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TMCnet Green Technology Week in Review
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February 16, 2013

TMCnet Green Technology Week in Review

By Cheryl Kaften
TMCnet Contributor

Green technology hit the news worldwide this week—as U.S. President Barack Obama rededicated himself to an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy and promised expanded support for next generation technologies; the UK’s Technology Strategy Board announced three new partnerships in the advanced aerospace sector;  in Norway, a 2-megawatt osmotic power plant progressed toward the design phase; and in Australia, scientists announced the discovery of a “carbon sponge” that shows promise for soaking up the emissions from coal plants.

Saying that the nation’s “first priority is making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing” President Obama laid out proposals for advancements in  technology, infrastructure, and training  on Tuesday night geared to give America a competitive edge, respond to the challenges of climate change, and ensure a secure future for the next generations. He likened the renewable energy competition of the 21st century to the Kennedy Administration’s Moon missions during the 1960s.

“Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race,” he said, adding, “Today, no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy.”  The President asked Congress immediately to help create of network of 15 manufacturing innovation hubs and “guarantee that the next revolution in manufacturing is right here in America.” 

He also challenged the states to “cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next 20 years; and said that the nation needed to invest in high-speed rail and Internet, high-tech schools, and self-healing power grids in order to attract more foreign businesses to its shores.

The Technology Strategy Board’s “Highly Innovative Technology Enablers for Aerospace (HITEA)” program—established in January 2012 to create the United Kingdom’s future air traffic management surveillance strategy—has announced three new research partners. The group will hereon be supported by Roke Manor Research, an electronics research and development center in Hampshire; by Thales (News - Alert), a provider of air traffic management services based in Surrey; and by NATS (National Air Traffic Services), the main air traffic controller group in the UK, providing service to 15 UK airports and Gibraltar Airport. Simon Atkinson, business sector manager for Air Transport at Roke commented that the company looked forward to working on an initiative that could “herald the first major revolution in radar since its use by the British during World War Two.”

IDE Technologies Ltd. of Kadima, Israel, a specialist in water technologies, announced this week that it has entered into an agreement with Oslo, Norway-based Statkraft, a major player in the European renewable energy market, for the development of an osmotic power generation pilot plant in Norway.  Osmotic power is the energy generated when fresh water and salt water meet, separated by a permeable membrane. The salt water pulls fresh water through the membrane and the pressure increases on the salt water side.

This pressure increase can be used to produce electrical power with the use of a normal hydroelectric turbine/generator setup. Mastering this technology represents great potential for a renewable, zero carbon-dioxide footprint and seafront power plants worldwide. Under the agreement, IDE will design, and later purchase and construct, the 2-megawatt (MW) pilot facility in Sunndalsøra, Norway, in close cooperation with Statkraft. Most of the plant will be based on existing technology used in desalination and other industries. However, IDE will engineer innovative solutions in several areas of the pilot plant, such as the energy recovery system, and the fresh water and seawater pretreatment process. The plant, which will be capable of 24/7 operation in any weather, is scheduled for construction within a few years.

And finally, coal power emissions no longer have to simply “go up in smoke.” They could be drastically reduced by a new, energy-efficient material that adsorbs large amounts of carbon dioxide; then, releases it when exposed to sunlight. In a study published February 11 in “Angewandte Chemie,” scientists from Melbourne, Australia-based Monash University and the Highett, Australia-based Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), for the first time discussed their discovery of a photosensitive metal-organic framework (MOF). MOFs are clusters of metal atoms, connected by organic materials.

Due to their extremely high internal surface area— which could cover an entire football field in a single gram— they can store large volumes of gases, such as hydrogen and carbon dioxide.  By using sunlight to release the stored carbon, the new material overcomes the problems of expense and inefficiency associated with today’s energy-intensive methods of carbon capture. The researchers, led by Professor Matthew Hill of CSIRO, will now optimize the material to increase the efficiency of carbon dioxide to levels suitable for an industrial environment.

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