Posts Tagged ‘electricity’
The first test train that can reach speeds of up to 500 km an hour stands on a railway line in Qingdao
The six-carriage train with a tapered head is the newest member of the CRH series. It has a maximum drawing power of 22,800 kilowatts, compared with 9,600 kilowatts for the CRH380 trains now in service on the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway, which hold the world speed record of 300 km per hour.
The gray train, which has testing and data processing equipment on board, was designed and produced by CSR’s Sifang Locomotive & Rolling Stock Co…Ding Sansan, the company’s chief technician, said the concept of the super-speed train design was inspired by the ancient Chinese sword. The bodywork uses plastic material reinforced with carbon fiber…
The test train is based on revisions to the CRH 380A – regarding the shape of the front, body, engine and brake systems – intended to increase the speed, promote the engine power and decrease the drag force…
Many high-tech materials, including carbon fiber, magnesium alloy and sound insulation materials, have been used in the train.
Shen Zhiyun, a locomotive expert and academician with both the Chinese academies of sciences and engineering, said the testing of the train will provide useful reference for current high-speed railway operations.
And that is as critical for the process of moving forward to faster, more efficient transport of people and goods. It’s logical that improvements may be needed to roadbeds and rail design, maintenance and upgrades. Whatever is needed for 500kph rail travel will make 300kph even safer.
There will be a predictable number of timorous political mice – who will whine about the danger of testing. You make it as safe a process as possible and then you get on with it. If engineers and designers spent their careers listening to 19th Century fearmongers we’d still be trying to breed faster horses for public transit.
China is set to start work on a novel design for a nuclear reactor with the help of a firm founded by Bill Gates.
Terrapower, founded and funded by the Microsoft chairman, is collaborating with Chinese scientists on the fourth generation (4G) reactor. Research into the 4G reactor over the next five years could top $1 billion, said Mr Gates. Developing such a reactor could take a long time because none have been built or tested yet.
“The idea is to be very low cost, very safe and generate very little waste,” said Mr Gates during a talk at China’s Ministry of Science and Technology during which he confirmed the tie-up with Terrapower…
Based in Washington state, Terrapower is working on a design for what is known as a travelling wave reactor. This uses depleted uranium as its power source and is believed to produce less nuclear waste than other designs.
“All these new designs are going to be incredibly safe,” Mr Gates said. “They require no human action to remain safe at all times…”
I’ve supported nuclear power generation since I first worked in the field before most of my readers were born. Cripes, I never thought I’d get old enough to be able to say that.
Anyway, in recent years I have gradually begun to shift my alliance to large-scale solar power projects because I feel the ultimate cost of producing electrical power is now less for solar technology than nuclear power. The environmental problems associated with the latter methodology are problems of politics, corruption and laziness prompted by greed. Problems faced by all large-scale endeavors in the modern era.
If Gates’ company can beat the costs of competing with large and small-scale projects from advanced firms like Toshiba and Areva – well, then, more power to him.
An Illinois research team has succeeded in overcoming one major obstacle to a promising technology that simultaneously reduces atmospheric carbon dioxide and produces fuel.
Professor Paul Kenis and his research group joined forces with researchers at Dioxide Materials, a startup company, to produce a catalyst that improves artificial photosynthesis…Artificial photosynthesis is the process of converting carbon dioxide gas into useful carbon-based chemicals, most notably fuel or other compounds usually derived from petroleum, as an alternative to extracting them from biomass.
In plants, photosynthesis uses solar energy to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) and water to sugars and other hydrocarbons. Biofuels are refined from sugars extracted from crops such as corn. However, in artificial photosynthesis, an electrochemical cell uses energy from a solar collector or a wind turbine to convert CO2 to simple carbon fuels such as formic acid or methanol, which are further refined to make ethanol and other fuels.
“The key advantage is that there is no competition with the food supply,” said Richard Masel, a co-principal investigator of the paper and CEO of Dioxide Materials, “and it is a lot cheaper to transmit electricity than it is to ship biomass to a refinery.”
However, one big hurdle has kept artificial photosynthesis from vaulting into the mainstream: The first step to making fuel, turning carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide, is too energy intensive. It requires so much electricity to drive this first reaction that more energy is used to produce the fuel than can be stored in the fuel.
The Illinois group used a novel approach involving an ionic liquid to catalyze the reaction, greatly reducing the energy required to drive the process. The ionic liquids stabilize the intermediates in the reaction so that less electricity is needed to complete the conversion…
Next, the researchers hope to tackle the problem of throughput. To make their technology useful for commercial applications, they need to speed up the reaction and maximize conversion.
“More work is needed, but this research brings us a significant step closer to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels while simultaneously reducing CO2 emissions that are linked to unwanted climate change,” Kenis said.
Not the only researchers studying this sort of solution to problems causing climate change, industrial pollution negatively affecting air chemistry. But, this is one of the first I’ve seen that appears to have some success in qualitatively reducing the cost of the transformation of carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide.
Meles Zenawi and Essam Sharaf
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission
Ethiopia and Egypt have agreed to review the impact of a planned $4.8 billion Nile river dam, which Addis Ababa announced in March, in a bid to open a “new chapter” in once-strained relations.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and his Egyptian counterpart, Essam Sharaf, made the announcement at a joint news conference following talks in Cairo on Saturday. “We have agreed to quickly establish a tripartite team of technical experts to review the impact of the dam that is being built in Ethiopia,” Zenawi said. Experts from Sudan will also be part of the team.
Sharaf said Ethiopia’s planned construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam “could be a source of benefit” – an apparent change in tone by Egypt’s new rulers on what has been a highly contentious issue.
“We can make the issue of the Grand Renaissance Dam something useful,” Sharaf said. “This dam, in conjunction with the other dams, can be a path for development and construction between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt…”
Zenawi’s visit to Cairo was the first by an Ethiopian official since former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was ousted by a popular uprising in February…
The dam is planned for the Blue Nile river in northwestern Ethiopia, a few kilometres from the Ethiopia–Sudan border.
The dam is designed to have an installed capacity of 5250 MW, which is threefold of the 1885.8 MW installed capacity of the 12 currently operational hydro-power plants of the nation.
Bravo. It ain’t easy – it ain’t ever easy to negotiate treaties over natural resources especially water rights. Cripes, we’re still governed by water rights here in New Mexico that go back to Spanish colonial times. Technically, it’s against New Mexico law to collect rainwater after it falls from the skies — unless used by a farmer.
That these nations are willing to discuss and consider collaboration is a step forward.
In the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, tens of thousands of German citizens took to the streets calling for the phase out of atomic energy. In May, the German government bowed to public pressure and unveiled its plan to shut down the country’s 17 nuclear power plants by 2021 – with the possibility that three will continue operating until 2022 if the transition to renewable energy doesn’t go as quickly as hoped.
Providing some hope that Germany will achieve its ambitious goals, Spiegel Online International has quoted a newly released…report that says, for the first time, renewable sources accounted for more than 20 percent of the country’s electricity generation…
According to the report, renewable energy sources provided 18.3 percent of total demand in 2010, but the first six months of 2011 saw that figure rise to 20.8 percent, while Germany’s total usage remained steady from 2010 at 275.5 billion kilowatt hours…
Of the 57.3 billion kWh provided by renewable sources in the first six months of 2011, wind power was the dominant source supplying 20.7 billion kWh (7.5 percent of total production), followed by biomass with 15.4 billion kWh (5.6 percent), photovoltaic solar with 9.6 billion kWh (3.5 percent), hydroelectric with 9.1 billion kWh (3.3 percent, and waste and other sources providing 2.2 billion kWh (0.8 percent).
Solar power saw the biggest jump, increasing by 76 percent over 2010 with the BDEW citing the reduction in the price of photovoltaic installations as a result of increased competition and the decision of the federal government not to cut subsidies for private solar-power generation as initially planned as the main reasons for the increase.
“Because of the volume of new photovoltaic installations and the amount of sun during the spring, solar energy knocked hydroelectric from third place for the first time,” said the BDEW.
Two points worth making. First – the economies of scale really play well with photo-voltaics. It’s a technology where small but noticeable advances are being made in both cost of production and efficiencies of energy production. Second – German voters are already sophisticated enough to ignore the hypocrisy of fossil fuel facility builders who whine about continued subsidies. Fact is – all fossil fuel plants rely on taxpayer subsidy for construction. There’s little difference in passing along subsidies to consumers with home installations.
I spent most of the past half-century as an advocate for nuclear power generation. From early days working in the field, it was clear that properly-run there was no need for safety concerns. Over that time the only disasters which have occurred were the result of bureaucratic malingering. Which can happen in any industry. The difference being that falling-down stupid about safety with nuclear power can be fatal on a large scale.
More important, we’ve just about reached the point where the cost of production of electricity via photo-voltaics matches the cost of construction and production of nuclear facilities. That will continue to diminish while the opposite happens with nuclear projects. And there will never be shutdown dangers associated with natural disasters using photo-voltaics.
Maritime surveillance and monitoring systems that require remote power at sea often rely on diesel generators that need frequent maintenance and fuel replenishment. Now New Jersey-based wave energy company Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) has commenced sea trials of an autonomous wave energy device that provides clean energy for sea-based radar and communications systems in remote ocean locations and in all wave conditions.
…Like the company’s existing PowerBuoy offerings, the autonomous PowerBuoy generates electricity via a piston-like structure located below the surface of the water that rises and falls as the PowerBuoy bobs up and down with the waves to drive a generator. For the sea trial, the PowerBuoy has been fitted with radar network and communications technology from Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences in partnership with CODAR Ocean Sensors.
Designed for maritime surveillance in the near coast, harbors and beach zones, the PowerBuoy provides power at the lower levels needed for the vessel detection and tracking systems and includes power management and energy storage capabilities that ensure operation in extended periods of zero wave activity. The system has also been designed to remain maintenance-free for three years…
The autonomous PowerBuoy was deployed on August 11, 2011 by a U.S. Coast Guard vessel approximately 20 miles off the coast of New Jersey. The ocean testing will see it being integrated with the Rutgers University-operated, land-based radar network that provides ocean current mapping data for NOAA and U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue operations.
Rock on! Wave power makes so much sense.
Face it folks, this planet is mostly ocean. Skipping the advantages of wave power is like some of the idiots who own public utilities in the American Southwest skipping solar power.
What do you need to generate a lot of electricity from photoelectric solar cells? A lot of surface area. What is a lot of the surface of the United States covered in? Roads. Put those two ideas together, and the idea of turning the nation’s highways into solar farms doesn’t sound too odd, does it? Well, maybe it doesn’t until you consider that you’re talking about taking electronics – electronics that are typically somewhat delicate and rather expensive – and purposely putting them on the ground where heavy vehicles will zoom over them at high speed…
Replacing crushed stone and tar with LEDs and capacitors seems so unlikely that when Solar Roadways was awarded $100,000 to construct a small, 12′ by 12′ prototype system in 2009, infrastructure blog The Infrastructionist gave the effort its “Dubious Green Scheme” award and labeled Solar Roadways not just “harebrained” but “totally batshit crazy.”
As it turns out, that initial panel impressed the Department of Transportation enough that Solar Roadways has now been given $750,000 to take it to the next step: a solar parking lot. Constructed out of multiple 12′ x 12′ panels, the smart parking lot will do more than the asphalt alternative. It will warm itself in cold weather to melt away snow and ice. A layer of embedded LEDs can be used create traffic warnings or crosswalks. Electricity leftover from those tasks could be used to charge electric vehicles or routed into the power grid. The electrical components will be embedded between layers of hardened, textured glass – this may sound fragile, but is already tough enough that some areas use the material for sidewalks.
Parking lots, driveways, and eventually highways are all targets for the panels. If the nation’s system of interstate highways was surfaced with Solar Roadways panels, the results would be more than three times the amount of electricity currently consumed. Of course, at $100,000 per 12′, costs would need to come down significant bit before that could happen.
Obviously, the editors never compared the cost of building solar roadways to typical American highway boondoggles. The record is held by a project near and dear to my heart – Boston’s Big Dig. A three-and-a-half mile tunnel that ended up costing over $14 billion.
Plus he’s extrapolating from the first 12′ x 12′ panel. The parking lot project will reduce square foot cost as will further ramping up towards capacity production. All of which he doubtless knows.
Seeing cars powered by alcohol is nothing new. After all, that’s what ethanol is. But as expensive as gasoline might get, fueling a car on single malt scotch would be more wasteful than lighting your cigar with a hundred-dollar bill. Yet that’s just what one Mark Reynier is doing. Well, almost, but not quite.
Reynier is proprietor of the Bruichladdich distillery on the Scottish isle of Islay. The island is known for its smokey, peaty whiskies, and the relatively recently re-opened Bruichladdich distillery is already earning itself distinction not only for the quality of its whiskies – this writer thoroughly enjoyed a glass of the good stuff just the other day – but also for its sustainability. Bruichladdich offers a range of organic single malts, and is also one of the first distilleries to operate self-sufficiently.
The distillery grows, malts and distills its own whisky on-site (a rarity even among single malts), but it has now taken things a step further. Bruichladdich, you see, generates its own electricity by reusing the waste products from the distilling process. And now Reynier is also using that electricity to charge up his Nissan Leaf.
To celebrate the feat, Nissan and Bruichladdich have teamed up for a special Leaf edition organic whisky.
Combining the functions of generating electricity by sustainable means – and using the juice to power an electric vehicle is beginning to catch on. If you peep over here you’ll see the proposed package to be offered by Ford and SunPower, electric vehicle + solar panels for a grid-tie installation,
Of all the energy-saving tips out there, probably the one we hear most often is to not leave lights on when we leave a room. It’s good advice, yet cities around the world are not following it in one key way – their streetlights stay on all night long, even when no one is on the street.
The Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology is experimenting with a new streetlight system on its campus, however, in which motion sensor-equipped streetlights dim to 20 percent power when no people or moving vehicles are near them. The system is said to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 80 percent, plus it lowers maintenance costs and reduces light pollution.
Delft Management of Technology alumnus Chintan Shah designed the system, which can be added to any dimmable streetlight. The illumination comes from LED bulbs, which are triggered by motion sensors. As a person or car approaches, their movement is detected by the closest streetlight, and its output goes up to 100 percent. Because the lights are all wirelessly linked to one another, the surrounding lights also come on, and only go back down to 20 percent once the commuter has passed through. This essentially creates a “pool of light” that precedes and follows people wherever they go, so any thugs lurking in the area should be clearly visible well in advance…
Some fine-tuning is still ongoing, in order to keep the lights from being activated by things like swaying branches or wandering cats. In the meantime, Shah has formed a spin-off company named Tvilight to market the Delft technology. He claims that municipalities utilizing the system should see it paying for itself within three to four years of use.
Anything that saves on electricity use pays for itself sooner than most people realize.
Yes – I can still hear my father instructing me to – “turn off the light when you leave a room”!