Making Algae More Productive

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The Blog has looked at several algae-to-fuel manufacturers in its postings, and the U. S. Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado adds its name to that growing list, but not in the usual commercial way.   NREL claims to have developed a “unique bioreactor,” otherwise known as their Simulated Algal Growth Environment (SAGE) reactor, which controls light and temperature to test different strains of algae and simulates various locations in the United States where particular spores would be most prolific. NREL’s hope is to use SAGE to “produce algae that could someday compete with renewable diesel, cellulosic ethanol, and other petroleum alternatives as transportation fuel.” “It does so by revealing the intricate biochemical rearrangements that algae …

Fuel Cell Progress in Britain

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado released a document last year on the viability of fuel cells for various applications, including transportation.  The National Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Learning Demonstration Final Report, “analyzed data from more than 500,000 individual vehicle trips covering 3.6 million miles traveled and more than 152,000 [kilograms] hydrogen produced or dispensed.”  The agency tested 180 vehicles over a six-year period. With United States Department of Energy expectations that fuel cell powered vehicles could achieve: • 250-mile driving range • 2,000-hour fuel cell durability • $3/gallon gasoline equivalent (gge) hydrogen production cost (based on volume production) At least two fuel cell manufacturers report results exceeding these numbers, so the major impediment to wide-spread implementation of …

Cambridge, MIT Chasing Room-Temperature Hydrogen

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

News from Cambridge University shows some promise for inexpensive production of hydrogen, an elusive process considering the lightest element in creation is also the most common, said to make up 90 percent of the visible universe.  On earth, it readily combines with oxygen to form water, a handy thing to have around for the benefit of our species. Getting hydrogen out of the water so that we can burn it in our cars and airplanes is a frustrating process, though, often requiring more energy for the extraction than can be obtained from its combustion. According the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “To make [hydrogen] usable in fuel cells or otherwise provide energy, we must expend energy or modify another energy source …

Power Spraying Takes on a Whole New Meaning

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 4 Comments

Several news sources, apparently using the same press release from Mitsubishi Chemical Corp., have announced a spray-on solar cell, which can be applied in the same fashion as paint – to “buildings, vehicles and even clothing.”  This “means that the places where energy from the sun can be harvested are almost limitless.” Less than one millimeter thick and capable of 10.1-percent efficiency, the new material is said to have a weight one-tenth of traditional silicon cells.  Mitsubishi says these are prototype materials, and that they hope to achieve 15-percent efficiency by 2015, with 20 percent as a more distant possibility. Mitsubishi is a bit soft on details, but says, “The new solar cells utilize carbon compounds which, when dried and solidified, …

Dr. Eric Darcy, Building Better Batteries

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants 0 Comments

Dr. Eric Darcy, the battery group leader at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas was selected last year as an Innovation Ambassador, and worked with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado to devise mathematical models for lithium ion battery performance.  This was part of NASA’s Innovative Partnerships Program, which allows some of NASA’s most talented scientists and engineers to work at several of America’s leading innovative external research and development organizations. NASA explains that the “inaugural group of ambassadors is initiating the planned annual program targeting opportunities to create NASA partnerships and new innovation sources outside of the traditional aerospace field. During assignments of up to one year, the NASA ambassadors will share their own expertise while …