Fuel Cells for Data Centres, Balloons for Wind Turbines & Wireless EV Chargers
Three clean energy options around the world: The US Energy Department announces up to US$4 million to develop wireless chargers for electric vehicles (EVs). Inflatable balloons lashed to the seafloor for when the wind doesn’t blow. Bloom Energy’s revolutionary solid oxide fuel cell technology that converts fuel to electricity at the world’s highest level of efficiency. Read More
Erin Pierce, Energy Technology Program Specialist, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
A new funding opportunity from the US Energy Department seeks to accomplish just that. We’re announcing up to $4 million to develop wireless chargers for electric vehicles (EVs). This funding opportunity is made available through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy ‘s Vehicle Technologies Program.
EV wireless charging has the potential to accelerate the adoption of EVs – by making them more convenient for consumers to charge, whether they’re at home or away, and to reduce the total energy storage requirements of EVs, unlocking the benefits of lighter and smaller battery packs, lighter vehicles, higher efficiency and longer ranges.
In the near term, this funding will accelerate the development of wireless charging technology to provide hands-free, automated charging of parked vehicles. Static wireless charging – or wireless charging when the vehicle is parked – can ensure easy and efficient vehicle charging.
The Department intends to select up to four projects to research and develop a wireless charging system, integrate it into a production vehicle, and test it in real-world operating conditions. Vehicles equipped with this technology could reach the market this decade.
For more information on this funding opportunity, including application and cost-share requirements, visit the Department’s Funding Opportunity Exchange website. Applications must be submitted through the Funding Opportunity Exchange to be considered for award.
Phil McKenna, contributor, New Scientist (20 April 2012):
Wind energy proponents have a problem. How can they supply a steady source of power to the grid, even when the wind doesn’t blow? The answer may come from an unlikely source – inflatable balloons lashed to the seafloor. Researchers at the University of Nottingham in the UK are currently testing the Energy Bag, a large inflatable energy storage device submerged in waters off Scotland’s Orkney Islands.
The concept is relatively simple. Excess electricity from offshore wind farms on windy days is used to run an air compressor, which fills large inflatable bags moored to the seafloor. Then, on calm days, the stored, compressed air can be tapped to drive turbines to produce energy.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology floated a similar idea last year using hollow concrete spheres instead of inflatable bags as a storage vessel. Now the idea of harnessing compressed air on the seafloor is going beyond the drawing board with the current testing off Orkney.
The bags themselves are made by Thin Red Line, a developer of high performance fabric structures primarily for aerospace applications. Placing the bags on the seafloor allows project leader Seamus Garvey to utilise intense water pressure found at depth to contain the compressed air rather than having to build a thick containment vessel. At a depth of 600m, a 20m-diameter bag could store around 70 megawatt hours of energy, the equivalent of roughly 14 hours of energy generation from one of the world’s largest offshore wind turbines.
Hydrostor, a Canadian company based in Toronto is currently developing similar underwater compressed air energy storage. The company plans to begin construction on a grid-connected, 4-megawatt-hour pilot project under Lake Ontario this summer. A key challenge for both groups will be achieving an efficiency that is high enough and costs that are low enough to make the system economically viable.
Bloom Energy makes key moves to bring advanced, clean, secure mission critical energy to help improve data security and reduce disruption to mission critical government and business processes.
Bloom Energy announced the formation of its Mission Critical Practice to be led by Peter Gross, a widely recognized authority in the design and implementation of advanced mission critical IT solutions, including data centers. Gross was a co-founder and CEO of EYP Mission Critical Facilities, Inc., the premier consulting and engineering firm dedicated to the design and operations of data centers.
Gross, formerly Vice President and Managing Partner Global Consulting, Hewlett-Packard Company joined Bloom Energy on March 12, 2012 as Vice President, Mission Critical Systems. “Bloom Energy will now fill a critical need in the data center industry,” says Gross. “By providing a reliable, clean and stable energy source that is immune to disruptions to the grid, Bloom will help its customers reduce their security risks considerably, while at the same time improving efficiency and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.”
The Bloom Energy Server is based on revolutionary solid oxide fuel cell technology that converts fuel to electricity through an electro-chemical reaction, without any combustion, at the world’s highest level of efficiency. As a result the electricity produced by a Bloom Energy Server is 50% cleaner than that produced by the electrical grid with no harmful Sulfur Dioxide or Nitrogen Oxide emissions.
Because Bloom Energy Servers are located on- site with the customer, they are not vulnerable to disruptions to the power grid caused by human intervention or natural disaster.
With its expansion into data center security, Bloom Energy is addressing an issue of growing national and international concern. Data centers have the same relationship to information as banks do to money—this is where the new “treasure” of information lives and is served from to power our 21st century information age.