Monday, July 27, 2009

Nissan shows off latest electric car prototype with battery monitoring system, iPhone app

Nissan shows off latest electric car prototype with battery monitoring system, iPhone app


Nissan's started showing off its latest prototype electric car, based on the Versa. This one will house a 108 horsepower / 206 pound-feet electric motor to drive the front wheels, and a 24 kWh, lithium ion battery pack will be fitted under the floor for storing electricity, with an expected range of 100 miles. To top things of nerd-style, the newest prototype will have a navigation system which will show the current life of the battery, and the mile range its current amount of juice will support, and will boast the ability to download info about nearby charging station locations. And need we say, "there's an app for that?" That's right, Nissan also has a working prototype of an iPhone app making the rounds in Japan which would allow users to communicate with their car remotely and find out the state of the battery's charge. Can this get any cooler?

Read - Nissan shows off new Versa-based electric vehicle protoype
Read - Nissan dials iPhone for car remote control

Filed under:

Nissan shows off latest electric car prototype with battery monitoring system, iPhone app originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 27 Jul 2009 11:24:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Read More...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Top 10 DIY Projects that Harness the Power of the Sun [Lifehacker Top 10]

Top 10 DIY Projects that Harness the Power of the Sun [Lifehacker Top 10]

Cheap, powerful, and available almost everywhere—solar energy is a truly great thing. With these 10 sun-powered projects, you can turn a sunny day off into some brag-worthy, possibly money-saving backyard tech.

Photo by david.nikonvscanon.

10. Engrave wood with a "sun laser"

Leave them alone long enough, and nearly every kid will investigate, or at least hear about, the devastating effects of magnifying glasses and clear, sunny weather on insects. Route that fascination with concentrated sunlight into some wood engraving. Aluminum foil (or, preferably, foil tape), sunglasses, a razor blade, and a magnifying glass are all you need to get creative with an old piece of wood or other dark objects. You'll need to provide supervision, lest bad aim turn into a kindling incident, but it's a great project for kids, as well as a unique way to leave your mark with style. (Original post)

9. Heat water in your backyard

It's not an efficient way to keep your hot tub filled, but the kind of solar-powered water heater detailed at the Instructables link above can get a big batch of water up to 170F without requirin! g any wo rk from your water heater, and the kit costs around $5 with the right parts suppliers. Even if you pay a bit more, think about how often the backyard grill, deck, or pool could use a little cleaning with some hot, soapy water. This project gets you a free source of ever-ready cleaning water, and at a pretty neat price. (Original post)

8. Start a fire with a soda can and chocolate

This little project is the most reliant on a strong bit of sunlight, but totally worth the effort when you pull it off. The chocolate polishes the bottom of a soda can, which better focuses and intensifies sunlight reflections, creating a cone of fire-starting power that leaves your fellow campers impressed—or the other attendees at the park picnic grateful you were there when they forgot the matches. (Original post)

7. Convert a lawnmower to solar power

If you've got a small-ish lawn, a battery-powered mower is much easier on your and your neighbors' ears, and it saves you the hassle and cost of gas refills. Take those eco-benefits to the next level by converting a gas-guzzling push mower to use a solar-charged battery. Appropedia's version is a definite weekend project for an older model, but if you've got a newer battery mower, it's not too hard to simply start charging it with! a solar panel instead of your wall socket, and this guide will help get you there. (Original post)

6. Estimate your home's solar potential

A solar-powered house sounds like a neat idea in abstract, but how would you know if your house's roof could really sustain worthwhile energy? Luckily, a big search company has overhead images of just about every house out there, and mashup tool RoofRay can use that image, plus your location's average sunlight and some roof details, to get a starting estimate on whether you can use the sun to push back on your power meter a bit. (Original post)

5. Extend Wi-Fi to your backyard

Probably the least practical and most expensive of the projects listed here, the solar-powered Wi-Fi extender is definitely the most rewarding from a geek cred and green power perspective. Popular Science explains in great detail how to solder and network together a semi-standard Linksys Wi-Fi router, range extender, solar panel, battery, and higher-powered antenna, and then set it up to grab Wi-Fi from your household's main network and expand it to the great outdoors—or, at least, the outdoors behind your house. That leaves you with regular web access anywhere around your property, without having to worry about running cables across the lawn. (Original post)
< /p>

4. Cook with a cardboard box

There's an entire realm of recipes and cookbooks that purport to help you get cooking done in the summer without turning on your oven. Skip the gazpacho and the house-warming heat with an oven built from aluminum foil, construction paper, plastic, and a few other household items, including a firm cardboard box. It's great for saving energy, saving time, and feeling like you really made the most of a warm, sunny day. Want to get a bit more efficient and physics-y with your outdoor oven? Try a parabolic solar cooker. Photo by thescarletmanuka. (Original post)

3. Build a greenhouse for $50

If you're lucky enough to live where plants and food grow all year, you already know the power of photosynthesis. For those who could use a little more prep time for their seedlings, a longer growing season, or just a buffer against the occasional plant-punching dry spell, The Door Garden explains how to take some light construction materials—$50 if you happen to have most of it lying around, about $150 purchased new—and build a greenhouse that will withstand most winters and thrive in every other season. Just got a few plants you want to get started with condensed solar power? Try the mini-greenhouse made from a window. (Original post)

2. Charge an iPhone/iPod with the sun

We're big fans of the MintyBoost DIY USB charger kit, a great project for electronic beginners and pros alike. It was only a matter of time, then, until someone switched the power source from AA batteries in an Altoids case to a lithium-ion battery with solar charging capabilities. Completing the modified kit isn't a great leap more difficult than the original, and once you do, you'll be glad to get a lot more use out of your windowsills, and hand over a lot less money at the grocery store every few weeks. It's not necessarily the most effective method of charging, but it's undeniably cool. (Original post)

1. Sun jar garden light

The solar-powered outdoor lights they sell at your local garden/home improvement store can be subtle or original-looking—if you want to pay a premium. Otherwise, you're stuck with painted plastic and models that hold a pretty weak charge. The sun jars constructed by our own Jason, on the other hand, cost only about $11 each—less if you have jars or batteries on hand—and give off a pretty neat glow, powered entirely by solar energy from earlier that day.


What sun-powered projects are in your mental queu! e for so me sunny weekend? What great solar hacks have you pulled off already? Tell us all about them in the comments.

Read More...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

GE's Smart Grid aims to cut home energy consumption to zero, promote world peace

GE's Smart Grid aims to cut home energy consumption to zero, promote world peace


Judging by the company's recent infatuation with energy-efficient LED lighting solutions, we're not at all surprised to see General Electric launching a daunting initiative that aims to cut homeowner energy consumption to zero by 2015. The so-called 'Smart Grid' is part of the Net Zero Home Project, which combines solar and wind energy (for on-site power generation) along with specialized appliances that can "communicate with utilities to participate in utility-run demand-response programs." In other words, these intelligent devices can turn themselves down or off when no one's around in order to shave peak-time consumption, and the in-your-face nature of always knowing exactly how much juice you're wasting should also encourage conservation. Of course, we have all ideas that a Smart Grid-certified home will run you quite a bit more than you're willing to pay, but hey, Ma Earth deserves it -- doesn't she?

[Via CNET]

Filed under:

GE's Smart Grid aims to cut home energy consumption to zero, promote world peace originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 15 Jul 2009 09:46:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments

Read More...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"Solar Sunflower" Collectors Lend Credibility to "Solar Farm" [Green Art]

"Solar Sunflower" Collectors Lend Credibility to "Solar Farm" [Green Art]

In the spot where the old Robert Mueller airport used to be, the city of Austin is building, among other things, a solar farm made of these contest-winning, 16-foot-high "sunflower" style solar collectors.

The collectors aren't active yet, but when they're switched on they'll be used to power lights for a nearby hiking and biking trail. They're 16 feet high and 14 feet across (at the "flower," presumably) and are being viewed as both an art installation and a greening initiative. As Austin Council Member Lee Leffingwell shamelessly brags, "Our city has a great understanding of how art can transform public spaces." Yeah? Well, our site has a great understanding of sweet giant metal flowers, too. [MAKE]




Read More...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tornado Tower Looks Like a Cloud, Makes Its Own Energy [Architecture]

Tornado Tower Looks Like a Cloud, Makes Its Own Energy [Architecture]

The Tornado Tower is a design for a performing arts center in Taipei, Taiwan, and man is it crazy. That huge bubble on top is where the theater sits, and the whole thing harnesses the wind for energy.

The entire exterior is covered with curved fins that generate wind energy while also making it look like a huge cloud. At least it would be, if it was selected as the winning entry in the contest to design the performing arts center. Which is wasn't. But still, it's a pretty stunning design. [Plus Mood via Inhabitat]




Read More...

T. Boone Pickens scouting new home for $2 billion wind farm

T. Boone Pickens scouting new home for $2 billion wind farm


It's true that everything really is more colossal in Texas, but unfortunately, it seems as if the planet's largest wind farm won't be adding to the collection. Just over a year after energy baron T. Boone Pickens announced plans to plant 687 gigantic wind turbines in Texas' panhandle, he's now scraping those intentions and actively looking for a new location to energize. The problem lies in the difficulty of getting 4,000 megawatts of power from Texas to the power distribution system, and now he's being forced to find a massive plot of land that's closer to said channels. There's no word yet on where Mr. Pickens is looking, but considering that even his garage isn't large enough to house the turbines (which have already been ordered, mind you), we'd guess that he'll settle on a new tract in short order.

Filed under:

T. Boone Pickens scouting new home for $2 billion wind farm originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 08 Jul 2009 15:04:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments

Read More...

Teen Decomposes Plastic Bag in Three Months

Source: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/05/teen-decomposes/


  • 1:08 pm  |  
  • Categories: Environment

Plastic

Plastic takes thousands of years to decompose — but 16-year-old science fair contestant Daniel Burd made it happen in just three months.

The Waterloo, Ontario high school junior figured that something must make plastic degrade, even if it does take millennia, and that something was probably bacteria.

(Hey, at between one-half and 90 percent of Earth's biomass, bacteria's a pretty safe bet for any biological mystery.)

The Record reports that Burd mixed landfill dirt with yeast and tap water, then added ground plastic and let it stew. The plastic indeed decomposed more quickly than it would in nature; after experimenting with different temperatures and configurations, Burd isolated the microbial munchers. One came from the bacterial genus Pseudomonas, and the other from the genus Sphingomonas.

Burd says this should be easy on an industrial scale: all that's needed is a fermenter, a growth medium and plastic, and the bacteria themselves provide most of the energy by producing heat as they eat.
The only waste is water and a bit of carbon dioxide.

Amazing stuff. I'll try to get an interview with this young man who may have managed to solve one of the most intractable environmental dilemmas of our time. And I can't help but wonder whether his high school already had its prom. If he doesn't get to be king, there's no justice in this world.

Read More...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Incandescent bulbs making a comeback, GE still launching new LED lights

Incandescent bulbs making a comeback, GE still launching new LED lights


On the eve of Christmas 2007, quite a few obituaries for incandescent light bulbs were penned. News was slow, time was short and Congress had just outlined a new energy plan that would essentially force these energy-wasting bulbs out by 2012. Now, however, legions of scientists are racing the clock to develop new incandescents that will still meet the upcoming guidelines, with a Deposition Sciences technology paving the way for a post-2012 model from Philips. Without drowning you in technobabble, let's just say that said tech has seen 50 percent efficiency gains in the lab, which is more than enough to please even the most outspoken tree hugger in Washington. In related news, GE has issued two more LED light bulbs: the 7-watt Energy Smart LED PAR20 and 10-watt LED PAR30. Both of 'em are aimed more at commercial customers than at actual homes, but you'll be hard pressed to find a better option for lighting up your makeshift basketball court.

Read - Incandescent bulbs stage comeback
Read - GE Energy Smart bulbs

Filed under:

Incandescent bulbs making a comeback, GE still launching new LED lights originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 08 Jul 2009 09:51:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Read More...

New Heat-Reflecting Technology Threatens to Make Incandescent Bulbs Fashionable Again [Lightbulbs]

New Heat-Reflecting Technology Threatens to Make Incandescent Bulbs Fashionable Again [Lightbulbs]

I know, I know. Tech writers spent all this time hyping CFLs, and now it's possible that incandescent bulbs might be acceptable again thanks to a new technology that seals the filament in a special, heat-reflecting inner-capsule? The nerve!

The NY Times' Green Inc. blog says the inner capsule of these new bulbs, developed by California-based Deposition Sciences, is coated with a material that is able to reflect the heat back onto the filament, part of which is converted back into light. This technology, currently featured in Philips Halogena Energy Savers line, has resulted in the bulb using 30% less power and lasting 3x longer than normal incandescents.

And what about CFLs you ask? Yes they're still about 2.5x more efficient than these new incandescent bulbs. But these new bulbs will get more efficient with time, don't take forever to warm up to full brightness, don't make your home feel like a lab or mental institution and don't contain mercury (famed destroyer of Jeremy Piven and all-around, pain-in-the-ass substance to dispose of). But they also cost $5 a bulb. [Green Inc. via Slashdot]




Read More...