Archive for the ‘innovation’ Category

Credit: sciencedaily.com


This is about using the batteries of electric cars, vans etc. as a resource to support the national electricity network. Why it should need to be considered at all is an interesting question. They talk of “improving network capacity and helping to make renewable energy sources more affordable and more widely available”.

UK electricity distribution company Northern Powergrid has signed “a ground-breaking industry partnership” with electric vehicle manufacturer Nissan, reports Power Engineering International

The two organisations will work together over the next six years on examining how electric vehicles, batteries and other technologies can support energy networks.

They will also explore how new technologies can enhance the capacity, capability and resilience of the region’s power network to make it more active and responsive to the growing and changing demands of both domestic and commercial customers. 

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Credit: phys.org


Methane hydrates have been known about for years, but cost and technical difficulties have so far been barriers to exploiting them on any kind of scale. Claims that they could ‘flood the atmosphere with climate-changing greenhouse gases’ are the usual over-the-top propaganda.

Commercial development of the globe’s huge reserves of a frozen fossil fuel known as “combustible ice” has moved closer to reality after Japan and China successfully extracted the material from the seafloor off their coastlines, says Phys.org.

But experts said Friday that large-scale production remains many years away—and if not done properly could flood the atmosphere with climate-changing greenhouse gases.

Combustible ice is a frozen mixture of water and concentrated natural gas. Technically known as methane hydrate, it can be lit on fire in its frozen state and is believed to comprise one of the world’s most abundant fossil fuels.

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Credit: Wave Swell Energy


It’s essentially an artificial blowhole according to the company CEO. They say the device uses resonance to make the most energy out of the water that washes into it, by operating at the natural frequency of the waves, and claim it’s ‘120% more efficient than a conventional device’.

Wave Swell Energy plans to install a commercial scale wave energy plant in the Bass Strait, off King Island in Tasmania, reports Tidal Energy Today.

Wave Swell’s series of one-megawatt generators will cost up to $7 million to build, and at peak times will provide up to half the power for King Island’s 1,600 residents, according to the Australian Maritime College (AMC).

The Australian-based wave energy developer said it expects the cost of wave power to be less than 10 cents per kilowatt hour when built at scale.

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World’s hottest borehole, Iceland [credit: BBC]


Not much oil or gas, but plenty of steam available for use in Iceland as Phys.org reports.

It’s named after a Nordic god and drills deep into the heart of a volcano: “Thor” is a rig that symbolises Iceland’s leading-edge efforts to produce powerful clean energy.

If successful, the experimental project could produce up to 10 times more energy than an existing conventional gas or oil well, by generating electricity from the heat stored inside the earth: in this case, volcanic areas.

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Credit: dragonproductsltd.com


H/T GWPF / RealClearEnergy

The author notes that ‘the rigs are getting roughly twice as productive every three years. No other energy technology is improving that quickly.’

Wind and solar are now experiencing a declining rate of improvement as those technologies start to approach their limits in terms of what physics permits. Shale technology is a long way from its physics limits. In fact, the shale industry is at the beginning of what I’ve earlier termed Shale 2.0.

The Promethean task of supplying energy to the U.S. economy and the rest of the world involves scales that are truly difficult to visualize. Many options appear to make sense until you crunch the numbers. That’s why Bill Gates said that people need to bring “math skills to the problem.”

Consider petroleum alone, which accounts for about one-third of global energy use.
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Credit: globalccsinstitute.com


There goes another £2 billion or so. The long-term aim is ‘de-carbonising the UK gas networks through conversion to 100 per cent hydrogen’ – just as UK shale gas drilling is about to start.

Plans to convert the gas grid in Leeds to run entirely on hydrogen have moved a step closer to becoming reality says Utility Week, after Northern Gas Networks opened an office in the city dedicated to the endeavour.

The office has been tasked with delivering innovative projects which prove the case for conversion to hydrogen, not just for Leeds but for the whole of the UK.

Northern Gas Networks (NGN) opened the site with the help of Leeds City Council to further examine, and build the foundations to deliver, the conversion strategy outlined in its H21 Leeds City Gate study.  

The research project, which was funded through the Network Innovation Allowance and conducted alongside Wales and West Utilities, concluded last year that substituting natural gas with hydrogen in UK networks would be “technically possible and economically viable”.
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It sounds promising, but what happens if the satellites fail to predict a serious eruption? The case of the convicted but later exonerated Italian earthquake experts springs to mind.

A UK-led team of scientists is rolling out a project to monitor every land volcano on Earth from space, reports BBC News.

Two satellites will routinely map the planet’s surface, looking for signs that might hint at a future eruption. They will watch for changes in the shape of the ground below them, enabling scientists to issue an early alert if a volcano appears restless.

Some 1,500 volcanoes worldwide are thought to be potentially active, but only a few dozen are heavily monitored. One of these is Mount Etna where, last month, a BBC crew was caught up in a volcanic blast while filming a report on the new satellite project.
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The satellites won’t land as the surface pressure – 92 times that of Earth – and heat of Venus would destroy them. Instead they will look for a ‘mysterious substance’ thought to be lurking in its atmosphere.

NASA has spent $3.6 million to build 12 small satellites to explore the planet Venus in search of a mysterious substance that absorbs half the planet’s light, reports The Daily Caller.

The CubeSat UV Experiment (CUVE) mission will launch the satellites to investigate atmospheric processes on Venus. The 12 satellites vary in size. One is less than four inches across and weighs a few ounces. Another weighs 400 pounds.
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Experimental E-plane [image credit: Siemens]


In the longer term they’re hoping this e-plane research will lead to ‘hybrid-electric airliners’.

Siemens has just announced that an electric aerobatic plane powered by its latest motor has nabbed two world speed records, as New Atlas reports.

The Extra 330LE aircraft is now the fastest e-plane under 1,000 kg, and also – after a few mods – the quickest above 1,000 kg, too. The electric test plane also became the first in the world to tow a glider up into the skies.

The Extra 330LE aerobatic plane powered by the lightweight electric motor announced by Siemens in 2015 made its first flight in July 2016.
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Track version of shuttle pod already in use at Heathrow airport.


No steering wheel or brake pedal, controlled by a computer, on a riverside path – do you feel lucky? Then step aboard…

Members of the British public are getting their first extended trial of a driverless shuttle bus, reports BBC News. Over the next three weeks, about 100 people will travel in a prototype shuttle on a route in Greenwich, London.

The vehicle, which travels at up to 10mph (16.1kmph), will be controlled by a computer. However, there will be a trained person on board who can stop the shuttle if required. Oxbotica, the firm that developed the shuttle, said 5,000 members of the public had applied to take part in the study.
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Credit: nationalgeographic.com


The hurdle of scaling up to industrial size awaits, but the idea sounds interesting. They say “The ultimate goal is to create a filtration device that will produce potable water from seawater or wastewater with minimal energy input.”

A UK-based team of researchers has created a graphene-based sieve capable of removing salt from seawater, says BBC News. The sought-after development could aid the millions of people without ready access to clean drinking water.

The promising graphene oxide sieve could be highly efficient at filtering salts, and will now be tested against existing desalination membranes.

It has previously been difficult to manufacture graphene-based barriers on an industrial scale. Reporting their results in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, scientists from the University of Manchester, led by Dr Rahul Nair, shows how they solved some of the challenges by using a chemical derivative called graphene oxide.
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shining_sun

With sadness, I’m sharing the news that my Talkshop co-blogger Tim Channon passed away on Friday. Tim had been bravely battling with cancer for some time, and was still upbeat and lively-minded when I spoke with him last week. Since then unfortunately, medical complications set in.

Tim was one of a kind. A humorous, thoughtful and technically brilliant individual. His contribution to our understanding of cyclic phenomena through the analysis software he wrote propelled me into my own research. His patient recording of weather data and survey of UK weather stations demonstrate the depth of interest and passion he had for bringing facts to bear on the climate debate. His dedication, skill and good natured rebukes against uninformed speculation and bad theory puts him in the Pantheon of great sceptical thinkers and scientists.

Tim will be missed and remembered.

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It’s the tube train with a difference – viable public transport or a fairground novelty? Testing is under way.

The first images of the Hyperloop One test track were shown off during the Middle East Rail conference, demonstrating progress on the high-speed transport system that promises to be faster than air travel, as Sott.net reports.

Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd unveiled never-before-seen images of the ‘DevLoop’ development site, in Las Vegas, during the 11th annual Middle East Rail conference in Dubai on Tuesday. The images show an aerial view of the construction of the world’s first full-system Hyperloop test site, with a test track of 500 meters or about one-third of a mile long and 11 feet wide.

The Los Angeles startup, Hyperloop One, has designed a near supersonic transport system that uses levitating pods that travel through a low-pressure tube at speeds up to 760 miles per hour. The goal is to make a test track during the first half of 2017.
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Electric car charging station [credit: Wikipedia]

Electric car charging station [credit: Wikipedia]


The battery can be made from ‘earth-friendly materials’ like sodium, which can be extracted from seawater.

A new longer-lasting battery technology that can’t catch fire has been developed by a team of engineers led by 94-year-old Professor John Goodenough, the co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery, the Daily Mail Online reports.

Lithium-ion batteries are one of the most popular types of rechargeable batteries used in many mobile devices, but they can sometimes explode and catch fire – as was the case for Samsung’s Galaxy 7 exploding battery fiasco.

But this new battery technology could increase the distance electric cars can drive for between charges, and recharge within minutes rather than hours.
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Vertical axis wind turbine [credit: Challenergy]

Vertical axis wind turbine [credit: Challenergy]


‘Wind power on steroids’ or another madcap ‘sustainability’ scheme that never gets off the ground? No mention of storage, and typhoons are far from everyday events.

In what could be the ultimate clean energy, Japan is set to start harnessing the energy of typhoons, with wind turbines that are able to withstand intense storms – and turn them into power, reports the IB Times.

Typhoon turbines, also known as the Magnus Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT), were first thought up by Atsushi Shimizu, chief executive of Challenergy Inc. After seeing the widespread destruction caused by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, he wanted to find a way to provide a safe and sustainable source of energy.
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Kingdom of Judah [credit: IB Times]

Kingdom of Judah [credit: IB Times]


The ‘two Iron Age spikes’ in magnetism could be worth investigating further.

Ancient clay jar handles can act as a record of the Earth’s magnetic history, a new study finds, confirming evidence of sudden, sharp spikes in the strength of the field, as the IB Times reports.

Fragments of pottery were historically stamped with an emblem of the rulers of the Kingdom Judah, which encompassed Jerusalem and nearby areas. These jars were also marked by the state of the Earth’s geomagnetic field at its time of construction, offering researchers a unique chance to reconstruct the past of the Earth’s magnetic field.

The study is based on the technique of archaeomagnetism. Some minerals in clay are magnetic, and before they are heated they are aligned randomly. As the pottery is heated during the firing process, the magnetic particles tend to align with the Earth’s magnetic field. The stronger the magnetic field, the greater the degree of alignment in the magnetic minerals.
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Credit: cleantechnica.com

Credit: cleantechnica.com


One claim by the developer is that ‘its devices could increase the revenue of a wind farm by 25 per cent, through increased output and exploiting higher wholesale prices when the wind isn’t blowing’. It has to be said that battery and storage innovations have a poor record of turning into commercial success, but as ever time will tell.

An Adelaide company has developed a silicon storage device that it claims costs a tenth as much as a lithium ion battery to store the same energy and is eyeing a $10 million public float, reports Sott.net.

1414 Degrees had its origins in patented CSIRO research and has built a prototype molten silicon storage device which it is testing at its Tonsley Innovation Precinct site south of Adelaide.

Chairman Kevin Moriarty says 1414 Degrees’ process can store 500 kilowatt hours of energy in a 70-centimetre cube of molten silicon – about 36 times as much energy as Tesla’s 14KWh Powerwall 2 lithium ion home storage battery in about the same space.
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fusiongrid
The latest contenders for the elusive fusion crown are reviewed here. Chasing the ‘holy grail’ of energy is an expensive and time-consuming business, as IB Times reports.

In a world struggling to kick its addiction to fossil fuels and feed its growing appetite for energy, there’s one technology in development that almost sounds too good to be true: nuclear fusion, writes Matthew Hall.

If it works, fusion power offers vast amounts of clean energy with a near limitless fuel source and virtually zero carbon emissions. That’s if it works. But there are teams of researchers around the world and billions of dollars being spent on making sure it does.

In February last year a new chapter of fusion energy research commenced with the formal opening of Wendelstein 7-X. This is an experimental €1 billion (A$1.4bn) fusion reactor built in Greifswald, Germany, to test a reactor design called a stellarator.
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Solar panel road [image credit: Wattway]

Solar panel road [image credit: Wattway]


Five million Euros to power a few street lights sounds expensive. What effect traffic has on the panels remains to be seen, but dirt could be an issue.

A solar panel road, claimed to be the world’s first, has opened in France, reports the Daily Mail Online.

The 0.6 miles (1km) stretch of road in the small Normandy village of Tourouvre-au-Perche is paved with 2,880 solar panels, which convert energy from the sun into electricity. It is hoped that the the road could eventually provide enough energy to power the small village’s street lights.

The ‘Wattway’ road features 2,800 sq m (9,186 sq ft) of panels and was showcased today at an inauguration ceremony attended by French minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy Ségolène Royal.

The road is expected to produce 280 MWh of electricity a year.
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Former US iron mine

Former US iron mine


Whatever the economics of this plan may be, it highlights the fact that lack of storage capacity is one of the serious drawbacks of renewable energy. Phys.org reporting.

Some look at an abandoned, centuries-old iron mine in New York’s Adirondacks and see a relic. An ambitious group of engineers sees the shafts in Mineville as a new way to provide a steady flow of electricity in a growing market for renewable energy.

They are pitching a plan to circulate some of the millions of gallons of groundwater that have flooded the mine shafts over the years to power an array of 100 hydroelectric turbines a half-mile underground.

They envision the operation as a solution for solar and wind power producers, who need ways to ensure an uninterrupted flow of energy when the sun isn’t shining and winds are still.

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