Monday, December 20, 2010

This Solar Charger Runs Devices Directly | EarthTechling

This Solar Charger Runs Devices Directly

"According to Suntactics, its new PC5 unit is different from other portable solar chargers in that it doesn’t send power to an internal battery that then charges your device. Competing products, Suntastics says, “are literally charging a battery from a battery. The solar panels on them are too weak to charge the USB handheld device directly.” Not so with the PC5: “The PC5 solar charger has 5 watts of solar power potential as compared the ~2 watts in most of the other chargers. The PC5 will not only charge the USB handheld device, it will run it on dead batteries.”
Portable solar charger, SunTactics, PC5"

Portable solar charger, SunTactics, PC5

More @ Earthtechling

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Deep Green Underwater Kite

Deep Green Underwater Kite

Swedish company Minesto's underwater kite resembles a child's toy as it swoops and dives in ocean currents. But since seawater is 800 times as dense as air, the small turbine attached to the kite — which is tethered to the ocean floor — can generate 800 times more energy than if it were in the sky. Minesto calls the technology Deep Green and says it can generate 500 kilowatts of power even in calm waters; the design could increase the market for tidal power by 80%, the company says. The first scale model will be unveiled next year off the coast of Northern Ireland.

More @ The 50 Best Inventions of 2010 - TIME

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Solar-powered fridge invented by British student in a potting shed helps poverty-stricken Africans

Solar-powered fridge invented by British student in a potting shed helps poverty-stricken Africans

fridge graphic

It's the kind of simple yet brilliant invention that would have the tycoons of Dragons' Den salivating with excitement.

Not only is the fridge solar powered, it can also be built from household materials - making it ideal for the Third World.

Emily Cummins, 21, came up with the idea while working on a school project in her grandfather's potting shed. The fridge is now improving the lives of thousands of poverty-stricken Africans.

Monday, October 11, 2010

How GM "Lied" About The Electric Car?

How GM "Lied" About The Electric Car?

How GM "Lied" About The Electric Car

The Chevy Volt has been hailed as General Motors' electric savior. Now, as GM officially rolls out the Volt this week for public consumption, we're told the much-touted fuel economy was misstated and GM "lied" about the car being all-electric.

In the past, and based on GM's claims, we've gone so far as to call the Volt GM's "Jesus Car." And why wouldn't we call it that? We were told the Volt would achieve 230 MPG fuel economy and would always use the electric drivetrain to motivate the wheels — only using the onboard gasoline engine as a "range extender" for charging the batteries. It now turns out that not only were those fuel economy claims misleading, but the gasoline engine is actually used to motivate the wheels — making the Volt potentially nothing more than a very advanced hybrid car and pushing some automotive journalists like Scott Oldham to claim "GM lied to the world" about it.

First of all, let's talk about fuel economy. In August of last year, we heard GM's then-CEO Fritz Henderson claimed with all the marketing might it could muster at a Detroit-area press event, that the Chevy Volt would get 230 MPG in city driving conditions. Now, as the Volt's being tested by the auto trade press, we're seeing some surprisingly low fuel economy figures amid the expected lavish praise buff books are heaping upon the Volt.

Let's see what they've found out. Popular Mechanics saw just 37.5 MPG in city driving (...)

More @ Jalopnik

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Graphene Will Change the Way We Live

Graphene Will Change the Way We Live

The theory behind the substance graphene was first explored by theoretical physicist Philip Wallace in 1947 as kind of a starting point when he was doing research trying to understand the electronic properties of more complex, 3D graphite. although the name graphene wasn't actually coined until 40 years later, where it was used to describe single sheets of graphite. In other words, it's the name given to a flat monolayer of carbon atoms that are tightly packed into a 2D honeycomb lattice; like a molecular chicken-wire that is one atom thick. It's essentially the basic building block for graphitic materials of all other dimensionalities; it's a stepping stone to building bigger things. Graphene in itself however wasn't discovered until 2004 in its full observable and testable form.

Since then, in the past 6 years, scientists have discovered that the substance retains some amazing properties. Some say that it will be heralded as one of the materials that will literally change our lives in the 21st century. Not only is graphene the thinnest possible material that is feasible, but it's also about 200 times stronger than steel and conducts electricity better than any material known to man—at room temperature. Researchers at Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering who proved that graphene is the strongest material ever measured said that "It would take an elephant, balanced on a pencil, to break through a sheet of graphene the thickness of Saran Wrap."

Potential applications for the material include the replacing of carbon fibers in composite materials to eventually aid in the production of lighter aircraft and satellites; replacing silicon in transistors; embedding the material in plastics to enable them to conduct electricity; graphene-based sensors could sniff out dangerous molecules; increasing the efficiency of electric batteries by use of graphene powder; optoelectronics; stiffer-stronger-lighter plastics; leak-tight, plastic containers that keep food fresh for weeks; transparent conductive coatings for solar cells and displays; stronger wind turbines; stronger medical implants; better sports equipment; supercapacitors; improved conductivity of materials; high-power high frequency electronic devices; artificial membranes for separating two liquid reservoirs; advancements in touchscreens; LCD's; OLED's; graphene nanoribbons could be a way to construct ballistic transistors; and nanogaps in graphene sheets may potentially provide a new technique for rapid DNA sequencing.

More @ Big Think

Soccer Ball Generates Electricity

Soccer Ball Generates Electricity

The ball is the brainchild of four girls from Harvard, who wanted to improve the lives of people in parts of the world where electricity is scarce — including African countries where 95% of the population is living with no access to electricity. The World Bank estimates that breathing the fumes created from burning kerosene indoors (the energy source many use there) equals the harmful effects of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

Enough energy can be generated to power a lamp for three hours after playing soccer with this ball for just 15 minutes.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Jelly Fish Into Solar Cells?

Jelly Fish Into Solar Cells

While there are a lot easier ways to make solar cells, there’s not as many as bizarre as this one: squishing up jelly fish. Out of Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, researchers have discovered a way to use a protein from a common jellyfish to create a solar cell.

The research looks at how green fluorescent protein in this jelly fish, Aequorea victoria, can coax electrons from sunlight. It turns out, the protein, can self-assemble and produce electrons when it’s placed between two layers of aluminum electrodes and exposed to ultraviolet light.

More @ Cleantech News

Monday, August 9, 2010

Soybeans Enzyme Turns Air Into Propane!

Gasoline from Thin Air?

An enzyme found in the roots of soybeans could be the key to cars that run on air.

Vanadium nitrogenase, an enzyme that normally produces ammonia from nitrogen gas, can also convert carbon monoxide (CO), a common industrial byproduct, into propane, the blue-flamed gas found on stoves across America.

While scientists caution the research is still at an early stage, they say that this study could eventually lead to new, environmentally friendly ways to produce fuel -- and eventually gasoline -- from thin air.

"This organism is a very common soil bacteria that is very well understood and has been studied for a long time," said Markus Ribbe, a scientist at the University of California, Irvine, and a co-author of the new paper that appears in the journal Science.

"But while we were studying it, we realized that the enzyme has some unusual behavior," he added.


Ribbe and his co-authors isolated one particular enzyme, vanadium nitrogenase, to convert nitrogen into ammonia. Then the California scientists removed the nitrogen and oxygen the enzyme is used to and filled the remaining space with CO.

Without oxygen and nitrogen, the enzyme began to to turn the CO into short chains of carbon two and three atoms long. A three-carbon chain is more commonly referred to as propane....

Friday, July 30, 2010

Should You Blame Your Bed and TV?

Left-Sided Cancer--Should You Blame Your Bed and TV?

Curiously, the cancer rate is 10 percent higher in the left breast than in the right. This left-side bias holds true for both men and women and it also applies to the skin cancer melanoma. Researchers Orjan Hallberg of Hallberg Independent Research in Sweden and Ollie Johansson of The Karolinska Institute in Sweden, writing in the June issue of the journal Pathophysiology, suggest a surprising explanation that not only points to a common cause for both cancers, it may change your sleeping habits.


Electromagnetic waves resonate on a half-wavelength antenna to create a standing wave with a peak at the middle of the antenna and a node at each end, just as when a string stretched between two points is plucked at the center. In the U.S. bed frames and box springs are made of metal, and the length of a bed is half the wavelength of FM and TV transmissions that have been broadcasting since the late 1940s. In Japan most beds are not made of metal, and the TV broadcast system does not use the 87- to 108-megahertz frequency used in Western countries.

Thus, as we sleep on our coil-spring mattresses, we are in effect sleeping on an antenna that amplifies the intensity of the broadcast FM/TV radiation. Asleep on these antennas, our bodies are exposed to the amplified electromagnetic radiation for a third of our life spans. As we slumber on a metal coil-spring mattress, a wave of electromagnetic radiation envelops our bodies so that the maximum strength of the field develops 75 centimeters above the mattress in the middle of our bodies. When sleeping on the right side, the body's left side will thereby be exposed to field strength about twice as strong as what the right side absorbs.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Solar power finally becomes cheaper than nuclear

Study: Solar power is cheaper than nuclear | The Energy Collective

The Holy Grail of the solar industry — reaching grid parity — may no longer be a distant dream. Solar may have already reached that point, at least when compared to nuclear power, according to a new study by two researchers at Duke University.
The result of these trends: “In the past year, the lines have crossed in North Carolina,” say study authors John Blackburn and Sam Cunningham. “Electricity from new solar installations is now cheaper than electricity from proposed new nuclear plants.”
If the data analysis is correct, the pricing would represent the “Historic Crossover” claimed in the study’s title...

Monday, July 19, 2010

German company sells 'liquid wood'

German company sells 'liquid wood'

Several products made of Arboform have been revealed, including baby toys, furniture, castings for watches, designer loudspeakers (Arboform has wood-like acoustic qualities), golf tees that degrade on the course and even coffins.

"How about a renewable plastic that has wood-like qualities but can be cast by a machine? A group of scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology in Pfinztal near Karlsruhe invented just that in the late 1990s."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Gulf oil disaster: Pensacola Beach - 22 photos

Gulf oil disaster: Pensacola Beach - 22 photos


Kevin Reed, 36, of Pensacola breaks down and weeps upon seeing the oil-defiled shores of Pensacola Beach on June 23, 2010. Reed's father taught him to swim in these waters, and Reed just taught his five year old son to swim here. "This will never be the same," he says. "I'd like to take the CEO of BP and jam his face in that pile on the beach."

Friday, June 18, 2010

University of Minnesota researchers clear major hurdle in road to high-efficiency solar cells

University of Minnesota researchers clear major hurdle in road to high-efficiency solar cells

solar1-small 300

U of M researchers have cleared a major hurdle in the drive to build solar cells with potential efficiencies up to twice as high as current levels.

A team of University of Minnesota-led researchers has cleared a major hurdle in the drive to build solar cells with potential efficiencies up to twice as high as current levels, which rarely exceed 30 percent.

By showing how energy that is now being lost from semiconductors in solar cells can be captured and transferred to electric circuits, the team has opened a new avenue for solar cell researchers seeking to build cheaper, more efficient solar energy devices. The work is published in this week’s Science.

A system built on the research could also slash the cost of manufacturing solar cells by removing the need to process them at very high temperatures.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wind-Powered Car Travels Downwind Faster Than the Wind | Autopia |

Wind-Powered Car Travels Downwind Faster Than the Wind

Rick Cavallaro and his friends have built a wind-powered vehicle that travels downwind faster than the wind, solving a riddle that can start fights.

The unusual wind-powered car hit a top speed 2.86 times faster than the wind during one recent run, a feat that — depending upon your perspective — is either the result of hard work or the same voodoo responsible for Ryan Seacrest’s hair.

The counterintuitive idea that you can travel downwind faster than the wind is casus belli for aerodynamic arguments from internet forums to college classrooms. The concept known as DWFTTW can cause world-renowned physicists to throw their Nobel Prizes in fits of rage.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Perpetual Power? NASA creates submersible that can run nearly forever

Perpetual Power? NASA creates submersible that can run nearly forever — Autoblog Green

Well, it's not exactly perpetual motion or energy, but it's getting closer than most such attempts. Plus, instead of being backed by some sort of random crackpot scientist, this particular project has the backing of NASA and the U.S. Navy. So, what is it? (Take a deep breath.) The Sounding Oceanographic Lagrangrian Observer Thermal Recharging (SOLO-TREC) autonomous underwater vehicle. Says Jack Jones, a JPL principal engineer and SOLO-TREC co-principal investigator:
SOLO-TREC draws upon the ocean's thermal energy as it alternately encounters warm surface water and colder conditions at depth. Key to its operation are the carefully selected waxy substances known as phase-change materials that are contained in 10 external tubes, which house enough material to allow net power generation. As the float surfaces and encounters warm temperatures, the material melts and expands; when it dives and enters cooler waters, the material solidifies and contracts. The expansion of the wax pressurizes oil stored inside the float. This oil periodically drives a hydraulic motor that generates electricity and recharges the vehicle's batteries. Energy from the rechargeable batteries powers the float's hydraulic system, which changes the float's volume (and hence buoyancy), allowing it to move vertically.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Wind's latest problem: it . . . makes power too cheap

Wind's latest problem: it . . . makes power too cheap

Bloomberg has a somewhat confusing article about the newest complaint about wind power, but the gist of it is that wind power is an issue for the industry because it brings their revenues down:

After years of getting government incentives to install windmills, operators in Europe may have become their own worst enemy, reducing the total price paid for electricity in Germany, Europe’s biggest power market, by as much as 5 billion euros some years, according to a study this week by Poeyry, a Helsinki-based industry consultant.

Implicit in the article, and the headline (which focuses on lower revenues for RWE) is the worry that wind power will bring down the stock market value of the big utilities - which is what the readers of Bloomberg et al. care about.

But despite the generally negative tone of the article, it's actually a useful one, because it brings out in the open a key bit of information: wind power actually brings electricity prices down!

FTL Solar's Lightweight Solar Fabric

FTL Solar's Lightweight Solar Fabric | Harry Tournemille

FTL Solar's Lightweight Solar Fabric

FTL Solar has combined lightweight, flexible tensile fabric with thin film solar panels to create a highly versatile solar fabric.
Originally designed for military usage (due to their portability), FTL Solar is now going commercial with them, touting them as effective ways to shelter and power car parks, battery charging stations, disaster relief shelters, communication command centers, medical units, temporary housing, research posts, and energy pods for small villages.
In the case of the PowerPark II, each structure can generate roughly 20 kilowatt-hours (KwH) per day. So, for large parking lot installations the numbers can add up quickly.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Climategate Claptrap

Climategate Claptrap

At last! The controversy is over. It turns out the "scientific" claims promoted for decades by whiny self-righteous liberals were a lie, a fraud, a con--and we don't need to change after all. The left is humiliated; the conservatives are triumphant and exultant.

The year is 1954, and the "science" that has been exposed as a "sham" by conservatives is the link between smoking and lung cancer. Welcome to Tobaccogate, as Fox News would call it. The conservatives are championing professor Clarence Cook Little, who says he has discovered insurmountable flaws in the use of statistics and clinical data by "anti-tobacco" (and quasi-commie) scientists. The press reports the "controversy," usually without mentioning that Cook Little is being paid by the tobacco industry. A relieved nation lights up--and so, over the next few decades, millions of them die.

It is happening again. The tide of global warming denial is now rising as fast as global sea levels--and with as much credibility as Cook Little. Look at the deniers' greatest moment, Climategate, hailed by them as "the final nail in the coffin" of "the theory of global warming." A patient study by the British House of Commons has pored over every e-mail from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia and interviewed everyone involved. Its findings? The "evidence patently fails to support" the idea of a fraud; the scientists have "no case to answer"; and all their findings "have been repeated and the conclusions have been verified" by other scientists. That's British for "it was a crock."

Monday, April 12, 2010

What it Means to be Green at a Mario Batali Restaurant

Elizabeth Meltz: What it Means to be Green at a Mario Batali Restaurant

The restaurant industry accounts for 10% of the U.S. economy. Americans spend approximately forty-eight percent of their food budget on food consumed away from home ($1,078 per person annually), dining at over 945,000 restaurants.¹ The average restaurant produces 50,000 pounds of garbage per year, typically close to 95% of which could be recycled or composted.² The Restaurant industry consumes 1/3 of all energy used by the retail sector (in the US, and the average food service facility uses 300,000 gallons of water per year.

In our restaurants, from the more casual Otto Pizzeria to fine dining at Del Posto, we have addressed some of these issues: we have banned bottled water, we have a full scale recycling andcomposting program at each of them and all of our chefs have personal relationships with the local farmers. Our steakhouse, Carnevino, in Las Vegas, NV, the city of excess, is located in the largest LEED-certified silver building in the world. In that restaurant we have introduced water saving measures, recycled paper and toilet paper, energy conservation initiatives, recycling and composting -- you name it. And our restaurants are buried deep within a hotel. Where there is a will, we know there is a way:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

IBM's New Solar Desalination Tech Could Create Rivers in the Desert

IBM's New Solar Desalination Tech Could Create Rivers in the Desert

solar power, solar energy, water, desalination, ibm, saudi arabia, green design, eco design
Living in the desert comes with major advantages and disadvantages — excess solar power and not enoughwater, to be more specific. Now IBM and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technologyare teaming up to solve the water problem with solar-powered desalination technology. Eventually, the two organizations hope to construct a desalination plant in Al Khafji, Saudi Arabia that can harness sunlight to generate 7.9 million gallons of water daily — enough for 100,000 people.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Humans are too stupid to prevent climate change?

James Lovelock: Humans are too stupid to prevent climate change
Humans are too stupid to prevent climate change from radically impacting on our lives over the coming decades. This is the stark conclusion of James Lovelock, the globally respected environmental thinker and independent scientist who developed the Gaia theory.
It follows a tumultuous few months in which public opinion on efforts to tackle climate change has been undermined by events such as the climate scientists' emails leaked from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the failure of the Copenhagen climate summit.
"I don't think we're yet evolved to the point where we're clever enough to handle a complex a situation as climate change," said Lovelock in his first in-depth interview since the theft of the UEA emails last November. "The inertia of humans is so huge that you can't really do anything meaningful."
One of the main obstructions to meaningful action is "modern democracy", he added. "Even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while."

Melting steel with sunlight [video]

Melting steel with sunlight [video] ""

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Toshiba and Bill Gates-backed TerraPower discussing small-scale nuclear reactors

Toshiba and Bill Gates-backed TerraPower discussing small-scale nuclear reactors -- Engadget

It would seem that Toshiba hasn't given up on its dream of producing a nuclear reactor for the home, and its latest potential partner counts quite the big name among its backers. Run by a former Microsoft exec and partially funded by Bill Gates himself, TerraPower is said to have opened preliminary discussions with Toshiba regarding a possible joint venture between the two companies. The aim is, predictably, to make safer, smaller, more socially acceptable, and just plain better reactors. TerraPower boasts its tech can run without refueling for up to 60 years on depleted uranium and Bill Gates has gotten enthusiastic enough about the whole thing to give a 30-minute talk on the matter.

Monday, March 15, 2010

MIT researchers discover new energy source

MIT researchers discover new energy source -

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered an energy source that you can see only through a microscope.

The researchers devised a process for generating electricity using nanotechnology. They plan to refine the process in hopes of creating a new environmentally friendly battery, among other products.

It works like this: Researchers used tiny wires, known as carbon nanotubes, to create a powerful wave of energy. After coating these tiny wires with a layer of fuel, Strano said his team generated a so-called thermopower wave and stumbled across a reaction that may eventually be used to power electronics, computers and cell phones.

"This could lead to batteries that are up to 10 times smaller and still have the same power output. In the portable energy and energy conservation arena, we're trying to find power sources that have a smaller profile but hold more energy,"

And that's not all. Most batteries on the market now are made from highly toxic heavy metals, which are very bad for the environment -- metals like lead, nickel and cadmium.
Batteries made from this new thermopower technology would be completely nontoxic, Strano said.

"The materials we use to make these thermopower waves are organic. They're not grown naturally, but they're made of carbon. In other words, you could essentially incinerate them, or they would degrade over time, there's no heavy metal residue," Strano said.
"Most people don't realize a battery sitting unused in your laptop is leaking its power away," Strano said. "If you take all the laptop batteries that are produced in one year, in the off state, they're leaking an amount of power during that year that we could store in a small nuclear reactor ... and that's power that's essentially lost and dissipated just from laptop batteries."

Friday, March 12, 2010

MIT analysis suggests generating electricity from large-scale wind farms could influence climate

MIT analysis suggests generating electricity from large-scale wind farms could influence climate

But a new MIT analysis may serve to temper enthusiasm about wind power, at least at very large scales. Ron Prinn, TEPCO Professor of Atmospheric Science, and principal research scientist Chien Wang of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, used a climate model to analyze the effects of millions of wind turbines that would need to be installed across vast stretches of land and ocean to generate wind power on a global scale. Such a massive deployment could indeed impact the climate, they found, though not necessarily with the desired outcome.

In a paper published online Feb. 22 in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Wang and Prinn suggest that using wind turbines to meet 10 percent of global energy demand in 2100 could cause temperatures to rise by one degree Celsius in the regions on land where the wind farms are installed, including a smaller increase in areas beyond those regions. Their analysis indicates the opposite result for wind turbines installed in water: a drop in temperatures by one degree Celsius over those regions. The researchers also suggest that the intermittency of wind power could require significant and costly backup options, such as natural gas-fired power plants.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Charging Method Could Slash Battery Recharge Times

New Charging Method Could Slash Battery Recharge Times

One of the biggest problems with batteries is the time it takes to recharge them. Run out of juice and it'll be several hours before you're mobile again, a particular showstopper for electric vehicles.

Today, Ibrahim Abou Hamad at Mississippi State University and few buddies reveal an entirely new technique for charging lithium ion batteries that could lead to exponential improvements in charging time.

The business end of a lithium battery, the anode, consists of a graphite electrode, in other words a stack of graphene sheets, bathed in an electrolyte of ethylene carbonate and propylene carbonate molecules through which lithium and hexafluorophosphate ions diffuse. During charging, an electric field pushes the lithium ions towards and into the graphene sheets, where they have to cross a potential barrier to become embedded and stored, a process called intercalation.

The Mississippi team have studied the movement of these ions and molecules by creating a computer model of the forces acting on them. Their model consists of 160 carbon atoms arranged in 4 graphene sheets, 69 propylene carbonate and 87 ethylene carbonate molecules forming a liquid electrolyte and finally, two hexafluorophosphate ions and10 lithium ions. They then apply an electric field across this system and watch what happens.

It turns out that while the electric field pushes the lithium ions towards the graphene, the rate limiting step is the process of intercalation--the rate at which the lithium ions can cross the potential barrier into the graphene .

What Hamad and co have found is a relatively simple way to overcome this barrier. The trick is to superimpose an oscillating electric field onto the charging field. This has the effect of helping the lithium ions to hop over the barrier.

But get this: the team says there is an exponential relationship between the intercalation time and the oscillating field amplitude. So a small increase in amplitude of the field leads to a massive speed up of the process of intercalation.

"These simulations suggest a new charging method that has the potential to deliver much shorter charging times, as well as the possibility of providing higher power densities," they say.


Battery performance is a complicated balance between huge numbers of competing factors. If this oscillating field does improve charging time in real batteries, manufacturers will then have to check its effect on other performance metrics such as the number of these charging cycles a battery can withstand and how long it holds its charge, to name just two.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Artificial photosynthesis could power your house, even if it's not green (video)

Artificial photosynthesis could power your house, even if it's not green (video) -- Engadget

"It's a sad state of affairs: your lawn is better at converting the sun into energy than that $23k solar array your neighbors just threw on their roof. Sun Catalytix wants to show that grass what's what with a new process for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen -- artificial photosynthesis. In a presentation at the ARPA-E conference (the Advanced Research Projects Agency -- basically DARPA minus the military bent) Sun Catalytix founder Dan Nocera indicates that the process his company is developing could, with a photovoltaic array, four hours of sunlight, and a bottle of water, generate 30 kilowatt-hours of electricity. That's enough to power an average home for a day -- though hardcore gamers will probably need a bit more. The hope is that this will ultimately lead to cheap power for self-sufficient homes in the not-too distant future, but we're still left wondering when that future's going to come."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Bloom Box: a power plant for the home

The Bloom Box: a power plant for the home

Those two blocks can power the average high-consumption American home -- one block can power the average European home. At least that's the claim being made by K.R. Sridhar, founder of Bloom Energy, on 60 Minutes last night. The original technology comes from an oxygen generator meant for a scrapped NASA Mars program that's been converted, with the help of an estimated $400 million in private funding, into a fuel cell. Bloom's design feeds oxygen into one side of a cell while fuel (natural gas, bio gas from landfill waste, solar, etc) is supplied to the other side to provide the chemical reaction required for power. The cells themselves are inexpensive ceramic disks painted with a secret green "ink" on one side and a black "ink" on the other. The disks are separated by a cheap metal alloy, instead of more precious metals like platinum, and stacked into a cube of varying capabilities -- a stack of 64 can power a small business like Starbucks.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Night Biking Gadget: Mobile Laser Lane for Safer Cycling | Designs & Ideas on Dornob

Night Biking Gadget: Mobile Laser Lane for Safer Cycling - Designs

lightlane laser bike lane

Just about everyone agrees that bicycling is an environmentally friendly way to get to and from work, yet not many of us actually commute this way. A large part of the reason for this lack of bike commuters is the safety issue. Any cyclist who’s ever had a close call with a car knows that riding on a street with no bike lane can be a bit scary. But installing bike lanes is prohibitively expensive, and many cities simply can’t afford the cost of adding these life-saving safety features to their streets.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Building Cheap And Stable House Out Of Recycled Bottles

Building Cheap And Stable House Out Of Recycled Bottles

bottle-house2 []

This is probably one of the best ideas for getting cheap home. Those bottles are pretty cheap even if you buy them new and they filled them with sand and tiny stones. The walls are thick enough to give them full thermal isolation and stability for the building.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Renewable energy: The seat of power | The Economist

Renewable energy: The seat of power

WHERE there’s muck, there’s brass—or so the old saying has it. The cynical may suggest this refers to the question of who gets what, but thoughtful readers may be forgiven for wondering, while they are recovering from the excesses of Christmas in the smallest room in the house, what exactly happens when they flush the toilet.

The answer is encouraging. Less and less waste, these days, is actually allowed to go to waste. Instead, it is used to generate biogas, a methane-rich mixture that can be employed for heating and for the generation of electricity. Moreover, in an age concerned with the efficient use of energy, technological improvements are squeezing human fecal matter to release every last drop of the stuff. Making biogas means doing artificially to faeces what would happen to them naturally if they were simply dumped into the environment or allowed to degrade in the open air at a traditional sewage farm—namely, arranging for them to be chewed up by bacteria. Capturing the resulting methane has a double benefit. As well as yielding energy, it also prevents what is a potent greenhouse gas from being released into the atmosphere.

The consequence of techniques such as these is that an ever-larger proportion of sewage is being used as a raw material for energy generation. Germans already process about 60% of their faeces this way, and the Czechs, Britons and Dutch are close behind (see chart). GENeco reckons the figure in Britain by the end of 2010 will have leapt to 75%—enough, when converted into electricity, to power 350,000 homes. And the latest thinking is to improve yields still further by cutting out the middle man. Faeces are food that has been processed by the human digestive system to extract as much useful energy as possible. An awful lot of waste food, though, never enters anyone’s mouth in the first place, and this is an even more promising source of biogas.