James Cook University scientists in Australia are using 3D printing to create fuels for rockets, and using tailor-made rocket motors they’ve built to test the fuels.
JCU lecturer in mechanical engineering Dr Elsa Antunes led the study, which made use of the revolutionary and rapidly advancing 3D printing technology.
The JCU scientists 3D printed fuel grains (solid, plastic-based fuel) for the hybrid rockets using plastics and other materials.
“We wanted to explore the viability of using commercially available 3D printing materials in the manufacture of hybrid rocket fuel grains. We knew that the common plastic Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) has shown promise so we decided to test that against six other compounds,” she said.
Dr Antunes said the use of hybrid fuelled rockets has become almost commonplace. These types of rockets are safer and easier to control than conventional rockets.
“3D printing has meant designers have been able to make more complex geometries for rockets and has also opened up the possibility of using novel fuels to power them,” she said.
explored the various ways in which energy is supplied in the UK, this article
highlights UK energy consumption by fuel type and the sectors it is consumed
But before proceeding, it is important to first distinguish between the
energy consumption’ and ‘final energy consumption’. The
former refers to the fuel type in its original state before conversion and
transformation. The latter refers to energy consumed by end users.
Primary energy consumption by fuel type
Oil consumption is on the decline.
In 2018, UK primary
energy consumption was 193.7 m tonnes of oil equivalent. This value
is down 1.3% from 2017 and down 9.4% from 2010. This year, the trend has
continued so far. Compared to the same time period last year, the first three
months of 2019 have shown a declination of 4.4% in primary fuel consumption.
is also important to identify consumption trends for specific fuels. Figure 1 below illustrates the percentage increases and
decreases of consumption per fuel type in 2018 compared to 2017 and 2010.
Figure 1 shows UK Primary Energy Consumption by Fuel Type in 2018 Compared to 2017
& 2010. Figure: BEIS
As can be seen in
2018, petroleum and natural gas were the most consumed fuels. However, UK coal
consumption has dropped by almost 20% since 2017 and even more significantly
since 2010. But perhaps the most noticeable percentage change in fuel
consumption is that of renewable fuels like bioenergy and wind, solar and hydro
In just eight years, consumption of these fuels increased by
124% and 442%, respectively, thus emphasising the increasingly important role
renewables play in UK energy consumption and the overall energy system.
Final energy consumption by sector
Overall, the UK’s final energy consumption in
2018, compared to 2017, was 0.7% higher at a value of approximately 145
m tonnes of oil equivalent. However, since 2010, consumption has still
declined by approximately 5%. More specifically, figure 2 illustrates consumption for individual sectors
and how this has changed since.
Figure 2 from UK Final Energy Consumption by Sector in 2018 Compared to 2017 &
2010. Figure: BEIS
Immediately, it is
seen that the majority of energy, consumed in the UK, stems from the transport
and domestic sector. Though the domestic sector has reduced consumption by 18%
since 2010, it still remains a heavy emitting sector and accounted for 18% of
the UK’s total carbon dioxide emissions in 2018.
Therefore, further efforts
but be taken to minimise emissions. This could be achieved by increasing
household energy efficiency and therefore reducing energy consumption and/or switching to alternative fuels.
Loft insulation is an example of increasing household energy efficiency.
Overall, since 2010, final energy consumption
within the transport sector has increased by approximately 3%. In 2017, the
biggest percentage increase in energy consumption arose from air transport.
Interestingly, in 2017, electricity consumption in the transport sector
increased by 33% due to an increased number of electric vehicles on the road.
Despite this, this sector still accounted for one-third of total UK
carbon emissions in 2018.
Year upon year,
the level of primary electricity consumed from renewables has increased and the percentage of
coal consumption has declined significantly, setting a positive trend for years to come.
Researchers at the group of Dr. Stefania Grecea at the University of Amsterdam’s Research Priority Sustainable Chemistry have devised a way to enhance the practical performance of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). By using leaves from the black poplar as a template, they produced hierarchical porous structures of mixed-metal oxide materials that can act as support for MOF crystals. In a recent edition of the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, Ph.D. student Yiwen Tang, in collaboration with Dr. David Dubbeldam of the UvA Computational Chemistry group, demonstrate the unique adsorption and separation properties of the bio-inspired design.
Separation of water-alcohol mixtures is one of the most challenging problems associated with the practical application of bioethanol as a sustainable fuel. Produced from agricultural feedstocks, algae farms or the fermentation of molasses, bioethanol contains both water and methanol as impurities. Obtaining fuel-grade bioethanol from these water-alcohol mixtures using traditional distillation is not practical because water and ethanol form a so-called azeotropic mixture.
The cost-effective and green alternative to distillation is adsorptive separation. In biofuels production, this method relies on the development of adsorbent materialswhich are highly selective towards ethanol or the impurities in the mixture. At the University of Amsterdam’s Research Priority Area Sustainable Chemistry, the group of Dr. Stefania Grecea develops synthetic approaches for designing porous molecular-based materials with such selective adsorption properties.
Chemists at the University of Illinois have successfully produced fuels using water, carbon dioxide and visible light through artificial photosynthesis. By converting carbon dioxide into more complex molecules like propane, green energy technology is now one step closer to using excess CO2 to store solar energy – in the form of chemical bonds – for use when the sun is not shining and in times of peak demand.
Plants use sunlight to drive chemical reactions between water and CO2 to create and store solar energy in the form of energy-dense glucose. In the new study, the researchers developed an artificial process that uses the same green light portion of the visible light spectrum used by plants during natural photosynthesis to convert CO2 and water into fuel, in conjunction with electron-rich gold nanoparticles that serve as a catalyst. The new findings are published in the journal Nature Communications.
Today, most rockets are fueled by hydrazine, a toxic and hazardous chemical comprised of nitrogen and hydrogen. Those who work with it must be kitted up in protective clothing. Even so, around 12,000t of hydrazine is released into the atmosphere every year by the aerospace industry
Now, researchers are in
the process of developing a greener, safer rocket fuel based on metal organic
frameworks (MOFs), a porous solid material made up of clusters of metal ions
joined by an organic linker molecule. Hundreds of millions of connections join
in a modular structure.
Robin Rogers, formerly at
McGill University, US, has worked with the US Air Force on hypergolic liquids that
will burn when placed in contact with oxidisers, to try get rid of hydrazine.
He teamed up with Tomislav Friščić at McGill who has developed ways to react
chemicals ‘mechanochemically’ – without the use of toxic solvents.
The pair were interested in
a common class of MOFs called zeolitic imidazole frameworks, or ZIFs, which
show high thermal stability and are usually not thought of as energetic
They discussed the potential of using ZIFs with the imidazolate
linkers containing trigger groups. These trigger groups allowed them to
take advantage of the usually not accessible energetic content of these MOFs.
The resulting ZIF is safe
and does not explode, and it does not ignite unless placed in contact with
certain oxidising materials, such as nitric acid, in this case.
Authorities continue to
use hydrazine because it could cost millions of dollars to requalify new rocket
fuels, says Rogers. MOF fuel would not work in current rocket engines, so he
and Friščić would like to get funding or collaborate with another company to
build a small prototype engine that can use it.
A team of scientists has created a bowl-shaped electrode with ‘hot edges’ which can efficiently convert CO2 from gas into carbon based fuels and chemicals, helping combat the climate change threat posed by atmospheric carbon dioxide.
The research team, from the University of Bath, Fudan University, Shanghai, and the Shanghai Institute of Pollution Control and Ecological Security, hopes the catalyst design will eventually allow the use of renewable electricity to convert CO2 into fuels without creating additional atmospheric carbon – essentially acting like an electrochemical ‘leaf’ to convert carbon dioxide into sugars.
Using this reaction, known as the reduction of carbon dioxide, has exciting potential but two major obstacles are poor conversion efficiency of the reaction and a lack of detailed knowledge about the exact reaction pathway.
This new electrode addresses these challenges with higher conversion efficiency and sensitive detection of molecules created along the reaction’s progress – thanks to its innovative shape and construction. The bowl shaped electrode works six times faster than standard planar – or flat – designs.
Discovery illuminates how bacteria turn methane gas into liquid methanol
Known for their ability to remove methane from the environment and convert it into a usable fuel, methanotrophic bacteria have long fascinated researchers. But how, exactly, these bacteria naturally perform such a complex reaction has been a mystery.
Now an interdisciplinary team at Northwestern University has found that the enzyme responsible for the methane-methanol conversion catalyzes this reaction at a site that contains just one copper ion.
This finding could lead to newly designed, human-made catalysts that can convert methane – a highly potent greenhouse gas – to readily usable methanol with the same effortless mechanism.
“The identity and structure of the metal ions responsible for catalysis have remained elusive for decades,” said Northwestern’s Amy C. Rosenzweig, co-senior author of the study. “Our study provides a major leap forward in understanding how bacteria methane-to-methanol conversion.”
Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the University of Toronto have proposed a method enabling air conditioning and ventilation systems to produce synthetic fuels from carbon dioxide (CO2) and water from the ambient air. Compact plants are to separate CO2 from the ambient air directly in buildings and produce synthetic hydrocarbons which can then be used as renewable synthetic oil. The team now presents this “crowd oil” concept in Nature Communications.
To prevent the disastrous effects of global climate change, man-made greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced to zero over the next three decades. This is clear from the current special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The necessary transformation poses a huge challenge to the global community: Entire sectors such as power generation, mobility and building management must be redesigned. In any future climate-friendly energy system, synthetic energy sources could represent an essential building block. “If we use renewable wind and solar power as well as carbon dioxide directly from the ambient air to produce fuels, large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions can be avoided,” says Professor Roland Dittmeyer from the Institute for Micro Process Engineering (IMVT) at KIT.
Research published this week in Science Advances shows that it may be possible to create rocket fuel that is much cleaner and safer than the hypergolic fuels that are commonly used today. And still just as effective. The new fuels use simple chemical “triggers” to unlock the energy of one of the hottest new materials, a class of porous solids known as metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs. MOFs are made up of clusters of metal ions and an organic molecule called a linker.
Satellites and space stations that remain in orbit for a considerable amount of time rely on hypergols, fuels that are so energetic they will immediately ignite in the presence of an oxidizer (since there is no oxygen to support combustion beyond the Earth’s atmosphere). The hypergolic fuels that are currently mainly in use depend on hydrazine, a highly toxic and dangerously unstable chemical compound made up of a combination of nitrogen and hydrogen atoms. Hydrazine-based fuels are so carcinogenic that people who work with it need to get suited up as though they were preparing for space travel themselves. Despite precautions, around 12,000 tons of hydrazine fuels end up being released into the atmosphere every year by the aerospace industry.
When an act of terrorism or a vehicle or industrial accident ignites fuel, the resulting fire or explosion can be devastating. Today, scientists will describe how lengthy but microscopic chains of polymers could be added to fuel to significantly reduce the damage from these terrifying incidents without impacting performance.
The researchers will present their results today at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Spring 2019 National Meeting & Exposition.
The project was motivated by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. On that day, passenger planes loaded with fuel were crashed into the Twin Towers at New York City’s World Trade Center. The impact set off a chain of events that ultimately brought down the buildings, Julia Kornfield, Ph.D., says.