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Non-nuclear energy

Technology Focus – Results

Fission and radiation protection
Fusion
   

 
October 2005
Issue 4

Technology Focus – Results

Advanced Prediction, Monitoring and Controlling of Anaerobic Digestion Processes Behaviour towards Biogas Usage in Fuel Cells − AMONCO

This is a good example of cooperation and complementary work going on between two projects funded under the energy programme, one a shared cost research project, AMONCO, and the other a Marie Curie Industry Host Fellowship, PROBAT. The primary objective of both projects was the cost-effective utilisation in fuel cells of biogas from anaerobic digestion.

Eleven companies and institutions from five European countries formed the AMONCO consortium to develop a knowledge based decision support tool (DST) with the capability to predict trace gases in dependence of the fermented substrates and a cost-effective biogas cleaning process removing the significant trace gases detrimental to the performance and lifetime of fuel cell systems.

These objectives were fully met during the project’s three year duration up to November 2004. The DST successfully predicts the harmful trace compounds H2S and NH3 using artificial neural networks. In addition, two fuzzy logic tools have been developed to control the anaerobic process. These control tools can also be used on-line as internet based client-server tools. For the biogas cleaning process, a Biotrickling Filter – part of which is being patented – has been developed. The use of such a filter requires an almost constant rate of removal of trace compounds to avoid peaks, as the bacteria cannot adapt. The biological cleaning concept thus relies heavily on the DST and its capacity to control the anaerobic process accurately.

In parallel, some valuable work on the anaerobic digestion and trace compound removal processes was performed by two Marie Curie Fellows Laura Bailon and Francesca Accettola in the PROBAT Industry Host Fellowship at Profactor GmbH, which was also a partner in the AMONCO project.

A Business Interest Group (BIG) has been established with the intention to implement the achieved project results in further market-driven spin-off projects.

More information is available on the AMONCO website at http://www.eva.ac.at/amonco/ and on the Profactor website at http://www.profactor.at/index.php?id=20&L=1

CONMAN Improves Photovoltaic Concentrator Systems for Manufacture

Close-up of CONMAN concentrator troughs
Close-up of CONMAN concentrator troughs
The aim of the eight EU partners lead by the University of Reading in the recently finished CONMAN project was to develop a PV concentrating system with a volume production cost below €1/Wp DC, and to transfer this technology to a manufacturer.

The partners developed novel designs for silicon solar cells able to operate at different concentrations up to 100 suns with up to 25% efficiency. The project developed, refined and tested three different PV concentrator systems including a one-axis-tracked 300x concentrator prototype, an 8x linear mirror one-axis concentrator for building integrated use, and a two-axis tracked point-focus Fresnel lens 40x geometric concentrator system. After evaluating the economics of operation of the alternative concentrator systems, the two-axis system using grid-modified commercial silicon cells was chosen for transfer to manufacturing. Components of the collector have been tested giving 12.5% system efficiency, with improvement to over 15% expected. The project also included data logging and software development, and has resulted in the publication of ten academic papers.

The PV concentrator is currently being commercialised for volume production by three SME participants in the project, Optical Products, Jungbecker PMMA and Whitfield Solar Ltd, a spin-out company of the University of Reading. The volume manufacturing cost at a production level of 10 MWp/yr is projected to be €1.15/Wp DC, corresponding to an installed system cost of €2/Wp.

More information

CHRISGAS: Integrated Project on Hydrogen from Biomass

The transport sector is the largest oil user and the largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world. Reducing the dependence of the transport sector on fossil fuels by increasing the share of biomass-derived motor fuels can improve security of supply, give better price stability, and lower CO2 emissions, opening the way to a cleaner and more sustainable future. This is where the CHRISGAS Integrated Project comes in.

The Värnamo-Växjo plant used by CHRISGAS
The Värnamo-Växjo plant used by CHRISGAS
Sixteen partners from seven EU Member States including seven SMEs, three large industrial companies, four universities and three research centres are collaborating in an Integrated Project to develop and optimise an energy-efficient and cost-effective method to produce hydrogen-rich gases from biomass. The project started on 1 September 2004 with a total budget of 16.5M€ including an EC contribution of 9.5M€ and a Swedish Energy Agency grant of 1.5M€.

At the heart of this project is the Växjö Värnamo Biomass Gasification Centre (VVBGC) in Sweden, which acts as a pilot plant facility for the research work. It is designed to use biomass fuel and is based on an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) to provide combined heat and power. The pilot plant is rated at 18 MW thermal with a feedstock rate of 4 tonnes per hour. The plant is being refurbished, allowing gasification research and demonstration activities to be conducted at a much lower cost than in a new R&D facility. Planning of the reconstruction will be carried out within the first 18 months of the project with the aim to start pilot plant tests in 2008.

The project will demonstrate the production of clean hydrogen-rich gas by steam/oxygen gasification of biomass, followed by hot gas cleaning to remove particulates, and steam reforming of tar and light hydrocarbons to further enhance the hydrogen yield. The project has set ambitious targets of achieving a wet gas generation capacity of 3500 cubic metres per hour and a cumulative operating time of up to 2000 hours. This operating experience will provide the information needed to upscale the installation to an industrial operating plant.

The CHRISGAS hydrogen-rich gas is intended to be a versatile intermediate product which can be put to different uses. For instance, it can be upgraded to commercial quality hydrogen for use in fuel cells. Alternatively, it can be converted to synthesis gas for further upgrading to make liquid fuels such as di-methyl ether (DME), methanol or Fischer-Tropsch diesel.

In parallel, research and development will be carried out into biomass feedstock supply and drying, pressurised fuel feeding and gasification, hot synthesis gas characterisation and filtration/cleaning, as well as steam reforming and catalyst characterisation. The project will also address research-related networking, training and dissemination, as well as socio-economic research into non-technical obstacles to the introduction of biofuels into the market.

The success of CHRISGAS will pave the way for the next challenging stage – the demonstration of vehicle fuel production on an industrial scale. The ability to produce biomass-derived vehicle fuel on a large scale will reduce greenhouse gases and pollution, increase security of energy supply and give European industry a competitive edge worldwide.

More information 

Advances in New Transport Fuels Made by the CLEAN and AFFORHD Projects

The Volvo DME truck driving through Sweden
The Volvo DME truck driving through Sweden
Transportation is almost entirely dependent on crude oil derived fuels – gasoline and diesel. Changing the fuel supply pattern, from crude oil based fuels to other energy sources, will be a very slow process. Even if there were consensus today regarding preferred routes to new fuels, it would take twenty to thirty years to make a change.

The mismatch between limited crude oil supply and growing demand will trigger a need for fuels from other sources. The fuels should be chosen based on “maximum well-to-wheel energy efficiency at lowest GHG emissions”. Two recently-finished FP5 projects, CLEAN and AFFORHD, have produced interesting results which tackle different aspects of the question of what transport fuels are needed for the future.

The three-year CLEAN project (Optimum Diesel Fuel for Clean Diesel Engines, Contract ENK6-CT-2001-00570) was carried out by BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Ford, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Renault, Volvo Tech, Volkswagen and the Institut Français du Pétrole.

The objective was to explore optimum combinations of new diesel fuels and engines to minimise pollutants at improved fuel efficiencies, and to deduce the required future design criteria. A range of new fuels were investigated including reformulated Worldwide Fuel Charter (WWFC 4) diesel fuels, and advanced synthetic fuels such as GTL (Natural Gas to Liquid), also representing BTL (Biomass to Liquid).

Synthetic GTL and hence also BTL fuels were shown to give very large reductions of HC, CO, and PM emissions compared to diesel fuel, without compromising NOx emissions even in unmodified vehicles (see diagram). The CLEAN project has shown that the introduction of fuels according to WWFC 4 would already have a strong impact on emission reduction across the whole diesel market. Such fuels could be made readily available in the near term. And according to the findings in the CLEAN project, new synthetic fuels could be introduced in the medium term to take full advantage of the next generation of engines.

The AFFORHD project (Contract ENK6-CT-2001-00541), which also ended this year, involved six partners, Volvo, AVL List GmbH, BP, Denmark Technical University, TNO Research Centre and Växjo, researching into Alternative Fuels FOR Heavy-Duty applications. Since 70% of the diesel fuel in the EU is used in heavy-duty applications, any strategy for new fuels and power sources should consider the needs of the commercial vehicle market.

Dimethyl ether (DME) has a strong potential regarding energy conservation and GHG emissions because of its excellent well-to-wheel characteristics. It is a multi-source fuel that can be made from a number of energy sources including coal, natural gas, and biomass via gasification.

It is also a multi-purpose fuel with potential applications not only in diesel engines and fuel cells for transport, but also in gas turbines for power generation, and as a domestic fuel and chemical feedstock. DME as a chemical is non-toxic and benign to the environment, and as a diesel fuel it has potential for ultra-low exhaust emissions due to soot-free combustion, which also simplifies NOx reduction.

The AFFORHD project succeeded in demonstrating a second generation DME-fuelled heavy-duty vehicle using an engine unchanged in its basic geometry, but fitted with new fuel injection, fuel storage, and delivery pump systems. With this engine configuration, including exhaust gas recirculation and an exhaust oxidation catalyst, EuroV exhaust emissions were reached or exceeded, despite the very limited optimisation work possible within the project.

Further information on these two projects can be obtained from the following websites:

CLEAN: http://www.eucar.be/clean_project.html, then publications, and then CLEAN Project
AFFORHD:
http://www.tech.volvo.se/afforhd

CLEAN project: example of emission reductions due to replacing conventional diesel by GTL diesel
CLEAN project: example of emission reductions due to replacing conventional diesel by GTL diesel

CRYSTALLINE SILICON THIN-FILM SOLAR CELLS –
AN EMERGING TECHNOLOGY

How to produce low-cost, high-quality crystalline silicon thin-film solar cells with an industrially applicable process? That is the problem which the METEOR team successfully tackled in their 42 months long project which ended in June 2005. The results now point the way towards up-scaling of this emerging technology.

METEOR reduced the previous multi-stage manufacturing process to only two steps, beginning with metal-induced crystallisation of a large-grained seed layer followed by an epitaxial deposition process. The project followed two different concepts: (i) a low temperature approach where all processing was done on inexpensive glass substrates and (ii) a high temperature approach using heat resistant ceramic substrates. The low temperature approach had a higher risk, but a larger potential for cost reduction. Both approaches led to very remarkable results. Using the high temperature approach, a solar cell efficiency of 5.9 % was reached. Considering the early stage of the development, this is a very promising result.

The small consortium comprising the Hahn- Meitner-Institut of Berlin (DE) as co-ordinator, partnered by IMEC and KU Leuven (BE) and the Technical University of Vienna (AT) published more than 50 scientific papers on their results and finally the project won a Poster Award at the 20th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference in Barcelona this year.

Preparation of large-grained polycrystalline silicon thin-film solar cells.
Preparation of large-grained polycrystalline silicon thin-film solar cells.

Prioritising Wind Energy Research: Strategic Research Agenda of the Wind Energy Sector

The recently-ended FP5 Thematic Network contract ENK6-CT-2001-20401 on Wind Energy brought together eight partners along with about two hundred other members of the European Wind Energy Association, which coordinated the project. One of the main outcomes of the Network was the joint development of a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) for Wind Energy. The SRA includes a roadmap showing wind energy research and development milestones along the way towards increased penetration of wind power in the EU. It identifies priorities under three categories: showstoppers (such as grid integration) which may halt the development process, technical barriers (such as large wind turbine design) which may be overcome through medium to long term research, and bottlenecks (such as standards and certification) which could be relatively easily solved in the short to medium term. The consortium has published its report entitled “Prioritising Wind Energy Research: Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) of the Wind Energy Sector”.

Electronic copies may be downloaded from the Wind Energy Thematic Network website:
http://www.ewea.org/06projects_events/proj_WE_RD.htm

New set of Renewable Energy Projects Selected under the Third Call for Proposals

As for the earlier calls, the research topics opened in the call were defined in consultation with stakeholders, notably through an Expressions of Interest exercise in April 2004.

The Call attracted 199 eligible proposals requesting 731.7 M€, an oversubscription by a factor of just below four compared to the available funding. 119 of the proposals were for RES and socio-economic topics, with requested funding of 416 M€.

The total funding is 190 M€ for 52 selected projects, with just over half of the budget going to the 25 RES and socio-economic projects, which include 6 Integrated Projects, 15 Specific Targeted Research Projects and 4 Coordination Actions. There are five photovoltaics projects with foreseen Community funding of 28 M€, seven biomass projects for 32 M€, ten Other RES projects for 31.6 M€, and three socioeconomics projects for 4 M€. About 62% of the budget goes to Integrated Projects and Networks of Excellence, with the other 38% for STREPs and Coordination Actions.

19% of the participants in the selected projects are SMEs, which surpasses our FP6 target of 15%. The number of participants from the New Member States shows an encouraging trend with an increase by one fifth compared to the First Call to a level of about 7%, while a similar improvement in International Cooperation participants now sees their share standing at about 5%.

The selected projects give a generally good coverage of the Call, with 18 of the 24 RES topics in the Call being covered by at least one project. As ever, budget limitations meant that many very good proposals cannot be funded and remain on the reserve list. The projects entered contract negotiations in April, leading to the first projects starting this autumn. Half of the projects will be funded under the 2005 budget, while the rest will start in early next year with funding from the 2006 budget.

The recently published Fourth Call, which is the last in FP6, includes some topics which were insufficiently covered by projects selected in the Third Call. Further details are given in a separate article in this newsletter (see page 5).

RECENT PUBLICATION:

Cover "European Wind Energy at the dawn of the 21st century, Research funded under the Fifth Framework Programme"
European Wind Energy at the dawn of the 21st century – Research funded under the Fifth Framework Programme

This brochure provides an overview of research in the field of wind power, describing in the first part the current state of the art and in the second part, the results achieved in EU funded research and demonstration projects under the Fifth Framework Programme (1998-2002). The projects, which have been compiled into six research areas, from turbine technologies to demonstration of wind power applications, are summarised giving their scientific and technical objectives and achievements along with contact details for the participating organisations.
Download PDF PDF icon [1.1 Mb]
Catalogue n° KI-NA-21351-EN-C

Download the PDF version PDF icon [715 Kb]

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