HyperSolar moves along lonely path to hydrogen

HyperSolar is working to make it easier to create hydrogen on site at commercial and industrial locations, or even filling stations such as this one. Pic: Toyota.

HyperSolar is working to make it easier to create hydrogen on site at commercial and industrial locations, or even filling stations such as this one. Pic: Toyota.

By Jason Deign

US-listed technology firm HyperSolar is looking to develop a commercial-scale solar-powered hydrogen generation system after unveiling a working prototype last month.

The Santa Barbara, California-based company is hoping to give the hydrogen fuel cell industry a boost by removing one of hydrogen’s biggest problems: having to transport the gas over long distances.

Hydrogen “is expensive enough in the manufacturing process,” said Tim Young, president and CEO. “When you add on trucking it 500 miles in a pressurised truck, it stops making economical sense.”

Being able to manufacture hydrogen on site, using water and sunlight, could eliminate these costs and open up a vast array of potential energy applications, Young told Energy Storage Report.

These include “thousands and thousands of backup power plants” that “would all love to be hydrogen powered” because the fuel can be stored indefinitely until needed, he said. 
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P2P energy player lobbies for storage

Battery storage in P2P energy networks could help businesses such as the Eden Project save money. (Pic: Jürgen Matern)

Battery storage in P2P energy networks could help businesses such as the Eden Project save money. (Pic: Jürgen Matern)

By Jason Deign

Peer-to-peer (P2P) power supplier Open Utility is planning to pressure the UK electricity market regulator towards introducing grid-balancing measures that could include energy storage.

The company, which runs an energy marketplace called Piclo, hopes to convince the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) that P2P networks are good for consumers and distributed generation asset owners.

“There are significant benefits in better balancing renewables and demand on a local electricity network,” said James Johnston, Open Utility’s CEO and co-founder. “Energy storage will be key in enabling this balancing.”

Currently, he said, UK regulations do little to encourage the use of energy storage in P2P networks. Piclo, which allows businesses to buy renewable power directly from source, does not currently include storage, for example.

However, Johnston said: “If regulations allow for it, incentivising local balancing using P2P energy matching could unlock significant financial rewards for local consumers and generators.”
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Checking up on the storage start-up scene

We review the energy storage investment opportunities offered by startups at KIC InnoEnergy Business Booster Barcelona – including Atawey, which has developed a hydrogen fuel cell system targeted at mobile base stations with McPhy Energy.

The energy storage investment opportunities offered at KIC InnoEnergy Business Booster Barcelona included Atawey’s hydrogen fuel cell system, developed with McPhy Energy. Photo credit: Atawey

What companies would you put your money in if you were a clean-tech angel investor looking to back an energy storage start-up? With plenty of young businesses out there crying for cash, it is not like you would be stuck for choice.

But, as Energy Storage Report found out last week at the KIC InnoEnergy Business Booster in Barcelona, selecting a winner is not that easy… because there are so many good ideas to choose from.

The Business Booster was a two-day event where start-ups from a range of energy-related fields set out to woo an audience including nine angel investors and three venture capital firms. Five electricity storage hopefuls took the stage during the event.

Enerstone, of France, opened the storage track with a pitch for an ingenious battery management system that extends lifetimes and cycle rates by adjusting the draw on each cell to lessen the impact of weaker cells.
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New energy storage catalysts

The double perovskite  has atoms of barium (green) and a lanthanide (purple) within a structure of cobalt (pink) and oxygen (red). Photo credit: MIT research team

The perovskite has atoms of barium (green) and lanthanide (purple) within a cobalt (pink) and oxygen (red) structure. Photo credit: MIT research team

They’re abundant, new to science and, say researchers at MIT, give the best ever performance in a reaction that is key to advanced fuel cells and lithium-air batteries. The materials are known as double perovskites and are a variant of minerals commonly found in the Earth’s crust.
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Clay key for better supercapacitors

A composite of clay and an electrolyte serves as both electrolyte and a separator in a supercapacitor. Photo credit: Ajayan Group/Rice University

A composite of clay and electrolyte serves as both electrolyte and separator in a supercapacitor. Photo credit: Ajayan Group/Rice University

Supercapacitors have been in the news a lot recently, with researchers and investors alike hoping they can combine the rapid charging and high energy densities of conventional capacitor devices with the slow release of energy associated with batteries.
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Graphene producer joins the dots

A criticism often leveled at the energy storage sector is that its solutions aren’t modular, aren’t scalable and are not vertically integrated with the rest of the value chain. Our industry is not deaf to these clarion calls. And neither, it appears, are its potential suppliers. Take Durham Graphite Science (DGS).
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Lithium cells the size of rice

A video on Treehugger shows how scientists have produced lithium-ion batteries from a nozzle the width of a human hair. Although only ever likely to be used for small, low power gadgets, these minute batteries actually deliver enough current to be of real use, unlike previous attempts using thin-film printing.

The team that produced this marvel of miniaturisation works at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

Battery key to solar-powered plane

Across America – Golden Gate Flight © Solar Impulse / J. Revillard

Photo: Across America – Golden Gate Flight, © Solar Impulse / J. Revillard

Press reports of the Solar Impulse sun-powered aircraft’s nighttime touchdown at Washington DC underscored the key role batteries play in putting solar power to work. According to the Solar Impulse web site, though, the plane, which is currently crossing America, does not rely on bog-standard battery technology. Instead, Korean manufacturer Kokam is said to have cooked up a lithium polymer battery pack which is “two years ahead of the industry.”

While the project team may be understandably reluctant to reveal details of the technology, it is good at least to see this example of energy storage innovation flying high.