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Acta secures repeat, multiple electrolyser order

Acta S.p.A. (AIM: ACTA), the clean energy products company, is pleased to announce that it has secured a repeat order for six 500L/h modular rack-mounted electrolysers from one of its longest standing customers, M-Field Energy Ltd (“M-Field”), a telecom back-up power fuel cell system integrator based in Taiwan.

The electrolysers are of the new simplified design developed by Acta for the launch of the Acta Power system and are to be integrated into telecom back-up power systems by M-Field for supply to telecoms customers within Asia and elsewhere. The first three units of the order are scheduled for shipment to M-Field in early November 2013.

Fuel cell back-up power systems, incorporating Acta’s electrolyser for autonomous refuelling through onsite hydrogen generation, offer substantial benefits to telecommunications companies seeking to reduce the operating costs and security risks of their current base station back-up power systems.  Acta’s own telecommunication back-up power system, the Acta Power, was successfully launched in April 2013 and is now under evaluation with mobile telecom operators in Africa, Australia and the Philippines.  The receipt of this order from M-Field, together with the sales of the Acta Power system, demonstrates the potential for rapid take-up of integrated fuel cell back-up power systems in the telecoms market.

In addition M-Field has confirmed to Acta that they intend to make a significant investment in CSA product certification of their own back-up power system, which incorporates Acta’s electrolyser module as a specified component, to help address further telecommunications market opportunities.  Acta and M-Field are currently negotiating the terms of a Master Purchase Agreement to facilitate M-Field’s investment in their system certification and the scale-up of product volumes over the medium term.

Paolo Bert, Chief Executive of Acta, commented:

This order shows further commitment and satisfaction from an existing customer for the Acta electrolyser system. We are pleased to see the continued adoption of our products through both direct and indirect channels into the telecommunications back-up power market.

October 14, 2013 - 12:08 PM No Comments

HyGear to develop Hydrogen Recycling System

HyGear's Hydrogen Recycling System to recover hydrogen from the tin bath

HyGear has started the development of a recycling system for the float glass industry to recover the hydrogen from the tin bath. The development of the unit complements the glass industry’s agenda’s of energy and cost savings.

HyGear, specialized in the development of turnkey gas processing systems, offers on-site Hydrogen Generation Systems for the glass industry. These systems save costs and emissions by overcoming the necessity of hydrogen supply by tube trailers. To decrease the cost even further, HyGear has started the development of a Hydrogen Recycling System (HRS). The HRS is to extract and purify the hydrogen from the used gas mixture on the tin bath.

The tin bath is a bath of molten tin, where the molten glass is led upon. To prevent oxidization of the tin, which causes so called glass dross, a reducing atmosphere is created by feeding a mixture of hydrogen and nitrogen gas over the tin bath. Between 3% and 30% of the gas mixture is hydrogen, depending on the float line settings. Much of the hydrogen is used in the reduction process, but significant amoun

ts are left at the exit of the tin bath stage. By feeding this used gas mixture into the HRS system, significant fraction of the hydrogen can be recovered and reused for new reducing gas mixture.

There are already several recycling solutions for the protective hydrogen/nitrogen mixture of the tin bath. Conventional solutions contain multiple filtering steps, first filtering main contaminants and later on removing hydrogen sulphide, oxygen and vapour. Advantage of systems based on filtering is that it not only hydrogen is recuperated, but also the nitrogen. However, due to the multiple filtering steps that are necessary, the system is expensive. More advanced solutions are based on electrochemical stacks but these currently do not offer long-term stability and cost competitiveness either. Since nitrogen gas is rather inexpensive (especially compared to hydrogen) it can be questioned if it is advantageous to obtain such a complex system for recovering the nitrogen next to the hydrogen.

HyGear‘s HRS technology is based on its proprietary Rapid Cycle VPSA technology. This technology is proven in the current hydrogen generation systems and is particularly suited for low-pressure inlet conditions that apply for in-line recovery of hydrogen.

With the development of its VPSA-based HRS, HyGear aims to overcome short lifetime issues and unnecessary high costs of alternative recovery systems. These systems can be integrated with HyGear’s on site hydrogen generators or applied as stand-alone systems. The first pilot systems will be installed in 2014.

If you are interested in partnering in the HRS-development or would like to receive more information; please contact HyGear’s marketing department: Ms. Petra Barelds, Petra.barelds[at]hygear.nl.

October 14, 2013 - 7:15 AM No Comments

New device harnesses sun and sewage to produce hydrogen fuel

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UCSC graduate student Hanyu Wang (above) is first author of the paper describing a novel solar-microbial device (below) for generating hydrogen fuel. (Photos by Song Yang)

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UC Santa Cruz–A novel device that uses only sunlight and wastewater to produce hydrogen gas could provide a sustainable energy source while improving the efficiency of wastewater treatment.

A research team led by Yat Li, associate professor of chemistry at the University of California, Santa Cruz, developed the solar-microbial device and reported their results in a paper published in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano. The hybrid device combines a microbial fuel cell (MFC) and a type of solar cell called a photoelectrochemical cell (PEC). In the MFC component, bacteria degrade organic matter in the wastewater, generating electricity in the process. The biologically generated electricity is delivered to the PEC component to assist the solar-powered splitting of water (electrolysis) that generates hydrogen and oxygen.

Either a PEC or MFC device can be used alone to produce hydrogen gas. Both, however, require a small additional voltage (an “external bias”) to overcome the thermodynamic energy barrier for proton reduction into hydrogen gas. The need to incorporate an additional electric power element adds significantly to the cost and complication of these types of energy conversion devices, especially at large scales. In comparison, Li’s hybrid solar-microbial device is self-driven and self-sustained, because the combined energy from the organic matter (harvested by the MFC) and sunlight (captured by the PEC) is sufficient to drive electrolysis of water.

In effect, the MFC component can be regarded as a self-sustained “bio-battery” that provides extra voltage and energy to the PEC for hydrogen gas generation. “The only energy sources are wastewater and sunlight,” Li said. “The successful demonstration of such a self-biased, sustainable microbial device for hydrogen generation could provide a new solution that can simultaneously address the need for wastewater treatment and the increasing demand for clean energy.”

Microbial fuel cells rely on unusual bacteria, known as electrogenic bacteria, that are able to generate electricity by transferring metabolically-generated electrons across their cell membranes to an external electrode. Li’s group collaborated with researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) who have been studying electrogenic bacteria and working to enhance MFC performance. Initial “proof-of-concept” tests of the solar-microbial (PEC-MFC) device used a well-studied strain of electrogenic bacteria grown in the lab on artificial growth medium. Subsequent tests used untreated municipal wastewater from the Livermore Water Reclamation Plant. The wastewater contained both rich organic nutrients and a diverse mix of microbes that feed on those nutrients, including naturally occurring strains of electrogenic bacteria.

When fed with wastewater and illuminated in a solar simulator, the PEC-MFC device showed continuous production of hydrogen gas at an average rate of 0.05 cubic meters per day, according to LLNL researcher and coauthor Fang Qian. At the same time, the turbid black wastewater became clearer. The soluble chemical oxygen demand–a measure of the amount of organic compounds in water, widely used as a water quality test–declined by 67 percent over 48 hours.

The researchers also noted that hydrogen generation declined over time as the bacteria used up the organic matter in the wastewater. Replenishment of the wastewater in each feeding cycle led to complete restoration of electric current generation and hydrogen gas production.

Qian said the researchers are optimistic about the commercial potential for their invention. Currently they are planning to scale up the small laboratory device to make a larger 40-liter prototype continuously fed with municipal wastewater. If results from the 40-liter prototype are promising, they will test the device on site at the wastewater treatment plant.

“The MFC will be integrated with the existing pipelines of the plant for continuous wastewater feeding, and the PEC will be set up outdoors to receive natural solar illumination,” Qian said.

“Fortunately, the Golden State is blessed with abundant sunlight that can be used for the field test,” Li added.

Qian and Hanyu Wang, a graduate student in Li’s lab at UC Santa Cruz, are co-first authors of the ACS Nano paper. The other coauthors include UCSC graduate student Gongming Wang; LLNL researcher Yongqin Jiao; and Zhen He of Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University. This research was supported by the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy.

October 14, 2013 - 7:03 AM No Comments

For the first time in the Baltic States – hydrogen-powered cars

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BNNThe Environment and Energy Exhibition will be held at Kipsala International exhibition centre throughout October 17-20. During this exhibition, there will be the first presentation of a hydrogen-powered car in the Baltic States.

Hyundai ix35 FCEV is the world’s first hydrogen-powered car for consumers. It will be the first time this type of vehicle is presented in the Baltic States, organizers of the exhibition report.

Belgium will also bring its own Van Hool A330 FC hydrogen-powered bus to Kipsala. After the exhibition, it will depart for Italy, where it will be used as public transport. This bus will be featured as part of the exhibition throughout October 17-18.

“Practical applications of hydrogen were first explored in 1950/60 for space technologies. The use of hydrogen is no longer something out of science fiction. If handled properly, it could become the future of the car industry,” – Latvian Hydrogen Association Board member Aivars Starikovs says.

Even now Germany, UK, the Netherlands, Canada and other countries manufacture vehicles powered by hydrogen. Germany, Switzerland and Italy already have hydrogen-powered buses.

In addition to the presentation of hydrogen-powered vehicles, there will be an international seminar held at Kipsala exhibition centre. Experts from Germany, Sweden, UK, Canada and Belgium will participate in it.

It should be added that the Environment and Energy 2013 exhibition at Kipsala will feature different solutions to energy efficiency, energy supply, environmental technologies, infrastructure and more efficient use of renewable energy resources. Leading companies in this sector will offer their projects for large companies and municipalities.

October 14, 2013 - 6:26 AM No Comments