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It’s not out there in your daily newspapers but within scientific journals and research centres across the globe there’s a lot of work & discussion on microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology.

Researchers at the Biodesign Institute are using the tiniest organisms on the planet — bacteria — as a viable option to make electricity. In a new study featured in the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering, lead author Andrew Kato Marcus and colleagues Cesar Torres and Bruce Rittmann have gained critical insights that may lead to commercialization of a promising microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology. The project has been funded by NASA and industrial partners OpenCEL and NZLegacy.

”We can use any kind of waste, such as sewage or pig manure, and the microbial fuel cell will generate electrical energy,” said Marcus, a Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate student and a member of the institute’s Center for Environmental Biotechnology. Unlike conventional fuel cells that rely on hydrogen gas as a fuel source, the microbial fuel cell can handle a variety of water-based organic fuels.

“There is a lot of biomass out there that we look at simply as energy stored in the wrong place,” said Bruce Rittmann, director of the center. “We can take this waste, keeping it in its normal liquid form, but allowing the bacteria to convert the energy value to our society’s most useful form, electricity. They get food while we get electricity.”

If you’re interested in the science behind MFC technology read more here.

For some history and discussion of the possibilities of commercial application  see  here.

This blog is now moving over to the Environment Solutions website where we hope to build a more comprehensive information portal for solutions on the environment.

Please visit the new site and update your blogroll link.

Thank you for your continuing support and interest.

:)

OK, the concept of timeshare has been around for some time but now we are seeing an interesting expansion of this idea into many other assets. Cars, boats, cottages, even planes are coming into the frame.

You save money on the original purchase and maintenance costs and buy into something you may not have been able to afford before. How many times have you noticed your neighbour buy a brand new car only to leave outside their house untouched except for the weekly shopping trip.

Sharing can be tricky but there are websites out there designed to guide you through this process and they of course have plenty of people putting forward proposals to share something that they own.

Try; yours2share and Fractional Ownership.

BT is planning to develop wind farms to generate up to 25 per cent of its existing UK electricity needs by 2016.

The project will cost up to £250m and will use third party funding and renewable energy partners to help the telecoms giant reduce its carbon emissions.

The wind farms could generate a total of 250MW of electricity, which would prevent the release of 500,000 tonnes of CO2 each year compared with coal generation. BT is aiming to have 50 wind turbines up and running by 2012, which would generate around 100MW of power.

The company said it has applied for planning permission for test masts at Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station in Cornwall, Wideford Hill Radio Station in Orkney and Scousburgh Radio Station in Shetland. It anticipates obtaining 25% of its power from the farms, which will be working by 2016. The company is also identifying high wind sites on or adjacent to land it owns.

John Hutton, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform commented on BT’s plans and said it is a great example of how businesses can help us meet our target to significantly increase the quantity of energy we get from renewable sources.

More video is available from Ocean Power Delivery Limited of their Pelamis Wave Power system.

The Pelamis is a semi-submerged, articulated structure composed of cylindrical sections linked by hinged joints. The wave-induced motion of these joints is resisted by hydraulic rams, which pump high-pressure oil through hydraulic motors via smoothing accumulators. The hydraulic motors drive electrical generators to produce electricity. Power from all the joints is fed down a single umbilical cable to a junction on the sea bed. Several devices can be connected together and linked to shore through a single seabed cable. More here.

OPD Ltd is an Edinburgh based company set up in January 1998 to develop the Pelamis WEC concept. In March 2002, OPD Ltd. secured £6m (EUR 9.8m) funding from an international consortium of venture capital companies led by Norsk Hydro Technology Ventures, the venture capital arm of Norway’s largest industrial company and including 3i, Europe’s leading venture capital company and Zurich-based Sustainable Asset Management (SAM). Each organisation provided an equal level of funding to produce the largest investment of its kind in a wave power company. More on the company here.

The western seaboard of Europe offers an enormous number of potential sites. The most promising sites are off the UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal and Norway. There is sufficient energy breaking on the UK shoreline to power the country three times over. However, it is not practical to recover all of this energy. The economically recoverable resource for the UK alone has been estimated to be 87TWh per year, or ~25% of current UK demand. More on the resource here.

The first UK ‘wave hub’ is to be build of Cornwall at a cost of £28m. It already has planning permission and the necessary funding. The announcement.
*Wave Hub could generate enough electricity for 7,500 homes, directly saving 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over 25 years.
*Wave Hub could create 1,800 jobs and £560 million in the UK economy over 25 years.

5000

Keeping it real. :)

Spain’s solar tower.

This relatively new technology is brought to you by Solucar. This company is owned by Abengoa who have been in the energy business since 1984 and have a global reach.

Two of these plants are now in operation, the PS10 & PS20. They have a combined possible output of 31MW, saving 54,000 tonnes CO2 p.a. and provide electricity for 18,000 homes.

The solar tower, at over 100m high, receives concentrated sun rays from the field of mirrors below, which in turn produces saturated steam at 250 degrees C. A conventional steam turbine generates the electricity.

To read of a visit to the plant by David Shukman, the BBC’s Science correspondent click here.

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