Friday 26 March 2010

Artificial Inorganic Leaf: Hydrogen Production Plant

Artificial Inorganic Leafs for Efficient Photochemical Hydrogen Production Inspired by Natural Photosynthesis

Han Zhou 1, Xufan Li 1, Tongxiang Fan 1 *, Frank E. Osterloh 2, Jian Ding 1, Erwin M. Sabio 2, Di Zhang 1 *, Qixin Guo 3
1State Key Laboratory of Metal Matrix Composites Shanghai Jiaotong University Shanghai 200240 (China)
2Department of Chemistry University of California Davis, 1 Shields Ave, Davis, California 95616 (USA)
3Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering Saga University Saga 840-8502 (Japan)
Submitted 18th June 2009 revised 21 June 2009

Artificial leaf • Hierarchical structures • Light harvesting • Photocatalytic hydrogen production • Photosynthesis

Artificial inorganic leafs are developed by organizing light harvesting, photoinduced charge separation, and catalysis modules (Pt/N-TiO2) into leaf-shaped hierarchical structures using natural leaves as biotemplates (see figure). The enhanced light-harvesting and photocatalytic water-splitting activities stem from the reproduction of the leafs' complex structures and self-doping of nitrogen during synthesis. The research may represent an important first step toward the design of novel artificial solar-energy transduction systems based on natural concepts, particularly on mimicking the structural design.

Turns out that nature has a way of evolving very efficient and complex processes into simple configurations. By copying nature this team hopes to be able to use light to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Monday 22 March 2010

Anaerobic Digestion to Energy: Electricity, Heating and Cooling

Material Suitable for Anaerobic Digestion
  • Dairy Farm and piggery etc waste slurries
  • Dairy Product and other Food Processing wastes
  • Arable Farming Wastes
  • Household Food Waste with or without Green Waste
  • Brewing Industry effluents and wastes
  • Supermarket Waste*
  • Municipal Solid Waste from Kerbside collections of Green Waste
  • Municipal Solid Waste from Kerbside collections of Green Waste and Kitchen Waste*
  • Catering Industry Wastes*
  • Organic Market Wastes*
  • Sewage Treatment Works sludges
  • Silage/ley crops (may be included and kept in storage to provide a feedstock for use to augment feed during winter seasons when the availability of other feed materials will be reduced)
  • Other organic wastes available locally from other process industries.
* - When considering acceptance of some wastes, early thought should be given to the effects on the plant of Animal By-Products Regulations compliance, and necessary provision for handling and processing ABPR waste. ABPR applies to the EU states, but equivalent regulations should also be in force elsewhere to avoid cross contamination health risks (eg Foot and Mouth disease).

Biogas Yield and Energy of Common Agricultural Feedstocks (Livestock Farms) and Food Waste

The following is DEFRA and Anderson Centre data and is approximate only.
Number of animals to produce 1 tonne/day
Dry Matter Content
(MJ/m3) Biogas
Cattle Slurry
Pig Slurry
Laying Hen Litter
Broiler Manure
Food Waste n/a 15 46 21-25
Wheat Chaff n/a 89 200 21-25
Palm Kernell Pellets n/a 88 450 21-25
Brewers Waste

It has to be noted that AD technology has been well used in Northern Europe, in Germany for instance, also in the far East and China where over 6 million small scale AD systems supply electricity to local communities.

In hotter climates no additional heating is required to initiate the AD process and thus outputs can be greater in energy terms.

Sunday 7 March 2010

Underground Coal Gasification: With CHP

Not the most obvious way of getting coal 'energy' out of the ground but it has to be one of the most practical. It's also a good solution with depleted mine-working which will be venting methane to the atmosphere.

Water/Air mix is injected into difficult coal seams and the reaction produces a synthetic gas rich in methane, and also CO2 and other gases. This 'gas' is then brought to the surface for production processes.

Whilst this process will produce a gas suitable for Combined Heat and Power Systems [Electricity Heat and Cooling Waters], it can also be the base for bio-diesel production as well.

Like all coal mining operations we have to wary of the risks; such as settlement issues at the surface, venting along unforeseen seams to the surface and the need to clean the synthetic gas of other contaminants.

However it is an energy rich process and can provide

Tuesday 2 March 2010

Metal Miner Concerns re Eskom's Power Price Hikes

Electricity Price Hikes will Increase Ferro Chrome Prices in 2010 and Beyond

Near "bankrupt" Eskom, state owned producer of over 95% of the electricity in South Africa has won agreement to increase power prices over the next three years. Although Eskom was seeking a 35%per annum increase, the firm has secured agreement for rate hikes of 24.8% in 2010, 25.8% in 2011 and 25.9% in 2012. Compounded those will double power costs by 2013.  
Unions are up in arms threatening strikes and civil unrest at the impact it will have on living standards but the reality is South Africa has been living in a fools paradise for decades. The country has been subsidizing power at well below global market rates and the result has been almost no investment in new capacity or distribution so that the country now faces frequent blackouts. Furthermore, the cheap power rates have encouraged investment in power hungry industries such as ferro chrome smelting exacerbating electricity demand. 
According to a Reuters article, Eskom’s average cost is 3 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour for the past financial year, compared with 8-9 U.S. cents for OECD countries. The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry said about 250,000 jobs would be lost due to the tariff hike, adding to thousands of other jobs lost during the recession. How accurate this estimate is remains to be seen. Even high energy users like Hellenic FerroChrome don’t think it will be the end of their industry, essentially saying they will just have to pass on the cost increases. 
According to a Forbes article, last year South Africa produced about 3.4 million tons of the approx 8 million tons of ferro chrome consumed worldwide. As the largest producer, world ferro chrome prices are more likely in the short to medium term to track price increases made by South African producers rather than global consumers finding alternative sources. Even at 6 cents per kilowatt-hour (a doubling of current rates) South African producers will probably be on a par with negotiated rates at western smelters. Their challenge will come from China, where although the cost of power production can be high they do have a precedent for subsidizing power costs when it suits them.
Samancor Chairman Danko Konchar said South African ferro chrome production costs are US$0.90/lb, with power charges currently accounting for 20%. High carbon ferro chrome prices have been rising steadily during 2009 as this chart from Metal Pages shows and last month were at around US$1.03/lb in Europe and $1.05-1.08/lb in the US; they look likely to continue rising in 2010.
Other power hungry industries such as aluminum have already felt the heat of power restrictions as smelter output has been cut back and new projects have been indefinitely postponed. The biggest risk to South African industry is probably with the struggling mining sector where falling ore grades and a strong rand have made many operations only marginally profitable.
–Stuart Burns

Monday 1 March 2010

Electricity From Waste Heat at Cement Works

Cement plant waste heat boilers are a new technology.

This is breaking news, although in a world where waste was just not tolerated, it ought not be 'news' at all. It should be second nature to all those design engineers.

SHANGHAI, Feb. 22 /PRNewswire-Asia/ -- China Energy Recovery, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: CGYV) ("CER"), a leader in the waste heat energy recovery sector, was granted a 10-year patent covering its cement kiln forced-circulated waste heat recovery boiler technology.

The patent was authorized by the State Intellectual Property Office of People's Republic of China and granted to CER Energy Recovery on Jan. 20 of this year.

Cement plant waste heat boilers are a new technology developed by Vice General Manager and senior engineer at CER Shanghai, Wang Weiqing. CER is the only company currently using this technology and it expects, after further R&D, to develop new energy recovery technology solutions for energy intensive industrial processes.

"CER is committed to investing the resources necessary to develop leading-edge technologies that reduce harmful emissions and enable its customers to realize increased margins and a reduced energy footprint," said Qinghuan Wu, CER's Chief Executive Officer. "The patent for the cement plant waste heat boilers is CER's first step toward a new waste energy recovery technology that can deliver significant reductions in energy demand."

What is Waste Heat Energy Recovery?

Industrial facilities release significant amounts of excess heat into the atmosphere in the form of hot exhaust gases or high-pressure steam. Energy recovery is the process of recovering vast amounts of that wasted energy and converting it into usable heat energy or electricity, dramatically lowering energy costs. Energy recovery systems are also capable of lowering heat pollution and capturing harmful pollutants that would otherwise be released into the environment. It is estimated that if energy currently wasted by all the U.S. industrial facilities could be recovered, it could produce power equivalent to 20% of U.S. electricity generation capacity without burning any additional fossil fuel, and could help many industries to meet stringent environmental regulations.