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China’s first bio-aviation kerosene producer trials clean energy production

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China’s leading oil producer Sinopec announced the country’s first successful trial production of bio-aviation kerosene on Tuesday, marking China’s solid step towards large-scale commercial production of aviation biofuel.

The first trial production, conducted by Sinopec Zhenhai Refining and Chemical Company, generated around 606 tonnes of bio-aviation kerosene, part of which will be supplied to airline companies.

Bio-aviation kerosene is produced from renewable resources such as waste cooking oil and animal and plant fat. Compared with traditional petroleum-based aviation fuel, the new biofuel can reduce CO2 emissions by over 50 percent or more throughout an airplane’s service cycle.

A view of Sinopec Zhenhai Refining and Chemical Company in Ningbo City of east China’s Zhejiang Province. /CMG

Self-developed high-tech project

In 2009, Sinopec started to conduct research on bio-aviation kerosene. It obtained China’s first bio-aviation kerosene airworthiness certificate in 2014, making it the first country in Asia and the fourth country in the world to have self-developed bio-aviation kerosene technology.

In August 2020, China built its first large-scale industrial plant for producing bio-aviation kerosene with a designed annual capacity of processing around 100,000 tonnes.

Huang Aibin, director of the Sinopec Zhenhai Refining and Chemical Company, told China Media Group (CMG) that “the amount of waste cooking oil recycled in a city with a 10 million population is about 10,000 tonnes per month. If runs at full capacity, this plant can almost digest all the recycled gutter oil of a city this size annually.”

A view of Sinopec Zhenhai Refining and Chemical Company in Ningbo City of east China’s Zhejiang Province. /CMG

Huang also mentioned the biggest difficulty is handling gutter oil as it contains a large number of fatty acid compounds, sulfur, chlorine, metal elements and other impurities, which are extremely difficult to remove. Huang’s team independently developed a special catalyst to optimize the processes of mixing, catalysis and heating.

According to data, if China replaces its current aviation kerosene of around 30 million tonnes aviation kerosene with biofuel, the country can reduce about 55 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually, which is equivalent to dropping driving over 30 million family economic cars for a whole year.

Source: CGTN

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China Space Station: Homegrown solar array powers nation’s space ambition

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As China’s first lab module Wentian, belonging to its space station – also the largest and heaviest spacecraft – has been sent to the space, the solar wings installed on it has also grabbed attention since it’s the largest flexible solar array the country ever used for a spacecraft.

The wingspan of the pair of solar panels on the Wentian lab module can reach over 55 meters long. Each solar wing spreads to 110 square meters when fully unfolded – almost as large as a decent sized apartment with a living room and three bedrooms. The total area of the solar array will reach as large as 400 square meters when three main modules including the core module and the two lab modules are assembled.

Wentian’s solar wing is two times larger than that of the core module Tianhe. Only four of such solar wings can generate 80 percent of the power for the combination of the core module and two lab modules.

There are wrist-like units designed to help rotate Wentian’s two 27-meter-long wings by 360 degrees to face the sunlight in unblocked positions.

There are a slew of dark-color glass-like pieces aligned on the solar wings, forming a solar array which can achieve a high power conversion efficiency of 30 percent. Traditional solar panels only convert 15-22 percent of the sun’s energy into electricity.

The power supply capacity of the batteries supported by the solar wings can generate an average of over 430 kilowatt electricity daily – enough for the consumption of an ordinary household for one and a half months.

The solar wings are installed at the tail of the Wentian module to avoid being blocked by each other at certain angles from the sun and to maximize the power generation efficiency .

The flexible solar wings are used for lighter weight and higher power compared to traditional rigid solar wings.

Flexible solar wing technology

It is not the first time that China has adopted flexible solar wings as an energy source for a spacecraft. In fact, the flexible solar wings were first used on the core module Tianhe with each wing measuring 67 square meters.

The application of solar wings for China’s space projects has witnessed the country’s ceaseless advance in solar array technology.

It developed its first generation rigid solar array technology for the Shenzhou manned spaceship project. Then the second generation of semi-rigid solar array technology was adopted for the Tianzhou cargo spacecraft.

The flexible solar array technology is the third generation technology which has been used on all the modules of the space station.

The estimated electricity consumption for three taikonauts living and working in the space station for one day is roughly 320 kilowatt. The traditional rigid or semi-rigid solar wings failed to meet the demand due to the limitation of its size, weight and power. That’s where the flexible solar wings came in.

Compared with the traditional rigid and semi-rigid solar cell wings, the flexible wings are small in size, large in deployment area, and high in power-to-weight ratio.

The flexible wing is only one book thick after being folded, which is only 1/15 of the rigid solar wing. During the launch, the flexible solar wings were first folded tightly like a closed accordion. Each panel is less than one millimeter thick, thus reducing the volume of the folded arrays to just 20 percent the volume of traditional solar panels.

It is made of ultra-thin lightweight composite materials, and the coating thickness of the glue layer used to protect the space environment is also strictly controlled.

Source: psmnews

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China to improve sci-tech services for rural population

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China will launch a national campaign to better mobilize the science and technology sector to contribute to the country’s rural revitalization drive, according to a new set of guidelines.

Jointly issued by the China Association for Science and Technology and the National Rural Revitalization Administration, the guidelines specify a series of key tasks, including providing sci-tech training, lectures and industry-specific guidance to rural areas.

Sci-tech associations at all levels are called on to lead grassroots sci-tech workers to join in the work of rural revitalization.

The guidelines also require the relevant authorities to incorporate the construction of science popularization facilities into the overall layout of rural infrastructure, expand the service coverage of mobile science popularization facilities and build more sci-tech museums in rural secondary schools.

Source: Xinhua

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China’s Tianzhou-3 cargo spacecraft re-enters Earth’s atmosphere

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Tianzhou-3, a cargo spacecraft that carried supplies to China’s space station, made a controlled re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere at 11:31 a.m. on Wednesday (Beijing Time), according to the China Manned Space Agency.

Tianzhou-3 makes a controlled re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, July 27, 2022. /CFP

The Long March-7 Y4 rocket carrying the Tianzhou-3 blasted off at 3:10 p.m. (BJT) on September 20, 2021, from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in south China’s Hainan Province. It carried about six tonnes of goods, including food items and spacesuits, to the country’s under-construction space station. Six and a half hours later, the cargo spacecraft docked with core module Tianhe at 10:08 p.m. (BJT) on the same day.

A 3D simulation of the Tianzhou-3 cargo spacecraft docking with China’s space station. /China Manned Space Agency

The Tianzhou-3 separated from the space station core module Tianhe on July 17, 2022, after completing all assigned assembly tasks.

It is the third mission of China’s Tianzhou-class unmanned cargo spacecraft and the second resupply mission to the space station after Tianzhou-2.

Source: CGTN

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