Montana may have a great wind resource, according to Gary Evans, CEO of GreenHunter Energy Inc., in a news article. But business goes where it’s easiest to do business. And for a wind developer, that may not be Montana.
GreenHunter Energy proposed building a 500 MW wind farm in Montana near the Canadian border. The plan stirred up environmentalists who worried the 400-foot turbines would loom over a nearby wilderness area. GreenHunter now may build only 50 MW of wind in the state and take almost 90 percent of the $500 million it planned to invest in elsewhere, most likely California.
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat who helped write Montana’s renewable energy policies as a state senator, said, “We need to figure out a way to make these projects work. Either that or we all start riding bicycles.”
Montana ranks 15th nationwide for wind power with 147 MW. One estimate suggests the state could produce 5,000 MW by 2030…assuming both favorable wind and political conditions.
Put those AAA batteries away. Even the smallest battery is too big for nanoscale devices. So scientists are trying to develop nanosize systems that pull energy out of the environment. University of Illinois researchers showed that a single nanowire can produce power by harvesting mechanical energy. Made of piezoelectric material, the nanowire generates a voltage when it is mechanically deformed.
The nanowire was synthesized in the form of a single crystal of barium titanate, an oxide of barium and titanium. It’s used as a piezoelectric material in microphones and transducers. The researchers’ nanowire measured about 280 nanometers in diameter and 15 microns long.
To test their idea, researchers used a precision tensile mechanical device: a finger-sized device consisting of two coplanar platforms – one movable and one stationary – separated by a 3-micron gap. The movable platform was driven by a single-axis piezoelectric flexure stage with a displacement resolution better than 1 nanometer.
Researchers placed their piezoelectric nanowire across the gap and fastened it to the two platforms. The movable platform induced mechanical vibrations in the nanowire and voltages were recorded using high-sensitivity, charge-sensing electronics.
The result? Turns out the electrical energy produced by the nanowire for each vibrational cycle was 0.3 attojoules (less than one quintillionth of a joule). Researchers said that although they created mechanical deformations in the nanowire through vibrations caused by external motion, other vibrations – such as sound waves – also should cause energy-producing deformations.
All-electric Plane Set for World Tour
LISA Airplanes, Chambéry, France, is developing an electric-powered airplane, the Hy-Bird, powered by renewable energy sources – solar energy, fuel cells, lithium-ion polymer batteries and electrical conversion. LISA Airplanes plans to fly the plane around the world next summer. The trip is planned to include 15 layovers with each segment piloted by a person representing the next-destination country. Where the luggage ends up is anybody’s guess.
Fried, Scrambled or Three-Minute: It’s All Hydrogen
Folks at the American Egg Board may have more to crow about when touting the virtues of the “incredible, edible egg.” Researchers at Ohio State University say eggshells can be turned into energy. The process uses eggshells to soak up carbon dioxide from a reaction that produces hydrogen. Researchers hit upon the idea as they were trying to improve the water-gas-shift reaction method of hydrogen production. With this method, fossil fuels such as coal are gasified to produce carbon monoxide gas, which combines with water to produce carbon dioxide and hydrogen.
Researchers looked at eggshells, which are made mostly of calcium carbonate – one of nature’s most absorbent materials – and a common ingredient in calcium supplements and antacids. With heat, calcium carbonate becomes calcium oxide, which will absorb any acidic gas, such as carbon dioxide.
In the laboratory, researchers showed that ground-up eggshells could work in the water-gas-shift reaction. Calcium carbonate – an eggshell ingredient – captures 78 percent of carbon dioxide by weight. So given equal amounts of carbon dioxide and eggshell, the eggshell would absorb 78 percent of the carbon dioxide.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the country produced nearly 91 billion eggs in 2006. That equals about 455,000 tons of shell that could potentially be used to produce hydrogen each year. Seems Americans can look forward to eating their way to energy independence!