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Research ESRIG - Energy and Sustainability Research Institute Groningen Events

ESRIG-EES colloquium: Laurens Even and Diego Garcia Ortiz, MSc EES students

When:Tu 02-04-2019 16:00 - 17:00
Where:5159.0110, Energy Academy, Nijenborgh 6

Title: Electrical Storms and Radiocarbon Production

By: Laurens Even, MSc EES student.

Radiocarbon (14C) dating is a method for determining the age of a sample containing organic material, such as trees and bones, and uses the properties of 14C. The primary source of 14C is cosmic rays interacting with nitrogen in the atmosphere. This 14C follows a pathway down to the ground where it finally ends up in living organic material.

In literature it is theorized that electrical activity such as lightning can possibly increase the 14C production in the atmosphere and several research studies with lab and field experiments seem to support this notion. This can affect the accuracy of sample age determination on a local and/or temporal scale and requires correct age calibration. Therefore, possible variations in 14C production resulting from lightning, which are as of yet unknown and not included in the calibration process, need to be carefully looked in to. In this research, existing data is studied to see if a possible correlation exists between lightning and 14C production for two distinct locations in Finland and Mexico.

First, 14C data was studied directly. However, it was found out that the availability of this data was not sufficient to study the effects of lightning events in short timescales of seconds to hours. Since neutrons are required in the primary production pathway of 14C from nitrogen, an instrument able to detect neutrons is to serve as a proxy indicator for 14C in this study. Therefore, neutron monitor (NM) data is used as a substitute to direct 14C measurements.

Overall, no clear correlation was found between neutron counts and lightning flashes. A possible explanations for not seeing a clear effect in the data of this study might be due to the chosen locations of the NM stations. It's highly likely that a significant effect might be observable at stations located on a mountain where lightning flashes occur within a small distance of a few dozen meters. It can be summarized that the importance of lightning for dating organic samples is expected to be low in areas with low occurrence of lightning provided that the areas are not fully encompassed in thunderstorm clouds such as mountains. However, further research is required to distinguish between areas where organic samples might be significantly influenced by lightning activity.

Title: Pumped Hydroelectric Storage as a solution to intermittent energies within the Mexican Electrical System.

By: Diego Garcia Ortiz, MSc EES student.

The recent shift in the Mexican regulatory frame for the electrical industry has shown a successful deployment of renewable energies in the last three years. Mexico has among the best solar irradiance resource and one of the most exceptional wind areas in the world. A rapid penetration of intermittent sources of energy in any electrical system has on the long-term consequences that need to be addressed carefully. The Mexican geographical conditions have demonstrated to be effective for hydroelectric operation, therefore Pumped Hydroelectric Storage if developed could be an important asset in the future system as a storage solution. The Mexican electrical system was modelled for 2040 based on three different scenarios.

The objective of this research being to understand the implications of a rapid penetration of solar PV and wind and how could Pumped Hydroelectric Storage play a role in this new panorama emphasising on the potential implications this would have on the system.