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Engineers Use Rocket Science for Self-Sufficient Wastewater Treatment
Jaymi Heimbuch, Treehugger
Nitrates are commonly found in groundwater, ending up there after they're used for fertilizing crops or from storm-water run-off. Typically a contaminate to
worry about, a group of engineers from Stanford University have figured out how to turn the problem of nitrates in the water in to a possible solution for
energy generation. While their design started out as a nitrous oxide thruster for spacecraft, they figured out how it could also be used at wastewater
treatment plants to turn decompose nitrous oxide gas into nothing but hot air.
Stanford reports that two of their engineers -- one a rocket engineer who has spent five years creating thrusters that run on nitrous oxide and the other an
expert in wastewater management -- have created a design that can carve down the carbon footprint of wastewater treatment plants with "a new sewage treatment
process that would actually increase the production of two greenhouse gases - nitrous oxide (aka, "laughing gas") and methane - and use the gases to power
the treatment plant."
"Normally, we want to discourage these gases from forming," said Craig Criddle, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and senior fellow at the
Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford. "But by encouraging the formation of nitrous oxide, we can remove harmful nitrogen from the water and
simultaneously increase methane production for use as fuel."...
(10 April 2010)
World’s first grid-scale flywheel energy plant to go online soon
How can a technology known to ancient potters and spinners help create a 21st-century smart energy grid? A company based in Massachusetts aims to demonstrate
when it begins operating the world’s first grid-scale, flywheel-based energy storage plant in New York later this year...
Once construction of its innovative plant in Stephentown, New York, is complete, Beacon Power expects to be able to provide up to 20 megawatts of energy
capacity to the region’s electricity grid. The first four megawatts of capacity are set to come online earlier, however — by the end of this year.
Beacon Power’s system will uses fast-rotating rims made of a carbon-fibre composite material to store excess and renewably generated grid energy as kinetic
energy that can be tapped when demand rises or power from wind or solar sources is unavailable. The rims spin on magnetic bearings in a vacuum to minimise
energy loss from friction...
(10 August 2010)
Oxy-fuel concept sustains electricity grid demand
Siobhan Wagner, The Engineer
Researchers at Leeds University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have found a way to manage short-lived draws on the electricity grid with half the fuel
The concept would heat super-chilled liquid nitrogen to its boiling point and use the hot gas to drive turbines that will generate electricity when energy
demand is at its peak.
Studies show electricity drawn from the national grid varies at different times of day – peaking in the early evening for a couple of hours after school and
working hours. There are also the notorious short-lived spikes such as the moment when millions put on the kettle on during a Coronation Street ad break.
But matching the highs and lows in demand with a steady supply is a major challenge. Energy companies typically top up a ‘base’ supply of energy with
electricity from power plants that are just switched on to cope with the peaks. However, the gas-fired generators often used to feed these peaks are
notoriously inefficient and expensive to run and sit idle for long periods of time.
Yulong Ding, a professor of engineering at Leeds University, and his fellow researchers believe their concept is more environmentally friendly and less
expensive to run...
(12 August 2010)
China orders polluting and unsafe factories to shut down
Tania Branigan, The Guardian
China has ordered more than 2,000 highly polluting, unsafe or energy inefficient plants to shut down within two months, state media reported today.
Environmental campaigners welcomed the measure, saying the announcement went well beyond previous orders in naming specific facilities and outlining stiff
penalties for firms that do not comply by the end of September.
The notice from the ministry of industry and information technology covers 18 industries including steel, paper, cement and dyeing, according to Shanghai
Securities News and other media. It includes companies across the country and will affect parts of the Aluminium Corporation of China, better known as
Chalco, and Hebei Iron and Steel Group, the country's biggest steelmaker.
"There is no doubt this announcement is significant, especially because it is complete with real consequences; if they don't meet the target they will be
barred from obtaining loans, for example," said Alex Wang, of the Natural Resources Defence Council.
(9 August 2010)