VATIS Update Non-conventional Energy . Sep-Oct 2011

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New and Renewable Energy Sep-Oct 2011

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 to invest US$2 billion in clean energy from 2013

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will increase its investment in clean energy to US$2 billion a year from 2013 to significantly dampen carbon growth and slash greenhouse gas emissions in Asia. ADB investments in clean energy reached about US$1.6 billion in 2008, and comprised more than half of its entire energy portfolio, said Mr. WooChong Um, Deputy Director General, Regional & Sustainable Development Department (RSDD) of ADB.

ADB states that its investment on clean energy projects was part of an energy efficiency initiative that ADB adopted four years ago when it set a US$1 billion target in annual investments. “While US$2 billion annually is a significant commitment, this represents only a fraction of the region’s financing needs in the area of clean energy,” ADB President Mr. Haruhiko Kuroda said at a news conference. “But we expect that this contribution will catalyse additional resources from the private sector carbon markets and other sources.” Developing Asia accounts for about one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Mr. Kuroda cautioned that the region’s share could easily go up to 40 per cent or higher by 2030 unless measures are taken urgently to alter development patterns.

OPIC to fund solar-powered telecom towers in India

Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the United States, has announced that it will provide a financial assistance of US$150 million to India to expand use of solar powered telecommunication towers. “This project brings OPIC’s financing for renewable energy in India to more than US$400 million approved in just the past year,” said Ms. Elizabeth Littlefield, OPIC President and CEO. The decision is expected to help reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and create jobs in both the United States and India.

Along with project sponsor Applied Solar Technologies (AST), India, the tower companies in India are working to reduce their dependence on diesel-powered on-site generator sets, in part because tower operators in remote areas lack access to the electrical grid, OPIC said. The potential for higher fuel prices and mounting pressure to reduce CO2 emissions make the shift to renewable energy an important priority for the tower companies and cell operators generally.

AST will use the OPIC loan to supplement cellular towers’ diesel-run generators with solar hybrid energy systems that use proprietary controllers to integrate and optimise usage through photovoltaic technology, electricity from the electric grid, a battery bank charged by solar panels, and existing generators.

Renewable energy to be subsidised in the Philippines

For the initial renewable energy (RE) installations of 760 MW approved by the Department of Energy, the Philippines, the scale of subsidies to be passed on to the consumers’ electric bills in the next three years will sum up to P11.79 billion (US$ 275.5 million). Based on the calculation of the National Renewable Energy Board (ERB), the feed-in-tariff (FiT) allowance to be reflected in the bills by 2012 would be P1.74 billion (US$40.65 million) in total, hinged on the assumption that 50 MW of solar will be the first to be developed and integrated into the grid. The corresponding FiT allowance impact would be P0.0259 (US $0.0006) per kWh.

By year 2013, the FiT subsidies will increase to P3.12 billion (US$74.75 million) with the anticipated entry of additional RE capacities coming from other technologies, such as biomass. The FiT allowance will then go up to P0.0842 (US$0.0019) per kWh. Capping the milestone for the initial three-year target will result in a remarkable jump in the FiT allowance to P0.1463 (US$0.0034) per kWh or an equivalent of P6.93 billion (US$161.90 million) in subsidies. During the initial three years, the cost offsetting to the RE Fund being proposed by developers may not happen because the technologies would still be expensive during that period.

Waste-to-energy project in Sri Lanka

Octagon Consolidated Berhad from Malaysia has kicked off its US$248 million waste-to-energy project in Sri Lanka. Western Province Chief Minister Mr. Prassana Ranatunga and top state government officials took part in the ground-breaking ceremony of this build-own-operate project held recently in Colombo. The plant that will be built will use gasification technology capable of processing up to 1,000 tonnes per day of local municipal solid waste and generate a minimum of 40 MW electricity, which will be sold to the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).

Construction is slated to start in the second quarter of 2012 and complete in the second quarter of 2014. It is expected that the plant will help Colombo manage its waste effectively through the gasification of municipal solid waste to produce electricity. The Sri Lankan government targets achieving 10 per cent power generation using renewable energy by 2015.

Bangladesh to build more solar parks for electricity

The Government of Bangladesh has plans to build several solar parks to generate around 135 MW of electricity at a cost of US$641 million for supplying power to the national grid, some top government officials have said. The solar parks will be established on lands of state-owned entities in the relatively more underdeveloped northern region, vacant lands on certain areas and lands owned by Bangladesh Railway in Dhaka and Chittagong. Around 115 MW of electricity will be generated on government lands and 20 MW on railway lands. The government has set a target to generate 500 MW of electricity from renewable energy by 2015 from the current 55 MW.

Officials said the government has targeted to establish solar parks as part of its drive to diversify energy sources for electricity generation and to ensure clean energy expansion. The state-owned Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) will be soon seeking international bids for the installation of solar power plants on build-own-operate (BOO) basis in the solar parks. The generated electricity will go to the national grid. The final selection of the sites for solar parks will be completed soon, said Mr. Tapos Kumar Roy, Additional Secretary in Bangladesh’s Power Ministry.

Republic of Korea’s renewables fund to spur investments

A guarantee fund of US$97 million raised by power generators, energy distributors and banks will motivate companies in the Republic of Korea to invest in clean energy, an industry official said. Managed by Korea Credit Guarantee Fund and Korea Technology Finance Corp., the fund could provide as much as 1.24 trillion won (US$1.16 billion) in guarantees to small renewable energy companies, said Mr. Park Jeong Tae, Team Manager of Overseas Business Support Centre of Korea New and Renewable Energy Association, which is involved in operations of the guarantee fund.

The companies that invest in clean-energy will have a ready domestic market as the government plans to introduce in 2012 a compulsory 2 per cent quota of renewable energy that the country’s 14 power generators will be required to derive, Mr. Park said. The renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, will be raised to 10 per cent by 2022. It will create a renewable energy demand equal to 4.1 trillion won (US$3.84 billion) in 2012 and 54 trillion won (US$50.51 billion) by 2020, according to government estimates. Applicants for the guarantee funds will be limited to small-sized companies involved in renewable energy businesses, Mr. Park added. Successful applicants will get five-year guarantees on as much as 10 billion won (US$ 9.35 million) in loans, and pay lower fees and interest rates.

Thai PV projects secure IFC support

Thailand is boosting its renewable energy capacity in line with government targets with the help of financing from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. Thai solar firm Solar Power Company has signed an agreement with IFC and World Bank-administered Clean Technology Fund (CTF), covering loans of US$12 million to help the construction of two 6 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants.

The two plants are being developed under Thailand’s Very Small Power Project programme and will help the country to reach its target of generating 20 per cent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2022. Solar Power Company has secured a total of 34 licences to build and operate grid-connected solar farms across Thailand. IFC is to provide a US$8 million loan, while CTF will provide a US$4 million facility. The two plants are also receiving debt financing from three local banks.

Renewable energy opportunities in Viet Nam

Fifty per cent of the businesses in Viet Nam were ready to invest in renewable energy sources, according to a recent survey report of Grant Thornton, an international auditing and consulting company based in the United Kingdom. In its report, the company said that 44 per cent of business over the world would support their governments in renewable energy and producing new energy sources because of uncertainties that are affecting world oil prices. The report said that the trend opened a great opportunity for Viet Nam, a country with regular winds, over 3,300 km of coast and 2,000-2,500 hours of sunlight every year.

Malaysia and its renewables options

Malaysia’s potential for renewable energy generation is substantial. Its equatorial location is ideal for harnessing solar energy, while its extensive tropical forests can be a significant source of biomass. Hydropower already plays a major part of the country’s energy mix, particularly on the island of Borneo, and mini-hydropower from streams and rivers has boosted electricity supply in rural areas. The potential for energy from palm oil waste is widely discussed. Malaysia produces 18 million tonnes of palm oil per year, most of which is exported. Oil palm plantations cover 15 per cent of the country (4.7 million ha) and create significant amounts of combustible waste (biomass and biogas) that according to some estimates, could generate up to 20 per cent of the country’s electricity by 2020.

According to government targets, renewable energy should contribute at least 5.5 per cent to the nation’s generation mix by 2015. Nevertheless, the development of renewable energy projects has to date been slow-paced – renewable capacity excluding hydropower was only 53 MW at the end of the 8th Malaysia Plan in 2009. The 9th Plan (2006-2010) targeted 350 MW of renewable energy. The National Renewable Energy Policy and Action Plan, effective since June 2010, aims to draw more of the nation’s electricity supply (11 per cent by 2020) from renewable energy.

April 2011 saw Malaysia adopt an Advanced Renewable Tariffs system and further renewable energy targets. A Renewable Energy Bill (RE Bill) and a Bill for Sustainable Development Authority (SEDA Bill) were passed by the House of Representatives on 28 April, and a one per cent feed-in tariff (FiT), which will pay into a renewable energy fund, has come into effect. Among the current eligible resources for the FiT programme are biomass, biogas, mini-hydropower and solar energy.

Malaysian energy providers have focused primarily on plans to meet the rising short- and medium-term demands. Since renewable energy projects thus far have been developed on a relatively small scale, the problem of diminishing natural gas is forcing the utilities towards using more coal in order to meet their immediate needs. Nevertheless, there are several renewable energy projects currently in the planning stage. With abundant natural resources and an attractive FiT rate, Malaysia is ripe for foreign investment in renewable energy projects.

Philippine utilities go by Net Metering Rules

In the Philippines, as a component of the implementation of the Renewable Energy Law, distribution utilities (DUs) are mandated to allocate 1.0 per cent of their peak demand for net metering or the system that allows import and export of energy in the system normally through connection of an embedded generation facility. The Net Metering Rules being prepared by the National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) specifically provide for the allocation.

The rules define net metering as a system “appropriate for distributed generation, in which a distributed grid user has a two-way connection to the grid” (energy import and export) and the qualified end-user is only charged for his net electricity consumption and will be credited for any overall contribution to the power grid. Distributed generation in this case refers to a system of small generation facilities supplying directly to the distribution grid, the capacity of which shall not exceed 100 kW. The average peak demand is to be based on the DUs’ 12-month peak demand average for the preceding year. A qualified end-user has to initiate the process by filing a net-metering application with the DU, which will then enter into a bilateral Net-Metering Agreement with that end-user.

India’s new policy on solar energy development

India has notified a new policy on development of solar energy in the country by launching the Jawaharlal Nehru Solar Mission. The Mission – one of the eight key national missions that comprise India’s national action plan on climate change – has the twin objectives of contributing to nation’s long-term energy security as well as its ecological security. “The rapid development and deployment of renewable energy is imperative in this context and in view of high solar radiation over the country solar energy provides a long-term sustainable solution,” Mr. Farooq Abdullah, the Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, said in a statement in the Parliament.


Solar cell could hit 40 per cent efficiency

Researchers in the United States, say their efforts using novel materials to build photovoltaic cells could nearly double the efficiency of silicon solar cells. The solar cells being developed by teams from the University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University have the potential to achieve a light-to-energy conversion rate, or solar efficiency, of 40 per cent or better, according to the researchers. Currently, the silicon-based solar cells that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) uses in its satellites and instruments have efficiencies of only up to 23 per cent, according to NASA statistics.

Prof. Omar Manasreh at the Optoelectronics Research Lab at University of Arkansas has been testing two separate methods for growing metallic nanoparticles using a novel combination of materials as the semiconductor. While copper indium gallium selenium (CIGS) solar cells are not uncommon, Prof. Manasreh is using a variation of CIGS-based cells – CuInSe2 and Cu(InGa)Se2 – to generate molecules that bind to a central atom and that are known as volatile ligands. The nanocrystals can then be converted into thin-film solar cells, or incorporated into nanotubes, by combining the material with either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.

The second approach uses indium arsenide (InAs), commonly used in infrared detectors. This approach employs molecular beam epitaxy, a method of depositing nanocrystals, to create InAs quantum dots. When exposed to ultraviolet light, the nanocrystals grown in liquid emit brighter light, thereby enhancing the response of the nanocrystals. The phenomenon shows the potential to increase the energy conversion efficiency of the materials.

Innovative organic solar cell architecture

The Belgian research centre imec, together with Plextronics from the United States and Solvay based in Belgium, has developed an organic polymer-based single junction solar cell with 6.9 per cent performance in an innovative inverted device stack. Combining imec’s scalable inverted device architecture and Plextronics’ polymers, new levels of cell efficiency were achieved. The polymer was also integrated into a module resulting in excellent module level efficiencies of 5 per cent for an aperture area of 25 cm².

The dedicated inverted bulk heterojunction architecture developed by imec improved the device performance by at least 0.5 per cent over standard architectures used for organic solar cells. In the active layer, a new buffer layer was introduced to optimize the light management in the device. The innovative device architecture of imec, combined with Plextronics’ low band-gap p-type polymer with a fullerene derivate, resulted in a stabilized certified conversion efficiency of 6.9 per cent, which is the highest performance obtained for this polymer material and the highest efficiency reported for inverted architectures.

Mr. Tom Aernouts, imec R&D Team Leader for Organic Photovoltaics, says: “With further optimizations to the material as well as to the architecture, for example by introducing a multi-junction featuring different layers of different polymers each capturing another part of the light spectrum, we envision organic solar cell lifetimes of over 10 years and conversion efficiencies of 10 per cent in two to three years, ultimately aiming at industry-relevant solutions.”

Mass-printed polymer/fullerene solar cells on paper

Dr.-Ing. Moazzam Ali and colleagues at the Institute for Print and Media Technology, University of Technology Chemnitz, Germany, have successfully printed a complete solar cell under normal room conditions using only three roll-to-roll printing steps. The solar cell is free from expensive indium-tin-oxide and does not employ any vacuum process. Naturally oxidized zinc film, printed by transfer printing on paper, acts as cathode. Photoactive layer is a bulk heterojunction of polymer/fullerene, imprinted by gravure printing. Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) poly(styrenesulfonate), printed by flexographic printing, acts as transparent anode.

Gravure and flexographic printing processes permit printing with a resolution of down to 10 µm, high printing speeds (up to 15 m/s) and low wastage of ink. The research team explains that free patterning of all the three functional layers can be done by the two printing techniques. Free patterning of the layers eliminates the need for any extra process to interconnect solar cells into a solar module.

Despite the high surface roughness of paper substrate, the printed cells show a power conversion efficiency of 1.3 per cent under an illumination level of 60 mW/cm² and yield open-circuit voltage and short-circuit current density of 0.59 V and 3.6 mA/cm², respectively. The major component (by volume) of the solar cells is paper (> 90 per cent). A paper substrate has several advantages, since it is inexpensive, eco-friendly, bio-degradable, easily recyclable, mechanically flexible and compatible with well-established printing processes. Rest of the materials are glue, zinc-foil, ZnO, fullerene and polymers. The solar cell is free from any harmful materials and can be recycled together with aluminium-coated food packages, using the existing recycling systems.

Annealing improves efficiency of thin-film solar cell

Scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in the United States have developed new manufacturing techniques to improve the power conversion efficiency of polymer-based thin-film solar cells. The researchers from the ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source and High Flux Isotope Reactor discovered that the devices treated on heat improve their power conversion efficiency. The experiments showed that annealing solar cells as they are manufactured improves their efficiency by more than 20 per cent compared with films that are not heat treated.

“We are trying to use mixtures of photoactive polymers to absorb light over a broad wavelength range to improve efficiency,” explained lead researcher Mr. Thomas Russell from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The research team studied a device consisting of two semiconductor materials deposited in a thin-film on a plate. The films were examined in their original state, after being deposited and after annealing. The experiments determined that annealing the solar cell at 150°C for one minute at a certain point in the process will improve its efficiency by a little over 20 per cent, as compared with the original film. Shorter heat treatment improved the efficiency by lesser amounts. Annealing solar cells for more than a minute will reduce its efficiency.

Dye-sensitized solar cell based on a single wire

By developing a single-wire design that could be assembled into large arrays, Mr. Anyuan Cao and his colleagues from Peking University in Beijing, China, have expanded the range of possible applications of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs).

The structure of a DSSC is simple, comprising an anode and cathode immersed in an electrolyte. The anode of DSSC is typically made of a mixture of a dye to absorb light and generate free positive and negative charges, and titanium dioxide to act as a conduit that allows the charges to travel to their respective electrodes to produce an electrical current. Mr. Cao and colleagues miniaturized the design down to the scale of micron-sized single wires by wrapping a titanium wire, the anode, with a layer of titanium dioxide tubes filled with a dye. Wrapped around this is a layer made of a carbon nanotube mesh, which serves as the cathode. The electrically conducting carbon nanotubes are almost transparent, maximizing the amount of light that reach the dye.

The wire-based DSSCs have displayed promising solar conversion efficiency, at 1.6 per cent for each wire. Although this level of efficiency remains far below the benchmark results for DSSCs, major improvements are expected by optimizing the wire design. For example, the electrical conductivity of the carbon nanotube layer could be enhanced, and multiple wires could be integrated into a single device to produce larger wire meshes. According to the researchers, the possible applications of this DSSC structure could include photovoltaic textiles.

Black silicon technology for more efficient solar cells

In the United States, Natcore Technology Inc. has obtained a licence from the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to develop its patented black silicon technology. Natcore’s patent agreement with NREL covers developing equipment, chemicals and solar cells based on NREL’s black silicon technology. ‘Black’ refers to the colour of the surface of a silicon wafer after it has been etched with nano-scale pore. The absence of reflected light from the wafer surface results in the silicon wafer appearing black.

There are several benefits for using black silicon. It can reduce the processing cost of cells by 4-8 per cent. Black silicon will also prevent the reflection of low-angle morning and afternoon better, increasing the efficiency of the photovoltaic cell during the morning and afternoon hours. A black silicon solar panel will produce more energy than a panel made from thin film coating. Natcore’s passivation process, or treatment to keep the cell from trapping light-generated electric charges as they migrate towards the contacts of the solar cell, will make black silicon cells more effective.


Wind turbines for the built environment

Bulgaria-based McCamley Ltd. has developed the MT01 Mk2 vertical axis wind turbine and is using the 3D Power Wall of Warwick Manufacturing Group, the United Kingdom, to refine its innovation for installation in the built-up environment. Power Wall allows designers to display and manipulate 3D models that are accurate to five thousandths of one millimetre. McCamley’s self-starting turbine currently ranges from 3 kW to 24 kW in capacity and will target initially the urban renewable power market.

MT01 Mk2 wind turbine is able to operate from wind speeds of only 1.8 m/s. Furthermore, it will not cut out and will continue to generate electricity during extreme weather events such as hurricanes. It is also radar-friendly and could therefore be used on top of any building with a helipad. McCamley is looking to develop its wind turbine into an offshore version that will harness wind to provide 100 kW, 200 kW, 500 kW and 1 MW turbines.

McCamley is currently working with Warwick University and Birmingham University in an attempt to develop a photovoltaic film that could be applied to the wind turbines as a thin coating to harness solar energy. If successful, it would make the wind turbines the only structures of their kind to harvest both wind and solar energy.

A wind turbine that gets water from air

WMS 1000 wind turbine, developed by Eole Water based in France, is essentially a turbine coupled with an air-conditioner to draw water from air through condensation. The 30 kW wind turbine is capable of producing an average of 1,000 litres of water per day. Production could well increase to 2,000 litres per day or fall to 300 litres per day depending on the surrounding climatic conditions – wind, ambient temperature and relative humidity – although the process remains the same. The wind turbine module electrically powers a water block in which a turbine draws in air, which is then condensed into water. The precious liquid obtained can be stored, distributed by a network or delivered by a simple tap. WMS 1000 has a mast height of 24 m and a rotor diameter of 13.5 m. The nacelle measures 6 m in length and 3 m in diameter and the unit weighs 11 tonnes.

A wind turbine for low wind speed

The amount of wind power that the wind turbine can produce is dependent on the wind speed region. To optimize wind turbine power, a pitch angle of the wind turbine’s blade needs to be determined. In high wind speeds, the pitch angle can be controlled to reduce torque and output power. In low wind speed regions, it is a challenge to maximize available energy. At the Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember, Indonesia, researchers led by Mr. Ali Musyafa from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Engineering have designed a wind turbine optimized for low wind speeds.

Based on the power coefficient characteristic of the wind turbine and the data profile of wind speed for the previous three years, the researchers determined the pitch angle position. They found that the wind turbine has its maximum power coefficient at a fixed pitch angle position of 16.8° for every wind speed below 10 m/s. The researchers estimate that 216.98 kWh/year of wind power can be produced at the pitch angle position of 16.8°. Wind power production above 200 kWh/year is achievable with pitch angle positions between 13.1° and 20.0°. This wind turbine, which can be operated at a fixed pitch angle position, is potentially a low-cost device. Contact: Mr. Ali Musyafa, Department of Electrical Engineering and Engineering, Physics Department, Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember, Surabaya 6011, Indonesia. E-mail:

High wind power yield from low winds

REpower Systems SE, Germany, is launching a 50-hertz version of its MM100 wind turbine. With rated capacity of 2.0 MW, the turbine was specially developed for low-wind locations. With its longer blades the MM100 produces high yields in low wind speed areas. The increased swept area of the rotor captures the wind much more effectively and thus provides in excellent returns over the entire service life. The REpower MM100 is available with a steel tube tower and hub height of 80 m to 100 m. It has been specifically optimized for use in regions with low wind speeds and operates with an outstanding low sound power level of maximum 104.8 dB(A).

The cut-in wind speed of MM100 is 3 m/s and the cut-out wind speed is 22 m/s, while the rated wind speed is 11 m/s. The rotor with a diameter of 100 m has a speed of 7.8-13.89 rpm (±12.5 per cent), and a swept rotor area of 7,854 m2. The blades are individually adjustable (electrically controlled). The MM100 50 Hz comes with a 4-pole, double-fed asynchronous generator with low conversion loss as well as a high total efficiency.

Airborne wind turbines

In the United States, Altaeros Energies is developing wind turbines that are stationary blimps, which take advantage of the more consistent and higher speed winds at high altitudes. Mr. Adam Rein, co-founder of the company, said that winds at the 2,000 feet level are up to 2½ times stronger than winds that can be reached by a typical 350 feet land turbine. The Altaeros floating wind turbines are specially suitable for use in remote areas. Once tethered by a conducting cable and inflated with helium, the turbines rise into the air. The floating wind turbines can provide 100 kW of electricity without using any fossil fuel or producing any greenhouse gas.

Airborne turbines are currently used in a variety of locations and contexts. They can remain in the air for up to three months on one charge of helium. While initially Altaeros Energies plans to sell these elevated turbines for remote uses such as military applications, emergency power and other remote installations, eventually they will form the basis of offshore, deep-water wind farms floating high above the waves.

World-first matched performance in wind tunnel

Remote sensing methods such as laser anemometry (lidar) provide a means of obtaining accurate wind profiles for wind resource assessment, and hence reduce costs and risks associated with the siting of fixed masts. However, these techniques need to be extensively validated in order to obtain widespread acceptance by the industry. Natural Power, the United Kingdom, has achieved a world first by demonstrating matched performance of its ZephIR, a continuous wave wind lidar, to a calibrated wind tunnel as part of a Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation (DNATF) project. Denmark-based project partners are the National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy of Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (DTU) Risø, global manufacturer of wind turbine blades LM Wind Power, and optical and laser solutions provider NKT Photonics.

ZephIR 300 was deployed in LM Windpower’s wind tunnel facility in Denmark, where it measured wind speeds from 5 m/s to 75 m/s with an averaged difference of just 0.4 per cent for a sustained period of time and across measured speeds. These are reportedly the first tests in the world to accurately measure the performance of a lidar in a wind tunnel. The successful test results feed in to the DNATF project on the ‘Integration of Wind Lidars in Wind Turbines for Improved Productivity and Control’.

The results also demonstrate the performance of a sister product of ZephIR 300 called ControlZephIR, which is based on ZephIR but with different system software as well as mechanical housing to allow the unit to be either spinner or nacelle mounted. ControlZephIR provides wind turbine control systems with the necessary data from a number of distances in front of the turbine. It is this data that allows the turbine to steer in to the wind to maximize performance. More importantly, the input from ControlZephIR helps the turbine to safely steer out of the wind in high conditions of gusts or turbulent gales. Thus the data input is aimed at reducing through-life costs of a wind turbine generator due to operations and maintenance downtime.


Full-scale prototype of a tidal stream generator

Pulse Stream 1200 is a collaborative project that aims to demonstrate an innovative tidal energy converter at full scale in the United Kingdom waters where there is abundant tidal energy resource and evident incentives for early commercial development. The main project objective is to test a certified, high performance, tidal flow technology ready for commercial deployment. The project has assembled a very strong team of partners with the expertise necessary to design, build, test and optimize the full scale demonstrator.

The pre-production prototype to be demonstrated uses oscillating hydrofoils, a technology that is being tested by Pulse Tidal, the United Kingdom, in a scaled marine trial. Oscillating hydrofoils have been proposed previously for exploiting tidal currents. Pulse Tidal has used an improved technical approach and a refined strategy, which exploits the benefits of oscillating foils over wind turbine style axial flow rotors. Modelling has shown that high efficiencies are possible from a hydrofoil oscillating at certain frequencies. Scaled model testing by Pulse Tidal has confirmed that a phased pair of hydrofoils sweeping the same cross-section of flow improves power capture efficiency to a level comparable with axial flow systems.

The hydrofoil approach allows power to be captured with a wide, shallow swept area. In a given depth oscillating foil systems can be up to four times more powerful than single axial flow rotors. By offering much larger unit capacities Pulse Stream 1200 would have a unique strategic and economic advantage over other technologies. Pulse Tidal’s clear commercial focus is therefore to develop early systems specifically for tidal flows too shallow for others to compete. This will be followed by larger systems for deeper water.

1 MW tidal turbine connected to the grid

Atlantis Resources Corporation Pte. Ltd., an international marine energy developer, has connected its 1 MW AR1000 tidal turbine to the grid at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, Scotland. The AR1000 becomes Scotland’s first commercial-scale, grid-connected tidal turbine, thus marking a crucial milestone in the development of the marine energy industry. The three-bladed turbine will be tested over two years.

The AR1000 is currently the world’s most powerful single-rotor tidal turbine, rated to generate 1 MW of predictable power at a tidal velocity of 2.65 m/s. Its 18 m rotor diameter also makes it one of the largest turbines ever built, standing 22.5 m high and weighing 1,500 tonnes. The design of AR1000 turbine draws heavily from development and testing of its earlier two-rotor, AK1000 turbine, which commenced in 2009. While waiting for delivery of a set of rotor blades, Atlantis Resources completed a detailed analysis of component supply chain status for commercial production and roll-out. The decision was taken, in conjunction with customers and project partners, to deploy the nacelle in a single rotor set, AR1000, configuration. Contact: Atlantis Resources Corporation, King’s Scholars’ House, Third Floor, 230 Vauxhall Bridge Road, Victoria, London SW1V 1AU, United Kingdom.

Turbine prototype delivers 100 MWh

A 500 kW prototype tidal turbine, designed and built by Rolls-Royce subsidiary Tidal Generation Ltd. of the United Kingdom, has become the first device of its kind to deliver 100 MWh of power to the Scottish grid. Installed as part of the Deep-Gen III project, co-funded by the Technology Strategy Board backed by United Kingdom government, the Rolls-Royce prototype tidal turbine is currently deployed at the offshore test site of European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) off Orkney Islands, Scotland. Mr. Neil Morgan, Head of Energy at the Technology Strategy Board, termed it “a significant milestone for the United Kingdom marine renewables industry”.

The tidal unit’s three-bladed turbine is attached by a tripod to the seabed and can operate, totally submerged at water depth of 40 m. It is reported that the blade design allows the turbine to rotate continually to face the incoming tide at an optimal angle. In addition, the turbine unit is semi-buoyant and can be towed to and from the point of operation, minimizing installation and maintenance costs by avoiding the need for specialist vessels. As part of the Energy Technologies Institute-funded Reliable Data Acquisition Platform for Tidal (ReDAPT) consortium project, Rolls-Royce is currently building a 1 MW tidal turbine demonstration unit for deployment in mid-2012 at EMEC.


Urine-powered microbial fuel cells

Urine-powered fuel cells could generate electricity and reclaim essential nutrients directly from human and animal waste, say scientists at Bristol Robotics Laboratory in the United Kingdom. The research team led by Mr. Ioannis Ieropoulos and Mr. John Greenman developed microbial fuel cells (MFCs) – which use bacteria to break down organic molecules and generate electricity – that could run on the organic molecules found in urine, such as uric acid, small peptides and creatinine. Finding the right bacteria to munch these molecules was relatively easy but the crucial point, says Mr. Ieropoulos, is that the current processes require plenty of energy, whereas the fuel cell approach could be an energy-generating process.

The bacteria form a robust biofilm on the anode surface of the fuel cell, and pass electrons to the electrode as they respire and metabolise the fuel molecules in the urine. The team found that smaller cells have higher energy densities, and followed a path of miniaturization and multiplication, building stacks of cells. An individual cell can produce a current of 0.25 mA for 3 days from 25 ml of urine, so stacks of hundreds or thousands of cells could run on the amounts of urine available from homes, farms or public toilets. The lack of solids – which could clog up the fuel cells – in urine compared with more general wastewater gives this system a significant advantage.

Besides generating power, these MFCs could help reclaim essential nutrients from waste, explains Mr. Greenman. Urine not only contains organic compounds, but also high levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. This makes urine treatment troublesome. Treatment plants currently expend significant energy and effort to remove these elements from wastewater, as releasing them constitutes environmental pollution. The fuel cell bacteria could sequester those salts to grow and divide, but the carbon fuel in normal urine is not adequate for them to grow fast enough to take up sufficient quantities of the other elements. But if a cheap carbon source like acetate is added, all the nitrogen, phosphate and potassium will be captured into daughter bacteria, which perfuse out of the MFC and can be filtered out and dug back into the ground as fertilizer, says Mr. Greenman.

Next generation fuel cell stack

Nissan Motor Company Ltd., based in Japan, has released its next generation fuel cell stack (2011 Model) for fuel cell electric vehicles. It made certain improvements to the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) and the separator flow path, which make up the structure of fuel cell, to improve the power density of fuel cell stack significantly (2.5 times greater than its 2005 model) and realized a world’s best (among auto manufacturers) output of 2.5 kW per litre of fuel.

Moulding the supporting frame of MEA integrally with the MEA has enabled stable, single-row lamination of the fuel cell, thereby reducing significantly its overall size by more than half compared with conventional models. In addition, compared with the 2005 model, both the usage of platinum and parts variation have been reduced to one-quarter, thus reducing the cost of the new fuel cell stack to one-sixth that of the 2005 model.

Borohydride fuel cell car tested

Turkey recently tested a boron fuel cell vehicle in Istanbul. The automobile runs on a sodium borohydride fuel cell that was developed under the guidance of the National Boron Research Institute (BOREN) and the Scientific and Technological Research Council (TUBÝTAK) of Turkey. The fuel cell consumes nearly 1 kg of borohydride per 35 km and the vehicle can cover 100 km road at a maximum speed of 80 km per hour. The results of the research could also be applied in the country’s defence industry for developing new lighter fuel cells. The land of boron minerals, Turkey is the biggest borate ore producer in the world.

Key development in fuel cell technology

ACAL Energy Ltd., the United Kingdom, has achieved key milestones in the development of its FlowCath® platinum-free liquid cathode fuel cell technology. The company has completed the build of its first field test system, producing gross power of 3 kW. At the same time, it has also achieved a new record peak performance power density of nearly 900 mW/cm2, which is a substantial improvement over the previous peak power record of around 600 mW/cm2.

The demonstration unit’s stack and regenerator sub-systems together are capable of producing over 3 kW of gross electrical power and represent a significant scale-up from the previous generation test unit that produced about 1 kW of gross power. The latest performance results give the company even greater confidence in the ability of its technology to meet the efficiency needs of nearly all stationary and automotive applications, while delivering a substantially higher level of durability than conventional fuel cells.

SOFCs could replace PEM fuel cells

Researchers at the University of Maryland (UoM), the United States, have developed a new kind of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) that reportedly offers many advantages over present day proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells for use in automobiles. PEM fuel cells that are used in most prototype and low production lease cars today use hydrogen gas compressed between 3,600 psi and 10,000 psi. The PEM cells run at an operating temperature of around 82°C. Although the UoM SOFC works at 650°C, the researchers believe that they can reduce the starting temperature to around 350°C, which would be acceptable to use in vehicles such as cars, trucks and buses.

The most significant advantage of these SOFC fuel cells is that they can run on a variety of fuel, not just hydrogen. Hydrogen is a choice fuel because of zero emissions. However, until an adequate hydrogen refuelling infrastructure is put in place, SOFC fuel cells that can also run on petrol, diesel, biofuels and natural gas – all with low emissions – would be welcome in the industry.

Nickel catalysts to boost hydrogen fuel cells

Scientists have moved a step closer to creating hydrogen quickly and cost-effectively by using a synthetic catalyst based on natural nickel enzymes. Researchers from the United States Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) say they have broken the speed record for producing hydrogen using the experimental catalyst.

Traditional hydrogen production processes use catalysts that rely on expensive metals such as platinum. Nickel is cheaper and more abundant, but is too weak to be used in its original form. Copying natural energy storage reactions, the scientists wanted to recreate the final part of the process, in which two hydrogen atoms are joined together using a protein called hydrogenase as a catalyst. The catalyst first dis-mantles atoms, and then moves the resulting electrons into the right positions so that they can be put back together in a new structure.

However, natural hydrogenase has a shorter lifespan and is fairly weak. So, the team took the active portion of the protein and made it stronger using “pendant amines” as a catalyst and a nickel atom to add an extra electron to the processes. This step is just one of a series of reactions to split water and make hydrogen. “This nickel-based catalyst is really very fast,” explained co-author of the study Mr. Morris Bullock. “It is about 100 times faster than the previous catalyst record”. However, despite the speed attained, the process currently requires more electricity than is practical, meaning that it is not yet a commercially viable process.

Supercharged material for solid oxide fuel cells

ThyssenKrupp VDM, Germany, in partnership with Julich Research Centre, Germany, has developed an improved supercharged material called Crofer 22 H for solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) to be used in vehicles. The new material underwent improvement under the research programme named ‘ZEUS III’ for use in high-temperature fuel cells. Crofer 22 H comprises of 20-24 per cent of chromium and the residual alloying materials are lanthanum, titanium, niobium and tungsten.

ThyssenKrupp VDM Research and Development head Dr. Jutta Klower said , “The novel material eliminates the melting process conducted in a vacuum induction furnace, resulting in a considerable decrease in the production expenditures.” The supercharged Crofer 22 H demonstrates high resistant to corrosion at 900°C temperature, higher mechanical strength, high electrical conductivity and also superior thermal expansion in comparable with that of the ceramic materials used in the fuel cells. Crofer 22 H has applications in lightweight fuel cell stacks used in vehicles, compact decentralized household systems, large-scale energy supply units and in automobiles.


‘Artificial leaf’ makes fuel from sunlight

Researchers led by Prof. Daniel Nocera at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States have produced something they are calling an “artificial leaf”. Like living leaves, the device can turn the energy of sunlight directly into a chemical fuel, which can be stored and used later as an energy source. The artificial leaf – a silicon solar cell with different catalytic materials bonded onto its two sides – needs no external wires or control circuits to operate. Simply placed in a container of water and exposed to sunlight, it quickly starts to generate streams of bubbles: oxygen bubbles from one side and hydrogen from the other. If placed in a container that has a barrier to separate the two sides, those two streams of bubbles can be collected, stored and utilized to produce power, for example, by feeding them into a fuel cell.

The device, Prof. Nocera explains, is made entirely of earth-abundant, inexpensive materials – mostly silicon, cobalt and nickel – and works in ordinary water, without rare and expensive materials such as platinum. The artificial leaf is a thin sheet of semi-conducting silicon – the material most solar cells are made of – which turns the energy of sunlight into a flow of electricity within the sheet. Bound onto the silicon is a layer of a cobalt-based catalyst, which releases oxygen. The other side of the silicon sheet is coated with a layer of a nickel-molybdenum-zinc alloy, which releases hydrogen from the water molecules.

“You can’t get more portable – you don’t need wires, it is lightweight,” Prof. Nocera says, and it doesn’t require much in the way of additional equipment, other than a way of catching and storing the gases that bubble off. “You just drop it in a glass of water, and it starts splitting it,” he says. Now that the “leaf” has been demonstrated, he suggests one possible further development: tiny particles made of these materials that can split water molecules when placed in sunlight – making them more like photosynthetic algae than leaves. He says the advantage of this is that the small particles would have much more surface area exposed to sunlight and the water, allowing them to harness the sun’s energy more efficiently.

Hybrid solar system makes hydrogen

While roofs across the world sport photovoltaic solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity, an engineer ftom Duke University, the United States, believes that a novel hybrid system can wring even more useful energy out of sunlight. Mr. Nico Hotz, an assistant professor with Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, proposes a hybrid option in which sunlight heats a combination of water and methanol in a maze of glass tubes on a rooftop. After two catalytic reactions, the system produces hydrogen much more efficiently than current technology without significant impurities. The hydrogen that results can be stored and used on demand in fuel cells.

For his analysis, Mr. Hotz compared the hybrid system to three different technologies in terms of their exergetic performance. Exergy is a way of describing how much of a given quantity of energy can theoretically be converted to useful work. “The hybrid system achieved exergetic efficiencies of 28.5 per cent in the summer and 18.5 per cent in the winter, compared with 5 to 15 per cent for the conventional systems in the summer, and 2.5 to 5 per cent in the winter,” claims Mr. Hotz.

Like other solar-based systems, the hybrid system begins with the collection of sunlight. The system is a series of copper tubes coated with a thin layer of aluminium and aluminium oxide and partly filled with catalytic nanoparticles. A combination of water and methanol flows through the tubes, which are sealed in a vacuum. The set-up allows up to 95 per cent of the sunlight to be absorbed with very little being lost as heat to the surroundings, Hotz says, permitting temperatures above 200°C to be achieved within the tubes. By comparison, a standard solar collector can only heat water to 60°-70°C. Once the evaporated liquid attains these higher temperatures, small amounts of a catalyst are added to produce hydrogen.

Promising new nanomaterial for hydrogen storage

Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the United States, are working to optimize a promising new nanomaterial called nanoblades for use in hydrogen storage. During their testing of the new material, they have discovered that it can store and release hydrogen extremely fast and at low temperatures compared with similar materials. Another important aspect of the new material is that it is also rechargeable. These attributes could make it ideal for use in onboard hydrogen storage for next-generation hydrogen or fuel cell vehicles.

Nanoblades are asymmetric: they are extremely thin in one dimension and wide in another dimension, thus creating very large surface areas. They also are spread out with up to 1 µm in between each blade. To store hydrogen, a large surface area with space in between nanostructures is needed to provide room for the material to expand as more hydrogen atoms are stored. The vast surface area and ultrathin profile of each nanoblade, coupled with the spaces between each blade, could make them ideal for this application, according to Mr. Gwo-Ching Wang, Professor of physics, applied physics and astronomy.

To create the nanoblades, the researchers use oblique angle vapour deposition – building nanostructures by vaporizing a material (magnesium in this case) and allowing the vaporized atoms to deposit on a surface at an oblique angle. The finished material is then decorated with a metallic catalyst (palladium in this case) to trap and store hydrogen. An understanding of how the material responds to hydrogen over time is essential to improving the material for future use in hydrogen vehicles, according to lead author of the new study and post-doctoral researcher Mr. Yu Liu.

The research team found that the nanoblades began releasing hydrogen at about 67°C. When the temperature was increased to 100°C, the stored hydrogen was released in just 20 minutes – more than half the temperature that many other materials require to operate at that rate. They also found that the nanoblades are recyclable. This means that they can be recharged after hydrogen release and used over and over. Such reusability is essential for practical applications.

‘Limitless’ supply of hydrogen possible

Methods to generate hydrogen are, in general, energy intensive. But now researchers at Pennsylvania State University, the United States, have demonstrated an innovative “self-powered” process of producing hydrogen that, if scalable, can provide a boost to fuel cell technology. The process involves a clever integration of bacteria, seawater and fresh water. The researchers combined microbial electrolysis cells (which break down, with the help of electricity, matter in wastewater to release hydrogen) and reverse electrodialysis (which is similar to desalination, except run in reverse).

Desalination of water takes energy. “If you have a freshwater and saltwater interface, that can add energy. We realized that just a little bit of that energy could make this process go on its own,” says Mr. Bruce E. Logan, a professor of environmental engineering. Mr. Logan’s cells were 58-64 per cent efficient and produced 0.8-1.6 cubic metres of hydrogen for every cubic metre of liquid run through the cell each day. The researchers estimated that only about 1 per cent of the energy produced in the cell was needed to pump water through the system. To scale up this demonstrated technology, they propose running seawater and river water through a stack of alternating cathode and anode exchange membranes. “This system could produce hydrogen anyplace that there is wastewater near sea water,” Mr. Logan said.


New catalytic process gets hydrogen from bioalcohol

Ethanol and other alcohols do not willingly give up hydrogen atoms; this type of reaction requires highly active catalysts and drastic reaction conditions, like temperatures above 200°C and the presence of strong bases. Researchers led by Mr. Matthias Beller at the Leibniz Institute for Catalysis, Germany, have introduced a new catalyst that allows for the use of bioalcohols for the production of hydrogen. Their novel process proceeds efficiently under particularly mild conditions.

Mr. Martin Nielson, a member of the research team, has found a novel catalyst that shows record efficiency in the extraction of hydrogen from alcohols under mild reaction conditions. Mr. Beller says, “This is the first catalytic system that is capable of obtaining hydrogen from readily available ethanol at temperatures under 100°C without using bases or other additives.” After initial successful tests with a relatively easily converted alcohol (isopropanol), the researchers turned their attention to ethanol, which is much harder to convert. Even with ethanol, this new catalyst system showed a high conversion rate under milder conditions (60°-80°C), claims Mr. Beller.

The active catalyst is a ruthenium complex formed in situ. The starting point is a central ruthenium atom that is surrounded by a special ligand that grasps it from three sides. A carbon monoxide molecule and two hydrogen atoms are the other ligands. Upon heating, the complex releases a hydrogen molecule. On coming into contact with an alcohol, the remaining complex grabs two replacement hydrogen atoms, allowing the cycle to begin again.

Novel biofuel as an alternative to diesel fuel

Scientists with the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) of the United States Department of Energy have identified a potential new advanced biofuel that could replace standard diesel fuel for engines but would be clean, green and renewable. Utilizing the tools of synthetic biology, a JBEI research team engineered strains of two microbes, a bacteria and a yeast, to create a precursor to bisabolane, a member of the terpene class of chemical compounds that are found in plants and utilized in fragrances and flavourings. “This is the first report of bisabolane as a biosynthetic alternative to D2 diesel, and the first microbial overproduction of bisabolene in Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae,” says Mr. Taek Soon Lee, Director of metabolic engineering programme at JBEI and a project scientist with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Preliminary tests by the researchers showed that bisabolane’s properties make it a promising biosynthetic alternative to D2 diesel fuel. Unlike ethanol – which can only be used in limited amounts in petrol engines and can’t be used at all in diesel or jet engines, plus would corrode existing oil pipelines and tanks – advanced biofuels are drop-in fuels compatible with currently available engines, and delivery and storage infrastructures. Bisabolane has properties almost identical to D2 diesel but its branched and cyclic chemical structure gives it much lower freezing and cloud points, which should be advantageous for use as a fuel.

Researchers at JBEI are pursuing the fundamental science needed to make production of advanced biofuels cost-effective on a national scale. One of the avenues being explored is sesquiterpenes, terpene compounds that contain 15 carbon atoms (diesel fuel typically contains 10 to 24 carbon atoms). In earlier work, Mr. Lee and his team had engineered a new mevalonate pathway (a metabolic reaction critical to biosynthesis) in both E. coli and S. cerevisiae that resulted in these two micro-organisms over-producing farnesyl diphosphate, a chemical compound that can be treated with enzymes to synthesize a desired terpene. In this latest work, Mr. Lee and his colleagues used that mevalonate pathway to create bisabolene (a precursor to bisabolane), which was then hydrogenated to produce bisabolane.

High energy output from algae-based fuel

Algae-based fuel is one of many options among the array of possible future energy sources. New research at University of Virginia (UVA), the United States, shows that algae-based transportation fuels produce high energy output with minimal land use. Algae would produce considerably more transportation energy than canola and switch grass for every hectare planted, and can also be grown on poor-quality marginal land that cannot be easily used to grow food crops such as corn, according to a report by Mr. Andres F. Clarens and Ms. Lisa M. Colosi, both assistant professors of civil and environmental engineering in the UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Mr. Mark A. White, a professor at the UVA McIntire School of Commerce.

In terms of environmental impact, algae-based fuel has mixed performance, compared with other biomass sources. Algal biodiesel production uses more energy – in the form of the petroleum-powered processes employed – than other biofuels. In addition, algae-based biodiesel and bioelectricity production processes also require substantial amounts of water and emit more greenhouse gases, according the report titled “Environmental Impacts of Algae-derived Biodiesel and Bioelectricity for Transportation”.

Another important finding in the report shows the relative favourability of using biofuels to generate electricity rather than liquid fuels (i.e. biodiesel) for internal combustion engines. The process has a higher energy return than other algae-based biofuels because it involves fewer steps to transform the biomass into a usable energy form. Energy generated in this manner could power electric vehicles, but the authors acknowledge that the limited number of those vehicles currently in use could reduce the overall benefit of bioelectricity for transportation.

Equipment for producing biodiesel from jatropha

The National Centre for Energy and Environment (NCEE) of University of Benin, Nigeria, has developed the equipment for producing biodiesel from jatropha (Jatropha curcas). The Director of NCEE, Prof. Lawrence Ezemonye, said the prototype equipment had the capacity to produce 100 litres of diesel. The development was part of the NCEE’s mandate to produce biodiesel and biogas from renewable energy sources. According to Prof. Ezemonye, the centre is at present helping to train farmers on the techniques to cultivate jatropha plants in large scale to boost biodiesel production.

One-step process for biofuel production

A research collaboration between the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) of Japan and the Instituto Politecnico Nacional (INP) of Mexico has developed a hydrotreatment process using catalysts containing nickel and molybdenum (Ni-Mo) and solid acids that converts vegetable oils (from jatropha, palm and canola) to renewable diesel and propane.

The study points out two types of effective catalysts for converting vegetable oils to diesel distilled hydrocarbons: noble metal catalysts (such as supported palladium and platinum) and bimetallic sulphide catalysts (such as Ni-Mo and cobalt-molybdenum). Solid acids (such as H-ZSM-5 and SO4/ZrO2) can convert vegetable oils to a mixture of petrol, kerosene, light gas oil, gas oil and long residue by hydrocracking. The scientists combined Ni-Mo sulphide and various solid acids to achieve hydrogenation, deoxygenation, hydroisomerization as well as hydrocracking.

The apparatus that the researchers used was a stainless steel tubular reactor with an inside diameter of 1 cm by 50 cm length for loading catalyst and a furnace for heating the tubular reactor. The vegetable oil is pushed into the reactor at a constant rate using a high-pressure microfeeder, while a mixed gas containing 90 per cent hydrogen and 10 per cent argon is introduced into the reactor from a high-pressure cylinder at a controlled flow rate. Pressure in the reaction system is controlled by a back-pressure regulator. A cold trap (submerged in a tank of ice water), set between the reactor exit and the back-pressure regulator, collects liquid products. The standard reaction conditions were: catalyst amount, 1 g; reaction temperature, 350°C; hydrogen pressure, 4 MPa; liquid hourly space velocity (LHSV), 7.6 h; and ratio of hydrogen to oil in feed, 800 ml/ml.

Various vegetable oils were converted to mixed paraffin by the one-step hydrotreatment process although they contained quite different quantities of free fatty acids, the team noted. At the same time, triglycerides and free fatty acids underwent hydrogenation and deoxidization during the reaction. The glycerine groups in the vegetable oils were converted to propane over the catalyst Ni-Mo/SiO2-Al2O3 by hydrogenation and deoxidization.

A new type of biofuel

In the United States, Telgenco and Hycagen Ltd. have completed first stage testing of a new biofuel. Telgenco has been trialling Hycadiesel, which was developed by Hycagen using enzyme fuel generation process. Hycadiesel is an improved biodiesel composition that utilizes both triglyceride and carbohydrate-derived feedstock. The two companies are convinced that the solution holds benefits for stationary power applications.

Hycadiesel shows improved low-temperature properties compared with conventional biodiesel (fatty acid methyl esters), yet the process for its manufacture is very simple. A hyper-stabilized reusable enzyme catalyst assimilates the combined feedstock into the Hycadiesel, generating zero waste. After the reaction, the catalyst is filtered out. The Hycagen solution thus completely circumvents the issues of glycerol waste, use of caustic alkali, the recycling of methanol and the product wash steps needed with the conventional biodiesel process.

New method to produce better biodiesel

A new method of producing biofuel from microalgae aims to overcome some of the drawbacks of biodiesel. Using a novel catalyst, scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Germany, have produced saturated hydrocarbons suitable for use as high-grade fuels in vehicles.

Previous processes for refining oil from microalgae suffer from various disadvantages. The resulting fuel either has too much oxygen and poor flow at low temperatures, or a sulphur-containing catalyst contaminates it. TUM scientists developed a new process, for which they devised a novel catalyst: nickel on a porous support made of zeolite HBeta. They have used this for the conversion of raw, untreated algal oil under mild conditions (260°C and 40-bar hydrogen pressure). After 8 hours, the researchers obtain 78 per cent liquid alkanes with octadecane (C18) as the primary component. The main gas-phase side products are propane and methane. “The products are diesel-range saturated hydrocarbons that are suitable for use as high-grade fuels for vehicles,” said project leader Mr. Johannes Lerch.


Integrated Solution Strategies for Coordinated Wind Power and Grid Development

This publication is jointly presented by the State Grid Energy Research Institute (SGERI), China, and Vestas China. It includes a comprehensive and systematic discussion on how to overcome the difficulties of large-scale integration of wind power to the grid by applying an integrated solution encompassing policy, technology and management. The book provides a valuable platform for all stakeholders involved in wind power development and utilization to discuss and resolve grid integration issues in China. It is the result of a 10 month long research project conducted by SGERI and Vestas. Both parties completed a research report consisting of three important aspects: international experiences, technical proposals and finally an integrated strategy. The research activities included field research, case analyses, technical tests and theoretical verifications. Subsequently, the essentials of both reports were condensed into this book.

Contact: Mr. William Lim, Manager, Communications, Vestas China, 20th Floor, Ping An International Financial Centre, No. 1-3, Xinyuan South Road, Chaoyang District, 100027 Beijing, China. Tel: +86 (10) 59232022; Fax: +86 (10) 59232001; E-mail:

Indian Windpower Directory 2011

The Directory on Indian Windpower 2011 is acclaimed as a complete source book of Wind Power Sector in India. The current edition published in two volumes, carries in addition to the usual features, comprehensive data on wind potential sites in various states of India, the government’s promotional policies, incentives offered by state/central governments, technical particulars of wind power generation and the current scenario on wind power development. The directory provides detailed information on the windfarms in India and the details of the stakeholders: manufacturers, developers, financial institutions, state nodal agencies, component suppliers and service providers, with more than 2,500 entries. Procedural steps for setting up a windfarm, India’s wind turbine certification system, and guidelines for converting forestland for wind power projects are some of the subjects covered.

Contact: IndiaCore Response Team, 106, 2nd floor, F Block, PVK, Ansals Palam Vihar, Gurgaon 122 017, Haryana, India. Tel: +91 (124) 407 0942, 407 1610, 320 1521; Fax: +91 (124) 407 3946; E-mail:


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