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(generated from captions) ? Theme music (Applause) Hello. Welcome. I'm James O'Loghlin. they've sought power. Ever since people have been people Empires have risen. And fallen. through middle management Employees have crept up of executive, deputy, to reach the exulted position of IT systems analysis. managing director with increasing urgency Now we're looking a touch of desperation and even, dare I say, for new ways to create and use power that doesn't dirty up the world. to help us create clean power. Tonight, inventions hair, most people feel peace. When they feel the wind in their Varan Sureshan felt potential. that potential into wind power. He thinks he's found a way to turn to make solar cells more efficient Dr Kylie Catchpole wanted to compete with fossil fuels. to enable solar energy with silver. Then she started mucking about he's come up with a way And Dr Tom Denniss thinks way of getting electricity to create a commercially viable from the waves in the sea. Now to welcome our panel. Veena Sahajwalla We have engineering professor and science journalist Bernie Hobbs. is a successful investment banker, And our guest judge for this week vigorous philanthropist, a very busy businessman, Chairman of the Board of the CSIRO. No! Almost forgot! That's enough, isn't it? Please welcome Simon McKeon. He's the Australian of the Year. (Applause) Simon, hello. you've had a lot of experience - Tell me, how do you pick - 'cause something that's not just clever vigorous business? but that will make a sustainable, James, in this part of the world, invest enough in R and D, the corporate sector doesn't you've got to have an aha moment. but to answer your question, I think that invention can just transform You've got to say, 'Wow. That idea, an aspect of society.' That's what I'm always looking for. tonight. Thank you for coming on. I hope you look for it and find it Simon was the first person ever in a sailboat. to go nearly 100 kays an hour He's been a world-record holder. the power of the wind. He did that by harnessing harness the wind But what if we could economically to power everything else? crisis, when I was in high school VARAN: In 1972, after the oil there needed to be some other way it became very clear to me that just burning fossil fuels. of making energy than Over the last 25 years, of renewable energy I have worked on most forms in solar and now wind. but mainly in energy conservation in the cities Most people seem to live can catch the wind and I thought if we directly in cities which may be used that might be a good thing. to inspect equipment I go to rooftops quite often you were up about 10 - 12 stories, and I found that, as long as there was plenty of wind. and they just kept blowing off. I was holding onto my files one day themselves start disturbing the wind On top of roofs, the buildings confused pattern of wind. and you get a very The wind turbine in the city which comes from multiple directions has to be able to cope with wind can't really cope with that. and conventional wind turbines by making physical models. So we improved and improved beautiful as well, Of course, it's got to be are going to be interested. otherwise, not too many architects Please welcome Varan Sureshan. (Applause) on top of buildings There is a lot of wind and that's no good for rotors. but it's really choppy to sit on top of a rotor So you've built this gorgeous outfit and direct the wind. The real one's too big. This is actually a model. We had to leave that in the car park eventually sit on top of a building, so it'll be a lot bigger and it'll and glamorous. looking all Jetsons and gorgeous this outfit Talk us through how this shroud, get to the rotor. makes the wind from any direction The shape's the main key because the bottom opening here highest focusing ability. has what we call the So as the wind comes along here it enters the bottom area, it gets speeded up much faster, of the whole shroud and blocks off. it blows through the backside If forms a fluid, dynamic gate. Like an air curtain up the back straight through. so the wind can't blow comes through here So the rest of the wind except to come up through here. and cannot go anywhere else fluid dynamic models And you've done some nice of the wind changing. so we can actually see the speed that's slow? So that orange down the bottom - as it goes through the turbine The red speeds it up and and it becomes green. the energy's extracted from less energy. Blue and green at the top, and technology behind it That's all the science but let's make this sucker work. of wind over here We've got a source along the front there. and we've got some lights and turn the fan on, Varan? Would you do the honours so we've got a bit of wind. OK, the fan's blowing, How are the lights? The rotor's turning. VEENA: We can see it! SIMON: Yeah, we've got lights! Come on, Varan. That's wind in one direction. come from here. The wind won't always It's still there. The wind rotates. Still going, still going. (Laughter) Veena, you look all 1970s. I tell you, it's still there! OK, alright. Yep, that's great. I think we can turn that off. How much more wind are you catching? How much more power are you getting compared to just the rotor? with the shroud, this is almost double the wind If it was just the plain rotor, which that same rotor can catch. of it's almost double. So the efficiency IMPLUX is actually situated I wanted to come to the way the on the rooftop. that are going to be quite different Of course, there are wind patterns depending on the situation. of what those wind patterns are Have you actually made an assessment this is to be located? and therefore where because it is something Our wind turbine, enter horizontally, where the wind can or in an angle - any angle - and then it's leaving vertically. It's able to capture constantly. It doesn't matter where you place it. The other thing that leads into this, of course, is the fact that you could potentially think about making this in different sizes depending upon the application. Is that something you've thought about? Yes, we have, and we've in fact modelled it all the way up to a 30 kilowatt unit which is about 15 metres in diameter. However, we found that it's the building roof - you run out of roof-space. In fact, the bigger it is, the more efficient the machine is. You've got the blades inside whacking on. How much of that noise and vibrations transfer into the building? Because you can see this unit is completely locked onto the building it's got very little vibration. Because we've got a typical horizontal rotor, but spinning in a vertical direction the amount of imbalanced forces are almost nil. We have to talk about economics. How do you think your unit compares to the conventional generation of power? The conventional generation of power today, the prices from our unit, if it has a lifespan of 15 - 20 years this will be about three to four times the price of conventional electricity. However, that changes from location to location. If you're in a place where there's plenty of wind, well, the wind is free, so it's only the price you paid to buy this and put it on the building. Realistically, what are the plans to create something out of this? The plans are to make a unit which is about 2.5 kilowatts in size and up to maybe 6 kilowatts in size. We are working on a model about that size which can be easily replicated rather than custom-make units for each individual building. Varan Sureshan, I know if Mark Pesce was here he would say, 'Thanks for blowing us away.' He's not, so I'm not. Well done. (Laughter) (Applause) Now, let's move from wind to solar power. How fast do you think a car powered purely by the sun could travel? And I don't mean if you threw it off a cliff. MAN: In January, our solar car Sunswift IV broke the world record for world's fastest solar-powered vehicle. We reached the speed of 88km/h on a naval base in Nowra, NSW. How's that? We broke the record by over 10km/h. ALL: Yeah! The car itself is incredibly aerodynamic. Electrical systems are also about 98% efficient so 98% of the power that hits the solar panels will make its way over to the motor. So while Sunswift is a lot of fun for everyone involved we actually have a serious side and that is basically to do with training engineers of the next generation. Solar-powered cars will never really see a production line. They will never be commercially available. The reason for that is there isn't enough power currently generated from solar panels to actually power a motor to push a car. Cars are very heavy. They weigh, on average, one or two tonnes. Our solar car weighs 165kg with its battery pack in it. It's incredibly light and that allows it to go very fast. (Applause) You heard them say there isn't enough power currently generated from solar panels to run a car motor. But would that all change if there was a way to make solar cells much more efficient? WOMAN: Solar energy is really the only type of energy that can produce power on the scale that we're going to need. We're expecting the energy demand to double over the next 50 years and we need the carbon-intensity of that additional power to be zero, effectively, if we're going to reduce emissions. Solar energy is about the only option for doing that. Solar cells convert sunlight directly to electricity. Classic solar cells are made from pure silicon. That's the same thing that you use in your computer chips. It has to be extremely, extremely pure and it's really expensive. The modern thin-film solar cells use silicon which is deposited directly on a cheap substrate, such as glass, so they can use 100 times less silicon. Classic solar cells have pyramids on the surface and the light then bounces off the pyramids and is trapped. The problem with these pyramids is that they're about the same size as the layer of silicon on thin solar cells. So for thin solar cells, we really have to do something different. We were looking for something that we could do with these thin silicon solar cells that would trap more light inside the solar cells. It's all based on tiny nanoparticles of silver. OK, I get it. Wait, I think I get it. Do I get it? Please welcome Dr Kylie Catchpole. (Applause) Kylie, what's interesting here is we've got a whole progression of solar cells but let's start first with the standard one. This is what we have, which is a conventional solar cell. The thin-film one, of course they've gone thinner because we want to save money on the cost of materials. But what we have here is a thin film where you've now developed this plasmonic layer and you've coated it with silver. Tell us about that progression. Why have you arrived at this solution? We were trying to think of completely new ways of making solar cells. We were looking around in all types of areas of science

just to see where we could apply an idea that might work on a solar cell. I found out about this idea called plasmonics which is using the properties of metals. One of the things they use it for is to focus light down to nanoscale and I thought, 'Well can we use these ideas in solar cells?' And it turns out that we can - it really works. Tell us how it actually works. In a standard one, of course, you've got this microstructure which is basically the pyramids on the surface. You have not been able to, or you cannot actually do the same thing for thin films. Why not? These pyramids on the surface are actually about the same size as the entire thickness of the solar cell. These types of solar cells are about one-fifth of a millimetre thick whereas these thin-film solar cells are 100 times less thick. They're much, much thinner, they're using much less silicon which is why they can be much cheaper, of course. But because they're so much thinner we can't put these pyramids on the surface any more. What you've done here now is found a new way to be able to get more of that light entrapped inside these thin-film solar cells. How have you actually achieved that with your nanoparticles? What we do is we evaporate a very thin layer of silver

and then we put it into an oven at 200 degrees - standard sort of temperature for an oven. And it actually balls up on the surface, due to surface tension. It forms these little particles on the surface. BERNIE: So it forms the nanoparticles by itself? Yep. These particles are about 10 times smaller. That's really important. Normally, if you had something that was 10 times smaller you'd expect not to scatter the light so well. But because it's made of metal, the special properties of metal actually scatters the light very effectively. How would you compare the ability of this one to entrap light compared to your standard structures? They're both very effective methods of trapping the light inside the solar cell. The point is you just can't use this for thin films and thin films have the potential to be so much cheaper. Have you been able to show that having the nanoparticles forming that plasmonic coating, have you been able to show that they increase the light getting trapped in the silicon film? Absolutely. We've looked at the efficiency of thin-film cells without any structure on the surface compared with a plasmonic structure structure on the surface and the cells with the plasmonic have about 20% more efficiency. Right. OK. That's fantastic. Now, Kylie, I look at these things and they look quite inert. They look as if they could last 1,000 years. But tell me... He's the kind of investor you want. (Laughter) But they're going to be presenting their faces to the sun for a long time. What is their workable life? It's the same as the standard solar cells and that's one of the advantages. These are actually a thin film of silicon. So it's exactly the same material - it's a crystalline structure, it's completely stable. These types of modules are guaranteed for 25 years but people are talking about extending their guarantees to 40 years. There's no reason why they should break down. And these are the same materials, so they could last. Your process isn't disrupting that? No, absolutely not. You've talked about silver thin-films but that's not the only kind of thin film that's being used in the latest photovoltaics. Does it work on the other thin films? These are silicon cells, so it works on those but it also works on a range of different types of cells. This is one of the advantages of putting these particles on the surface. It's completely independent of the cell process - it happens at the end of the cell process so it doesn't interfere with anything else you do to make the solar cell. Have you got an idea in mind as to when I might see one on my roof? This is a three-year project and at the end of that we aim to determine whether we can commercialise this technology. Good. Kylie, thank you so much for sharing these thoughts and ideas with us. Thank you very much. (Applause) OK, solar power, wind power. What about waves? How much power is created by the ocean? I don't know either, but it's heaps. And how much of it do we use? I know the answer - pretty much none. MAN: Wave energy is the last great renewable resource yet to be utilised by humankind. The energy in waves is absolutely enormous. Even a relatively small wave has a lot of energy as anyone who's been dumped by a wave at the beach knows. Waves are actually a very concentrated form of solar energy. The sun heats the earth unevenly, it causes winds to blow, the winds blow across vast distances over the ocean and imparts its energy into the waves so the waves end up being the most concentrated form of solar energy that there is. It's also the most predictable and reliable form and wave energy can continue to generate electricity long after the sun has gone down. We managed to build a turbine that very efficiently converted the energy into electricity. However, we still felt there was more we could get out of the system. Waves in Australia arrive at the beach roughly every 10 seconds. One every 10 seconds - that's what's called a 'frequency'. When a radio antenna picks up a radio wave what it's actually doing is resonating to that particular frequency of that radio wave. (Radio squeals) (On radio) So I wondered whether we could use the same sort of phenomenon with ocean waves and greatly increase the amount of wave energy that we're converting. I've wondered that too, many times. But I've never done anything about it.

Please welcome Dr Tom Denniss. (Applause) Tom, I understand that the World Energy Council says that, if properly exploited, we could get 5,000 times the amount of energy that we need to generate our electricity from the ocean. We have in front of us a model and this is something that you have been trialling at Port Kembla. And the waves are actually coming in and moving this structure around.

You've actually got two particular aspects to this installation which are really quite key to it. The first one is an oscillating water column. Tell us about that. The waves come in. Underneath we have an opening. The water level rises inside of the chamber due to the wave passing by.

It compresses the air that's trapped up here above the waterline and it drives it past a turbine, which is in the narrowest part of the structure there. And, as the water recedes, as the wave trough comes past, a vacuum is created inside the chamber and it sucks air back the other way and the turbine continues to spin in the same direction regardless of the reversing nature of this airflow. Your turbine has to be pretty special to rotate in the one direction to cope with that directional change. That's correct. How does it do that? Basically by adjusting the pitch of its blade. So the angle of the turbine blades adjusts. Through what degree? How? From about +30 to -30 degrees. So all up, 60 degrees, and they're doing that every few seconds.

That's correct, in a continuous nature. They don't rush to a particular spot. Tom, waves vary in their frequency and in their amplitude. How consistent a source of power can you provide relying on that wave power? Could this provide base load? It is possible to predict waves and any surfer who looks up websites to know where they wanna go and surf in the days ahead knows that waves are very predictable at least three days in advance. And that's a very important aspect for base load power stations - they need to know in advance when they can turn down or need to turn up their capacity. And they are floating in the sea. I know that you lost your demonstration plant in a massive storm. What are you going to do to stormproof the commercial ones? The full-size is designed for a 25 - 30 year lifespan and, without getting too technical, the design codes require us to design for a bigger wave than could ever possibly - at least historically - at lease be incident upon the device. In terms of the market, there's a large proportion - in fact, 60% of our population - lives about 60km from the coast. Do you see a huge potential there in terms of a global market and could this meet those requirements? Certainly. We're not proposing that our technology will provide all the world's power but hopefully by the end of my lifetime we'll be seeing it providing at least a measurable percentage of it. In terms of cost, have you done an assessment how your technology compares from a cost point of view compared to other renewables and coal as well? At this stage of its life - in other words, the beginning of the commercialisation phase - the cost of generation from this technology is actually, in today's dollar terms, cheaper than any past energy source including coal-fired power, oil... At the same point in its... At the same point in its lifespan in today's dollar terms. I don't know whether you're a surfer or not but may the waves keep coming in. All the best. OK, thank you. Cheers. Well done. (Applause) Now's the time for our judges to pick a winner. Is it Varan Sureshan's IMPLUX? Dr Kylie Catchpole's plasmonic light trap or Dr Tom Denniss's blueWAVE? Which of these impressed you most as an idea, Bernie? You know what really stuck with me straightaway? I don't. (Laughter) And maybe it's that I don't know enough about it but the wave power in the blueWAVE - that it's actually just an air piston.

That the wave is just providing energy - it's not involved at all. I really loved that they're capturing that. Particularly because we don't talk about wave power, but there's so much and we see it all the time, but no-one's really got it yet. For me, I've got to say, with the plasmonic light trap what I loved about it was these tiny little nanoparticles. And it was so simple. They're acting like a mirror in both directions. They send the light in that way and they reflect it back that way. Back into the system. I'm with Veena. I think that has the potential to just revolutionise the thin film industry and, boy, it's... They're three fabulous ideas and I just know that they will each have their day in the sun. What about the way it's made? It could even be made better. Or are they as good as they're gonna get? I think, just looking at what Varan has done with the IMPLUX system and the way he's so refined the shape and he's really considered not just the functionality of it, but to get that thing used, it has to be attractive. You can't keep sticking ugly air-conditioning units on buildings. Everything people worry about with rotors, with birds and noise and all that sort of stuff, he's overcome that with a fantastic design. Simon, who is your winner tonight and why? This is so hard, but I'm going to go back to the first thing I said. The plasmonics idea, if properly executed - I know there's a way to go yet - but it just has such large-scale application. There is a way to go with that one but I'd be taking a chance that Kylie will get there. OK. Do either of you disagree? I think I have to disagree with that one because I think about all of the different criteria that we've just discussed and is it ultimately going to get there in terms of commercial aspect? If we had to take that into consideration along with the other significant bits that have been done which is the originality and the design elements of it I'd have to go with the blueWAVE. (Drums panel) OK, well... We're looking at who is making a leap here that could really... Or the biggest leap, really. That could really shift one of those technologies further along than it already has been. And I love... I think that's the theme tonight, in a way, isn't it? When you've put us on the spot with three technologies that actually will work together... I forgot what I was gonna vote for. (Laughter) I don't think we say this very often - before you decide who's going to be tonight's winner, that they're all winners, they're all fantastic. (Applause) But having said that... Don't get too excited about that because, Bernie. I do want to just say that I think Varan's invention is going to make a massive difference in built-up areas

but, for me, the invention that takes us to the next level and that lets a current technology suddenly become much more competitive and much more effective is plasmonics - is Kylie's plasmonics. Dr Kylie Catchpole is our winner with her plasmonic light trap. (Applause) Well done, Kylie. Congratulations. That is for you. Kylie goes into the running to be named our Inventor of the Year. Thank you to our judges, especially Australian of the Year, Simon McKeon. Thanks, James. Thank you very much, Simon. And these are the stars of the show, the inventors. Thank you very much. (Applause) Alright, see you next week. Goodnight. Closed Captions by CSI JAMES: We're always on the lookout for new inventions so if you've been tinkering away in your shed and you're ready to unveil your creation why not come on the show? All you need is a working prototype and a desire to show the rest of Australia how clever you are. Just go to our website - for all the details on how to apply.


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