With its large tidal range, Britain's Bristol Channel has a huge potential for generating tidal electric power. The problem is that, until now, schemes for tapping that power have required building dams and barrages so gigantic they would have given even the most wild-eyed Victorian engineer pause. As a more economical alternative, Kepler Energy has announced plans for a 30 MW tidal energy fence to be built in the Channel. With an estimated cost of £143 million (US$223 million), the underwater fence would be built in the water somewhere along the line between Aberthaw and Minehead and could be operational by 2021.
Although wave energy-harvesting systems are often just presented as
concepts that may someday see actual use, one was recently deployed in
Hawaii to provide power to the municipal grid. Built by Northwest Energy
Innovations, the Azura device will remain in operation for a 12-month
assessment period, with an eye toward eventual commercialization.
Looking somewhat like a giant reed gently swaying in the wind, the new Vortex
bladeless wind-driven generator prototype produces electricity with very few moving parts, on a
very small footprint, and in almost complete silence. Designed to reduce the
visual and aural impact of traditional spinning-blade turbines, this new device
takes advantage of the power contained in swirling vortices of air.
Audi is looking to fuel the future without fossil fuels. One of the company's pilot plants in Germany has just produced the first batches of a synthetic diesel made using only water and air. The company's pilot plant, which is operated by German startup Sunfire, produced its first batches of the "e-diesel" this month. German Federal Minister of Education and Research Johanna Wanka put a few liters of the fuel in her work car, an Audi A8, to commemorate the accomplishment.
There's a lot of water constantly moving through the municipal pipelines of most major cities. While the water itself is already destined for various uses, why not harness its flow to produce hydroelectric power? Well, that's exactly what Lucid Energy's LucidPipe Power System does, and Portland, Oregon has just become the latest city to adopt it.
Researchers at the Australian National University are one step closer to creating an artificial photosynthesis system after replicating one of its crucial steps. The development may lead to an abundant source of hydrogen, a cheap and clean fuel that could replace all petroleum products.
Looking rather like a 10-meter (33 ft) tall sunflower, IBM's High Concentration PhotoVoltaic Thermal (HCPVT) system concentrates the sun’s radiation over 2,000 times on a single point and then transforms 80 percent of that into usable energy. Using a number of liquid-cooled microchannel receivers, each equipped with an array of multi-junction photovoltaic chips, each HCPVT can produce enough power, water, and cooling to supply several homes.
Propane is an appealing fuel, easily stored and already used worldwide, but it’s extracted from the finite supply of fossil fuels – or is it? Researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Turku have engineered E. coli
bacteria that create engine-ready propane out of fatty acids, and in the future, maybe even sunlight.
Photovoltaic cells are one of the more promising alternative energy sources. Mechanically they are very simple, with no moving parts, and are clean and emission-free. Unfortunately they are also inefficient. One of the reasons for this is that they overheat, a problem that a Stanford University team under electrical engineering professor Shanhui Fan is addressing with the development of a thin glass layer that makes solar cells self-cooling.
Rising atmospheric CO2
levels can generally be tackled in three ways: developing alternative energy sources with lower emissions; carbon capture and storage (CCS); and capturing carbon and repurposing it. Researchers at Princeton University are claiming to have developed a technique that ticks two of these three boxes by using solar power to convert CO2
into formic acid.