Turning Sunlight Into Liquid Fuel

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For millions of years, green plants have employed photosynthesis to capture energy from sunlight and convert itinto electrochemical energy. A goal of scientists has been to develop an artificial version of photosynthesis that can be used to produce liquid fuels from carbon dioxide and water. … Continue reading


Making synthetic fuel with solar panels

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Now a team of scientists working in Sandia National Laboratories is focusing on exploring basic steps to make synthetic liquid fuel with the help of solar panels. Some of the goals are: The team is using a cerium-oxide-based system to turn … Continue reading


Google could rule in car industry

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The recent linking of General Motors and Google for a handful of services related to the plug-in Chevy Volt marks an intersection for automakers and Internet giants. The two industries — one little changed for  decades and marked by steel and manufacturing, … Continue reading

Montana Smart Grid Potential

Project developers Grasslands Renewable Energy proposed a system that would link up 3,000MW worth of wind farms, ironing out the intermittency with energy storage systems to provide a constant 1,000MW output of clean “baseload” energy.

The company, a joint venture between Rocky Mountain Power Inc. and Absaroka Energy LLC, said yesterday that the ten wind developers who have signed letters of intent to join the project account for more than 3,000MW of potential generating capacity.

As well as pledging intent to join, the wind developers have contributed funding to the Wind Spirit Project, Grasslands said.

One of the wind developers signing up was Windmaker Energy, part of Whitefish-based Mother’s Power Inc. Its managing partner Jeff Arcel said: “Montana and the surrounding region have some of the best wind resources in the nation.  The Wind Spirit Project’s unique and innovative business model will allow wind developers from diverse geographic areas to work together in new ways to fully realize our potential.”

State Governor Brian Schweitzer has backed the project, saying: “Montana can and will lead our nation in wind energy development. But until we solve our transmission constraint problems, little of this great resource will be developed. The project proposed by Grasslands Renewable Energy is an important first step in ensuring quality energy jobs for Montanans and clean energy for America.”

As well as wind farms in Montana, the Wind Spirit project could link in with wind projects in North Dakota, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Grasslands has said it will rely on proven and new storage systems to store energy for release when the wind isn’t blowing. It is looking into technologies including pumped storage hydro projects, which uses electricity to pump water into a reservoir where it can drive turbines to generate electricity when needed.

The company is also investigating battery and compressed air energy storage technologies.

By hybrid blogger Posted in News!

Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

Now that Toyota’s plug-in hybrid development is no longer a secret, the company is putting plug-in prototypes on the road in Japan and California to further improve the technology. The Toyota Plug-in HV, a test platform based on the production hybrid Prius, has been approved for public road use by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport – the first certification of its kind. Toyota will field eight vehicles in Japan to verify the electric-only cruising range and optimal battery capacity.

The Prius PHEV is based on a third generation Toyota Prius (model ZVW30) outfitted with 5.2 kWh lithium-ion batteries co-developed with Panasonic,which enable all-electric operation at higher speeds and longer distances than the conventional Prius hybrid.

The Prius plug-in total all-electric range is 13 mi (21 km) with speeds up to 62 mph (100 km/h).The lithium-ion battery pack can be charged in 180 minutes at 100 volts or in 100 minutes at 200 volts.The Prius plug-in is rated at 134 mpg-US (1.76 L/100 km; 161 mpg-imp) with a combined efficiency based on a 43.6 % of driving in EV mode and CO2 emissions of 41 g/km. Fuel efficiency operating as a gasoline-electric hybrid, like the regular Prius, is 72 mpg-US (3.3 L/100 km; 86 mpg-imp) with CO2 emissions of 76 g/km.

A global demonstration program involving 600 pre-production test cars began in late 2009 and will continue in 2010 in Japan, Europe, Canada, China, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.The commercial version is expected to sell for around USD 48,000 (ouch)  and production during the first year is expected to vary between 20,000 and 30,000 units.

The Plug-in HV features two major changes over the production Prius. Toyota has doubled the battery capacity to 13 amp-hours by installing a larger nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) battery pack. Accordingly, the overall weight of the prototype is about 70 pounds greater than a stock Prius. Toyota says the larger NiMH battery pack is meant to simulate the level of performance the company expects to achieve when it eventually develops its own more compact and powerful battery systems, presumably with lithium-ion batteries. The other major modification is the addition of plug-in capability. Plugging into a standard 110-volt household outlet via a socket located on the rear fender will fully replenish the batteries in three to four hours.

The increased battery capacity means electric-only driving range is extended to approximately eight miles. The Plug-in HV is also capable of driving electrically at speeds up to 62 mph before the 1.5-liter gasoline engine turns on. Maximum electric-only cruising speed in the production Prius is 42 mph. This electric-only range is not as great as some of the unofficial Prius conversions that have been demonstrated in California and elsewhere. Nevertheless, Toyota reportedly claims that even with this experimental number, substantial gains in fuel economy and a major reduction in total tailpipe emissions over current conventional hybrid systems can be achieved.


The Prius Plug-in uses three different batteries, two to provide all-electric drive and a third battery engages when the first two are depleted, allowing the car to operate in hybrid mode, like a regular 50-mpg Prius. According to Toyota, when the vehicle starts, the plug-in operates in all-electric mode, drawing electrical power directly from the first battery pack. When its charge is depleted, it disconnects from the circuit and the second pack engages and supplies electrical energy to the motor. When the second pack is depleted again it disconnects from the circuit and the system defaults to conventional hybrid mode, using the main battery as the sole electrical power source. Pack one and pack two will not reengage in tandem with the main battery pack until the vehicle is plugged in and charged.

Demonstration program

According to Toyota a total of 600 Prius plug-in demonstration vehicles will be available for lease to fleet and government customers, 200 will be delivered in Europe and 230 Japan in late December 2009, along with 150 models to be released in the U.S. by early 2010. All program vehicles will be sent to limited geographical areas and will be equipped with special data tracking devices designed to allow Toyota to monitor the car’s usage for further development of the plug-in hybrid system.


In March 2010 Toyota launched its demonstration program in Canada with five Prius Plug-ins in partnership with academic institutions, hydro-electric producers, and governmental agencies in each of the four provinces participating in the program, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Québec. Canada is home to Toyota’s global cold weather research center in Northern Ontario, and the country’s cold weather will serve to evaluate its adverse effect on battery performance and range.


Toyota wil lease approximately 200 units in Europe, with approximately 100 going to Strasbourg, France. Other countries where the Prius Plug-in Hybrid will also be introduced are the United Kingdom, Portugal, Germany, Netherlands, and another eight European countries that are being considered


The demonstration program in Strasbourg was launched in April 2010.The 3-year program involves around 100 Prius Plug-ins and the deployment of dedicated charging infrastructure. The program will set up more than 150 charging points at private parking lots of firms participating in the program, user homes, public parking lots and on public roads


The demonstration program in Germany will be conducted in Baden-Württemberg with ten Prius Plug-ins and the corresponding dedicated charging infrastructure. The program will be run by German energy provider EnBW.

United Kingdom

The demonstration test in the U.K. will include only 20 Prius plug-ins.


In Japan, TMC will lease approximately 230 units to government ministries, local governments selected for the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s EV & PHV Towns program, corporations such, as electric power companies, and other entities

For more info click here

New Platinum Could be Cheaper for More Efficient Fuel Cells

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the University of Houston are talking about a new form of platinum that might be helpful in making cheaper, more efficient fuel cells. This work has been published in the April 25th issue of Nature Chemistry.

The team is trying to modify the platinum’s reactivity. This step will enable the researchers to cut back the quantity of platinum required by 80 percent. They are also quite positive about minimizing the quantity by another 10 percent. This will reduce the overall cost of the fuel cells. Nilsson says, “I think with a factor of ten, we’ll have a home run.”

Fuel cells work much like batteries. An anode gives out electrons and a cathode collects those electrons thus forming a circuit. So what is the difference between a fuel cell and a battery? Fuel cells use hydrogen and oxygen to complete their energy-producing reactions. The by-product is water and heat.

What metal is chosen for cathode is extremely important. Because some of the metals can’t break the oxygen molecule into atoms. And some bind strongly with oxygen so the important reactions don’t take place. Scientists are trying to attain a balance so that the number of oxygen bonds broken is maximized and the oxygen atoms attach feebly to the catalyst. Platinum helps the scientist in attaining that balance. It breaks the oxygen bonds but does not fasten to the free oxygen atoms too powerfully.

Smart Grid Conference 2010

The electric power industry is rapidly moving beyond the smart meter to that of an information-rich networked grid. Information technology and advanced communication networks are enabling an intelligent grid infrastructure that is spawning the development and deployment of transformative applications for next-generation utility networks.

Between 2010 and 2020, power grids around the globe will be transformed through a series of stages driven by the availability of infrastructure technology and application market demand. Everything from improved power quality and reduction in peak demand to the integration of distributed renewable energy resources and PHEVs will influence the portfolio of smart grid technologies and applications to come.

The Networked Grid 2010 is Greentech Media’s premier two-day smart grid conference, covering next-generation smart grid infrastructure and applications. Topics to be covered at this smart grid event include:

  • North American Utility Executive Round Table Discussion
  • Networked Grid Communications Infrastructure: Scaling AMI and Beyond
  • The Soft Grid: Smart Grid’s Killer Applications
  • Power Forward: Grid Optimization and Distribution Automation
  • Information is Power: Meter Data Management and Analytics
  • Winning the Home Network Battle: PHYs, Protocols and Platforms
  • The Smart Home Customer Experience: Next-Generation Consumer Services and TOU Pricing
  • Securing the Networked Grid Infrastructure
  • Addressing Peak Demand: The Future of Demand Response and Smart Appliances
  • The Microgrid Emergence: Distributed, Intermittent Renewable Power & Storage
  • Utility Enterprise 2.0: Information Technology and Back-Office Systems Integration
  • The Networked EV: Smart Grids and Electric Vehicles
  • The Networked Building: Efficient, Automated “Energy LANs”

In addition, The Networked Grid 2010 will feature two in-depth workshops:

  • Power Layer Infrastructure Technologies and Network Communications Layer Architectures
  • North American Utility Smart Grid Case Studies

Stay tuned for more news about this conference!!!!!

Where:    Hyatt Grand Champions Resort, Villas and Spa in Palm Springs, CA.

When:     May 18-19, 2010

Registration :   The Networked Grid 2010 page

The full agenda for The Networked Grid 2010 can be found here.

SmartMeters for your home

Agilewaves constantly monitors electric, gas and water use and provides accurate consumption and carbon footprint information in real-time, from any web enabled device, from anywhere in the world. The system intelligence can send automatic notifications of leaks, excessive energy use or carbon emissions via email or text messaging, and can seamlessly communicate with home control systems.

measuring the ecological footprint of a property in real-time, the technology can monitor each individual circuit, water line, and gas appliance. The flexible system can also track other factors such as temperature/humidity, output from solar PV, performance of solar or geo-thermal water heating, indoor air quality and even living architecture. Current and historical information is automatically stored allowing powerful trend analysis and comparative features to be easily displayed across any time period. The system, custom-designed for larger buildings and higher-end homes, needs to be installed by an electrician and can also be used to dim lights, turn on and off heating and cooling, and adjust smart appliances.

What’s included on the system?

A basic system is turn-key and includes all the associated sensors, hardware and pre-configured software to monitor main water, main gas, and main electric plus 7 additional individual circuits of your choice (equipment, appliances, lights, sub-panels, etc). This is a suggested system starting point only and the system can easily be refined to monitor additional electric, gas or water points of use, as well as indoor air quality, solar, geo-thermal, green living roofs, climate and more

how is it installed?

Sensors are mounted and wired back to an Agilewaves Sensor Integration Panel (ASIP). The electrical sensors mount directly in the circuit breaker panel(s), so do not require invasive installation within the home or building. The gas, water and other sensors are installed at their monitoring point and wired back to the nearest ASIP. In some cases, Agilewaves may be able to gather data from existing “communicating” utility meters or equipment, avoiding the need for additional sensors. Wireless is an option, but only used as a last resort.Agilewaves can communicate with smart meters also.

visit Agilewaves at to learn about prices and how to order it.

Learning about impact of the Smart Meters on electricity use

In recent months 131,000 households and businesses in nine near west suburbs and in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood have received new Smart Meters in preparation for a pilot program to examine the impact of new technology on electricity use.

This week, ComEd kicked off a public education campaign about the program with its first informational meeting for Oak Park residents at the village’s public library.

Smart Meters are expected to help consumers monitor and reduce electricity use and their carbon footprint while helping utilities adjust distribution and eventually reduce the number and duration of power outages. The new meters are the first step toward the creation of a “smart grid,” which uses a digital system rather than a mechanical one to communicate power needs and problems along the lines.

The pilot program will run from June 1 to May 31, 2011. In early June residents will be able to log on to a new Web site to see how much power they used the previous day and how much it cost them. The site will also include ways for residents and businesses to reduce their usage, said Larry Kotewa, a senior engineer with CNT Energy, a division of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, which is working with ComEd on the project.

Smart Meters were installed well in advance of the pilot program to make sure the system is up and working, Kotewa said. The meters will send digital signals to ComEd every 30 minutes rather than having someone physically read the meter once a month. In addition, any power outage in a home will be reported back to the utility immediately.

For now, the 8,000 households with monitors will remain capped for the pilot program, said Alicia Zatkowski, senior manager of communications for ComEd.

Similar information sessions about ComEd’s pilot program will be held in the other participating towns: Bellwood, Forest Park, Melrose Park, Maywood, Broadview, Berwyn, River Forest and Hillside. The next informational meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Berwyn Public Library, 2701 S. Harlem Ave.

For more info click here

Communities in California install SmartMeters, first step: Orange County

Southern California Edison (SCE) will install smart electric meters throughout communities in Orange County as part of the Edison SmartConnect program.

SCE customers in those communities will receive new meters starting this week through June. Communities in the upcoming installation phase include: Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Midway City, Seal Beach, Sunset Beach and Westminster.

Ken Devore, director of Edison SmartConnect program at SCE, said: “Over the past several years, we have focused on developing an industry-leading smart meter program, including extensive testing of our smart meters and associated systems to ensure their quality and performance.

“Smart meters will empower our customers to become better managers of their electricity usage through new tools, programs and services that will help them save energy, money, and the environment.”

Within the next year, SCE will introduce new pricing plans, programs and services that will empower customers to make informed decisions about their energy use. In the second half of 2010 and beyond, once the advanced features are fully activated, the meters will be enabled to communicate with the next generation of smart thermostats, appliances and other devices, the company said.

The first smart meter in the Edison SmartConnect program was installed last September in Downey, California, with installations continuing through 2012 to total nearly five million SCE residential and small-business customers in the utility’s service territory. To date, SCE has installed approximately 600,000 meters.

SCE has contracted with Corix Utilities to perform most of the installations. Edison SmartConnect is a $1.6bn program authorized by the California Public Utilities Commission.

for more info click here