Posts tagged ‘Environment’

April 28, 2012

Dr. Stefan Bouzarovski from the University of Birmingham, UK: Energy poverty is on the rise across Europe

by Jasmina Nikoloska

It’s nothing new when we say that energy resources have shaped world geopolitics even more than political tensions and physical conflicts. Since we will eventually be forced to move towards a sustainable energy future, those boundaries will eventually change and adapt to the new energy systems and n… more Dr. Stefan Bouzarovski from the University of Birmingham, UK: Energy.

July 27, 2011

Carbon capture and utilisation could contribute in green economy

by Jasmina Nikoloska

Investing in techniques of utilising CO2 is nothing new and converting CO2 into commercially viable products such as bio-oils, chemicals, fertilisers and fuels could offer economic sense and possibility for reducing carbon emissions.

Carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) includes using waste CO2 as a chemical feedstock for the synthetics of other chemicals, as a chemical source of carbon for mineral carbonisation reactions to produce construction materials, and as a nutrient and CO2 source to make algae grow and supply fuels and chemicals.

Unlike US which is spending $1bn on CCU research, including a project at Sandia Laboratories to make synthetic diesel from carbon dioxide, and the German government is putting €118m into a project with Bayer to research the use of carbon dioxide as a raw material; Australia is seeking to manufacture cement using the carbon dioxide from power plants, and in several places around the world, algae is being cultivated that would absorb the gas and used as biofuels, UK currently has no plans for investment in demonstration scale of CCU technologies.

According to a report published by Centre for Low Carbon Futures, Carbon Capture and Utilisation in the Green Economy , CCU can be profitable with short payback times on investment, but UK is lagging behind most developed countries in terms of investment and focus on the technology with the majority of the research funding directed to towards Carbon Capture and storage (CCS).

Peter Styring, a professor at the University of Sheffield, one of the authors of the report said: “The UK government needs to invest in R&D for carbon capture and utilisation and investors need to be made aware of the potential benefits of the technology so that barriers can be brought down. Our report shows that all CCU options could be relevant to the UK and given its business-oriented academic community, the UK could benefit from the commercialisation of the technologies involved.”

He believes that there are real possibilities in CCU, although some of the technology has been developed, some is in the early stage and there are cases where a new chemistry needs to be developed.

In most conversion processes predicted for CCU is expected a high energy input but the report says that this could be provided by renewable energy, especially when wind or solar plants are producing energy at times of low demand.

However, the re-use of  CO2 will probably take years to adopt and suitable cost efficient technology to be developed, knowing that CO2 could be other than waste is worth to be investigated.

July 21, 2011

Green heating grants set for UK homes

by Jasmina Nikoloska

From 1st August, green grants up to £1,250 will be available for the householders across Britain¸ to help towards the cost of installing renewable heating systems such as biomass boilers, air and ground source heat pumps and solar thermal panels.

The ‘Renewable Heat Premium Payment’ £15 million scheme will provide funding for 25,000 homes, targeting around 4 million households not heated by mains gas, who have to rely on higher carbon forms of heating which also tend to be more expensive than gas, such as heating oil and electric fires to keep warm.

The Guardian published that Northern Ireland where 70% of households use heating oil is not included in the plans.

Applicants will need to deliver detailed feedback on their experience through a set of surveys which the Government could use to better understand renewable heat technologies. Manufacturers and installers’ information about performance will be monitored with additional meter heating equipment which will be provided for a significant sample of participants.

The grants will be set at £1,250 for a ground source heat pump grant (for homes without mains gas heating); Biomass boiler – £950 grant (for homes without mains gas heating); Air source heat pump – £850 grant (for homes without mains gas heating); Solar thermal hot water panels – £300 grant (available to all households regardless of the type of heating system used) and £3 million will be available for registered social landlords to improve their housing stock.

Energy Saving Trust will run applications and provide all the necessary information, but householders will need to ensure they have basic energy efficiency measures in place before applying.

People who have installed kit under the Premium Payment scheme, until March next year could receive additional funding through the Renewable Heat Incentive, which will be introduced from 30th September and offer financial assistance for industry and business, too.

Energy and Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker said:

“Today starts a new era in home heating because we’re making it more economical for people to go green by providing discounts off the cost of eco heaters. This should be great news for people who are reliant on expensive oil or electric heating as the Premium Payment scheme is really aimed at them.

“Getting money off an eco heater will not just cut carbon emissions, it will also help create a market in developing, selling and installing kit like solar thermal panels or heat pumps.”

According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) currently half of the UK’s carbon emissions come from the energy used to generate heat.   The scheme could provide average savings between now and 2020 of 4.4 million tonnes of carbon per year. That’s equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of 2 typical new gas power stations.

July 19, 2011

Solar panels roof could cool you home

by Jasmina Nikoloska

The journal Solar Energy recently published a study that shows additional benefits of having a solar panel roof.

According to a team of researchers led by Jan Kleissl, a professor of environmental engineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, a solar photovoltaic panels not only provide clean power, they are cooling too.

Measurements of the thermal conditions throughout a roof on a building partially covered by solar photovoltaic (PV) panels were conducted in San Diego in April, and thermal infrared imagery on a clear demonstrated that daytime ceiling temperatures under the PV arrays were up to 2.5 K cooler than under the exposed roof.

Heat flux modelling showed a significant reduction in daytime roof heat flux under the PV array. At night the conditions reversed and the ceiling under the PV arrays was warmer than for the exposed roof indicating insulating properties of PV.

Simulations showed a 38 percent reduction in annual cooling load.

The team believes that much of the heat is removed by wind blowing between the panels and the roof and the benefits could be larger if there is an opening where air can circulate between the building and the solar panel, therefore tilted panels will provide more cooling.

Also, the more efficient the solar panels, the bigger the cooling effect, said Kleissl.

Since the use solar panels are growing it is important to know about their positive side effects and their impact on buildings’ total energy costs, according to Kleissl.

Although he thinks that there are more efficient ways to passively cool buildings, such as reflective roof membranes, he believes that depending on roof thermal properties installing PVs could increase reduction in the amount of used energy to cool your residence or business.

It was estimated that savings in cooling costs amounted to selling 5 percent more solar energy to the grid than the panels are actually producing.

 

 

 

July 11, 2011

An ambitious Fourth Carbon Budget

by Jasmina Nikoloska

Chris Huhne, Energy and Climate Change Secretary has written about why the Coalition Government has set an ambitious fourth carbon budget. The article appeared in the Germany newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 4 July and the French newspaper Les Echos on 5 July.

In fifteen years’ time, the UK’s net carbon emissions will have halved.

This is no idle ambition: it is law. The Coalition Government has just committed the United Kingdom to the most ambitious act of environmental business planning in our history.

We have just set our fourth Carbon Budget, for 2023-2027. By the time it is complete, we will be responsible for 50% less greenhouse gas emissions than we were in 1990.

It was not an easy decision. No other country has binding legal targets into the mid-2020s. Environmentalists and sceptics alike have lobbied hard – for more ambition, or for less.

DECC

But amidst the noise, a simple truth has gone unnoticed: the path we have chosen leads toward growth. The fourth Carbon Budget sends a clear and cogent signal to investors: the
UK is now sure ground on which to build a sustainable business.

Why? Because we have established a clear line of sight to 2027.

The downward carbon trend is now written in law. Businesses can plan for the future. Nascent industries can grow; established ones can adapt. Our economy will be better balanced – and our consumers will benefit from clean, secure energy at the least cost.

Yet pervasive myths about controlling carbon persist, in the UK and throughout Europe.
It is uneconomic, say the doubters. It will curtail growth and ruin industry. Now is not the right time.

This is simply wrong. Decarbonisation need not mean deindustrialisation for the EU, or putting planet before profit. For us, it is about looking to the next global growth sector.

Let us take the arguments in turn – and put the tired myths to bed.

First, some claim ambitious emissions targets will make Europe less attractive to inward investment – damaging growth and risking jobs. Going too far too fast threatens our competitive advantage.

History suggests otherwise.

In the 1980s, billions of pounds – and hundreds of thousands of jobs – were invested in chlorofluorocarbons.

CFCs were used in thousands of products and processes; the alternatives were thought unworkable or wildly expensive. Industry lobbyists fought to maintain the status quo.
Yet before the decade was out, a treaty banning CFCs was in place, and the global economy was prosperous still.

Environmental regulation drove innovation; new products came to market that rendered the harmful gases economically irrelevant.

Many of the arguments deployed against the ban on CFCs are now being given a second hearing. Yes, change brings risk; and yes, some sectors are more exposed than others.

For energy intensive industries, the low-carbon transition must be managed carefully. Rising electricity costs pose a key risk to these sectors which are critical to our growth agenda. Known risks can be planned for, and government can help. We are drawing up measures to support those industries that face competition and fear ‘carbon leakage’. We will, by the end of the year, take steps to reduce the impact of government policy on the cost of electricity for these businesses, thereby allowing them to continue to play their part in delivering our green industrial transformation.

Longer-term, the picture is not one of destruction, but change. We see it on our own trading floors; many of the companies listed on the FTSE100 today did not exist twenty years ago. This natural churn is what drives the economy, not what threatens it.

The industries of the future are coming on strong. Globally, the low-carbon sector is worth over £3 trillion; it has been growing faster than world GDP.

In the UK, we believe that we can become a global hub for green investment – in wind, wave and tidal power – as well as carbon capture and storage. By investing in energy efficiency for our buildings and supply chains for low-carbon goods like electric vehicles, we can gain early-mover advantage.

The second line argument concerns not principle but timing: we cannot cut emissions now, the recovery is too fragile. It cannot bear the weight of another percentage point or two. We should act later, and trust in technology to save us.

But if not now, then when?

People have a tendency to discount the future: dividends today are more alluring than the promise of profits tomorrow. At this stage of the business cycle, it is natural to wonder where the growth will come from.

We cannot simply rely on old industries to pull us out of recession. It will be emerging industries that lead the way – just as it was in the 1930s, when new electrical goods and cars brought Britain back from the Great Depression.

In fact, now is the perfect time to set Europe’s economy on a more sustainable path.
That’s the approach we’re following in the UK. With a quarter of our existing power stations set to close before the fourth Carbon Budget begins, investment in clean energy and energy efficiency is as essential for energy security as it is for cutting emissions.

We want our economy to be less reliant on imported energy, less reliant on any single technology – and more resilient against fossil fuel price spikes.

By setting a long term target, we are giving business the time and space it needs to adjust to the changes the country needs. By showing ambition, we can delink carbon emissions from economic growth. Together with our neighbours and partners in Europe and the world, we can make the low-carbon transition an irresistible force.

The decisions the EU takes over the next few years will be central to determining how other major powers act. That’s why the carbon budget encourages the EU to raise its sights, and its emissions reduction target –  to 30 per cent by 2020, rather than 20 per cent.

When the UN meets to talk about climate change solutions, we can show through our actions that the low-carbon transition is not just affordable, but desirable.

This is not an altruistic gesture; nor one designed to give us a little extra muscle at the negotiating table. Instead, it is in our own naked economic self-interest.

For promise of the green economy is real and growing. From renewable energy to home insulation, dynamic new markets are emerging. The third Industrial Revolution is underway; we each stand to gain from it.

Fifteen years from now, we want the UK to have a vibrant, low-carbon economy – with more electric vehicles, more renewable energy, and more efficient buildings.

Some countries are further down the low-carbon path than us. But the fourth Carbon Budget is a statement of intent. It supports people, profits – and the planet. So forget the myths, and see it for what it is: a budget for growt.

Source: Department Of Energy and Climate Change

July 5, 2011

Is Thorium the right choice for our energy future?

by Jasmina Nikoloska

The question on what our energy future should be based on  is complex.

Currently one of  the biggest environmental concern  is global warming and therefore investing in renewables and sustainable energy sources is reasonable, but could we meet our energy needs without nuclear?

German MPs recently voted 513-79 in favour of renewables, approving plans to shut down the country’s nuclear plants by 2022.

After Fukushima disaster Germany shut down instantly eight of the older reactors but remaining nine reactors will be shut down in stages by the end of 2022.

Their ambition is to double the share of energy stemming from water, wind, sun or biogas to at least 35%.

Some argue that that  if we back up from  nuclear, it would be in favour of the coal, which will directly affect with more CO2 emissions and  more global warming.

According to the latest figures published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), a growth trend of renewables is not strong as it would need to be but unfortunately the use of coal increased for 7%.

With eight new nuclear sites revealed, Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Programme updated and consultation document on  the way on  how potential sites for geological nuclear disposal will be identified and  assessed, it is more than obvious that Britain  is pushing ahead  its nuclear plans.

The Chinese National Academy’s ultimate target is to develop a wholly new nuclear system that will be the future of advanced nuclear fission energy – a nuclear energy, thorium-based molten salt reactor system – Future nuclear technology with thorium?

Thorium - 350

Thorium - 350

India is presently further ahead than any other country in the development of the thorium fuel cycle, but even so the R&D has only progressed on  a relatively small scale.

As with India, Norway’s interest in thorium is because of the indigenous reserves and it is therefore clear why the level of investment and  recent interest has been shown.

For a country such as the UK, with neither thorium or uranium reserves, the incentive for thorium is much reduced, as in both cases it would remain dependent on overseas suppliers.

The thorium fuel cycle presents an alternative option  to the usual uranium plutonium fuel cycle that has long been advocated and researched, but which has yet to be adopted on a commercial scale.

The thorium fuel cycle is claimed to be advantageous in several respects, one of which is that it generates very low quantities of transuranic materials, including plutonium.

Although it is thought  that radioactivity reduction could be significant, still more realistic studies which take account of the effect of U-235 or Pu-239 seed fuels required to breed  the U-233 suggest the benefits are more modest.

Based on National Nuclear Laboratory’s (NNL) knowledge and experience of introducing new fuels into modern reactors, it is estimated that this is likely to take 10 to 15 years even with a concerted R&D effort and investment before the thorium fuel cycle could be established in current reactors and much longer for any future reactor systems.

While the thorium fuel cycle is theoretically capable of being self-sustainable, this is only achievable with full recycle.

According to the NNL economic benefits are theoretically achievable by using thorium fuels, in current market conditions the position is marginal and insufficient to justify major investment.

The conclusion of the NNL’s paper is that the thorium fuel cycle does not currently have a role to play in the UK context, other than  its potential application for plutonium  management in the medium to long term.

With the world’s population due to hit nine billion by 2050, it is unlikely that the pressure to reduce energy consumption is possible therefore we have to highlight every potential energy source.

On the other hand I can see a good point in the Jean McSorley’s, statement, senior consultant for Greenpeace’s nuclear campaign.

“Even if thorium technology does progress to the point where it might be commercially viable, it will face the same problems as conventional nuclear: it is not renewable or sustainable and cannot effectively connect to smart grids. The technology is not tried and tested, and none of the main players is interested. Thorium reactors are no more than a distraction”.

 

You can see the report here: 2010 National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) report (PDF)

March 31, 2011

Japanese radiation reaches Britain raising doubts about Britain’s nuclear programme

by Jasmina Nikoloska

Two days ago, Scotland was on radiation alert after traces of iodine-131 were found in the air in Glasgow and Oxfordshire.

Although, the Health Protection Agency said there was no public risk, “significantly below any level that could cause harm to public health”, sill the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency increased checks for the substance.

Also, low levels of contamination had already been detected across the United States and Europe since Japan’s Fukushima plant was damaged by a tsunami caused by the earthquake on March 11.

However insignificant the level of radiation for humans are at these point it highlights how far radioactive material can travel on the winds and how vulnerable we would be if there was a serious radiation leak thousands of miles away.

But been lucky not being in an earthquake zone and not suffering the secondary consequences of the tsunami, also having different design of nuclear power plants, does it mean that we could believe that nuclear can be safe, even with strengthen safety procedures!?

This raises concerns and suspicions on Britain’s nuclear programme and plans to double nuclear power capacity by 2025, building new generations of nuclear power plants.

A study led by Sir David King, scientist, showed that the industry is better equipped to manage the decline and decommissioning of existing nuclear plants, rather than set up new ones. If Britain is to deal with its nuclear waste, as well as build new reactors, then more waste must be recycled.

Doug Parr, the green campaigning group’s chief scientist at Greenpeace, thinks that by reprocessing nuclear waste and turning it into fuel, it is created even more nuclear waste “than you would otherwise have to deal with anyway.”

According to Sir David King, nuclear power seems to be the safer energy so far.

”Even hydroelectricity has caused more fatalities”, he said. The catastrophe that hit Japan was “an extremely unlikely event”. He pointed that the safety systems kicking in correctly, acting exactly as supposed so, in those circumstances.

But, could we rely only on renewables to meet our energy consumption demand, without nuclear?

The latest figure shows that it is possible for more than 80% of Europe’s power to come from clean, renewable sources. “It simply isn’t necessary to take on the risks inherent with using plutonium” – according to Doug Parr.

Anti-nuclear campaigners here insisted any radiation in our atmosphere should set alarm bells ringing. Even Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg warned that new nuclear power plants could be too expensive and risky.



March 15, 2011

Future nuclear technology with thorium?

by Jasmina Nikoloska

Energetika.NET – reliable energy news for SEE – China towards new nuclear energy era with thorium Author: Jasmina Nikoloska, Valerija Hozjan

In late January, the Chinese National Academy of Sciences announced its initiative to investigate and develop an entirely new nuclear energy programme using thorium as a fuel.

Currently, nuclear stations in China account for only 2 per cent of the country’s total power generation. According to the NDRC’s (National Development and Reform Commission) nuclear and long-term development plan, by 2020, China’s installed capacity of nuclear power will reach 40GWe and by 2050 it may be increased to 260GWe or more. The Chinese National Academy’s ultimate target is to develop a wholly new nuclear system that will be the future of advanced nuclear fission energy – a nuclear energy, thorium-based molten salt reactor system – within about 20 years.

The thorium molten-salt reactor (TMSR), as the Chinese call it, is a fourth-generation nuclear reactor which uses liquid salt as both fuel and coolant, also known as liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR), British news source The Register wrote on 1 February.

Thorium (or uranium-233 produced from it) can be used as fuel in different reactor designs. In USA, for example, thorium was used in the high temperature reactor in Fort St. Vrain, which operated as a commercial nuclear power plant between 1977 to 1989, dr. Igor Jencic from the Jozef Stefan Institute explained for Energetika.NET. There are molten salt reactor designs, which use uranium (plutonium) as fuel; at the same time, some use thorium as fuel. The interlocutor agreed that the current combination of molten salt and thorium fuel was the most promising. He said this was not, however, exclusive Chinese idea. “A molten salt reactor is one of the six possible reactor designs of the 4th generation. Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Great Britain, USA, Switzerland, Euratom, China and Russia participate in GEN-IV, where these reactors are being developed. The concept researched and the time spent on individual research depends on the country.” Jencic added that research results within the mentioned project were “public in principle”. “Once specific technological solutions are reached, this might change.”

Breakeven conversion ratio

In Kirk Sorensen’s recent blog entry about the announcement of the new nuclear scheme at the Chinese National Academy of Sciences, he explained that the Chinese recognised that a “thorium-fueled MSR is best run with uranium-233 fuel, which inevitably contains impurities (uranium-232 and its decay products) that preclude its use in nuclear weapons. Dr. Jencic added there were many uranium-233 weapons deficiencies (due to the presence of uranium-232) in comparison with plutonium; therefore the Americans had abandoned such military use in the past. “An air engine was being developed which could (because of the small size or large specific power) be operated by a molten salt reactor. This development most likely had military implications, but it was abandoned by the end of the 50ies.”

Operating an MSR on the “pure” fuel cycle of thorium and uranium-233 means that a breakeven conversion ratio can be achieved, and after being started on uranium-233, only thorium is required for indefinite operation and power generation, says Sorensen. He also estimated that between 5000-6000 tons of thorium could produce as much energy as the world currently consumes each year.

Future nuclear technology?

Switching from uranium to thorium as the primarily nuclear fuel was one of the promising energy and climate change solutions proposed two years ago as a part of the Manchester Report. Such could lead to cheaper, safer and more sustainable nuclear power.

Jencic added that probability of certain kinds of accidents did not depend on fuel, but on the design (light water reactor, gas cooled reactor, etc.). “It is true that certain kinds of accidents or technological problems, which are the most dangerous with light water reactors, cannot occur, even in theory, with molten salt reactor; the latter have, however, other problems. Again, problems do not depend on fuel (uranium or thorium).” It is true that radioactive waste that occurs when using thorium as fuel is short-lived in comparison with waste that occurs when uranium is used. Thorium waste decays to the level of natural radioactivity within several hundreds of years.
It is supposed that they have been storing thorium from rare-earth mining for years and if this is true, the Chinese will have hundreds of thousands of years of thorium already mined and available for use, according to Sorensen. The Chinese understood that “we need a better stove that can burn more fuel”, as Xu Hongjie, a researcher on the future of nuclear power at the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics, said in an interview with Wenhui News.

Although the prospects are promising, scientists say that there are still many difficulties to be overcome. But it is clear that China is becoming self-sufficient in reactor design and construction, as well in other aspects of the fuel cycle.

March 14, 2011

SuperGrid is a synergistic bridge which will create Europe’s future

by Jasmina Nikoloska

Energetika.NET – reliable energy news for SEE Zubaidah Razak: SuperGrid is a solution for transmitting energy overseas Author: Jasmina Nikoloska

Ten ministers from northern and western European countries, representatives of the Offshore Grid Initiative and the European Commissioner for Energy assembled in early December 2010 to discuss a project known as SuperGrid. Their gathering resulted in the signing of a memorandum of understanding to develop this offshore electricity grid enabling interconnection between continental, offshore and British energy resources.

SuperGrid is an ambitious project that could secure the feeding of renewable energy generated offshore into the grid and delivery to where needed.

PHOTO: Jasmina Nikoloska

From 19 to 21 January, at the Synergistic SuperGrid for Transmitting Energy Overseas 2011 event in London, leading industry representatives, ministries, associations, solution providers and investors got together to extensively discuss insights into SuperGrid development, pathways to achieving efficiency and seeking upcoming opportunities in Europe and abroad.

Energetika.NET spoke with Zubaidah Razak, managing director at InnoQube, the organiser of Synergistic SuperGrid for Transmitting Energy Overseas 2011.

In your opinion, how important is this event in promoting the SuperGrid project and can it help to push faster the development of grid infrastructure and regulatory framework?

I would even say that there are lot of an events related to SuperGrid, based on the event I am organising – Synergistic SuperGrid for Transmitting Energy Overseas 2011. It is important and beneficial to have these three days, because we have a lot of people from different industries and backgrounds: the operators, the solution providers, the government. Planning for the event was done diligently, and we are getting good feedback from people who now understand much more. Compared with other events that only touch a little bit, we are having very good coverage.

Do you believe that SuperGrid is a synergistic bridge which will create Europe’s future?

Definitely, of course! We need something to connect, so SuperGrid, I would say, is the only thing that will help the European Union ambition to promote and to share energy among Europe, the Middle East and Africa, so SuperGrid is a solution.

This conference is coming to an end: What does your future hold?

Based on the feedback we received, as well as what we heard, and understanding more about this project, our plan is to fine-tune to get much more coverage in the development of SuperGrid, because we also want to contribute and help by organising the next event aiming at 2020-2050.

March 10, 2011

Alternative fuel from everyday life could power cars

by Jasmina Nikoloska

Humans face an unprecedented challenge to maintain their standard of living while reducing the environmental impact of fossil fuels. The rapid introduction of new technologies and if possible changing our consumption habits is essential.

Last March I was writing that a sports carmaker Lotus together with Intelligent Energy is developing new technology to make famous black taxi cars in London greener. The idea is to use hydrogen-powered fuel cells in order to reduce CO2 emissions from transport and hopefully, London’s famous black cabs to use hydrogen fuel cells by 2012

Then is August, Scottish scientists recognised the available potential in the £4 billion local whisky industry, in that by using two main by-products of the whisky distillation process – pot ale, or the liquid from the copper stills, and draff, or the spent grains – it could be possible to develop the next generation of biofuel, Biofuel from Scotch whisky could power cars

Recently I discovered that possibly the main difficulty, in using hydrogen power in cars, storing the fuel, have been overcome.

Hydrogen atoms are so small that they can slip between the spaces in molecules of other materials, and the gas escapes it can be a threat.

Therefore, Cella Energy Ltd developed safe, low-cost hydrogen storage materials. The innovation is based on materials using nano-structuring to safely encapsulate hydrogen at ambient temperatures and pressures which sidesteps the requirement for an expensive hydrogen infrastructure.

According to Cella Energy Ltd web site hydrogen fuels for vehicles you can pump like regular gasoline at room temperature and pressure, safer to use than gasoline or diesel but with zero carbon emissions.                                                                                                                                                      

Also, the microbeads could be used in a regular vehicle, with standard combustion engines, with minimal modifications as a fuel additive that could allow vehicle to meet the Euro 6 emission standards, by helping it to burn petrol more cleanly and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

What’s more, Conservation Magazine published yesterday, that scientists develop technology to turn urine into hydrogen fuel. Generating hydrogen fuel from urine is a promising idea.

Gerardine Botte, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Ohio University, recognising that urine contains two compounds that could be a source of hydrogen: ammonia and urea.

He showed that if an electrode is placed in wastewater and apply a gentle current, and voila: hydrogen gas that can be used to power a fuel cell.

In fact, ammonia and urea hold their hydrogen atoms less tightly than water does, so less energy is required to split them off.

Professor Botte’s technology has also the potential to be used in locations where a lot of people come across, for example an office building with 200 to 300 workers could generate 2 kilowatts of power.

Although, that’s not enough to power the building, it is a step forward in finding way to use human wastewater as an effective alternative to fossil fuels.

Illustration: Corbis Images