Archive for September, 2009

Grow box controls heater, fans, and water

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009




The Cheap Vegetable Gardner wanted more automation than their previous PS2 controller based grow system. This time they set out to design a full featured, compact grow controller that can measure temperature and humidity as well as control a heat lamp, fan, and water pump. An Arduino provides USB connectivity and interfaces the solid state relays and sensors. The assembled project all fits in a box but we are left wondering how much heat the four SSRs generate and will it be a problem?

source: hackaday

Skyburbs: Bringing the Burbs to the City

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

Some people like suburbia for the wide open spaces, yards, and the sense of privacy, but the ‘burbs are not nearly as efficient as urban centers are. What if there was a way to bring all of the positive qualities of exurbia into the city while keeping all of the efficiency of an urban core? What about stacking blocks of suburban space onto blocks of urban space, similar in theory to vertical farms, creating modular gardens, orchards, parks, playing fields, community centers and even homes? The concept is already out there. Dreamed up by two Sydney-based architects, Skyburbs introduces the qualities of the suburbs into denser urban environments. (more…)

Speed Bumps Harvest Electricity from Moving Cars

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

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Fast food lovers may finally feel a little less guilty about getting greasy burgers. One New Jersey Burger King recently equipped its drive-thru with a speed bump that harvests electricity from cars that pass by. The speed bump is part of a pilot project from New Energy Technologies, and if all goes well, drivers could see energy-harvesting speed bumps at drive-thrus, toll plazas and even shopping centers.

The speed bumps, or “MotionPower Energy Harvesters,” look much different from your typical concrete humps. The “bump” is actually flat, with long, skinny pedals running across the top. As cars drive over the speed bump, it pushes the pedals down and turns the gears inside. The spinning creates about 2,000 watts of electricity from a car moving at five miles per hour.

Energy created by the cars is instantaneous (like solar and wind power), meaning that speed bump developers must also figure out a way to store power for later use. To that end, developers at New Energy Technologies are currently experimenting with mini-flywheels (a device that stores energy by spinning), and also plan to look into supercapacitors and other energy-storing mechanisms. Eventually, once storage is perfected, the speed bumps could be used to power street lamps or even feed power directly to the grid.

While the pilot project has seen encouraging results, don’t expect to see energy-harvesting speed bumps at your local Mickey D’s anytime soon: The devices won’t be commercially available til sometime next year. Still, it’s intriguing to think that those midnight french fry cravings may help create clean, renewable power.

Source: New Energy Technologies

Via Scientific American

The Next Revolution: Iran Gets its First Electric Car

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

Outside of Israel and Shai Agassi’s electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure company Better Place, the Middle East doesn’t have much of an electric car industry. That might change soon now that a team of Iranian scientists from Tehran’s Khaje Nasir Toosi University of Technology have developed the country’s first EV, a mini two-seater called “Qasedak-e Nasir”, or the dandelion of Nasir.

Source: Khaje Nasir Toosi University of Technology Via Ecofriend

First Algae-Powered Car Attempts to Cross US on 25 Gallons

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

Powering our cars with algae-based fuel could be the next Apollo mission.” That’s what Rebecca Harrell, co-founder of the Veggie Van Organization and producer of the upcoming film FUEL, told me yesterday in front of San Francisco’s City Hall. Over the next 10 days she’ll be joined by Fuel director and Veggie Van Organization cofounder Josh Tickell as they take the Algaeus, along with a caravan of other green energy vehicles (including the Veggie Van and the biodiesel-powered big green energy bus), on a cross-country road trip. “It hit us that we needed to drive the car across the country,” Harrell said. “People think of algae fuel as this long-term, far off thing. But seeing is believing.

Source: Inhabitat

Nepalese Teen Invents Cheap Solar Panel Using Human Hair

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

Did you know that melanin, the pigment in hair, is light sensitive and can be used as a conductor? Well, that’s what an 18 year old in Nepal recently discovered, and is now using human hair to replace silicon in solar panels. Since the price of hair is considerably cheaper than silicon, this enterprising youth may have just found a breakthrough technology to help bring down the cost of solar and give thousands of people in developing nations access to affordable renewable energy.

Source: Inhabitat

Water Droplet Resort Will Convert Air into Purified Water

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

Architecturally and thematically designed in the shape of a drop of water, the Water Building Resort intends to become the first building ever to convert air into water with the help of solar power. What sounds like magic will be achieved with the following combination of nature and technology: A sunny, southerly facing facade made of photovoltaic glass will harness solar energy, allowing light to pass through. The northern facade features a latticed design for ventilation as well as unprecedented Teex Micron equipment that will convert humid air and condensation into pure drinking water.

Designed for construction in warm and humid coasts, the Water Building Resort, a resort complex, will also house a water treatment facility in the bottom floor, for purifying salty sea and rain water, along with a center of technological investigation to control and certify water quality. Restaurants, gyms, exhibition halls, hotel and conference rooms, and spa services will fill the upper floors – all based on the theme of water, the environment and renewable energy. An underwater aquarium will sit at the base of the Water Building Resort, rounding out the water conscious theme and practices.

Source: Inhabitat