Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “bio”

Lignin – Plant Based Plastic Substitute

If current developments in plastic consumption aren’t curbed, at some point there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. One solution could be the replacement of fossil-based plastics with plant based materials, that are biodegradable. A key material is Lignin, a class of complex organic polymers.

[] – Company site
[] – Lignin
[] – Avantium
[] – “Bio Roads”, substituting 30% bitumen with lignin
[] – Avantium and Roelofs construct the world’s first test road with lignin produced in the Netherlands

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District Heating in the Netherlands

In line with the 100% decarbonization policy of the European Union, to be achieved by 2050, the Netherlands is busy moving away from space heating with natural gas towards district heating with process heat, biomass and/or heat pumps. New-build homes in the Netherlands are by law no longer connected to the national natural gas grid.

A large number of small companies are picking up the new opportunities in the Netherlands to construct district heating warmtenetten. Companies like Twence or Warmtenet Dordrecht that currently has 3,000 homes connected and aspires to achieve 15,000 eventually.

Another example is the city of Eindhoven, the home base of Ennatuurlijk:

Blue lines indicate areas that already have district heating. Ennatuurlijk plans to expand further throughout Eindhoven.

[] – Ennatuurlijk
[] – District heating
[] – Twence corporate site
[] – Warmtenet: op naar de 15.000 huizen in Dordrecht
[] – warmtenet Dordrecht

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Airborn Solar Panels

“Liftoff, we have a liftoff!”. Europe, one of those territories eagerly absorbing photo-voltaic energy generation, has a little bit of a space problem, being one of the most densely-populated areas in the world. A field covered with solar panels unfortunately can’t be used for agriculture. Or can it? The Fraunhofer Institute has found out that it is very well possible to use land for both agriculture and energy generation by stacking both functionalities.

Upshot agricultural yield: corn slightly negative, but grass and shadow-loving potatoes make no difference.

Influence partly shadowing on different crops

[] – Agrivoltaic
[] – Agrophotovoltaics Goes Global: from Chile to Vietnam
[] – 20 slides Fraunhofer Institute
[] – Fraunhofer Experiments In Chile And Vietnam Prove Value Of Agrophotovoltaic Farming
[] – Combining Solar Panels With Agriculture Makes Land More Productive

Solar Energy Storage Using Bionic Leafs

Berkeley came up with a new bionic leaf that can convert energy from sunlight into an energy-dense fuel, imitating the photosynthetic process of plants.


Biofuel Breakthrough: Quick Cook Method Turns Algae Into Oil

Michigan Engineering researchers can “pressure-cook” algae for as little as a minute and transform an unprecedented 65 percent of the green slime into biocrude… Once producing biofuel from algae is economical, researchers estimate that an area the size of New Mexico could provide enough oil to match current U.S. petroleum consumption.


Turning Algae Into Fuel In One Minute

Youtube text: Converting algae to biofuel could be a sustainable solution to the need for liquid fuel in the United States, according to U-M researchers. Scientists in the chemical engineering department are working to create an effective method for converting the plant, which can be harvested continuously and grown in any water condition. About the professor Phil Savage is the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan. His research focus is on energy production from renewable resources, developing novel processes for converting biomass hydrogen, methane, and liquid transportation fuels.

Researchers at the University of Michigan have been experimenting with cooking green marine micro-algae and found that one minute is all it took to get 65% of their source material transformed into biocrude. They also used a wet algae, rather than having to dry it in the manner that is used in the more conventional process.


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Artificial Photosynthesis

Youtube text: Photovoltaics, otherwise known as solar cells, are an important source of energy around the world, converting solar radiation into electricity which we use every day to power our lights, computers, and appliances. But even the most advanced solar cells can only use a fraction of the sun’s energy. What if we could use the unused solar energy to also produce fuel? Matt Shaner, a graduate student in the Lewis Research group at Caltech, shows us a demo of an intriguing new technique in the production of hydrogen, a promising alternative fuel. Plants convert the sun’s energy into sugar through photosynthesis. In this process, hydrogen is produced when the sun’s rays hit a piece of silicon, a material often found in photovoltaic cells (produced by the American Chemical Society).


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Energy 101 | Algae-to-Fuels

Youtube text: As America takes steps to improve our energy security, home-grown fuel sources are more important that ever. One of the fuel sources of the future is algae, small aquatic organisms that convert sunlight into energy and store it in the form of oil. Scientists and engineers at the Energy Department and its national laboratories are researching the best strains of algae and developing the most efficient farming practices. This edition of Energy 101 shows how oil is extracted from algae and refined into sustainable biofuels.

For more information on biofuels visit

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Epic Ethanol Breakthrough?

Michigan State University researchers came up with a biofuel rocess that produces 20 times more energy than existing methods. If these promises materialize the breakthrough could be best described as epic. In essence microbes produce biofuel and hydrogen, based on agricultural waste feedstock.


Woody Agriculture

This post presents a rather unknown potential food and biomass energy paradigm, depending on newly domesticated woody plants for primary food production, equal to industrial agriculture. These crops capture far more solar input than row-crops can; and always also produce wood; some of which will always be available for energy purposes… Make no mistake, we’re talking about a full paradigm shift; potentially achieving primary world food production from woody crop plants… We breed 3 genera of woody plants, hazelnuts (Corylus), chestnuts (Castanea), and hickory-pecan (Carya)… Bottom line: long term inputs are dramatically smaller than for standard agriculture, and potential solar energy capture is very much greater; in the range of 3X more than single crop maize… Woody agriculture can produce food; on the same scale as modern agriculture. But because of the 3X energy capture aspect the same crop can simultaneously produce a biomass fuel component.


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Biogasanlage Willingshausen-Ransbach

German language vide describing a biogas installation functioning for more than a year.

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