Springer Handbook February 3, 2017

HNEI’s HiSERF Featured in Springer Handbook of Electrochemical Energy

The recently published Springer Handbook of Electrochemical Energy featured a chapter entitled “Modern Fuel Cell Testing Laboratory” based on HNEI’s Hawaii Sustainable Energy Research Facility.  The chapter describes the laboratory’s background and evolution, safety and test stations, fuel cell components  and assembly, and testing and diagnostic techniques.  Contributors included Jean St. Pierre, Michael Angelo, Keith Bethune, Jack Huizingh, Tatyana Reshetenko, Mebs Virji, and Yunfeng Zhai.

Google Books states that "this comprehensive handbook covers all fundamentals of electrochemistry for contemporary applications. It provides a rich presentation of related topics of electrochemistry with a clear focus on energy technologies. It covers all aspects of electrochemistry starting with theoretical concepts and basic laws of thermodynamics, non-equilibrium thermodynamics and multiscale modeling. It further gathers the basic experimental methods such as potentiometry, reference electrodes, ion-sensitive electrodes, voltammetry and amperometry. The contents cover subjects related to mass transport, the electric double layer, ohmic losses and experimentation affecting electrochemical reactions. These aspects of electrochemistry are especially examined in view of specific energy technologies including batteries, polymer electrolyte and biological fuel cells, electrochemical capacitors, electrochemical hydrogen production and photoelectrochemistry."

The handbook is available at http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783662466568.

Frog Rendering Image November 10, 2016

Net Zero Buildings Open at UH Manoa

Two net zero buildings installed for the College of Education by the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute and funded by the Office of Naval Research, opened their doors to the public in celebration of the FROG 1 and 2 grand opening on November 4. These FROG (Flexible Response to Ongoing Growth) classrooms will serve as models of energy efficient classroom design, minimizing energy use in a mixed-mode environment while using self-generated, renewable energy to offset energy consumption. Real-time building performance is displayed to users via a touch-screen dashboard, and the data is downloadable and can be integrated into STEM curricula.

Point of Contact: Jim Maskrey
More information: UH Press Release | UH Video Blog

September 23, 2016

Utility-Scale BESS Demonstration Project

In collaboration with Hawaiian Electric and with funding from the U.S. Office of Naval Research, the Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute is providing the lead to test and evaluate three Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) operating on Oahu, Moloka'i and Hawai‘i Island.

More information regarding this project can be found in HECO's press release: https://www.hawaiianelectric.com/utility-scale-battery-system-goes-into-....

Hawaii Clean Energy Final PEIS Report June 7, 2016

Hawaii Clean Energy Final PEIS Report

In July 2012, in coordination with the USDOE and DBEDT, HNEI contracted New West Technologies to conduct a Programmatic Environmental Impact Study (PEIS) to analyze, at a programmatic level, the potential environmental impacts of clean energy activities and technologies in the following clean energy categories: (1) Energy Efficiency, (2) Distributed Renewables, (3) Utility-Scale Renewables, (4) Alternative Transportation Fuels and Modes, and (5) Electrical Transmission and Distribution (including undersea cables).

The PEIS provides federal and local agencies, policymakers, energy developers, and the public with information and guidance on adhering to all laws and permitting requirements, implementing well-planned best management practices and mitigation measures, and consideration of community and cultural concerns that can be used to make decisions about renewable energy and energy efficiency deployment.

The full report and related supplemental documents can be found on the Hawaii State Energy Office website at http://energy.hawaii.gov/testbeds-initiatives/hawaii-clean-energy-peis/p....

Electric Utility April 29, 2016

Evaluation of Alternative Ownership Options for Electric Utility Assets on the Islands of Oahu and Hawaii

Prepared for HNEI by Filsinger Energy Partners, Denver, Colorado
This report presents an overview of the municipal and cooperative utility ownership models for the islands or Oahu and Hawaii, including potential benefits and challenges associated with acquiring, financing, and operating the utilities.  The report recommends necessary steps and analyses associated with further pursuing either ownership option.
Point of Contact:  John Cole
Fiery Ice 2016 January 6, 2016

Fiery Ice Conference

This year's theme, "15 Years of Progress and Future Directions" will highlight accomplishments and changes in hydrate science and engineering since the first workshop in 2001, and identify directions for the future. A primary objective will be to try to develop a well-defined path to expand major international collaborations.

Fiery Ice 2016

10th International Workshop on Methane Hydrate Research and Development

Hawaii Imin International Conference Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.

June 15-17, 2016

The 1st International Workshop on Methane Hydrate R&D was held in March 2001 in Honolulu, Hawaii. The primary objective of that and subsequent workshops was to provide a forum where hydrate researchers and stakeholders could freely exchange information and identify research priorities in an effort to promote collaboration. Subsequent workshops have been held, on average, every 1.5 years in different countries including the U.S., Chile, Canada, U.K., Norway, New Zealand, Japan, and India.

More details are available at the Fiery Ice 2016 information page and you can register for the workshop at www.uhbooks.hawaii.edu/conference/fice2016.asp.

Renewable Gas Web November 12, 2015

Creating renewable gasoline

Creating gasoline and biodiesel from readily available microbial organisms may sound too good to be true, but that is exactly what researchers at the Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa are doing. A new one-pot process is described in a recent publication by Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute Postdoctural Fellow Shimin Kang and Researcher Jian Yu.

“As we refine this process, we will be able to simplify and bring down the cost of converting renewable feedstock to commercially viable transportation fuel,” said researcher Kang.

Biomass to biofuel

There are several different types of feedstock—defined as any renewable, biological material (biomass)—that can be used directly as a fuel or converted to another form of fuel or energy product. Common examples of biomass feedstocks include corn starch, sugarcane juice and purpose-grown grass crops that can be used to derive fuels like ethanol, butanol, biodiesel and other hydrocarbon fuels.

For a fuel to be considered good enough to use in modern high performance automobiles, it needs to have a high antiknock quality (octane number) and low oxygen. Since biomass generally has high oxygen content, it can be a challenge to create a high quality fuel without using multiple complex steps under high pressures and temperatures that can result in high costs of equipment and operation. Researchers are addressing this challenge by testing alternative feedstocks and new processing technology.

Bacterial biomass and a solid catalyst

Like starch and oil accumulated in plants, polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) is an energy storage material accumulated from renewable feedstock in many microbial species. Following up on studies showing that PHB could be reformed into oil in liquid phosphoric acid solutions, Kang and Yu tested the process using a solid phosphoric acid as a catalyst. They were able to produce high quality bio-oils, a light gasoline-grade biofuel and a heavy biodiesel-grade biofuel, in a simple one-pot reaction.

“By using a solid catalyst we were able to increase the aromatics content, thereby raising the octane number, while reducing the water content in the resulting commercial grade oils,” said Kang.

With this new, more efficient, method researchers were able to achieve results with reaction temperatures low in comparison to catalytic conversion of conventional biomass. This may help bring down the cost of conversion to biofuel. With future work building on these results, they hope to develop a standard method to create a consistent fuel.

Links: See on UH News site; article on Green Car Congress

LNG photo October 11, 2015

Should LNG be an option for Hawaii?

The HNEI's John Cole recently co-authored a piece for Global Island News on whether LNG should be an option for Hawaii.


"For the last few years, Hawaii has been considering the importation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as an alternative to oil and a way to lower energy costs for the State’s residents. While Governor Ige recently came out against using LNG as a solution for the electric utilities, a number of parties still support replacing oil with natural gas in a time-limited and declining volume fashion as a bridge to our renewable energy future. Studies sponsored by the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) and analysis by the Ulupono Initiative support the conclusion that a switch from oil to gas for some fraction of electricity production could both save money and reduce the risk associated with the volatility of globally influenced oil prices.

HNEI has sponsored two evaluations of importing LNG to Hawaii. The first was a high level assessment of the policy, economic and technical questions associated with LNG importation, performed by FACTS Inc. in late 2012 (FACTS Study). The second was a task within a larger electric system modeling study performed by GE Energy Consulting in 2015 (GE Study), that assessed potential savings in the cost of producing electricity with imported LNG, based on certain cost assumptions for both oil and gas."

September 10, 2015

Work in bioplastics leads to $1.4 million contract

Thanks to the efforts of a Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute researcher, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa has signed an exclusive global research contract with Bio-On, an Italian intellectual property company, representing a $1.4 million investment.   

Dr. Jian Yu’s research focuses on new technologies to produce bioplastics from inexpensive feedstocks such as wood chips, agricultural residues and domestic wastes. The bioplastics can be molded and shaped like oil-based plastics, but are completely degraded into benign products (carbon dioxide and water) in the environment.  The research will also make the bioplastics more ductile for broader applications such as films and fibers.

For that purpose, Bio-On has invested $1.6 million over the past seven years into the research, and will invest the additional $1.4 million to continue Dr. Yu’s research.  UH has given the company exclusive global license of two patents for production of bioplastics from domestic waste. 

“I am glad to have this new research support from Bio-On, which is based on successful cooperation in multiple projects over the past seven years,” said Dr. Yu.  “The new project shall promote our research on environmentally friendly bioplastics for a sustainable society.”

UH Press Release

An artist's rendition of an example net zero energy classroom. Credit: Project Frog July 9, 2015

First net zero energy buildings under construction at UH Mānoa

On June 15, 2015 contractors broke ground for the installation of two 1,500 square foot, net zero energy classrooms. These classrooms will be energy neutral, that is they will generate at least as much energy as they will use.

“This multiyear effort characterizes the effect of usage and building design on energy demand. This is part of a larger research program intended to evaluate the performance and integration of a range of energy technologies that includes energy efficiency, storage and renewable generation systems,” said Richard Rocheleau, Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) director.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education will use these classrooms that were funded by HNEI, through a grant from the Office of Naval Research, and designed and installed by Project Frog, a California architecture company. Site work, hardscape, and landscaping are funded by the UH Mānoa Office of Planning and Facilities.

See the UH News Story and the News Release for more information.

Articles: MauiNow