Tag Archive | "India"

Agricultural engineer says tobacco could be used to produce biofuels

Good news this week for tobacco growers, especially in emerging nations, worried that the health risks from smoking might one day affect their business following the revelation that their plants could help power the next generation of motor cars.

Research from the Public University of Navarre in Spain has reportedly shown that genetically modified tobacco plants are viable as raw material for producing biofuels.

Ruth Sanz-Barrio, an agricultural engineer at the university and a researcher at the Institute of Biotechnology, revealed this month that specific tobacco proteins – known as thioredoxins – as biotechnological tools in plants, which can be used to produce biofuels.

Specifically, she has managed to increase the amount of starch produced in the tobacco leaves by 700% and fermentable sugars by 500%.

“We believe these genetically modified plants could be a good alternative for producing biofuels,”Sanz-Barrio told European journalists .

“With these sugars, according to the theoretical calculation provided by the National Centre for Renewable Energies, one could obtain up to 40 litres of bioethanol per tonnes of fresh leaves.”

China is the world’s largest tobacco grower producing four times more than the second biggest India with Brazil and the USA in third and fourth place.

Thirteen countries in Europe grow tobacco including Spain, home to the university, the largest producer Italy and neighboring France, which has produced its unique dark tobacco cigarettes for more than a century. Tobacco production in the EU has fallen dramatically in the past two decades as farming subsidies were withdrawn and fewer people took up smoking and now accounts for just 4% of world production.


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Clean energy experts agree that the MENA region is set to prosper in solar technology

A new study released by Masdar and Reed Exhibitions, and compiled by EY during the 2013 World Future Energy Summit (WFES) in Abu Dhabi, proposes a number of initiatives to accelerate the development of the solar industry in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

The “action agenda” section of the WFES insight report, ‘Realizing the Promise of Solar Industry Development in the Middle East and North Africa’, draws on the recommendations of 40 global energy executives, analysts and government officials, gathered during a special executive roundtable during WFES 2013.

The five initiatives in the action agenda include developing a stable and transparent policy environment, infrastructure, market establishment, financing and local capacity building.

The report concludes that MENA faces a bright future in solar technology due its natural advantages of abundant sunshine, a power grid and road network that could support a large solar industry, and governments that understand the value of developing renewable sources as part of their sustainable energy mix.

Nimer AbuAli, MENA Cleantech Leader, EY, said: “The affordability of renewable energy, and the important role it plays in the energy mix, is now more critical than ever. The vast consumption of fossil fuels by the giant economies of China and India to fuel their growth has grown at an unprecedented pace. But this is done in parallel with an interest in renewable energy, and we now even see the oil-rich economies in the region starting to explore solar power and energy efficiency.”

According to the experts, governments are encouraging investment in the clean-energy sector to ensure energy security in the MENA region and to meet the growing energy needs of a rapidly expanding population.

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Thermal desalination, the new spring

The Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences, along with the Tamil Nadu Government, will set up a 10 million litres per day (MLD) low temperature thermal desalination plant about 40 km from Chennai.

At Chemtech South 2013, a world expo organised in Chennai last week,  the Union Secretary of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Shailesh Nayak, said that a detailed project report is being prepared by Larsen and Toubro and the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) to set up this barge mounted desalination plant.
The main purpose of the plant is to meet the drinking water requirements of the city. He said the operating cost of producing per litre of water is 19 paise, which is less than $0.004.

He said it would take nearly 18 months to get the deep-pool reactor (DPR) ready. The move comes in the wake of four low temperature thermal desalination plants being commissioned in the country.

Usually, in this technology, warm water is flashed inside a vacuum flash chamber and the vapour produced is condensed using cold water. The temperature difference that exists between the warm surface sea water (28 to 30 degrees Celsius) and deep sea cold water (7 to 15 degrees Celsius) would be effectively utilised to produce potable water.

The thermal desalination plant does not affect the marine eco-system unlike the regular desalination plants, which let out brine. The thermal desalination plant in Tuticorin would be ready in the next two to three years, providing two MLD.

Four Low Temperature Thermal Desalination (LTTD) plants have been successfully commissioned in the country at Kavaratti (2005), Minicoy (2011), Agatti (2011) islands of Lakshadweep and at North Chennai Thermal Power Station (NCTPS), Chennai (2008). The capacity of each of these LTTD plants is 100,000 litre of potable water per day. The approximate capital cost of the LTTD plant was $816,000 at Kavaratti, $2m at Minicoy, $3.4m at Agatti, and $816,000 at NCTPS.

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Heavy metal… lighter touch

Volvo Construction Equipment held its very first Innovation Forum at Eskilstuna – 100km west of Stockholm in Sweden – home of the heavy machinery division. Volvo CE invited journalists from around the world to share its vision for a sustainable future. BGreen’s Lorraine Bangera joined the ride

The two-day event began with a tour of the town’s Munktell Museum – a look into the company’s rich historic past. Volvo today has a direct link back to 1832 when Johan Theofron Munktell began building industrial machinery and by the middle of the century, steam engines and locomotives. Volvo CE is the oldest industrial company in the world still active in the field of construction equipment. The second day of the forum looked at the role innovation plays in the environment and in creating future technology. The day-long forum included work stations detailing six areas of Volvo CE innovation, as well as a factory tour and a manufacturing innovation session. The six work stations looked at the role innovation plays in drivelines, emerging market engineering, design, the company’s core values of quality, safety and environmental care, Tier 4 Final/ Stage IV compliant engines and the technology of the future. During the opening speech Anders P. Larsson, executive vice president of technology at Volvo CE, said: “An important aspect about innovation is quality.” He explained how innovation does not necessarily mean making more complex products, but simply making machine maintenance easier. Gunnar Stein, director of driveline systems at Volvo CE emphasised the role of sustainability, “Drivers for innovation must include environmental care and efficiency.” Volvo CE concentrates on using innovative solutions to help build the company from within as well. Employees are given the opportunity to be a part of the action, for example every month one day is solely dedicated to work and talk about improvements that must be made in the company. The factory is shut on that day to help all employees contribute. Ivan Obrovac, general manager of Eskilstuna operations said: “Last year 7% of the mistakes commonly made during production was reduced, while 5,600 improvements were made. KPI was the key.”

Climate Savers
“Environmental care is much more than just a corporate goal, it’s something we take very seriously and are working hard to do,” says Arvid Rinaldo, global communications strategy manager. Joining forces with the Volvo Group, the company joined the Climate Savers Programme operated by established environmental organisation World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 2010. The Climate Savers programme is WWF’s global platform to engage business and industry on climate and energy. Member companies take on two commitments: First, become the best in class in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and second to influence market or policy developments by promoting their vision, solutions and achievements. Volvo Group was the first heavy truck manufacturer to sign the agreement. The company undertook to reduce carbon emissions by 13 million tonnes from vehicles manufactured and sold between 2009 and 2014. Volvo CE aims to reduce carbon emissions from its products and factories, while developing new technologies to improve fuel efficiency and develop alternative fuel solutions. As part of the Climate Savers programme, Volvo CE to develop new prototypes with improved fuel performance. Volvo CE will explore advanced powertrain technologies internally and present a prototype with significantly improved fuel efficiency by the year 2014.

Innovation in design
Innovation isn’t just about the technical elements of a machine, says Volvo CE. Design, helps people experience things with their senses. In a recent survey, one machine operator said that working with a Volvo CE machine makes his job seem less brutal – demonstrating that design can have a profound impact on how operators feel about their working lives. Design isn’t just about form but also about function: if a machine looks good but isn’t useful, that isn’t design – it’s just style. Design director Stina Nilimaa Wickstöm said: “Design merges the technology and human relation. The combination of ergonomics, aesthetics, and emotions, is essential to create demand for a product.”

Tier 4 Final/Stage IV engines
In one of the largest development projects in the Volvo Group’s history, Volvo CE’s Tier 4f/Stage IV compliant engine line – developed with Volvo Trucks will be fitted to the company’s machines in 2014. Peter Engdahl, manager of engine performance, discussed product development for the new engines, including the rigorous testing and validation process that took the engines into the world’s harshest climates. Engdahl specified some of the new changes made include: a further optimised engine platform, a new developed exhaust, machine installations and new engine management systems. Asked if the new installations make the engine more complex, Engdahl said: “We actually take out the complex process and keep the new installation. This is tricky, it isn’t easy. It takes four years of research and development.”

Emerging markets
Deeply rooted in its Swedish heritage, Volvo CE has managed to spread wider on a global scale and plans to increasingly do so in the future. Tommy Streipel, director of wheel loader platforms, talked about the wheel loader product line and how it is tailored to different markets. For example, the new L105 wheel loader is geared specifically towards customers in China. Research indicates that some of the emerging markets in the next 20 years in terms of innovation and construction include Brazil, Africa, and India. On the other hand, today the US is the biggest market for construction, Japan is another big player in the sector. However, Streipel concludes, “market size of the emerging countries will definitely increase more than Europe and North America as urbanisation grows.”

Factory tour
There are 840 employees working at the Eskilstuna Volvo Factory. Machining, hardening, assembling and painting are carried out at the factory. Journalists were given a tour of Volvo’s Eskilstuna production campus to learn more about how operations contribute to innovation within the company. The tour was led by Jocke Höök who is the internal communication manager.

Volvo days
This year marked the 55th anniversary of Volvo CE’s popular Volvo Days event. More than 5,000 customers and visitors from Sweden and around the world were invited to visit the customer centre in Eskilstuna. The three week event started on August 27, and gave visitors a glimpse into the company’s history, products and services. The performance featuring construction equipment used from the 1960s to the latest form was showcased at its best with rock music pumping up the crowd. Journalists were given the opportunity to be the first to witness the Volvo Days this year. Volvo CE presented the opportunity to drive the trucks individually with the guidance of a qualified professional.

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Leadership in HSE

Asian countries are emerging as the fastest growing economies. The soon-to-be drivers of energy demands have started to focus on Health Safety and Environment (HSE) as a top priority. Leaders across the oil and gas industry gathered at the Global HSE Conference this year to discuss the paradigm shift, and how to transform business processes which would be both safe and sustainable. Lorraine Bangera writes

The Global HSE Conference 2013 concluded on September 27, with a focus on process safety, emergency response and emerging technologies in health, safety and environment. The two-day conference held in New Delhi was based around the combined theme of ‘Collaborate, Lead and Tranform’. The global conference was organised by Cairn India, Oil Industry Safety Directorate (OISD), and Government of India. Global and regional professionals, along with regulators, industry leaders, think-tanks and policymakers gathered at the event, to share best practices and exchange ideas for improving HSE culture.
Speaking at the conference about the role of each employee, M.M. Murugappan, vice chairman of Murugappa Corporate Board said: “There is a Sanskrit saying ‘yatha raja tatha praja’ which means ‘as is the king so are his subjects’. Leaders of any organisation need to recognise the critical need of HSE and must cherish it. The employee must be valued and he too must adhere to the value system of the institution.” In the oil and gas industry the safety of the workforce has long been an issue of concern thanks to the extreme conditions in which oil is often extracted. But as the industry has progressed, more measures have been introduced.
Claire Forbes, director of Response Consultants said: “Over the last 25 years we have learnt a lot since Piper Alpha [the 1988 oil rig fire in the North Sea]. One of the main problems was how employees were not able to communicate with their families. They also did not know enough information and no one talked to them. That has changed, in fact we have improved dramatically in the past 25 years. There were 106 recommendations that came out of the Alpha, and all 106 recommendations are now in place.”
Suggesting further changes, Susan Mackenzie, head of energy division, Hazardous Installations Directorate – UK, recommends eliminating major hazard risks at the design phase. She said: “Engagement with contractors about the plant, equipment and services supplied must happen before beginning the activity. Because that point is ideal to eliminate some of the hazards rather than just control them.”

Role of leadership
Teresa Budworth, chief executive at Nebosh-UK, said: “I think leadership at every level of an organisation but particularly at the very top is absolutely very essential to achieving good health, safety and environmental performance. However, it is not the only factor, it is important to have competent health and safety advisors in a company. It is also essential to engage with the workforce, and developing leaders in health and safety and sustainability within many levels of the organisation. “Speaking as a leader of an organisation; as a leader you set the agenda. And to a large extent you set the values to an organisation. If you make health and safety a core value, it tends to permeate through to the whole organisation.”

Oil and gas industry
“One of the great things in the oil and gas industry is its global and mature,” said Les Linklater, team leader at the Step Change in Safety – UK. “And we have learnt where we have got control.” “Commitment should be to learn those lessons and apply them every day. Demonstrate it is a good industry to work in and that we are capable of learning. “We are putting people at risk in a hazardous environment and as long as we are having accidents and fatalities, there is more to do. We need to look at the learning lessons, for example even the lessons learnt from Alpha 25 years ago are still relevant today,” he added.
Conferences play a major role in presenting learning lessons. Linklater said: “Society expects us to look after the people, and that is an absolute clear societal expectation. So when we are here at these conferences we need to use our time really well to listen to what’s happening in the world. Nobody has the absolute perfect solution in the world. Whether it is the US, UK, India or Australia, we have to come together to listen to each other. Because what we might find working well in one place, might work well or even better in another place. “Then we can take these lessons and implement them in our own organisations. We need to know we are in it together, it’s a global industry, and safety actually drives the industry forward. Good safety is good business.”

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French group targets India?s green market

Indian renewable energy market a tasty target for French firm

Schneider Electric has declared its intentions to expand into India’s growing renewable energy market by launching its Xantrex range of products in the South Asian country.

The product range includes change controllers, solar chargers, and off-grid and hybrid-inverter chargers.

Schneider Electric India managing director Olivier Blum said: “The launch of Schneider Electric renewable energy solutions marks our entry into the expanding Indian renewable energy market.

“The new renewable solutions complement the existing Schneider Electric integrated solutions, making energy safe, reliable, efficient, productive and green for our customers from plant to plug.”


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Current Issue October 2013