Thursday, July 29, 2010

EcoloCap Nano Battery in India


EcoloCap is Making Moves

Just picking up the buzz that EcoloCap, one of the serious nano-battery contenders, has signed an agreement, though I would think not quite a contract as yet, with the authorities in Delhi to supply, operate and maintain approx 1,500 electric buses for the next 10 years.

I have attempted to translate the business-speak into English. Apologies if I got some facts skewed in the process.

It seems that EcoloCap CEO Michael Siegel has been on a visit to India and the discussions have focused on three possible areas of their battery applications in India:

1) Using the EcoloCap battery to convert several bus routes into an all electric fleet.
2) The use of an EcoloCap battery in electric taxis, with a production start date of Sep 2010, and an initial production figure of 10,000 units. First all-electric taxis introduced to the streets by Dec. 2010.
3) The design modifications needed to migrate production facilities to the production of delivery trucks etc.

The first batteries would be assembled in India under an agreement yet to be fully defined. In the meantime final design and longevity testing is now underway, and will last a month. IMHO a month seems a very short time to do longevity tests on anything - especially electro-chemical devices - but what do I know!

Michael Siegel EcoloCap CEO said; "The electric vehicle will eventually play an important role in Indian society. The Nano battery is the only battery now considered for these applications because of the price and power density. We plan to deliver sample batteries to be used in 200 three wheelers for the 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held in New Delhi."

It is an exciting bit of action - hope it works out.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Solar Energy History The French Connection 2


Solar History
The French Connection 2

Abel Pifre (1852-1928), Genius and showman.
(I could find no photo or likeness of M. Pifre)

Unfortunately there is no photograph or likeness of, nor is there any great deal of historical information to be had about Abel Pifre.

He was a French engineer who got his start in solar energy engineering by working as an assistant / consultant with Augustin Mouchot the guy that developed the first solar engine.

Later on Abel Pifre went on to build several improved solar engines of his own, including a solar driven printing press, for which perhaps he is most remembered.

Abel Pifre first demonstrated his solar press to the Union Francaise de la Jeunesse at the Jardin des Tuileries Paris on the 6th of August 1882.

His machine had a concave solar mirror of 3.5 metres, roughly 11.50 feet, in diameter which focused the sun onto a cylindrical steam boiler. This produced steam which powered a 2.5 horsepower vertical engine, and this in turn powered a Marioni type printing-press.

It was reported that the press operated continuously from 1.00 pm to 5.30 pm even under semi-overcast conditions, to produce some 500 copies per hour of a journal, "Le Journal du Soleil", which was published specifically for the event.

An Extract from Popular Science 1881

The following extract from Popular Science 1881 gives us a rare glimpse of Pifre’s work just prior to the exhibition of the solar printing press at the Jardin des Tuileries.

"Several experimenters have contrived machines for the purpose of utilizing the solar heat as a source of mechanical energy, among whom Ericsson and Mouchot have been most successful."

"M. Pifre describes in a recent number of the "Comptes Eendus " some results from a machine of Mouchot's construction, claiming to have utilized more than eighty per cent, of the heat which falls on the mirrors of the instrument : something over twelve calories to a square metre. "

"We do not mean, of course, that this percentage of the total solar energy appeared as mechanical power in the engine, but only in its boiler. The machine had a mirror surface of nearly one hundred square feet, and gave not quite a horse-power. It is very possible that such machines will find useful application in the rainless I'cgions like Egypt and Peru."

"The apparatus invented by Mouchat for utilizing the direct rays of the sun as a source of power has been so improved by M. Pifre, a French engineer, that he claims to be able to make available eighty percent, of the received heat of the sun."

"M. Abel Pifre has succeeded, by changing the form of the reflectors and the heaters, in considerably increasing the efficiency of the solar engines invented by M. Mouchot. While M. Mouchot has not been able to utilize more than fifty per cent, of the heat of the sun, M. Pifre with his improved apparatus makes eighty per cent, available for use. With a receiver of 9-25 square metres and a clear sky he boils fifty litres of water in less than forty minutes, and obtains an additional pressure of one atmosphere every seven or eight minutes."


Monday, July 19, 2010

Solar Energy - The French Connection part one


The French Connection

This is the story of the development of solar power in France It is told in three acts. Each act features one of three main players; a mathematician, an engineer and a poet/visionary.

Act 1

Monsieur Augustin Mouchot

Augustin Mouchot (April 2, 1825 - October 4, 1912)

Augustin Mouchot was a mathematics professor at the Lycée de Tours. He became fixated with the idea of finding alternative energy sources, as he believed that coal, the main industrial fuel at that time, would eventually run out.

Being a mathematician, he was inspired by the work of both the Swiss physicist Horace-Bénédict de Saussur, and of Claude Pouillet the French physicist who was one of the first to attempt a calculation of the suns total energy falling on the earth. He did his first solar energy experiments in 1860 when he began experimenting with solar cooking.

1866 a Solar Powered Engine

Between 1860 and 1880 he worked on developing solar powered steam engines. By mid 1866, Augustin Mouchot had completed his first sun powered engine which was presented to Napoleon III in Paris. Mouchot continued development and increased the scale of his solar experiments. Just three years later in 1869 he published a book on solar energy called; “La Chaleur solaire et ses Applications industrielles”. That same year (1869) his largest solar engine was displayed in Paris until the city was taken by the Prussians, his machine disappeared, never again to be found.

Mouchot's Solar engine at the Lycée de Tours

The war left Augustin Mouchot in a position where he could not afford to continue his experiments for several years. Eventually, a chance came by way of a local government grant, and he installed a solar concentrator at the Lycée de Tours. It was reported that during testing, the heat was so intense that boiler looked like it might explode.

Later Monsieur Mouchot installed another machine at the Paris Exhibition of 1878. It had a solar mirror of some 4 meters in diameter and an 80-litre boiler. He confounded the crowd by using the steam to drive an ice maker and produced ice from the sun. His daring ingenuity earned him a Gold Medal.

Augustin Mouchot had a very cleaver and able assistant an engineer called Abel Pifre, who features in our Act 2 (coming soon). Monsieur Pifre went on to develop more solar engines while the originating genius Mouchot himself went back to his mathematics, and left the glare of solar energy publicity behind.


"Eventually industry will no longer find in Europe the resources to satisfy its prodigious expansion.. Coal will undoubtedly be used up. What will industry do then?" Augustin Bernard Mouchot 1880


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fleming, Florey and Fluidic Energy


Fleming, Florey
and Fluidic Energy

Did you ever wonder at how the scientific and academic world actually works - the rules of engagement so to speak??

History has shown us that the big names often take complete credit for a discovery when in fact someone else had put all the work into developing it. Edison was said to have done that on more than one occasion.

The Real Inventors of Penicillin
Dr Howard Florey and his team

Alexander Fleming is another example. He noted that the mould prevented bacteria developing but he did none of the research and development that lead to the amazing medical breakthrough. It was in fact Doctors Howard Florey, Ernst Chain, and their colleagues at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at Oxford who turned penicillin from a half forgotten laboratory curiosity into a world-changing drug. Mean spirited Fleming took all of the kudos and barely recognised the development work.

So where is my story leading? Well to the understanding that the scientific world, like the business and political worlds, is a jungle full of poisonous rats and snakes. You would need to know what you are dealing with in order to survive. Honour, honesty and generosity of spirit do not, for the most part, exist in this jungle.

With that understanding I sent an e-mail to Prof. Cody Friesen in the hope of getting some bit of general news about how their Ionic Fluid Battery research was progressing.

Hi Professor Friesen,

I was delighted to hear that your research group has received a second major DOE grant. I am an admirer of the efforts of your group and of the way you handle your public image. I write a blog on renewable energy. I have posted several pieces featuring Fluidic Energy.

Why am I bothering you? Well, frankly, I hoping that perhaps I might be able to get some little bit of a glimpse at the progress you are making with you ionic fluid battery.

I fully realise it is a jungle and that you have to be very vigilant with your intellectual property, but maybe you could share some scrap of general information.

Either way, good luck with your efforts.

Best Regards,

Tony McGinley
County Kerry

I was not in the leastl surprised to receive the following answer.

Dear Mr. McGinley,

Thank you for your interest in Fluidic Energy. You were correct in your assumptions that we need to protect our intellectual property. As of now we are operating in a confidential mode, other than what we release to the press. Unfortunately, the information on the website and the press releases are all that is available at this time.
Best of luck with your blog.

Kind Regards,

Fluidic Energy
8455 North 90th Street
Scottsdale, Arizona 85258


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fluidic Energy get second Major Grant


Fluidic Energy Inc.
aka Friesen Research
Get a 2nd Major US DOE Grant

I have written a number of posts about a start-up nano battery company called Fluidic Energy Inc. Not so long ago they got a $5million grant for research. News today is that they are in line for a second major US Government grant. This second grant is for $3 million.

Fluidic Energy is one of the players in the nano battery field that I personally have a good feeling about. For one, they are not full of hyperbole and the art of spin-doctoring. That the US gov. has awarded two major grants also says a good deal. How many major grants have EEstor, Ecolocap, or NextAlternative received??

The grants come from the US Dept. of Energy’s “Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy” The cash is sourced from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which was set up to stimulate research and development in renewable technologies. AFAIK it is the end of that money.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Ireland's First Stirling Engine Exhibition


Stirling Engine Exhibition

I had an e-mail from Bob Idjennadene who among other things is a Stirling Engine aficionado. He will be holding the 1st ever Stirling Engine exhibition in Ireland.

The exhibition will be held at “Sonairte”, the National Ecology Centre at Laytown. Co Meath. It will take place on Sunday July 25th. It is free of charge.

Bob will be showing some beautiful working scale models of types of the Reverend Stirling’s wonderful invention of so many years ago.

I have written extensively about Stirling engines in previous posts, do a search if you would like to read a bit about this extraordinary engine and its latest manifestations in solar energy and power-packs for lunar sites.

Bob has his own website, about Belgian Waffles!!! (A man fond of his food) - where he has a Stirling Engine page have a look:


Sunday, July 11, 2010

2 Euro CFL Bulbs Best Value


CFL bulbs are Terrific Value
You can make 400%+ Profit
in Energy Savings

Some improvements are being made in LED lighting and the prices are coming down a little bit. However, LED lighting is still far from an economic option for general domestic use.

CFL bulbs are not the perfect "green" solution, but they certainly are by far the best current option for the average user.

High quality regular type Philips CFL bulbs can now be purchased for as little as €2 each. The fancier ones cost a bit more. At that sort of silly money you could completely change over the average home for an outlay of just €24 to €32.

Your outlay would be paid back in savings in less than a year. Given that the bulbs have an average life of 5 years, you would make about a 400% profit in time!!!

Did you know that you can get 12volt CFL bulbs? Great for caravans and camping. You can also get high power CFL bulbs for outside lighting.

Look, if you have not already made the change to CFL bulbs, do yourself a big favour and go out this week and but a dozen or so.



Thursday, July 08, 2010

Belfast Shipyard BuildingTurbines


Belfast Shipyard
Gets another Order
to Build a Tidal Turbine

Last February I wrote a piece about a UK drive by the Lib Dems to turn old shipyards into turbine building yards. It looks like this idea may be starting to happen a bit more.

I was delighted to hear the news that the historic Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast has just signed a contract to build another sea turbine turbine. The yard had built sea turbines before. They made a quite big one for SeaGen in 2008.

This tidal turbine is a prototype which will have two rotors of some 8 meters diameter the gantry is some 30-metre wide and weighs 80-tonnes. It will generate about 250Kw at peak.

I am wondering what type of rotor will be utilised, maybe open propeller or one of the new safer types?

The order comes from an Orkney-based company called Scotrenewables. The turbine is bespoke for a location off the Scottish Islands.


Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Obama puts $2bn on Solar Projects


Betting $2bn on Solar Energy

President Barack Obama, as part of his drive towards sustainable energy, has just announced that the US government will make available close on $2bn in loan guarantees to stimulate two large solar energy projects in the USA.

A Very Old Solar Trough Design

One project is by a company called Abengoa Solar that plans to build what is said to be the largest solar power plant in the world in Arizona . The plant will cover some 1,900 acres, the technology will use a modern form of what is quite and old solar technology, the parabolic trough. The installation will have a capacity of 280 MW and will use power thermal storage.

It is not specified what type of thermal storage will be used. Water is perhaps the most common medium with a capability, AFAIK, for one cubic meter of water to store 93 kilowatt/ hours, or 93 one bar electric fires burning for one hour!! Molten salt is another method used in solar applications to store heat at much higher temperatures.

The second project is by a company called Abound Solar Manufacturing. This company produces thin-film solar panels. Their current panels have a fairly low cost per watt and achieve a fairly modest 12-13% efficiency.

Good to see some moves happening.