Canadian Consulting Engineer

New Technologies: Waste-to-energy without incineration; “liquid electricity”; solar tracking; energy modelling for arenas and supermarkets

Canadian companies are busy inventing more sustainable ways of satisfying our need for energy. Two Ontario b...

October 25, 2010   Canadian Consulting Engineer

Canadian companies are busy inventing more sustainable ways of satisfying our need for energy.
Two Ontario based companies, for example, have signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of St. Lucia to build a waste-to-energy facility that does not use incineration. The patented process by Elementa Group of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario is a steam reformation process that converts carbon-based materials into syngas. The process uses an oxygen deprived combustion-free environment, involving absolutely no incineration. The syngas is then used in a combined cycle electrical energy generation system to produce electricity. The St. Lucia plant, which is being bulit by Island Green Energy with Elementa Group, will divert 45,000 tonnes of municipal and industrial solid waste a year, while generating an estimated 7 MW of electricity. A pilot plant using the Elementa process has been operating in Sault Ste. Marie since 2007.
Blue Fuel Energy of Vancouver is planning to use electricity generated in remote areas of northern B.C. to produce what it calls “liquid electricity.” Such a conversion would help overcome the problems of grid constraints and help to get electricity from remote locations down to markets. The company says it could use renewable electricity from places like the WAC Bennett Dam and potential wind farms to electrolyze water to produce hydrogen. The hydrogen would in turn be reacted with waste carbon dioxide to produce methanol, a fuel. They would draw waste carbon dioxide from several large natural gas processing plants in the area. Blue Fuel plans to build its first 1.5 million L/day plant by 2015.
The Government of Canada has invested $1.7 million in developing a solar tracker that can generate 2 kilowatts of electricity – enough to power a large fraction of the electricity for a typical home. The SUNRISE project (Semiconductors Using Nanostructures for Record Increases in Solar-cell Efficiency) examines the use of nanostructures called quantum dots to enhance the efficiency of solar cells by concentrating the sunlight and tracking its position during the day. The system is installed at the Canadian Centre for Housing Technology in Ottawa and is being done as a partnership between National Research council of Canada, Natural Resources Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
A new RETScreen sofware model helps designers assess the viability of energy efficient measures in arenas and supermarket projects. The recently released software model can evaluate advanced refrigeration systems and other energy efficiency measures. For more details, click here.

 


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