium content in the quantum wells (QWs). The researchers used a 12-period multi-quantum well (MQW) structure that consisted of InGaN/GaN (3 nm/16 nm) with the indium content of the well targeted at 35 per cent. Metal-organic chemical vapour deposition (MOCVD) was used to deposit the layers on sapphire coated with aluminium to provide a back-reflector. The wavelength of the electroluminescence from the structure was around 533 nm (green).

The device was tested under standard 1.5 air mass (AM) conditions, representing ‘normal’ solar light characteristics at the Earth’s surface at mid-latitudes. At an incident intensity of 100 mW/cm2, the characteristics were: open circuit voltage 1.8 V, closed circuit current density 2.56 mA/cm2 and maximum power 2.95 mW/cm2. This gives a fill factor of 64 per cent. The conversion power efficiency of 2.95 per cent falls short of the ~8 per cent theoretical maximum for the device’s frequency characteristics, but are claimed as being significantly higher than previously reported values for InGaN/GaN MQWs solar cells with similar indium content in the QWs. The improvement is attributed to improved InGaN material quality.

The researchers also studied the device performance under concentrated light conditions of up to 30 suns. The short circuit current density increased approximately linearly at 2.48 mA/cm2/sun. The conversion efficiency increased to 3.03 per cent under 30 suns illumination. The open circuit voltage increased by 8 per cent, falling short of the 11 per cent expected. This is attributed to a reduction in the fill factor with higher illumination intensity (57 per cent at 30 suns).

Self-cleaning solar panels

A dust layer of 4 g/m2 on a solar panel can decrease solar power conversion by 40 per cent, says Dr. Malay Mazumder, a research pro-fessor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Boston University, the United States. The solution is to coat solar cells with material that enables them to resist dirt particles on their own, aided by dust-repelling electrical charges. The electrodynamic transparent screen developed by Dr. Mazumder and his colleagues is made by depositing a transparent, electrically sensitive material – indium tin oxide (ITO) – on the glass or clear plastic sheet that covers the solar panels. When energized, the electrodes produce a travelling wave of electrostatic and dielectrophoretic forces that lift dust particles from the panel’s surface and transport them to the screen’s edges.

The researchers found that 90 per cent of deposited dust can be removed by the transparent screen in fewer than 60 s. This works in part because many solar panels are set at an angle – the raised dust would simply fall off. Whereas solar panels are generally placed in dry, open spaces, the researchers are hoping to make their technique and technology also work to keep raindrops and mud from sticking to solar panel surfaces. Future generations of such dust-proof solar panels are likely to have electrodes embedded in their glass surfaces. These electrodes would be powered by the solar cell itself and would operate using very little energy. Sensors would monitor dust levels on the panel surface and energize the surface when dust concentration reaches a critical level.

Tracking and cleaning solar energy plants

An innovation in sun tracking and cleaning from Gayatri Energy, India, may pave the way for reducing both the tracking cost of solar energy plants employing single-axis and dual-axis trackers and the maintenance cost related to cleaning. In solar panels, the economies of scale are dependent on the size of the plant. Solar panels and reflectors requiring sun tracking entail a huge number of electrical equipment and complex gearboxes. The system from Gayatri Energy helps reduce the number of electrical equipment drastically, while not compromising on accuracy, reliability and service life. The all-weather device allows a large number of panels spread across a vast area to be controlled from one point. When employed for single- or dual-axis tracking, the cost per megawatt will be at least half of the cheapest tracking system currently available in the world.

Globally, 25-35 per cent efficiency of solar panels is lost because of dirt accumulation on the panels. Manual or robot-assisted cleaning of panels and reflectors often results in the wastage of water. Gayatri Energy has developed a cleaning system that can be used with any type of reflector or panel. A 100 MW solar plant can be cleaned in 30 min. with this device using very little water. In cold countries, the device will help remove snow from the panels. Contact: Mr. Ashish Kumar Deb, Gayatri Energy, BD-95, Janakpuri, New Delhi 110 058, India. Tel: +91 (11) 6571 1096/6587 6415; E-mail:
Source: Direct communication

New solar cell that uses solar heat

A team of scientists at the Stanford University, the United States, have invented a new type of solar cell that converts both heat and light from the Sun into electricity, potentially giving a boost to the efficiency of solar energy harvesting devices. The cell combines a photovoltaic (PV) process that turns light into electricity with a thermionic energy converter (TEC) that converts heat into electricity: together, they beat the current record for solar energy efficiency and the theoretical efficiency limit of a cell of this design. TECs work by moving electrons from a hot cathode to a cooler anode. TECs require the cathode to be quite hot, which not easily achieved naturally.

The new device combines PV and TECs into a photon-enhanced thermionic emission (PETE) process. Like a TEC, PETE uses an anode and cathode, but the cathode is a semiconductor instead of a metal plate. In the PETE cell, light energy gets photons half way to their destination by exciting them to the surface of the cathode. Once there, they build more energy by absorbing incoming heat, which is distributed evenly along the cathode. As the electrons get more excited, they are pushed off the cathode to travel through vacuum towards the anode, creating a usable electric current.

By requiring the system’s electrons to use both kinds of energy to reach their final destination, researchers found that much less energy was wasted. The PETE process had an efficiency of 32 per cent with sun’s energy concentrated 100 times – well above the standard PV average of about 20 per cent. Concentrating the sunlight to 3,000 times its normal intensity, gave 47 per cent efficiency – well above the Shockley-Quiesser limit of 33.7 per cent for an ideal single-junction solar cell.

Large solar cell module based on organic solar cells

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS), Germany, have fabricated a large solar cell module (80 cm × 20 cm) based on organic solar cells. Organic solar cells are based on organic molecules evaporated under high vacuum conditions. Therefore, the molecules are deposited on a transparent conductive substrate, like glass, by physical vapour deposition. Director of Fraunhofer IPMS, Prof. Karl Leo, says: “The simple fabrication process and the use of reasonably priced materials enable a very cost-efficient production of organic solar cell modules.” The substrate is structured by laser, coated with the organic materials and a metal electrode, and encapsulated. No other step is required to complete the monolithic circuit. The solar cell module has four sub-modules based on 200 mm × 200 mm glass substrates. The modular approach ensures easy scalability for larger systems. The modules can be interconnected in series or parallel for optimum performance in different applications. Contact: Dr. Ines Schedwill, Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS), Maria-Reiche-Str. 2, 01109 Dresden, Germany. Tel: +49 (351) 8823 238; Fax: +49 (351) 8823 266; E-mail:; Website:


Wind turbines with permanent magnet generator

WindPower Innovations Inc. from the United States, has developed a permanent magnet direct drive wind turbine solution. “It is a smart technology that can sense variable load demands and automatically adjust power output. By eliminating gearbox maintenance and most importantly, failure, all of our nearly 100 permanent magnet solutions provide increased uptime with 75 per cent less upkeep and repair,” states the company’s Chief Technical Officer Mr. Ian Griffiths. The system produces a constant 60 Hz alternating current (AC) power over a wider band of operation than with traditional generators, which have only one or two power synchronization peaks that can produce the 60 Hz AC required by the grid.

Hybrid wind turbine system

Hybrid Turbines Inc. of the United States has introduced SmartGen™ hybrid wind turbine system. The patent-pending design burns natural gas or biofuel to spin wind turbine generators if the wind is not blowing. The SmartGen™ system enables wind turbines to generate power at their rated capacity 100 per cent of the time.

The design scales from 3 to 100 kW wind turbines. If a biofuel is used, then the SmartGen system is 100 per cent renewable energy-based (wind and/or biofuel). Even if natural gas is used in the system, the electricity generated is twice as environmentally clean as burning coal for energy. Contact: Hybrid Turbines Inc., Lafayette, Colorado 80026, United States of America. Tel: +1 (303) 6652 346; E-mail: contact@

Mobile wind turbine has widespread potential

A mobile, retractable-blade wind turbine equipped with solar panels is one of the newest inventions to emerge from Hawaii’s increasingly dynamic alternative energy sector. The Honolulu-based Natural Power Concepts designed the turbine and has licensed Oshkosh Defense, the United States, to develop a full-scale model. Mr. John Pitre initially designed the turbine with retractable blades for storm protection. Most large, utility-scale wind turbines cannot be placed in areas subject to severe storms. When wind speeds reach a pre-determined speed, the blades are pushed back to a closed position.

The wind turbine’s portability makes it suitable for disaster-relief or humanitarian missions. It has seven blades, in order to catch low wind speeds more effectively. The energy collected by the system is stored in a battery bank. Contact: Mr. Larry Lieberman, CEO, Natural Power Concepts, #1515 Ualakaa Place, Honolulu, HI 96822, Hawaii, United States of America. Fax: +1 (808) 941 2503; E-mail:

Electric generator for wind and water turbines

Clipper Windpower Technology Inc., the United States, has filed a patent application for electric generator for wind and water turbines. According to the application, the generator rotor is mounted to gearbox output pinions, thereby eliminating the need for couplings. The generator frame is located directly on the gearbox and is located to control the air gap. To facilitate removal of the generator, the tapers used have steep angles that exceed the friction coefficient of the materials used.

To provide adequate support over its length, the shaft uses dual tapers, each short and precisely located conical surface of which provides exact location on the near and far sides of the shaft. The length of the straight shaft between the dual locating tapers serves to support the generator during mounting and de-mounting. During installation, the tapers centre the rotor and bullet pins centre the frame (stator). When the system aligns the rotor and the stator, retainer elements function as labyrinth seals designed to prevent contamination of the generator’s interior.

Linear wind-powered electric generator

Singapore-based Nostrum Energy Pte. Ltd. has filed for patent on a linear wind-powered electric generator. The linear wind powered electric generator (LWPEG), which is particularly adapted for installation at sites with lower wind intensities. The LWPEG is based on a track-based wind power generator, incorporating aerodynamic designs that are adapted to reduce mechanical complexities presently encountered in this technology, while being cost-effective both in construction and in operation.

New 3 MW wind turbine

With the launch of its new V112-3.0, Denmark-based Vestas is reported to set a new standard for efficiency and performance, thereby lowering the unit cost of energy. Designed for low and medium wind-speed sites (and for high winds in its offshore version), the 3 MW turbine delivers high productivity owing to its large swept area, high rotor efficiency and an increased serviceability. Vestas claims that the V112 3 MW turbine is well proven, brand new and progressive. It can withstand virtually any climatic conditions, from tropic heat and humidity to arctic cold. The first V112-3.0 will be delivered to customers in the third quarter of 2011.

Innovative vane for wind turbines

Researchers at Huachang Polymer, a part of East China University of Science and Technology, have developed a production line that is able to annually produce 1,000 tonnes of special resins for manufacturing wind turbine vanes, based on their six-month efforts. The prototype products have been currently tested by one domestic and one overseas wind turbine maker. The development marks China’s possession of the key proprietary technologies to produce large wind turbine vanes using high performance epoxy vinyl ester resin, heading for developing the wind power products featured with high performance, multifunction, and environment friendliness. The innovative technology has brought down the cost of production to 60 per cent the cost of an imported product. The new product shows fine bonding and dynamic performance, with a reduced shrinkage rate.

Wind turbine prototype completed

Sauer Energy Inc. (SEI), the United States-based developer and producer of home and enterprise-scale vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) systems, reports to have completed the initial prototype of its wind turbine. With this iteration prototype, SEI has introduced its proprietary technical innovations for transforming wind energy into a cost-effective reality for homeowners and small to mid-size enterprises.

The new prototype enables SEI to begin testing and development to advance to pre-production samples and lead to commercial production. The product would incorporate advanced, state-of-the-art designs in the industry in a bid to offer a cost-effective, green energy solution that lowers the cost of energy bills and replaces the use of hydrocarbons. Validation of SEI’s VAWT concept is currently being carried out by third parties, such as M4 Engineering, to achieve the best path to an optimal commercial product.

The company has completed all engineering of the design development to the final tooling process for production and manufacture. The multi-patent design will allow the use of state-of-the-art materials, such as carbon fibre composites, to make it light-weight and durable over the long term. In designing this turbine, special care was taken to make it extremely easy to assemble with few tools. The most notable features are the air disruptors that cause a turbulent boundary layer to form, thereby reducing drag. Therefore, it creates more revolutions per minute. On the inside, each blade has air strakes that act like canals to capture, guide and channel the airflow. This design accelerates and directs the airflow through air jets and onto the next blade, further assisting the rotation of the blades. Contact: Mr. Dieter Sauer, President/CEO, Sauer Energy Inc., Newbury Park, California, United States of America. Tel: +1 (888) 8298 748; E-mail: info; Website:

Arctic wind turbines

Northern Power Systems, with its headquarters in the United States, manufactures Northwind 100 Arctic wind turbine. This turbine model is designed for icy and cold environments. The turbine is equipped with gearbox-laden drive train, along with heating elements and hydraulic fluid for smooth operation in the Arctic.

Northwind 100 Arctic wind turbine mounted on a tubular steel monopole tower is built for low maintenance. The hub height is 121 ft and the rotor diameter is 69 ft. The turbine has permanent magnet direct drive and blades coated with hydrophobic polymer. Northwind 100 incorporates variable-speed power regulation and has a maximum rotation speed of 59 RPM. It generates electric power up to 100 kW at a wind speed of 52 kmph. The cut-in speed is 12 kmph and cut-off speed of 90 kmph. The turbine can withstand wind speed of up to 200 kmph. Contact: Northern Power Systems, 29 Pitman Road, Barre, VT 05641, United States of America. Tel: +1 (802) 461 2955.


World’s largest tidal turbine

In the United Kingdom, Atlantis Resources Corporation has unveiled the AK1000, the largest and most powerful tidal power turbine ever built, at Invergordon in Scotland. The AK1000, despatching 1 MW of power at a water velocity of 2.65 m/s, is capable of generating enough electricity for over 1,000 homes. It is designed for harsh weather and rough, open ocean environments such as those found off the Scottish coast. The turbine is said to incorporate cutting-edge technology from suppliers across the globe. It has an 18 m rotor diameter, weighs 1,300 t and stands at a height of 22.5 m. The giant turbine is expected to be environmentally benign due to a low rotation speed while in operation and will deliver predictable, sustainable power to the local grid.

A tidal turbine swarm on the cards

A team of engineers from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the United States, want to capture the immense energy of the Gulf Stream with help from a series of turbines that could provide 21,000 times more energy than Niagara Falls, or a third of Florida’s total electricity needs. The turbines will travel through the ocean currents autonomously like schools of fish (either tethered to the sea floor or hitched to a moveable platform). Researchers involved in the project hope that sensors attached to the turbines will allow them to communicate with each other. A prototype turbine “swarm” is expected to be ready in about 18 months.

Technology for tidal power generation

Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC), the United States, reports that its ocean energy testing power plant installed at Cobscook Bay in Eastport Maine has generated grid-compatible electric power from tidal energy. Test results indicate that most of the times the output by the Turbine Generator Unit (TGU) met or exceeded the energy production limits for a range of current speeds. The company is planning to use the details obtained from its Beta Power System to reshape the design requirements of its proposed TidGen Power System’s commercial production and installation in Eastport during the last part of 2011. ORPC is planning to connect the power produced by the new system to the power grid to supply electric power for 50-75 houses in the vicinity.

The Beta Power System includes a number of technological innovations and advancements such as patented advanced design cross-flow turbines, and use of 100 per cent composite materials, a permanent magnet generator, a composite type of support frame and an electronic power system to tune the variable generator output to match the grid requirement. ORPC is planning to utilize its three-year joint venture with University of Maine, the United States, to create reliable standards for environmental monitoring of ocean energy systems and utilize a designed programme to monitor the marine environment near the location of the currently set Beta Power System.

Sea wave power plant

In Israel, SDE Ltd. has finalized the construction of the first large-scale sea wave power plant. In the past, the company had built eight sea wave power plant models. The last of these models has operated successfully for a period of two years, producing 40 kWh.

The new sea wave power plant is a better and improved version of the previous models. The fully automatic model can produce 60 kWh (with only one buoy) and only 10 per cent of the whole system is in the waters, minimizing the risk to the system in cases of storms and other natural disasters. The 60 kWh plant is an initial stage of a total construction plan of 50 MW on the breakwater of Jaffa Port. Jaffa’s breakwater is 1,000 m long and the construction of SDE’s sea wave power plant will provide cost-efficient renewable energy source to the port, as well as prevent the erosion of the breakwater by high waves. The electric utility of Israel is willing to purchase the electricity from sea waves.

Wave and tidal drive train test facility in construction

A 3 MW wave and tidal drive train technology development and testing facility, Nautilus, is now under construction at the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) in Blyth, the United Kingdom. Project Nautilus is the first of a number of site developments planned over the next two years, including the construction of a 100 m wind turbine blade test facility and a 12 MW drive train facility for the offshore wind industry. The wave and tidal drive train test facility will be based around the existing dry docks, de-risking the test phase while being able to re-create real-life conditions.

Generating energy from ocean waters

Scientists at University of Hawaii, the United States, report that the Leeward side of Hawaiian Islands may be ideal for ocean-based renewable energy plants that would use seawater from the oceans’ depths to drive massive heat engines and produce steady amounts of renewable energy. The Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) technology, involves placing a heat engine between warm water collected at the ocean’s surface and cold water pumped from the deep ocean. Heat flows from the warm reservoir to the cool one and the greater the temperature difference, the stronger the flow of heat that can be used to do useful work such as spinning a turbine and generating electricity.

OTEC technology, though over half a century old, has never taken off largely because of the relatively low cost of oil and other fossil fuels. However, in places where the ocean temperature differentials are the greatest, large OTEC facilities will be quite cost-competitive. Data from the National Oceanographic Data Centre of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveal that the warm-cold temperature differential is about 1ºC greater on the leeward (western) side of Hawaiian Islands than that on the windward (eastern) side. This small difference translates to 15 per cent more power for an OTEC plant, says Mr. Gerard Nihous from University of Hawaii.

Waterwheel-based turbine works at slow speeds

In the United Kingdom, Kingston University plans to test a hydroelectric turbine based on a traditional waterwheel that produces electricity even at very low water speeds. The device, developed by Hales Marine Energy, is designed to be a continuous source of renewable energy from rivers and tidal seas with minimal impact on the environment. The wheel is mounted on a vertical axis on its side and sits on the sea or river bed in a submersible tank that can be floated to the surface when required. It rotates at relatively low speeds of up to 50 rpm, creating less stress on moving parts and minimizing habitat disturbance.

“The large blade area on the drive side produces very high amounts of torque at low speed, in the range of 10-20 rpm,” stated the designer Mr. Paul Hales. When coupled with modern permanent magnet generators that can start producing electricity at rotations as low as 2 rpm, this turbine offers the possibility of tidal power generation worldwide. The unit being tested is 1 m in diameter and produces about 1 kW, but the design is scalable and 5 m turbines suitable for inshore deployment could generate around 20 kW.

Funds flow in for eco-energy inventor test

Mr. Graeme Mackie, at Oceanflow Energy, the United Kingdom, has received £560,000 funding from the Government of Scotland, a £50,000 grant from One North East and an undisclosed sum from Norwegian investors to test a device based on an ingenious way of harnessing tidal energy. Successful trials of a 1 kW unit – known as the Evopod – were conducted in 2008-2009, with support from One North East. The new investment will be used to stage the biggest trial of the technology in a 35 kW device at a coastal community off the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland. The device generates green electricity from free-flowing tidal streams and deep ocean currents. It draws on technology used in the offshore oil and gas and marine and wind turbine industries by adopting a mooring system that allows the free-floating device to harness the power of tidal streams in deep sea areas. A farm of Evopods covering a seabed footprint of 1 km2 would also result in annual carbon dioxide emission savings of 114,000 t.


Fuel cell technology may increase CCS plant efficiencies

A group of companies led by B9 Coal plans to build the United Kingdom’s first underground coal gasification (UCG) plant that uses alkaline fuel cells to convert hydrogen into electricity. A carbon capture and storage (CCS) plant would allow upwards of 90 per cent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced from coal to be captured while generating electricity with a 60 per cent efficiency rating and a cost as low as £0.04/kWh. This compares with the 37-44 per cent efficiency for typical coal-fired power stations, according to National Petroleum Council of the United States.

UCG works by injecting oxygen into the underground coal seam, igniting a combustion process that decomposes the coal into CO2, hydrogen and other gases. The process makes much larger amounts of coal accessible than mining and without the conventional environmental impact, potentially opening up an extra 17 billion tonnes of coal in the United Kingdom. Two of the companies involved in the project, AFC Energy and the Australian firm Linc Energy, completed the world’s first successful trial of fuel cells powered by hydrogen from UCG in June 2010 in Australia. The B9-led consortium is proposing a 500 MW project using the technology.

Biogas to produce power from fuel cells

FuelCell Energy, the United States, has announced two deals through which its electricity-producing fuel cells will be powered by biogas from chicken waste and sewage. The company sold two 300 kW units to the Eastern Municipal Water District for a wastewater facility in Riverside County, California. There, an anaerobic digester using micro-organisms and heat will break down biosolids into methane that will be piped into the fuel cells to make electricity. The process heat will supplement a gas boiler for the digester, making the overall system more efficient. The same technology will also generate 1.4 MW of power at a poultry ranch. An anaerobic digester will convert chicken waste into methane for use in the fuel cell and produce enough power for the entire egg farm.

The Eastern Municipal Water District has been using another fuel cell, which also helps the facility meet the state regulations on clean air and greenhouse gas. According to Board President Mr. Ron Sullivan, the facility is a new wastewater treatment plant under construction that has been designed to be environment-friendly and energy-efficient.

Fuel cell to produce clean power from by-product hydrogen

In Canada, Ballard Power Systems and K2 Pure Solutions have finalized an agreement for deploying a clean energy fuel cell generator to be sited at a bleach plant of K2 in Pittsburgh, the United States. Ballard’s CLEARgen™ fuel cell system will convert hydrogen gas into clean electricity that will partially offset power demand at the bleach plant.

The CLEARgen system will utilize by-product hydrogen that would be otherwise burned to generate heat. In supplementing its power requirements with the 163 kW fuel cell generator, K2 will displace approximately 220 t/y of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to removing almost 40 passenger cars from the road. The fuel cell system is scalable to customers’ requirements, from 163 kW to over 10 MW. It can offset power demand at industrial process plants and can be used in a clean energy storage solution for grid-scale renewable energy production. Contact: Mr. Guy McAree, Public Relations, Ballard Power Systems, Canada. Tel: +1 (604) 412 7919; E-mail:; Or, Mr. David Cynamon, Executive Chairman, K2 Pure Solutions L.P, Canada. Tel: +1 (647) 4360 009; E-mail:

Urea could enable PEM fuel cell commercialization

A team of researchers at Heriot-Watt University, the United Kingdom, is investigating whether urine could be used to create energy via new low-cost fuel cells. Dr. Shanwen Tao and his research partner Dr. Rong Lan have developed a prototype – the Carbamide Power System – and have now been awarded a £130,000 grant to develop it.

According to Heriot-Watt, the biggest obstacles to commercializing these proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells are cost and challenges involving the transportation and storage of the highly inflammable hydrogen or the toxic methanol. The new Carbamide Power System involves far cheaper membrane and catalysts and can be run on urea, a major component of human and animal urine. Carbamide Power Systems offers a non-toxic, low-cost and easily transportable, viable alternative to high-pressure hydrogen gas or the highly inflammable methanol currently used in fuel cells. As urea solution is increasingly being used in heavy goods vehicles to reduce nitrous oxide emissions, a global fuelling infrastructure already exists. As the process breaks the urea or urine into water, nitrogen and carbon dioxide, it could also be used to reprocess wastewater, with electricity as a by-product.

New UAV fuel cell tested

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has successfully integrated a hydrogen proton exchange membrane fuel cell system into a mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), doubling its flight time. IAI’s Aeropak PEM system is reported to have increased the endurance time of the Birdeye 650 LE unmanned aerial vehicle to 6 hours. The Aeropak PEM fuel cell, developed by Singapore’s Horizon Energy Systems, weighs about the same as the rechargeable batteries currently used. Thus the take-off weight of the UAV is kept at 20 kg, which includes the payload carried by it – a miniature Micro-POP or STAMP mini-payload weighing about 115 g.

Zinc air fuel cell technology

In the United States, Zinc Air Inc. (ZAI) offers a low-cost, environment-safe solution to power electric vehicles. The solution is based on the zinc air fuel cell invented by Mr. John Cooper, a retired chemist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). Zinc air fuel cells (ZAFCs) combine atmospheric oxygen from the air with zinc metal pellets as the fuel to generate electricity. In operation, the fuel cell consumes all of the zinc and is operationally quiet, providing instantaneous electrical energy with no greenhouse gas emissions. It also does not contain any of the toxic elements found in most other batteries. Zinc oxide, the by-product, is 100 per cent recyclable. Contact: Mr. Steve Wampler, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, United States of America. Tel: +1 (925) 4233 107; E-mail:; Or Mr. Greg Hayes, Zinc Air Inc., United States of America. Tel: +1 (916) 812-3122.

Improved fuel cells

In Japan, Toyota Motor Corp. and Aisin Seiki Co. Ltd. plan to provide 60 residential, solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) co-generation systems developed jointly by Osaka Gas Co., Kyocera Corp., Toyota and Aisin to a SOFC verification project of New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). The project’s 2009 test programme had confirmed the exceptional performance of SOFCs as energy-saving devices. The 2010 models have overcome the technological development issues identified by the earlier test programmes to achieve even greater energy savings and carbon dioxide (CO2) reductions. They feature higher load efficiency of the power-generating unit during low output (known as “partial load efficiency”) and greater hot water tank capacity for better use of waste heat. Ease-of-maintenance and durability have also been improved.

Insulation material surrounding the module has been increased to reduce radiant heat loss, while the temperature distribution within the module has been optimized. Thereby partial load efficiency has been improved, and generating efficiency when generating volume is below the set rating is higher than the 2009 model. The coating material on the metal current collector placed between the cells in the cell stack has been modified and the temperature distribution within the module has been optimized. Further, the amount of the desulphurizing agent added to the natural gas as an odorant has been increased, making the desulphurization unit maintenance-free for 10 years.

Fuel cell-powered bike

A hydrogen fuel cell-powered bicycle, named ‘Ahi fambeni’ – “let’s go” in the Tsonga language, has been designed by Mr. Pierre Terblanche, a South African motorcycle designer. The frame of the Ahi Fambeni was made from light and strong advanced materials by the students from Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), Pretoria. Ebikes – bicycles with electric motors – are already available in South Africa. What is special about the Ahi Fambeni is that its motor is not powered by a battery, but by a fuel cell developed by Hydrogen SA Systems. As space on the bike was limited, the company had to innovate the design of hydrogen storage unit to increase heat exchange efficiency. The new bicycle is meant to provide cheap powered transport for people living in rural areas. However, it is also a proof of concept for Hydrogen SA Systems’ metal hydride technology. The project is intended as only the initial step in a programme under which a hydrogen fuel cell-powered tricycle and, ultimately, a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car will follow.


Producing hydrogen by controlling lithium-water reaction

In Japan, Dr. Haoshen Zhou and Dr. Yonggang Wang from the Energy Interface Technology Group of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology’s Energy Technology Research Institute have developed the concept of a clean hydrogen production system based on controlled lithium-water electrochemical reactions and successfully studied the system. The concept of a device called lithium-water battery, which uses metallic lithium as the active material at a negative electrode and water as the active material at a positive electrode, is not new, but the use of hydrogen, a by-product of the battery, had not been investigated.

Dr. Zhou and Dr. Wang developed the concept of producing hydrogen and electricity by stably controlled reactions using metallic lithium as the negative electrode and carbon as the positive electrode, with a hybrid electrolyte (a combination of an organic electrolyte, a solid electrolyte and an aqueous electrolyte). The researchers succeeded in the substantiation of the concept with this system that allows as much clean hydrogen to be produced as and when needed, while generating electricity from electrical discharge through electrochemical reactions. The amount of hydrogen produced is currently about 230 µmol/h/cm2 of positive electrode surface. This system can be regenerated by recharging, and it can therefore be used as an energy storage system that stores electrical energy from natural energy sources, and surplus power at night in the form of metallic lithium: it can thus produce hydrogen and electricity as needed.

Sodium silicide-based hydrogen generation system

SiGNa Chemistry Inc., the United States, has successfully tested its H300 hydrogen generation system. The H300 utilizes real-time swappable cartridges that generate on-demand hydrogen using SiGNa’s proprietary sodium silicide (NaSi) powder. At greater than 9 per cent hydrogen by weight, NaSi technology produces results comparable to chemical hydride technologies such as ammonia borane or sodium borohydride. Further, NaSi offers safety, high temperature storage stability and instantaneous start-up. It does not require any catalyst or pre-heating. NaSi rapidly liberates hydrogen and from water (or water solutions) leaving sodium silicate, a benign industrial chemical.

The H300 uses two hydrogen canisters that generate more than 800 l of hydrogen at a combined flow-rate of up to 4 standard litres per minute (slpm) continuous and 10 slpm at peak. This level of hydrogen flow supports a broad range of portable fuel cell applications such as back-up power systems, emergency responder workstations and military battery recharging. The company has demonstrated hydrogen generation for applications ranging from 1 W to 500 W. The H300 features a real-time hydrogen fuel gauge, on-demand hydrogen generation and rapid canister insertion/removal.

Edible crystals as clean solution to hydrogen storage

Researchers in the United States have developed edible nanostructures that could be used to store gases such as hydrogen to power cars. Using sugar, salt and alcohol, scientists at Northwestern University have constructed crystals that could store gases needed as fuel or for use within the medical and food technology sectors. The new porous crystals are the first known natural metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) that are simple to make. The starting materials are nontoxic, biorenewable and widely available, offering a green approach to storing hydrogen to power vehicles. Most other MOFs are made from ingredients derived from petroleum.

MOFs are well-ordered, lattice-like crystals. The metals (such as zinc, copper, nickel or cobalt) nodes of the lattices are connected by organic molecules. Within their very roomy pores, MOFs can effectively store gases such as hydrogen or carbon dioxide, making the nanostructures specially interesting to scientists and engineers. The scientists used gamma-cyclodextrin, an eight-member sugar ring produced from biorenewable corn starch. The salts can be potassium chloride or potassium benzoate and the alcohol is a grain spirit. With these ingredients, the scientists set out to make new molecular architectures based on gamma-cyclodextrin. Their work produced crystals. Upon examining the crystals’ structures using X-rays, the researchers were surprised to find they had created MOFs – not easy using natural products.

Solar hydrogen power for homes

Sun Catalytix, the United States, uses electricity from solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to split water into hydrogen and oxygen and store both gases in tanks to be fed to a fuel cell to generate power (perhaps heat too) when the Sun sets. Solar energy plus energy storage in the form of hydrogen and oxygen would equal an off-grid, personalized energy system.

With stored pure oxygen in tanks being used to feed the fuel cell, the power plant is bound to be more efficient than a typical hydrogen fuel cell that would use oxygen from the surrounding air to combine with hydrogen to generate electricity. Air is only about 21 per cent oxygen; with 100 per cent oxygen, a fuel cell should work very well. Dr. Daniel Nocera, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is working to improve the oxygen generation capabilities of electrolysers that split water. His low-cost catalysts would not need expensive platinum and would be able to boost oxygen production by 200 times. Contact: Sun Catalytix, 200 Technology Square, Suite 103, Cambridge, Massachusetts, MA 02139, United States of America. Fax: +1 (617) 374 3793; E-mail: info; Website:

Waste fat to fuel hydrogen economy

At University of Leeds, the United Kingdom, researchers have reported an energy-efficient way to produce hydrogen out of used vegetable oils discarded by eateries, take-aways and pubs. Not only does the process generate some of the energy needed to make the hydrogen gas itself, it is also essentially carbon-neutral. Dr. Valerie Dupont and colleagues have perfected a two-stage process that is self-energizing. To begin, nickel catalyst is blasted with air to form nickel oxide – an exothermic process that can raise the starting temperature of 650ºC by another 200ºC. The fuel and steam mixture then reacts with hot nickel oxide to make hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2). The researchers also added a special ‘sorbent’ material to trap all the CO2 produced, leaving them with pure hydrogen. This trick eliminated greenhouse gas emissions and also forced the reaction to keep running, increasing the amount of hydrogen made. “The hydrogen starts to be made almost straight away, you don’t have to wait for all of the catalyst to be turned into pure nickel. So as well as the generation of heat, this is another way that makes the process very efficient,” Dr. Dupont remarked. The two-stage process works well in a small, test reactor. The researchers want to scale-up the trials to make larger volumes of hydrogen for longer periods of time. Contact: Ms. Paula Gould, Press Office, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (113) 3438 059: E-mail:

Cheaper production of hydrogen

In 2008, Dr. Daniel Nocera at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the United States, and his team unveiled a revolutionary way to splitting water. They used a cheap cobalt-phosphate catalyst and titanium oxide electrodes that need far less electricity than conventional electrolysis to split water. However, the number of photovoltaic (PV) cells required for the device means it can’t compete on price with fossil fuels. Dr. Daniel Gamelin, a chemist at the University of Washington-Seattle, the United States, and colleagues thought they could bring down the costs by creating a photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitter.

Dr. Nocera had used as electrode an indium-tin oxide strip coated with cobalt and phosphate. Dr. Gamelin and his team also used cobalt and phosphate, but they started with hot glass, onto which they sprayed an iron solution. The iron oxidizes in the air, forming a crystalline rust. The rust crystals give the electrode a large surface area, and it also happens to have photovoltaic properties. The team then immersed their rust electrode in a solution containing cobalt and phosphate, and applied a current to electrochemically deposit the compounds on the surface. This created a PEC electrode that could at once generate current and catalyse the water-splitting process. So far, the electrode cannot generate enough power to do this on its own, but the amount of solar cells needed is reduced enough to make the process far cheaper, states Dr. Gamelin. Mr. Gamelin is also investigating the possibility of a so-called “tandem” device, which can generate enough energy from sunlight to power the water-splitting process on its own. This device would have two cells housing electrodes: a rust electrode coated in cobalt and phosphate on top of the other electrode. Sunlight would strike the top electrode that would absorb photons to catalyse the water oxidation process. But not all the sunlight would be absorbed by this electrode: light with a wavelength longer than 600 nm will not be absorbed by the rust-coloured water in the top cell and so would pass through to strike the lower electrode, powering the production of hydrogen. Like Dr. Nocera’s original device, Dr. Gamelin’s technology is also only able to produce oxygen gas and hydrogen ions. According to Dr. Gamelin, scientists around the world are searching for suitable cathode materials that can efficiently turn those ions into hydrogen gas.


Algae yield biofuel

Oilfox S.A. has opened a factory in Argentina for making biodiesel from algae. Oil extracted from algae is an ideal alternative to soy oil and other vegetable oils since it absorbs carbon dioxide emitted from power plants or factories. The process of oil extraction generates a protein-rich, edible paste. The feedstock of the Oilfox plant is 90 per cent soy oil and 10 per cent algae oil. However, Oilfox is hoping to eventually use only algae since its growth is possible even in contaminated water and seawater. During the process of photosynthesis, algae produce a unique green oil.

New method to produce biofuels in mobile facilities

At Purdue University in the United States, chemical engineers have developed a novel method to process all kinds of agricultural waste and other biomass into biofuels. The researchers are proposing the use of mobile processing plants to produce the fuels. The new approach sidesteps a fundamental economic hurdle in biofuels – transporting biomass is expensive because of its bulk volume, whereas liquid fuel from biomass is far more economical to transport. According to Prof. Rakesh Agrawal, “Material like corn stover and wood chips has low energy density. It makes more sense to process biomass into liquid fuel with a mobile platform and then take this fuel to a central refinery for further processing before using it in internal combustion engines.”

Fast-hydropyrolysis-hydrodeoxygenation, the new method, works by adding hydrogen into the biomass processing reactor. Hydrogen for the mobile plants would be derived from natural gas or the biomass itself. However, Prof. Agrawal envisions the future use of solar power to produce hydrogen by splitting water, making the new technology entirely renewable. The method, named H Two Bio Oil (H2Bioil for short), has been studied extensively through modelling and experiments are now under way at Purdue to validate the concept. Contact: Ms. Emil Venere, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, United States of America. Tel: +1 (765) 4944 709; E-mail:

Biofuel based on powdered algae

Compact Contractors of America LLC (CCA), the United States, has sold samples of its powdered algae-based jet fuel to the United States Air Force Research Laboratory. The laboratory will conduct testing and evaluation on the fuel for use as a solid propellant for rockets. CCA’s technology involves drying algae at a specific temperature over a specific period. According to Mr. Robert Fulton, CCA’s founder and its Chief Technologist, a spray dryer is used for the process. He discovered that, under certain conditions, oils can be drawn to the surface of the cells while drying the feedstock. The resulting powdered fuel is conducive to simultaneous combustion of the sugars, plant materials, cellulose and proteins.

While CCA’s research is currently focused on using algae as the primary feedstock, there is potential to use other feedstocks. While the process can utilize a wide variety of algal strains, the oil content of the feedstock affects the grade of the fuel. While high-grade fuels are needed for aviation use, lower grades may be used to fuel stationary applications on the ground, such as turbine engines that produce electricity. CCA’s process is cheap, and the fuel is easy to transport and store. The fuel also has specific advantages for use at low temperatures and high altitudes.

Zero-discharge sweet sorghum ethanol process

AdvanceBio LLC, a United States-based biofuel technology company, has announced its next-generation, sugar-based fuel ethanol process. The process is capable of utilizing sugars derived from sweet sorghum, sugar cane, sugar beet and other similar crops as feedstock for the production of fuel ethanol, generating zero liquid waste. When built in conjunction with a sugar milling operation, plants employing the new process will have low-greenhouse gas footprint.

Besides eliminating costs associated with outside sources of fossil fuels, process water and power, the technology eliminates the need for extensive waste treatment and the cost of transporting large volumes of liquid vinasse back to the cane fields, states Mr. Dale Monceaux from the company. The fermentation system of AdvanceBio’s technology is more than twice as productive as starch-based processes and does not require enzymes or nutrients.


China Renewable Energy Market Outlook

This report provides a complete coverage of China’s renewable energy industry. It covers all sectors of the Chinese renewable energy industry, and analyses each in detail, dealing with issues, production/consumption data, industry reforms, major players in the industry, regulatory frameworks governing the market and much more.

Contact: Energy Report Alert, 3434 W. Anthem Way, Ste 118-481, Anthem, AZ 85086, United States of America. Fax: +1 (303) 4595 453; E-mail:

Wood Pellet Heating Systems

This comprehensive handbook covers all aspects of wood pellet heating technology. Wood pellets are a carbon-neutral technology, convenient to use and can easily be integrated into existing central heating systems or used in independent space heaters. This fully illustrated and easy-to-follow guide shows how wood pellet heating works, the different types of systems, how they are installed and even how wood pellets are manufactured.

Contact: Earthscan Ltd., Dunstan House, 14a Street Cross Street, London EC1N 8XA, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (20) 7841 1930; Fax: +44 (20) 7242 1474; E-mail:

Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells: Contamination and Mitigation Strategies

With contributions from international scientists and engineers, this guidebook discusses the impacts of contamination and contamination mitigation strategies to improve fuel cell performance and durability. The publication covers: the nature, sources and electrochemistry of contaminants; their effects on fuel cell performance and lifetime; and the mechanisms of contamination. The expert contributors present methods and tools used for diagnosing various contamination phenomena, along with strategies for mitigating the adverse effects of contamination. They also describe key issues in the future R&D of fuel cell contamination and control.

Contact: CRC Press, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (1235) 400524; Fax: +44 (1235) 400525; E-mail:


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