Category Archives: #alternativeenergy

Waste-to-energy revolution boosted by biobattery idea | News | Eco-Business | Asia Pacific

Competition to make bio-fuels out of waste products that would otherwise have to be dumped is creating a fast-growing, worldwide industry.

And a German research organisation now believes it has perfected a system called a “biobattery” for turning a vast range of waste into energy.

The drive for better technology has been spurred on by criticism that the first generation of bio-fuels used productive land that should be used for food crops, rather than to grow plants for ethanol and other fuels.

That inspired scientists and governments to find ways of using everything from human waste to algae to power planes, cars and to make electricity.

So many new companies have sprung up to exploit this new market and try to gain big backers for their projects that there is even a daily internet news site, BiofuelsDigest, just to keep up with developments.

Political decision

Germany has been the leader in Europe because it has made the political decision to phase out nuclear power and replace it with renewables.

We can utilise a number of raw materials that would otherwise have to be disposed of, often at great cost.

Professor Andreas Hornung, director of UMSICHT in Sulzbach-Rosenberg

Biofuel plants are a key part of this revolution because the gas they produce is used to make electricity to balance out the shortfall when solar farms and wind turbines are not producing enough power.

There are already 8,000 plants in operation in Germany, with an electrical output of 3.75 gigawatts in total − the equivalent roughly to three nuclear power plants. Some of these are the first generation that use food plants to make fuel, and so remain controversial.

However, the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental Energy and Safety Technology(UMSICHT) in Germany has developed the  biobattery, which uses sewage sludge, green waste, production residues from the food industry, straw and animal excrement to create electricity, heat, purified gas, engine oil and high quality biochar (a form of charcoal).

via Waste-to-energy revolution boosted by biobattery idea | News | Eco-Business | Asia Pacific.

Researchers Teaming With Oxfam To Develop Toilet That Uses Urine To Generate Electricity

In an effort to bring sustainable sources of light to dark places, researchers working with Oxfam are working on a toilet that uses urine to generate electricity, in turn lighting up lavatories in places like refugee camps.

The new lavatories are being tested by students in England before they’re employed in places like refugee camps, according to a press release from the University of the West of England or UWE Bristol.

Having light in the cubicles is especially important in refugee camps, “which can often be dark and dangerous places, particularly for women,” the release notes.

“Oxfam is an expert at providing sanitation in disaster zones, and it is always a challenge to light inaccessible areas far from a power supply,” says Andy Bastable, Head of Water and Sanitation at Oxfam in the release. “This technology is a huge step forward. Living in a refugee camp is hard enough without the added threat of being assaulted in dark places at night. The potential of this invention is huge.”

The prototype urinal collects pee and uses microbial fuel cell stacks to generate electricity from the waste, says the head of the research team, Professor Ioannis Ieropoulos.

“We have already proved that this way of generating electricity works. Work by the Bristol BioEnergy Center hit the headlines in 2013 when the team demonstrated that electricity generated by microbial fuel cell stacks could power a mobile phone,” he says. “This exciting project with Oxfam could have a huge impact in refugee camps.”

‘Pee-power’ to light camps in disaster zones [UWE Bristol]

via Researchers Teaming With Oxfam To Develop Toilet That Uses Urine To Generate Electricity – Consumerist.

World’s first grid-connected wave power station switched on in Australia – ScienceAlert

It also supplies zero-emission desalinated water.


The world’s first grid-connected wave power station has been activated off the coast of Western Australia (WA).

After more than a decade of testing and demonstrations, Australian company Carnegie Wave Energy has switched on a pilot project that has begun feeding wave-generated electricity into a local WA grid.

“This is the first array of wave power generators to be connected to an electricity grid in Australia and worldwide,” said Ivor Frischknecht, CEO of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, in a statement. The Agency has provided $13 million of the $32 million project.

The company’s technology named CETO after a Greek goddess of the sea converts ocean swell into zero-emission renewable power and zero-emission desalinated freshwater.

The company says its system is “different from other wave energy devices as it operates under water where it is safer from large storms [and corrosion] and invisible from the shore”.

The round, submerged buoys are tethered to seabed pump units, which are installed at a depth of between 25 and 50 metres. Waves crashing into the buoys drive the pumps, which push pressurised seawater through a pipeline beneath the ocean floor to an onshore hydroelectric power station. Here, the high-pressure water drives a turbine and generates electricity.

“The high-pressure water can also be used to supply a reverse osmosis desalination plant, replacing or reducing reliance on greenhouse gas-emitting, electrically-driven pumps usually required for such plants,” the company states on its website.

via World’s first grid-connected wave power station switched on in Australia – ScienceAlert.

Australia’s energy market expected to continue evolving | News by MPower

Australia’s energy market is continuing to change rapidly, as a number of different factors begin to affect the country’s energy market. Substantial changes across the industry in areas like solar battery storage systems are radically changing the way organisations consume energy, with a substantial impact on the grid as a whole.

So what does the long-term term growth of Australia’s energy market look like?

Electrical demand in disruption across the country

A recent report from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has outlined the major issues that are affecting the production of electricity across the country.

The research, which predicts the long-term changes that are affecting the industry, highlighted three trends that are changing the way power is consumed in Australia. These are:

The balance of central, on-site and off-site generation. As more companies invest in advanced electrical systems that reduce their reliance on mains power, the balance between these three different sources is continuing to change.

Changes affecting manufacturing – in particular the exchange rate, which is likely to have an ongoing effect on the country’s manufactured exports and therefore on energy consumption.

Fluctuations in the pricing of mains electricity.

These changes collectively herald a significant shift in the way companies are consuming electricity over the long-term. In fact, these changes have led CSIRO to predict mains power will grow only marginally every year – seeing an increase of between 1 and 2 per cent every year.

Mains consumption disrupted by solar power

While CSIRO is predicting total energy demand to continuing increasing, a recent study from the market research agency Green Markets suggests that demand in Australia’s eastern states is continuing to drop.

The research found that the metered scheduled demand for electricity across the National Electricity Grid – which covers Queensland, Victoria, NSW, the ACT, Tasmania and South Australia – has seen demand decline for the last six months.

According to the organisation, the metered electricity supply peaked in 2008, and has been steadily dropping since then. From the 2008 high of 206,000 gigawatt hours, consumption has dropped to only 189,000 in 2014.

There are a number of reasons for this drop in consumption. While part of the decrease can be accounted for by the closure of the Point Henry Aluminium Smelter, a considerable portion has come from increasing energy efficiency and the growth of solar power generation.

With businesses ranking among the largest consumers of electricity in the country, their investment in generation capacity is likely to continue growing in coming months. Some large organisations, such as the University of Queensland, have also been taking the opportunity to instal power generation capabilities that can feed back into the grid, creating a two-way flow of power.

via Australia’s energy market expected to continue evolving | News by MPower.