Friday, February 29, 2008

Stirling CPU Cooler


Stirling CPU Cooler

Stirling CPU Cooler

I think this is pure genius. A simple version of a Stirling cycle engine used to cool a computer. A Stirling cycle engine runs when heat (or coolth) is applied externally to the engine. In this case the heat of the CPU powers the fan that cools it! No additional energy is required to run the fan. The temperature differential heats a gas in one cylinder and cools it in another cylinder. Pistons move. Work is done. Read more at Scientific American or Wikipedia

You can purchase a Stirling demonstration kit that will run off of the heat from a cup of coffee - Coffee Cup Stirling Engine


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bacteria and anofilter: future of clean water technology


Bacteria often get bad press, with those found in water often linked to illness and disease. But researchers at The University of Nottingham are using these tiny organisms alongside the very latest membrane filtration techniques to improve and refine water cleaning technology.

These one-celled organisms eat the contaminants present in water — whether it is being treated prior to industrial use or even for drinking — in a process called bioremediation.

The water is then filtered through porous membranes, which function like a sieve. However, the holes in these sieves are microscopic, and some are so small they can only be seen at the nanoscale. Pore size in these filters can range from ten microns — ten thousandths of a millimetre — to one nanometre — a millionth of a millimetre.

These technologies can be developed into processes which optimise the use of water — whether in an industrial system or to provide drinking water in areas where it is a scarce resource.

The research is led by Nidal Hilal, Professor of Chemical and Process Engineering in the Centre for Clean Water Technologies — a world-leading research centre developing advanced technologies in water treatment.

Current membrane technology used in water treatment processes can decrease in efficiency over time, as the membranes become fouled with contaminants. By using bioremediation the membranes can be cleaned within the closed system, without removing the membranes. Researchers at the centre have developed the technology in partnership with Cardev International, an oil filtration company based in Harrogate.

As well as being highly effective in the water treatment process, transforming industrial liquid waste contaminated with metals and oils into clean water, ultrafiltration and nanofiltration membranes have a useful side effect. The waste products have a very high calorific value, and can be used as fuel.

Nanofiltration and ultrafiltration membranes are also being used in work funded by the Middle East Desalination Research Centre, which looks at creating drinking water from seawater. By pre-treating the seawater and removing contaminants, the membranes reduce the fouling of machinery in the next stage of the process — whether through reverse osmosis or thermal desalination. This can prevent damage to the machinery, reducing the need for expensive repair and replacements.

And by measuring liquid properties at the nanoscale, using state-of-the-art atomic force microscope equipment at the University, researchers are exploring how liquids behave at an atomic level — how they flow and pull apart. These results could be used in mechanics and industry, for example, maximising the use of oil in an engine.

Liquids are also being tested at a range of temperatures, from the very low (-50 oC) to the very high (150 oC).

Professor Hilal said: “Examining the properties of liquids has never been done before at this scale.

“By using bioremediation and nanofiltration technology combined, the water cleaning process is integrated — using far less energy than current processes. Add to this the recycling of waste products as fuels and you have a greener technology.”


Monday, February 18, 2008

New Solar Cuts out The Middle Man, Harvests Hydrogen from Water


Some Penn State researchers are taking a cue from nature and have built the first solar cell that can effectively split water to harvest the hydrogen. While the technology and efficiency of electricity-gathering solar cells has been humming on nicely, cells that can pull hydrogen out of water directly (instead of using solar-harvested electricity to do it) have found that the catalysts conducive to separating hydrogen and oxygen are usually pretty good at putting the two gases right back together again. The folks at Penn State have now developed a process that more closely mimics the photosynthesis process in plants, and while we won't pretend to understand all the nitty gritty of dye usage and other such nonsense, we do know that such a system could eventually attain 15% or so efficiency, providing a nice and clean way to gather power for that fuel cell car of the future.

[Image courtesy of]


Thursday, February 14, 2008

AutoPot Help Solve the World's Water and Food Crisis by Listening to Plants


AutoPot lettuce
Photo courtesy of AutoPot Systems

“Water will be more important than oil this century,” said former UN Secretary General, Boutros Boutros Ghali. This short sentence pretty much sums up the water crisis, the food crisis and the overpopulation crisis we are in. In this regard, AutoPot Systems help us use water far more efficiently to grow our food, be it in the villages or the cities of the world, by employing a unique method: ‘listening’ to plants!

“In many regions of the world, fresh water, both groundwater and surface water, is being used faster than it can be replaced. West Asia faces the greatest threat. Over 90 per cent of the region’s population is experiencing severe water stress,” according to a UN highlights of the world’s water crisis, and “agriculture accounts for over 80 per cent of world water consumption, where around 60 percent of the water used for irrigation is wasted, lost to leaky canals, evaporation, and mismanagement.” To make matters worse, the number of mouths to feed is estimated to reach 9.1 billon by 2050, which begs the question, “Will there be enough water to grow our food?, to feed us all?”

In a world where the average amount of water needed to produce one kilogramme of potatoes is 1000 litres, wheat is 1450 litres and rice is 3450 litres, the solution to these crisis is to increase water productivity. This is done by delivering and applying water to crops more efficiently, thereby increasing crop yields per liter of water consumed. The AutoPot Systems achieves this goal admirably by ‘listening’ to plants.

AutoPot Melons
Photo courtesy of AutoPot Systems

According to the website, it “is designed so that the individual plants in their individual containers can dictate when they get their water, according to their needs. A wide range of different plants in an Autopot Systems will each take on water at totally different times and cycles, rather than being tied to an automated cycle. This is achieved without the use of electricity, pumps or expensive plumbing, yet the system operates fully automatically as dictated by the plants themselves.”

It is proved that “the Autopot Systems is so efficient in terms of water usage that there is absolutely no wastage,” and “where the soil is poor, it would have no problems producing good crops out of pure sand or gravels.” They even have a hybrid between aquaculture and hydroponics called AutoPot Aquaponics, to grow plants and breed fish simultaneously!

Increasingly, as oil to grow and transport food runs out, and electricity to pump water gets costly, food price will go up and the more than half of the world population now living in cities will benefit from systems such as AutoPot to grow some of their own food in the backyard or the community garden. The villagers can of course benefit from this system too. And the good thing is, we don’t have to wait till things get worse. We can do it now! Cool!


Cool Earth Solar generates power with 'solar balloons'


Cool Earth Solar on Thursday said it has raised at least $21 million to further develop a solar generator that you could mistake for a shiny kiddie pool.

The Livermore, Calif.-based company said the Series A round, from undisclosed investors, could be augmented by other investors in 60 days.

A ballon that makes electricty.

(Credit: Cool Earth Solar)

Cool Earth Solar has taken a radical approach to building a solar-power plant using a technique called concentrated solar photovoltaics, in which light is magnified onto solar cells to maximize electricity output.

It plans to manufacture plastic balloons, which will be suspended on metal and wire structures. These round balloons reflect light onto a solar cell to generate electricity.

Because its design uses relatively cheap and readily available components, these solar concentrators can generate electricity at a cost comparable to that of natural-gas plants. The inflated solar collectors can withstand 100 mile-per-hour wind.

The plastic solar collectors are mounted.

(Credit: Cool Earth Solar)
The setup can also be unfurled globally, rather than only in places with available funding for expensive energy projects. The company said it is negotiating with utilities to sell electricity from its solar farms. From the company's release:
Our goal from the very start was to find a clean-energy generation solution that could address the global scale of the carbon problem. We discarded everything that couldn't scale, relied on rare components, or had some other critical bottleneck. Ultimately, we developed a novel technology which radically reduces the amount of material in our system and balances labor and capital costs.

Although most people envision rooftop panels when they think of solar electricity, many new solar technologies are being developed for power plants.

Utilities in some states, notably California, need to comply with renewable-energy mandates. And certain regions, such as the Southwest U.S. desert and parts of Spain, are well-suited for solar-thermal power plants.

Concentrating solar photovoltaic arrays are also being tried for industrial-scale solar power, but unlike Cool Earth Solar's, these use sophisticated mounting systems that track the sun and expensive solar cells.