Short Subjects

– Cleantech Forum NY Oct 21
– EESAT SF Oct 27
– WSJ on Cold Fusion, Gasification
– Transmission Line Sag Mitigator
– Mechanical De-Icer
– UFTO comments
– Reinventing Corporate R&D


Cleantech Venture Forum III

Next week, New York City. The Cleantech Venture Forum III starts on Tuesday afternoon Oct 21 with some pre-conference workshops. I’ll be presenting information about Federal technology resources. The conference gets into full swing on Wed.

The Forum program will have nearly thirty investor presentations and refinements based on participant feedback from previous events. The quality of presenting companies is excellent with the 21 private companies on show collectively having revenue of over $100 million, thereby demonstrating “market traction” for cleantech products and services, from alternative energy to water purification.

The Forum will take place in a positive climate for cleantech venturing. The $641 million invested in clean technology ventures during the first two quarters of 2003 is 22% higher than the $524 million invested over the same period last year, according to the most recent issue of the Cleantech Venture Monitor released this week. “Cleantech” doubled its venture capital market share to 8% during Q1-Q2 2003 from 4% in 2002. Nearly 100 cleantech companies were funded in the first half of 2003.

An executive summary of the most recent Cleantech Venture Monitor downloaded from

The Cleantech III program agenda can be found at:


Electric Energy Storage Applications & Technology
The EESAT 2003 meeting is in San Francisco, Oct 27-29. I plan to attend on the 28-29th. Hope to see you there. Complete information at


The Wall Street Journal seems to be taking an increasing interest in energy technology.

A. There was a good report Sept. 5 on Cold Fusion, describing a conference the previous week with 150 scientists who continue to make progress, despite the inability to publish, get funding, or avoid risks to careers. The article concludes that whether or not the science is “pathological” (as the establishment holds), the failure to permit or provide honest scrutiny of the evidence certainly is a worse refutation of the scientific method.,,SB106270936017252700,00.html

— Check out UFTO.COM’s “recommended reading” item on Cold Fusion”Excess%20Heat:%20Why%20Cold%20Fusion%20Research%20Prevailed”

B. Gasification, the basis of the Billion $ DOE plan for “FutureGen”, i.e. zero- emission coal power plant of the future, and CO2 capture/sequestration, are both actually being profitably performed at a decades-old powerplant that was nearly scrapped long ago.
“From Obsolete to Cutting Edge” October 15. In 1988, Basin Electric Power Cooperative took over an experimental facility known as the Weyburn Project, begun in the 70’s. They make methane from lignite, and also sell CO2 via pipeline to oil well operators, who inject it into wells to increase recovery, while possibly sequestering the CO2.,,SB106618439869515100,00.html


Transmission Line Sag Mitigator
Remember this. The program has made steady progress with CEC (Calif Energy Commission) funding, and it became the subject of an EPRI TC project, following full scale tests at PG&E in the summer of 2002. Developers are in negotiations with manufacturers, so they’re on their way to commercialization, and are looking for partners for business development.

Contact: Manuchehr Shir 510-594-0300 x202

CEC issued a newsrelease recently:

Get the full story by downloading:

UFTO Note 29 Jun 1999 – T Line Sag Mitigator Gets Funding; Partner Wanted

UFTO Note 01 Oct 2002 – Short Subjects (previous update)


Passive Mechanical De-Icer
MIS has come up with another innovation for transmission lines — to mechanically prevent ice buildup on bundled conductor by delivering lateral vibration to the line. MIS has shown the initial feasibility of this approach by both dynamic simulations (using finite element methods) and by small scale testing. The central concept of this device, called the De-Icer Device (pat. pending), is that it will prevent, as opposed to remove, ice buildup. It is a passive mechanical device (no electronics) that will function on de-energized lines. It is designed to be installed between existing spacers or, in some cases, replace spacers.

Contact: Manuchehr Shir 510-594-0300 x202
or Dr. Ram Adapa, EPRI, regarding the TC 650-855-8988


A Note to UFTO Clients:

UFTO needs feedback. Please let me know any comments or suggestions of ways I can make UFTO more valuable to you. What recent UFTO Notes have you found especially interesting? Also, visit the website and tell me how it could be enhanced. (Have you seen the new features on both the public and clients-only areas?)

Coming Soon, to an UFTO Note near you…
*** Let me know which ones you think I should do first.**

– Distributed Utility Integration Test (DUIT) Facility Opens
– Enzyme, microbial fuel cells and hydrogen
– Thermal water splitting
– More New New Solar
– Wave, tidal, ocean power
– New progress in Li polymer batteries
– Powerplant exhaust to solar biomass
– Gas-to-Liquids (GTL)..old old technology taking off


Reinventing Corporate R&D
“Now even companies with big research budgets don’t try to invent everything in-house”

It was great to see this article in Business Week recently (September 22, 2003). It says that ” a new R&D model is emerging, dubbed open innovation. Companies of all sizes are rounding up more partners, big and small, than ever before, and they’re casting wide research nets, snapping up work at diverse corporate, government, and academic labs.” It also mentions that “P&G has 53 “technology scouts” who search beyond company walls for promising innovations.”

So! What does that remind you of??

Non-Thermal Plasma H2, no CO2

Precision H2, a Canadian company, is developing a non-thermal plasma process which disassembles methane (CH4) into hydrogen and carbon black. Note, no CO2!

There are dozens of plasma companies, often focused on medical waste, and some on power (with coal or some waste stream as the feedstock). (See footnote) Usually these are hot plasmas, and tend to be expensive due to the materials problems at high temperature. In a plasma, sometimes called the 4th state of matter, material is very highly ionized by an electrical arc discharge. Lightning is a good example, and many plasma systems are brute force, require a lot of energy, and get very hot.

A so-called “non-thermal” plasma is one in which the electric discharge is controlled and confined. Locally it is extremely hot, but each spark doesn’t last long enough to heat up the surrounding materials. Precision H2 has created a “plasma dissociation reactor”, where the electrical discharge is carefully shaped and especially tailored to the specific job of dismantling methane. The electrical energy goes straight to the molecule, and doesn’t have to get there as heat. (It’s a little bit like cooking with microwaves instead of a conventional oven.)

The methane streaming through the reactor is partly converted to H2, with the carbon dropping out as a nanopowder. The output is then a blend of methane enriched with hydrogen (hythane). In an intriguing twist, this blend can be sent to a fuel cell which will consume the hydrogen, leaving the methane to be cycled back to the reactor. In effect, the fuel cell itself is used to separate out the hydrogen–for its own use. This configuration would produce electricity directly, rather than hydrogen. Pure hydrogen is gotten by using PSA (pressure swing absorption) or membranes to do the separation. Potential partners are already in discussions on both fronts (i.e. fuel cells and purification). Also, hythane can be used directly in engines, to good advantage.

The key is electronics (pulse shaping, and analysis and control of the discharge), and costs for electronics are well understood. Because temperatures remain modest, the reaction chamber can be made inexpensively, and is readily scalable.

There is an energy penalty–not all the “fuel value” of the methane is used, because the carbon itself isn’t oxidized. Instead, since no oxygen is present, no CO2 is produced–think of it as “presequestration”, with resulting GHG and carbon-trading benefits. Also, the carbon is in a valuable form which can be sold, enhancing overall economics. Detailed thermodynamic and financial models have been developed, and the company believes that even today, with “one-off” systems, they can produce hydrogen cost competitively.

The company is raising a round of equity financing.

Contact Dan Fletcher
Precision H2
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

An amazing find can be found at:

“Non-Incineration Medical Waste Treatment Technologies”, an August 2001 report …. explores the environmental and economic impacts, among other considerations, of about 50 specific technologies.

Chapter 4 in particular is an exhaustive review of every technology and nearly every company with a means to destroy hazardous materials. While the focus is on medical waste, most of the technologies also apply to hazardous materials, municipal waste and sludge, biomass, and fossil fuels. Gasification, pyrolysis, plasmas, and many different chemical and electrochemical oxidation and reduction methods are out there, and are being used today at industrial scale. When they can be made to work, the issues are cost, reliability, system longevity, emissions (creation of new hazards, e.g. dioxins), materials handling, feedstock variability, etc. etc. The key is to inject sufficient energy into the material to break the chemical bonds, for example, to get it hot enough for long enough (dwell time).

Waste Tire Gasification

Subject: UFTO Note–Waste Tire Gasification
Date: Sat, 15 Mar 1997
From: Ed Beardsworth

| ** UFTO ** Edward Beardsworth ** Consultant
| 951 Lincoln Ave. tel 415-328-5670
| Palo Alto CA 94301-3041 fax 415-328-5675

Waste Tire Gasification

Waste Gasification Technology, Inc (WGTI) is a startup company with a technology to convert waste tires into oil and gas fuels, while producing no smoke, pollution or odor, and leaving only a small amount of solid residue. The fuels can be used to generate steam and/or electricity, or to provide heat for industrial users (e.g. fruit drying or plywood manufacture).

The process is called “air gasification” and differs significantly from other means used to dispose of tires, such as direct combustion (cofiring with coal, fluid bed, etc.) or pyrolysis. In effect, it reverses the process by which rubber is obtained from petroleum through a series of six chemical reactions including controlled combustion.

A typical 3-ton per hour plant (approx. 2.2 million tires/year) would produce 0.5 MMBTU of gas similar to propane, and 0.3 MMBTU of medium grade oil suitable for heating or electric power generation. 15% of these fuels would be used for the process itself, and the balance could then be sold to nearby industrial users, or supply supplemental fuel to an electric power or steam plant (sufficient for 10 MW or 100,000 lb/hour steam).

The process was extensively tested under field conditions in a 1/3 size prototype plant (100 tires/hour) several years ago in Oregon. Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality supervised air quality and environmental monitoring of the plant, which showed little or no evidence of sulfur emissions. (Due to lower temperatures of the process, the sulfur tends to stay with the char rather than forming SOx.) This program was interrupted by the untimely death of the inventor in 1992. Ownership of the patent and other assets have only recently emerged from probate.

As new owners of the rights to the process, WGTI is now prepared to move forward, first with a re-installation of the prototype plant near a major tire pile in Tulare County in Southern California. Upon success of this program, including certification by the various environmental authorities, full size plants would be established at various sites in California and elsewhere. Investment capital is needed for these efforts. Technical details and business plans are available.


Robert H. Enslow San Francisco, CA
415-775-7020, fax 415-775-7028,

Bruce S. Owen San Francisco, CA
415-567-8600, fax 415-346-2444