Archive for March, 2009

Earth Hour 2009!

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

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Kuala Lumpur during Earth Hour!

Monitoring planet earth with ABB instrumentation

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Advanced ABB instrumentation is helping space and meteorological agencies all over the world better understand complex processes in the atmosphere and improve their ability to forecast the weather and monitor global climate change. The latest is the Japanese satellite GOSAT (Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite), launched Jan. 22. Its main component is an ABB spatial interferometer.

ABB is the world’s leading supplier of advanced analytical solutions to measure gases and chemicals in the earth’s atmosphere and monitor the dynamic processes that create the world’s weather and the forces that create our climate.

Many of the world’s space agencies and meteorological offices rely on ABB analytical solutions to take these vital measurements in ground-based, airborne and space applications.

Often orbiting in satellites hundreds of kilometers above earth, the solutions provide unique, accurate data on critical phenomena such as ozone depletion and greenhouse gas concentrations, as well as the presence of toxic chemicals during and after natural and manmade disasters.

The cutting-edge ABB solutions are based on Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and are the main analytical components on the satellites and aircraft that carry them. Among the many high-profile installations are: (more…)

Microsoft’s ‘green dashboard’ manages energy costs and consequences

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Businesses are undergoing a ‘massive paradigm shift’ to green computing, said a Microsoft exec whose new tool offers to help.

Once, businesses were interested in green computing mainly as a matter of corporate responsibility. But now, increasing regulatory pressures and skyrocketing fuel prices are spurring companies to want to take a very hard look at both their carbon footprints and energy costs, according to Jennifer Pollard, a senior product manager at Microsoft.

Earlier this month, Microsoft released the first edition of a tool aimed at taking the heavy lifting out of measuring the environmental impact of business activities and tracking your company’s expenditures on oil, gas, and other forms of energy.

Available free of charge to Dynamics AX 2009 customers, the new Environment Sustainability Dashboard sits directly on top of Microsoft’s ERP system, displaying information captured elsewhere in the system in easy-to-read reports, Pollard said, in a briefing for Betanews.

Information about a company’s expenditures on energy might be funneled from purchase orders (POs) or invoices within the AX 2009 system, she illustrated. With this information readily at hand in graphical views, it grows simpler for businesses to reduce their energy costs and carbon footprints.

green dashboard

Source: Beta News

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>>