Blacklight Power believes it has developed a ground breaking new form of energy production that cannot be explained by the scientific paradigms of combustion and nuclear reactions.
Yes, it's controversial! But now they have their first customer!
Earlier this Fall we reported on the independent verification of BlackLight’s novel method of capturing tremendous amounts of energy released when powder containing hydrogen atoms reacts with a catalyst to drop its energy state into hydrinos. [51 MB .wmv Video]
250 MW Contract Now the company has announced its first commercial license agreement with Estacado Energy Services, Inc. in New Mexico. In a non-exclusive agreement, BLP has licensed Estacado to use the BlackLight Process and certain BLP energy technology for the production of thermal or electric power. Estacado may produce gross thermal power up to a maximum continuous capacity of 250 MW or convert this thermal power to corresponding electricity.
The energy blogosphere is all over this story. Comment sections are filled with praise from believers and harsh skepticism from non-believers! Blacklight challenges the core assumptions of energy physics based on combustion and nuclear science. And we are very interested in how this conversation evolves!
A new Ceres report on company supply chain and operation efficiencies that support climate change strategies, has named IBM the #1 company for its internal practices and green innovation strategies. The RiskMetrics Group authored report analyzes climate change governance practices at 63 of the world's largest retail, pharmaceutical, technology, apparel and other consumer-facing companies.
Using a 100-point scale, the three highest scoring companies were IBM, UK-based grocery retailer Tesco and Dell, with 79, 78 and 77 points, respectively. More than half of the 63 companies scored under 50 points, with a median score of 38 points.
Beyond 'green' recognition, what does IBM see in a a Smart Planet? The big story is not the 'green' award recognition for IBM, Tesco and Dell - it's the brand association IBM is trying to build between its core practice as a hardware-software service provider and the transformation of global industries that deal with infrastructure and the transmission of information, goods, energy and water.
Consumers can change light builts, but companies like IBM and Johnson Controls can transform industry level supply chains, built environments, and national infrastructure systems. This is where we are likely to find the greatest ROI.
IBM (and others) sees an opportunity to improve industrial scale efficiencies in a near term future shaped by software, sensors and micro controllers. The vision? A Smart Planet.
For IBM the world is quickly becoming, instrumented, interconnected and intelligent. This is the driving force behind 'Big Blue' trying to enable a 'Big Green'world. Sensors and Software can lead to a greener world.
The Coal Industry marketing team must not be aware of web activist culture and its tendency to repurpose and ridicule messages that people believe miss the target.
Here come the Clean Coal Carolers!! The coal industry group America's Power has developed a series of Christmas Carols to themes related to clean coal. Viewers pick the winter outfits for chunks of coal and then the Coal Carolers appear at the door! Singing Frosty the Coal Man, O'Technology
In fact, I'm obsessed with the social history of coal. Friends can confirm that I carry around small piece of anthracite coal in my pocket just to 'show and tell'. I never miss a chance to ask people if they know what it is. 9 out of 10 do not. They look at it, rub it, smell it, say 'it's light'. But have no idea what it is. It's also shocking how many people do not know that coal is ancient biomass. I'd much rather the coal industry focus on science than spoofy web cartoons.
The Decision behind Coal Carolers? It's generating buzz. But it also opens the door for web creatives to turn the message against the lobby group. Who is the target audience seeing chunks of coal sing like chipmunks?! I can already see it spreading among web savvy audiences who are already skeptical of coal. Are they being converted?
Try a campaign about Science, not Cocky Satire If the coal industry was actually clean, I'd say-- fine, have your fun. But the industry is far from clean. And there is no near term strategy to convince us otherwise.
I support people who want to enable solutions for the coal industry. Retrofit the world's factories with algae bioreactors to address carbon emissions. But let's not ask people to dress up chunks of coal and sing along to silly tunes. Teach people about science and bioenergy solutions. Don't give them another reason to avoid the challenging conversation about coal's future.
- Editor's Note - We cannot ignore, or dismiss hydrogen energy storage
Let's put Hydrogen (e.g. energy storage for electricity) into perspective. Hydrogen was all the hype in the late 90s as Techies rallied behind Ballard Fuel Cell stocks, and buying into the 'hype'. Then as hydrogen startups failed to live up to short term expectations, many of those same people started slamming hydrogen as a waste of time and resources. Too 'inefficient and wasteful - and hard to store.' Early believers had wanted startups to change the world, but really they needed to pay attention to science. Researchers were waving their hands- 'we're not ready yet!'
The hydrogen skeptics' new strategy? Replace the hype of hydrogen, with hype of lithium ion batteries and capacitors. That's the 'new answer'. Meanwhile hydrogen researchers continue to evolve systems for low cost, high efficiency production, and solid-state storage.
My forecast? Batteries will disappoints us, hydrogen will surprise us.
What happened? Nanowerk is reporting that researchers at the University of Oxford have advanced a technique that taps the of biology. Enzymes known as hydrogenase can be used as a cheap, clean and efficient way of producing hydrogen from water using sunlight (artificial photosynthesis).
Hydrogenases are biocatalysts that produce or oxidize hydrogen using clusters of iron ([FeFe]) or nickel and iron ([NiFe]) to facilitate reactions. Enyzmes transport electrons and positively charged molecules through complex chains that are largely unknown to scientists. Now we are trying to overcome challenges of tapping the power of hydrogenase (H2 enyzmes) like keeping oxygen from stopping or slowing down reactions.
Nanowerk reports that Armstrong's group has 'demonstrated a rational photochemical hydrogen cell that produces hydrogen under visible light irradiation without resort to rigorous anaerobicity.'
While solar power is often described as the world's great untapped clean source of energy, ocean power deserves as much attention. In fact, it deserves a lot of attention given the expectation that the world will double energy consumption in the decades ahead. And the reality that most of the world's population lives close to an ocean.
Futures oriented energy engineers dream of capturing the steady kinetic and thermal of energy. Unlike solar and wind, ocean energy provides near 24/7 potential utilization.
A Low Mainteance Linear Generator? Now a Swiss team from Upsalla University has developed and tested a novel system. For nearly three years, a wave power plant has stood on the bottom of the ocean a couple of kilometers off the west coast of Sweden, near Lysekil. Rafael Waters, from the Uppsala University Division of Electricity, designed and built the facility as part of his doctoral project.
The team's 'linear generator' generates electricity with the slow up and down movements of the waves. An ordinary generator transforms rotation energy to electricity, and it needs to turn at about 1500 rpm to be efficient. (Images)
“This means that a wave energy station with an ordinary generator needs energy transmission systems such as gearboxes or hydraulic systems and other complicated details that wear out and require much more maintenance than a linear generator,” says Rafael Waters. “Our generator has functioned without any trouble every time we started it up over the years, even though it has received no maintenance and has sometimes stood still for months.”
Seeing a Future Beyond the Hype for Algae Bioenergy 'Algae' is often referred to as a 'Next Big Thing' category technology by cleantech investors and bio-industrialists. But I've found that most people have no real understanding of what algae 'is' or 'isn't' as a new energy solution.
I've posted six videos that should give that quick overview. Some videos contain statements that I find to be short-sighted or overly focused on near-term challenges. But overall, they describe the potential of algae bioenergy solutions in a very accessible way. Enjoy!
“It ('dry water') looks like a powder, but if you wipe it on your skin, it smears and feels cold” says Andrew Cooper University of Liverpool, UK
What happened? Chemists at the University of Liverpool have developed a reliable way of converting methane gas into a powder form in order to make it more transportable.
The researchers use a white powder material made of a mixture of silica and water to soak up large quantities of methane molecules.
Liverpool researchers believe that instead of shipping methane as a 'gas' or 'liquid' (LNG) we can transport it as a powder. It is also possible to use solid natural gas storage being used for electric vehicles that use fuel cells that convert natural gas (on board) into electricity.
Easier method to make store methane in a powder
It does not make sense to store all natural gas as a solid, but the market opportunities are significant. The challenge of methane gas hydrate has been that it is formed at a very slow rate when methane reacts with water under pressure. "To counteract these difficulties we used a method to break water up into tiny droplets to increase the surface area in contact with the gas. We did this by mixing water with a special form of silica – a similar material to sand – which stops the water droplets from coalescing.
This 'dry water' powder soaks up large quantities of methane quite rapidly at around water's normal freezing point."The team also found that 'dry water' could be more economical than other potential products because it is made from cheap raw materials.
Why is this important to the future? Storing gas as a solid?
Craig Venter (of Human Genome fame) has a vision of future energy production that is very different from industry veterans. He believes we can design microorganisms that can 'grow energy' by capturing carbon emissions from coal plants or converting sunlight and water into hydrogen. Venter believes in the molecular power of biology and recognizes that there are fewer ideas more powerful (and controversial) than human beings harnessing and improving upon biological systems.
What happened? Researchers at JCVI, a not-for-profit genomic research organization, have published a paper describing a significant advance in genome assembly in which the team can now assemble the whole bacterial genome (582,970 base pair), Mycoplasma genitalium, in one step from 25 fragments of DNA —adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and thymine (T).
Why is this important to the future of energy? Today we use naturally occuring species of algae that can 'eat carbon' to produce biofuels, or bacteria that take sunlight to effortlessly split water yielding hydrogen. These bioenergy solutions are in Pilot and First Stage of commercial energy production.
But in the near future, we are likely to design our own microorganisms to be even more efficient at the molecular level. We can create microbes with very specific functions related to the fixing of emissions or production of energy. This Future of 'Synthetic biology' sounds strange and probably frightening, but it is also closer than most people might imagine.
What to watch - The Conversation over Synthetic Biology
What do CEO's from the Auto and Utility Industries (or 'Big Grid'), Enterpreneurs involved in Solar/Wind production and gadget loving consumers all have in common?
They need major breakthroughs in energy storage.
Forget about incremental improvements. We cannot get excited over 'better' batteries. It's time for a leap in cost and performance.
These industries need fundamental breakthroughs with batteries, hydrogen and capacitors.
What's going to be the source of innovation?
Nanoscale materials science that transforms low-cost abundant materials into viable platforms for storing electrons and hydrogen. And Disruptive Business Models that scale technologies, create new growth opportunities, and overcome the resistance of deeply rooted incumbents who see energy storage as a threat to their way of business.
What to watch: Energy Storage solutions for Electric Cars & Utility companies
For the past decade, GM's Burns has been testing a very disruptive idea - the car of the future looks like a skateboard. When he talks about the 'skateboard' chassis, he is not outlining GM's plan for 2010-15. Burns is too smart to know that there is no quick fix. He is talking about how to radically transform the vehicle and driving experience!
What does GM really need to do? Reduce the number of factories by shifting to modular platforms, focus on design and driving experience, shift profit streams from selling new cars to aftermarket sales and mobility services, connect cars around software and energy. How? First, kill the combustion engine.
GM's skateboard vision centers around it's 'Autonomy' concept car and three major components: 1) Wheel based electric motors (which Michelin has built) - modular manufacturing systems 2) Drive by wire systems (well under development) - digital, replaces mechanical systems 3) Energy storage- primary fuel cell systems with support from batteries and capacitors