Solar, Biogas Project Advances

As part of a combined project to investigate the economic advantages of biogas and solar power electricity, the University of Karlsruhe, Germany have designed and constructed a biogas combustion burner.

Karlsruhe, Germany – April 2, 2003 [] Dish, also known as Stirling, solar electric systems look like an array of satellite receiver dishes with a highly-polished mirrored finish. Their potential is to create clean and sustainable energy supply, but currently the operational costs have proven to be uneconomical. As part of the drive to reduce costs from €11000/kW to €5000/kW (US$12,000/kW to US$5,453/kW), a biogas combustion engine was developed to provide electricity in poor weather conditions. Each dish is designed to capture the suns energy and, using point-focusing technology, convert the concentrated radiation up to the equivalent of 14000 suns (14000kW/m².) The focal point of the dish then transfers the radiation to the receiver and the energy is transmitted to a heat transfer fluid such as air or helium. In turn, the gases that are created power the Stirling engines and the generators that are connected to them, providing the final output of electricity. As part of a project conducted under the Fifth Framework Program, six 10kW dishes were tested in Almeria, Spain for a total of 40000 hours leading to a reduction in costs of €6000/kW (US$6,544/kW). The introduction of the Biogas Swirl combustion engine is set to reduce that cost even further, and at the same time provide a more stabilized level of electrical generation. Swirl combustion burners are able to operate on propane, natural gas and biogas; and it is the latter fuel source that should enable the BIODISH the profitability to be realized.

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