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‘The Greening of Gas’ Project [VG2]
Kas Hemmes, Projectleader, VG2 [the greening of gas], associate professor, TU Delft
A new look at the hydrogen economy
To mix hydrogen into the domestic gas network: that is the challenge that those taking part in the EET-subsidized project, ‘The Greening of Gas’ have set themselves. Project coordinator Dr Kas Hemmes (Associate Professor with the Energy and Industry section) describes the many technical and administrative difficulties of this promising idea.
Under the Kyoto Climate Treaty, the Netherlands is expected to reduce its emission of greenhouse gases by six per cent (compared to 1990 levels). The main greenhouse gases produced by the combustion of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal are NOx (nitrogen oxides), SO2 (sulphur dioxide) and CO2 (carbon dioxide). The idea of using hydrogen as a supplementary energy source emerged in the 1970s. Hydrogen has a significant advantage in that its combustion produces only water and no greenhouse gases. “Because the environmental benefits are so obvious, some people do not understand why the idea was not implemented a long time ago,” states Kas Hemmes. “Perhaps they think we can just dig a well and pump hydrogen out. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Pure hydrogen does not occur naturally. It has to be derived from other energy sources such as natural gas, coal or biomass. It can also be extracted from water by means of electrolysis.”
Hemmes, who studied experimental and theoretical physics in Groningen, gained his doctorate in 1986 with his research into magnetic recording. However, he soon became interested in energy research. For fifteen years, he conducted research into fuel cells with the Material Sciences and Engineering department of Delft University of Technology. For the last eighteen months he has been involved in the systems design for a national hydrogen distribution infrastructure and the design of transition processes towards a hydrogen economy. This work has been conducted within TPM as part of the ‘Greening of Gas’ project, financed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM) under the Economy, Ecolgy and Technology (EET) programme.
About the future of energy
Reactor puts hydrogen from renewable fuels within reach
A team of chemical engineers led by Regents Professor Lanny Schmidt has invented a prototype reactor capable of producing hydrogen from a renewable resource efficiently enough to hold economic potential. When coupled with a hydrogen fuel cell, the unit – which is small enough to hold in your hand – could generate one kilowatt of power, almost enough to supply an average-size home. The technology, which converts ethanol into water, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen, is cheaper and more efficient than current methods of producing hydrogen. The researchers published their findings in the February 13 issue of Science. Their work was supported by the Initiative on Renewable Energy and the Environment, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Towards a European strategy for the security of energy supply”
by European Commission
The Green Paper on the security of energy supply, adopted by the Commission more than a year ago, opened up a debate on energy policy unprecedented in 30 years. In most of the Member States this debate revived discussion on national options in the energy field. It was used for reference in some third countries, like the United States (during the preparation of the Bush energy plan), Japan and Russia. The Barcelona European Council of March 2002 notes in its conclusions “the intention of the Commission to present the report on the security of supplies based on the results of the debate generated by the Commission’s Green Paper on Security of Energy Supplies, in view of its next meeting in Seville”.
News about the Future
Will innovation flourish in the future?
by Jerome I. Friedman
Science and technology grew exponentially during the 20th century. But will the conditions necessary for creating the kinds of innovations that shape our lives be sustained in the future?
By definition, the word innovate means to bring in something new, to make changes in something established. Clearly, there is a continuum of innovation that ranges from breakthroughs that change the underpinnings of our society to new methods or tools to solve particular problems. The major innovations of the future, those that will shape society, will require a foundation of strong basic research. Innovation is the key to the future, but basic research is the key to future innovation. And today, the future of basic research appears vulnerable.
Although applied research and invention play important roles in innovation, they do not generally produce the major conceptual breakthroughs necessary for creating radically new technologies. The limitation of focused or problem-oriented research becomes apparent in the following observation: If you know what you are looking for, you are limited by what you know.
In the Organization’s golden jubilee year, CERN is focusing on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which will be the world’s largest and most complex scientific instrument when it switches on in 2007. Experiments at the LHC will allow physicists to complete a journey that started with Newton’s description of gravity. Gravity acts on mass, but so far science is unable to explain why the fundamental particles have the masses they have. Experiments at the LHC may provide the answer. LHC experiments will also probe the mysterious missing mass and dark energy of the universe – visible matter seems to account for just 5% of what must exist. They will investigate the reason for nature’s preference for matter over antimatter, and they will probe matter as it existed at the very beginning of time.
International Space Station: Science Experiments
Crewmember and crew-ground interactions during International Space Station Missions
Space flight places humans in an environment unlike any found on Earth. The nearly complete absence of gravity is perhaps the most prominent obstacle that astronauts face. It requires a significant modification of living and working habits by the astronauts. Not only do they have to learn to adapt to the way they perform routine operations, such as eating, moving and operating equipment, but they must also learn to adjust to the internal changes that their bodies experience and to the psychosocial stressors that result from working under isolated and confined conditions.
The Interactions experiment will identify and characterize important interpersonal and cultural factors that may impact the performance of the crew and ground support personnel during International Space Station missions.
Chromosomal Aberrations in Blood Lymphocytes of Astronauts
Cosmic radiation is a major risk factor in human space flight. This study will assess the mutagenic impact of ionizing radiation in crewmembers by analyzing chromosomal aberrations in blood lymphocytes from pre- and post-flight blood samples.
Previous investigations studying chromosomal aberrations were conducted using conventional block stained Giemsa preparations. A disadvantage of this method is that only unstable aberrations, which are of less biological significance, can be detected.
In the past few years, new methods of chromosomal recognition were developed, such as fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), multi-colored FISH (mFISH), and multi-color banding FISH (mBAND). These techniques enable researchers to mark all chromosome pairs and allow detection of almost all aberration types in the genome, including stable and unstable ones. These new methods will provide new information about the effects of space radiation on humans.
Pore Formation and Mobility Investigation (PFMI)
On Earth when scientists melt metals, bubbles that form in the molten material can rise to the surface, pop and disappear. In microgravity — the near-weightless environment created as the International Space Station orbits Earth, the lighter bubbles do not rise and disappear. Prior space experiments have shown that bubbles often become trapped in the final metal or crystal sample. In the solid, these bubbles, or porosity, are defects that diminish both the material’s strength and usefulness.
The Pore Formation and Mobility Investigation will melt samples of a transparent modeling material, succinonitrile and succinonitrile water mixtures. Investigators will be able to observe how bubbles form in the samples and study their movements and interactions.
Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students
EarthKAM (Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students) is a NASA education program that enables thousands of students to photograph and examine Earth from a space crew’s perspective.
Using the Internet, the students control a special digital camera mounted on-board the International Space Station. This enables them to photograph the Earth’s coastlines, mountain ranges and other geographic items of interest from the unique vantage point of space. The team at EarthKAM then posts these photographs on the Internet for the public and participating classrooms around the world to view.
Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE)
The Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) will test the durability of hundreds of samples ranging from lubricants to solar cell technologies.
The samples, engineered to better withstand the punishing effects of the Sun, extreme temperatures and other elements, will be flown 220 miles above the Earth — outside the International Space Station and unprotected by Earth’s atmosphere. By examining how the coatings fare in the harsh environment of space, researchers seek new insight into developing materials for future spacecraft, as well as making materials last longer on Earth.
Managed by Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., MISSE is a collaborative effort among NASA centers, the U.S. Air Force and private industry. By pooling resources, these groups can reap the rewards of collaborating on advanced material-science research, while minimizing the total investment of any one participant.
The EMBRIO concept is a recreational and commuting vehicle that uses gyroscopic and electronic technology. It is a means of transportation, as well as a way of enjoying transportation as a positive activity. The main power source is a hydrogen fuel cell. In stand-by configuration, the vehicle’s front wheels deploy to the ground like a jet plane landing gear to increase longitudinal stability. Thus stabilized, the Bombardier EMBRIO looks perfectly at home in the urban landscape, displaying the beauty of its sculptural lines until it’s time to go for a ride.
Nuclear engineer, Rusi Taleyarkhan led the research team at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee that has proposed a small table-top sized nuclear fusion device. Taleyarkhan described the project as true, “tabletop physics, using an apparatus the size of three coffee cups stacked on top of the other.” The researchers bombarded millimeter-sized bubbles of deuterated-acetone vapor with sound waves (called acoustic cavitation) that resulted in a burst of subatomic particles called neutrons and the production of tritium, an isotope of hydrogen both evidence of a nuclear fusion reaction. The bubbles reached temperatures of 10 million degrees Kelvin, the same as the center of the Sun.
Earlier test data, which were reported in Science (Vol. 295, March 2002), indicated that nuclear fusion had occurred, but these data were questioned because they were taken with less precise instrumentation.
Researchers Rusi Taleyarkhan, Colin West, and Jae-Seon Cho conducted the bubble fusion experiments at ORNL. At Rensselaer and in Russia, Professors Richard T. Lahey Jr., the Edward E. Hood Professor of Engineering at Rensselaer and the director of the analytical part of the joint research project, and Robert I. Nigmatulin performed the theoretical analysis of the bubble dynamics and predicted the shock-induced pressures, temperatures, and densities in the imploding vapor bubbles. Robert Block, professor emeritus of nuclear engineering at Rensselaer, helped to design, set up, and calibrate a state-of-the-art neutron and gamma ray detection system for the new experiments.
“These extensive new experiments have replicated and extended our earlier results and hopefully answer all of the previous questions surrounding our discovery,” said Richard T. Lahey Jr.
Hydrogen as Fuel
by Richard Cammack (Editor), Michel Frey (Editor), Robert Robson (Editor), R.L. Robson, Michael Frey (Editor)
The last five years have seen breakthroughs in the understanding of the nature, structure, and biosynthesis of hydrogenases. The book offers a timely description of these results which are just appearing in the scientific literature. It will be of interest to anyone concerned with environmentally friendly energy conservation.
Supporter of the Club of Amsterdam event about ‘the future of Education & Learning‘ on Wednesday, February 18, 2004 is:
The Club of Amsterdam Round Table: Willem Basten
Willem Basten, CEO, LOGICmerce BV
Our society faces a massive challenge. Our view of the world expands, we learn about places without visiting them and see people we never actually meet face to face. In the meantime our own sociological circumstances have changed rapidly and I am concerned we are overlooking this.
We are a multi-cultural mix and we will have to adapt to it. Those amongst us who are so foolish as to ignore it or attempt to resist this, will become alienated in their struggle. We have to gain understanding and be willing to understand.
We are facing a massive challenge. We have to preserve our identity and cultural heritance yet blend those with the flavours, feelings, religions and thoughts from our global neighbours. If not we ourselves, our children definitely will be global citizens. We will have to teach them and make them aware of the opportunities and challenges. That requires awareness. We have to create awareness and be willing to be aware.
I am facing a massive challenge. Participating in an expanding complex society struggling with sociological change and struggling with identities it is not an easy task to determine what values to teach to my offspring to prepare them for global citizenship. And I am desperate for understanding and awareness.
I do know that knowledge is power and I accept that the scope of our knowledge exceeds anyone’s individual intellectual capacities. So to maintain control over our society we need to share knowledge.
In order to gain understanding and create awareness communication is key. Modern age technology offers progressively sophisticated tools to help us manage our knowledge and communicate facts, ideas and thoughts.
So I master technology in as much this helps me. Yet one burning question keeps nagging: Is it making us better people???
Club of Amsterdam Events 2003/2004
|October 28, 2003||the future of Food & Biotech|
|November 27, 2003||the future of the Media & Entertainment Industry|
|January 28, 2004||the future of the European Knowledge Society|
|February 18, 2004||the future of Education & Learning|
|March 31, 2004||the future of Energy – the Hydrogen Economy?|
|April 28, 2004||the future of Healthcare & Technology|
|May 19, 2004||the future of Architecture|
|June 23, 2004||the future of Culture & Religion|
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