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December, 2015:

Report: Coal, biomass mix may be in military jet fuel future

The U.S. Defense Logistics Agency and the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology recently released results of a research project that investigated the technical feasibility, commercial viability and environmental compliance of the use of liquefied coal and biomass mixtures as a military jet fuel replacement.

Overall, the research “showed potentially highly effective alternative fuel resources that can end the current debate,” according to the project report. Objectives of the study included the investigation, through analyses and testing of the use of domestic coal and biomass mixtures to make liquid fuel (CBTL), with a focus on gasification.

The project team executed gasification testing and analyses of 150 coal-biomass feedstock tests, performing them at five different partner and facility locations—the Energy and Environmental Research Center in Grand Forks. N.D., the U.S. DOE National Carbon Capture Center in Wilsonville, Alabama, Westinghouse Plasma Corporation at Madison, Pennslyvania, ThermoChem Recovery International, Inc. in Durham, North Carolina, and Emery Energy Company in Laramie, Wyoming.

All CO2 footprint projections of alternative jet fuel made from solid feedstocks tested were below the petroleum baseline for blended jet fuel (50 percent alternative fuel plus 50 percent petroleum-based fuel), thereby satisfying Section 526, according to the report.

Other major findings included:
– When coal was the sole feedstock, the CO2 footprint was the largest and required the most capture.
– Increasing percentages of biomass in the solid feed generally resulted in lower CO2 footprints and smaller amounts of required capture.
– Torrefied wood offers advantages in blending with coal and lowering the CO2 footprint for the CBTL plant.
– Municipal solid waste and biomass (considered to be “nuisance plants” in areas where they are abundant) may be economically feasible for use as feedstocks.
– Feedstock preparation and feed system design are critical to the successful development of a large-scale CBTL project.
– Electricity generation and CO2 displacement credits from CBTL are significant contributors to lower GHG emissions. At a ratio of 30 percent biomass, emissions were 38 to 62 percent below the baseline; with 10 percent biomass, 13 to 33 percent below the baseline; and with no biomass, 2 to 18 percent below the baseline.

On economic findings, the study found that on the rough order of magnitude, cost estimates using the techno-economic model for a 50,000 barrel-per-day CBTL plant with an entrained flow gasifier or transport gasifier showed average required selling price (RSP) of jet fuel ranged from approximately $134 to $170 per barrel, on a crude oil equivalent basis. Instances where coal was the sole feedstock resulted in the lowest RSP; increasing the percentages of raw biomass in the solid feed generally resulted in a higher RSP. Using torrefied rather than raw biomass resulted in a lower RSP, according to the report.

The project team concluded that blending various grades of coal with biomass presents a credible approach for reducing carbon dioxide emissions and producing alternative jet fuel.

The report also includes several factors that can improve commercial viability of CBTL technology, as well as recommendations for future study.

Waste Based Biodiesel to Power 1/3 of London Buses by March 2016

Transport for London (TfL)has unveiled plans for nearly one third of the city’s buses on B20 green diesel made from waste cooking oil by March 2016.

TfL explained that two bus operators, Stagecoach and Metroline, have signed deals with Argent Energy to supply them with the B20 green diesel.

The fuel is said to be cleaner burning and made by blending diesel with renewable biodiesel from waste products, including cooking oil and tallow from the meat processing trade.
It was said that the change will result in a reduction to CO2 emissions of 21,000 tonnes each year, in addition to the 48,000 tonne CO2 reduction from 2013 levels as a result of the introduction of lower emitting buses such as hybrids.

TfL said that it requires that biodiesel blended into B20 for London buses is made from waste, rather than crop-based feedstocks. It is estimated that buses running on waste-based B20 produce 10% less ‘well to wheel’ carbon emissions than a bus using ordinary diesel.

London’s bus network is one of the largest in the world, carrying almost 2.4 billion passengers every year. Currently, the 8900 strong bus fleet is said to use around 240 million litres of fuel per year. Under the new deals, about 80 million litres of the new greener blend of fuel per year will be consumed.

“This is ongoing progress for running our bus fleets on waste products and cutting CO2,” said deputy mayor for environment and energy, Matthew Pencharz.

“We will continue to work with our industry partners to use more of London’s used cooking oil turned into biodiesel right here in the city, creating green jobs and fuel self-sufficiency benefits,”he continued.

Mike Weston, TfL’s director of buses, added:“Our bus fleet is now making a major contribution to improving air quality and bringing down CO2 emissions… It’s just one of a number of measures we are taking to make London’s environment better for everyone.”

Quick Facts
· The Greater London Authority is undertaking a cost benefit analysis of biodiesel use and other renewable fuels in local authority fleets to help boroughs decide where the best opportunities lie to cut carbon and improve local air quality
· No mechanical change is needed to run a bus on a 20% blend of biofuel. The biodiesel being supplied by Argent Energy is all made from wastes and residues. This will be added to standard road diesel (EN590) which may already have a blend of up to 7% biodiesel allowed within the legislation
· B20 is a mix of 80% standard diesel with 20% biodiesel which are blended at Argent Energy’s London blending facility
· Delivering London’s Energy Future – the Mayor’s Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Strategy’ commits to minimising CO2 emissions from transport through the use of low carbon vehicles, technologies and fuels.

900 TPD Waste to Energy Contract for Everbright in China

Hong Kong based waste to energy developer, China Everbright International (HKSE: 00257), has won the bid for the 900 tonne per day Shandong Zoucheng waste to energy project in China.

The company said that it has now signed a concession agreement with the City Appearance & Environmental Health Bureau of Zoucheng for the Zoucheng waste to energy project which will be constructed on a BOT (Build‐Operate‐Transfer) basis with a concession period of 30 years.

The plant has a designed daily household waste processing capacity of 900 tonnes and will be constructed in two phases. Phase I has a daily household waste processing capacity of 600 tonnes.

Everbright said that the project represents a total investment of approximately RMB353 million ($55.5 million) and that gas emissions will fully comply with the Euro 2000 Standard. It is expected to generate approximately 70,000 GWh of electricity annually.

The company added that Zoucheng is a national historical and cultural attraction and one of China’s top tourist cities with sites such as Mencius Temple pictured above. Given its continued economic and social development and its increasing amount of waste generated, the Zoucheng government launched the waste‐to‐energy project to facilitate the harmless treatment, reduction and reuse of household waste.

The Zoucheng Project is the first waste to energy facility to be developed in the city.

Small Scale Tri-Generation System Uses Waste Gasification

German micro power generation technology developer, ENTRADE, has launched a biowaste powered tri-generation high temperature gasification system for providing power, heat and cooling.


German micro power generation technology developer, ENTRADE, has launched a biowaste powered tri-generation high temperature gasification system for providing power, heat and cooling.

The mass produced, sub £200,000 system is claimed to be the world’s smallest combined cooling, heat and power (CCHP) unit fuelled by regional available biomass waste.

The technology is said to be based on a high-temperature, carbon-neutral and highly efficient gasification process.

It uses solid biomass waste to generates up to 30 kW of electricity, 60 kW of heating and/or cooling up to 30 kW of cooling, said to beenough for 22 American single family homes, a small production facility or even a village in developing countries.

ENTRADE said that one E3 unit is a turnkey solution small enough to be easily transportable on a pickup truck.

So far over 100 types of solid waste are certified for use in the system, including nut shells and other regional biomass.

“Here it is: The world’s smallest tri-generation power plant fuelled by waste, that will have a huge impact on the everyday-life of millions of people without any access to clean energy,” said ’ Julien Uhlig, ENTRADE’s CEO.

“The strong demand out of the world market is a hint to be sure that it’s an idea whose time has come,” he continued. “The E3 is ready to go into mass production.”

The company plans to produce up to 45 units per month with a target of 600 units in 2016.

An interview with Julien Uhlig can be viewed below.

Hong Kong’s two electricity suppliers can afford to be more generous with tariff cuts

Fuel prices have plunged in the past year, yet CLP and HK Electric are only reluctantly offering a 1 per cent cut in power bills

Millions of households and businesses are understandably dismayed by the announcement on Tuesday that the city’s electricity suppliers, CLP and HK Electric, will cut tariffs by a miserly 1 per cent despite the dramatic fall in fuel prices over the past year. With the two power companies still making billions of dollars in profits each year, the tariff reductions are little more than a drop in the ocean.

Equally disappointing is the government’s failure to defend consumers’ interests. Speaking at the Legislative Council economic development panel on Tuesday, Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing revealed that the two companies originally only intended to freeze their tariffs. The reductions, 0.9 per cent for CLP customers and 1.1 per cent for HK Electric clients, only came after the government intervened. It is regrettable that Wong considered the outcome acceptable. He let down those who legitimately expected steeper concessions.

To those who have become used to ever-increasing energy bills in recent years, the cuts, albeit modest, are a small step in the right direction. According to the companies, the tariff levels are expected to be frozen in 2017 if fuel prices stabilise.

But whether the cuts are deep enough is open to discussion. Lawmakers from across the political spectrum have rightly questioned whether there was still room for further reductions. The actual savings for most CLP and HK Electric customers come to only HK$4.40 and HK$7.50 a month, respectively. Given fuel prices have dropped significantly and that the power giants made HK$10 billion and HK$3.2 billion in profits last year, respectively, the public is entitled to ask why the cuts cannot be deeper.

The criticisms levelled at the government are justified. Under the scheme of control agreement with the two power firms, each of them is entitled to 9.99 per cent return on investment. The guaranteed profits means officials can only seek to influence tariff adjustments. Officials did not try hard enough to push for more concessions. The cuts fall short of the expectations of lawmakers and the community.

It is difficult to see how the scheme of control can continue in its present form. The lack of competition and guarantee of handsome returns have put customers in a disadvantaged position. A public consultation on the energy market has opened the door for changes when the scheme expires in 2018. Officials should seize the opportunity to put in place a better regime.

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Electricity bills in Hong Kong to see 1 per cent cut, but lawmakers want more

Households and businesses across the territory will see their cost of electricity reduced by about 1 per cent next year, driven by lower fuel clause charges as global energy prices continue to slide.

But lawmakers slammed the city’s two power suppliers for playing a “numbers game” believing there was massive room for further reductions given huge guaranteed profits and surpluses in what they’ve set aside to procure fuel.

Environment secretary Wong Kam-sing claimed the initial plan from the duo was to freeze rates but that he had pressed for them to be lowered. This is the first rate cut for both companies since 2009.

CLP Power, which supplies two million accounts across Kowloon, New Territories and Lantau, told the Legislative Council economic development panel yesterday that average net tariff rates would be reduced from 114.2 cents per kilowatt hour to 113.2 cents beginning January.

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“Because of a significant drop in fuel prices, the impact of the fuel cost increase has been contained, enabling us to reduce our tariff for 2016.” said CLP boss Paul Poon Wai-yin. The rate could be kept in 2017 if energy prices remained as low, he said.

HK Electric, which serves 570,000 users on Hong Kong and Lamma islands, will reduce average net tariffs from 134.9 cents per kilowatt hour to 133.4 cents. Managing director Wan Chi-tin said the utility had gone a further step to reduce tariffs despite pledging to freeze them for five years in 2013.

For a Kowloon resident who consumes between 400 and 800 units of electricity a month, the reductions would lower their bills by up to HK$4.4. For most residents on the island side who use 500 units a month, monthly bills could be lowered by about HK$7.5. High energy-consuming businesses will enjoy bigger rate reductions due to regressive charging rates.

Civic Party’s Kwok Ka-ki said once fuel prices went up, the companies would immediately increase the net rates. “Basic tariff rates went up for both HK Electric and CLP. Don’t play number games.”

Industrial sector lawmaker Lam Tai-fai said he was “dissapointed” that secretary could only negotiate such an “unreasonably” small reduction given the huge slide in global oil and coal prices. “Oil is at a seven year low, coal is at a nine year low. You certainly paid a lot less for fuel this year,” Lam said.

Labour’s Lee Cheuk-yan said: “It’s obvious there can be further downward adjustment because the fuel cost account has risen so sharply.” Both companies still have surpluses of some HK$2 billion each in their fuel clause accounts.

World Green Organisation chief executive Dr William Yu Yuen-ping believed the rates cuts were made to manufacture a “friendly atmosphere” ahead of the two company’s upcoming negotiations over the scheme of control regulatory framework, which expires in 2018. The scheme currently guarantees it return of 9.99 per cent on its fixed assets.

Wong said his bureau had consulted their experts and felt the tariff proposals were acceptable.

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Hong Kong’s prototype electric bus goes up in flames

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Researchers develop sodium-ion battery in 18650 format

Jules Verne recognized the potential of sodium batteries in 1869 – they powered the futuristic submarine of Captain Nemo, who found their “electro-motor strength” to be twice that of zinc batteries.

Now scientists at the French research network RS2E have brought sodium batteries into the 21st century, producing the first sodium-ion battery in the industry-standard 18650 format (a cylindrical format used in consumer electronics and Tesla automobiles). Several other labs are also working on Na-ion batteries, but RS2E is the first to announce the development of an 18650 prototype.

Batterie sodium-ion (Na-ion) au format industriel standard « 18650 », posée sur un tas de sel (NaCl). Il s’agit de la première batterie au sodium mise au point dans ce format. Dans ce type de batterie, les ions sodium transitent d’une électrode à l’autre au fil des cycles de charge et de décharge. Elle représente une alternative aux batteries lithium-ion actuellement utilisées dans les ordinateurs portables ou encore les voitures électriques. Elle présente l’avantage d’utiliser un élément 1 000 fois plus abondant et aussi moins coûteux que le lithium : le sodium. Ses performances en densité d'énergie sont comparables à celles des premières batteries lithium-ion avec une marge de progression importante.  20150016_0006

Na-ion batteries could offer lower cost thanks to the abundance of sodium, and the prototype shows promising performance. The energy density of the new Na-ion cell is 90 Wh/kg, comparable with that of the first lithium-ion batteries. Its lifespan exceeds 2,000 charge/discharge cycles, and it is capable of charging and discharging rapidly.

The next step is to optimize and increase the reliability of the cell with a view to future commercialization.

“The first application, the most obvious, would be grid storage: storing renewable energy. We are talking about a market as big as the EV market,” said Jean-Marie Tarascon, a professor at the Collège de France and one of the heads of the RS2E network.

Ford reveals ambitious electrification plans

For the past several months, we EV newshounds have suspected that Ford had plans for a new generation of plug-ins up its sleeve. Now the #2 US automaker is beginning to reveal its answer to electric rivals GM, Nissan, VW et al.

Ford announced plans to invest a record $4.5 billion in electric tech over the next five years, adding 13 new electrified vehicles to its lineup by 2020. By that time, some 40 percent of the company’s global nameplates will be offered in electrified versions. (Note: the term “electrified” refers to many different forms of advanced energy storage in vehicles, from stop-start micro-hybrids all the way up to fully electric vehicles.)

A new Focus Electric, featuring DC fast-charging capability and a projected 100-mile range, is scheduled to go into production late next year.

Ford has also hinted that it will unveil a new plug-in vehicle at next month’s Detroit Auto show. Pictures posted to Twitter by the WSJ’s John Stoll show a vehicle under wraps that has the general outline of a Fusion. An update of the Energi PHEV? A fully electric Fusion?

Ford has been bulking up on battery R&D – it has hired 120 new EV engineers in Dearborn, and is expanding its network of research facilities in Europe and China.

“Batteries are the life force of any EV, and we have been committed to growing our leadership in battery research and development for more than 15 years,” said Kevin Layden, Director, Ford Electrification Programs. “Battery technology has evolved rapidly since we launched our first volume electrified product, the Ford Escape Hybrid, in 2004, and we look forward to developing even better vehicle battery technology for our customers.”



Massive Beijing charging station can charge 30 e-buses at up to 360 kW

EV bus charging in Xiaoying Charging Complex (PRNewsFoto/Microvast)

EV bus charging in Xiaoying Charging Complex (PRNewsFoto/Microvast)

China is now the capital of big things, especially when it comes to EVs. China State Grid has opened the world’s largest ultra-fast EV charging station in Beijing. The 26,500-square-meter charging complex at Xiaoying Terminal has 25 360 kW chargers and five 90 kW chargers, and can charge 30 electric transit buses at a time.

Xiaoying Terminal originally supported a natural gas hybrid bus fleet. At least 10 city bus routes have now converted to battery-electric buses. For example, route 13 is using Foton buses with battery technology from Microvast (featured in Charged Issue 4). Recharging takes 10-15 minutes, and takes place 2-3 times per day, during driver breaks, with several route loops between each charge.

There are already plans for the facility to be expanded as more bus routes convert to EVs.