Archive for the ‘innovation’ Category


This may or may not have its uses, but any idea that the whole world could get electricity mainly from the sun and the wind is not credible, with today’s technology at least.

MIT engineers have come up with a conceptual design for a system to store renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, and deliver that energy back into an electric grid on demand, says TechExplore.

The system may be designed to power a small city not just when the sun is up or the wind is high, but around the clock.

The new design stores heat generated by excess electricity from solar or wind power in large tanks of white-hot molten silicon, and then converts the light from the glowing metal back into electricity when it’s needed.

The researchers estimate that such a system would be vastly more affordable than lithium-ion batteries, which have been proposed as a viable, though expensive, method to store renewable energy. They also estimate that the system would cost about half as much as pumped hydroelectric storage—the cheapest form of grid-scale energy storage to date.

“Even if we wanted to run the grid on renewables right now we couldn’t, because you’d need fossil-fueled turbines to make up for the fact that the renewable supply cannot be dispatched on demand,” says Asegun Henry, the Robert N. Noyce Career Development Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. “We’re developing a new technology that, if successful, would solve this most important and critical problem in energy and climate change, namely, the storage problem.”

Henry and his colleagues have published their design today in the journal Energy and Environmental Science.

Record temps

The new storage system stems from a project in which the researchers looked for ways to increase the efficiency of a form of renewable energy known as concentrated solar power.

Unlike conventional solar plants that use solar panels to convert light directly into electricity, concentrated solar power requires vast fields of huge mirrors that concentrate sunlight onto a central tower, where the light is converted into heat that is eventually turned into electricity.

“The reason that technology is interesting is, once you do this process of focusing the light to get heat, you can store heat much more cheaply than you can store electricity,” Henry notes.

Concentrated solar plants store solar heat in large tanks filled with molten salt, which is heated to high temperatures of about 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. When electricity is needed, the hot salt is pumped through a heat exchanger, which transfers the salt’s heat into steam. A turbine then turns that steam into electricity.

“This technology has been around for a while, but the thinking has been that its cost will never get low enough to compete with natural gas,” Henry says. “So there was a push to operate at much higher temperatures, so you could use a more efficient heat engine and get the cost down.”

However, if operators were to heat the salt much beyond current temperatures, the salt would corrode the stainless steel tanks in which it’s stored. So Henry’s team looked for a medium other than salt that might store heat at much higher temperatures.

They initially proposed a liquid metal and eventually settled on silicon—the most abundant metal on Earth, which can withstand incredibly high temperatures of over 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Last year, the team developed a pump that could withstand such blistering heat, and could conceivably pump liquid silicon through a renewable storage system. The pump has the highest heat tolerance on record—a feat that is noted in “The Guiness Book of World Records.”

Since that development, the team has been designing an energy storage system that could incorporate such a high-temperature pump.

Continued here.

Research article: Secular decrease of wind power potential in India associated with warming in the Indian Ocean


The spirit of Heath Robinson lives on.

The experimental device is part of the secretive Google X research lab, reports Euronews.

One day, generating renewable energy could be as simple as flying a kite — but not just any kite.

After more than a decade of development work, an experimental “energy kite” capable of tapping into strong high-altitude winds is now being tested on Hawaii’s Big Island, West Hawaii Today reported.

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Mobile EV charger


Could this be a viable option for aspiring EV owners who can’t park close enough to their homes to charge their batteries? A bit like a power bank for electronic devices, except not pocket-sized. £40 million is on the table to get a competition started.

FreeWire Technologies, a pioneer in flexible electric vehicle (EV) charging technology, has received funding from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and Innovate UK to participate in the Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging for Commercial Users competition, reports BusinessWire.

Supported by international energy and services company Centrica plc and delivered in partnership with Westminster City Council, the project will combine FreeWire’s mobile EV charging technology with Zipcar UK’s electrified fleet and driver patterns to test the feasibility of scalable on-demand EV charging deployments.

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Image credit: worldmaritimenews.com


Whether this is anything more than a publicity stunt remains to be seen. Biomass burning will still be producing more CO2 at the point of use per unit of energy than the coal it replaced.

Drax, operator of the UK’s largest power station, is partnering with the Smart Green Shipping Alliance (SSGA), leading dry bulk cargo transporter Ultrabulk, and Humphreys Yacht Design to tackle the mounting issue of CO2 emissions from the shipping industry, reports GreenCarCongress.

A £100,000-, 12-month feasibility study funded by InnovateUK, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and private investors has begun, which will examine the potential of fitting the innovative sail technology Fastrig onto Ultrabulk ships importing biomass into the UK for cutting both carbon emissions and costs.

The shipping industry emits roughly 3% of global CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions (CO2-equivalent), or approximately 1 billion tonnes of CO2 and other GHGs per year—more than twice as much as the UK’s total emissions, from all sources.

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But if it happens at all, it’s likely to be in relatively wealthy countries with few of their own fuel sources, like Japan. Methane hydrate is found on the seabed and in permafrost, meaning extraction is expensive and quite difficult, so far at least. But it has been called the world’s largest natural gas resource.

Last year, Japan succeeded in extracting an untapped fuel from its ocean floor – methane hydrate, or flammable ice, reports BBC Futures.

Proponents argue that it will offset energy crises, but what are the environmental risks?

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Fiat 500X hybrid


Tinkering with electric and hybrid vehicle technology is one thing, but getting today’s buyers to willingly pay for it is another, as shown by weak sales despite the already widespread use of hefty subsidies.

Pan-European efforts under the ECOCHAMPS project have led to the development of five hybrid vehicles boasting reduced CO2 emissions, higher efficiency and powertrains with reduced weight and volume, says the European Commission’s CORDIS News.

The current focus on electric vehicles as the cornerstone of future urban mobility shouldn’t make us forget that their hybrid counterparts have a future too – and that this future is now. With electric vehicle range and a lack of charging infrastructure still being a problem, hybrid vehicles are likely to become the preferred solution for travelling beyond city limits, but on one condition: the development of easy to integrate, cost-efficient hybrid powertrain technology.

The ECOCHAMPS (European COmpetitiveness in Commercial Hybrid and AutoMotive PowertrainS) project was created with this requirement in mind. Since May 2015, the 25-strong consortium – which includes light- and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers FIAT, Renault, Daimler, Iveco, MAN and DAF Trucks – has been working on solutions to improve powertrain efficiency by up to 20 %, reduce powertrain weight and volume by up to 20 % and, broadly speaking, make hybrid vehicles more cost-effective.

The results of the project, which include a modular system and standardisation framework for hybrid electric drivetrain components and auxiliaries for commercial vehicles (available on the project website), a set of electric components for hybrid powertrains, and optimised drivelines, have been demonstrated in two light-duty and three commercial vehicles at TRL 7. These vehicles are a FIAT 500X, a Renault Megane, a medium-duty commercial truck, a city bus and a heavy tractor.

Guus Arts, coordinator of the project on behalf of DAF Trucks, discusses its outcomes and importance for the future of mobility in Europe.

Continued here.

Fine summer weather [image credit: BBC]


A rooftop installation is needed, but low running costs are claimed.

Engineers from two American universities developed a kind of natural air conditioner with almost no consumption of electricity, reports Xinhuanet News.

The study published on Friday in the journal Joule described the innovative water-cooling system capable of providing continuous day-and-night radiative cooling for structures.

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They almost missed the cut for the final competition round of five, but went on to win.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — It started out modestly enough, reports AP: David Hertz, having learned that under the right conditions you really can make your own water out of thin air, put a little contraption on the roof of his office and began cranking out free bottles of H2O for anyone who wanted one.

Soon he and his wife, Laura Doss-Hertz, were thinking bigger — so much so that this week the couple won the $1.5 million XPrize For Water Abundance.

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[credit: green lantern electric]


The sales pitch is that this technology “has the potential to double the amount of renewable generation a grid can carry.” But the chronic intermittency of renewables remains, so the prospect of carrying more from them is a double-edged sword in terms of grid reliability.

A new grid technology is to go on trial in London in a project that could “redefine how the electricity grid works”, reports PEI.

Scotland-based company Faraday Grid has signed a deal with British distribution network operator UK Power Networks for it to trial its potentially ground-breaking technology, also called Faraday Grid.

Ian Cameron, head of innovation at UK Power Networks, said he recognised that “Faraday’s technology has the potential to be transformational for distribution networks and the wider energy system”.

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Industrial Runcorn [image credit: Ineos]


We’re told Project Centurion ‘will be the largest water to hydrogen electrolyzer system in the world’. But as a percentage of the volume, how much hydrogen could safely be injected into the existing gas supply, and would it be worth the bother? This looks like the press release.

ITM Power announced funding from Innovate UK for a feasibility study to deploy a 100MW Power-to-Gas (P2G) energy storage project, “Project Centurion” at Runcorn, Cheshire, UK, reports Green Car Congress.

This project explores the electrolytic production, pipeline transmission, salt cavern storage and gas grid injection of green hydrogen at an industrial scale.

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Solar panel road [image credit: Wattway]


For several obvious reasons cited below, the conclusion should be that solar panels on road surfaces perform extremely poorly and are essentially an irrelevant waste of money. If the money has to be spent, putting the same amount of panels somewhere more suitable would be an easy improvement to make.
H/T Phys.org

Four years ago a viral campaign wooed the world with a promise of fighting climate change and jump-starting the economy by replacing tarmac on the world’s roads with solar panels, says Dylan Ryan at The Conversation.

The bold idea has undergone some road testing since then. The first results from preliminary studies have recently come out, and they’re a bit underwhelming.

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Image credit: Spaceflight now


Light as a power source is only a theory so far, but could have interesting implications if it can be shown to work. Or it could go nowhere…

Spacecraft and satellites could in future be launched into space without the need for fuel, thanks to a revolutionary new theory, says EurekAlert.

Dr Mike McCulloch, from the University of Plymouth, first put forward the idea of quantised inertia (QI) – through which he believes light can be converted into thrust – in 2007.

He has now received $1.3million from the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for a four-year study which aims to make the concept a reality.

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Soon your utility will help select your next car

Posted: September 10, 2018 by oldbrew in Energy, innovation, Travel
Tags:


That’s the plan anyway, as utilities want to recommend electric cars to their customers so as to sell more electricity and make more money. But there’s much more to it than that. Enter the ‘trusted energy advisor’.

For a long time utilities have been seeking better ways to engage with their customers, says PEI.

Jeff Hamel, director of energy and housing partnerships at Google, says that the Nest smart thermostat – which is part of the hardware product line that Google provides – is a good example of a simple way that utilities are partnering with their customers.

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porto-sunset_1

The annual climate conference series which started in Paris in 2015 will be continuing on this coming Friday and Saturday in Porto, Portugal. Scientists both professional and amateur will be presenting their work on ‘The Basic Science of a Changing Climate’,and discussing climate change and policy with attendees. The Abstracts volume is available here.

Stuart and I had intended to co-present our work on stellar-planetary system resonance, but owing to his family duties, I’ll be delivering the talk by myself. Through a tortuous set of bookings involving a couple of long coach rides, I’ve managed to work out an affordable travel itinerary. Due to starting the new job with Leave Means Leave, but not getting any pay until the middle of October, I’m in a tight spot. I try to call for help from talkshop readers as infrequently as possible, but right now I need it.

Nearly all of us who have been battling to counter the hype and spin of the mainstream ‘Climate! Crisis!’ narrative over the last decade have been doing so with no grants or support. We carry on because we have to defend the scientific method against databending, bad theory, propaganda and brainwashing in schools, universities, the media and via quangos and NGOs.

We also need to promote  viable alternative hypotheses for climate change, via our blogs, through the few journals which allow dissenting opinion, and at our annual conferences. Science benefits from fair consideration of a plurality of ideas and observations.

If you can help defray expenses, please use the paypal button on the top left of the Talkshop page and I’ll keep up the fight to have our voices heard on your behalf. Thank you for all your support over the years. Let’s keep going until sanity prevails.

Feeding scars of white coral skeleton [image credit: JSLUCAS75 @ Wikipedia]


‘An individual starfish can consume up to 6 square metres (65 sq ft) of living coral reef per year’ – Wikipedia. Over-population in some areas has damaged the local reef.

Robot drones are set to be tested underwater to protect the Great Barrier Reef from crown-of-thorns starfish, reports BT.com.

The autonomous RangerBot is able to spot the coral-eating starfish with 99.4% accuracy and kill them using a fatal injection.

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Tiros 1 instruments [credit: NOAA]


These are extracts from an ESA article. In 1954 British science-fiction writer, Arthur C. Clarke wrote to Wexler promoting satellite ideas. In 1960 after years of work and lobbying the first weather satellite was launched.

Wexler was a man of vision, ready to face danger and to give his all to collecting useful data.

He was the first scientist to deliberately fly into a hurricane and also participated in polar expeditions.

His was the mind behind the very first meteorology satellite and even before it reached orbit, he was already dreaming of a global network of satellites to watch the weather worldwide.
. . .
[He] gained a PhD in meteorology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1939.

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Credit: greencarcongress.com


That’s the claim, but hydrogen still needs an energy source for its manufacture, so any sustainability depends on what that source is. And looking a bit closer, the report says: “If the extracted hydrogen gas is ultimately used as fuel, for example in a fuel cell of a car, the hydrogen reacts back to water with oxygen gas from the atmosphere.” So what happens when a hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicle trails water from its ‘exhaust’ on to a road in sub-zero temperatures? An icy, or more icy, surface seems likely to be the undesirable result.

The research group led by Leiden chemist Marc Koper has discovered a catalyst that minimizes the production of chlorine gas during salt water electrolysis, reports Phys.org.

The invention can enable the direct production of hydrogen from seawater.

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Baidu’s self-driving mini bus on show in Shanghai.


The march of the robots gets wheels.

One of China’s biggest technology companies has declared it has begun mass production of a self-driving bus, reports BBC News.

Baidu made the announcement after building its 100th Apolong vehicle at its factory in the country’s south-eastern Fujian province.

It said the vehicles would initially be put to commercial use within Chinese cities but added it was also targeting foreign markets.

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Permian shale, Texas [image credit: fulcrium.com]


Not a bad idea from someone who admitted “I was just trying to keep my job”.
H/T The GWPF

Two decades ago, an engineer tried a new way to get gas out of the ground. Energy markets and global politics would never be the same, writes Russell Gold @ The Wall Street Journal.

DISH, Texas – Twenty years ago this month, a well was drilled here that changed the world.

Nothing at the time suggested the unassuming well in this rural town north of Fort Worth would hobble OPEC, the powerful oil cartel that had governed prices of the world’s most important commodity for more than a generation. Or that it would help turn the U.S. into a global energy exporter, or shuffle the geopolitical deck.

But it did all of that – and more.

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Avinor’s electric plane [image credit: inhabitat.com]


It’s tiny, hard to get into and battery weight is still a major problem, but the latest ‘green’ toy has got off the ground. However, Norway is also one of the world’s leading oil and gas exporters. Crude oil and natural gas accounted for 40% of the country’s total export value in 2015.

OSLO (Reuters) — Norway tested a two-seater electric plane on Monday and predicted a start to passenger flights by 2025 if new aviation technologies match a green shift that has made Norwegians the world’s top buyers of electric cars.

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