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March 24, 2017

Testing launches for cleanly producing hydrogen with artificial sun

Filed under: Climate Change,Renewable Energy — Tags: , , , — Glenn @ 10:38 am

For those who continue to ask (myself included) about the future of cleanly producing hydrogen, we put a spotlight on this March 23 press release about the development of this artificial sun in Germany.

Sun at the touch of a button

Thursday 23 March 2017

Sun in four walls

  • The largest artificial sun in the world is located at the DLR site in Jülich.
  • 149 High-power emitters can generate a multiplicity of solar radiation.
  • The development of solar fuel production is progressing faster due to weather independence.

The largest artificial sun in the world has appeared in Jülich since 23 March 2017. Johannes Remmel, the North Rhine-Westphalian Minister of the Environment, put the new research facility ” Synlight ” into operation, together with Dr. Georg Menzen (BMWi) and Prof. Dr. Karsten Lemmer, Member of the Board for Energy and Transport of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) . The plant will be used, among other things, to develop production processes for solar fuels such as hydrogen.

Contribution to the Energiewende

NRW’s Environment Minister Johannes Remmel emphasized the importance of research for the energy sector: “In order to achieve the targets for the expansion of renewable energy, we need the practical expansion of existing technology Synlight will keep the energy turnaround. ”

In the three-storey Synlight building, a total of 149 xenon short arc lamps emit. For comparison: in a large cinema the screen is irradiated by a single xenon short arc lamp. The scientists can focus the radiators on an area of ​​20 by 20 centimeters. If the radiation of the lamps with an output of up to 350 kilowatts occurs there, it has the up to 10,000 times the intensity of the solar radiation on the earth. The lamps focus on temperatures up to 3,000 degrees Celsius. These temperatures are used by researchers to produce fuels such as hydrogen.

Hydrogen is considered the fuel of the future because it burns without emitting carbon dioxide. The production of hydrogen by splitting the world’s available raw material water into its constituents hydrogen and oxygen requires a large amount of energy. This can be provided by the sun. “Renewable energies will form the backbone of global energy supply in the future,” says DLR CEO Lemmer, emphasizing the relevance of intensive research into alternative energy generation. “Solar generated fuels, fuels and fuels offer great potential for long-term storage, the production of chemical raw materials and the reduction of CO2 emissions.” Synlight is giving our research in this area backwind. ”

Faster development under laboratory conditions

Since the sun is rare and irregular in Central Europe, an artificial sun is the medium of choice for the development of production processes for solar fuels. With the Synlight tests, bad weather periods and fluctuating radiation values ​​can not make the tests or their evaluation more difficult or slow down. With its infrastructure, including the Solarturm Jülich and the scientific environment, Jülich also offers ideal conditions for innovative developments in solar technology. A shift from research facilities to more sun-drenched regions promises, at first glance, more favorable conditions, since even there the sun never shines with the same intensity. But that is important for fast innovation cycles: constant test conditions, which can be reproduced quickly and exactly.

The scientists at the DLR Institute for Solar Research have already succeeded in producing hydrogen with the aid of solar radiation years ago , but at a laboratory scale. In order for such processes to become of interest to industry, the scale must be significantly increased. This is precisely the goal of Synlight. Research is focused on solar fuel production, but the new plant can be used for many other applications. Since the spectrum of the UV radiation is similar to that of the sun, aging processes of materials can also be shown in a timed manner. An interesting aspect, both for space and industry.

“Synlight fills a gap in the qualification of solarthermal components and processes,” explains Dr. Kai Wieghardt, who has played a key role in the construction of the plant. “The new artificial sun is between lab-scale facilities, such as the high-power spotlight at the DLR in Cologne and the large-scale systems such as the solar tower here in Jülich.”
For the experiments, three irradiation chambers are available to users of the facility. Depending on the requirements, the necessary lamps are bundled or surface-aligned to the test setup. With the three chambers, several experiments can be prepared at the same time and the system can be optimally utilized.

The DLR Institute for Solar Research has built the research facility in a building constructed by the Jülich Technology Center over the last two years and rented it to Synlight for the long term. The state of North-Rhine Westphalia supported the project with 2.4 million euros, about 70 percent of the total sum of 3.5 million euros. The difference of 1.1 million euros was provided by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi).

For more information about this project, use this contact list.

contacts

Michel Winand
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Communication Cologne
Tel .: +49 2203 601-2144
Dr.-Ing. Kai Wieghardt
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Institute for Solar Research, Large Plants and Solar Materials
Tel .: +49 2203 601-4171

February 23, 2017

Meet The Men Who Put Solar Shingles On The Roof

Originally published on CleanTechnica

Solar shingles are now gaining increasing traction in the renewable energy landscape. They are architecturally distinctive, more so than traditional rooftop photovoltaic panels. Solar shingles provide an integrated building product providing both roofing security and solar electricity in one package.

As PV Magazine’s Charles W. Thurston has stated,

“The nascent field of U.S. solar shingle manufacturers is beginning to expand from its small base in building-integrated PV (BIPV), leveraging their systemic reductions in installation costs, their improved roof and solar integration, and their continuing march-out of newer materials.”

Two of this industry’s solar shingle pioneers are Robert and Gary Allen, brothers and partners in Rochester, Michigan-based Luma Resources. The two men answered my questions about their innovative building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) products and provided these helpful photographs.

Solar shingle basicsBack side of Luma solar shingle

SONY DSC

Structurally, a polycrystalline photovoltaic tempered glass module is adhered to a custom formed metal shingle. A premium plastic edge protector surrounds the glass to provide added durability.

The junction box located on the back is positioned in the center of the shingle, allowing equal length wires to run in either direction.

For starters, take a look at this remarkable finished roof, as shown below:

The Bermuda Roof from Luma solar shingles

The Bermuda roof from Luma Resources
Our conversation begins:

Meyers: In short, what factors led to the development of your solar shingles?

Robert Allen: It all started with a phone call. I knew a man who worked for a German company, Rheinzink. He knew that our roofing company (Allen Brothers) excelled in specialty roofing and sheet metal. He’d gotten a call from then solar-leader, United Solar Ovonics (USO). Rheinzink was doing a lot of business with USO in Germany. USO asked him if he had any ideas on how USO might gain entrance into the residential solar market. He told them he didn’t have a clue, but based on their area code — being the same as mine — they should call us. They called just before Christmas in 2006.

Meyers: Where was your first product launched, and can you describe the performance successes and drawbacks?

Robert Allen: We showed our product for the first time at the International Roofing Expo in Las Vegas. We had a 10 x 10 foot booth along with a smaller display in the new products pavilion. Thousands of contractors from all over the world walk the Expo. There they see about 50+ new products being introduced into the roofing and construction market for the coming year. During the Expo, attendees are asked to vote for the best new product of the year. Our Luma Solar Roof took first place. When asked why they voted for Luma: they saw it as something they could add to their product offerings back home and make money with.

Meyers: How about system performance?

Gary Allen: The performance success has been very nearly flawless. Our biggest challenge has been helping educate interested parties about rooftop solar versus traditional rack-and-frame. For example, we actually enhance the roof’s strength as opposed to traditional rack-and-frame solar that weakens it. The general public does not yet fully understand, but that is changing with all the press and growing demand about roof-integrated solar.

Designers of the Luma solar shingle

Robert and Gary Allen
Meyers: Who were the product developers, and did this effort generate interest from other companies?

Robert Allen: Gary was the key developer of the Luma Solar Roofing system. His 30 years of experience in the roofing and sheet metal industry doing some of the most challenging projects in our market area paid off big. When we were asked by USO if we could figure out a way to make their thin-film solar laminate work on a residential roof he saw the solution in his mind right away. Three days later he had the prototype shingle finished.

As to the question of our product generating interest from other companies, the answer is yes. Within a year, Dow came out with the Power House Solar Shingle, and a small company called BIPV Solar came out with its product. Dow has closed down its solar shingle division with its most recent merger with DuPont. BIPV was private labeled by Saint-Gobain (French conglomerate) through its CertainTeed division, they now call it the Apollo Tile. Saint-Gobain approached Luma ahead of BIPV Solar but we weren’t looking for a partner and turned them down.

Meyers: Describe some of your solar shingles demos, locations, and comparative costs.

Robert Allen: Although we have been involved in demos in the past, in a certain way every Luma job is a roofing demo, in a sense. Our product is first a fully weatherproof roofing system complete with its own R listing (R for roofing) at Underwriters Laboratories. When we add the solar component to the top of the metal roofing shingle it also becomes a solar roofing system. Luma Solar Roofs are located throughout the United States, Canada, and the West Indies.

Luma solar shingles

Gary Allen: We currently have two active Luma demos for purposes of R&D. One is located in Detroit on the campus of NextEnergy. They are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 2002 to drive advanced energy and transportation investment and job creation. The second demo is on the campus of Western Michigan University in their “Solar Garden.” They will be using it as part of their clean energy degree program.

Robert Allen: Luma’s “comparative cost” can only be looked as it relates to the cost of the roof and the cost of the solar. Luma is the original, and to date, only complete solar roofing system. We cover the entire structure’s roof with either the Luma Metal Shingle or Solar Metal Shingle. Others use a patchwork method. Roofs are sold on a certain price per square foot. Solar is sold on a certain price per watt. Luma’s “comparative cost” would be equivalent to a high-end custom roof that is fully weatherproof and powers your house, as well as beautifying it.

Meyers: While the roofing system is architecturally attractive, how do longevity and performance fit?

Installing splice plate on solar shingle

Gary Allen: The 24-gauge painted galvanized metal that Luma uses to form its shingle has a 30-year warranty on the paint finish. The metal shingle itself is a lifetime product. The solar laminate has a 25-year power generation warranty. Interestingly, some of our systems still function after surviving multiple hurricanes, hail storms and other acts of nature.

Meyers: Who are some of the champions for your company and your solar shingles product?

Robert Allen: Here are some: PV Technical Services, Ontario, Canada 50 + – Luma Solar Roofs; Yale Acres Subdivision, Meriden, Connecticut; Home Land Builders, Ann Arbor, MI; Teddington Farms Eco Tourism Retreat, Portland Perish, Port Antonio Jamaica. Two off-grid Eco Tourism Lodges completed, five more to go.

Luma solar shingles

Mr. John Sarver, former head of the Michigan Department of Energy and first Luma customer post-UL listing. John is the current head of Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA). He’s a strong solar advocate and sought after public speaker. John loves to tell the story that he wanted to put solar on his roof for decades (before Luma) but his wife wouldn’t let him. She hated the way traditional solar would make her beautiful house look. That is, until he showed her the Luma Solar Roof.

On site training of solar shingle installers

Thanks to Robert and Gary Allen for the time they have provided. I look forward to learning more about solar shingles and projects from Luma Resources.

January 24, 2017

Energy Trends from UtilityDIVE

Filed under: Renewable Energy — Tags: , , — Glenn @ 11:50 am

This is a worthwhile report:

http://www.utilitydive.com/news/10-trends-shaping-the-electric-utility-industry-in-2017/434541/

Image via Depositphotos

March 10, 2016

ETFE Football Stadium Will Soon Be Minneapolis Showcase

Originally published on Green Building Elements

When it opens this summer, US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis will feature the only ETFE (ethylene-tetra-fluoro-ethylene) roof on a sports facility in the United States. This resilient and transparent material, long used in Europe, will now provide Minnesota Vikings football fans with a comfortable experience inside the stadium and a clear view outside, even if the outdoor temperature is far below zero degrees Fahrenheit.

us bank stadium logo shutterstock_306699017In contrast to the preponderance of opaque domed stadiums in this country, some 60% of the Vikings’ facility has been covered with ETFE, not only letting in daylight, but allowing fans to gaze skyward and enjoy the view. Add to this, this dramatic stadium features five of the world’s largest operable glass doors, which can be opened if the weather outside is pleasant. These gargantuan doors measure 55 feet in width, angling from 75 feet to 95 feet in height, and weighing approximately 57,000 pounds each. Of note, the large door system also contains five smaller doors which can be used when the large doors re closed due to inclement weather.

Journalists were invited to sample

GRM Vikings ZT__8035As the stadium nears completion, a diverse group of journalists — specializing in everything from architecture to sports — had the opportunity to visit this 1.75 million sq. ft. structure, including 248,000 sq. ft. of ETFE roof, and listen to very articulate presentations from many on the design and development team, including leadership from the Minnesota Vikings.  I found no shortage of good stories to report, most which will follow later this month. Here I report on the old stadium, the new stadium, and this remarkable material, ETFE.

In other stories, I will report about:

  • Sustainability practices in design and construction
  • Strategy behind  this projected $1.1 billion inner-city facility
  • Economic impact & surrounding development
  • This development is a showcase for others to follow

The old stadium model

Minneapolis, known for its very cold winter weather, previously featured the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, built downtown in 1982. It was the ninth oldest stadium in the NFL, featuring a fiberglass fabric roof, self-supported by air pressure. It was the third major sports facility to have this feature (the first two being the Pontiac Silverdome and the Carrier Dome).

vikings metrodome shutterstock_108070454

Preparation for the demolition of the Metrodome began the day after the final home game for the Minnesota Vikings on December 29, 2013. Demolition began January 18, 2014.

For those wanting a glimpse, here is how the roof to the Metrodome came down.

The new stadium model

usbankstadiumOwned by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA), the multi-purpose US Bank Stadium is scheduled to host Super Bowl LII in 2018 and the NCAA Final Four in 2019. Some leap from the starting line!

Designed by Dallas-based HKS Architects, the US Bank Stadium features the largest transparent ETFE roof in North America, spanning 240,000 square feet. This will be the only stadium in the nation with a clear ETFE roof.

Vikings ETFE & cane IMG_6142Because of the angles of the roof, ETFE material on the south side accounts for 60% of the entire roof, while hard metal deck on the north side will account for the remaining 40%. 

ETFE basics

ETFE is a co-polymer resin which is extruded into a thin film. The light-weight material is transparent but can be treated to be translucent. It is durable and resistant to corrosion. In an architectural application ETFE is typically used in a multi-layer pneumatic system.

Longevity of ETFE

Vikings ETFE IMG_6211

ETFE beginning layer

This material does not degrade with exposure to UV light, atmospheric pollution, harsh chemicals, or extreme temperatures. The material has withstood extensive testing within extreme environments and is expected to have a 30 to 50-year life expectancy, requiring minimal maintenance. Presently, the true life-cycle of ETFE is not known as the oldest applications are just hitting the 30-year mark with little to no replacement of system components.

ETFE weight & strength

us bank stadium 2 Berg-150707-0965Despite its light weight (1/100 the weight of glass) ETFE is reported to handle snow/wind loads well. In sheet form, it can stretch three times its length without losing elasticity. Support rods are used with the stadium roof panels.

Cleaning ETFE

The surface of the foil is non-stick and non-porous, which allows the natural action of rain to clean the surface. Deposits of dirt, dust and debris remain unattached and are washed away in the rain, meaning ETFE effectively self-cleans with virtually no need to clean externally.

As Amy Wilson has written on Architen, “Originally invented by DuPont as an insulation material for the aeronautics industry, ETFE was not initially considered as a main-stream building material, its principle use being as an upgrade for the polythene sheet commonly used for green house polytunnels.

“The advantages of its extraordinary tear resistance, long life and transparency to ultra-violet light off-set the higher initial costs and 20 years later it is still working well. It wasn’t until the early 1980s, when German mechanical engineering student, Stefan Lehnert, investigated it in his quest for new and exciting sail materials, that its use was reconsidered.”

Indeed! Just take a look at this showcase taking place near the Mississippi River.

Images: Metrodome via Shutterstock; usbank stadium sign via Shutterstock; all other images via the Minnesota Vikings

March 4, 2016

International Wastewater Systems: SHARC Recovering Heat From Sewage

Originally published on CleanTechnica

We understand what’s involved in recovering renewable heat from the Earth by deployinggeothermal recovery technologies. Now it’s time to become familiar with another untapped renewable energy resource: wastewater thermal energy.

Sewage happens to be an energy source flowing beneath the surface of almost all modern cities. Not only is it plentiful, it’s free and mostly untapped.

That is, unless you’re Lynn Mueller, CEO of Canada-based International Wastewater Systems (IWS). His company has developed an innovative heat exchange system which recycles heated wastewater and returns it as a heat source.

With a payback that happens over a short time, a growing number of building developers are inquiring after the installation of IWS’s SHARC (sewage heat recovery) and Pirahana systems. IWS offers heat recovery solutions for space and domestic water heating in the winter, as well as for air conditioning systems in summer.

The company also provides engineering assistance, project feasibility assessments, cost estimates, and technical support, as well as third-party energy analysis studies to evaluate the capability of incorporating sewage heat recovery into a project.

“When you think of sewage, you think it’s just a cost for everybody involved to deal with it, but about 30% of the energy in the world ends up going down the sewer pipes every day,” he said in a January 6 interview with MidasLetter. “So our system has developed a cost-effective way to recover that energy. I like to refer to it as the world’s most ultimate renewable energy, because you really use the same energy every day: you use it, it goes down the drain, you recapture it and you use it again.”

This is not a new undertaking for IWS. In 2014, the company announced it had been selected to provide its state-of-the-art sewage heat recovery technology as a component of the Sechelt sewage treatment facility.

At the time, the LEED gold standard Wastewater Treatment Plant was slated to be be the first of its kind in North America. This video shows the SHARC unit being installed at the Sechelt Sewage plant.

Case studies show the SHARC system allows for significant energy and water savings over the life of the plant by recapturing energy that would have otherwise have been wasted and would have just gone down the drain.

About that project, Sechelt Mayor John R. Henderson said, “This will be the largest infrastructure project in the District’s history. The facility will ensure wastewater treatment capacity for Sechelt for the next 20 years (with provision to add capacity incrementally for up to 50 years more!). The facility will meet the highest Provincial standards for water quality, energy efficiency and resource recovery. It will be the first of its kind in North America, giving Sechelt opportunities to demonstrate and market to others.”

How SHARC Works

SHARC Wastewater heat recovery CanyonSpringsWP-960x344IWS’ Sewage SHARC  uses raw sewage as a medium to produce hot water, heat, and cooling for large residential and commercial buildings. The sewage is used before it gets to the plant, with all of the solids removed. It is put through a heat exchanger and utilized to produce 140°F water for domestic potable use.

Mueller said this process is 500% efficient; every dollar spent gets $5 worth of efficiency. The SHARC system will last for about 30 to 40 years, thereby becoming extremely valuable over its lifespan. In fact, he said buildings can recover the money spent on the systems in three to 10 years.

PIRANHA Retrofit System

IWS Pirhana As-featured-in-banner16-copy-960x344-copyIn addition to the SHARC, IWS also offers a retrofit version of the technology known as the PIRANHA. While the SHARC is custom-built or constructed with new buildings, Mueller said the PIRANHA is a prepackaged unit that comes in 50-kw-per-hour and 100-kw-per-hour models. This version can easily be put into a building’s mechanical room and have the sewer line looped into it. Mueller said it was originally produced to help the European market improve its energy footprint by 25 percent, something it legally must do with each update of a building.

Mueller’s background in geothermal heat pump technology helped him understand it was possible to use sewage as a source of energy instead of using holes in the ground. IWS has now been at it for five years and marketing its SHARC product for two. In the last two years, IWS has made installations across three continents—Australia, Europe, and North America.

Current Project: Gateway Theater

Richmond, Vancouver, BC: at the Gateway Theater, a 50,000-sq-ft public facility. The city had a carbon-reduction plan in place and needed to reduce the facility’s emissions by 50 tons per year. It chose to use the SHARC, thus becoming the first wastewater recovery system at a public facility in Canada.

“Levi Higgs, the city’s corporate energy manager, told HPAC Engineering that before adopting the SHARC, the city undertook a couple of studies and found there was a large amount of potential for a heat- recovery system at the Gateway. This was attributed to the large pumping system next to the theater. Mueller made a proposal that Higgs called “very cost competitive,” and the city has seen some great savings since the installation in April 2013.

““Right off the bat, we saw about a 30% reduction in our natural gas use with the SHARC system,” Higgs said. “We did some upgrades at the facility … and those coupled with the SHARC, we were able to push savings to about 45%.””

This YouTube video tour shows some of the Gateway Theater installation.

“We can produce all the domestic hot water without using a gas boiler,” Mueller said to HPAC Engineering. “Cost is comparable to a gas boiler, and it’s more efficient than the best gas boiler on the market. To give you an example, we did a roughly 200-unit building here in Vancouver, B.C. The greenhouse-gas savings amount to about 900 tons of carbon a year, just by cycling that heat from 200 units. We use heat-pump tech to move the heat.”

The infrastructure may be pricey, but the ROI is fabulous.

Images and video via IWS

January 28, 2016

NREL: Solar Cell Defects Might Improve Solar Cells

Originally published on CleanTechnica – January 20th, 2016 by Glenn Meyers

The time-honored adage that we sometimes learn best by the mistakes we’ve made is now being applied by scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in their study of defects in solar cell defects, stating the results may lead to improved performance.

The study reports about certain defects in silicon solar cells which may eventually improve their overall performance. The findings run counter to conventional wisdom, according to Pauls Stradins, the principal scientist and a project leader of the silicon photovoltaics group at NREL.

NREL cell defect 20160111-solar-defectNREL cell defect 20160111-solar-defect
Schematic of a ‘good’ defect (red cross), which helps collection of electrons from photo-absorber (n-Si), and blocks the holes, hence suppresses carriers recombination.The findings run counter to conventional wisdom, according to Pauls Stradins, the principal scientist and a project leader of the silicon photovoltaics group at NREL.

Deep-level defects frequently hamper the efficiency of solar cells, but NREL’s theoretical research suggests such defects with properly engineered energy levels can sometime improve carrier collection out of the cell, or “improve surface passivation” of the absorber layer.

NREL researchers conducted simulations to add impurities to layers adjacent to the silicon wafer in a solar cell. Specifically, they introduced defects within a thin tunneling silicon dioxide (SiO2) layer that forms part of “passivated contact” for carrier collection, and within the aluminum oxide (Al2O3) surface passivation layer next to the silicon (Si) cell wafer. In both cases, specific defects were identified to be beneficial.

According to NREL press information, the research by Stradins, Yuanyue Liu, Su-Huai Wei, Hui-Xiong Deng, and Junwei Luo, “Suppress carrier recombination by introducing defects: The case of Si solar cell,” appears in Applied Physics Letters.

Finding the correct defects to examine

The researchers state finding the right defect was key to their research process.

“To promote carrier collection through the tunneling SiO2 layer, the defects need to have energy levels outside the Si bandgap but close to one of the band edges in order to selectively collect one type of photocarrier and block the other. In contrast, for surface passivation of Si by Al2O3, without carrier collection, a beneficial defect is deep below the valence band of silicon and holds a permanent negative charge. The simulations removed certain atoms from the oxide layers adjacent to the Si wafer, and replaced them with an atom from a different element, thereby creating a “defect.” For example, when an oxygen atom was replaced by a fluorine atom it resulted in a defect that could possibly promote electron collection while blocking holes.”

The referenced defects were then sorted according to their energy level and charge state. It is believed more research is needed in order to determine which defects will ultimately produce the best results.

A recent study by the same authors has shown that the addition of oxygen could improve the performance of those semiconductors. For solar cells and photoanodes, engineered defects could possibly allow thicker, more robust carrier-selective tunneling transport layers or corrosion protection layers that might be easier to fabricate.

The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative as part of a joint project of Georgia Institute of Technology, Fraunhofer ISE, and NREL, with a goal to develop a record efficiency silicon solar cell. The SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade.

Graphic via NREL

December 5, 2015

Elon Musk proposes smart carbon tax

Filed under: Climate Change,Renewable Energy — Tags: — Glenn @ 10:28 am

Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk addressed an audience at Paris Sorbonne University during the 2015 Council on Climate Change held in Paris.

His subjects: climate change, fossil fuels, the carbon cycle.

The video, including audience questions is here.

 

December 3, 2015

Advanced Infrared Camera Can Photograph Methane

Originally published on CleanTechnica

A new camera has eliminated the guesswork about where greenhouse gases are being emitted. It can photograph and film methane.

This technology has been released by a team of researchers from Linköping and Stockholm Universities who have demonstrated how this remarkably advanced camera can record methane in the air around us.

Importantly, this technological advance can play an important role in global efforts to measure and monitor greenhouse gases.

camera shoots methane inventors104304_web

According to a press announcement, the camera has been developed by a team that combined knowledge from many different fields of expertise, including astronomy, biogeochemistry, engineering and environmental sciences.

“This gives us new possibilities for mapping and monitoring methane sources and sinks, and it will help us understand how methane emissions are regulated and how we can reduce emissions,” said David Bastviken, Linköping University professor at Tema Environmental Change,  and principal project investigator. “So far the camera has been used from the ground and now we’re working to make it airborne for more large-scale methane mapping,”

So much for the dubious notion, “If you can’t see it, it’s not there.” Now it will be visible for all to see.

The news release reports several questions surround the powerful greenhouse gas methane, including its rapid but irregular increase in the atmosphere. There is also considerable uncertainty regarding methane sources and sinks in the landscape.

The new camera may help address these issues. The utility of the camera to both photograph and film methane has been demonstrated in a study that was recently published in Nature Climate Change.

“The camera is very sensitive, which means that the methane is both visible and measurable close to ground level, with much higher resolution,” said Magnus Gålfalk, Assistant Professor at Tema Environmental Change, Linköping University, who led the study.

The hyperspectral infrared camera weighs 35 kilos and measures 50 x 45 x 25 centimeters. It is optimized to measure the same radiation that methane absorbs, and which makes methane such a powerful greenhouse gas.

The camera can be used to measure emissions from many environments including sewage sludge deposits, combustion processes, animal husbandry, and lakes. For each pixel in the image the camera records a high-resolution spectrum, which makes it possible to quantify the methane separately from the other gases.

Longstanding complaints of methane leaks from natural gas production and distribution can also be recorded. It will be very interesting to report on the results.

Image via Linkoping University

November 10, 2015

Photons & solar panels

Filed under: Renewable Energy — Tags: — Glenn @ 8:43 pm

Photons & Solar Panels

We talk plenty today about solar panels, but not many really grasp how they work – how they create electricity. In his book, Let It Shine: The 6,000-Year Story of Solar Energy, author John Perlin takes readers back to Albert Einstein in 1905 for perspective on the matter of light: “Einstein showed that light possesses an… (more…)

October 12, 2015

12 solar facts you should know

Filed under: Renewable Energy — Tags: — Glenn @ 9:12 am

12 Solar Facts You Should Know

Lists are always fun, so here are 12 solar facts to put in your notebook so you can share the important stuff with anyone who’s interested. I have divided this list of facts into four categories that might help you to better keep track of things. Understanding Our Sun Solar History Solar Technology Solar Metrics But… (more…)

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