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Energy storage

AFC Energy proclaims fuel cell electrodes breakthrough

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

UK hydrogen fuel cell developer AFC Energy is celebrating after extending the longevity of its electrodes to more than six months of continuous operation.

AFC Energy

Electrodes are the critical components of a fuel cell, which enable the electrochemical reactions to occur between hydrogen and oxygen (from air) to generate electricity, heat and water. Laboratory trials of electrodes are on-going and further field trials of improved electrodes are scheduled to begin early next month.

At six months longevity, these applications have the potential to generate significant revenues for AFC Energy whilst also opening up new commercial opportunities in additional territories such as Germany, where the company is already carrying out long-term longevity trials with Akzo Nobel, one of the world's largest chemicals groups.

Ian Williamson, CEO of AFC Energy, said: "Our progress will surprise and challenge the power generating industry and we have recently filed six new families of patents to secure our rights. We look forward to pushing electrode life towards 12 months and beyond where we believe we will have a product that is economic globally in all target markets."

Duke Energy, Xtreme Power inaugurate 36 MW battery energy storage project in Texas

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

US power utility giant Duke Energy and energy storage provider Xtreme Power have commenced operations at the Notrees Energy Storage unit, a 36 MW battery system integrated in a 153 MW wind farm in western Texas.

wind farm

The facility at Notrees provides flexible capacity to the Electric Reliability Council Of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the electrical grid in Texas and manages 75% of the deregulated market in the state. Xtreme Power’s control system, XACT, will manage real-time performance and response of the system in response to site and grid conditions.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) provided Duke Energy with a $22 million grant to develop the project. The US Electric Power Research Institute will collect performance data from the battery storage system and help assess the potential for broader adoption of energy storage solutions throughout the industry.

Results from the storage project at Notrees wind farm will be shared publically via the DOE.

 

FG Wilson rebrands

Thu, 01/24/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

Diesel Generator firm FG Wilson is changing its name to Caterpillar (NI) Limited to strengthen the link between the subsidiary and its parent company. The change is, according to the company, intended to create a “visible link between Caterpillar’s manufacturing facilities in Northern Ireland and the wider group." 

FG wilson

The firm based in Northern Ireland is currently making job cuts of 1300 and also announced the move of production to Tianjin in China. It claims the rebranding will not result in further job losses at this stage.

Caterpillar’s Robert Kennedy said: "Whilst the legal name of the company will change, the FG Wilson name will remain a key part of our history and heritage and indeed our future.

"That's because Caterpillar will continue to produce the range of leading products that carry the FG Wilson brand and those products will continue to be a key part of our global electric power strategy."

FG Wilson director Tony McAllister said the change was part of a larger initiative to "enhance and strengthen the FG Wilson brand and business in the global marketplace".

FG Wilson produces 50 000 diesel generator sets each year for export to 180 countries.

MAN Diesel launches 35/44G ‘'Otto’' four-stroke gas engine

Thu, 01/24/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

MAN Diesel & Turbo has unveiled the 35/44G four-stroke diesel engine, also known as ‘Otto’, at its facility in Augsburg, Germany.

Otto MAN

The 35/44G is offered in a V-type version with 20 cylinders and an output of 10,600 kWm, (10,200 kWm). Its rated outputs – 530 kW per cylinder for 50 Hz power generation and 510 kW for 60 Hz power generation – give the 35/44G best-in-class power density among gas engines.

The newly-developed ‘Otto’ gas engine has an electrical efficiency of 47.2%, and is available for Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and/or jointly with a MAN steam turbine of the MARC series – in a combined cycle mode reaching high total plant efficiencies with low emissions.

It also features a single-stage turbocharger with variable turbine area (VTA) technology and many innovative technological elements. The spark-ignited unit, which is ideal for combined-cycle and combined-heat and power configuration with waste-heat utilisation, complies with all current emission limits solely by in-engine measures.

Germany establishes the Federal Association of Energy Storage

Thu, 01/17/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

The Federal Association of Energy Storage has been formed to advance the development of the growing energy storage market in Germany.

Energy storage and efficiency are hot topics in Germany

Energy storage is seen as a key technology to support the future development of renewable energy, particularly solar, as feed-in tariffs decline in many parts of the world. The Berlin-based association aims to represent the growing number of energy storage companies while creating a strong network among them.

Professor Eicke Weber, spokesman for the Fraunhofer Energy Alliance and director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Freiburg, has been appointed the Association’s first President.  Association CEO is Dr. Harald Binder, Vice-President and General Manager of Applied Materials.

The association, which has issued an invitation for new members, said its first official project will be to create an 'energy storage roadmap', which will define the role energy storage plays in Germany’s energy revolution. The Federal Association of Energy Storage will have its first meeting at the Energy Storage Conference Exhibition in Dusseldorf this March.

New battery plant in South Korea

Fri, 07/20/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

A plant to make components for lithium-ion batteries is to be built in South Korea by Belgian company Umicore. 

The high-tech recycler and specialist materials maker will double its capacity of the product as it expands into the market.  The plant should be operational in 2014 to make parts for rechargeable batteries.

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Urban mining to recover valuable metals from discarded electronics

Fri, 07/20/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

Lithium demand is booming due to to an explosion in tablets and smartphones. GTSO Resources is beginning to recover used lithium using ‘urban mining’ (or recycling) techniques.
"Lithium prices have already tripled, and no one expects them to level off anytime soon,” said GTSO CEO Paul Watson.
Electronic waste contains metal deposits 40 to 50 times richer than mined ores, up to 85% are lost to landfills. GTSO is planning operations to recover lithium, tungsten and other discarded materials.

Lead surplus no more?

Thu, 07/19/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

Lead supplies could fall into deficit for the first time in five years.  Recycling of car batteries has stunted demand for raw resources but, with a growing market in Asia for electric bikes, industry demand for lead is rising.  

The 2012 global lead market is set to record a surplus of 144,000 metric tons. The price has declined in recent years due to this surplus, with value falling from US$2 700/t to $1 900/t from last year.

Demand for electric bikes should reduce the surplus and push prices up, lead producers would welcome this as prices have fallen steadily since 2007 when it was valued at US$3 890/t on the London Metal Exchange.

With lead producing factories closing in China and environmental concerns hindering expansion, the demand for lead is outstripping supply. 

Samsung and Bosch end partnership

Thu, 07/19/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

South Korea's Samsung SDI and German auto-parts maker Bosch will be ending their four-year old joint venture of SB LiMotive, an electric car battery manufacturing unit due to . Samsung will acquire the 50% stake in the venture held by Bosch, but both firms will continue to maintain close business relations.

Samsung will take full ownership of the lithium-ion battery unit while maintaining a collaborative working relationship with Bosch.  Samsung and Bosch had jointly established SB LiMotive in July 2008 under an equal ownership arrangement, where each partner held 38 million shares. SB LiMotive currently operates a battery cell production line in Ulsan, South Korea with a monthly capacity of 200,000 battery cell packs. Production at the plant will be raised to 400,000 packs per month by 2013 and 1.5 million packs per month by 2015.

From the outset of the partnership, Samsung was in control of the research & development and production, while Bosch took care of the battery management system and sales.  Bosch has recently shown an interest in running its own battery cell production line.

Bosch is working with German chemicals firm BASF to build a pilot line for lithium-ion battery cells. Test production will start this year, and the plant will produce up to 200,000 cells by 2015.

Japan losing out in the supply chain game

Thu, 07/19/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

Japan is losing out to Chinese and South Korean competitors in supplying lithium-ion battery components around the world. In the 2011 financial year Japan supplied less than half of these key parts.

Global shipments of cathode and anode materials, separators and electrolytes are estimated to have grown 11.2% to US$70.2 million last fiscal year. Japanese firms' share fell 5.7% points to 46.6%, dipping below the 50% mark for the first time since 2008.

The Japanese Yano Research Institute believes Japan’s dominance was weakened following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that halted the supply of some essential parts around the country. This, combined with the strong yen cutting into Japan’s competitiveness, meant a demand for cheaper materials grew.  Another factor is the shift in South Korean battery manufacturers to use domestically made parts over imports.

 

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