Biofuels with guts

March 9, 2016 Harnessing the ability of goats to digest almost anything organic may help to create the next generation of lower-cost biofuels. The gut fungi found in the intestines of goats possess a large range of biomass-degrading enzymes. Scientists from the University of California in the US have now applied these enzymes to the challenge of breaking down woody – … [Read more...]

London reservoir home to Europe’s largest floating solar system

March 7, 2016 Just over 23,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are to be installed on floating platforms on a reservoir near London’s Heathrow airport. The largest project of its type in Europe, the development comes from utility company Thames Water’s plan to self-supply a third of the energy it consumes by 2020. Floating solar has a number of advantages over its … [Read more...]

‘Phase-change’ fridge for vaccines leaves batteries out in the cold

March 4, 2016 Keeping vaccines cool in developing countries could become easier with a new battery-free solar powered fridge. UK-based Dulas, a manufacturer of renewable energy systems, has developed its Solar Direct Drive Refrigerator based on an alternative to batteries for energy storage. The system uses a “phase-change” material, which changes from liquid to … [Read more...]

Solar prices to be halved by 2030

March 3, 2016 Solar power prices could fall by as much as half as innovations increase the efficiency of photovoltaic components and economies of scale emerge. This is the conclusion of Spain-headquartered innovation promotion and analysis group KIC InnoEnergy in a new report on the future of renewable energy costs. The study found that the cost of producing … [Read more...]

Electric vehicles to make up 35% of global sales by 2040

March 2, 2016 Electric vehicles could account for over a third of new light duty vehicle sales worldwide by 2040 thanks to battery price reductions, new research suggests. UK-based analysis outfit Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts that sales of electric vehicles will hit 41 million by 2040, representing 35% of new sales of light duty vehicles (cars and light vans). … [Read more...]

Siemens sets CCGT efficiency record

March 1, 2016 Record efficiency figures have been claimed by German engineering giant Siemens for its latest combined cycle gas turbine plant. Combined cycle gas turbines use the exhaust of the gas turbine to heat water and produce steam, which is fed to a steam turbine. By using the exhaust heat, such installations are typically very efficient. Siemens claims its … [Read more...]

Dutch develop silent wind power

February 29, 2016 Wind power technology without blades, airfoils or even moving parts is to advance with the development of an iconic, energy-generating building in The Netherlands. Dutch Windwheel, a 174 metre high structure to be built in the port city of Rotterdam, is set to feature a range of energy-generating technologies, including the recently developed EWICON … [Read more...]

Energy harvesting breakthrough from new materials

February 26, 2016 A new technique to improve the energy harvesting properties of a class of plastic materials could lead to major applications in a range of industries including mobile electronics and sensors. The discovery, by a team of French researchers at the National Institute of Applied Sciences in Lyon, involves recovering mechanical energy from the plastics to … [Read more...]

New spin on heat recovery

February 25, 2016 A process that could convert low-grade “waste” heat such as exhaust gases into electrical energy is being explored by scientists in Germany. The technique is based on exploiting magnetic spin waves known as magnons. Researchers at Johannes Gutenberg Mainz University have gained new insights into how they can be produced in certain materials with thermal … [Read more...]

Turbines tipped to top 170 metres

February 22, 2016 New construction techniques and materials are enabling new wind turbine towers to be built at heights of up to 170 metres in the coming years. As operators have sought stronger, more stable winds higher up, tower heights have steadily grown, with a 48% increase in average hub height since 1999. Danish wind power engineering specialists K2 … [Read more...]

Batteries boosted five times in lithium-air breakthrough

February 18, 2016 Batteries with up to five times the storage capacity of conventional lithium ion may be developed as a result of research in the USA. Work at the Argonne National Laboratory on alternative chemistries to the current generation of lithium ion batteries has seen researchers exploring lithium-air systems, which are designed to take oxygen from the … [Read more...]

DASH to cut solar cell manufacturing costs

February 17, 2016 A simplified, low-cost route to manufacturing efficient solar cells is being explored by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Researchers have succeeded in creating efficient cells using new materials to avoid “doping”, one of a number of production processes in the manufacture of a conventional solar … [Read more...]

Marine emissions to sink with wireless charging

February 15, 2016 A new method to wirelessly charge ships in harbour could cut dockside diesel emissions. Developed in Finland by energy technology firm Wärtsilä, the wireless charging system is based on inductive power transfer – the transmission of energy from a power source to an electrical load without connectors. The system would eliminate the need for cable … [Read more...]

Fuel cell co-production plans have energy efficiency promise

February 12, 2016 A technology that simultaneously produces heat, power, and hydrogen for cars is set to be rolled out in California, USA. At the heart of the system, which aims to efficiently reduce carbon emissions in transport, is a carbonate-type electrochemical fuel cell. In another spin-off application, the same type of cell is also due to be used as a method of … [Read more...]

Scottish coast to host first floating wind farm

February 10, 2016 A pilot project using floating wind turbines that capture the strong, consistent winds found far offshore in deep waters is set to enter construction this year. Norwegian energy giant Statoil plans to build the 30 MW project some 25-30 km off the coast of Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The objective of this pilot is to demonstrate cost-efficient and … [Read more...]

Good vibrations: structural motion converted to energy

February 8, 2016 A source of clean, convenient energy could be harvested from naturally occurring structural vibrations, such as motion produced in a bridge from footfall. A team from The Ohio State University in the USA is exploring how to capture this type of energy by using a steel “tree”. Team leader Ryan Harne explained: “Buildings sway ever so slightly in the … [Read more...]

Microbe technology converts agri-waste into fuel

February 4, 2016 A biofuels technology based on microbes has been developed to convert hard-to-process agricultural waste efficiently into liquid fuel. Woody or fibrous – cellulosic – materials like straw, wheat husks (chaff) and plant stems are notoriously challenging to process easily into biofuels. Now, US petrochemical giant ExxonMobil has struck an agreement to back … [Read more...]

Self-charging unit harnesses energy from walking

February 2, 2016 A device that can efficiently capture human biomechanical energy to power mobile electronics has been developed in China. Powering electronics or biometric sensors from human motion offers an attractive alternative to recharging batteries. Scientists at Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Science in China, and the Georgia Institute of … [Read more...]

Stellar growth forecast for energy storage

February 1, 2016 Energy storage is anticipated to extend its disruptive impact on the energy sector, with two new forecasts predicting spectacular growth over the coming decade. Storage for solar systems will be worth some US$8 billion in 2026, according to US-based market intelligence firm Lux Research. Noting that solar-plus-storage is key to overcome limitations … [Read more...]

High altitudes next step in wind tech

January 29, 2016 High altitude wind technology could replace a significant portion of power generated from fossil fuels and traditional wind turbines, according to a new analysis. While conventional wind turbine rotors are typically located at heights of 100-200 metres, wind flow is faster and more consistent at altitudes above 500 metres. Technologies that can function … [Read more...]