Posts Tagged ‘alternative energy’

Spray-on films turns any windows to Solar Panel

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

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Photo courtesy of Gizmag

Imagine if all the windows of a building, and perhaps even all its exterior walls, could be put to use as solar collectors. Soon, you may not have to imagine it, as the Norweigan solar power company EnSol has patented a thin film solar cell technology designed to be sprayed on to just such surfaces. Unlike traditional silicon-based solar cells, the film is composed of metal nanoparticles embedded in a transparent composite matrix, and operates on a different principle. EnSol is now developing the product with help from the University of Leicester’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

“One of the key advantages is that it is a transparent thin film that can be coated onto window glass so that windows in buildings can also become power generators,” said Chris Binns, Professor of Nanotechnology at Leicester. “Obviously some light has to be absorbed in order to generate power but the windows would just have a slight tinting (though a transmission of only 8-10% is common place for windows in the ‘sun belt’ areas of the world). Conversely the structural material of the building can also be coated with a higher degree of absorption. This could be side panels of the building itself, or even in the form of ‘clip-together’ solar roof tiles.”

Research partners are developing prototype squares of the material, measuring 16 square centimeters each. Ultimately, EnSol hopes to achieve a cell efficiency of at least 20 percent, and have its product ready for the commercial market by 2016.

This development is reminiscent of Sphelar cells – solidified silicon drop-based solar cells recently developed by Kyosemi Corporation. Although the technology is different, they are also intended to be used in solar panels that double as windows.

Courtesy of Gizmag

Tomatoes the new biofuel?

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

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This sounds like a sci-fi movie, instead – they use tomatoes other than humans! Thank god, we’re safe! We all know tomatoes pack a powerful acidic punch, but we never thought we’d see one lighting up a room! Cygalle Shapiro of Israel-based d-VISION has created an incredible LED lamp that is completely powered by real, edible tomatoes. Currently exhibited at the Milan Furniture Fair, the design collects energy from a chemical reaction between tomato acids, zinc, and copper. This design doesn’t only explore advances in lighting technology – its also an art piece that sends clear and powerful social-conscience messages about where and how we receive energy.

courtesy: inhabitat

Tiny supercharger is like 10 wind turbines in one

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

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It’s tough work to find a small scale wind energy charger that works. While we’ve seeninnovative designs pop up over the last few years, it’s simply difficult to get enough wind coming through such a little device to charge devices. However, thanks to a company called Humdinger Wind Energy LLC, that might change with their new device called the microBelt. It is a piezoelectric turbine-based system that is purportedly 10 times more effective at gathering energy than other systems of the same size.

Humdinger is a start-up of of just 6 people, and they’ve developed a new method of gathering wind energy on a small scale. The system uses aeroelastic flutter and vibration of a membrane – rather than a spinning turbine – is at the core of the Microbelt, which is intended to replace the batteries used in wireless sensor networks (WSN). It can be used in applications such as HVAC systems, using the airflow to power the device and therefore skipping the need for more expensive batteries. And because the system doesn’t mess with spinning turbines that can break more easily, it expects a long lifespan – as much as 20 years.

It’s inexpensive as well as efficient. Ecofriend writes “Power is produced in air flows from as little as 3 m/s. At 5.5 m/s of wind flow the power output is 2mW. Apart from efficiency, another advantage of the system is that it is cheap to produce, as the materials are very simple. Humdinger is progressing applications such as building monitoring and transit monitoring that will rely on such wind turbines.”

Courtesy: TreehuggerEcofriend

Assemble your own solar panel

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Since there’s almost any size and shape of solar panel available for purchase from a myriad of vendors across the Internet why would anybody want to go through the hassle of tabbing together their own cells to build a solar panel? Because you can, obviously. This DIY video will run through the basics of chaining together polycrystalline cells and leaves the details like enclosure and such to the user.

courtesy: Make

Hydrogen-Powered Yacht for 21st Century Pharaohs

Friday, January 15th, 2010

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Egyptian naval architecture and design studio Pharos Marine has unveiled plans for a sleek new 60 metre eco-friendly superyacht dubbed the Orcageno, driven by an innovative hydrogen diesel-electric system that could theoretically deliver an incredible-sounding range of up to 13,000 nautical miles. Hydrogen fuel contains three times the energy of diesel fuel and produces no carbon monoxide or dioxide in the exhaust. The yacht is based around an advanced slender hull form with an axe bow, offering lower resistance due to low angle of entrance, inspired by Orca the killer whale and the gentler sperm whale (don’t ask us).

The interior features are just as stunning, with a spa and health centre positioned within the curved glass superstructure. A sun deck with Jacuzzi is surrounded by a leather-covered lounging area. The dining room is positioned forward with a fabulous view of the dual-level swimming pool and its hydraulically-operated glass sunroof. There are accommodations for 12 guests and 14 crew in total with the owner’s quarters being of course the most luxurious. The 13,000 nautical mile range is based on a cruising speed of 10 knots, while at the maximum speed of 18 knots the figure drops to a still impressive 7,100 NM.

Courtesy: James Spotting

First Solar breaks solar energys $1 per watt barrier

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

This is great news…soon it will be possible to have solar powered nodes at a low cost. As a comparison point, solar panels cost about $7/watt in 2002…hmm…wonder if this has anything to do with the 2 gigs of RAM I bought for $20…

First Solar Inc this week claimed a milestone in the solar industry toward providing a sustainable and affordable solar energy solution: solar modules manufactured below the $1 per watt point, at a cost of $0.98 per watt.

“This was truly a worldwide goal,” said Ken Zweibel, director of the Institute for the Analysis of Solar Energy at George Washington University. “The solar industry has been aiming at this goal for the past 25 years, and now it has been met by First Solar. The US leads the world in photovoltaics in terms of the technology with First Solar being the lowest cost practical manufacturing modules below $0.98 per watt and SunPower reporting the highest solar converting efficiency of approximately 20%.”

San Jose-based SunPower last May touted full-scale solar cell protototypes at 23.4% efficiency. The company has reported improvements in mass production since its first all-back contact solar cell prototype in 2003. CEO Tom Werner has stated that SunPower’s Gen 2 technology in mass production since 2007 is 22% efficient.

Source: Electronic New

Iran Claims It Has Made World’s Most Powerful Natural Gas Car

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

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The Middle East’s largest automaker has unveiled a four-door sedan, claiming its engine is the world’s most powerful run by natural gas. It’s a significant development in a country that has converted more than 250,000 cars to run on the stuff.

The company, Iran Khodro, says the turbocharged engine in the Samand Soren ELX produces 150 horsepower, 37 more than the CNG-powered Honda Civic GX and just four short of the gasoline-burning four-cylinder Toyota Camry.

Iran Khodro unveiled the car Saturday in Tehran, and the Tehran Times says it was developed “under the intellectual property of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” which explains why there was a picture of the Ayatollah looking over the car.

Company CEO Manouchehr Manteqi says the car meets Euro IV emissions standards and adds, “its nominal power will not decline even at the height of 2,000 meters above sea level.” That’s 6,561 feet for the metrically challenged, and it’s significant because Tehran, like Denver, is located about 5,000 feet above sea level.

Manteqi didn’t offer any other details on the car, but the Samand LX uses a 1.7-liter four-cylinder that produces 100 horsepower. It does 0 to 62 mph in 11.9 seconds and tops out at 115 mph.

Iran Khodro is partially owned by the government, and it has a joint venture with Peugeot Renault to build the Logan econobox (sold in Iran as the Tondar 90) and with Peugeot to produce the 206 compact and 405 sedan. Although the global auto industry is slumping, Iran Khodro plans to ramp up production and ease its dependence on foreign suppliers, according to Reuters.

Tehran, a city of 12 million people, has long been plagued by pollution. That’s changed in recent years as the city has adopted natural gas buses, forced taxis to convert to CNG and taken decrepit old cars off the road. More than 250,000 cars have been converted to natural gas since 2004, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Photo: Associated Press

Source: wired

Got Manure? These Trucks Run on It

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

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A California dairy has converted a pair of 18-wheelers to run on biomethane produced from cow manure, creating what is believed to be the nation’s first cow-pie–powered trucks.

Hilarides Dairy will use manure produced by 10,000 cows to generate 226,000 cubic feet of biomethane daily — enough to reduce the Central Valley farm’s diesel fuel consumption by 650 gallons a day.

“For us it made sense to invest in this technology. Now we can utilize the dairy’s potential to power our trucks in addition to generating electricity for our operations,” Rob Hilarides (pictured above), owner of the dairy, said. “This will significantly reduce our energy costs and give us some protection from volatile energy prices.”

Not to mention something to do with all that manure.

Read more on wired>>

High-Tech Shocks Turn Bumps Into Power

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

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Students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a shock absorber that harnesses energy as it smooths your ride, and they say it can improve fuel efficiency by as much as 10 percent.

The regenerative shock absorber uses the oscillations of a vehicle’s suspension to generate electricity. Its inventors claim a heavy-duty truck using six of their GenShock shock absorbers can produce enough power to displace the alternator, thereby increasing engine efficiency and fuel economy. The students have attracted the attention of AM General, the company behind the military Humvee, and believe future iterations of GenShock could improve the fuel economy of passenger cars and extend the range of electric vehicles.

“I want this to be a standard feature on heavy vehicles and eventually hybrid consumer vehicles and electric vehicles,” Shakeel Avadhany, who led the GenShock team, told Wired.com.

The power-producing shock is the latest example of the push to recapture energy from automobiles that is otherwise wasted. Turbochargers are the most obvious — and oldest — example, but more recent developments include the regenerative braking systems used in hybrids and electric cars. The quest to increase efficiency also has automakers increasingly replacing mechanical components like air conditioning and power-steering pumps with electric ones to ease the load on the engine and save fuel. These technologies will grow more common as automakers strive to increase fuel efficiency and extend battery range.

“You main losses are friction, braking and heat,” says Spencer Quong, senior vehicles analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Anything you can do to regain energy there will improve efficiency.”

Avadhany, a senior studying materials engineering, started toying with the idea of a wasted energy in August 2007. He and classmate Paul Abel set out to identify where energy leaks from vehicles and figure out how to reclaim it.

It wasn’t long before they focused on shock absorbers, which expand and compress countless times over their lifetimes. The kinetic energy is lost as heat. They figured there had to be some way of capturing that energy, which their tests show can be “a significant amount” — especially in heavy-duty vehicles.

“The amount of energy available in the suspension is on par with the energy coming out of the alternator,” Avadhany said. “It’s 6 to 10 kilowatts for a heavy truck and 3 to 4 kilowatts for a passenger car.”

The students developed a shock absorber that forces hydraulic fluid through a turbine attached to a generator. It is controlled by an active electronic system that optimizes damping to provide a smoother ride while generating electricity to recharge the battery or operate electrical equipment. Should the electronics fail for any reason, GenShock works just like a regular shock absorber.

Read more on this issue>>

Nation’s First ‘Underwater Wind Turbine’ Installed in Old Man River

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

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The nation’s first commercial hydrokinetic turbine, which harnesses the power from moving water without the construction of a dam, has splashed into the waters of the Mississippi River near Hastings, Minnesota.

The 35-kilowatt turbine is positioned downstream from an existing hydroelectric-plant dam and — together with another turbine to be installed soon — will increase the capacity of the plant by more than 5 percent. The numbers aren’t big, but the rig’s installation could be the start of an important trend in green energy.

And that could mean more of these “wind turbines for the water” will be generating clean energy soon. (more…)