Micro-station d'épuration 

Issue Date: 9 November 2016

Reactor that produces liquid fuel from CO2 in the air to be tested in portable pilot plant

The chemical reactor at the heart of the Ineratec system designed to convert CO2 from the...
The chemical reactor at the heart of the Ineratec system designed to convert CO2 from the air into liquid fuels(Credit: KIT / Ineratec)
The fuels we burn add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, which contributes to climate change. A new compact power plant is starting up in Finland that could help combat the problem by converting atmospheric carbon dioxide itself into usable fuels. The transportable chemical reactor uses solar power to convert CO2 from the air and regenerative hydrogen from electrolysis into liquid fuels.
We've seen similar efforts to convert ambient CO2 into methanolethanol, and even carbon nanofibers, but few are aiming to bring a product to market like Ineratec aims to do soon.
Dubbed the Soletair Project, the inner workings of the reactor are structured on a microscopic level to make it compact enough to fit into a shipping container. The system, which was created at Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), will be commercialized by KIT spinoff company Ineratec and its developers claim it can produce gasoline, diesel and kerosene on demand.
The reactor can also be configured to convert modest amounts of exhaust containing methane, produced by both fossil and renewable fuels or waste gas resulting from oil or biogas production, into the same varieties of liquid synthetic fuels.
Hydrogen storage for the Ineratec system designed to convert CO2 from the air into liquid fuels
"We supply an entirely new, modular technology that is a real alternative to the costly large chemical facilities used for the conventional gas-to-liquid process," Dr. Ing. Tim Böltken of Ineratec explains. He says the system could eventually be used to harvest fuel from sewage treatment plants or let organic farmers also produce energy on the side.
A pilot plant is set to go into operation at the VTT Technical Research Center of Finland, which developed the system's direct air capture unit, by the end of the year. In 2017, testing will continue at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT), which is responsible for developing the electrolysis system used to generate the hydrogen needed for the reaction. The system could be ready to go to market by mid-2018
Issue Date: 14 October 2016

Doctor-blade deposition of quantum dots onto standard window glass for low-loss large-area luminescent solar concentrators

Luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) are envisioned to reduce the cost of solar electricity by decreasing the usage of more expensive photovoltaic (PV) materials and diminishing the complexity of multi-cell PV modules. The LSC concept can also enable unconventional solar-energy conversion devices such as PV windows that can be especially useful in highly populated urban areas. Here we demonstrate low-loss, large-area (up to about 90 × 30 cm2) LSCs fabricated from colloidal core/shell quantum dots (QDs) whose optical spectra are tailored so as to minimize self-absorption of waveguided radiation. For improved compatibility with a polymer matrix and enhanced stability, QDs are encapsulated into silica shells, which allows for maintaining high emission efficiencies (70% quantum yields) under four-month exposure to air and light, and heat treatments up to 200 C. The QD/polymer composites are processed into devices using standard doctor-blade deposition onto commercial window glasses. The fabricated semi-transparent devices demonstrate internal quantum efficiencies of more than 10% for dimensions of tens of centimetres.
Issue Date: 27 September 2016
A team of researchers in France has taken a major step towards powering our devices with rechargeable batteries based on an element that is far more abundant and cheaper than lithium. For the first time ever, a battery has been developed using sodium ions in the industry standard "18650" format used in laptop batteries, LED flashlights and the Tesla Model S, among other products.
"The sodium-ion battery unveiled today is directly inspired by lithium-ion technology," explains solid-state chemist Jean-Marie Tarascon from France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.
In other words, like the lithium ions in lithium-ion batteries, sodium ions travel from one electrode to another through liquid during charging and use cycles without modifying the materials in the battery. The researchers are keeping those specific materials a trade secret for now, but the performance of the prototype battery is promising.
"Its energy density is comparable to certain lithium-ion batteries, such as the lithium-ion iron/phosphate battery," points out Loïc Simonin, a collaborating researcher at LITEN (Le Laboratoire d'Innovation pour les Technologies des Energies Nouvelles).
Plugging a cell for basic research on sodium-ion (Na-ion) battery materials
While lithium has until now had the advantage of being lighter than sodium and providing more energy, the element is also rare, while sodium is accessible and abundant, making up over 2.6 percent of the Earth's crust.The team is hoping to bring inexpensive sodium-ion batteries that can be used across a wide variety of applications to market in Europe as soon as possible."The 18650 format enables us to provide proof of concept , and compare the performance of our batteries with those of similar format that are already available on the market. However, other formats will need to be designed to meet new requirements," explains Simonin.Source: CNRS
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