Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Researchers achieve new efficiency record of blue OLEDs

Researchers achieve new efficiency record of blue OLEDs

Ever since Sony's XEL-1 hit the market, pundits have pointed to the (comparatively) short-lived blue OLED material as its biggest hamstring. Researchers have been toiling around the clock in order to bring the blue lifepsan in line with its green and red siblings, and now it seems like a team of Gators are that much closer to the promise land. Reportedly, a gaggle of whiz-kids from the University of Florida have "achieved a new record in efficiency of blue organic light-emitting diodes, and because blue is essential to white light, the advance helps overcome a hurdle to lighting that is much more efficient than compact fluorescents." Franky So (pictured) and his diligent crew were able to reach a peak blue OLED efficiency of 50 lumens per watt, which is halfway to his goal of at least 100 lumens per watt. Hurry it up, folks -- CES is just around the corner.

[Via Physorg]

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Researchers achieve new efficiency record of blue OLEDs originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 23 Dec 2008 ! 15:55:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

New Solar Balloon Creates 400 Times More Energy Than The Average Solar Cell

Source: http://www.causecast.org/news_items/7304-new-solar-balloon-creates-400-times-more-energy-than-the-average-solar-cell

coolearth-article.jpg

There are many new forms of alternative energy but maybe none as interesting as the Cool Earth Solar "Balloon." The concept behind this design is that they create an "inflatable plastic thin-film balloon (solar concentrator) that, upon inflation, focuses sunlight onto a photovoltaic cell held at its focal point.

The design produces 400 times the electricity that a solar cell would create without the company's concentrator." Cool Earth has already began construction on a power plant in Livermore, CA that will utilize this new technology. The plant is modest in size, creating only 1.4 Megawatts but if this plant works as well as they expect it to, they plan on launching a full sized plant next summer. One great thing about this device is that it's made up of a very common and cheap material. "Plastic thin film is abundant and cheap," said Cool Earth Solar CEO Rob Lamkin. "It only costs two dollars for the plastic material necessary for our solar concentrator."

It's ideas like this that I think will stick. It's cost efficient. It's made of an easy to find material and it's an environmentally sound concept.

Do you think this sounds like a good way to harness solar energy?

To read more environment-related news, please visit the Causecast Environment Page.

Photo: cleantechnica


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Chinese Car Maker Begins Selling the F3DM, the World's First Mass Produced, Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle [Hybrids]

Chinese Car Maker Begins Selling the F3DM, the World's First Mass Produced, Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle [Hybrids]

I never expected the world's first mass produced, plug-in hybrid car to pop up for sale in China, mecca of e-waste and air pollution. But BYD Auto did just that with the F3DM.

According to the Grist, the F3 Dual Mode began selling this week with a $22,000 price tag, aimed initially at the Chinese government agencies and other corporate entities. The hybrid plugs into any normal wall outlet, and has a range of 60 miles on a full charge. According to the New York Times, it charges fully in 7 hours, and at special stations, can be charged halfway in 10 minutes.Keeping in the spirit of a hybrid, it also has a 1.0 liter gas engine that is used to recharge the batteries when a power outlet isn't nearby.

While numerous other car makers have announced plans to sell a plug-in hybrid, none have actually brought one to market, with the nearest release date not until 2010. Worth noting is that BYD started in 1995 manufacturing cellphone batteries until they acquired a bankrupt auto company in 2003. Now they have Warren Buffet as a 10% shareholder in the company. [Grist via NYT]



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Thursday, December 11, 2008

MTI Micro shows off universal fuel cell charger with removable cartridge

MTI Micro shows off universal fuel cell charger with removable cartridge


As you may or may not have noticed, the folks at MTI Micro seem to be plenty convinced that fuel cells will eventually power all manner of devices, and they're now taking things one step further with their new Mobion universal fuel cell charger that, yes, promises to provide power to any device in the entire universe (with a USB port). To add a bit more practicality to the equation, the charger makes use of removable (and disposable) cartridges, which each provide 25 watt-hours of power, or roughly enough to fully charge the average cellphone more than ten times. While it's only in prototype form at the moment, the company says that the final product should be available by the end of 2009, although it's not making any promises about a price just yet.

[Via Planetary Gear]

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MTI Micro shows off universal fuel cell charger with removable cartridge originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 11 Dec 2008 01:03:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

IBM Predicts Solar Sidewalks in 5 Years

source: http://cleantechnica.com/2008/12/02/ibm-predict-solar-sidewalks-in-5-years/

thin film

According to IBM’s annual “Next Five in Five” report, thin-film solar cells will be embedded in driveways, sidewalks, paint, rooftop, and windows within 5 years.

The prediction is based on an expected drop in the price of thin-film solar cells, which are 100 times thinner than silicon solar cells.

Thin-film solar cells are already cheaper than silicon-wafer cells because of a production process that allows them to be printed and arranged on any flexible backing, including cell-phones, notebook computers, and clothing.

Other IBM predictions include digital shopping assistants, personalized genetic maps, and advances in voice recognition software.

Photo Credit: NREL

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

UMich VIVACE Hydropower System Makes Energy From Slow Currents [Hydropower]

UMich VIVACE Hydropower System Makes Energy From Slow Currents [Hydropower]

A new hydropower prototype from the University of Michigan could end up using even slower river and ocean currents to generate energy. VIVACE, which stands for Vortex Induced Vibrations for Aquatic Clean Energy, can generate power from as little as 2 knots, making it more useful than most turbine and water mill systems out there, which need an average of 5 to 6 knots to operate efficiently.

The system works by harnessing "vortex induced vibrations," the thrumming caused by the flow of liquid or air over rounded objects. A cylinder placed underwater is subject to the current and starts to vibrate as liquid sticks and creates eddies on the object's opposite side. It's the same scientific principle that caused the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows bridge in 1940.

"For the past 25 years, engineers—myself included—have been trying to suppress vortex induced vibrations. But now at Michigan we're doing the opposite. We enhance the vibrations and harness this powerful and destructive force in nature," said VIVACE developer Michael Bernitsas, a professor in the U-M Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering.

Just a few cylinders could possibly power an anchored ship or a lighthouse. An array of VIVACE cylinders about the size of a running track could produce energy at 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour and power about 100,000 houses. U of M is now working on possibly deploying a pilot project in the Detroit River within the next 18 months. [UMich via Gizmag]


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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Spanish Solar Power Tower Almost Ready

source: http://earth2tech.com/2008/11/25/spanish-solar-power-tower-almost-ready/

One of the world’s largest solar farms that uses “power tower” technology — Abengoa’s “PS20″ solar farm just outside of Seville Spain — will start generating clean power in January, and the company is making the final adjustments on the solar farm’s massive mirrors over the next few weeks, according to the Guardian. Solar power tower farms are a next generation solar thermal technology that use large mirrors to concentrate light and heat water at a massive centralized tower.

Abengoa’s PS20 solar power tower plant will initially generate 20MW of electricity, and will be a significant proving ground for the solar power tower technology. What the Guardian article doesn’t mention is that while this technology is being tested in Spain, Abengoa has actually decided to only tackle the more traditional solar trough technology in the U.S. As Abengoa’s senior adviser to the U.S., Fred Morse, says, that’s because the policy framework and utility contract needs of the U.S. market require that the solar thermal technology be “proven,” “bankable” and “reliable.”

abengoasolarpowertower

So solar power tower technology is still in the early stages. But one startup in the U.S. is aiming for this market: Oakland-based Brightsource Energy is looking to build solar power tower technology in the deserts of California. The BrightSource team worked on the original solar trough technology built in the ’80s and ’90s and says that solar power tower technology offers “higher concentrations,” “higher temperatures,” and “higher efficiencies” compared to solar trough. Update: Keely Wachs, BrightSource’s Senior Director of Corporate Communications says that BrightSource’s 900 MW deal with PG&E is an indicator that the US policy framework and U.S. utilities are supporting power tower technology.

Images courtesy of Abengoa.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

New wind turbines at least 30% more efficient, Earth one step closer to salvation

New wind turbines at least 30% more efficient, Earth one step closer to salvation

Still addicted to oil like the rest of the world? You might reconsider wind power rehab now that a startup called ExRo has developed turbines that it says are consistently 30% -- and in some situations as much as 100% -- more efficient than the standard kind. The traditionally-used mechanical transmissions have been replaced with an inexpensive electric alternative that can adapt to changes in wind speed more efficiently. Also, many small generators are used instead of a large one, so the turbines can be customized in production to suit the intended installation site. If this is the real deal, it beats the 0.1% increase we saw in solar cell efficiency a few months ago, and those Maglev uber-turbines are still on the horizon. Hey Sun -- jealous yet?

[Via DailyTech]

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New wind turbines at least 30% more efficient, Earth one step closer to salvation originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 20 Nov 2008 08:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for u! se of fe eds.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Solar Panel Quantum Leap: Near-Perfect Light Absorption Possible [Solar Power]

Solar Panel Quantum Leap: Near-Perfect Light Absorption Possible [Solar Power]

Today's silicon solar panels absorb about two-thirds of the light that reaches them, but a new nanocoating developed by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute gives most run-of-the-mill solar panels the ability to capture almost every drop of sunlight. Not only does it grab 96.2% of the sun's rays, but it can do it from any angle, so there's no need for panels to waste energy by mechanically tracking the sun in the sky. This is happy leap forward for solar technology, whose quest for cheapness has been long and hard.

I said it's one coating, but it's actually seven, each between 50 and 100 nanometers thick, made of silicon dioxide and titanium dioxide nanorods that can be vaporized and deposited on "nearly any photovoltaic materials." PhysOrg compares the tightly hugging nanorods to "a dense forest where sunlight is 'captured' between the trees." There's no word yet on the deployment of this process—it's barely a year since its chalkboard conception—but this efficiency means lower cost to acquire energy, which means solar power is more viable than ever as an alternative to fossil fuels.

I hate pigeonholing myself as one of those wide-eyed Trek fans who thinks that alt energy will radically change the way we live our lives and help us get on with impulse drives, synthehol and breathable spandex formalwear, but seriously, this is my kind of breakthrough. [PhysOrg via Kurzweil AI]


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Monday, October 27, 2008

E-Charkha Spinning Wheel Generates Electricity While Making Yarn [Charkha]

E-Charkha Spinning Wheel Generates Electricity While Making Yarn [Charkha]

Impoverished Indian families can look into getting the e-charkha, an electricity-generating version of the ubiquitous yarn-making spinning wheel, as a way to increase productivity without a boost in energy costs. The e-charkha, designed by RS Hiremath, generates juice as the charkha spins and diverts it into a free battery at the bottom of the machine.

About two hours of spinning would be enough to run a custom LED light source for six to seven more hours, significantly extending the amount of time families can work. Using LEDs will also help families avoid kerosene lamps, which drastically reduce air quality inside the home when they are used. The Indian government is already giving away several of the e-charkhas to Indian residents under its "Funds for Regeneration of Traditional Industries" program. A good thing, since very few of the people who need it can afford the roughly $200 it costs. [Inhabitat]


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Saturday, October 25, 2008

GE & NASA to test hybrid jet engine

source: http://earth2tech.com/2008/10/25/ge-nasa-to-test-hybrid-jet-engine/

GE Aviation and NASA are teaming up to test an “open rotor” jet engine design that puts the fan blades on the outside of the engine, which they say could reduce jet fuel consumption by more than 30 percent. GE and NASA actually designed the engine and developed it into a product — the GE36 — in the 80s, but say they never commercially released it because of falling oil prices.

In the face of high fuel costs this year they have decided to revive the engine design and plan to start wind-tunnel tests in early 2009 at NASA’s Glenn Research Center where the original testing of the GE36 took place. Initial testing of the open rotor design will focus on fan configuration performance and acoustics. GE and NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate are jointly funding the program.

Exhaust from kerosene-burning jet engines released high up in the atmosphere is already responsible for 4 to 9 percent of the climate change impact, according to the European Climate Action Network. The air travel industry is increasingly trying to reduce emissions, as carbon regulations are likely to come into effect internationally. Startups like Solazyme, Aquaflow Binomics and Sapphire Energy are working on bio-jet fuels that can reduce carbon emissions. And Boeing, along with a consortium of airlines and Honeywell’s energy technology developer UOP, have established the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group to develop cleaner jet fuels as well.

Images courtesy of GE.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Australia has best solar cell efficiency

source: http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2008/10/23/Australia_has_best_solar_cell_efficiency/UPI-79321224780497/

SYDNEY, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Australian scientists at the University of New South Wales say they have become the first to achieve 25 percent efficiency in a silicon solar cell.

The university's Australian Research Council Photovoltaic Center of Excellence also held the previous world record of 24.7 percent silicon solar cell efficiency. A revision of the international standard by which solar cells are measured resulted in the new record being achieved by a team led by Professors Martin Green and Stuart Wenham.

Green said the jump in performance resulted from new knowledge about the composition of sunlight.

"Since the weights of the colors in sunlight change during the day, solar cells are measured under a standard color spectrum defined under typical operational meteorological conditions," he said. "Improvements in understanding atmospheric effects upon the color content of sunlight led to a revision of the standard spectrum in April. The new spectrum has a higher energy content both down the blue end of the spectrum and at the opposite red end with, dare I say it, relatively less green."

The researchers said the university's world-leading silicon cell is now six percent more efficient than the next-best technology.

Photo credits: ScienceDaily

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Solar refrigeration: A hot idea for cooling

source: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=solar-refrigeration

Fishermen in the village of Maruata, which is located on the Mexican Pacific coast 18 degrees north of the equator, have no electricity. But for the past 16 years they have been able to store their fish on ice: Seven ice makers, powered by nothing but the scorching sun, churn out a half ton of ice every day.

There's a global scramble to drive down emissions of carbon dioxide: the electricity to power just refrigerators in the U.S. contributes 102 million tons annually. Solar refrigeration can also be inexpensive and it would give the electric grid much-needed relief. Electricity demand peaks on hot summer days—150 gigawatts more in summer than winter in the U.S. (A gigawatt equals on billion watts.) That's almost 1.5 times the generating capacity of all the coal-fired power plants west of the Mississippi River. Further, solar is plentiful. The solar energy hitting 54 square feet (five square meters) of land each year is the equivalent of all the electricity used by one American household, according to data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Energy Information Administration, both part of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Making cold out of hot is easier than one might think. A group of students last year at San Jose State University built a solar-powered ice maker with $100 worth of plumbing and a four-by-eight-foot (1.2-by-2.4-meter) sheet of reflecting steel. No moving parts, no electricity but give it a couple hours of sunshine and it can make a large bag of ice.

The key is the energy exchanged when liquids turn to vapor and vice versa—the process that cools you when you sweat. By far the most common approach, the one used by the refrigerator in your house, uses an electric motor to compress a refrigerant—say, Freon—turning it into liquid. When the pressure created by the compressor is released, the liquid evaporates, absorbing heat and lowering the temperature.

Absorptive chillers like solar refrigerators use a heat source rather than a compressor to change the refrigerant from vapor to liquid. The two most common combinations are water mixed with either lithium bromide or ammonia. In each case, the refrigerating gas is absorbed until heat is applied, which raises the temperature and pressure. At higher pressure, the refrigerant condenses into liquid. Turning off the heat lowers the pressure, causing that liquid to evaporate back into a gas, thereby creating the cooling effect.

As with most technologies, the efficiency of such absorptive refrigeration depends on the degree of engineering (and expense) brought to bear. Single-effect devices have a coefficient of performance of 0.6 to 0.7—that is, they create 60 to 70 Btus (British thermal units) of cooling for every 100 Btus of input heat. That low level of efficiency can be achieved with something as crude as some pipe, a bucket of water, some calcium chloride (as absorbant), ammonia (as refrigerant), and a sheet of shiny metal (the solar collector).

If what you want to do is heat or cool, using solar energy this way is probably more efficient—and certainly cheaper—than converting it first into electricity. "That approach ought to be comparable to photovoltaics, or a little better," said Tom Mancini, program manager for solar power at the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M.

It would take a fair-size collector—86 square feet (eight square meters), assuming 40 percent panel efficiency—just to deliver the cooling of a small (6,000 Btu per hour or half-ton) window air conditioner. And central air-conditioning units are often 30,000 Btu or more; few homeowners could spare the space for that.

But concerns over collector area depend on location. In the developing world, solar powered ice makers allow locals to store the village's food or medicine without any electricity. For example, in May charitable organization, Heifer International, set up three solar ice makers in remote areas of Kenya. Each will be able to keep 26.5 gallons (100 liters) of milk chilled. More than 500 members of two dairy cooperatives are expected to benefit directly.

Most of the interest in such solar refrigeration in Western countries comes from the commercial, not residential, sectors. Cost is one reason—absorption chiller systems typically cost $7,000 to $10,000 per ton of cooling; one-ton window air conditioners from big box retailers start around $250—but companies can save on electric bill as well as enjoy a more benign environmental image.

Building occupancy patterns is another; most Americans are not at home during the day. "We don't have as much daytime occupancy in residential buildings as in commercial," says Pat Hale, sales manager for Yazaki Energy Systems, in Plano, Tex. Other problems include the expense of retrofitting homes to add plumbing to the attic. And the high temperatures associated with concentrating solar collectors raise liability concerns.

But some entrepreneurs think a residential market nevertheless is emerging. Walter Ross is CEO of Austin Solar AC, a start-up that is testing 36,000 and 60,000 Btu solar-fired chillers. The units provide cooling in summer and heating during winter by just using the sun's heat directly. "We're getting a lot of interest from people who have been using propane for heating," he said. "The biggest issue we run into with these is siting: Most neighborhood associations won't allow these things on your roof."

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HP unveils renewable energy research initiatives; pledges to double renewable power use by 2012

source: http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/hp-unveils-renewable-energy-research/story.aspx?guid=%7BA5750219-3D94-4E0C-8199-9632046C7975%7D&dist=hppr


PALO ALTO, Calif., Oct 20, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) - HP today unveiled renewable energy initiatives in its facilities, research and products to support a new goal to double the company's global purchases of renewable power from under 4 percent in 2008 to 8 percent by 2012.
This complements HP's goal to reduce energy consumption and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions from HP-owned and HP-leased facilities worldwide to 16 percent below 2005 levels by 2010.

To reduce its carbon footprint, HP is relying on diversified renewable energy resources, improving energy efficiency and placing a strong emphasis on energy reduction and optimization at a number of its facilities around the world.
In 2007, HP successfully met its goal to increase renewable energy purchases by more than 350 percent and purchased 61.4 million kilowatt hours (kwh) of renewable energy and renewable energy credits in the United States.
"HP is investing in technologies that bring us closer to operating in a sustainable IT ecosystem," said John Frey, senior sustainability executive, HP. "We are supporting renewable energy programs for our own operational efficiency, harnessing research to demonstrate environmental leadership and offering products that support customer concerns about rising energy costs."
Harnessing solar and wind power
HP recently completed a 1.1-megawatt, 6,256 solar panel system at its facility in San Diego. This is one of the largest solar power installations in the County of San Diego and is projected to save the company $750,000 during the next 15 years while providing more than 10 percent of the facility's power. Further, the system will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 60 million pounds over the next 30 years. This is equivalent to providing electricity to 3,800 homes or removing more than 5,250 cars from the road over this time period.
SunPower ( http://www.sunpowercorp.com/) installed the system and GE Energy Financial Services, a unit of GE that owns the system under SunPower Access, will provide the electricity under a power purchase agreement.
HP also extended the benefits of solar power to its U.S. employees. To date, more than 600 HP employees and retirees have requested an evaluation of a home system installation, and more than 60 have completed an installation or are under contract to install SunPower systems at their homes.
HP elected to participate in Austin's Green Choice program, to procure almost 19.9 million kwh of wind energy from wind farms in western Texas for two of its Austin data centers, which represents nearly 20 percent of the annual energy used by the two centers. Additionally, the facilities are using the HP Dynamic Smart Cooling (DSC) system, which enables real-time changes to air conditioners, fans, vents and computing equipment help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and reduce energy costs.
HP DSC typically yields energy savings of 20 to 40 percent over legacy HP data centers. HP's Austin data centers are on track to achieve energy cost savings of more than $100,000 annually based on the integration of HP DSC technology.
HP consolidated three of its facilities in Melbourne, Australia, with sustainability in mind. The new facility design included orienting the building to strategically reduce energy consumption associated with heating and cooling and using energy-efficient lighting. As a result, HP expects to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions by 70 percent.
Sustainable IT ecosystem
HP is leveraging renewable and non-renewable resources to effectively and efficiently manage a limited supply of available energy. The use of various sources of power throughout its operations will support the development of HP's micro-grid for power and cooling distribution in the data center facility, which ensures efficiency, manageability and regulatory requirements while meeting service level agreements.
HP Labs, the company's central research arm, has initiated research that uses nanowire photonics to potentially increase the efficiency of solar cells to more than 20 percent. This development allows solar cells to operate on a level of those used in expensive deep-space applications, while being manufactured at much lower costs, like those used in pocket calculators or to recharge portable devices.
Nanowire photonics may be integrated with a greater selection of conductor materials, allowing for low-cost options. In the future, nanowire photonics may optimize renewable energy throughout the IT industry and other business sectors.
Taking steps to reduce the energy required for manufacturing and distributing products, HP plans to reduce the energy consumption of its volume desktop and notebook PC families by 25 percent, relative to 2005. Today, HP announced two new desktop PCs and a display designed to have reduced impact on the environment with energy-efficient processors and recyclable packaging.
The HP Pavilion Verde Special Edition a6645f and HP Pavilion Phoenix Special Edition a6655f desktop PCs are ENERGY STAR(R) qualified and meet strict energy-efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The products also meet the standards for the Silver registration in the Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT(TM), one of the highest ratings products can achieve for their environmental attributes. In addition, HP announced the ergonomically designed 25.5-inch HP w2558hc Vivid Color display, which is ENERGY STAR qualified and offers a Power Saver feature that helps to reduce energy consumption.
The special-edition desktop PCs provide up to 45 percent energy savings compared to PCs without power management enabled and come in 100 percent recyclable packaging with less plastic foam.
HP and the environment
For decades HP has been an environmental leader, driving company stewardship through its holistic design for environment strategy. HP influences industry action through its long-standing commitment to maintain supply chain responsibility, sustain energy efficient operations, reduce its climate impact and offer product reuse and recycling options. HP also makes it easier for customers to recognize environmental attributes through HP Eco Solutions, a program that helps customers identify products and services designed with the environment in mind. More information is available at www.hp.com/environment.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

New solar power material can capture every color of the rainbow

source: http://cleantechnica.com/2008/10/19/new-solar-power-material-can-capture-every-color-of-the-rainbow/

Scientists have created a new material that could dramatically increase the efficiency of solar cells, by literally capturing every color of the rainbow.

Whereas other materials only catch a small range of light frequencies, and therefore only a small fraction of the potential energy, the new invention is capable of absorbing all the energy contained in sunlight. According to team leader, Prof. Malcolm Chisolm, “There are other such hybrids out there, but the advantage of our material is that we can cover the entire range of the solar spectrum.

The discovery, made by an elite team at Ohio State University, opens the door to the development of a new generation of hyper-efficient solar cells. Although at this point the material is said to be some years from commercial development, the university has enough confidence in its potential to commit a large slice of its $100 million ‘high impact’ research budget to the research team over the next five years.

Such long-term investment lends a great deal of credibility to the project, and is likely to increase the chances of the invention moving from the laboratory towards commercial development.

Image Credit - Sylvar via flickr.com on a Creative Commons license

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Liquavista debuts brighter, greener displays

source: http://earth2tech.com/2008/10/16/liquavista-debuts-brighter-greener-displays/

First we had CRT displays, then LCDs, and now LEDs and OLEDs are making headway, but already an even newer display technology promises brighter, clearer screens that use even less power. It’s called electrowetting, and startup Liquavista has unveiled its new ColorBright displays today which use the technology.

The ColorBright line is Liquavista’s first display platform and is targeted for use in watches and cell phones. Liquavista has bigger plans for the technology and says it will provide rich, colorful video displays, legible in direct sunlight and low in power needs. The company claims its technology can provide “TV-like picture quality” at a fraction of the manufacturing and power costs of traditional displays. The company has recently opened a new fab line in Southern China at an existing LCD manufacturing plant and will start making custom and stock displays in volume soon.

Screens are the biggest culprit when it comes to zapping your phone’s battery. The backlight on LCDs accounts for much of the power consumption but Liquavista’s displays saves energy by forgoing the backlight. As we continue to do more display-intensive things with our phones — like watching video — we’ll need displays that consume less power, as anyone struggling with their smartphone’s battery life will tell you.

The two-year-old company uses electrowetting technology developed at the Philips Research Labs. Check out the concept video to get an idea of where Liquavista wants to take their technology and if you’re a DIYer go ahead and play around with the Liquadizer to build your own next-gen display.

Liquavista raised €8 million (at the time, $12.6 million) in Series B funding earlier this year from Amadeus Capital Partners, GIMV and New Venture Partners LLC. Electronics giant Philips is also a backer of the startup. Both Liquavista and Philips are headquartered in the Netherlands.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

3TIER mapping world's solar, wind and hydro resources

source: http://earth2tech.com/2008/10/15/3tier-mapping-worlds-solar-wind-and-hydro-resources/

It seems like we can find almost everything we need through Google Maps — even the best place to put a new wind farm or a solar power plant. Renewable energy prospectors can now assess potential sites with the click of a mouse using 3TIER’s high-resolution maps of the earth’s solar radiation, wind speeds and hydro power capacities. The company showed off its new seamless, high-resolution solar map of the western hemisphere this week at the International Solar Power conference.

3TIER is working on mapping the entire world with its “REmapping the World” initiative which it hopes will help developing countries assess their renewable energy resources and “leap frog” past fossil fuels. Many of the places that need renewable energy the most don’t have the resources to synthesize millions of satellite photos. 3TIER offers a free look on their web site for consumers and sells comprehensive, custom full site analysis reports, complete with GIS data layers to energy developers.

3TIER says its new solar maps offers three times the resolution of existing industry standards. And while you might have thought sunlight just beams straight down, 3TIER’s solar map displays information on global horizontal irradiation, direct normal irradiation and diffuse irradiation so you can tell how much radiation might actually power your panels. The wind energy map also provides a huge amount of detail and clicking through the wind velocity at elevations of 20, 50 and 80 meters quickly illustrates that higher speed winds are higher up in the atmosphere.

Founded in 1999, 3TIER displays its data using Google Maps, which makes us wonder: What if Google were to acquire 3TIER? It could be a perfect fit. Google.org has made investments in solar and wind energy companies which could certainly make use of high-resolution energy maps. 3TIER’s maps could perfectly compliment Google’s recent grant to Southern Methodist University Geothermal Laboratory to update a very similar geothermal energy map. And Google Earth has been adding layers of data about renewable energy for quite some time now. But then again, we’re still waiting for Google to acquire the Earth2Tech portfolio of green maps.

Images courtesy of 3TIER.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sharp to introduce 2nd generation thin film solar cells in U.S.

source: http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/sharp-introduce-2nd-generation-thin/story.aspx?guid=%7B94FDCACF-951E-40A3-87BD-CDD92097BF6E%7D&dist=hppr

Expanded product portfolio strengthens Sharp's solar business, offers customers optimal solar technologies for specific applications

SAN DIEGO, Oct 13, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- SOLAR POWER INTERNATIONAL 2008 - SAN DIEGO CONVENTION CENTER - BOOTH #1301

Sharp, a world leader in solar cell production, announced today at Solar Power International 2008 that it will introduce next generation thin film solar cells in the U.S. market in the near future. With its thin film solar product, Sharp will be capable of handling multi-megawatt, large-scale utility projects that are best served by a thin film solar solution, and the company is already working with prospective U.S. customers in preparation for these large-scale deployments. Sharp is one of the few companies who can supply customers with a complete solar product portfolio -- including mono-crystalline, poly-crystalline and multi-junction thin film solar cells -- to meet the specific needs of virtually any commercial or residential solar installation.
"For the last fifty years, Sharp has researched and developed advanced, innovative solar technologies, guaranteeing our customers superior performance and excellent reliability from Sharp solar products," said Ron Kenedi, vice president, Sharp Solar Energy Solutions Group. "As the U.S. solar market grows, deployments of multi-megawatt utility projects and large-scale commercial installations are on the rise. We are leading the way by expanding our technology portfolio so that we can meet the demands of these customers with an efficient, reliable and cost-effective solar solution of the caliber they've come to expect from Sharp products, whether it's traditional solar modules or thin film PV."
Sharp plans to increase thin film solar production with the construction of next-generation solar manufacturing facilities. Sharp Corporation has just completed installation of a new 2nd-generation thin-film solar cell production line at its Katsuragi Plant (Katsuragi City, Nara Prefecture) using large-size glass substrates measuring approximately 1,000 x 1,400 mm, equivalent to 2.7 times the area of Sharp's 1st generation substrates (560 x 925 mm), and will begin volume production this October. The addition of this new line expands production capacity for thin-film solar cells at the Katsuragi Plant to 160 MW annually.
Last year, Sharp began construction on a thin film and LCD manufacturing plant in Sakai City, Osaka. Slated to become operational in March 2010, the Sakai City factory will leverage Sharp's solar manufacturing success with a similar technology -- Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) panels -- to achieve an initial production capacity of 480 MW. The new factory will use an even more advanced thin film technology. Together with the production capacity of Sharp's Katsuragi plant, this will boost Sharp's global thin film solar production to 640 MW; future expansion will bring the capacity at Sakai to 1 gigawatt (GW).
Thin film modules are manufactured with less than 1 percent of the silicon used for crystalline solar cells, allowing for simpler manufacturing and lower production costs. To optimize conversion of different parts of the solar spectrum, thin films can be layered on top of each other to create a more efficient multi-junction product.
Photovoltaic modules fabricated using the 2nd-generation tandem-junction thin-film solar cells manufactured on Sharp's new production line at its Katsuragi plant feature an industry-leading 9% module conversion efficiency and high 128 W power output. It is these modules that will make up the initial offering from Sharp in 2009.
Right Product for the Right Installation
With the addition of thin film as part of its product line-up, Sharp now puts forth a two-pronged strategy for fulfilling the specific needs of all its customers. Sharp is one of the only manufacturers who can offer a PV solution that is ideal for virtually any end user's power needs, be it traditional crystalline or thin film PV. Traditional crystalline PV is the best value for roof-mounted systems and is widely used for residential and commercial rooftop applications that place high value on module efficiency. However, thin film is the preferred technology for multi-megawatt scale utility projects. Thin film promises lower installed cost per megawatt and more megawatt-hours per installed megawatt than crystalline for the end-user, particularly in hot climates. It is also an optimal choice for installations where there is ample land for the system.
About Sharp Solar
Sharp Electronics Corporation is the U.S. subsidiary of Sharp Corporation, Osaka, Japan, a world-leading provider of crystalline solar PV for residential, commercial, industrial, off-grid and satellite applications for almost 50 years. Sharp powers more homes and businesses than any other solar manufacturer in the world, supplying modules for one-quarter of all solar systems installed globally. Last year, Sharp became the first manufacturer to reach 2 GW of cumulative solar cell production -- one-quarter of the world's total production -- since it began mass production of solar cells in 1963.
Sharp entered the U.S. solar market in 2002 and is currently the market leader. Sharp has maintained solar module operations at its 100 MW manufacturing facility in Memphis, TN since 2003, celebrating the assembly of the one-millionth solar module in February 2008. Sharp's suite of residential products includes the breakthrough OnEnergy(TM) solar system, an all-in-one solution that offers enhanced aesthetics; and building-integrated solar modules for a discrete, nearly invisible installation.
Further information on Sharp's commitment to solar energy, its product line and the ways in which Sharp makes it easy to go solar is available online at www.solar.sharpusa.com.
Sharp Electronics Corporation is the U.S. subsidiary of Japan's Sharp Corporation, a worldwide developer of one-of-a-kind home entertainment products, appliances, networked multifunctional office solutions, solar energy solutions and mobile communication and information tools. Leading brands include AQUOS(R) Liquid Crystal Televisions, 1-Bit(TM) digital audio products, SharpVision(R) projection products, Insight(R) Microwave Drawer(R) ovens, Notevision(R) multimedia projectors and Plasmacluster(R) air purifiers. For more information visit Sharp Electronics Corporation at www.sharpusa.com.
SOURCE: Sharp Electronics Corporation

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Monday, October 13, 2008

'Black Silicon' startup SiOnyx could revolutionize solar, imaging

source: http://earth2tech.com/2008/10/13/black-silicon-startup-sionyx-could-revolutionize-solar-imaging/

You gotta admit “black silicon” has to be near the top of the most fun cleantech terms of the year. The material, which reportedly is between 100 and 500 times more sensitive to light than standard silicon, has been licensed by Massachusetts-based venture-backed startup SiOnyx from Harvard University. The New York Times and Xconomy have the story (Xconomy’s is far more detailed and actually explains the tech) about the three year old startup, which is backed by $11 million from Polaris Ventures, Harris & Harris, and RedShift. Polaris investor and ethernet inventor Bob Metcalfe sits on SiOnyx’s board.

The black silicon technique works like this: shine a very powerful pulse of a laser on a piece of silicon in the presence of the gas sulfur hexafluoride and the result is a piece of silicon marked with tiny cones. Xconomy digs even deeper into the process and explains: “the laser pulses force unusually large numbers of dopant atoms into a thin layer of silicon on the surface of the cones,” and the new structure requires less energy “to knock electrons into the conduction band.” The result is the treated silicon can absorb twice as much visible light as regular silicon and unlike standard silicon is sensitive to invisible infrared light.

The bizarre (randomly found) process can lead to amazing results, and could potentially disrupt any industry that depends on the light sensitivity of silicon. That includes the solar industry, and imaging products like night vision, medical imaging and digital cameras. Solar cells could be made that are more sensitive to light and more efficient at producing electricity, though both stories clearly state that the solar application is far in the future. Much closer is an application in medical imaging, like using less powerful more efficient Xrays, and Metcalfe tells Xconomy that the startup has already negotiated a partnership with a company active in medical imaging.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Wattbot launches site to speed up clean energy adoption

source: http://earth2tech.com/2008/10/12/wattbot-launches-site-to-speed-up-clean-energy-adoption/

Even with all the talk about renewable energy and energy efficiency in Washington, the media and Silicon Valley these days, adoption of such technologies in the U.S. is still very low — solar power made up just 1 percent of the renewable energy consumed in 2007. But two entrepreneurs, Diane Loviglio and Kurt Brown, along with the two dozen members of their team, have created a web site called Wattbot that acts as a sort of middle man for interested consumers and energy providers, which they hope will help speed the adoption of clean power and energy-efficiency tools.

Wattbot is officially launching in beta at the Solar Power International convention in San Diego this week. Here’s how it works: Solar installers, home retrofitters, and other energy providers sign up to be listed on the site and can receive high-quality leads for consumers in their area who are interested in their service. Consumers enter information about the energy products they are interested in and can search through recommendations and listings of the most appropriate providers, pricing options and companies in their area (the consumer section won’t be able available until January). The company says providers cannot directly influence the automated matching service.

Wattbot can cut providers’ sales cycle in half and help consumers navigate the confusing, inefficient energy information out there on the web, Loviglio told us in a phone interview. “We found that solar installers were spending hours educating consumers and qualifying leads,” Loviglio says. They also noted that there wasn’t a good, centralized place for consumers to find intelligent energy information. “We thought there’s got to be a more efficient way,” she says.

Providers are able to enter their company information on the site now, but leads won’t be available until February. Pricing ranges from $20 to $200 per lead, depending on how qualified the lead is and what products/services the consumers have signed up to learn about. For the launch, providers can sign up for free between now and Dec. 31, 2008. Wattbot will deposit a $500 credit in their account, so they can try out leads at no cost. Providers can also register with a Solar Power 2008 code (GFT286) to get an additional $250 credit. In March, Wattbot will also start offering market intelligence (geographic and demographic clean power data) to providers for an annual subscription.

The site is free for consumers, and starting in January it will offer detailed information about services, providers, pricing and options in their area (between now and January consumers can sign up but won’t be able to sift though listings.) At that time users will be able to enter their address as well as info about their site, structure, occupancy, energy, finances and goals to discover the best options. “When they are confident in the financial analysis of each recommendation, and feel comfortable with why Wattbot recommended particular products, services, and financing plans, they can click to be connected with the best-matching providers,” Loviglio wrote in an email to us.

Wattbot also has some other nifty features, like a clean energy density map, a clean energy pin map, and community features, which will be more valuable when the site starts bringing in users. Wattbot was founded in 2007 and financed by undisclosed angel investors.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

MDI's "AirCar" officially becomes the FlowAIR

MDI's "AirCar" officially becomes the FlowAIR

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MDI's compressed air vehicle has been unofficially known as the AirCar for years now, but it looks like the company is now finally putting a stop to that, and officially bestowing the decidedly less catchy "FlowAIR" name on the car. What's more, it's also gotten official with no less than four different vehicles based on the technology, including the One FlowAIR open-top model, the Mini FlowAIR three-seater (pictured above), the City FlowAIR truck-type vehicle, and the Multi FlowAIR urban public transportation concept, all of which have been making the rounds under various guises for some time now. From the looks of it, the One FlowAIR will be the first out of the gate in 2009 (in France, at least), with the rest to follow over the next few years.

[Via AutoblogGreen]
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