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.
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.
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-....
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....
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.