The Linde Hydrogen Center
The German Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development has signed a joint Letter of Intent with several industry partners to expand the network of fuelling stations from current 15 stations across the country. The letter forms part of the National Innovation Programme for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP), in which Germany’s federal government will work with its partners; Air Liquide, Air Products, Daimler, Linde and Total Germany to expand the public network.
The German government’s own NOW GmbH (National Organisation for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology) will coordinate the construction of the filling stations. The network of hydrogen filling stations accompanies the introduction of fuel cell vehicles that the automobile industry has announced for 2014/15.
Partner, Daimler plans to be the first carmaker to start full commercial production of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, with plans to launch the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-Cell by 2014.
Dr. Peter Ramsauer, Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Development, said: “Electric vehicles equipped with hydrogen fuel cells generate no harmful emissions. They also have a high range and can be refueled within minutes. To facilitate their introduction to the market, we need a network of filling stations that covers the major metropolitan areas and connects them to each other. We are therefore partnering with the private industry to setup a total of 50 hydrogen filling stations in Germany by the year 2015. By doing so, we create the basis for a demand-driven infrastructure for refueling hydrogen vehicles.”
Prof. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development: “Electric vehicles equipped with a battery and fuel cell will make a considerable contribution to sustainable mobility in the future. However, the success of fuel cell technology depends crucially on certain conditions being in place, such as the availability of a nationwide hydrogen infrastructure.”
Source – Petroleum Plaza
Researchers from Northwestern University have devised a new design of a solar cell that minimizes the flaws in conventional solar cells — relatively high production costs, low operating efficiency and durability, and reliance upon toxic and scarce materials.
Dye-sensitized solar cells have already addressed some of these issues, but up until now have been very inefficient. Northwestern nanotechnology expert Robert P.H. Chang, however, challenged chemist Mercouri Kanatzidis to design a solar cell that did not suffer from the same problem as the innovative dye-sensitized Grätzel cell, a low-cost and environmentally friendly solar cell that “leaks” (the main cause of the lost efficiency). Kanatzidis’ solution was to design a new material for the electrolyte that actually starts as a liquid but ends up as a solar mass.
“The Grätzel cell is like having the concept for the light bulb but not having the tungsten wire or carbon material,” said Kanatzidis, of the need to replace the troublesome liquid. “We created a robust novel material that makes the Grätzel cell concept work better. Our material is solid, not liquid, so it should not leak or corrode.”
Kanatzidis reportedly “knew that scientists at IBM and elsewhere had been developing good solid electrical semiconductors for years” and teamed up with Chang to try one of them, “a fluorine-spiked mixture of cesium, tin, and iodine,” in solar cells.
Chang, a professor of materials science and engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Kanatzidis, the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, are the two senior authors of a new paper outlining the development of the new solar cell. The paper was published in the most recent edition of the journal Nature.
The solar cell developed by Northwestern exhibits the highest conversion efficiency so far reported for a solid-state solar sell equipped with a dye sensitizer, approximately 10.2 percent (10% is often considered a benchmark for commercial success). This figure is close to the highest reported performance of a Grätzel cell of around 11 to 12 percent, and is much higher than the 6% previously attained by dye-sensitized solar cells.
“Our inexpensive solar cell uses nanotechnology to the hilt,” Chang said. “We have millions and millions of nanoparticles, which gives us a huge effective surface area, and we coat all the particles with light-absorbing dye.”
For more information on the design and construct of the Northwestern solar cell, check out the paper in Nature.
Walk Score recently ranked transit systems in large U.S. cities based on residents’ access to public transit. Can you guess which cities top the list?
That’s right, if you said Los Angeles, you’re wrong — though, the city known for its sprawling character was just barely outside the top 10. More likely, you said New York which took the #1 spot, or San Francisco, which took #2.
Transit Score Map of San Francisco.
The full list is below, but first, a quick reminder: on average, a U.S. citizen can save over $10,000 a year switching from driving to public transit! Likely, for this reason, trips on public transit went above 10 billion in 2011. Meanwhile, “the average annual number of vehicle miles traveled by young people (16 to 34-year-olds) in the U.S. decreased 23 percent between 2001 and 2009.”
The potential savings for residents of different cities actually match up quite well with the Walk Score ranking. Here’s the transit ranking from Walk Score:
- New York (Transit Score: 81)
- San Francisco (Transit Score: 80)
- Boston (Transit Score: 74)
- Washington, DC (Transit Score: 69)
- Philadelphia (Transit Score: 68)
- Chicago (Transit Score: 65)
- Seattle (Transit Score: 59)
- Miami (Transit Score: 57)
- Baltimore (Transit Score: 57)
- Portland (Transit Score: 50)
- Los Angeles (Transit Score: 49)
- Milwaukee (Transit Score: 49)
- Denver (Transit Score: 47)
- Cleveland (Transit Score: 45)
- San Jose (Transit Score; 40)
- Dallas (Transit Score: 39)
- Houston (Transit Score: 36)
- San Diego (Transit Score: 36)
- San Antonio (Transit Score: 35)
- Kansas City (Transit Score: 34)
- Austin (Transit Score: 33)
- Sacramento (Transit Score: 32)
- Las Vegas (Transit Score: 32)
- Columbus (Transit Score: 29)
- Raleigh (Transit Score: 23)
And here’s the latest Transit Savings Report ranking from the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA):
Images: Grand Central Station in NYC via Shutterstock & San Francisco Transit Score Map via Walk Score
Closed Geothermal Ground Loops
The most typical geothermal installation utilizes a closed loop system. In a closed loop system, a loop of piping is buried underground and filled with water or antifreeze that continuously circulates through the system. There are four major types of closed loop geothermal systems: horizontal loops, vertical loops, slinky coils and pond loops.
Horizontal Geothermal Ground Loops
If adequate soil or clay based land is available, horizontal geothermal ground loops are typically one of the more economical choices. In horizontal geothermal ground loops, several hundred feet of five to six feet deep trenches are dug with a backhoe or chain trencher. Piping is then laid in the trench and backfilled. A typical horizontal ground loop will be 400 to 600 feet long for each ton of heating and cooling. Because of the amount of trenching involved, horizontal ground loops are most commonly used for new construction. Finally, because horizontal geothermal ground loops are relatively shallow, they are often not appropriate for areas with extreme climates such as the north or deep south.
source: U.S. Department of Energy
Vertical Geothermal Ground Loops
When extreme climates, limited space or rocky terrain is a concern, vertical geothermal ground loops are often the only viable option. This makes them popular for use on small lots and in retrofits. In vertical geothermal ground loops, a drilling rig is used to drill 150 to 300 foot deep holes in which hairpin shaped loops of pipe are dropped and then grouted. A typical vertical ground loop requires 300 to 600 feet of piping per ton of heating and cooling. Vertical loops are typically more expensive than horizontal loops, but are considerably less complicated than drilling for water. Less piping is also required for vertical geothermal ground loops as opposed to horizontal loops as the earth’s temperature is more stable at depth.
Slinky Coil Geothermal Ground Loops
Slinky coil geothermal ground loops are gaining popularity, particularly in residential geothermal system installations. Slinky coil ground loops are essentially a more economic and space efficient version of a horizontal ground loop. Rather than using straight pipe, slinky coils, as you might expect, use overlapped loops of piping laid out horizontally along the bottom of a wide trench. Depending on soil, climate and your heat pumps’ run fraction, slinky coil trenches can be anywhere from one third to two thirds shorter than traditional horizontal loop trenches.
Geothermal Pond Loops
If at least a ½ acre by 8 ft deep pond or lake is available on your property, a closed loop geothermal system can be installed by laying coils of pipe in the bottom of a body of water. However, a horizontal trench will still be needed to bring the loop up to the home and close the loop. Due to the inherent advantages of water to water heat transfer, this type of geothermal system is both highly economical and efficient.
Source: U.S. Department of Energy
Open Geothermal Ground Loops
With open geothermal ground loops, rather than continuously running the same supply of water or antifreeze through the system, fresh water from a well or pond is pumped into and back out of the geothermal unit. Both an abundant source of clean water and an adequate runoff area are required for a successful open loop system. While double well designs can be economical, use of open geothermal ground loops is generally discouraged and even prohibited in some jurisdictions. Water quality is key to an open loop design as mineral content and acidity can quickly damage geothermal units. Also, improper installation or runoff management of an open loop geothermal system can result in ground water contamination or depleted aquifers.
Source – Informed Building