Sep 11, 2014

How Will 3D Printing Play a Role in the Future of Renewable Energy?

Green Tech
3 min
While 3D printing is still a relatively new technology, its possibilities already seem limitless. The ability to print almost anything is an incredib...

While 3D printing is still a relatively new technology, its possibilities already seem limitless. The ability to print almost anything is an incredible thing and it’s already been put to great use. The medical field has discussed the ability to print organs. The aerospace industry has already starting printing highly-specific parts that would otherwise cost a fortune. 

With all of these practical and extremely useful applications, it would make perfect sense that the renewable energy industry would put this new technology to use. 
One company is looking to make 3D printing technology a reality in the form of printed, portable wind turbines. 
Omni3D has developed a printable wind turbine that can used on a small scale in the form of an alternative generator. The turbine, called AirEnergy3D, is quite the revolution in terms of accessible renewable energy. 

The device can supposedly power something like a laptop or several smaller electronic devices. It could also be used in rural communities and places like India, where energy accessibility is still a difficult proposition. Solar has been filling this void, but this 3D printing tech could drastically change that. It could also be used for camping and other outdoor uses. 

While wind energy has been mostly relegated to large-scale installations, this could bring wind down to a more consumer-friendly level. However, with the further expansion of 3D printing, larger-scale potential certainly exists. 

Also interesting is the device’s open-source nature. Those with 3D printing technology and access to the internet could theoretically print their own turbine. 

However, the turbine isn’t completely 3D printable. Omni3D provides those who purchase the turbine a basic kit that is comprised of parts that aren’t printable. Still, most parts can be replaced by 3D printed parts. 

So, what are the specifics of the turbine? 

According to the company’s Kickstarter, the turbine has a generating capacity of 300 W and is extremely durable. They also promote the turbine as useful for storing power. Omni3D is also planning to ship a turbine to Africa for every £2,500 pledged to the Kickstarter campaign. They also want the turbine to be easily replicated.

“We want to influence people, how they think about electricity and the environment,” the company writes. “If we really want a change to happen, we know we can't keep the solutions to ourselves so we decided to make AirEnergy3D open source.”

Omni3D claims the device is easy to assemble, comparing to constructing a Lego kit. It also has a USB port, so you can plug your phone directly into the turbine. 
The turbine has a USB port which devices can plug into.

The team is also working on a mounting system in which the turbine can be mounted on various services. 
The company is currently working on a mounting feature for the turbine.

They’re also working on weatherproofing the system and making the device safe. 
The quality check station for the 3D printer.

Another shot of the quality check station.

They’ve already made their Kickstarter backing goal and hope to launch the product in March. 

So, what does this mean for the future of renewable energy?

Quite a bit, actually.

As stated previously, 3D printing is an industry game changer. With costs already falling for renewable installations, this technology could drive costs even further and allow energy to reach places that it hasn’t previously. On a larger scale, this technology could potentially change everything. In all reality, though, implementation of this on a larger scale is still quite a ways off. They have prototypes developed, however. 

A working prototype of the device.

In the meantime, check out their Kickstarter here and watch a video of the turbine at work. 


Share article

Jul 29, 2021

Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030

Dominic Ellis
4 min
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades says the UK's National Infrastructure Commission

Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission

Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.

The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.

The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture. 

It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.  

The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020. 

Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.

The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.

While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.

Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.

Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse. 

"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.

“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.” 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets. 

Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.  

Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."

McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:

  • Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
  • Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
  • Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
  • Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
  • The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere

Share article