Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Irish Blog Awards


Irish Blog Awards!!

It seems that my readers, friends, and various "brown envelope" recipients, have nominated my Blog for the Irish Blog Awards:

This blog is listed one of 42 in the "Specialist" section, which appears to be one of the larger populated sections so far.

Thanks guys for the nomination!!!!


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Solar Cell Developments


More Developments in
"The Great Solar Race"

Global Solar Energy Inc. (GSE) Tucson Arizona are claiming to have reached new levels of efficiency in breakthrough development of solar cells based on copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film technology.

The cells are said to have achieved10 percent efficiency. Which for flexible lightweight cells is apparently quite good.

GSE is yet another runner in the Great Solar Race it has a plant being built in Berlin and plans another in the USA. The Solar Race is not yet off to a real start and the price per watt for cells is falling much slower than expected.

Thin Film Solar Cells IMHO is still one of the most exciting areas in renewable energy because:

1. The technology, unlike wind for instance, is virtually maintenance free.
2. It has little or no impact on the environment if properly installed, noise free and almost invisible in many cases.
3. The cost per watt is likely soon to be much lower than wind for domestic or small installations.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Oil from Algae


72 year old US researcher
can turn algae into fuel

Algae that green, bluegreen, red stuff that causes accidents and annoyance at sea shore, lakes and waterways, has a very useful otherside.

Twenty years ago there was a good deal of research into oil producing algae but it all died down because these was no perceived need for it. Now with the price of a barrel of oil rocketing to well over $100, this old research is getting a quick dust down.

Keith Cooksey’s lab, he is now 72, studied turning algal oil into bio diesel in the 1980s. The U.S. Department of Energy funded their research. There was talk about the big oil companies meddling in the affair.

Algae grows naturally in rivers and lakes, along the seashore, and in stagnant and waste water.

The US government fund report in 1983 stated that oils from microalgae are suitable for refining into conventional liquid fuels. Indeed, in the past, biological oils have been refined to fuels during shortages in petroleum supply.

The research shows that:

  • Soybean can produce approximately 190 Litres of oil per acre per year
  • Canola produces about 490 Litres,
  • Certain types of algae can produce a whacking great 15,000 Litres of oil per acre a year.

With further research and refinement of techniques, this figure can be extended much further. The algae can be grown on waste water from power stations etc and will even continue to grow at below freezing point. The sunnier countries will of course do much better.

This could be a much better way of broducing bio fuels. It is certainly worth some more research.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Flourescent Tubes - CFLs and Mercury


Florescent Tubes and Mercury
These things have Gobs of Mercury in them

For years we have taken florescent tubes for granted. There are tens of millions of these things in use and no one ever made a squeek about their safety. In fact, right now, these tubes pose a much greater risk than CFL bulbs.

Tests in the USA have indicated that between 17% and 40% of mercury in broken fluorescent tubes is released to the air during the two-weeks after breakage. One-third of the mercury release occurs during the first 8 hours after breakage. Many fluorescent tubes contain way more mercury than the newer CFL bulbs.

All Florescent Bulbs need Proper Disposal Methods

Older type florescent tubes were found to release somewhere between 3 to 8 mgs of mercury vapors over two weeks. This figure would suggest that some of these older type tubes had up to 20 mgs of mercury in them.

It has been estimated that around 620 million fluorescent tubes are discarded yearly in the USA. These florescent tubes could release approximately 2 to 4 tons of mercury per year. It will be some time yet before CFL bulbs are posing a problem in terms of quantity.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mercury in CFL Bulbs


How Much Mercury?

There has been a bit of hoopla recently by some critics of the CFL bulb about the "dangers" of CFL bulbs because of the mercury in them. To put the matter into some perspective, I have a list of common items which contain mercury and, as you will see, they all contain many more times mercury than a CFL bulb.

A single CFL bulb has approximately 5 milligrams of mercury.

One tiny watch type battery has 25 milligrams or 5 CFL bulbs worth of mercury. How many tens of thousands of these are disgarded every day??

Perhaps right in your mouth, your dental fillings of the older type have 500 milligrams or 100 CFL bulbs worth of mercury - per filling.

Home thermometers have between 500 milligrams and 2 grams or between 100 and 400 CFL bulbs worth of mercury.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

CFL and Halogen Bulbs


Jennifer of AvocaLite featured on Pat Kenny

I was delighted to hear that the Pat Kenny radio show featured a 20 minute piece on CFL lamps with Jennifer of AvocaLite.

During the piece Pat introduced halogen bulbs. It is my belief that halogen replacement bulbs, as distinct from 12 volt halogen spots etc., should also be banned as the efficiency of many is only marginally 10% above the bog ordinary bulb.

Halogen Bulbs

Most household incandescent bulbs have efficiencies of between 8 and 21 lumens per watt. Higher efficiencies can be achieved with “hotter” filaments and something near 35 lumens per watt can be achieved with photographic and projection lamps with very high filament temperatures but with much shorter lifetimes of around 40 hours.

In between, you have the range of halogen lights from car headlights to halogen down lighters. In the last 10 years or so a range of halogen bulbs to replace the common light bulb. Halogen bulbs are ordinary bulbs with some modifications.

Older type of Halogen Bulb
Newer type look exactly like standard bulb

These bulbs all still have tungsten filaments but operated at a much higher temperature so they have a quartz envelope that takes higher temperatures than glass and are filled with halogen gas instead of a vacuum. The purpose of the halogen gas is to prevent the tungsten filament depositing atoms on the glass envelope. The light efficiency of halogen bulbs comes from the higher operating temperature of the filament. Efficiency differs widely but halogen can be between 10 and 30% more efficient and still have reasonably long lives.

Halogen replacement bulbs have been around a long time. A newer breed of replacement bulb is being developed. Much of the design is being lead by the motor industry and development of brighter headlights. However the new breed of super efficient nano-technology LED lights will soon displace these.

Low voltage 12 volt halogen lights give a superior quality of light to mains voltage.

CFL Bulbs

The modern CFL bulb is a highly sophisticated piece of engineering. The starter technology is state of the art and the colour rendition and general quality of light from the better brands, exceeds the quality of incandescent bulbs, according to Popular Mechanics tests.

Led Bulbs.

There are very recent developments in the LED type bulb using nano-technology which has greatly increased the efficiency and power of these fantastic lights. We will see these new light in the next year or so. They will be twice or more as efficient as CFL bulbs and they will last for 20 to 30 years. This is where all lighting, domestic, commercial, and automotive, is heading.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Update on Vanadium Redox Batteries


An Update from Kevin Cullen


You may be interest in the update report from Research Capital analyst Jon Hykawy. He was also on BNN last Thursday. Jan 3rd (18:00 hours) where he had VRB as one of his "stars" for 2008. (Vanadium Redox Batteries)

His take on why the Irish government has not finalized its contract with the company was a bit surprising, but encouraging long term for VRB.

You can see it here: Mind you, BNN only keep these segments up a week.



Thank you again Kevin for this update information.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Airoption and SEI CORRECTION



I need to correct some facts in my Blog of Jan 3 in which I stated that Airoption had an entry in the SEI (Sustainable Energy Ireland) directory. This is not the case. I recently contacted SEI and was told that Airoption was not listed as per my Blog of Jan 3rd.

The listing is with Sustainable Ireland and NOT with SEI (Sustainable Energy Ireland) the Government run agency. A listing with Sustainable Ireland means nothing as such and holds no value. It is merely a free listing to which anyone can register, there are no criteria or standards implied for this listing, and no guarantee is given regarding the listings or their validity by Sustainable Ireland.


Friday, January 04, 2008

Plurion Redox Battery Comment


An interesting comment has come in about the Plurion Ultra High Capacity Redox Battery. I have decided to publish this as a full article. (Ed.)

Blogger: Dr Know has left a new comment on "Questions about Plurion the Technology and the Company":

I helped assemble the first 1m^2 Plurion battery in California, and it is what it says on the package. I can confirm that the late great Peter Millington formerly of UMIST was a close collaborator on it. Its not unusual for a company in this type of market to submarine and beaver away quietly till the time is right, otherwise, EVERYONE will want to do it, patents be damned. and if you know about flow batteries - you know that its going to take about 3 more years or more to get over the regenisis bomb which, of you want to talk about cash burn rates, makes Plurion look like a drop in the ocean.

I think I know who wrote the last comment, I have seen his language style in the electrochemistry journal of the RSC, especially the "long and checkered past" part.

TUT TUT, I think this guy has some sort of personal agenda and will take ANY forum. Please don't take him too seriously, if you want to know how it works, call them (Plurion), they are in Glenrothes in Scotland, or check the patent office for reviewable docs (hint:there are lots of patent offices internationally, and the company did start in California.)

As for myself I have no axe to grind, I don't work there anymore, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there but had to move on to bigger things.

My thanks to Dr Know for the interesting input. I am sure that we have not heard the end of the story on this interesting technology.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Airoption GeoThermal Alternative


Geothermal Heating Alternative

I have been asked about the validity of AirOption's heating claim: to be able to heat a room with the equivalent of a 100w bulb. I have no inside information of any substance but on the SEI web site Airoption make the following statement copied directly. I have just emphasised the section dealing with the underfloor heating: manufacturer and distributor of small wind turbines, battery storage, inverters, solar panels, biofuel generators, hydro generators. new electric a/energy underfloor heating concept developed over the past 5 years and now ready for market. offering a viable answer to geothermal. offering new approaches to heat from wind CHP systems.
Address: 28a ballingarrane, Cahir Road, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary
Contact: Mr John McCollum
Phone: 00353 52 70792
Fax: 00353 52 70793

HERE is the link to SEI