Apr 23, 2012

The Future of Energy: Animal Cyborgs?

2 min
Check out April's issue of Energy Digital! Throughout history, scientific-m...

Check out April's issue of Energy Digital!

Throughout history, scientific-minded children have mined their garden and seashores for specimen such as slugs and clams to use towards their own maniacal aims. Some of those eerily interested children grew up to become the modern scientists we know today, and recent scientific breakthroughs in the field of biofuel technology indicated their passion for scientifically utilizing the natural power of tiny creatures has not waned. In particular, scientists have succeeded in harvesting energy from snails and clams to power an electric motor; a Frankenstein-esque move that indicates a brash leap into the morally uncertain realms of 'Animal Cyborg' development.  

Recently, U.S. and Israeli researchers transformed three living clams into one living battery by implanting the clams, and hooking them together, which resulted in enough energy to run an electric motor. The process of implanting the fuel cells into the clams was very challenging, and consisted of the scientists planting electrodes into the blood-filled body cavities of the clam, so that the clam’s blood sugar could energize the biofuel cells.

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So far the weird operation – you have to admit, a group of scientists operating on three tiny clams is a strange image – has not yielded outstanding results. The amount of energy generated by the clam robot –29 millijoules -- was enough to turn a motor approximately a quarter of a full turn in an hour. Wow, such painstaking build-up -- with the implanting of electrodes into bloody clam chambers -- and for such a cheap, tiny, almost unobservable result. I think the problem here is the size of the creatures selected. Clams are ridiculously small. The rowing Guinea Pigs from the Geico commercial got more kinetic results than these puny mollusks.  


Regardless of the extent of results, the findings are exciting as they illuminate a possible future civilization run entirely off the effort of lesser creatures. Imagine the possibilities! Panda bear run escalators? Ooh, a great whale run rollercoaster! When animals are our energetic slaves we can finally sit back and enjoy the impact of our energy consumption guilt free. 

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Apr 23, 2021

Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition

Dominic Ellis
2 min
Drax is advancing biomass following Pinnacle acquisition it reported in a trading update

Drax' recently completed acquisition of Pinnacle more than doubles its sustainable biomass production capacity and significantly reduces its cost of production, it reported in a trading update.

The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.

The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).

Drax CEO Will Gardiner said its Q1 performance had been "robust", supported by the sale of Drax Generation Enterprise, which holds four CCGT power stations, to VPI Generation.

This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.

In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.

The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.

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