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Monthly Archives: June 2012

With recent announcement of the prestigious award to NREL (National renewable energy laboratory, USA) for developing SJ3 solar cells along with their industrial partner Solar Junction, there is a new hope and expectation that PV solar will become a major source of clean energy of the future.Togather with Hydrogen as an energy carrier, the PV solar hydrogen will certainly be a game changer. With increasing efficiency of solar panel from 17.24% up to 50%, and generating   high pressure hydrogen using improved solid polymer electrolyzer, the sun and water will become the future source of clean energy replacing our decade’s long dependency on fossil fuel. There is also a distinct possibility of converting water into hydrogen by direct sunlight using photo-electrolysis as explained in my earlier article, “Can we duplicate Nature’s photosynthesis for Hydrogen production?”’ dated April 2,2012.

SJ3 solar cell uses tunable band gaps, lattice matched architecture with ultra-concentration tunnel junction to meet the highest conversion efficiency of 43.5% with a possibility to reach an efficiency of 50%.This  conversion efficiency is the percentage amount of solar energy converted directly into electrical energy. Such a high-efficiency is due to the lens focusing the sunlight with 418 times intensity of the sun. There is no other cost involved except the bottom Germanium layer of three junctions with Gallium and a dash of dilute nitride alloy. This small change boosts the bottom band-gap from 0.67 eV (electron volts) to 1.0 eV.The three layered SJ3 cell captures various frequencies of sunlight at various times and conditions achieving the best efficiency of converting photons to electrons.

High pressure PEM Hydrogen generators producing 99.99% purity Hydrogen at higher pressures are already under development. With carbon fiber storage tanks up to 10,000 psi pressure ratings, Fuel cell cars will become commercial reality overtaking Lithium battery powered electrical vehicles.PV solar Hydrogen will significantly alter the transportation and stationary power generation industries in the future simply because hydrogen has the highest heat value and it is absolutely clean.

Age old centralized power plants using fossil fuels with highest carbon emission and water consumption has created serious environmental problems all over the world. Coastal power plants discharge a huge amount of ‘once through’ cooling water into the sea at higher temperature and at higher salinity.Tranasport industries using fossil fuels emit  high greenhouse gases due to age-old, inefficient combustion engines causing global warming. Low humidity, high surface temperatures, dry conditions and lightning are a perfect combination of conditions for bush fires similar to the one witnessed in Colorado mountain ranges.

It is a right time to adopt distributed energy systems so that individual’s houses and business can generate their own power using PV solar and wind Hydrogen with no transmission grids and grid failures. It is time to replace fossil fuel with sun’s light and pure water so that we can hope for a cleaner future. We have all the necessary technologies and we need a will and concerted effort to make these changes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PV solar is expanding as a potential renewable energy source for each house, and the cost of solar panels are slowly coming down as the volume of production increases. However, the intermittent nature of solar energy is still an issue, especially for off grid and remote locations. Now solar energy is stored using lead acid batteries for such applications and inverters become part of the system. The capacity of the battery bank is designed to meet the electrical demand and to absorb the fluctuation of the energy generated by solar panels and it varies from place to place. This method stores the electrical energy generated by PV solar in the form of DC current and delivers it in the form of AC current. Though this method is the simplest one for remote locations, storing solar power in the form of Hydrogen is more economical and environmentally friendly in the long run.

Solar energy can directly be used to generate Hydrogen using solid polymer electrolyzers and stored in cyclinders.The stored Hydrogen can then be used to fuel a stationary Fuel cell to generate power on site. One can design a system by integrating various components in such a way; the Hydrogen generated by solar energy is used to generate power on site as and when required. By this method one can generate required power throughout the day 24×7 irrespective of the availability of sun. The system integration involves various components supplied by various manufacturers with various specifications and the success of a system depends on the careful design using data acquired over a time on a specific location.

Many winds to Hydrogen projects also have been tested in locations around the world.NREL (National renewable energy laboratory, USA) has conducted number of tests by integrating various components such as PV solar and wind turbines with Electrolyzers (both PEM electroylzers and alkaline electrolyzers) and Hydrogen IC engines for remote power generation as well as for fuelling vehicles with Hydrogen. Though the cost of this system is still expensive, such integration offers enormous potential as a clean energy source for remote locations without any grid power. When one takes into account the fluctuating oil prices, cost of global warming, cost of power transmissions and losses during long distance power transmission from fossil fuel power plants, Renewable Hydrogen offers the best and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. Such a system offers complete independence, energy security, reliability and fixed power tariff.

System integration of renewable energy sources for Hydrogen production and on site power generation using Fuel cell or Hydrogen engine is the key to a successful deployment of solar and wind energy for rural electrification and to remote islands. Such system will offer greater return on investment even to supply power to the grid based on power purchase agreements with Government and private companies. Renewable Hydrogen is the only practical solution for clean power of the future and sooner we embrace this integrated solution better for a cleaner future. Government and private companies investing on oil and gas explorations can focus their attention in developing renewable Hydrogen based solutions so that the cost of Hydrogen can become competitive to fossil fuel. Once the cost of Hydrogen reaches parity with cost of fossil fuel then, it will set the beginning of a green revolution in clean energy.

All forms of renewable energy sources are intermittent by nature and therefore storage becomes essential. Energy is used mainly for power generation and transportation and the growth of these two industries are closely linked with development of energy storage technologies and devices. Electrical energy is conventionally stored using storage batteries. Batteries are electrochemical devices in which electrical energy is stored in the form of chemical energy, which is then converted into electrical energy at the time of usage.

Batteries are key components in cars such as Hybrid electric vehicles, Plug-in Hybrid electrical vehicles and Electrical vehicles – all store energy for vehicle propulsion. Hybrid vehicle rely on internal combustion engine as the primary source of energy and use a battery to store excess energy generated during vehicle braking or produced by engine. The stored energy provides power to an electric motor that provides acceleration or provides limited power to the propulsion. Plug-in hybrid incorporates higher capacity battery than Hybrid eclectic vehicles, which are charged externally and used as a primary source of power for longer duration and at higher speed than it is required for Hybrid electric vehicles. In Electric cars, battery is the sole power source.

All electric vehicles need rechargeable batteries with capacity to quickly store and discharge electric energy over multiple cycles. There are a wide range of batteries and chemistries available in the market. The most common NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) used Cathode materials called AB5; A is typically a rare earth material containing lanthanum, cerium, neodymium and praseodymium; while B is a combination of nickel, cobalt, manganese and/or aluminum. Current generation Hybrid vehicles use several Kg of rare earth materials.

Lithium ion battery offers better energy density, cold weather performance, abuse tolerance and discharge rates compared to NiMH batteries. With increasing usage of electrical vehicles the demand for lithium-ion batteries and Lithium is likely to g up substantially in the coming years. It is estimated that a battery capable of providing 100miles range will contain 3.4 to 12.7 Kegs of Lithium depending upon the lithium-ion chemistry and the battery range. Lithium -ion batteries are also used in renewable energy industries such as solar and wind but Lead-acid batteries are used widely due to lower cost.

The lithium for Cathode and electrolyte is produced from Lithium Carbonate which is now produced using naturally occurring brines by solar evaporation with subsequent chemical precipitation. The naturally occurring brine such as in Atacama in Chile is now the main source of commercial Lithium. The brine is a mixture of various chlorides including Lithium chloride, which is allowed to evaporate by solar heat over a period of 18-20 months. The concentrated lithium chloride is then transferred to a production unit where it is chemically reacted with Sodium carbonate to precipitate Lithium Carbonate. Chile is the largest producers of Lithium carbonate.

Though Lithium ion batteries are likely to dominate electric vehicle markets in the future, the supply of Lithium remains limited. Alternative sources of Lithium are natural ores such as Spodumene.Many companies around the world, including couple of companies in Australia are in the process of extracting Lithium from such ores.

Manufacturers produce battery cells from anode, cathode and electrolyte materials. All lithium-ion batteries use some form of lithium in the cathode and electrolyte materials, while anodes are generally graphite based and contain no lithium.   These cells are connected in series inside a battery housing to form a complete battery pack. Despite lithium’s importance for batteries, it represents a relatively small fraction of the cost of both the battery cell and the final battery cost.

“Various programs seek to recover and recycle lithium-ion batteries. These include prominently placed recycling drop-off locations in retail establishments for consumer electronics batteries, as well as recent efforts to promote recycling of EV and PHEV batteries as these vehicles enter the market in larger numbers (Hamilton 2009). Current recycling programs focus more on preventing improper disposal of hazardous battery materials and recovering battery materials that are more valuable than lithium. However, if lithium recovery becomes more cost-effective, recycling programs and design features provide a mechanism to enable larger scale lithium recycling. Another potential application for lithium batteries that have reached the end of their useful life for vehicle applications is in stationery applications such as grid storage.

The supply chain for many types of batteries involves multiple, geographically distributed steps and it overlaps with the production supply chains of other potential critical materials, such as cobalt, which are also used in battery production. Lithium titanate batteries use a lithium titanium oxide anode and have been mentioned as a potential candidate for automotive use (Gains 2010), despite being limited by a low cell voltage compared to other lithium-ion battery chemistries.” (Ref: Centre for Transportation, Argonne National Laboratory)

Usage of power for extraction of Lithium from naturally occurring brines is lower compared to extraction from mineral sources because bulk of the heat for evaporation of brine is supplied by solar heat. However Lithium ion batteries can serve only as a storage medium and the real power has to be generated either by burning fossil fuel or from using renewable energy sources. Governments around the world should make usage of renewable power mandatory for users of Electrical vehicles. Otherwise introduction of Lithium ion battery without such regulation will only enhance carbon emission from fossil fuels.

 

The unabated emission of Carbon dioxide by burning fossil fuels by human beings is altering the chemistry of our oceans at an unprecedented rate in the last 65 million years. When excess Carbon dioxide is absorbed by seawater it forms Carbonic acid, which is weak and unstable and increase the Hydrogen ion concentration in seawater. It decreases the pH value. The seawater is alkaline and the mean ocean surface pH  was measured at 8.2 in 1750.This acidity has  increased by 30% in recent times due to absorption of vast amount of man-made carbon dioxide since pre-industrial time. The amount estimated are about 500 Giga tones or 25% emitted into the atmosphere. According to UN report: “If we continue at this rate the ocean pH will decline by a further 0.3 by the end of this century, an unprecedented 150% increase in ocean acidity. This rate of change has not been experienced for around 65 million years, since the dinosaurs became extinct. Such a major change in basic ocean chemistry is likely to have real implications for ocean life in the future, especially organisms that need calcium carbonate to build shells or skeletons. Not all organisms will react at the same rate or in the same way to decreasing carbonate ion concentration. There are three naturally occurring forms of calcium carbonate used by marine organisms to build shells, plates or skeletons: calcite, aragonite and high magnesium calcite. For example, microscopic plants called coccolithophores surround themselves with protective calcite plates; aragonite is used by periods to build their shells and corals use it to make their skeletons that help to form reefs; while some echinoderms – starfish, sea urchins, brittle stars – utilize magnesium calcite to form their exoskeletons. Magnesium calcite is more soluble and sensitive to ocean acidification than aragonite; with calcite being the least soluble of the three. A lowering of pH and reduction of carbonate ions will make it more difficult for organisms to sustain their calcified shells, and in under saturated conditions, waters become corrosive to these minerals.

Additionally, most multicellular marine organisms have evolved a regulatory system to keep up the hydrogen ion balance of their internal fluids and spend energy doing this so an increase in hydrogen ions in seawater means that they will have to divert more energy away from important processes such as growth and reproduction to do this. However, studies of mussels, crab and sea urchin species have shown they have only a partial or no, compensation mechanism potentially making them more vulnerable than those organisms that possess a compensation mechanism”.(Ref:UNEP)

The contribution of marine food in the form of Protein to food security is substantial. Fish supplies about 15% of animal protein for about 3 billion people worldwide. Further one billion people depend on fisheries for their primary source of Protein. Steadily increasing population is pushing the demand for protein even further, while the fish stock is dwindling in many parts of the world due to over fishing and environmental degradation.

“Productivity ‘hotspots’ such as upwelling regions where cold water is rich in both nutrients and CO2, coastal seas, fronts, estuaries and sub-polar regions often supply the main protein source for coastal communities. However, many of these areas are also projected to be very vulnerable to ocean acidification this century.” (Source: UNEP)

Global warming has a much wider ramification than originally thought. It is not just warming the globe but threatens the food security and our own survival as human beings.

Wind energy is one of the fastest growing renewable energy sources in the world and in 2011 the global market grew by 6% with 40.5 GW new powers brought online, according to Global Wind Report. However storage of intermittent renewable energy is a critical contributing factor in renewable energy development. A study was conducted by University of California for California Energy Commission on the economic and environmental impact of for energy storage technologies and the ways to improve the energy efficiency of wind energy. When there is a strong wind there is no demand for power, and when there is a high demand for power there is no wind. This anomalous supply demand gap demands a reliable way of storing wind power during high wind velocity periods.

They examined for energy storage technologies namely 1.lead acid batteries, 2. Zinc Bromine flow batteries, 3.Hydrogen electrolyzer and Fuel cell storage system and 4.Hydrogen option to fuel Hydrogen cars with Hydrogen. By using NREL (national Renewable Energy laboratory) computer simulation model HOMER  for high wind penetration of 18% in California, they concluded that Hydrogen storage is the most cost-effective than other battery storage technologies and using Hydrogen to fuel Hydrogen cars is economically attractive  than converting Hydrogen into Electricity. The environmental impact of using Hydrogen is benign compared to batteries with their emissions.

“The key findings of this experiments are as follows: Energy storage systems deployed in the context of greater wind power development were not particularly well used (based on the availability of “excess” off-peak electricity from wind power), especially in the 2010 time frame (which assumed 10% wind penetration statewide), but were better utilized–up to 1,600 hours of operation per year in some cases–with the greater (20%) wind penetration levels assumed for 2020.

The levelized costs of electricity from these energy storage systems ranged from a low of $0.41 per kWh—or near the marginal cost of generation during peak demand times—to many dollars per kWh (in cases where the storage was not well utilized). This suggests that in order for these systems to be economically attractive, it may be necessary to optimize their output to coincide with peak demand periods, and to identify additional, value streams from their use (e.g., transmission and distribution system optimization, provision of power quality and grid ancillary services, etc.).

At low levels of wind penetration (1%–2%), the electrolyzer/fuel cell system was either inoperable or uneconomical (i.e., either no electricity was supplied by the energy storage system or the electricity provided carried a high cost per MWh).

In the 2010 scenarios, the flow battery system delivered the lowest cost per energy stored and delivered.  At higher levels of wind penetration, the hydrogen storage systems became more economical such that with the wind penetration levels in 2020 (18% from Southern California), the hydrogen systems delivered the least costly energy storage.

Projected decreases in capital costs and maintenance requirements along with a more durable fuel cell allowed the electrolyzer/fuel cell to gain a significant cost advantage over the battery systems in 2020.

Sizing the electrolyzer/fuel cell system to match the flow battery system’s relatively high instantaneous power output was found to increase the competitiveness of this system in low energy storage scenarios (2010 and Northern California in 2020), but in scenarios with higher levels of energy storage (Southern California in 2020), the electrolyzer/fuel cell system sized to match the flow battery output became less competitive.

The hydrogen production case was more economical than the electrolyzer/fuel cell case with the same amount of electricity consumed (i.e., hydrogen production delivered greater revenue from hydrogen sales than the electrolyzer/fuel cell avoided the cost of electricity, once the process efficiencies are considered).

Furthermore, the hydrogen production system with a higher-capacity power converter and electrolyzer (sized to match the flow battery converter) was more cost-effective than the lower-capacity system that was sized to match the output of the solid-state battery. This is due to economies of scale found to produce lower-cost hydrogen in all cases.

In general, the energy storage systems themselves are fairly benign from an environmental perspective, with the exception of emissions from the manufacture of certain components (such as nickel, lead, cadmium, and vanadium for batteries). This is particularly true outside of the U.S., where battery plant emissions are less tightly controlled and potential contamination from improper disposal of these and other materials is more likely. The overall value proposition for energy storage systems used in conjunction with intermittent renewable energy systems depends on diverse factors:

The interaction of generation and storage system characteristics and grid and energy resource conditions at a particular site The potential use of energy storage for multiple purposes in addition to improving the dependability of intermittent renewable (e.g., peak/off-peak power price arbitrage, helping to optimize the transmission and distribution infrastructure, load-leveling the grid in general, helping to mitigate power quality issues, etc.)

The degree of future progress in improving forecasting techniques and reducing prediction errors for intermittent.  Electricity market design and rules for compensating renewable energy systems for their output”. Hydrogen storage and Hydrogen cars hold the key for future renewable energy industries and Governments and industries should focus on these two key segments.

Sodium chloride commonly known as ‘ common salt ‘ is a basic  raw material for the production of a range of chemicals including Caustic soda and Soda ash. The cost salt has been recently increasing steadily due to wide demand supply gap all over the world. This in turn has increased the cost of all other chemicals derived from salt and this situation is expected to continue in future.

Salt industry has been traditionally using a ‘solar evaporation’, an age-old technique from antiquity. The technology involves pumping of seawater on large area of arid land and allowed to evaporate as the concentration of salt increases. The brine then passes on through the various ponds, with the sodium chloride content rising from 2% to 25%. This increasing salinity gives the ponds a distinctive pink color, as algae in strongly saline solutions produce a red pigment called haematochrome. The Red Sea is red for the same reason.

The saturated brine is pumped to smaller ponds where nature continues its work of evaporation. Once the volume has been reduced to 10.2% of the original, any further concentration results in the deposition of sodium chloride. From September to February more brine is added until at least 25 mm of salt has settled and it is time for harvesting. The brine remaining (called “bittern”) is a saturated solution of NaCl, with the other salts present at concentrations well below saturation. This is pumped out to sea just before the harvest is gathered, as these ions would contaminate the salt if all the water were evaporated off. For four to six weeks beginning in early March, mechanical harvesters scoop up the crystallized salt and load it on to trucks that shuttle back and forth across the ponds to the washer. In the two washing plants the salt is washed in clean saturated brine, where the other salts, present as impurities, dissolve. From their hundreds of tones of clean washed salt are discharged daily on to the stacks for storage – up to 10,000 tons per day. During winter no more salt is recovered, but the plant continues its regular work of processing and bagging the stockpiled salt.

But this raw salt has number of impurities such as Calcium, Magnesium and Sulfate ions which are harmful for the production of further chemicals. Though the cost of producing salt is cheaper by solar evaporation, the cost of purifying salt from above impurities and making suitable brine for chemical production is expensive .The cost of salt used in chemical processing industries after transportation and purification increase to whopping $ 200 and above. Many Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan and Indonesia are major importers of salt. The salt import by the above importers in Asia pacific region between 2000 and 2009 has increased by 6 million tonnes, equal to 40% or 4.6% per annum.In four years between 2005 and 2009, the price of salt increased  by US$25/Mt, equal to 83% or 16% per annum.The average price of imported salt varies between US$40 to $47/Mt. (Ref: Salt partners).

Erratic weather patterns, sea level rise, Tsunami, inundation, flooding and unseasonal rains have hampered salt production all over the world. The chemical industries are facing an uncertain future and unpredictable pricing of salt. Prolonged winter in Europe and US and other parts of the world have pushed the demand for salt for de-icing. India is the third largest and cheapest producer of salt in the world with lowest labor cost. But even in India, the prices of salt have gone up recently from Rs.600 to Rs.1000/Mt.

An Australian company has developed and patented an innovative technology to solve the above problems. The company uses membrane technology to produce Sodium chloride brine directly from seawater suitable for all chemical products in the downstream. This novel technology separates seawater into salt and drinking water, after all seawater has about 95% pure water. It can solve the problems of many mining companies in Australia who need Caustic soda as well as water for their processing.India can certainly adopt this technology because shrinking coastal land for solar evaporation will become  scarcer in the future.

Chemistry has revolutionized human life and it has affected each and every one of us in some way or other for the past several decades. We were happily using these chemicals in our everyday life without really understanding their side effects.Individuls and companies who invented and commercialized chemical products were keen to offer end products to consumers often without explaining the side effects of such chemicals.They themselves were not fully aware of long-term consequences of such chemicals. Classical examples are Chlorine and its derivatives.

Chlorine is a common chemical that is used even today in many countries to disinfect drinking water in water treatment plants. Their usage is sill continued though they found that Haloethanes, which are formed by the action of Chlorine on decayed organic leaves in water storage, causes cancer (carcinogenic). DDT is another chemical that was used widely as a pesticide, known as “atom bomb of pesticides”,  until their side effects proved deadly for human beings and to the environment. It was officially banned in USA in 1972 by EPA, though it is still continued in some third world countries. Bleaching powder in another example of powder disinfectant ( a popular form of disinfectant used on roads in India when  prominent political leaders visit municipalities; though they are only chalk  powder with no traces of residual Chlorine).

A whole range of dyes known as coal-tar dyes derived from coal  were used in many applications including ‘food colors’, later substituted by petroleum-based organic chemicals. These ‘food colors’ are now substituted with ‘natural organic colors’ such as vegetable colors derived from vegetables and fruits. Industrial chemicals, both organic and inorganic have caused serious environmental damages all over the world for several decades, but Governments, companies and EPA did not realize the deadly consequences of some these chemicals for a long time. The ‘Bhopal Gas tragedy’ in India is one such grim reminder of such consequences.

Chemicals are not natural products even though one can separate them into various organic chemical molecules but some of the consequences of such separation and usage are not fully understood. Many natural herbs have outstanding medicinal values and when consumed in a Natural form, it has absolutely no side effects and they show tremendous therapeutic values. But when you isolate certain molecules from such herbs (Alkaloids) and used as a drug, they can cure a disease but at the same time, they create many side effects. Nature offers such drugs in a diluted form that is quite compatible to human beings. One such example is ‘Vinblastine’ and “Vincristine’, anti-cancer drugs derived from a herb called ‘vinca rosea’.

Of late there is awareness among companies, people and Governments about Green technologies that can help protect the environment. Greenhouse gas and global warming is one such issue. When Petrol or Diesel, an organic chemical known as Hydrocarbon is burnt, it not only generates power but also emits greenhouse gases such as Carbon dioxide and oxides of Nitrogen, that cause globe to warm. We were happily burning away such fossil fuels until scientists raised an issue on emission of ‘greenhouse gases’ in recent past. When we deal with chemicals and chemical reactions, the molecule is transformed into a new molecule and often such reaction cannot be reversed.It is not a physical change but a chemical change. When we convert water into steam, we can get back water by condensing steam; but when you convert Chlorine into PVC (Poly vinyl chloride) plastic, there are environmental consequences and reversing PVC into Chlorine gas in not easy, though it is technically possible with environmental consequences.

One has to observe and learn from Nature what is good and what is bad when developing a new technology, because such development will not only affect the environment but also many generations to come. When Nature teaches how to turn sugar into Alcohol by fermentation using air-borne microorganisms, we should follow Nature to make alcohol. We know how to turn Alcohol into PVC, but we do not know how to make biodegradable PVC from Alcohol. Companies call it ‘Green Chemistry’, but not until we can make a biodegradable PVC. Human knowledge is imperfect and we can learn ‘Green chemistry and Clean Technologies’ only from Nature and not by deviating from the path of Nature.

The first few hydrogen atom electron orbitals ...

The first few hydrogen atom electron orbitals shown as cross-sections with color-coded probability density (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hydrogen is well-known as a potential source of clean energy of the future. But it is not available in a free form; its generation from   water using Electrolysis requires more energy than, a free Hydrogen can generate.  It requires about 5kws power to generate 1 m3 Hydrogen gas, which means, it requires about 56 Kw power to generate 1 Kg Hydrogen using water electrolysis. But 1Kg Hydrogen can generate only about 15-20 Kw Electricity using a Fuel cell. This anomalous situation makes Hydrogen generation using water electrolysis uneconomical for clean power generation. That is why most of the Hydrogen is now generated by steam reforming natural gas. Another reason for using natural gas is, to cut the cost of Hydrogen and also, to make a smooth transition from fossil economy to Hydrogen economy using existing infrastructures. Power generation and transportation using Hydrogen and Fuel cell has been commercially tested, proven and ready for deployment. However, we still have to deal with emission of greenhouse gas during steam reformation of natural gas due to the presence of carbon atom in natural gas.

Meanwhile, one American company recently announced a break-through technology that will generate free thermal energy from atomic Hydrogen using a patented process. The inventor of the process claims, when atomic Hydrogen is allowed to react with a specific Catalyst, Hydrogen atom undergoes a transition to a new atom called “Hydrino”, releasing energy while the electron in the atom shifts to a lower orbit close to proton. It was believed so far that the electron in Hydrogen atom is at its lowest level (ground level) and the closest to proton. This is the first time somebody claims that there is a lower state than the ground state  in Hydrogen atom and the amount of energy released in this transition to ‘Hydrino”,  is  in between by an uncatalyzed Hydrogen atom by combustion and nuclear energy. Unlike nuclear energy, this energy is non-radioactive. But the energy released by this process is more than 200 times than energy released by Hydrogen atom by normal combustion. The reaction does not create any pollution or radio-active materials as by-products. The process has been tested, verified and certified by scientists in few  laboratories and universities.

The above process offers great hope to generate a clean, non-polluting energy at the lowest cost. The ‘dihydrino and Hydrogen is separated and Hydrogen is recycled back to continue the process while’dihydrino’ has other potential commercial applications. The inventor has named this power as “Black power” as he hypotheses that such phenomena explain the presence of “dark matter” in Galaxies. According to quantum mechanics, the energy level of a normal Hydrogen atom is at its ground level as its minimum level (N=1), but its energy level increases at higher states such as N=2, 3, 4.When the energy level jumps from higher (excited state) to a lower level, it emits energy in the form of photon of light (Quanta).The spectrum of such emission matches the ultraviolet light of the sun. Since sub-quantum atoms are non-radioactive, the inventor claims that he is duplicating the above process of Nature by a catalytic thermal process in the state of Plasma using a specific Catalyst.

If such a large thermal energy is released by formation of ‘Hydrino’atom in the above process, then such energy can be used to generate Hydrogen by conventional water electrolysis at a fraction of the cost.

Then, Hydrogen economy can become a commercial reality and the above technology has a potential not only to generate power at fraction of a cost of the fossil fuel but also to generate a clean and non-polluting power. The inventor has also hypothesised a “grand new unified theory” of atom as the basis for the above invention. Mainstream scientists have always have been reluctant to support such “free energy” theories but, when someone can prove the process of generating an excess energy (more than 200 times than the theoretical energy released by an exothermic chemical reaction) and it is non-radioactive then mainstream scientists may be sidelined by world community. It is always possible to prove something unique without any theory   and come out later with a theoretical explanation to satisfy the scientific community. Many discoveries in the past were by mere accidents and one should have an open mind to look into any new concepts without any bias, especially if the discovery can resolve serious problems of humanity at  times  of crisis.

 

Governments and industries seek comfort from the fact that Global Warming is not directly linked with greenhouse gas emissions and there is no concrete scientific proof yet, linking these two, and think they can carry on the business as usual. Few scientists in the scientific communities also have backed such sentiments. Alternative technologies such as renewable energy technologies are expensive and cannot compete with fossil fuel based  power plants in near terms. Advanced renewable technologies need rare earth materials such as Lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, cobalt and lithium that are used in electric vehicle batteries; Neodymium, praseodymium and dysprosium that are used in magnets for electric vehicles and wind turbines. Lanthanum, cerium, europium, terbium and yttrium that are used in Phosphors for energy-efficient lighting; Indium, gallium and tellurium that are used in solar cells. The supply of these materials are limited or confined to few countries such as China. These new material also need more energy to mine, process and extract  using only fossil fuel generated power. Transport vehicles such as Hybrid or Electrical cars require a substantial amount of rare earth material such as Lithium for Battery production. The cost of Lithium batteries according to Centre for Transportation, Argonne National Laboratory is:

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Battery type         Base line                       Optimistic              Goal

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High energy          $706/kwh                   $200/kwh           >150/kwh

35kwh                  $, 24,723                      $ 8767

High-power           $, 2,486                       $ 1,095                   $300

100 10A-h cell

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The cost and maintenance of such vehicles are expensive compared to gasoline cars. The looming financial crisis, unemployment and political instability in many parts of the world have overshadowed the problem of greenhouse house and global warming. Governments in power are trying to postpone the issue of global warming as long as possible because they are unpopular among their public, who are increasingly wary of  high energy cost and their household budgets.

Industrialized countries such as US, China, India and Australia have projected their production and use of their coal, oil and gas usage in the future, which are steadily on the rise. Australia’s mining and resources industries are booming with increasing production of Coal, Coal seam methane gas, LNG, Iron ore, copper, Nickel and Gold. Increasing demand by growing economies such as India and China have propelled the production of coal and LNG and other minerals in Australia. The booming mining and shipping industries of Australia have prompted UNESCO to warn Australia about the impending danger of ‘Great Barrier reef’ being destroyed by its busy shipping activities. The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem. The only living organic collective visible from space, it is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and is a World Heritage listed area.

It boosts the Queensland’s image of sun, swimming and tropical islands, and around 2 million people visit the reef every year, generating more than $2 billion in direct tourism revenue in the area. The mining boom brings revenue but it also brings natural disasters and destruction of its natural wonders. The net effect will be destruction of Nature and displacement of people at the cost of mining revenue. But how long such a boom will last, and if the economies of China and India starts slowing down then, what happens to all the investments and the damage caused?

The above developments paint a grim picture on global warming. The world has witnessed natural disasters causing huge human and financial losses. The natural disasters have costed an economic loss of nearly 13 to 30 billion dollars in the past two years in Australia alone. Yet, people and Governments want a ‘concrete proof’ that man-made greenhouse gases causes global warming and triggers natural disasters. Well, we can carry on such conversation indefinitely till we reach a point of no return. “Wisdom comes from experience; but experience comes from foolishness”.

As the threat of global warming looms large, Governments and Industries are looking for innovative, alternative and renewable energy sources and energy efficiency solutions. But how many alternative energy sources are available and what are their potentials? How to cut our carbon footprint without making larger new investment? How to improve the energy efficiency of the existing systems so that we can increase energy output for the same amount of fuel input and cut the cost of energy? These are some of the fundamental questions Governments and industries are grappling with, for the past few years. We are used to generating cheap energy from coal, oil and gas at the cost of the environment for several decades. We are used to water supply free of cost or at negligible cost for several decades. Governments were able to survive year after year because they were able to supply these two fundamental requirements of the people namely, energy and water at low-cost. But this situation changed swiftly when scientists raised the alarm bells on carbon emission and global warming. Still many Governments, especially industrialized countries with large energy and water usage, are still playing ‘wait and watch’ game, because they cannot afford to increase the tariffs on power and water. Any such increase will make Governments unpopular and their re-election to the office doubtful.

The real alternative to fossil fuels is only solar energy, which is clean, reliable and abundant. All other forms of renewable sources such as wind, geothermal, ocean thermal energy and wave energy are only offshoot of solar energy. The prime source is still the sun and the source of energy is from the chain nuclear fusion reaction of Hydrogen atom. The radiation of this nuclear reaction in the sun has to travel an average distance of 93 million miles to reach the earth, yet it is enough to meet current energy need of  entire humanity by a factor of 20,000 times. But to convert sun’s light and heat energy into Electricity and other useful forms of energy, we need some rare materials which we never used in the past. They are called ‘rare earth materials’ because their available sources and supplies are rare on planet earth. But these exotic and rare earth materials are becoming indispensable in the development of renewable energy products and applications. The future growth of clean energy technologies depend on supply of such rare earth materials.

Fourteen elements and related materials were selected for a criticality assessment by US Government department of energy. Eight of these are rare earth metals, which are valued for their unique magnetic, optical and catalyst properties. The materials are used in clean energy technologies as follows. Lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, cobalt and lithium are used in electric vehicle batteries. Neodymium, praseodymium and dysprosium are used in magnets for electric vehicles and wind turbines. Samarium is also used in magnets. Lanthanum, cerium, europium, terbium and yttrium are used in phosphors for energy-efficient lighting. Indium, gallium and tellurium are used in solar cells. The materials were selected for study based on factors contributing to risk of supply disruption.

Though usage of such material is relatively small, it is anticipated that the growth of clean technologies will need a substantial quantity of these materials. Currently China is endowed with almost 95% of such rare materials in the world. These materials are available in the form of ores and minerals under the earth. They have to be mined, processed and extracted in a pure form so that they can be used in developing clean energy products of the future. We will discuss about such products and technologies in our future articles. The anomaly is the energy required to mine, process and extract these rare earth materials need energy and such energy to have to come only from the sun. It is once again Nature that comes to the rescue of human beings at such critical junctures.

 

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