Griffith Hack Clean & Sustainable Technologies

North Carolina research workers show how water based ‘artificial leaf’ generates electricity
October 5, 2010, 8:17 am
Filed under: Feature

Did you know that a North Carolina State University staff has demonstrated that water gel-based solar devices (called: “artificial leaves”) can act like solar cells to make electricity?

The study has been released on-line inside the Journal of Materials Chemistry by Doctor. Orlin Velev, an Invista Professor associated with Chemical and Bio-molecular Engineering.

The findings prove the idea for making solar cells that more closely imitate nature. They also have the possibility to be cheaper and more environmentally friendly than the existing standard silicon based solar cells.

The bendable products are composed of water-based gel infused using light-sensitive molecules (like plant chlorophyll) coupled with electrodes coated by carbon materials, such as carbon nanotubes or graphite.

Graphene is the basic structural element of a number of carbon allotropes including graphite, carbon nanotubes and fullerenes. Graphene is a one-atom thick planar sheet of carbon atoms that are largely packed in a honeycomb crystal lattice. The title comes from graphite ene; graphite itself consists of a lot of graphene sheets piled together.

The light-sensitive molecules get “excited” by the sun’s rays to create electricity, similar to plant molecules that get excited to synthesize sugar in order to grow.

Dr. Velev says that the research team hopes to “learn how to copy the materials through which nature harnesses solar power.” Although man made light-sensitive molecules can be used, Velev says naturally produced products, like chlorophyll, are also very easily integrated in these products because of their particular water-gel matrix.

Velev even imagines a future where homes could be covered with soft sheets of similar electrical power-generating man-made-leaf pv cells. The concept of biochemically inspired ‘soft’ products for generating electricity may in the future offer an alternative for the present-day solid-state technologies.

About the Author: Colleen J. Mcguire creates for the, her personal hobby blog site focused on recommendations to help property owners to spend a smaller amount energy with solar power.

Reference: Aqueous soft matter based pv devices. Journal of Materials Chemistry, 2011; DOI:


Volvo cars made out of batteries?
September 30, 2010, 10:47 am
Filed under: News

With a headline referring to Volvo cars being made out of batteries, you could be forgiven for thinking that Volvo want to make heavy cars made out of recycled lead from batteries.  Instead, Volvo are investigating how to incorporate batteries into the panels. 

Conceivably, the weight saving would be sensational, as well as dealing with difficult packaging problems.  There are likely to be some technical hurdles to overcome.  In the meantime, hats off to Volvo engineers for creative and innovative thinking!

Hayden Barke

All-Energy Australia 2010 Conference
September 22, 2010, 11:12 am
Filed under: News

Only two weeks to go until the the 2010 All-Energy Australia Conference in Melbourne on October 6 & 7 at the Exhibition Centre in Southbank. We’re particularly looking forward to the ‘Conversation Cafe’ session that our very own Mike Lloyd is taking part in on the topic of: ‘Future Directions of Green Intellectual Property‘ on Thursday October 7 at 12:45pm in the exhibition hall.

Registration to attend this conference is free so sign up and come along to check out over 177 exhibitors and various sessions on renewable energy.

All-Energy Australia is the sister show to All-Energy UK, Europe’s largest all-renewables event which has now been running for 10 years; 1,750 people from 16 countries visited the highly successful Australian launch last year.

Seminar Invitation – 24 Sept 2010: Capital Market Services for Sustainable and Clean-tech Businesses and Investors
September 15, 2010, 3:38 pm
Filed under: Feature
To mark the launch of SIM Venture Securities Exchange (SIM VSE), the new equities market dedicated to Australian cleantechnology, we would like to invite you to a special lunchtime seminar. Ann Bowering, SIM VSE CEO and Director, will be discussing the opportunities SIM VSE has created for Cleantechnology companies in green markets both here and internationally. Ann will give an overview of the listing criteria of SIM VSE and the steps you can take to assist your business or client to the IPO stage. Elements of listing such as the continual disclosure requirements as a listed company and how to effectively manage your business or client’s compliance risks will also be discussed.

Ann Bowering, CEO and a Director, SIM Venture Securities Exchange (VSE)
Ann is the CEO and a Director of SIM Venture Securities Exchange (VSE), an equity market offering capital market services for sustainable and clean-tech businesses and investors, and a Director of the National Stock Exchange of Australia. Prior to SIM VSE Ann worked with KPMG Transaction Services in Australia and internationally for over 10 years, working on transactions totalling more than $12 billion for clients including AGL, Bluescope Steel, Tabcorp and Lend Lease.

For the seminar invite CLICK HERE.

A Fuel Saving Alternative to Hybrid / Electric Vehicles
September 10, 2010, 1:01 pm
Filed under: News

Although perhaps not as glamorous as hybrid or plug-in electric vehicles, improving fuel efficiency in internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles has an important, if interim, role in reducing carbon emissions, and should be embraced.  This article provides an informative overview of some of the technology used in Ford’s ECOnetic range, and in particular the Focus.  Fuel saving features include auto-start-stop, smart regenerative charging, low tension FEAD (Front End Accessory Drive), improved efficiency power steering system and use of low viscosity lubricants.  Well established fuel saving measures such as low coefficient of drag and low rolling resistance tyres are also mentioned.  In combination with a driver information system (to encourage more efficient driving style) and a turbo diesel ICE, fuel consumption of 3.8L/100km is claimed.  Unfortunately, the very attractive car featured in the photograph is actually badged as the (considerably less economical) RS model; it seems unlikely that the ECOnetic will look as good. 

Daniel Rosenthal

The Surprising ‘Newgencoal’ Website
September 3, 2010, 4:37 pm
Filed under: News | Tags: ,

Readers looking for a interesting, balanced, and attractive website considering a broad range of renewable energy technologies, and the need to tackle climate change, could do a lot worse that to visit

The most surprising thing is that this website is that it is run by the Australian Coal Association. Cynical readers might have expected something defensive or political from such an industry lobby group, this website is anything but.

If only some our politicians who claim to be looking out for the interests of the Australian coal industry were to read this material, they too might realise the need for action on climate change. If the coal industry claims to get it, why don’t our politicians?

Curtin research produces cost effective power sustainably
August 26, 2010, 1:49 pm
Filed under: Feature

As a Griffith Hack client we would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Professor Chu-Zhu Li on winning the 2010 Curtin Commercial Innovation Award. Please see details in the Media Release below.

Media Release: 13 August 2010
Curtin University researchers have made a breakthrough in converting biomass, such as mallee, into “clean” combustible gaseous fuels that can be used to generate a continuous source of electricity (base load electricity).

This innovative new technology has the potential to provide a sustainable and economical energy generation alternative, especially in regional and rural areas.

The technology, developed by Professor Chu-Zhu Li and his team from Curtin’s Centre for Advanced Energy Science and Engineering, was named the winner of the 2010 Curtin Commercial Innovation Awards announced today.

The annual awards, run by Curtin’s Office of IP Commercialisation, acknowledge the best commercially-oriented innovations arising from research by Curtin staff and students.

Curtin’s Office of IP Commercialisation Director, Rohan McDougall, said the winning innovation was a great advance in sustainable energy generation.

“The gasifier that Professor Li and his team have developed is able to convert raw solid fuels like biomass into clean gaseous fuel in a highly efficient and economical manner,” Mr McDougall said.

“Numerous efforts have been made worldwide to clean up product gas from existing gasification processes in a cost effective way but with only limited success.

“Use of gasification product gas currently has limitations in electricity generation as tar and other contaminants foul up the gas engines and turbines. Curtin’s gasification technology is able to produce clean product gas with a high energy content.”

The process utilises mallee, abundant in WA and actively farmed to minimise dryland salinity.  Other low-rank fuels like lignite, brown coal and peat can also be converted.

“This technology will be particularly useful in the immediate future in rural and remote areas to replace the diesel engines that are currently being used,” Mr McDougall said.

“Unlike other renewable energy sources this process can be used to produce base load power and not just peak load so eventually when the technology is fully developed it can be used for clean and cost-effective generation of electricity in cities as well.”

A pilot scale gasifier (4kg/hr) has been built and operated successfully.  Professor Li is now working toward the construction of a demonstration plant at Curtin.

Curtin’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Development, Professor Linda Kristjanson, commended the winning project.

“This work is an excellent example of the cutting edge research and innovation taking place at Curtin and a very deserving winner of the top prize in this year’s awards,” Professor Kristjanson said.

“Curtin staff and students have an excellent track record in conducting high level, industry-relevant research which can provide significant benefits to the community, with many of the projects offering real commercial potential.”

The other finalists who won prizes at the awards were:

Professor Peter Teunissen
, an ARC Federation Fellow from the Department of Spatial Science at Curtin, was recognised for his next generation global positioning system.  It has improved 3-D positional accuracy, reduced convergence time and improved data integrity. His technology can open up a host of applications that were previously unattainable with existing systems, including precision agriculture, offshore positioning, land surveying, and emergency and military services. 

Dr Fedja Hadzic and Dr Michael Hecker, Research Fellows from Curtin’s Digital Ecosystems Business Intelligence Institute, were awarded an early career prize for a software tool able to clean-up duplications and errors in corporate and government databases. The software can also detect the source of contamination and prevent future data pollution with business process mining.

Contact: Ann Marie Lim; Public Relations; Curtin; 08 9266 4241; 0401 103 532; 

Note to Editor:

About Professor Chun-Zhu Li: Professor Chun-Zhu Li is a world leader in energy research. He took up the position of Director of the new Curtin Centre for Advanced Energy Science and Engineering in early 2009. Under Professor Li’s leadership, the Centre is developing novel low emission energy technologies, covering both fossil fuels and renewables.

About Curtin IP Commercialisation: Curtin established a pre-seed fund in 2005 and a follow-on fund in 2008, each with funding of up to $5 million. The funds are being applied to support early stage commercialisation of innovative new technologies developed at Curtin. The University has invested in 13 companies and a number of unincorporated opportunities. The investee companies are rapidly growing and employ over 80 people in new economy jobs and generate revenues in excess of $10 million per annum.