Renewables, fuel cells, hydrogen, and efficiency
Ken Novak's Weblog
Monday, August 29, 2005
Major advance producing carbon nanotube sheets
: "University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) nanotechnologists and an Australian colleague have produced transparent carbon nanotube sheets that are stronger than the same-weight steel sheets and have demonstrated applicability for organic light-emitting displays, low-noise electronic sensors, artificial muscles, conducting appliqués and broad-band polarized light sources that can be switched in one ten-thousandths of a second.
Carbon nanotubes are like minute bits of string, and untold trillions of these invisible strings must be assembled to make useful macroscopic articles that can exploit the phenomenal mechanical and electronic properties of the individual nanotubes. In the Aug. 19 05 issue of the prestigious journal Science, scientists from the NanoTech Institute at UTD and a collaborator, Dr. Ken Atkinson from Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), a national laboratory in Australia, report such assembly of nanotubes into sheets at commercially useable rates.
Starting from chemically grown, self-assembled structures in which nanotubes are aligned like trees in a forest, the sheets are produced at up to 7 meters per minute by the coordinated rotation of a trillion nanotubes per minute for every centimeter of sheet width. By comparison, the production rate for commercial wool spinning is 20 meters per minute. Unlike previous sheet fabrication methods using dispersions of nanotubes in liquids, which are quite slow, the dry-state process developed by the UTD-CSIRO team can use the ultra-long nanotubes needed for optimization of properties. " More about applications, to solar cells, batteries, fuel cells, medicine, and engineering at WorldChanging. 9:17:47 AM
How Portland does Kyoto: "Portland announced that it had succeeded in cutting greenhouse gas emissions levels to within 1% of 1990 levels, on the way to a targeted 10% reduction below 1990 levels by 2010. .. As Portland officials count it, overall greenhouse gas emissions have dropped to 0.7% above 1990 levels. Transportation-related emissions essentially have been flat, combined emissions in homes, offices and industry have decreased slightly, and waste gases--largely extrapolated from methane gas escaping from rotting landfill waste--have decreased significantly...
Eric Sten, a Portland commissioner, insists that the reductions came not because Portland converted all of its citizens into global warming believers but because the city made investments that had tangible environmental and quality of life benefits, in addition to reducing greenhouse gasses. "We made progress on this issue by doing things that make Portland a good place to live," Sten says, "Not because of things that are specific to global warming."
"I knew there were efforts going on but to have that kind of significant reduction was remarkable," says Dennis Wilde, a Portland-based developer. "What's really remarkable is there's been no pain." .. " Key factors are compact developent, mass transit support ("75% of Trimet's 290,000 daily trips are by "choice" riders who leave a car at home"), building codes ("building code upgrades dropped energy bills an average of 40% in new homes"), and utility efficiency programs. 9:04:01 AM
Clean energy incubators: "The Austin Clean Energy Incubator, which is part of the Austin Technology Incubator at the University of Texas, is a fairly typical incubator. The small, professional staff works with about six companies at a time on issues ranging from business plan development to assistance with acquiring customers or strategic partners, to global expansion. CEI's current portfolio companies include Austin Biofuels, an early stage biofuels distributor; E60 Vision, a company that makes remediation software; and Allied Energy Systems, which manufacturers efficient HVAC systems. Amato and staff are helping Austin Biofuels expand to a regional distributor, E60 to "productize" their service, and Allied Energy to grow to a regional manufacturer. ..
Albany Nanotech [is] located at the University of Albany-SUNY. Two billion dollars in private, state and federal funding financed this state-of-the-art nanotechnology infrastructure. The Albany Nanotech complex includes the new College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering, which provides portfolio companies access to an entire research and teaching organization focused on the field. This advanced facility attracts companies like IBM and GE and other companies from around the world, which make use of the equipment to explore new initiatives and test technologies. .. 8:43:29 AM
The same capital-intensive facilities and equipment are available to startup businesses. They can use the infrastructure there to test their products and get them to the stage where investors are interested. .. E2TAC also offers more typical incubator services such as matchmaking, networking, and joint promotions for partner companies. "
Energy startups raising cash: Many funding events in June 05. "Solar company Energy Innovations, based in Pasadena, California, said it had raised $16.5 million in a second round of venture capital funding, bringing its two-round total to $29 million. In the meantime, Austin, Texas-based solar startup HelioVolt said it closed its first round with an $8-million investment from New Enterprise Associates (NEA) of Menlo Park, California. .. Nanosolar, a nano-based solar outfit, netted $20 million in a round led by MDV (see Nanosolar Raises Funding). And Miasolé, a thin-film solar firm, raised $16 million in a round led by Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers (see Clean Energy Firms Get Funds). ..
HelioVolt said it will use the $8 million to build out and test its manufacturing method. .. HelioVolt uses semiconductor-manufacturing methods to apply the copper-indium-selenide coatings to traditional construction materials, such as steel, glass, and roofing. The coated materials would allow new buildings to power themselves, without the installation of separate solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.
Meanwhile, Sunflower uses a series of mirrors with motors to track the sun throughout the day. The mirrors reflect light onto a silicon-based receiver placed about six feet above the mirrors, said Energy Innovations’ President Andrew Beebe. His system uses much less silicon, saving money, Mr. Beebe said. .. The system is expected to last 15 years, compared with the 20- to 25-year life span of most solar panels... We think this round will take us to market,” he said. For now, Energy Innovations is limiting its target market to commercial and institutional customers within the United States, Mr. Beebe said. "
Also, in August, SunPower Files $115M IPO: "SunPower plans to raise $115 million in an initial public offering to help make and market its solar panels, the solar power company said in a filing Friday, as it looks to stay ahead of other venture-backed startups that are gaining ground in the field." Cypress Semiconductor put $26M into the firm in the last four years. 8:40:16 AM
Sunday, August 28, 2005
West Coast Cable: Dec 2004: "Sea Breeze Pacific.. has filed an interconnection application with Pacific Gas & Electric Company of San Francisco, California for the first submarine transmission line that would allow for the direct transmission of electricity from Canada to California. Sea Breeze Pacific's initial application is for a 1,600 megawatt High Voltage Direct Current ("HVDC") undersea cable (expandable to 3,200 MW). The route will run 3-12 miles offshore along portions of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California for approximately 1,200 miles. .. The west coast submarine transmission corridor was conceived as an answer to the challenge of unlocking the many thousands of "stranded" megawatts of clean, renewable energy that remain unutilized along the rugged and windy west coast of Canada. An independent study by Fortis Bank, the World Energy Council and the Petroleum Economist have rated this region as having the number one wind resource in the world. Other significant benefits of the West Coast Cable would be to help stabilize the western continental power grid by making load flows more predictable.."
Sea Breeze already has a project in progress for a 550 MW cable system between Victoria BC and Washington State. Additional financing is sought for this project, with "construction for the Straight of Juan de Fuca Transmission Cable [scheduled] from the end of 2006 to the end of 2007." 11:50:32 AM
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
9 States in Plan to Cut Emissions by Power Plants:
"The regional initiative would set up a market-driven system to control emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, from more than 600 electric generators in the nine states. Environmentalists who support a federal law to control greenhouse gases believe that the model established by the Northeastern states will be followed by other states, resulting in pressure that could eventually lead to the enactment of a national law.
California, Washington and Oregon are in the early stages of exploring a regional agreement similar to the Northeastern plan. The nine states in the Northeastern agreement are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. They were brought together in 2003 by a Republican governor, George E. Pataki of New York, who broke sharply and openly with the Bush administration over the handling of greenhouse gases and Washington's refusal to join more than 150 countries in signing the Kyoto Protocols, the agreement to reduce emissions that went into effect earlier this year." 10:43:41 PM
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Jatropha Biodiesel Energy Crops - D1 Oils: Company pursing Jatropha bean production in many developing countries, for biodiesel production. Listed in late 2004 on the London Stock Exchange, raising about $20m. "D1 Oils will produce biodiesel and supply crude vegetable oil used in the production of biodiesel. .. The Group’s strategy is to control and manage its operations on a regional basis by securing plantation rights and establishing refinery operations using its own refinery technology. .. The Jatropha tree has been selected as the Group’s primary energy crop due to the main benefits of its high productivity, durability and longevity. To date, the Group has established operations and strategic and commercial relationships in four regions: Europe (Teesside and London, UK), Africa (Johannesburg, South Africa), Asia Pacific (Manila, The Philippines) and India (New Delhi). " Joint ventures or operations underway in China, Saudi Arabia, and (with Rolls Royce) in South Africa. 3:44:25 PM