Nickel Magazine - Current Issue

Volume 30-1: Cleaner Energy

April 07, 2015

Nickel makes it possible

Features

Enduring Nuclear

Electrical power from nuclear energy has always been understood as different and that will not change. While the focus of the world has been on renewable energy and the extraordinary progress it has made, nuclear energy remains a significant component of base-load electrical generation. While controversy remains it seems clear that choices and decisions are being made for a variety of reasons that favour fission as a source of electricity.

Full circle carbon

The numbers and the necessity are controversial but societies are steadily moving to control the amount of carbon they emit. Every tool in the box is being tried and tested, from economic disincentives (“carbon tax”) to substitutions to lower carbon emissions (fuel oil to natural gas) or to have zero operational carbon (hydro and other weather-influenced renewables and geothermal).

Hotter, higher, cleaner

In fossil-fuelled power plants, efficiency can be increased by raising the steam temperature to 700 °C and steam pressure to 350 bar. At the same time, CO2 and other emissions are reduced. Nickel-containing materials are playing a crucial role in such high temperature, high pressure environments.

Hot rocks

Geothermal energy for electric power production has a low profile yet is significant in the current and potential energy mix for a number of countries. It has also been described as the most reliable of the renewable energy sources, above weather-dependent wind, solar and hydropower. The production environments are often demanding, and nickel alloys and nickel stainless steels are needed to make geothermal energy viable from an engineering point of view. Building a geothermal power station is an expensive undertaking but once up and running, the operating costs are relatively low.

In Use

Armada Platform

The Armada Platform is operated by BG Group and exploits three gas condensate fields in the Central North Sea, 250km east of Aberdeen, Scotland. In 2009, the living facilities on the platform were extended to accommodate an additional 59 personnel. Corrugated nickel-containing stainless steel was used for the structural cladding of these accommodation modules.

Fishing for carbon

The continued search for new oil and gas fields has resulted in deeper wells, often with more aggressive downhole environments. Nickel-containing alloys play small but vital roles in the exploration and production of new fields. One such role is the use of nickel-rich alloys in wireline.


Ozone water treatment

Safe drinking water, and the care and treatments needed to make it so, are serious responsibilities for cities. It is also where, unseen by citizens, many nickel-containing stainless steel applications are at work.

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In Brief

Clean innovation

Scientists from Stanford University and the Technical University of Denmark have discovered a nickel-gallium (Ni5Ga3) catalyst that synthesises methanol using hydrogen produced by wind or solar power and CO2 emissions from power plants.

Nanocrystalline nickel nanostructure

The bacterium Staphylococcus Aureus (S.aureus), also known as Staph, is a common source of post-surgery infections involving prosthetic joints and artificial heart valves. The bacteria adhere to medical equipment and if they get inside the body a serious and even life-threatening infection may result. The emergence of drug-resistant strains of S.aureus makes matters worse.

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