Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Global wind power set for steady growth to 2020

Global wind energy installed capacity increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.9% from 74.1 GW in 2006 to 198.2 GW in 2010, of which 36.1 GW came online in 2010. There was a fall in annual additions in 2010 by 10.9%, however, as major wind markets such as the US, Germany and Spain were hit by the global economic crisis.
The global wind power markets are expected to recover in 2011 with the huge order intake by major wind manufacturers, the growing Asia-Pacific region, emerging South America and Africa regions, steady European wind markets and recovery in North America, GlobalData says.
The growing Asia-Pacific wind power market powered by India, China and other emerging countries such as Republic of Korea, Thailand and Philippines will continue to drive the wind power market as well as emerging South America and Africa countries such as Brazil, Columbia, Argentina and South Africa.

China largest in 2010

China was the global leader with a cumulative installed wind power capacity share of 22.6% in 2010, overtaking the US as the number one wind power market in terms of new installations in 2009 following the addition of 13.8 GW of wind capacity in that year.
China has doubled its cumulative capacity every year during 2006-2009 and grew by 72.4% in 2010 after the addition of 18.8 GW of new capacity. Supportive government policies which include an attractive concessional programme and the availability of low cost financing from government banks are critical reasons for the success of the Chinese wind power market, the analyst says.
It is expected that China will continue to promote wind power in order to reduce its carbon footprint and increase rural electrification.

US comes in second

The US is the second largest wind power market with a cumulative share of 20.3% of the global wind power market. Its share decreased by 1.4% in 2010 which lost the US its market supremacy.
Germany is the third largest wind power market in the world with a share of 13.7%. Germany maintained its ranking in 2010 but lost 2.2% to competing nations. Spain, which is the fourth largest wind power market with a cumulative share of 10.4%, lost 1.4% in 2010 as it continued to face economic problems. The other major wind power markets include India with a share of 6.6%, Italy and France with a share of 2.9% each, the UK with 2.6%, Portugal with 2.1% and Canada with 2%.

Offshore wind gains momentum from 2015

The offshore wind market is expected to become one of the major market segments of wind power generation during the forecast period. Offshore wind power installations accounted for 1.6% of the global wind power market in 2010.
The UK, Germany, the Netherlands, the US and China are the biggest offshore wind power markets in the world with a number of projects currently in planning and under construction. With an increasing number of countries exploiting offshore wind potential during the forecast period 2010-2020 it is expected that its share in the global wind power market will reach 9% by 2020.

Vestas largest manufacturer in 2010

The global wind turbine market is a consolidated market with the top 10 players accounting for 80.4% of the market. Vestas Wind Systems A/S dominated the global market in 2010 with a 12.5% share and a total of 4719 MW of new turbines installed. The company however lost a share of 0.9% in 2010. Vestas is the industry leader and one of the strongest vertically integrated wind turbine manufacturers.
Chinese giant Sinovel Wind Group Co Ltd was the second largest wind turbine manufacturer in 2010 with a share of 11.6%. The company installed 4386 MW of wind turbines and gained a 2.3% market share. Sinovel is followed by another Chinese turbine manufacturer, Xinjiang GoldWind Science & Technology Co Ltd, which accounted for 9.9% of the market in 2010. The company installed over 3.7 GW of turbines in 2010 and gained a share of 2.7%.
GE Energy, which was the second largest turbine manufacturer in 2009, slipped down to fourth position after losing 2.8% of its market share in 2010. The company accounted for 9.4% of the market in 2010 compared to 12.2% in 2009.
Gamesa Corporacion Tecnologica S.A. accounted for 7.5%, Dongfang Electric Corporation Limited accounted for 6.9%, Enercon GmbH accounted for 6.8%,Guodian United Power Technology accounted for 6.5%, Suzlon Energyaccounted for 4.8% and Siemens accounted for 4.6% of the global annual capacity in 2010.

Consolidations on the horizon

The major business strategies adopted by the global manufacturers for long term sustainability in the market are investments in research and development (R&D) to expand existing product portfolios to meet changing market needs, capacity expansions and setting up manufacturing units across regions to cater to local demand.
Consolidation is on the cards as the US market is undergoing correction and the Chinese wind market is expected to stabilise during the forecast period. Companies have modest expectations of growth for 2011 as major markets have slowed down but are expected to pick up in the second half of year.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

ESPCI Researchers Develop Light-weight Thermoset Plastic for Demanding Applications

French scientists have created a new lightweight plastic that is as strong and stable as other thermoset materials such as Bakelite, yet can be easily reworked and reshaped when heated. The team suggests the material could be used in many applications, from aviation to electronics, while being recyclable and repairable.
Typically, the atoms in thermoset polymers are permanently crosslinked giving them excellent mechanical properties and solvent resistance. However, unlike thermoplastics, which can be repeatedly melted and moulded, thermosets remain fixed in shape once made and cannot be reprocessed.

Now, Damien Montarnal and colleagues led by Ludwik Leibler at the Industrial Physics and Chemistry Higher Educational Institution in Paris have created a thermosetting material that can be repeatedly reshaped like a silica glass using heat. According to the team the reworked material retains the mechanical properties of the original material.
'These materials are thermoset organic resins but they can be worked by techniques similar to blowing and smithing hitherto available solely for metals and glass,' says Leibler. 'Compared with metal and glass, they bring lightness, ease of implementation and a wide range of hardness and extensibility. Compared to other thermoset organic resins, they can be reshaped, recycled, repaired and still present solvent resistance and good mechanical properties.'
The material was made like a conventional epoxy resin by mixing a liquid resin, hardener and catalyst and then heating it between two hot plates. After complete curing, the material was cut and shaped in an oven or by using a heat gun. By applying sufficient heat, the material can be reshaped and remoulded. The team also demonstrated that it can be ground down into a powder and then remoulded or injected.
It works because the material is able to flow when heated thanks to reversible exchange reactions by transesterification. These allow some of the crosslinks in the molecular network to change the topology of the material without breaking bonds in the molecular network hence maintaining its integrity as a solid and preventing depolymerisation. During cooling exchange reactions become so sluggish that the network appears to be a solid just like silica glass.

It works because the material is able to flow when heated thanks to reversible exchange reactions mediated by transesterification. These allow some of the crosslinks in the molecular network to temporarily break which changes the topology of the molecular network while maintaining its integrity as a solid and preventing depolymerisation. The broken crosslinks then reconnect during cooling.
'By implementing the concept of crosslink exchange they have created a novel polymer network with unique capabilities,' comments Christopher Bowman who investigates synthetic polymers at the University of Colorado in Boulder, US. 'It is similar to other covalent adaptable networks that exist but implements a distinct reaction mechanism that utilises a non-radical mediated exchange reaction to enable the adaptation process. This reaction keeps the material in its polymer state but allows for reprocessing and recycling.' Bowman expects the principle applications will be in healable and recyclable composite materials.
'Possible applications include coatings, furniture, propellers and, more generally, any complex part in the fields where one wishes to combine lightness with mechanical and chemical resistance such as aviation, automotive, portable electronics, etc,' says Leibler. He suggests the new material, once reinforced by fibres, might even compete with metals in the most demanding applications.

Toray Produces Fully Renewable PET Fiber Derived from Gevo's Biobased Para-xylene

Toray Industries, Inc. has succeeded in producing laboratory-scale samples of the world's first fully renewable biobased PET fiber by using fully renewable biobased PET derived from biobased para-xylene from Gevo, Inc., one of the leading companies in renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels.
Gevo has succeeded in converting isobutanol, produced from biomass by employing its own highly effective production method that uses synthetic biology, to synthesize para-xylene employing conventional chemical process used in commercial operations.
Toray used terephthalic acid synthesized from Gevo's biobased para-xylene and commercially available renewable mono ethylene glycol (MEG) as raw materials, and successfully produced the PET samples by applying a new technology and PET polymerization in June this year. This biobased PET has exhibited properties equivalent to petro-based PET in laboratory conditions.
Toray has also succeeded in the production of a fiber using this fully renewable biobased PET for the first time in the world. PET has one of the highest production volumes among petrochemical products in the world. Around 40 million tons of polyester fiber, for which PET is the source, is produced worldwide annually. Polyester fibers are widely used in our daily life as well as in industry, and it is one of the core products manufactured and sold by Toray.
The success of this trial, albeit under laboratory conditions, is proof that polyester fiber can be industrially produced from fully renewable biomass feedstock alone. This is a significant step that would contribute to the realization of a sustainable, low-carbon society.
Toray is planning to exhibit this laboratory-scale fully biobased PET fiber samples at Eco-Products 2011, which will be held at The Tokyo Big Sight in December 2011.
Under its management policy that all business strategies must place priority on the global environment in an effort to help realize a sustainable low-carbon society, Toray has been promoting the development of biobased polymers while expanding the businesses related to biobased materials such as poly lactic acid (PLA). The expansion of biobased polymers is an important initiative central to the Group's Green Innovation projects under its new medium-term management program "Project AP-G 2013," launched in April this year.

BASF's Tear-resistant Bioplastic Bin Liner Passes Test Under Real-world Conditions

Leftover lettuce, old bunches of flowers, potato peelings, coffee grounds: the average kitchen generates lots of organic waste. This can be turned into nutrient-rich compost in an industrial composting plant, but only if it is collected separately in advance and that can be a bothersome and unhygienic task. Throw the leftovers straight into the bin and you will be confronted with a foul-smelling residue after emptying it. Lining the bin with a paper bag means liquid soaks through, the paper tears. This dilemma results in large quantities of compostable material ending up in the normal rubbish and subsequently being incinerated, using lots of energy in the process. Alternatively, biodegradable waste is disposed of in regular plastic bags, which must be painstakingly removed at the composting plant.
Bioplastic Bin Liners
Bioplastic Bin Liners
BASF has a solution to this problem: the compostable plastic Ecovio® FS. In an industrial composting plant, this innovative material biodegrades within four weeks. Bin liners made from Ecovio FS are strong and tear-resistant, even if the waste inside is wet. Liquid from tea bags or fruit leftovers does not seep through reducing unpleasant odors and putting an end to laborious bin-scrubbing. Once full, the bag can simply be put out for collection with its contents.
The plastic's properties first underwent extensive investigation in pilot projects at composting plants in Germany, Canada and Australia. But would the new compost bags pass the test when used on a large scale. To find out, BASF and its project partners examined the bags under real-world conditions. The study took place in Bad Durkheim in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, from April to June 2011. Around 65,000 households each received ten Ecovio FS bio-waste bags free of charge, and could buy more if needed. Consultancy IBK-Solutions GmbH was responsible for analyzing the compost. "The results were very positive," says Erhard Freunscht, the Bad Durkheim council member responsible for waste management. "Residents really took to the new bin liners, as was clear from the number of bags put out for collection. And after around three weeks, the bags had biodegraded a complete success from our point of view."
The key to Ecovio FS's outstanding compostability lies in its composition. The material comprises a partly petroleum-based, compostable plastic called Ecoflex® FS, and polylactic acid made from corn starch. Polylactic acid, which is derived solely from renewable raw materials, tends to be brittle in its pure state. But when combined with Ecoflex, a flexible plastic is created that can be used to manufacture a variety of products, including bin liners. In the controlled conditions of an industrial composting plant high temperature and humidity, defined oxygen levels microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria break the plastic down into water, carbon dioxide and biomass. In other words, they transform the bag and the bio-waste into valuable compost.
"Both components of Ecovio Ecoflex and polylactic acid, are biodegradable," explains Professor Andreas Kunkel, Head of Research for Biopolymers at BASF. "For a material to be biodegradable, it is unimportant whether the feedstock is plant or petroleum-based. What matters is the structure of the molecules. Because this synthetic polymer has been engineered for outstanding biodegradability, microorganisms can easily digest it." Ecovio FS's superior biodegradable properties are recognized internationally, and it conforms to all relevant standards for compostable and biodegradable plastics in Europe, North America and Asia.
Bio-waste bin liners are by no means the only application. Paper cups can be covered with a thin layer of Ecovio FS, making them both waterproof and compostable. The same applies to shrink films for drink bottle packaging. And not only bin liners but also shopping bags can be manufactured from Ecovio. Agriculture, too, stands to benefit: by using biodegradable mulch films for their crops instead of conventional polyethylene film, farmers can simply plough it into the ground instead of painstakingly collecting it after the harvest.
International demand for biodegradable plastics is on the rise, with experts estimating an annual market growth of around 20 percent in the next few years. And BASF, a leading manufacturer of bioplastics, has significantly expanded its Ecoflex and Ecovio production capacity to keep pace. In future these plastics should make organic waste collection much easier so more ends up as compost and less in landfill.

Friday, November 18, 2011

United States: Honda Civic Natural Gas wins 2012 Green Car of the Year award

The all-new 2012 model – the only factory-built, CNG-powered car produced in America – received the honor yesterday. The prize was presented to Honda by the editors of Green Car Journal representing a diverse panel of environmental experts and automotive enthusiasts who annually select a single vehicle for its outstanding environmental performance.

The six-judge panel on the Green Car of the Year jury selected the Civic Natural Gas from a field of five contenders,  including the Ford Focus Electric, Mitsubishi i, Toyota Prius V and Volkswagen Passat TDI.

"The Civic Natural Gas is not only a great vehicle, it also demonstrates Honda's commitment to provide a variety of alternatives to gasoline," said Michael Accavitti, vice president of marketing at American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "The Civic Natural Gas and the all-new Fit EV that we introduced yesterday at the Los Angeles Auto Show are the latest additions to a rapidly expanding family of alternative energy Honda vehicles aimed at cutting petroleum use and reducing our carbon footprint."

The model’s engine produces almost zero smog-forming emissions and is the cleanest internal-combustion vehicle certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

All Civic Natural Gas models are produced by Honda Manufacturing of Indiana, LLC (HMIN) using domestic and globally sourced parts.  HMIN is the recipient of a 2011 Platinum Award for quality from J.D. Power and Associates.  In addition to being named 2012 Green Car of the Year, previous versions of the CNG-powered Civic have topped the "greenest vehicle" rankings of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) for eight straight years.

Biggest Plastics Recycling Initiative for London 2012 Olympic Games

As part of its commitment to help London 2012 stage a sustainable Olympic Games, The Coca-Cola Company is placing 260 new recycling bins in locations around the city centre. These bins will encourage people to recycle the 11,000 tons of waste produced in the capital every day - before, during and after the Games. Working in partnership with WRAP, Coca-Cola has already established 44 Recycle Zones across the country, and has plans to almost double this number by the time the Games commence.

The process that follows the collection of waste includes the following steps: 
1. The bottle gets picked up, squashed as small as possible and taken to a reprocessing plant
2. There, the bottle is spun in a special machine to shake off dirt and a magnet removes any metal
3. All the bottles are sorted by color and type
4. The sorted bottles are ground into flakes, and the flakes are then sieved through to get rid of any discolored or contaminated bits
5. These tiny pieces of plastic can then be made into a new bottle, ready for use.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Berkeley Lab research sparks record-breaking solar cell performances

Theoretical research by scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has led to record-breaking sunlight-to-electricity conversion efficiencies in solar cells. The researchers showed that, contrary to conventional scientific wisdom, the key to boosting solar cell efficiency is not absorbing more photons but emitting more photons.
"A great solar cell also needs to be a great light emitting diode," says Eli Yablonovitch, the Berkeley Lab electrical engineer who led this research. "This is counter-intuitive. Why should a solar cell be emitting photons?  What we demonstrated is that the better a solar cell is at emitting photons, the higher its voltage and the greater the efficiency it can produce."
Yablonovitch is the corresponding author of a paper describing this work titled "Intense Internal and External Fluorescence as Solar Cells Approach the Shockley-Queisser Efficiency Limit." Co-authoring this paper with Yablonovitch were Owen Miller of Berkeley Lab, and Sarah Kurtz, at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
In their paper, Yablonovitch, Miller, and Kurtz describe how external fluorescence is the key to approaching the theoretical maximum efficiency at which a solar cell can convert sunlight into electricity. This theoretical efficiency, called the Shockley-Queisser efficiency limit (SQ Limit), measures approximately 33.5% for a single p-n junction solar cell. This means that if a solar cell collects 1,000 W per square meter of solar energy, the most electricity it could produce would be about 335 W per square meter.
Calculations by Miller, who is a member of Yablonovitch’s research group, showed that the semiconductor gallium arsenide is capable of reaching the SQ Limit. Based on this work, a private company co-founded by Yablonovitch, Alta Devices Inc., has been able to fabricate solar cells from gallium arsenide that have achieved a record conversion efficiency of 28.4%.
"Owen Miller provided an accurate theory on how to reach the SQ Limit that for the first time included external fluorescence efficiency," Yablonovitch says. "His calculations for gallium arsenide showed that external fluorescence provides the voltage boost that Alta researchers subsequently observed."
Solar or photovoltaic cells represent one of the best possible technologies for providing an absolutely clean and virtually inexhaustible source of electricity. However, for this dream to be realized, solar cells must be able to efficiently and cost-competitively convert sunlight into electricity. They must also be far less expensive to make.
The most efficient solar cells in commercial use today are made from monocrystalline silicon wafers and typically reach a conversion efficiency of about 23%. High grade silicon is an expensive semiconductor but is a weak collector of photons. Gallium arsenide, although even more expensive than silicon, is more proficient at absorbing photons, which means much less material is needed to make a solar cell.

"Gallium arsenide absorbs photons 10,000 times more strongly than silicon for a given thickness but is not 10,000 times more expensive," says Yablonovitch. "Based on performance, it is the ideal material for making solar cells."
Past efforts to boost the conversion efficiency of solar cells focused on increasing the number of photons that a cell absorbs. Absorbed sunlight in a solar cell produces electrons that must be extracted from the cell as electricity. Those electrons that are not extracted fast enough, decay and release their energy. If that energy is released as heat, it reduces the solar cell’s power output. Miller's calculations showed that if this released energy exits the cell as external fluorescence, it would boost the cell’s output voltage.
"This is the central counter-intuitive result that permitted efficiency records to be broken," Yablonovitch says.
As Miller explains, "In the open-circuit condition of a solar cell, electrons have no place to go so they build up in density and, ideally, emit external fluorescence that exactly balances the incoming sunlight. As an indicator of low internal optical losses, efficient external fluorescence is a necessity for approaching the SQ Limit."
Using a single-crystal thin film technology developed earlier by Yablonovitch, called "epitaxial liftoff," Alta Devices was able to fabricate solar cells based on gallium arsenide that not only smashed previous solar conversion efficiency records, but can be produced at well below the cost of any other solar cell technology. Alta Devices expects to have gallium arsenide solar panels on the market within a year.
"The SQ Limit is still the foundation of solar cell technology," says Yablonovitch. "However, the physics of light extraction and external fluorescence are clearly relevant for high performance solar cells."
Yablonovitch believes that the theoretical work by he and his co-authors, in combination with the performance demonstrations at Alta Devices, could dramatically change the future of solar cells.
"We're going to be living in a world where solar panels are very cheap and very efficient," Yablonovitch says.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Brazilian Designer Selects Ticona's Long Fiber Reinforced Thermoplastic to Design a Chair

A new plastic chair introduced in Brazil is receiving awards for its contemporary look with a focus on features such as geometry, harmony and consistency thanks to Ticona Engineering Polymers and the exceptionally well balanced property profile of Celstran® long fiber reinforced thermoplastics (LFRT).

Manufactured from a single mold, the IC01 chair by designer Guto Indio da Costa uses a glass fiber reinforced polypropylene (PP) Celstran LFRT grade from Ticona that offers design, processing and cost advantages vs. unfilled polypropylenes and acrylonitrile butadiene styrenes (ABS), as well as short glass reinforced nylons and polyesters. "In addition to the significant weight and cost advantages over typical materials used in similar applications, this Celstran PP LFRT offers high stiffness, strength, toughness and low warpage while providing wide design latitude, colorability and a much better surface finish out of the mold," said Simone Orosco, Development & Marketing Manager, Brazil.

Celstran PP LFRT grades from Ticona offer several advantages:

Weight and cost savings less weight at equal wall thickness

Improved creep resistance resists compression and deformation from skin/cover shrinkage

Improved impact performance reduces breakage during shipping, handling and assembly

Improved notched impact strength better load transfer and predictable performance in cold temperatures

Superior tensile strength higher tensile strength and elongation resulting in ductile behavior

The Ticona team, including George Dini, sales manager, Brazil, worked with the Rio de Janeiro design house Indio da Costa and its Brazilian molder Pnaples, which is supplied by the Ticona distributor Tecnopolymer. The chairs are injection molded in various colors by adding tint concentrates to the base Celstran PP LFRT.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

SABIC's Low-moisture Absorbing PEI Replaces PMI in Aerospace Applications

SABIC's Innovative Plastics strategic business unit is presenting the low moisture absorption of Ultem* polyetherimide (PEI) foam for composite aircraft structures. Ultem resin's low-moisture absorption is critical in that it helps address two major aircraft OEM challenges: reducing weight for fuel conservation and emissions reduction, and lowering systems costs while delivering equal or better performance than traditional materials. Low moisture absorption combined with the proven flame-smoke-toxicity (FST), dielectric, acoustic and thermal performance of Ultem foam underscores the pioneering work of SABIC in engineering superior, world-renowned thermoplastic solutions for the aircraft industry.

"By replacing competitive materials such as polymethacrylimide (PMI) with Ultem foam, OEMs and tiers can meet their environmental goals and industry challenges, while lowering systems costs by streamlining processing and extending the application's useful life," said Kim Choate, Global Product Marketing Manager, Ultem, Innovative Plastics. "Investment in proactive laboratory testing is just one of the ways in which SABIC delivers ever-better solutions for the aircraft industry to improve performance and drive cost advantages across the board."

Ultem foam products, available in three densities, are manufactured as boards for use in skin-core-skin composite structures. Applications include luggage bins, galleys and lower wall panels.

Ultem Foam Outperforms PMI in Hot, Humid Conditions:

Testing involved exposing Ultem foam and PMI foam boards to elevated heat (70C/158F) and humidity (85 percent relative humidity) in an environmental chamber. Test results demonstrated that the Ultem foam absorbed less than 0.5 percent moisture by weight at 1,000 hours. In contrast, PMI absorbed five to six percent moisture by weight at just 150 hours and maintained those results through 1,000 hours.
Weight gain from moisture absorption adds to the overall weight of the aircraft, adversely affecting fuel consumption and emissions. On average, an aircraft will burn about 0.03 kg (0,06 lbs) of fuel per hour for each kilogram (2.2 lbs) carried on board. Given that the total commercial fleet flies about 57 million hours per year, cutting one kilogram per flight can save roughly 1,700 tons of fuel and 5,400 tons of carbon dioxide per year.
In addition, moisture absorption itself can have a disruptive effect on electronics (interference) and may cause condensation on sensitive areas of the interior. The cycle of absorption and drying that occurs as the aircraft travels through different environmental conditions also has the potential to cause delamination of a composite structure and can distort the dimensions of a part. Such results can lead to more-frequent repairs and downtime.

Ultem Foam Avoids Time and Cost of Drying Boards:

Another important benefit of Ultem foam's outstanding low moisture absorption occurs during processing. Often, PMI foam boards must be conditioned (dried and/or stored in a special area) before they can be machined, compression molded or thermoformed. This extra step adds time, costs and overhead to the process. Ultem foam avoids this scenario. Further, PMI may have to undergo a multi-step annealing process. In addition, Ultem foam is compatible with metals and thermoset laminate materials, potentially eliminating adhesives and other secondary operations that are common to the aircraft industry.
Ultem foam has a density of 10 to 30 times less than the traditional resin. It exhibits the outstanding FST performance of Ultem resin (it meets Ohio State University (OSU) performance levels below 50/50) and offers excellent dielectric and acoustic properties, including demonstrated noise reduction coefficients of greater than 0.3.