Monthly Archives: November 2010

Project aims to convert car exhaust gases to electricity

Researchers at Purdue University and General Motors (GM) are creating a system that harvests heat from an engine’s exhaust so as to generate electricity. This new thermoelectric generator research, aims to yield as much as a 10% reduction in fuel consumption by converting waste heat into electricity. A prototype of the thermoelectric system is due to be developed next year. Once completed, its characteristics will be assessed by installing it in an exhaust system behind the catalytic converter, where it will harvest heat from exhaust gases at 700oC.

Thermoelectric generators, based on the Seebeck effect, create electricity directly from a temperature difference. This is very similar to the Peltier-effect, which does the exact opposite; creating a temperature difference when a voltage is applied. The limiting factor of the thermoelectric effect in car exhaust systems until now has been the extreme temperatures, which can reach from 700 to 1500 degrees Celsius. Those temperatures are too high for current thermoelectric materials.

Part of the solution ( according to the researchers ), involves incorporating a variety of different materials so that some will expand more under certain conditions and “extract the most heat possible.” The prototype ( which is a small metal chip ), will basically hook up to the exhaust system and tap into heat coming from the gases. Currently the researchers are using skutterudite, a mineral made of cobalt, arsenide, nickel or iron as a base material in the chip. Rare-earth elements like lanthanum, caesium, neodymium and erbium, are being mixed with it inside a furnace. The object is to reduce the heat conducting properties of skutterudite so that the transfer of heat from the hot side to the cold side occurs slowly enough to maintain a steady current.

The first prototype that will be developed is expected to reduce fuel use by 5%. With further research and development of systems able to withstand high temperatures, the second prototype is expected to reduce fuel consumption by 10%. Besides improving fuel economy, this technology could also be used for a new type of solar-cell and harvesting waste heat to power homes and businesses. Once the technology reaches commercial use, harvesting waste heat will be used in a variety of unprecedented ways.


General Electrics providing steam turbine for plant in Peru

General Electric Co. is providing a steam turbine under contracts worth more than $40 million in order to help Peru’s biggest thermoelectric plant run better.

GE said last week that its 207D-11 steam turbine will be used at the Kallpa Generacion power plant in Chilca, Peru, in conjunction with three existing gas turbines. This will bring the site’s total output to about 850 megawatts.

“The 207D-11 steam turbine will use steam generated by exhaust energy from the gas turbines in a bottoming cycle, helping Peru meet its need for more power more efficiently,” Roberto Yepes, director of the Andean Region for GE Energy, said in a statement.

GE, which also announced that it will invest more than $2 billion in China, will also provide maintenance services and spare parts for the project as part of its contracts.

The steam turbine is expected to ship in the first quarter of 2011, with commercial operation expected by 2012’s first quarter.

Via: BussinessWeek

Industrial scheme in UK to generate power from waste heat

An industrial project of producing green electricity from waste heat is being trailled in UK’s Hartlepool. Huntsman Pigments, which develops titanium dioxide pigment to be used in paints at its Greatham site, has partnered with DRD Power for the project that uses 160 year old technology.

The £1m project, partially funded by the Carbon trust, can recover the vast quantities of low-grade heat – between 90-130°C – generated by process industries, which is currently emitted into the atmosphere. Hot water from the Huntsman plant will generate up to 200 kilowatts of electricity – saving between 600 and 750 tonnes of a year. It is thought that the project could save between 600 and 750 tonnes of carbon emissions per year and will be capable of generating 200kW of electricity. According to the companies this is a massive opportunity on Teesside because of its heavy industry, including steel, cement, power generation and processing sectors.

From March 2011, the plant will be trialling the system that uses the waste water to heat liquid with a lower boiling temperature, which in turn powers a generator. The advantage lies in the use of low temperature heat. The technology is based on the Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) which has been around since the 1850’s. In the Rankine cycle an external heat source heats a working fluid (commonly water) increasing it’s temperature and pressure (steam) and, therefore, it’s potential energy. This energy is converted into rotational energy through an expander, which, in turn, drives a generator to produce electricity. An ORC unit uses an organic working fluidthat has a lower boiling point than waterto extract energy from low-grade heat sources.

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Siemens Venture to Produce Power Turbines in Indonesia

Siemens AG signed a an agreement with PT Nusantara Turbin dan Propulsi today to form a venture to produce industrial steam turbines in Indonesia. PT Nusantara Turbin Propulsi is a company that manufactures aircraft components and industrial turbines in Indonesia. It also offers aero engine maintenance services.

Siemens will hold a 60 percent stake in the venture and Nusantara the rest, the companies said in a joint statement distributed to reporters in Jakarta earlier this week. Total investment may reach 12 million euros ($17 million), the statement said.

“Siemens intends to expand its presence in Indonesia’s growing energy market,” said Markus Tacke, chief executive officer at Siemens’s oil and gas division for industrial power of the energy sector. “We see a huge potential in the steam turbine markets for domestic consumption to support Indonesia’s aggressive acceleration program for electricity generation.” “[The joint venture] also aims to develop various industries, such as sugar, fertilizer, crude palm oil, cement, oil refinery and chemical,” Tacke said, adding that both companies would build production facilities for industrial steam turbines.

The venture is expected to start production from a plant in Bandung, West Java province in the first quarter of 2011 with initial annual output of 40 units of steam turbines, the statement said. The total investment is expected to be ¤12 million (US$16.94 million) with projected manpower of 100 employees.

PT NTP executive Supra Dekanto told reporters that the joint venture company would build Siemens SST-140 steam turbines with capacity between 3 and 15 megawatts (MW). “Siemens is also willing to develop capacity up to 250 MW,” he said, adding that SST-140 turbines could be used at fertilizer and sugar factories. “There will be two types of the SST-140 turbines: condensing and back pressure types. The turbines can turn garbage, sunlight and waste into steam and then electricity,” he said. “There is also the possibility in the future to produce and deliver geothermal steam turbines up to 55 MW,” he added without elaboration.

The joint venture aimed to supply four units of turbines by the end of next year and 40 units per year by the end of 2012, with state-owned electricity and fertilizer companies being the primary customers. “The turbine production will fulfill an Industry Ministry regulation requiring a minimum 40 percent local content,” Supra said.

Sources: Bloomberg, The Jakarta Post

Wireless charging could improve popularity electric verhicles, developers say

HaloIPT believes next generation of green cars could be charged wirelessly by parking over a transmitter pad or even using electrified roads. The next generation of electric cars could be charged wirelessly and even powered up as they drive over electrified roads, claims a company backed by engineering giant Arup.

Employing the same technology used to charge electric toothbrushes, HaloIPT says its wireless charging system could drive the take-up of electric cars and overcome fears that drivers will forget to recharge them. This week the company demonstrated adapted electric cars in London that could recharge themselves simply by parking over a transmitter pad in the road. The Citroën electric cars were fitted with receiver pads on the underside of the car, allowing the cars to be powered up automatically and wirelessly.

Drivers of existing electric cars, such as the G-Wiz, Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Nissan Leaf, have to connect a cable from a socket in the side of the car street-side parking meter-like stands to mains sockets in car parks and at home.

Anthony Thompson, HaloIPT’s chief executive, told the Guardian that convenience and consumer fears over “charge anxiety” – drivers worrying about forgetting to recharge their electric car – would make wireless charging a success. “There are a number of issues that wireless charging solves with electric vehicles – people are inherently lazy and they don’t like having to take action. With our system, you can recharge without having to make a conscious decision,” he said.

The technology works using inductive charging, and the pads in the road can be buried under asphalt, making them effectively invisible. While other companies are working on similar technology, HaloIPT claimed its system can charge with greater lateral movement – meaning parking accurately is not so important – and a greater gap between the pads than rivals.

The company has already trialled wireless charging with buses in New Zealand and in Milan, but there are currently no wireless charging bays in the UK and none of the car manufacturers has adopted the technology. The company has already trialled wireless charging with buses in New Zealand and in Milan, but there are currently no wireless charging bays in the UK and none of the car manufacturers has adopted the technology.

Despite the news this month that electric car sales in the UK had dropped by nearly 90% in two years to just 55 last year, HaloIPT sees the UK as a key market globally for electric cars. “The UK is the epicentre of technology behind electric cars, it offers good government support for them and it has lots of early adopters,” said Thompson. “Both Germany and France also have big electric car programmes too, and California is pushing along quite nicely.”

Starting in January, the UK  government will offer a  subsidy  up to £5,000 off new electric cars, which it expects will help drive sales of around 8,600 of the vehicles in 2011. As well as wireless charging bays, Thompson sees wireless charging roads as “technologically possible” and says getting such charging lanes to most of the UK’s population would cost around £60bn. “By electrifying the roads, you shift the argument from energy being stored to energy being distributed,” he said. “Batteries could be smaller and drivers wouldn’t have to worry about range.” Most electric cars today can go no further than 100 miles without recharging.

Howevever, David Bott, director of innovation programmes at the Technology Strategy Board, has previously told the Guardian he was sceptical that such charging lanes would be practical: “It’s scientifically feasible, but it’s whether it’s scalable and feasible is another matter.”

While aided in the UK by its development partner Arup, two of the main obstacles to the take-up of the firm’s technology are standards and cost. HaloIPT estimates it would cost £3,000-£3,500 to retrofit an existing electric car with the wireless pad, and to make it affordable, car manufacturers would need to be persuaded to incorporate the technology in new cars.