DeepResource

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Archive for the month “February, 2019”

Solar Panels That Create Hydrogen Out of Thin Air

The university of Leuven in Belgium has developed a solar panel that can use the electricity it generated to convert atmospheric water vapor into hydrogen gas. Current production rate 0.25 m3 per panel per day (on average over a full year), where 15% of the sunlight is converted in hydrogen. The researchers claim that 20 panels can provide a family of electricity and heat all year around (1825 m3 hydrogen).

The claims are to be verified in a test home in Oud-Heverlee, near Leuven, where 20 “hydrogen panels” will be installed in combination with a 4 m3 hydrogen storage.

[kuleuven.be] – KU Leuven scientists crack the code for affordable, eco-friendly hydrogen gas
[sciencebusiness.net] – Solar panel produces hydrogen gas at KU Leuven
[cleantechnica.com] – Belgian Scientists Announce New Solar Panel That Makes Hydrogen
[twitter.com] – University Leuven, Solar Fuels
[kuleuven.be] – Solar Fuel Efficiency Records

[vrt.be] – Lots of Dutch language videos here

Read more…

Iron Could Replace Precious Metals in Solar Panel Production

Scientist from the university of Lund, Sweden, propose to replace noble metals like ruthenium, osmium and iridium in solar panel production with cheap iron.

For the first time, researchers have succeeded in creating an iron molecule that can function both as a photocatalyst to produce fuel and in solar cells to produce electricity. The results indicate that the iron molecule could replace the more expensive and rarer metals used today.

[lunduniversity.lu.se] – Brilliant iron molecule could provide cheaper solar energy
[sciencemag.org] – Luminescence and reactivity of a charge-transfer excited iron complex with nanosecond lifetime

Australian University Turns CO2 Back Into Coal Again

With fluid metal as catalyst, Australian scientists from the RMIT university succeeded in turning CO2 back in coal again at room-temperature.

[spiegel.de] – Forscher wandeln Kohlendioxid wieder in Kohle um
[nature.com] – Room temperature CO2 reduction to solid carbon species on liquid metals featuring atomically thin ceria interfaces

100 Years Ago a Third of all Cars Were Electric

German electric car, 1904

Few people realize that a century ago, electro-vehicles were relatively more popular that today. Reason: they didn’t smell, were not noisy, didn’t vibrate and the road infrastructure didn’t allow for high speeds and long range anyway, so nobody complained about speeds of 24–32 km/h or 15–20 mph and short range (50–65 km or 30–40 miles). On top of that, many people were grid-connected, where gasoline stations were still rare.

One of the most famous e-vehicles in history: the “Lunar Rover”

[inhabitat.com] – Over a third of all cars were electric a century ago
[jalopnik.com] – Why Electric Cars Ruled The Roads 100 Years Ago
[wikipedia.org] – History of the electric vehicle

The Engines of the Renewable Energy Age

Now that the petrol and diesel internal combustion engines are on the way out, the question rises: what will replace them? One candidate is obvious, the electro-motor, powered by renewable electricity, with a battery or hydrogen fuel cell as intermediary storage stage:

[source]Car electromotor

But what if we only have heat available as an energy source, for instance from burning biomass, methanol, ammonia, or even metal powder like is shown here (0:43 – 1:20):

Stirline engine powered by burning iron powder

The answer to that question would be the Stirling engine. A Dutch-based company called Microgen claims (in 2014) to be the first to mass produce a stirling engine, albeit still powered by natural gas. Microgen is located in Doetinchem, has an R&D-facility in Petersborough, England and production in China. Patents probably owned by Sunpower from the US.

Work on the Stirling engine was carried out in the sixties by Philips in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, as well as by Ford and GM in the seventies. But none of these projects made it into mass production.

[agem.nu] – Stirlingmotor uit de Achterhoek slingert duurzaamheid aan
[microgen-engine.com] – Microgen corporate site
[wikipedia.org] – Stirling Engine
[wikipedia.org] – Applications of the Stirling Engine
[wikipedia.org] – Internal combustion engine

Swedisch submarine powered by a Stirling engine

Philips Stirling motor, still working half a century later.

Regeneration of Spent NaBH4 From Renewable Electricity

7 steps in the traditional Brown-Schlesinger process for industrial production of NaBH4. (Borax = Na2B4O5(OH)4 · 8 H2O)

Taiwanese research from 2015 regarding the recycling of spent NaBH4, i.e. after this reaction has occurred and the hydrogen has been released:

NaBH4 + 2H2O → [catalyst] NaBO2 + 4H2 + 217kJ

The question is: how do we get NaBH4 back in the most energy-efficient manner and close the fuel cycle?. The traditional answer is: via the Brown-Schlesinger process. The electrolysis of molten NaCl in order to obtain metallic Na (Sodium) is an important step in that process. An alternative approach is presented here, namely producing metallic sodium through electrolysis of seawater.

Candidate metal borohydrides for hydrogen storage: LiBH4, NaBH4, KBH4, LiH, NaH, and MgH2. Of these NaBH4 is the prime candidate because of its higher hydrogen content (i.e., 10.8 wt%).

Traditional industrial method of producing NaBH4 according to the Brown-Schlesinger process (see picture above):

Step 1. Hydrogen produced from steam reforming of methane.
Step 2. Metallic sodium obtained through the electrolysis of sodium chloride.
Step 3. Boric acid converted from borax.
Step 4. Trimethyl borate synthesized from esterification of boric acid in methanol.
Step 5. Sodium hydride produced from metallic sodium reacting with hydrogen.
Step 6. Synthesis of NaBH4 via the reaction of trimethyl borate with sodium hydride.
Step 7. Methanol recycled from the hydrolysis of sodium methoxide.

The original fuel cycle, based on sodium borohydride (NaBH4) and ammonia borane (NH3BH3).

The revision in the concept combining the regeneration of the spent borohydrides and the used catalysts with the green electricity is reflected in(1) that metallic sodium could be produced from NaCl of high purity obtained from the conversion of the byproduct in the synthesis of NH3BH3 to devoid the complicated purification procedures if produced from seawater; and (2) that the recycling and the regeneration processes of the spent NaBH4 and NH3BH3 as well as the used catalysts could be simultaneously carried out and combined with the proposed life cycle of borohydrides.

[mdpi.com] – The Concept about the Regeneration of Spent Borohydrides and Used Catalysts from Green Electricity

Note that this research was published before H2-Fuel came out in the open about their method of extracting as much hydrogen as possible from NaBH4, namely via ultra-pure water and limited amounts of HCL.

[deepresource] – Production of NaBH4
[deepresource] – NaBH4 – The Vice-Admiral Has a Message for Dutch Parliament
[deepresource] – H2Fuel – Hydrogen Powder NaBH4

World’s Largest Chinese Jackup Vessel With 2000 Ton Crane

Lifting capacity: 2000 ton, sufficient for 10 MW turbines.

[xindemarinenews.com] – World’s largest offshore wind platform delivered in E.China

Kick-off Building Nexans Aurora Submarine Cable Layer

The hull is to be built in Crist, Poland. The rest at Ulstein Verft in Norway. Completion date 2021. Purpose: connection offshore wind farms with onshore grids.

[offshorewind.biz] – Ulstein Kicks Off Nexans Aurora Construction

New DEME Jackup Ship Apollo to be Inaugurated Tomorrow

Croatian built, Uljanik Shipyard. Leg length 107 m. Crane 800 ton. Owner: Flemish DEME Group.

[offshorewind.biz] – Apollo Readies for Naming Ceremony
[maritiemnieuws.nl] – Nieuwste self-propelled jack-up vessel ‘Apollo’ naar eerste opdracht
[wikipedia.org] – DEME
[wikipedia.org] – Uljanik

1600 Ton Offshore Wind Monopiles in China

To be built in a series of 500. Realization 5 months. Principal: SPIC Guangdong Electric Power Co., Ltd. Destined for Chinese record water depth of 37 m and 3.2 GW project power.

[offshorewind.biz] – Record-Breaking Monopiles Roll Out in China

Huisman Installation Aeolus 1600 Ton Crane

Read more…

Can We Terraform the Sahara to Stop Climate Change?

Why Have Wind Turbines Three Blades?

Offshore grid TenneT in Nederland

English

Dutch

World’s Next Largest Battery to be Built in Texas (495 MW)

[source] A similar, already realized project in South-Australia

Scheduled completion date May 2021.
To be combined with solar park of equal size.
Ironically to be used for oil drilling (hey, this is Texas!)

[bloomberg.com] – World’s Biggest Battery to Boost Solar in Texas Oil Country
[Google Maps]

EU Largest Floating Solar Park in the Netherlands

Households: 600
Scale: 6150 panels
Date: September 2018
Initiative: grass-roots
Installation time: 4 weeks
Wind resistance: Beaufort 10
Financial payback time: 15 years
Location: Lingewaard, Bemmel (Nijmegen)
Advantages: higher yield because of water reflection, surface water has a cooling effect on the the panels (higher yield), no alternative economic exploitation.

We couldn’t find any exact figure of the surface area, but we estimate it to be 10,000 m2. In the Netherlands an additional 7,000,000 m2 similar surface water could be used for the same purpose. That would be enough for 700 similar additional projects or 420,000 households of 8 million in total.

Unexpected additional benefit: reduction of evaporation of scarce surface water. This could become more important in the light of climate change.

[energiekaart.net] – Lingestroom gaat zonnestroom leveren van grootste drijvende zonnepark in de EU

[source]

[source] After a month the first results are in: the first 1 MWh has been harvested. Negative development: bird poop, lots of.

Biodegradable Car From Eindhoven/The Netherlands

What have you been smoking, a car made from beets and flax? Meet the Lina, a car designed and constructed by students of the University of Eindhoven.

Embodied energy: 20% of your average conventional sedan made of aluminium.
Weight: 683 pounds (300 kg).
Drive train: electric
Range: 60 km
Topspeed: 55 kmh

[autoweek.com] – Biodegradable Car Made From Sugar Beets and Flax?
[bbc.com] – Driving a car made from biodegradable materials
[wikipedia.org] – Bioplastic

London, Shell eco-marathon 2017

[source]

[source] PLA honeycomb structure plate material Lina

Bus Driving on Formic Acid in Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Formic acid = hydrogen 2.0.

You can drive on hydrogen, but only under insane pressures like 700 bar in cylinder shapes. With formic acid, the hydrogen comes as a liquid, under ambient conditions, that can be stored under the passenger’s seats. Formic acid is inflammable and can’t explode. To normal humans formic acid is known from nettles that grow in the wild. Formic acid or hydrozine (HCOOH) can be produced from hydrogen and CO2. Emissions: water and CO2. That is, an amount of CO2 equal to the amounts you have to put into formic acid in the first place, so carbon neutral. A ruthenium catalyst is essential.

Note: the bus drives on batteries, not on a fuel cell. The formic acid merely serves as a “range extender”, it is not powerful enough yet to power the bus entirely by itself. With 300 liter formic acid the range gets extended by 80-300 km, depending on city/long distance travel (flywheel?). In this way the battery can be a lot smaller. A sedan could drive 250 km on 50 liter formic acid. “Well-to-wheel” efficiency is 33%, where a regular hydrogen car scores 25%. In contrast to hydrogen fuel stations, a regular gasoline station can be retrofitted for formic acid for an amount of ca. 35,000 euro (hydrogen 5 million).

[volkskrant.nl] – Deze stadsbus in Eindhoven rijdt nu op mierenzuur – en dat is behoorlijk revolutionair
[bbc.com] – Ant power: Take a ride on a bus that runs on formic acid
[deepresource] – Formic Acid as Car Fuel
[wikipedia.org] – Formic acid
[deingenieur.nl] – Mierenzuur is Brandstof voor de Transportsector
[thefactoryfiles.com] – Elektrische Stadsbus Rijdt 200 Kilometer Op Een Tank Mierenzuur

Solar Panel Still Working After 40 Years

Journalists discovered a shabby, nearly-forgotten, 40 year old solar panel in New Hampshire. And it was still producing electricity. Perhaps not as much as in the beginning, but “on a partly cloudy midafternoon” it could still cough up 24 Watt of the original 42 nameplate peak-Watt. This shows that the standard 20-year economic lifetime of solar parks is very conservative.

[concordmonitor.com] – A solar panel in the New Hampshire woods is old enough to run for president

Even more spectacular and accurately German-academically established are the results from a 35 year old solar array at the University of Oldenburg:

[presse.uni-oldenburg.de]
[uol.de] – 30 Years at the Service of Renewable Energies

Spectacular! Conversion efficiency decreased only mildly from 8.55% to 8.2%! The panels survived the companies AEG and Telefunken that build the installation.

[source] The 35 year old solar modules at Oldenburg University

Some calculations. A standard 300 Watt panel of 160 x 100 cm at a price of 250 euro (without installation cost) will produce in Oldenburg something like 285 kWh per year. Multiply that with 50 years = 14.250 kWh lifetime total. One liter of gasoline contains 12 kWh energy in the form of heat. Note that electricity from a solar panel is “higher grade” than heat. You can power your fridge on electricity but not on heat. Conversion of heat into electricity comes with a loss of perhaps 50%.

So this 30 kilo solar panel will produce the thermal equivalent of 1188 liter of gasoline over 50 years or 2375 liter of gasoline if required for electricity generation. Note that these 2375 liter gasoline weigh 1710 kilo. An amount that needs to be transported from Siberia or Saudi-Arabia to Germany first, where the Good Lawd deliverers all these photons at location in Oldenburg, free of charge.

Current consumer price gasoline in Oldenburg: 1.35 euro/liter.
1188 liter would cost 1604 euro.
2375 liter would cost 3208 euro.
The panel would cost ca. 500 euro, including installation and grid connection.

From this it becomes obvious that once a society is able to store renewable electricity efficiently, and all the signs are that this is going to work (battery 98%, pumped hydro 80%, power-to-gas 70%, CAES 60%), the shocking result is that renewable energy will be much cheaper than fossil fuel. Note that the figures here relate to Oldenburg in Northern Germany. In North-Africa, Australia or elsewhere, solar conditions are up to twice as good and renewable electricity prices can be slashed accordingly, giving poor but sunny countries the excellent opportunity to make money with the export of hydrogen-based stored energy (H2, NH3, CH4, NaBH4), generated by huge solar arrays at a cost of 2 cent/kWh.

P.S. criticasters might bring forward that the gasoline prices contain a considerable chunk of taxes, which is true. The counterargument is that that argument applies to the solar panels as well. We are comparing end-consumer prices for both gasoline and solar panels. Add to that that gasoline prices are unlikely to fall, but could very well increase, certainly if a carbon tax is applied, hand-in-hand with increasing signs of disastrous climate change:

[omroepbrabant.nl] – February 15, 2019, warmest 15-2 day in recorded history in the South of the Netherlands.

It is safe to predict in contrast that prices for solar voltaics will further come down considerably:

[newenergyupdate.com] – Solar costs forecast to drop 40% by 2020

Massive further reduction of cost of solar arrays is possible if one abandons the concept of heavy and expensive solar modules and corresponding all-weather mounting racks and replace them with thin solar film, mounted on lightweight plastic and rails, much like a curtain. A bit like this:

They can be installed in a desert with low air circulation, with the possibility of closing “the curtains” in case of rare strong winds.

Production of NaBH4

[Source] Sodium Borohydride (NaBH4), the Holy Hydrogen Grail? The solution to our renewable energy storage problems?

As reported earlier, here is what is at stake: at [2:20] activator fluid is let lose on the small amount of NaBH4 powder and immediately large amounts of hydrogen are released from the powder that push away the water in the long glass tube. The amount of hydrogen produced can be accurately controlled by the amount of activator fluid added to the powder.

The purpose of this post is to gain some insight into how Sodium Borohydride (NaBH4) is acquired c.q. produced.

[wikipedia.org] – Sodium borohydride

For commercial NaBH4 production, the Brown-Schlesinger process and the Bayer process are the most popular methods. In the Brown-Schlesinger process Sodium borohydride is industrially prepared following the original method of Schlesinger: sodium hydride (produced by reacting Na and H2) is treated with trimethyl borate at 250–270 °C:

B(OCH3)3 + 4 NaH → NaBH4 + 3 NaOCH3

Millions of kilograms are produced annually, far exceeding the production levels of any other hydride reducing agent. Sodium borohydride can also be produced by the action of NaH on powdered borosilicate glass.

Different from it, the Bayer process is based on the reaction among borax (Na2B4O7), Na, H2, and silicon oxide (SiO2) at 700 °C to synthesize NaBH4:

Na2B4O7 + 16 Na + 8 H2 + 7 SiO2 → 4 NaBH4 + 7 Na2SiO3

There is currently an effort to modify the Bayer Process by employing the less expensive reducing metal magnesium (Mg) in place of sodium. Reactions such as:

8 MgH2 + Na2B4O7 + Na2CO3 → 4 NaBH4 + 8 MgO + CO2

and

2 MgH2 + NaBO2 → NaBH4 + 2 MgO

are promising modifications to the Bayer Process, but have not been developed far enough to exhibit both high yield and fast reaction rates.

[mdpi.com] – The Concept about the Regeneration of Spent Borohydrides and Used Catalysts from Green Electricity (2015, pdf)

Currently, the Brown-Schlesinger process is still regarded as the most common and mature method for the commercial production of sodium borohydride (NaBH4). However, the metallic sodium, currently produced from the electrolysis of molten NaCl that is mass-produced by evaporation of seawater or brine, is probably the most costly raw material… we have made improvements and modified our previously proposed life cycle of sodium borohydride (NaBH4) and ammonia borane (NH3BH3), in order to further reduce costs in the conventional Brown-Schlesinger process.

[energy.gov] – Review of Chemical Processes for the Synthesis of NaBH4
[mdpi.com] – A Recycling Hydrogen Supply System of NaBH4 Based on a Facile Regeneration Process (2018, pdf)
[pubs.acs.org] – The Preparation of Sodium Borohydride by the High Temperature Reaction of Sodium Hydride with Borate Esters (1953)
[slideshare.net] – Review chem. processes for synthesis of NaBH4
[wikipedia.org] – Sodium

[mdpi.com] – The Concept about the Regeneration of Spent Borohydrides and Used Catalysts from Green Electricity (2015)

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