Category Archives: Energy & environmental technology

The Mars colony! a dream or reality?

With a new and huge rocket and conducting before tests with voyages between different points of the Earth, Elon Musk wants to reach and start building the Mars colony from 2022. As he explained at the end of last month, SpaceX’s current goal is to build a colony on the red Planet. Not everyone believes it, but recently has given more details on how they expect to get it and how that colony will be like. Mars colony

During the past weekend Elon Musk performed a AMA on Reddit, for those who are not aware, AMA is the abbreviation of Ask me anything, and usually people of interest make one for users to ask anything. Among all the questions that were made Elon Musk, there are a few interesting details that reveal what will be the colony on Mars that plans for 2022.

Facts about settling in Mars colony :

It seems that to SpaceX to get to Mars is the least of the problems, the real challenge is to install the colony on the Red Planet. That yes, not anywhere, because the location of the colony will be determined by a number of factors.

According to Elon Musk, the site they choose should be at a low altitude, in order to maximize the aerodynamic braking. On the other hand, it is important to be near an area with ice for the production of propulsion for rockets. He also commented that some place near the equator of the planet will be ideal for solar panels. Either way, the company hasn’t given the right place yet.

Self-sufficient, but with the help of other companies:

As we already knew, the idea of SpaceX is to establish a colony on Mars that is self-sufficient. To this end, Elon Musk explained that they are designing the ISRU system (use of in-situ resources) with which to collect materials for the propellers on Mars. The funny thing here was a user’s question about whether he will take any of the machines he has developed here on Earth, such as the bulldozer used by the ‘Boring Company’. The CEO of SpaceX answered with a simple “how boring!”, each one can interpret it as he pleases.Mars colonyHow will they solve problems where SpaceX is not involved, such as food production? Elon Musk did not answer directly to that but he dropped that he will need the help of other companies to carry out the mission.

The goal is to take you there and ensure the basic infrastructure for the production of propellants and survival in place.The colony/ industry would need to be built on Mars by many other companies and millions of people.

Will Mars have its own Internet?

The problems in the Mars do not always have to do with the food or the transport. The concern is how the residents will communicate with the people of the earth and if there were plans to make some type of Internet there on Mars? Elon’s response was very much his style:

If someone wants to build a communication channel with a great bandwidth to Mars, please do so.

It should be taken into account that the distance between Earth and Mars is 22 minutes at the speed of light at its maximum separation distance and 3 minutes in the minimum distance. Reducing that time between message sending and receiving is practically impossible.

Thanks for your time. Hope you have enjoyed reading the article on Mars colony.

Healthier environment and Efficient use of energy

The technological evolution in the world is accelerating toward healthier environment and efficient use of energy. So, the field of application going wide and driving us toward a green world.

This has now became a shared goal for all the countries, regardless to their limitation of resources to ensure a clean and healthy environment with proper management of energy.

efficient use of energy and healthier environment

1 . Breakthrough of battery technology

One of the companies that is in the spotlight with battery technology is the American Tesla. The company of Elon Musk is mostly known by the same name:  electric car. Here, the battery is a crucial component partly because, it has a high share in the cost of the car. But Tesla is just as well a battery and a car manufacturer today. It builds it’s own battery factory in the Nevada desert. Again recently, the company also announced its latest development in the so-called home battery: the Powerwall 2.

In combination with their innovative sun roof, Tesla can say that every house makes off grid. The solar panels are fully integrated in the roof structure and almost visible.  The battery technology will be crucial in the coming years and that’s definitely not just a story of Tesla. Thus, Yet Ming Chiang, professor of material science at the MIT, founded 24M Technologies. His company is working on a more efficient way of producing lithium-ion batteries. The production time of these new batteries would be 80 percent lower and the cost would decrease by half.

2. Healthier environment through new biological materials

Also in the coming years, a lot of research will take place on new biological materials. A good example of our contraction- across the border in Dutch Limburg – is the Chemelot Campus, which describes itself as a “chemical and materials community”. Scientists from Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany are researching on bio materials.

An interesting company in this field is the Dutch Avantium, a spin-off of Shell.The biochemical company develops and produces PEF. It is a renewable material on a vegetable basis. PEF can eventually replace the environmentally friendly PET, which is now being used everywhere for plastic bottles. Currently, Avantium is  building a production facility in the Antwerp region together with BASF.

3 – Energy management through the internet or things

Futurocité is an organization in Wallonia for some projects relating to mobile technology, the environment and energy. Thus, the organization, using external partners, charts energy consumption in public buildings of cities and municipalities. This job is done by using sensors and the mobile network – the so-called internet or things. They collect all kinds of data such as indoors outside temperature, energy consumption, air quality and whether or not people are present in the building. Thus, they found ‘About one fifth of the energy supply in public buildings is wasted. -‘FUTUROCITÉ

Futurocité is just one example that shows that smart-building projects and measurements make a big savings. The target is not only measuring, but also controlling power management. According to Futurocité, about one fifth of the energy supply in public buildings is wasted,

4 – Electricity generated by human body

Thermo electric materials that can convert heat to electricity have been in existence for a long time. But so far, they are mostly focused on the gadget sphere. Such as a MP3 player or mobile phone that can be charged with body heat (a bit extra).  But the question is how can you make the conversion of heat to electricity more efficient? In Germany, significant quantities of electricity are being generated from human heat.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute developed an unique circuit. This circuit requires only a limited amount of energy (200 millivolts) to extract energy from the temperature differences between the human body and its environment.

5 – Renewable and green energy

Initiatives on renewable and new energy forms, such as earth and residual heat are being set up in Leuven. For example, a project on shallow geothermal energy (Earth heat) runs on the Jansenius and Duchy sites. It is about cooling and heating of new construction combined with heat-power coupling. Therefore, the industrial area in the Leuvense Vaartkom is again an important cluster of heat kits, using residual heat and heat recovery.

50% The production time of the new lithium-ion battery would be 80 % lower and the cost would decrease by half.

6 – Reuse of CO 2

A climate change strategy is simply reusing CO 2 : Carbon Capture & Utilization in the jargon. The Flemish research organization VITO develops biological and biochemical processes that support this process. One example is their CO 2 MPASS project, which converts CO 2  and hydrogen with bacteria and enzymes into raw materials for plastic. In bioelectrochemical processes, bacteria convert CO 2  with electrical current into organic acids and alcohols. Such as acetate or ethanol. VITO developed patented electrodes, which are required to deliver the flow to this process.

7 – Electricity from plants

The Department of Environmental Technology of the Dutch Wageningen University has developed a technology. This new technology generates electricity from living plants. So, as soon as the plant is optimized, the researchers will produce 10 to 28 kWh per square meter per year.

The innovation is being commercialized through the Plant-e company. They want to roll out technology globally. Meanwhile, an installation has been built in Dutch Brabant, which demonstrates that this technology can also generate large-scale power.

8 – Smart (hatch) greenhouses

In The Netherlands, the Greenhouse of the future is working on environment and energy-friendly greenhouses. Mostly, these greenhouses are intended for the production of flowers and vegetables. Those are designed to store energy in warm periods, which can flow back to the mains. Initially, it was primarily intended to use energy as efficiently as possible. Finally, the greenhouses became technically so advanced and efficient that flower and vegetable growers today generate a significant part of Dutch flow. Meanwhile, large companies like Philips are investing in these efficient greenhouses.

9 – Smart daylight domes

The company EcoNation from Ghent was awarded two years ago at the climate summit in Peru. For being one of the most promising green technology companies. The company pioneered the development, production and installation of smart light domes. Something that replace artificial light through daylight. In the domes there is a mirror that directs to the optimal light point through a sensor and collects the daylight. This is reflected inwards, filtered and strengthened, after which it is dispersed in the building. Consequence? Artificial light is no longer needed for a long time.

“In Germany, we try to generate significant amounts of energy from human heat.”

10 – Parts of energy

Perhaps the most sympathetic project from this list. About three years ago, teacher Marc Bellinkx founded the project ‘Kontich Stream’. It even retrieved the famous TEDx Talks. The reason? The power that Bellinkx generated through his solar panels, should he not deliver to his neighbor. Kontich Stream wants to establish a civilian energy park, which is inspired by the Dutch solar panel initiative, Nl. Citizens could invest in this project of solar energy.

That’s not how it is. Bellinkx also attracted one of the first of the teachings against the capital injection of the Chinese State Grid in network operator Eandis. Successfully, because the deal eventually ended.

Thanks for your time. Hope you have enjoyed reading my article ‘Efficient use of energy and healthier environment ‘.

World’s most powerful wind turbine will be higher than the Empire State Building!

The world’s most powerful wind turbine will be higher than the Empire State Building and more flexible than a palm tree. This is  certainly a revolutionary progress in the production of renewable energy.

Let’s start with the figures: 500 meters high, 200 meters per blade and a capacity of 50 megawatts. The SUMR project of the University of Virginia is still developing, but it marks the keys to where wind power is going: towards the construction of ever-larger giants.

Because the race to build the world’s largest and most powerful wind turbine is not only a matter of megalomania, but also the search for technologies that can maximize the potential of Earth’s winds. A search that will allow us to see incredible things.

most powerful wind turbine

Faster, taller, stronger

The great challenge of renewable energies is to improve its price, its production capacity and its efficiency. In the case of wind power that happens by creating larger turbines. And so we have done it. The turbines are already bigger than 20 years ago.

But if we want to make the most of the most constant and powerful sea winds, we need higher turbines and more “sweeping area” (the circular area covered by the blades). In fact, as discussed in the latest issue of Wind Energy, the relationship is not linear. It means, if the blade length is folded, the capacity can grow up to four times.

A mammoth wind technology

The answer to this (and the next step in this way) is called SUMR. It’s a project coordinated by the University of Virginia that works to design the turbine of the 50 megawatts. To do so, they work with structures that bend to the largest turbines today and that surpass in height buildings like the Empire State Building.

This turbine also has some design changes. Instead of three blades it has two located on the rear of the turbine. Usually fewer blades would make the turbine less efficient. But the calculations of the equipment show that the new design allows balancing efficiency, structural weight and costs with this design.

They are also designed to be located more than 80 km from the coast where the winds are more intense. So question is where SUMR presents its greatest innovation. The answer is the blades are flexible. The design has been inspired by the palm trees and according to their calculations they could withstand winds over 253 kilometers.

After the industrial design, the engineering challenge

However, there are still many problems to solve before starting the first turbine. Most of them are due to their real construction (raising a mole of 500 meters in height to 80 km of the coast is nothing simple).

In the next two years, the SUMR team is going to build ever-larger prototypes to test a wind technology. If that succeeds, it will have the potential to revolutionize the world of renewable energy.

Thanks a lot for your time. Hope you have enjoyed reading my article about the world’s most powerful wind turbine.