Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

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.

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

[] – 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.

[] – Brilliant iron molecule could provide cheaper solar energy
[] – 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.

[] – Forscher wandeln Kohlendioxid wieder in Kohle um
[] – 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”

[] – Over a third of all cars were electric a century ago
[] – Why Electric Cars Ruled The Roads 100 Years Ago
[] – 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.

[] – Stirlingmotor uit de Achterhoek slingert duurzaamheid aan
[] – Microgen corporate site
[] – Stirling Engine
[] – Applications of the Stirling Engine
[] – 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.

[] – 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.

[] – 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.

[] – 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.

[] – Apollo Readies for Naming Ceremony
[] – Nieuwste self-propelled jack-up vessel ‘Apollo’ naar eerste opdracht
[] – DEME
[] – 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.

[] – Record-Breaking Monopiles Roll Out in China

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