Thursday, December 25, 2008

'India will have to reduce energy consumption by 20%’

CHENNAI: Some sections view the current economic meltdown as a direct fall-out of consumption exceeding money supply. Power policy makers of the
country seem to have stuck on the analogy to caution energy con-sumption in urban India.
“In fact, we need to expand energy con-sumption in this country, mainly to the two-thirds of our population who have scarce or no access to electricity, and non-biomass fuels,” said Planning Commission principal adviser (energy) Surya P Sethi. India’s per capita consumption of power is 20% the world average, 4% that of the US, and 28% that of China. “To achieve a desirable human development index growth, the pres-ent power consumers will have to cut their usage by 20%, by which growth may come down by a percentage point or two”. Speaking at the panel discussion on sustainable electricity in India, at Pan IIT, an IIT alumni conference, at the Indian institute of technology Madras on Saturday, he said the situation was potentially explosive unless we invest talent, technology and innovation in equitable allocation of basic resources like energy, water and land.To achieve 20% energy conservation we need to increase the energy efficiency of our appli-ances by 20%, he said. READ MORE...
Source: The Economic Times

Low-cost fuel cells a step closer

Low-cost fuel cells a step closer Chinese researchers develop a nickel catalyst
by Helen Tunnicliffe

A GROUP OF scientists from Wuhan University in China have developed a hydrogen fuel cell using a nickel-based catalyst and an alkaline electrolyte, which they believe is a viable alternative to expensive platinum catalysts and acidic electrolytes currently in use.

Shanfu Lu, Jing Pan, Aibin Huang, Lin Zhuang and Juntao Lu developed an alkaline electrolyte - the polymer quaternary ammonium polysulphone – which can conduct hydrogen ions. They used silver for the positive electrode and chromium-decorated nickel for the negative electrode.

“The surface electronic structure of nickel has been tuned to suppress selectively the surface oxidative passivation with retained activity toward hydrogen oxidation,” states the abstract.

In other words, the chromium has changed the surface electronic structure of the nickel to prevent it from being oxidised (which would otherwise reduce its effectiveness) while still allowing the catalysis of the reaction of hydrogen ions which produces the electrical current.

Most hydrogen fuel cells in use today are acidic and corrode metals. Most research has, therefore, concentrated on catalysts made from precious metals, usually platinum, which are stable in acidic conditions. However, their high cost has prevented a greater uptake of the technology. The scientists believe their discovery to be an important advance in fuel cell technology.

The paper was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Source: tcetoday, Friday 26 December 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Scientific output in nanoscience increased by nearly 16% per year during the last decade

(Nanowerk News) Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Nanotechnology - World R&D Report 2008 - Research in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology" report to their offering. This bibliometric report examines scientific activity in nanoscience using scientific papers, as well as intellectual property in nanotechnology using patents granted by the USPTO. The central aim of the scientometric and technometric analyses is to identify areas in which high-output, high-intensity, and high-impact research is being conducted. For this purpose, emphasis is placed on ranking research at the country, company and university levels. In addition, the report examines how nanoscale research and technology are evolving over time and features detailed analyses of eight non-mutually exclusive domains of nanoscale R&D. Nanoscience and nanotechnology are hotbeds of R&D wherein emergent properties of matter, which are present only at extremely small feature scales, are discovered and exploited. R&D Reports uses bibliometric indicators calculated on peer-reviewed papers in the Scopus database and granted patents in the USPTO database to produce multicriteria rankings and collaboration networks of countries, universities and companies. These show, at a glance, the leaders' scientific and technological positions in eight key domains of nanoscience and nanotechnology: General Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Materials Electronics and Computing Optics and Photonics Nanoelectromechanical Systems (NEMS) Medicine and biology Energy Environment Metrology
Key findings include: The scientific output in nanoscience increased at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 16% during the last decade. The scientific output in Republic of Korea and China exhibit spectacular growth. The number of patents granted has also grown rapidly (10%). Nanomaterials, nanophotonics, nanoelectronics and nanoscience in medicine & biology represent the largest concentration of R&D. Growth is particularly fast in emerging domains, namely NEMS, energy and environment.
For more information visit

Source: Research and Markets

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New Polymer Coatings Prevent Corrosion, Even When Scratched

Imagine tiny cracks in your patio table healing by themselves, or the first small scratch on your new car disappearing by itself. This and more may be possible with self-healing coatings being developed at the University of Illinois.

The new coatings are designed to better protect materials from the effects of environmental exposure. Applications range from automotive paints and marine varnishes to the thick, rubbery coatings on patio furniture and park benches.

"Starting from our earlier work on self-healing materials at the U. of I., we have now created self-healing coatings that automatically repair themselves and prevent corrosion of the underlying substrate," said Paul Braun, a University Scholar and professor of materials science and engineering. Braun is corresponding author of a paper accepted for publication in the journal Advanced Materials, and posted on its Web site. READ MORE....
Source: ScienceDaily

Now, chromium-free coatings to protect cars against rust

A new chromium-free coating can help protect cars against rust, reveals new study.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institutes for Silicate Research ISC in W├╝rzburg and for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU in Chemnitz, developed an alternative anti-corrosion method based on nanocomposites as against the long-standing chromium plating prohibited since 2007.
The boffins along with colleagues at the Institute for Corrosion Protection Dresden GmbH had submerged steel sheets into a coating sol, applied a power coating and exposed them to various tests to produce the new nanomaterials.
While the steel sheets were kept in a chamber filled with atomized brine for 360 hours, or 15 days, at a temperature of 35 degrees, the metal sheets had also been placed in an environment chamber with a relative humidity of 100 percent for 240 hours, or 10 days.
ISC project manager Dr. Johanna Kron said: “These coatings protect most galvanized materials almost as well as commercial yellow chrome plating. Indeed, the new coatings are often even more effective than the chromium-free system and chromium(III) passivation currently on the market.”
The study also found that the chromium-free coated metal sheets, which were less than a thousandth of a millimeter thick, could be formed in exactly the same way as yellow chrome plated sheets.
Kron revealed that the corrosion-proofing system could be expected to hit the market in around five years. (ANI)

A new water treatment method

Treating industrial wastewater with scrap iron can be a cheap and effective way to reduce pollution from factories

SCRAP conjures up visions of rusting junkyards on the wrong side of the tracks. But this image could soon be given a green makeover. Researchers have found that iron filings from factories can be a cheap and efficient way to clean up polluted water. Because such scrap is widely available, the idea could be particularly useful in developing countries.

The new approach is being used to treat wastewater in the Taopu Industrial District of Shanghai, which is home to many small pharmaceutical, petrochemical and textile factories that discharge water contaminated with dyes, phosphorus and nitrogen. The project, which began in August 2006, now treats about 60,000 cubic metres (about 13m gallons) a day of industrially contaminated water—which is about the volume of municipal wastewater that a small town generates. READ MORE...

Source: The Economist

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Fusion breakthrough will boost power output

Fusion breakthrough will boost power output
Dec. 4, 2008David Chandler, MIT News OfficeResearch carried out at MIT's Alcator C-Mod fusion reactor may have brought the promise of fusion as a future power source a bit closer to reality, though scientists caution that a practical fusion powerplant is still decades away.
Fusion, the reaction that produces the sun's energy, is thought to have enormous potential for future power generation because fusion plant operation produces no emissions, fuel sources are potentially abundant, and it produces relatively little (and short-lived) radioactive waste. But it still faces great hurdles."There's been a lot of progress," says physicist Earl Marmar, division head of the Alcator Project at the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC). "We're learning a lot more about the details of how these things work."The Alcator C-Mod reactor, in operation since 1993, has the highest magnetic field and the highest plasma pressure of any fusion reactor in the world, and is the largest fusion reactor operated by any university. READ MORE...

The story is also available in the Dec. 3, 2008, edition of MIT Tech Talk,


Will solar power ever be as cheap as coal?

Will solar power ever be as cheap as coal?
Some predict that within five years, it could rival fossil-fuel energy.

Lexington, Mass.

“Solar power is the energy of the future – and always will be.”

That tired joke, which has dogged solar-generated electricity for decades due to its high cost, could be retired far sooner than many think.

While solar contributes less than 1 percent of the energy generated in the United States today, its costs are turning sharply downward.

Whether using mirrors that focus desert sunlight to harvest heat and spin turbines or rooftop photovoltaic panels that turn sunshine directly into current, solar is on track to deliver electricity to residential users at a cost on par with natural gas and perhaps even coal within the next four to seven years, industry experts say.

“We’re confident that we’re not that far away from a tipping point where energy from solar will be competitive with fossil fuels,” said Ray Kurzweil, a National Academy of Engineers panel member after the panel reported on the future of solar power in February. “I personally believe that we’re within five years of that tipping point.” READ MORE...
Source: The Christian Science Monitor

ISRO and Tata Motors: Towards hydrogen fuel cells operated bus

(Dr. Lalit Kishore)

It was in 2006 that ISRO and Tata Motors had entered into an agreement to design and develop a hydrogen fuel cell for operating a Tata bus as a replacement to fossil fuel. V. Gandhi is leading the team of ISRO researchers working on this project.

According to report by Radhakrishna Rao, everything is going as planned and the hydrogen fuel cell system will be integrated into the Tata bus by the first quarter of 2009. READ MORE...

Indian industry taking to green technologies with relish

December 7th, 2008 - 12:56 pm ICT by IANS -

Poznan (Poland), Dec 7 (IANS) Indian entrepreneurs are taking to green technologies with a relish and do not see intellectual property rights (IPR) as a barrier, a new international study has found.Co-author of the study, David Ockwell of the University of Sussex in Britain, said that he had found Indian industry driving collaborations with firms around the world to work jointly on developing green technologies in the five areas studied:

* Integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) for power generation;* Energy efficient technology adoption in Indian small and medium enterprises (SMEs), specifically the glass and foundry industries;* Wind energy;* Solar photovoltaic (PV) cells; and* Hybrid vehicles
The study was carried out by a joint team from four organisations: The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) based in New Delhi; the Science & Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU) of the University of Sussex; the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) in Sussex and the Britain-based Margaree Consultants.

Announcing the interim results of the study on the sidelines of the Dec 1-12 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) summit in this city in western Poland, Ockwell said he had found technology transfer to the Indian firms had led not only to the transfer of goods and services, but also of the skills and know-how for operation and maintenance as well as the knowledge and expertise behind the technology.

This, he said, had led to new production and technological capacity.

The study, initiated by the governments of India and Britain, had been meant to identify barriers to the transfer of low-carbon energy technology.

In the area of IGCC for power generation, the researchers found the key barrier was having to work with high-ash content in Indian coal. The other problem was that the technology had not yet been commercialised anywhere in the world.

The researchers felt there was high potential for international collaboration here, Ockwell said, though he did find international firms were a bit cautious about which Indian firm they collaborated with.

The spread of green technologies in India is of course intimately connected with their take-up by the SMEs, which account for one-third of the country’s exports, half of its industrial output and are the largest employers after agriculture.

Ockwell said the researchers had found that by and large SMEs use indigenous knowledge and techniques, their resource use is inefficient, they do not have off-the-shelf solutions easily available and they conduct little research and development (R&D).

But, the researchers found many entrepreneurs in the SME sector keen on green technology collaborations, and they did not think IPRs were an issue.

“This leads to an interesting high potential for aggregate emissions reductions without issues associated with large industrial installations,” Ockwell said, though it is “reliant on willingness of international firms to share technology”.

He had found a “strong emphasis on long term international, public-private-NGO collaboration” and that a “possible domestic policy push - switch from coal to gas in the specific industrial areas around Delhi, Agra and Jaipur” was accelerating the interest of SMEs in green technologies.

In the area of wind energy, of course, India has done very well, with Suzlon being one of the top five wind energy firms globally. The researchers found that Indian wind energy firms had “used commercial approach to access IPRs via acquisition and licensing”, Ockwell said, “for example through R&D in Netherlands and marketing in Denmark”.

In the area of manufacturing solar PV cells, the researchers had found that the Indian market export driven and to date IPRs for manufacturing equipment largely stays with foreign firms.
“The Indian firms’ niche is to produce at lower cost,” Ockwell said.

“IPRs are not a barrier as yet, but they could become more of an issue as firms move towards manufacture along the value chain and more automated processes, such as PV grade silicon and thin film. This will be dependent on how concentrated relevant parts of the value chain are.”
Ockwell had found that recent developments in the solar PV cell manufacturing market were largely driven by domestic policy. This June, the Indian government placed development of solar energy at the centre of its National Action Plan on Climate Change.

The researchers found “strong domestic efforts in India to develop hybrid technology, driven also by acquisition such as the Tata purchase of the Norweigan electric vehicle company Miljo, as well as collaboration in development of the National Hybrid Propulsion Platform.

Ockwell said Indian entrepreneurs - many of whom had moved from large car manufacturing firms abroad - were licensing new hybrid technologies from second tier firms in the West.
Overall, he added, Indian firms found the only barriers to transfer of green technologies were people. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way, they said.”

However, the researchers were worried that Indian firms seemed happy to follow and not lead research in green technologies. “This leaves unanswered the question of long term technological capacity building,” Ockwell said.

(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at