Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Optimizing sustainable nitrogen fertilizer production

A previous blog post on ammonia production and use compared ammonia production plant areas to ammonia use areas.  The maps above list the average wind speed and the amount of ammonia used for fertilizer in areas of the United States.  Potential wind powered production and fertilizer uses overlap in the upper Midwest.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center are collaborating with a multidisciplinary group to optimize the sustainable production of ammonia fertilizer.  Minnesota farmers currently pay $400 million dollars annually to import ammonia fertilizer.  The current wind to hydrogen to ammonia pilot plant uses existing technology which is about 10% efficient.  Researchers are exploring the use of a magnesium chloride additive in the process to dramatically improve the efficiency of ammonia production.

Researchers envision modest sized production plants located in the state in areas with available wind or solar power and adequate supplies of ground water.  For further information please read the article Harnessing the Wind to Create Sustainable Fertilizer by Kevin Coss.


Wind Fertilizer production - U of MN - 3 minutes

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Copenhagen Bicycle Wheel

Boston Globe - Copenhagen Wheel

The Copenhagen Bicycle Wheel may make commuting by bicycle a much more attractive option thanks to a rear wheel power assist controlled by a smart phone app. Researchers at MIT developed the bike with funding provided from Copenhagen.  The research focused on retrofitting existing bikes to make them easier to use on extended commutes. The item is available for pre-order at a cost of $800.

May 2014 - review of prototype 16 min.

September 2014 - Networking capabilities - 2 min.

Friday, October 3, 2014

MSP Airport to build 3 MW solar array

Airport solar plan - MSP via Pioneer Press
According to Stephan Mortemayer from The Metropolitan Airport Commission will be installing at 3 Megawatt Solar array on top of two parking ramps at the airport.  Upon completion of the project in October of 2015, the solar arrays will provide up to 20% of the electrical power for the airport.  It will also be Minnesota's largest solar array. 

Designers have positioned the panels to prevent the glare from affecting pilots at the airport.  The project will also switch the ramp lighting to LED and provide electric car charging stations. 

On a related note, the MN DOT is accepting up to five proposals for 1 megawatt plus sized solar arrays along highway right of ways.  Applications are due November 3, 2014. 

2008 Oregon Highway - via Solar Power Rocks

The MN DOT's project is similar to Oregon's Solar Highways project.  The photo above shows a 124 kilowatt solar system built in 2008.  The state has since completed at 1.25 Megawatt Baldock solar array in January of 2012 at the French Prairie Rest Area.

Oregon's Solar Highway - 2008 10 min.