Posts tagged ‘alternative fuel’

November 6, 2012

Breakthrough – fuel from the air?

A British company, Air Fuel Synthesis recently announced that they managed to create five litres of synthetic petrol from air.

Their process uses carbon-dioxide from air, combines it with hydrogen (from split water molecules) and thanks to a catalyst it eventually turns it into methanol, and afterwards petrol.

In its current phase the process is quite expensive and low-scale but it could be stepped up for the future. Furthermore, it currently uses electricity from the National Grid, however if it’s supplied from only renewable source, it could be a completely ‘clean method’.

While it could be a great way for storing energy, there are some who doubt it’s efficiency and whether it can achieve a high-enough rate to provide a significant share as a fuel source.

The company is not the only one in this field. Icelandic Carbon Recycling International already captures carbon-dioxide for creating renewable methanol – so called RM. It can be blended with gasoline for cars or used for biodiesel.

Also, in 2009 the Singapore’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology announced that they were able to convert carbon-dioxide into methanol, while Isis Innovation also has a patent pending in this area.

Linc Energy‘s one key research area is the gas-to-liquid process, while the company UOP earlier teamed up with the University of California to focus on turning carbon-dioxide into methanol.

Therefore with so many companies working on how to solve two problems at once, in the future we may be using carbon-dioxide for running our vehicles.

 

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October 1, 2012

Algae and Energy

Algae have been seen as a promising new source of energy, especially for biofuels. There are several companies who have various solutions on how to utilise algae to drive our engines. 

In general, algae species can be grown in either closed or open ponds, and are used for creating various types of biofuels, including biodiesel, ethanol or even jet fuel. Generally oils are extracted from the algae using various chemical and mechanical methods and later transformed into biofuels. This process also offers another benefit to the environment as algae use carbon-dioxide for photosynthesis and growth, thus can reduce CO2-levels in the atmosphere.

One of the companies in this field, Sapphire Energy has just announced the first phase of a giant algae farm, where the full output shall reach a hundred barrels of algae biofuel a day by 2014.

Another major player in this area is Solazyme, which uses biotechnology solutions to work with algae. The company works with large corporations, such as Chevron, and also delivered about 80,000 litres of algae-based diesel and jet fuel to the US Navy in the year 2010.

There are also various other applications for algae. A pilot project was recently started in Paris where algae are grown on the top and side of buildings. Here the algae clean waste water from the flats, during this process they use carbon-dioxide from the surrounding air and also produce heat while growing, which can be used in the heating system.

Algae thus seem to be a good ‘source’ for energy in the future, either in vehicles or in more innovative ways – for instance at urban heating.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

Image: Wikipedia 

February 1, 2012

What Exactly Are Fuel Cells?

Everyone has heard a lot about fuel cells – mainly as a promising future energy source for cars and other vehicles, but now Apple has applied for two patents on using fuel cells in their iconic devices, the iPhone and the iPad. The use of these technologies would make it possible to provide small devices with extended battery life of days or even weeks – without charging.

But what is a fuel cell?

Fuel cells are largely like a battery but with a constant fuel supply they won’t run down, hence they don’t need to be recharged. They feature two electrodes inside, with oxygen and hydrogen passing over one of them and thus generating electricity, alongside water and heat. The principle of its operation is more based on chemistry and not on combustion.

Where can you find them?

Fuel cells come in various designs using various chemical components, and they are applied in many fields. Besides the most commonly known market – vehicles, fuel cells are also used in several systems in hospitals, hotels, schools, offices, as well as telecommunications facilities, wastewater treatment plants, landfill plants, breweries or even wineries. As they are light and work well without the need for a connection to the electricity grid, they are also used by the military or emergency services.

And now Apple wants to use them in their devices, which therefore could become smaller, lighter, and don’t need to be charged as often as current ones. There are already some consumer electronics devices available with fuel cells but these are rather bulky.

Some gadgets today can also work with fuel cells, for instance kettles, portable chargers, and a fuel cell sticker has even been developed.

Why are fuel cells so promising?

First of all, due to their technology their carbon emissions are very low. Fuel cells are also highly efficient, reliable, flexible, and scalable. They are also quite light and thus can be used in many applications for which current batteries may be too big or heavy.

This means that they can offer a lot of possibilities for future energy storage, while still being environmentally friendly.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

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