Scientists develop the first solar fuels reactor that works at night

February 21, 2018 by  
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Researchers have developed the world’s first solar fuels reactor that is able to function at night. Called CONTISOL, the solar fuels reactor is capable of producing fuel such as hydrogen without the intensive greenhouse gas emissions caused by creating the fuel from burning natural gas. CONTISOL is able to run at all hours of the day because it relies on concentrated solar power (CSP), which allows for thermal energy storage. Notably, the reactor uses air, which is abundant, accessible, and non-corrosive, in order to store and transfer heat within the device. “It can pull air in just out of the atmosphere and then runs it through the heat exchanger to store the heat,” explained study lead author Justin Lapp , “and then it can vent that air out once it is cool.” In a traditional solar fuels reactor, the process depends upon the solar thermal heat provided by the sun. When the sun disappears at night, so too does its energy. Scientists at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) developed their all-hours solar fuels reactor by combining two previously developed systems. “So the main idea of CONTISOL was to build two reactors together,” said Lapp. “One where sunlight is directly doing chemical processing; the other side for storing energy. In the chemical channels, the high temperatures of the material drives the chemical reaction and you get a change from reactants to products within those channels.” This balancing act provides CONTISOL with stable temperatures and an efficient heat source for powering reactions that create fuels like hydrogen . Related: China is building a giant solar plant at Chernobyl So far, the team has only developed a small-scale prototype that is capable of operating at 850 degrees Celsius with an energy output of 5kW. “This scale is a scientific prototype simply for us to understand how to control it. It wouldn’t be commercialized at 5 kW,” said Lapp. “Commercially, 1-5 MW would be about the smallest for industrial-scale reactors, and they could scale to 100 MW or even larger.” Though still in its early stages, a full-scale CONTISOL system would allow for low-impact access to clean hydrogen fuel when fully developed and deployed. Via EurkAlert Images via SolarPACES

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Scientists develop the first solar fuels reactor that works at night

More companies prefer green bonds, carbon taxes

February 7, 2018 by  
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Experts from Citi, Microsoft and Bank of America weigh in on the latest corporate efforts to reach dramatic emissions targets.

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More companies prefer green bonds, carbon taxes

This initiative could counteract the impact of the U.S. solar tariffs

February 6, 2018 by  
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As corporate buyers absorb cost implications, the industry moves to trim installation expenses.

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This initiative could counteract the impact of the U.S. solar tariffs

How Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows are cruising toward renewables

February 5, 2018 by  
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Plans to switch to 100 percent renewable power and install Tesla batteries won’t cost extra.

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How Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows are cruising toward renewables

Buyers brace as Trump slaps tariffs on solar imports

January 23, 2018 by  
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New fees are likely to drive up development costs in states with lower conventional utility rates.

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Buyers brace as Trump slaps tariffs on solar imports

Could poor transmission planning limit corporate renewable deals?

January 17, 2018 by  
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Utilities are stepping up, but a new report suggests regulators and grid operators aren’t responding fast enough.

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Could poor transmission planning limit corporate renewable deals?

7 things you should know about artificial intelligence

January 17, 2018 by  
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The rewards and risks for sustainability teams are significant.

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7 things you should know about artificial intelligence

The sharing economy, growing green finance, how to speak Z

January 17, 2018 by  
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The latest crop of reports for sustainability professionals.

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The sharing economy, growing green finance, how to speak Z

This solar startup wants to help you and your business kick the water bottle habit

January 10, 2018 by  
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If the electric grid can be decentralized, why can’t the water system?

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This solar startup wants to help you and your business kick the water bottle habit

The world’s first 100% solar-powered train launches in Australia

December 18, 2017 by  
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The world’s first 100% solar-powered train is now gliding down tracks in Byron Bay, Australia . The Byron Bay Railroad Company refurbished a three-kilometer, or almost two-mile, stretch of tracks and restored a heritage train, outfitting it with a 6.5 kilowatt (kW) solar array with flexible solar panels . A limited service launched over the weekend, with full service set to commence in January. Byron Bay Railroad Company restored tracks and a bridge between the town of Byron Bay and the Elements of Byron Bay resort to provide affordable public transportation for locals and visitors. 100 seated passengers and other standing passengers can ride the solar train , and there’s room for luggage, bikes, and surfboards. The fare for a one-way trip is $3 for adults, $2 for ages six to 13, and free for children up to age five. Related: Indian Railways launches first train with solar-powered coaches The flexible SunMan solar panels lining the carriage roofs produce energy that is stored a 77 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery system, which can also charge up between trips via a 30 kW solar array at the main station. The battery bank has around the same capacity as a Tesla Model S, according to RenewEconomy , and can make 12 to 15 runs off one charge as it only takes the solar train around four kWh for each leg of the trip. A regenerative braking system “recovers around 25 percent of the spent energy each time the brakes are applied,” according to the Byron Bay Railroad Company website . The train’s lighting, traction power, control circuits, and air compressors are all battery-powered. Byron Bay Railroad Company said they originally intended to offer a diesel train service before switching to solar, but the “accelerated development of technology in this area” made it technically feasible to create the solar train. One of two original diesel engines is still part of the train as a backup and for weight and balance. You can find out more about the train here . + Byron Bay Railroad Company Via TreeHugger and RenewEconomy Images via Byron Bay Railroad Company

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The world’s first 100% solar-powered train launches in Australia

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