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Archive for the category “UK”

Advances in Lithium-Sulfur Batteries

“Lightweight Battery systems using metallic Lithium are known to offer the highest specific energy. Sulfur represents a natural cathode partner for metallic Li and, in contrast with conventional lithium-ion cells, the chemicals processes include dissolution from the anode surface during discharge and reverse lithium plating to the anode while charging. As a consequence, Li-S allows for a theoretical specific energy in excess of 2700Wh/kg, which is nearly 5 times higher than that of Li-ion. OXIS’s next generation lithium technology platform offers the highest energy density among lithium chemistry: 400 Wh/kg already achieved at cell level… Cost Effectiveness Li-S production cost projections are significantly lower than Li-Ion due to lower raw material cost (i.e. Sulfur) and high energy density (less material required for same energy). This cost advantage is expected to be a key driver for widespread adoption of Li-S technology. Full discharge OXIS cells have a 100% available Depth-of-Discharge. This compares with Li-ion batteries which are only used across 80% (or less) of their available discharge range. OXIS cells use all their stored energy – full discharge. Maintenance free OXIS cells have an indefinite shelf-life, with no charging required when left for extended period. Li-ion batteries require a recharge every 3-6 months to prevent failure and often causes significant warranty issues. Eco friendly The OXIS Li-S chemistry is considered to have less environmental impact when compared to other technologies such as Li-ion. The Li-S cell utilises sulfur in place of heavy metals such as cobalt, which have a significant environmental impact, whereas the sulfur used in OXIS manufacture is a recycled material, a by-product of the oil industry.”

[] – Company site
[] – Li-S, Lithium-Sulfur, an energy revolution
[] – Lithium–sulfur battery
[data sheet] – Ultra Light Lithium Sulfur Pouch Cell

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Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES)

British research club reports the results of their analysis of a liquid air storage system (LAES). The idea is to use renewable electricity to liquefy air for energy storage purposes. Result: storage cost 11 euro cent/kWh for a 20MW/800 MWh storage installation at a round-trip efficiency of ca. 50%. Storage pressure ambient. Recuperation by boiling the liquid and drive a turbine in a Rankine cycle. Efficiency could be increased by combining solar of waste heat, thus increasing the temperature at the expansion phase. Storage of liquid air in large volumes is fairly easy with an energy density of 83 kWh/m3.

To really solve the renewable energy storage problem, as a rule-of-thumb, a country needs to be able to store ca. 41% of its annual energy consumption, in order to reasonably guarantee energy supply security. Let’s apply this to a country like the Netherlands, with an average power need of 13 GW. Given the energy density of 83 kWh/m3, a storage volume of 562 km3 would be required, which is unrealistic. Liguid air storage is a short term storage possibility (think in a range of hours, not months).

The real solution of the long term storage problem doesn’t lie in gravity batteries or even phase change solutions, like the one presented her, but in combustible material, reduced with renewable means: hydrogen, iron powder, borohydride, ammonia, methanol, formic acid and a wide range of other possibilities.

[] – An analysis of a large-scale liquid air energy storage system
[] – Rankine Cycle

Scientists Develop a Gold Layer of 2 Atoms Thick

Gold-layer of two atoms thick

Important development since a surface like this keeps its macroscopic properties as catalyst. There are many important applications where expensive catalysts play an crucial role. Now price of a material hardly matters anymore.

[] – Sub‐Nanometer Gold Nanosheets as Efficient Catalysts
[] – Nur zwei Atome dick – das dünnste Gold der Welt

Britain Could Do Without Coal for More Than 8 Days

This #Coal free run ended at 8 Days 1 Hour 25 Minutes.

This is the longest run without coal for Great Britain since 1882.

Generation during this time was met by: Gas 45%, Nuclear 21%, Wind 12%, Imports 10%, Biomass 6%, Solar 5%, Large Hydro <1%, Storage <1%


UK Needs 7500 Offshore Wind Turbines and 5% More Forests

According to the Committee on Climate Change, Britain needs to quadruple its inventory of wind turbines from 1,900 now to 7,500, as well as increase the British area of forestation from 12% to 17%, in order to meet the climate targets. Wind power would increase from 8 GW now to 75 GW. Jobs would remain constant.

[] – Number of wind turbines in the UK needs to QUADRUPLE to 7,500 and the nation should plant ‘enough trees to cover Yorkshire’ in order to meet strict Government climate targets
[] – Committee on Climate Change

Magnetic Gearing for Renewable Energy Devices

Renewable energy sources, such as wind and wave, can power our world. Currently, mechanical gears are used inside of these energy conversion systems to connect a high-speed electric machine to a low-speed physical energy source. Improving the design of the systems that convert these sources into electrical energy has far-reaching benefits.

[] – Improving Efficiency, Maintenance and Power Output
[] – Magnetic gears to advance renewable energy technology
[] – Magnetic gear

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Solid Eco-Friendly Refrigerant

Air-conditioning, how it all began in 1833 in Florida with John Gorrie.

Ca. 20% of the world’s energy budget is used for cooling, tendency upwards. Today most refrigerators use flammable hydro-fluorocarbons and hydrocarbons as a working fluid, not exactly environmentally friendly. On top of that, cooling efficiency is not stellar either.

Researchers from Spanish and British universities propose to swap the working fluids mentioned above, with inexpensive neopentyl-glycol (NPG), a material that has a crystal structure, that places it between solids and liquids, due to weak bonds between the atoms of the compound. The material can be compressed, almost as if it were a gas, like with conventional refrigerators. Achievable cooling temperatures are comparable with conventional cooling machines.

[] – Green material for refrigeration identified
[] – Colossal barocaloric effects near room temperature in plastic crystals of neopentylglycol
[] – Refrigeration
[] – Neopentyl-glycol

It has been reported that plastic crystals of neopentyl glycol exhibit a colossal barocaloric effect (CBCEs), which is a cooling effect caused by pressure-induced phase transitions. The obtained entropy changes are about 389 joules per kilogram per kelvin near room temperature. This CBCE phenomenon is likely to be very useful in future solid-state refrigeration technologies.

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Salt Water Battery that Charges in Seconds and Changes Color

Charge and discharge in seconds. Note how the anode (left) turns from blue to transparent to blue again. The cathode (right) turn from green to brown to steel grey.

Development from the Imperial College in London: salt water battery that charges and discharges in a matter of seconds and changes color to indicate the charge status of the battery. No toxic or flammable materials used whatsoever, only polymers (plastic) and salt water.

[] – Nontoxic, Salt Water Battery Prototype Could Revolutionize Recyclable Batteries
[] – Design and evaluation of conjugated polymers with polar side chains as electrode materials for electrochemical energy storage in aqueous electrolytes

Hydrogen Economy in the Orkney Islands


The Scottish Orkney islands produce more renewable electricity from tidal and waves than it can consume, which creates some space to experiment a little, with hydrogen. The largest distance on the main island is merely 24 miles, so max. vehicle range is not an issue. Now the inhabitants have a dream of running their cars, ferries and boilers on hydrogen. All of them. With 21,000 inhabitants the project seems to be doable. By 2021, the world’s first hydrogen sea-going ferry should be in operation here. The ambition of the people of Orkney is to be an inspiration for others.

[] – How hydrogen is transforming these tiny Scottish Islands


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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.

ITM Power Upbeat of Hydrogen Storage Market

Shell opening its first hydrogen fueling station based on ITM hardware.

[] – ITM Power

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Funding for 100 MW Hydrogen Electrolyser Feasibility Study

ITM Power (AIM: ITM), the energy storage and clean fuel company, is pleased to announce funding from Innovate UK for a feasibility study to deploy a 100MW Power-to-Gas (P2G) energy storage project, “Project Centurion” at Runcorn, Cheshire, UK.

This world class project explores the electrolytic production, pipeline transmission, salt cavern storage and gas grid injection of green hydrogen at an industrial scale. The feasibility study will explore the system design and costs and will assess the business case for deployment.

The vision for Project Centurion is to demonstrate a 100MW P2G energy storage system which can produce low carbon hydrogen for heat, decarbonisation of industry, and transport fuel. Once successfully demonstrated, such systems can make a significant contribution to the decarbonisation of the electricity and gas networks, and by coupling these two networks together provide energy storage, allowing the UK energy system to accommodate increasing amounts of renewable energy, reducing curtailment and constraints. As well as contributing to decarbonisation, P2G systems can improve security of energy supply and improve the UK balance of payments by producing indigenous fuel offsetting the need to import fuel.

The transport of hydrogen by pipeline to salt caverns near Lostock, where it can be stored pure or blended with natural gas, will be explored, along with the feasibility of injection into the local gas network. Other potential demands for the hydrogen will be assessed, including industrial and transport use which will support existing studies in the area, particularly Cadent’s HyNet NW… objectives are: to produce a 100MW system design with costs significantly below current targets

These considerations apply to countries like Holland and Denmark as well, as they are both “equiped” with a large shallow part of the North Sea, ideal for the production of raw renewable electricity, that can be converted in hydrogen-fuel with 80-90% efficiency and at a cost of 0.5 cent/kWh.

[] – ITM Power lands feasibility funding for ambitious Cheshire energy storage project
[Google Maps] – Runcorn (near Liverpool)

UK Nuclear Future in Doubt After Japanese Withdrawl

Two Japanese investor groups, Toshiba and Hitachi, are said to be on the verge of withdrawing from earlier plans to develop two new nuclear projects in Cumbria and Wales resp.

[insert rubbing hands-sound from Danish, German and Dutch offshore wind developers in the background here]

[] – Britain’s nuclear future is thrown into chaos as Japanese firm gets set to pull out of £16b illion deal

Sunamp Heat Battery

Phase-change based heat storage. The active material remains mysterious and is UK/China-patented, with phase change occurring at 58 Celsius.

[] – Company site
[] – Sunamp brochure


[] – Sunamp heat batteries

According to this source the active material could be “Strontium Bromide hexahydrate” (SrBr2.6H2O) with (still secret) additives, patents pending.

At room temperature, strontium bromide adopts a crystal structure with a tetragonal unit cell and space group P4/n. This structure is referred to as α-SrBr2 and is isostructural with EuBr2 and USe2. Around 920 K (650 °C), α-SrBr2 undergoes a first-order solid-solid phase transition to a much less ordered phase, β-SrBr2, which adopts the cubic fluorite structure.

Here is the Sunamp patent:

[] – Strontium bromide phase change material


There is herein described a phase change material (PCM) for use in energy storage systems. More particularly, there is described a phase change material comprising Strontium Bromide and a Metal Halide that is optimal to storing heat in about the 76ºC to 88ºC temperature range.

Driving Patterns

A 2016 British study can give us an idea of how the car is being used. Results: most trips are rather short, with 95% less than 25 miles and 66% less than 5 miles. However, if you add all journeys below and above 25 miles, the results is about 50-50. The number of all trips, short or long, has declined over the past 12 years.

Combining the data, perhaps a compromise solution for future transport architecture could be: private ownership of a cheap, light-weight vehicle for 1-2 persons, like the Carver in the previous post, for the short distances, that still comprise 95% of all trips and do the rest with public transport, like bus and train and later autonomous driving vehicles. A range of 100 km would suffice for that purpose and allow for relative light batteries.

[] – Road Use Statistics Great Britain 2016
[] – On the distribution of individual daily driving distances

Shell Plans Return to UK Offshore Wind

Royal Dutch Shell says it is considering bidding for rights to develop offshore wind farms in UK waters as the British-Dutch oil and gas giant seeks to re-enter the nation’s sector after a 10-year absence.

Dorine Bosman, Shell’s wind chief, said the company was interested in seabed leases due to be awarded during 2019 by the Crown Estate, which controls Britain’s coast. The Dutch-based firm left the UK offshore wind sector when it sold its stake in the London Array project 10 years ago.

A global pioneer in the field, the UK was one of the key offshore wind markets Shell wanted to enter, she said. The oil major says it is investing US$2 billion a year in developing “new energies” or low-carbon power.

Shell co-owns a minor offshore wind farm in the Netherlands and a larger Dutch project which is under construction. In December it spent US$175 million entering the tiny US market, acquiring the rights to New Jersey and Massachusetts seabed leases that could potentially generate 4.1 gigawatts of wind power.

[] – Shell plans return to UK offshore wind

Prof. Gorden Hughes At It Again

Prof. Gorden Hughes has launched his usual attacks against the wind industry again:

The report’s author, Prof Gordon Hughes, an economist at Edinburgh University and a former energy adviser to the World Bank, discovered that the “load factor” — the efficiency rating of a turbine based on the percentage of electricity it actually produces compared with its theoretical maximum — is reduced from 24 per cent in the first 12 months of operation to just 11 per cent after 15 years.

[] – Wind farm turbines wear sooner than expected, says study

We have dealt with prof. Hughes before:

[deepresource] – Wind Turbine Lifespan
[] – Prof Gordon A. Hughes

North Sea UCG

“We think there are between three trillion and 23 trillion tonnes of coal buried under the North Sea,” explained Dermot Roddy, former professor of energy at Newcastle University.

“This is thousands of times greater than all the oil and gas we have taken out so far, which totals around six billion tonnes. If we could extract just a few per cent of that coal it would be enough to power the UK for decades or centuries.”

[] – Huge coal deposits discovered in North Sea
[] – Underground coal gasification (2010)

Dr Dermot Roddy

[] – The commercialisation of UCG
[] – Dr Dermot Roddy
Dermot Roddy is Five-Quarter’s Chief Technology Officer, leading the company’s highly-specialised and innovative technological remit. He joined the company directly from Newcastle University, where he was Professor of Energy. Dermot is an internationally-respected industry professional and academic, with extensive energy and related downstream industry experience in both the traditional and renewable sectors. He began his working life in academia (with Bachelor and Doctorate degrees from Queen’s University, Belfast), before branching out into industry, working his way up to leadership positions with ICI (overseeing the building and running of chemicals factories) and Petroplus International in the Netherlands. Dermot’s previous positions include being Chairman of Northeast Biofuels; a Director of the UK Hydrogen Association; the VP of the Northeast Electricity companies Association and a Member of the Energy Leadership Council. Prior to his tenure as Professor of Energy at Newcastle University, Dermot was the CEO of Renew Tees Valley, which delivered significant economic regeneration through inward investment and expansion of indigenous businesses in renewable energy.

Storage Now the Key Botttleneck of Renewable Power

Renewable power generation has matured sufficiently to become main stream. Now the next challenge is how to store intermittent renewable power economically to level off supply and demand fluctuations.

Surplus Energy Economics

Tim Morgan proposes an energy- and EROI-centric view of the economy instead of a financial-centric approach.

Our comment: we do not know the work of Tim Morgan, but agree that energy is a far more important factor to explain the economy than finance. We are not as pessimistic that prosperity is a thing of the past and believe that technology can compensate for loss of cheap fossil energy.

[surplusenergyeconomics] – #108: SEEDS goes public
[] – Terrifying Tim from Tullett
[] – Speaker dr. Tim Morgan
[] – Life After Growth: How the global economy really works – and why 200 years of growth are over


Why, years after the banking crisis, is the global economy still mired in recession and burdened by enormous debts? Why have the tried-and-tested economic policies of the past failed us this time? In Life After Growth, leading City analyst Tim Morgan sets out a ground-breaking analysis of how the economy really works. Economists are mistaken, he argues, when they limit their interpretation of the economy to matters of money. Ultimately, the economy is an energy system, not a monetary one. From this, it follows that we need to think in terms of two economies, not one – a ‘real’ economy of work, energy, resources, goods and services, and a parallel, ‘financial’ economy of money and debt. These two economies have parted company, allowing the financial economy to pile up promises that the real economy cannot meet. Starting with the discovery of agriculture, Tim Morgan traces the rise of the economy in terms of work, energy and resources. The driving factor, he explains, has been cheap and abundant energy. As energy has become increasingly costly to obtain, the potential for prosperity has diminished, to the point where growth in the real economy has ceased. An immediate problem is that our commitments – including debt, investments and welfare promises – cannot be honoured, which means that we can expect the financial system to be wracked by value destruction. At the same time, we need to adapt to a future in which prosperity can no longer be taken for granted. #lifeaftergrowth

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