Friday, December 11, 2009

Bacteria engineered to turn carbon dioxide into liquid fuel

Bacteria engineered to turn carbon dioxide into liquid fuel

Genetically engineered strains of the cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus in a Petri dish. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of California - Los Angeles)

Global climate change has prompted efforts to drastically reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas produced by burning fossil fuels.

In a new approach, researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have genetically modified a cyanobacterium to consume carbon dioxide and produce the liquid fuel isobutanol, which holds great potential as a gasoline alternative. The reaction is powered directly by energy from sunlight, through photosynthesis.

The research appears in the Dec. 9 print edition of the journal Nature Biotechnology and is available online.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Plastic Solar Breakthrough: 7.9 % Efficiency -- Record Broken by Solarmer

Plastic Solar Breakthrough: 7.9% Efficiency -- Record Broken by Solarmer

solarmer plastic solar panels photo
Photo: Solarmer

Plastic Organic Photovoltaic Technology is Maturing
The Californian startup Solarmer has been making good progress with its plastic organic PV in the past few years. It hit 6% efficiency in 2007, 7.6% a few months ago, and they've now broken their own record with 7.9%

Solarmer's roadmap aims for a 10% conversion efficiency for its OPV cells by the end of 2010. The company is currently doing some pilot manufacturing with roll-to-roll technology, and plans to bring some products to market next year.

Here's more details on Solarmer's technology:

First, low-cost plastic is used as the active materials to convert solar energy into electricity. Thanks to the extraordinary light absorption capability of the plastics, the active plastics layer is extremely thin - only a few tenth of micrometer thick, i.e. less than 1/1000 of silicon cell. This material cost is significantly lower.

Second, very low cost printing techniques can and will be used to manufacture plastic solar cells (just thinking of the newspaper). The combination gives much lower cost of equivalent energy (only ~10 - 20% that of silicon technology). In addition, the fabrication process is both low temperature and environmentally friendly, significantly reduces the amount of energy consumption in the manufacturing process.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Traffic Light Augmented by Progress Bars

Traffic Light Augmented by Progress Bars

The Ecological and Economical Traffic Light Concept [] by Damjan Stankovic is a Red Dot Design 2009 Award winner and consists of a simple yet, potentially highly practical visualization concept for everyday traffic lights that could reduce pollution and promote safer driving. There might already be quite some traffic light time counters around today, but few focus on informing the car drivers in a physically integrative and visually glanceable way like this proposed design concept.

Eko Light is specifically designed so it can be easily installed onto existing traffic light systems without much effort. It claims to bring forward following benefits:
- Less pollution, as drivers can turn their engines off and cut carbon emissions while waiting for the green light,
- Less fuel consumption, as turning off vehicle engines lowers fuel consumption in the long run,
- Less stress, since drivers know exactly how long to wait, and
- Safer driving, as all traffic participants are fully aware of how much time they have left before the light changes, reducing the chance for potential traffic accidents.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nissan's Leaf - All-Electric Zero Emmission 5 Passenger Car

Nissan's Leaf - All-Electric Zero Emmission 5 Passenger Car


This new video reveals a few addition details about the Leaf. According to the company, the Leaf will feature LED powered headlights and taillights. This design and use of LED technology will reduce the load on the battery system as LEDs operate with about 1/10 the electricity of conventional bulbs.

Additional design elements focus on aerodynamics of the vehicle. According to Nissan, aerodynamics were a main focus throughout the design process. For instance, the flat floor was designed to reduce wind resistance and the unique headlights were designed to reduce wind noise and resistance by splitting and redirecting airflow away from the outside mirrors.

Wave energy generator pumps power to Scotland | Green Tech - CNET News

Wave energy generator pumps power to Scotland

Wave energy got a boost with the connection of the Oyster hydro-electric device to the electricity grid in Scotland last Friday.

Aquamarine Power activated the connection of the Oyster in the waters off Orkney, marking one of the few ocean power devices to be producing electricity.

The device is a hydraulic pump operated by a "hinged flap," where a large metal piece moves back and forth from the motion of the waves. The movement moves a hydraulic piston that pumps water underground to a hydro-electric turbine that drives a generator to make electricity.

The peak power output of the Oyster 1 is about two megawatts, depending on the location.

Monday, November 23, 2009

How 16 ships create as much pollution as all the cars in the world | Mail Online

How 16 ships create as much pollution as all the cars in the world

"Last week it was revealed that 54 oil tankers are anchored off the coast of Britain, refusing to unload their fuel until prices have risen.

But that is not the only scandal in the shipping world. Today award-winning science writer Fred Pearce – environmental consultant to New Scientist and author of Confessions Of An Eco Sinner – reveals that the super-ships that keep the West in everything from Christmas gifts to computers pump out killer chemicals linked to thousands of deaths because of the filthy fuel they use.

Both international shipping and aviation are exempt from the Kyoto Protocol rules on cutting carbon emissions. But green pressure is having its effect on airlines. Ahead of next month’s Copenhagen climate talks, airlines have promised to cut emissions by 50 per cent by 2050.

More from the Daily Mail

Bioengineers succeed in producing plastic without the use of fossil fuels

Bioengineers succeed in producing plastic without the use of fossil fuels

"A team of pioneering South Korean scientists have succeeded in producing the polymers used for everyday plastics through bioengineering, rather than through the use of fossil fuel based chemicals. This groundbreaking research, which may now allow for the production of environmentally conscious plastics, is published in two papers in the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering to mark the journal's 50th anniversary."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

US Smart grid gets multibillion-dollar injection

US Smart grid gets multibillion-dollar injection

The U.S. electricity grid will get a 21st century upgrade, including installation of millions of smart meters, through a government-led program.

The Obama administration is scheduled to announce Tuesday where it is spending $3.4 billion of stimulus money on 100 smart-grid projects in 49 states. As part of the funding, utilities are contributing $4.7 billion to the projects, pushing the total spending to $8.1 billion.

"These grants are an important down payment on building a smarter grid and will certainly jump-start both industry and state regulators to deploy smart-grid technologies," Katherine Hamilton, president of industry advocacy group GridWise Alliance, said in a statement.

The largest grants are $200 million while the smallest are less than $10 million. Altogether, there are 25 large-scale projects and 75 smaller ones, officials said. There were 400 applications for funding.

More from CNET

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Material Could Dramatically Boost Data Storage, Save Energy

New Material Could Dramatically Boost Data Storage, Save Energy

Led by Dr. Jagdish "Jay" Narayan (...) at NC State, the engineers made their breakthrough using the process of selective doping, in which an impurity is added to a material that changes its properties. The process also shows promise for boosting vehicles' fuel economy and reducing heat produced by semiconductors, a potentially important development for more efficient energy production.

Working at the nanometer level -- a pinhead has a diameter of 1 million nanometers -- the engineers added metal nickel to magnesium oxide, a ceramic. The resulting material contained clusters of nickel atoms no bigger than 10 square nanometers, a 90 percent size reduction compared to today's techniques and an advancement that could boost computer storage capacity.

"Instead of making a chip that stores 20 gigabytes, you have one that can handle one terabyte, or 50 times more data," Narayan says.

The engineers' discovery also advances knowledge in the emerging field of "spintronics," which is dedicated to harnessing energy produced by the spinning of electrons. Most energy used today is harnessed through the movement of current and is limited by the amount of heat that it produces, but the energy created by the spinning of electrons produces no heat. The NC State engineers were able to manipulate the nanomaterial so the electrons' spin within the material could be controlled, which could prove valuable to harnessing the electrons' energy. The finding could be important for engineers working to produce more efficient semiconductors.


Friday, October 9, 2009

U3-X Honda’s Mobility Device | Robot Living

U3-X Honda’s Mobility Device

Honda shows how to look even more like a Dork than the Segway?


Thursday, October 8, 2009

World-first Sustainable Racing Car Runs On Chocolate, To Take On Formula 3

World-first Sustainable Racing Car Runs On Chocolate, To Take On Formula 3

World-first sustainable Formula 3 racing car. (Credit: Image courtesy of Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)

The car is made from woven flax, recycled carbon fibre, recycled resin and carrot pulp for the steering wheel. It runs on biofuel made from chocolate and animal fats and is lubricated with plant oils. But it's not just an environmentally friendly car, it is also fast. The car has a top speed of 135 mph, can achieve 0-60 in 2.5 seconds and is turbo charged to give it more torque.

Having got the seal of approval from drivers such as Lewis Hamilton and Adam Carroll as well as F1 team boss Ross Brawn, the car will make its first competitive debut in the Formula 3 Championship final at Brands Hatch on 17th October. The team hope to prove that high performance, competitive cars can be built from sustainable materials.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Time-lapse proof of extreme ice loss [Video]

Time-lapse proof of extreme ice loss | Video on

Photographer James Balog shares new image sequences from the Extreme Ice Survey, a network of time-lapse cameras recording glaciers receding at an alarming rate, some of the most vivid evidence yet of climate change.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

First Details of Microsoft's Secret Tablet - Microsoft courier tablet [video]

First Details of Microsoft's Secret Tablet - Microsoft courier tablet - Gizmodo

It feels like the whole world is holding its breath for the Apple tablet. But maybe we've all been dreaming about the wrong device. This is Courier, Microsoft's astonishing take on the tablet.

Courier is a real device, and we've heard that it's in the "late prototype" stage of development. It's not a tablet, it's a booklet. The dual 7-inch (or so) screens are multitouch, and designed for writing, flicking and drawing with a stylus, in addition to fingers. They're connected by a hinge that holds a single iPhone-esque home button. Statuses, like wireless signal and battery life, are displayed along the rim of one of the screens. On the back cover is a camera, and it might charge through an inductive pad, like the Palm Touchstone charging dock for Pre.

[More/ Video]

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Miraculous aerocraft may fly 5 continuous years

Miraculous aerocraft may fly 5 continuous years


The aerocraft, with its 150-meter-long Z-type wing, can adjust its posture to absorb as much solar energy as possible. When flying in darkness, it will adjust the wing into a more aerodynamic position driving the plane with energy stored in the solar panels.

With the designed flight altitude of about 60,000 to 90,000 feet, the aerocraft can play a special role in military reconnaissance, communication and environmental monitoring while dealing with upper-atmosphere observation without pollution.

The unpiloted aerocarft was developed in the “vulture” plan by Aurora Flight Sciences, an American company. The plan was supported by BAE Systems, CS Draper Laboratory and the Sierra Nevada Corporation.

Currently, they have exhibited the first scale sized sample; and they would like to make a half sized sample before finishing the whole plane in 5 years.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Teenager invents solar panel that could be solution to developing world's energy needs..made from human hair

Teenager invents solar panel that could be solution to developing world's energy needs..made from human hair

A new type of solar panel using human hair could provide the world with cheap, green electricity, believes its teenage inventor.

Milan Karki, 18, who comes from a village in rural Nepal, believes he has found the solution to the developing world's energy needs.

The young inventor says hair is easy to use as a conductor in solar panels and could revolutionise renewable energy.

Milan Karki

FUEL Filmmakers Unveil World's First Algae-Fueled, 150 MPG Car (VIDEO)

FUEL Filmmakers Unveil World's First Algae-Fueled, 150 MPG Car (VIDEO): "FUEL Filmmakers Unveil World's First Algae-Fueled, 150 MPG Car (VIDEO)"

Solar Roadways Awarded DOT Contract to Pave Roads with Solar Cells

September 7th, 2009 by Lisa Zyga solar roadwaysIn addition to generating power, the Solar Road Panels contain embedded LED lights that "paint" the road lines from beneath. Image credit: Solar Roadways

Solar Roadways Awarded DOT Contract to Pave Roads with Solar Cells: "Solar Roadways Awarded DOT Contract to Pave Roads with Solar Cells"

In a first step toward turning highways into energy-generating solar panels, the Sagle, Idaho-based startup Solar Roadways has recently received a $100,000 grant from the US Department of Transportation (DOT). The company will use the money to build a prototype of its Solar Road Panel, made from solar cells and glass, that is meant to replace petroleum-based asphalt on roads and in parking lots.

The 12- x 12-foot panels, which each cost $6,900, are designed to be embedded into roads. When shined upon, each panel generates an estimated 7.6 kilowatt hours of power each day. If this electricity could be pumped into the grid, the company predicts that a four-lane, one-mile stretch of road with panels could generate enough power for 500 homes. Although it would be expensive, covering the entire US interstate highway system with the panels could theoretically fulfill the country's total energy needs. The company estimates that this would take 5 billion panels, but could "produce three times more power than we've ever used as a nation - almost enough to power the entire world."

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Algae-coated buildings touted as climate fix | Green Tech - CNET News

Algae-coated buildings touted as climate fix | Green Tech - CNET News

Engineers envision that long plastic tubes, called photobioreactors, be integrated into building designs or retrofitted onto existing skyscrapers.

Algae would grow from pumped-in carbon dioxide and sunlight and be harvested for use either as a liquid fuel to run in a combined heat-and-power unit or turned into biochar, or charcoal used as a soil conditioner that also sequesters carbon from the air.

London, if it gets an algae-growing makeover.

(Credit: Institution of Mechanical Engineers)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

‘Air shower’ set to cut water use by 30 per cent (Media Release)

Image of a showerhead tied in a knot.
The Aerated Showerhead can reduce water use by 30 per cent.

‘Air shower’ set to cut water use by 30 per cent
As Australians become increasingly alert to the importance of using water wisely in the home, CSIRO researchers have found a way to use a third less water when you shower – by adding air.
9 November 2006

The scientists have developed a simple ‘air shower’ device which, when fitted into existing showerheads, fills the water droplets with a tiny bubble of air. The result is the shower feels just as wet and just as strong as before, but now uses much less water.

The researchers, from CSIRO Manufacturing Materials Technology in Melbourne, say the device increases the volume of the shower stream while reducing the amount of water used by about 30 per cent.

Given the average Australian household uses about 200,000 litres of water a year, and showers account for nearly a third of this, the ‘air shower’ could help the average household save about 15,000-20,000 litres a year. If you extend this across the population, that is an annual saving of more than 45,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

House Passes 'Cash for Clunkers' Bill

The House passed a plan to boost auto sales by providing vouchers of up to $4,500 for consumers who turn in their gas-guzzling cars and trucks for more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Under the House bill, car owners could get a voucher worth $3,500 if they traded in a vehicle getting 18 miles per gallon or less for one getting at least 22 miles per gallon. The value of the voucher would grow to $4,500 if the mileage of the new car is 10 mpg higher than the old vehicle. The miles per gallon figures are listed on the window sticker.

Owners of sport-utility vehicles, pickup trucks or minivans that get 18 mpg or less could receive a voucher for $3,500 if their new truck or SUV is at least 2 mpg higher than their old vehicle. The voucher would increase to $4,500 if the mileage of the new truck or SUV is at least 5 mpg higher than the older vehicle. Consumers could also receive vouchers for leased vehicles.

More from the Wall Street Journal

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Volkswagen 1-Liter 235 MPG Extreme Fuel Efficiency Car

Volkswagen's CEO, Martin Winterkorn recently confirmed the company is working on a car that will get 235 mpg (1 liter per 100 kilometers) fuel economy. In 2002, VW showed its 1-Liter concept car that achieved 264 mpg (0.89L/100km). The project was cancelled in 2005 but VW has now revived it. How real is this? VW now says a limited production car could be offered by 2010.

The VW 1-Liter, developed in a wind tunnel, has a very narrow and very flat body configuration that necessitated tandem seating for the two occupants. Measuring in at 4.1 feet wide, 11.4 feet long, and just over 3 feet tall, the car features an amazing drag coefficient of just 0.159...even more wind-cheating than the slippery GM EV1 electric car's 0.19 Cd. With its 235 mpg fuel economy, it can travel 400 miles on its 1.7 gallon fuel tank...all the while achieving a 75 mph top speed.

From Greencar.

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Honda Insight: 63.4mpg!

Honda may not have been first to market with a modern hybrid electric vehicle, but the original Insight did beat the Toyota Prius to the US by a few months. As so many other companies have discovered over the years, being first doesn't necessarily guarantee success. You also need the right product for the market at the time. The original Insight had a lot of interesting technology, but it also suffered from some of the same limitations that doomed the EV1.

Still, the original Insight soldiered on from 1999 to 2006 with the Civic hybrid, using the same technology, joining it in 2002. As 2009 kicks off, Honda is launching a new hybrid-only model that revives the Insight name on an altogether more practical machine. This time Honda is aiming for real mass market appeal with a price the company hopes will make the new Insight "The Hybrid for Everyone." Honda invited us out to Arizona before Christmas to sample the new Insight and we can now tell you all about it. Read on to find out if Honda's Insight is on target.

Read and see more photos at autoblog.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Garage Invention Turns Restaurants Into Power Plants

A new garage-engineered generator burns the waste oil from restaurants' deep fryers to generate electricity and hot water. Put 80 gallons of grease into the Vegawatt each week, and its creators promise it will generate about 5 kilowatts of power.
That's about 10 percent of the total energy needs of Finz, a seafood restaurant in Dedham, Massachusetts, where the first Vegawatt is being tested. At New England electricity rates, the system offsets about $2.50 worth of electricity with each gallon of waste oil poured into it.
Vegawatt's founder and inventor, James Peret, estimates that restaurants purchasing the $22,000 machine will save about $1,000 per month in electricity costs, for a payback time of two years.

From Wired. Would you like power with those fries?