01 February 2008

Renewable Energy: High-Tech Wind, and Fuel from Garbage and Sewage

Update 4Feb08: Be sure to check out this careful analysis of the FloDesign turbine at New Energy and Fuel.

Although solar energy gets most of the press coverage among renewables, wind energy is experiencing some impressive high-tech design evolution as well. This interesting design allows wind turbines to be smaller, more efficient, and less expensive.
FloDesign Wind Turbine has developed a turbine capable of Nor’ Easter gale force winds in subzero conditions. The system uses fixed shrouding in lieu of large rotating blades. The shrouds are used to entrain air beyond the shrouds maximum diameter and convert the energy to a backpressure on a smaller blade. The key component is the Mixer/Ejector. FloDesign is a recognized leader in Mixer/Ejector technology. This allows for a smaller, more durable blade. The low inertia small blade provides energy extraction at both lower wind speeds and higher wind speeds. The small faster spinning blade also reduces/eliminates the need for complex gear boxes. The primary components of the shroud are, an integrated Mixer Ejector, Inlet vanes to eliminate swirl, shielding to eliminate tip losses and high circulation ringed airfoils._____FloDesign_via__EcoGeek_via_Ecofriend
A less trendy form of renewable energy is the use of an unsavoury blend of sewage and garbage to produce methane--which can be converted to electricity via either gas turbine generator or fuel cell generator.
Landfill garbage breaks down relatively slowly due to the small amounts of bacteria and the separation of the organic matter by plastic bags and other non-degradable materials. While landfills do promote decomposition and the production of methane, this process is quite slow. With the Septage Bioreactor Landfill technology, septage is blended with ground garbage, allowing the organic matter to decompose much faster than it otherwise would. This creates large quantities of methane in a short period of time, which can be tapped for fuel. The other advantage of this technology as a fuel source, is it produces methane constantly as long as there is organic material fed into it. We have no shortage of garbage or sewage, so this will create a very plentiful and reliable source of energy.___GreenGeek__via_Ecofriend

One can easily imagine the coming "garbage wars" and "sewage wars" where various energy producers compete among themselves for access to landfills and waste treatment plants. The old eco-fears of "death by garbage" only apply to the news media these days.

Yet another form of "energy from waste" being explored, comes from the new Biofuel Research Centre at Napier University, Edinburgh.
The most promising line of development now focuses on butanol, a fuel that potentially can be produced by fermentation from a diversity of organic material, including waste products from industrial processes, thus ensuring that the raw materials and harvesting involve no extra emissions.

The molasses left behind by sugar production is one of the most suitable bases; whey from cheese production is another possibility. Butanol has several advantages over ethanol: it has a higher energy output, is easily blended with diesel and, because it is less subject to evaporation, is easier to transport....Tangney adds: “We are putting together an EU consortium to identify dominant waste products across different regions and assess how many could be used to produce fuel.”___Times

Even nuclear wastes are likely to become much in demand by future, safer nuclear reactors (thorium, gen IV, etc) that will safely utilise discarded fission rods.

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Blogger Snake Oil Baron said...

If I understand that new wind turbine shape and its function correctly... that is a really clever innovation. It also looks cool - like a seed producing dandelion being blow out.

There certainly has been a lot of innovation in these energy production technologies and waste utilization methods. It also seems to be coming at a time when the adoption of the more traditional methods of wind and solar power are increasing rapidly.

It seems to me that people are not holding off for future improvements as much as they once were. As people prove that there is a market for today's alternative energies they encourage investment in tomorrow's.

Friday, 01 February, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

It looks good. I haven't seen the specs on performance yet.

I can believe that the new design would hold up better in strong storms than typical horizontal-axis big blade turbines.

Saturday, 02 February, 2008  

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