Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Most Powerful Wind Turbine Looks Like the Weirdest Too [Engineering]


The Most Powerful Wind Turbine Looks Like the Weirdest TooIn the future, we will look at these 885-foot-wide structures in the middle of the ocean and we won't even blink. But, right now, I'm having a hard time imagining them spinning en masse at 20 revolutions per minute.

It's the new Aerogenerator X Vertical Axis Wind Turbine, which will be completed by 2014. Instead of using a traditional vertical structure, this wind turbine will rotate horizontally. Its design will enable it to generate twice the power of previous designs, according to the manufacturer. That's 10 megawatts per hour. The most powerful—and largest turbine in the planet at 413-foot high—now generates a bit over seven megawatts.

The Most Powerful Wind Turbine Looks Like the Weirdest Too

The Most Powerful Wind Turbine Looks Like the Weirdest Too

Only the 10MW Horizontal Axis Wind Turbine will be able to match its power, at the cost of raising an impressive 606 feet over the surface of the sea. That would be really fun to repair. [Windpower via Dezeen]


Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid headed for production


What once seemed to simply be a ridiculously extravagant concept for a plug-in hybrid has now become a ridiculously extravagant reality -- Porsche has just announced that it's putting the 918 Spyder into production. First unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, the car (in concept form, at least) packs a 500-horsepower V8 and a pair of 109-horsepower electric motors that should let you get about 78 miles per gallon, or a total of 16 miles of driving straight from the lithium-ion battery back. The cost? That hasn't been officially announced yet, but estimates peg it around the $650,000 mark. Don't worry, though -- it'll be eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit. Head on past the break for the full (but brief) press release.

Continue reading Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid headed for production

Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid headed for production originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 28 Jul 2010 18:26:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Whitening Cities' Roofs Is Environmental Equivalent of Taking 300 Million Cars Off the Road, DoE Study Says


White Roof Making roofs white can offset the warming effect of two years' worth of global carbon dioxide emissions, a new study says. NREL

Whitening the world's roofs would offset the emissions of the world's cars for 20 years, according to a new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Overall, installing lighter-colored roofs and pavement can cancel the heat effect of two years of global carbon dioxide emissions, Berkeley Lab says. It's the first roof-cooling study to use a global model to examine the issue.

The study used a global land surface model from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, which contained regional information on surface variables like topography, evaporation, radiation and temperature, as well as on cloud cover, Berkeley Lab says.

Lightening-up roofs and pavement can offset 57 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, about double the amount the world emitted in 2006, the study found. It was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Researchers used a conservative estimate of increased albedo, or solar reflection, suggesting that purely white roofs would be even better. They increased the albedo of all roofs by 0.25 and pavement by 0.15. That means a black roof, which has an albedo of zero, would only need to be replaced by a roof of a cooler color -- which might be more feasible to implement than a snowy white roof, Berkeley Lab says.

The researchers extrapolated a roof's CO2 offset over its average lifespan. If all roofs were converted to white or cool colors, they would offset about 24 gigatons (24 billion metric tons) of CO2, but only once. But assuming roofs last about 20 years, the researchers came up with 1.2 gigatons per year. That equates to offsetting the emissions of roughly 300 million cars, all the cars in the world, for 20 years.

Pavement and roofs cover 50 to 65 percent of urban areas, and cause a heat-island effect because they absorb so much heat. That's why cities are significantly warmer than their surrounding rural areas. This effect makes it harder -- and therefore more expensive -- to keep buildings cool in the summer. Winds also move the heat into the atmosphere, causing a regional warming effect.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel laureate in physics (and former Berkeley Lab director), has advocated white roofs for years. He put his words into action Monday by directing all Energy Department offices to install white roofs. All newly installed roofs will be white, and black roofs might be replaced when it is cost-effective over the lifetime of the roof.

"Cool roofs are one of the quickest and lowest-cost ways we can reduce our global carbon emissions and begin the hard work of slowing climate change," he said in a statement.

[Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory]


Impossible Sounding Solar Plant Generates Electricity at Night [Solar]


Impossible Sounding Solar Plant Generates Electricity at NightSkeptics of modern technology, behold: a newly opened solar plant in Sicily is able to continue generating electricity long after the sun goes down. The trick lies in the plant's use of salt to store up heat for later use.

Impossible Sounding Solar Plant Generates Electricity at Night

The "Archimede" facility uses what's known as concentrated solar power, absorbing the sun's heat and later using it to boil water and drive electricity-yielding turbines. CSP plant differ from photovoltaic plants, which generate power directly from sunlight.

Most CSP plants use a synthetic oil to store turbine-driving heat, but Archimede uses molten salt, which possesses a heat capacity able to drive its temperature up over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. Even when the sun starts to dip, the salt is still, as you can imagine, rather hot—hot enough to continue to boil water at night. [Guardian UK via Inhabitat]
Images via Angelantoni, Solar Thermal


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Google signs 20-year deal to power data centers with wind energy


It's not the first investment Google has made in wind power, but anyone wondering about its commitment needn't look any further than the company's just-announced deal with NextEra Energy. It's agreed to buy wind power from NextEra's wind farm in Iowa for the next twenty years, which it says will provide enough power to supply "several" of its data centers. What's more, Google says that the size and length of the deal (taking 114 megawatts of energy off the market) will also lead to other indirect benefits for the wind power industry, and give NextEra the flexibility to invest in additional clean energy projects. Head on past the break for NextEra's press release on the deal.

Continue reading Google signs 20-year deal to power data centers with wind energy

Google signs 20-year deal to power data centers with wind energy originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 20 Jul 2010 15:45:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Zephyr solar UAV sets yet another flight record: 7 days and counting!


This certainly is an interesting time for solar powered flight. Solar Impulse just returned from a 26-hour manned test flight, and now QinetiQ's Zephyr, a drone who we last saw clocking over 83 hours in-flight is in the air again: this time, it's more like seven days and counting! The craft, which took off from the Army's Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona last Friday, is being billed as an "eternal aircraft," one that can stay aloft for extremely long periods of time for use as recon and communications platforms. The previous world endurance record for a UAV was set by NASA's Global Hawk, which stayed aloft for 30 hours and 24 minutes.

Continue reading Zephyr solar UAV sets yet another flight record: 7 days and counting!

Zephyr solar UAV sets yet another flight record: 7 days and counting! originally appeared on Engadget on Sat, 17 Jul 2010 18:37:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Big mystery holding back practical superconductors may have been solved [Mad Science]


Big mystery holding back practical superconductors may have been solvedSuperconductors carry electric current with no energy loss. They could revolutionize our electrical grid, but they only work at impractically low temperatures. We just figured out a key reason why – and possibly got a lot closer to room-temperature superconductors.

Scientists have spent the last two decades trying to figure out why their superconductors only work at temperatures barely any higher than absolute zero. They've been able to identify the so-called "pseudogap" phase, which is a temperature range below room temperature at which superconductivity breaks down. We know there's something about what happens to electrons during this phase that makes superconductors fail, but until now we couldn't figure out what, despite several frustrating attempts to find out.

But physicists working for the Department of Energy may have just solved the mystery. Working with copper-oxide superconductors, they identified a change in electron behavior that only occurs during the pseudogap phase. Specifically, they keyed in on how easily electrons could "jump" from each copper and oxygen site to the tip of a microscope needle.

The difference in electron behavior was remarkably obvious, explains project leader Séamus Davis:

"Picture the copper atom at the center of the unit, with one oxygen to the 'north' and one to the 'east,' and this whole unit repeating itself over and over across the copper-oxide layer. In every single copper-oxide unit, the tunneling ability of electrons from the northern oxygen atom was different from that of the eastern oxygen."

Finding such a clear break in symmetry is very exciting, because there's a ton of precedent for such asymmetries revolutionizing our understanding of other systems. For instance, the discovery of broken symmetries in liquid crystals gave scientists the guidance needed to control the crystal, and now liquid crystal displays (or, as they're more commonly known, LCD screens) are commonplace and inexpensive. The hope is that a similarly huge leap in understanding of superconductors will come from uncovering this asymmetry in the pseudogap phase.

The researchers hope to find similar broken symmetries in other copper-oxide superconductors. They are also trying to figure out how the asymmetry affects electron flow, how this in turn affects superconductivity, and how to work around these issues to make room temperature superconductors a practical possibility.

There's still much work to do, but as Davis explains, the potential benefits are incalculable:

"Developing superconductors that operate without the need for coolants would be transformational. Such materials would greatly improve the efficiency of energy-distribution systems, saving enormous amounts of money and updating the electrical grid to meet the needs of the 21st Century."

Currently, the only working superconductors have to operate at extremely low temperatures. The fact that they operate with no resistance and thus no energy loss is theoretically a huge savings, but in practice it's completely canceled out by the huge amount of exotic coolants needed to get them to such temperatures.



Self-Charging Batteries Powered by Vibration [Battery]


Self-Charging Batteries Powered by VibrationBrother Industries has developed an AA battery sized generator powered by vibration, which can be used to charge another AA battery. Shaking your remote every once in a while could soon be all that's needed to keep it alive.

Inside the generator battery sits an "electromagnetic induction generator and an electric double layer capacitor" and although you'd have to do an impossibly vigorous amount of shaking to power a DSLR, for low-drain gadgets like remotes and LED torches a quick shuffle should dribble out enough energy for a brief spell of use. [Tech-On]


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

NREL's Zero-Energy Research Building, Largest in Nation, Generates as Much Power as it Uses | Popular Science


Future of the Environment

NREL's Net-zero Research Support Facility The National Renewable Energy Lab's new Research Support Facility will generate as much power as it consumes in a given year, making it net energy neutral. Haselden Construction

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is the Department of Energy's green tech incubation lab, so perhaps it's no surprise that the research agency is attempting to lead America to greener pastures by example. The NREL just put the finishing touches on its new Research Support Facility (RSF) in Golden, Colo., -- the largest zero-energy office building in the nation -- hoping other developers will follow its lead.

The 220,000 square-foot facility will be home to more than 800 employees when it opens its doors in August, and is expected to achieve platinum LEED certification, the highest distinction a building can get fr! om the U .S. Green Building Council. To create a structure that consumes no more energy than it produces in a year, the engineers behind the office complex took into account both the technologies of the future and the building practices of the past.

For instance, before electric lighting and climate control became ubiquitous architects situated and designed buildings to take advantage of natural light, with lots of windows that also provided ventilation. A slender 60-foot width and an east-west orientation allow lots of natural daylight to illuminate interior spaces of the RSF. That centuries-old building practice is coupled with smart technology that constantly compares interior and exterior temperatures, and even sends messages to occupants' computer screens when its time to open or close the windows for optimum natural climate control.

The building is also built largely of recycled or reclaimed materials, and the exterior is designed to absorb heat from the sun that can then either contain the heat during the day during warmer months or release it into the building during cooler months. The interior climate is further controlled using an radiant system that uses water pipes embedded in the floor to circulate eith! er hot o r cold water.

Of course, the NREL's new green building pales in comparison to China's ambitious 800,000 square-foot "Sun Dial" office building or the scope of projects like Masdar City outside Abu Dhabi. But it's a good -- and good looking -- first step toward better building practices. To make sure the drive for net-zero architecture doesn't stall in Golden, the NREL will be offering its design for the building to developers for free starting this fall.


Environmental Visionaries: The Solar Roadrunner


Highways basking in the hot sun are wasted energy. Scott Brusaw's solution? Make them out of solar panels

The road ahead is paved with photovoltaics. That's how Scott Brusaw sees it, anyway. His company, Solar Roadways, is embedding PV cells and LED lights into panels engineered to withstand the forces of traffic. The lights would allow for "smart" roadways and parking lots with changeable signage, while the cells would generate enough energy to power businesses, cities and, eventually, the entire country.

Each 12-by-12-foot Solar Roadway panel would produce about 7,600 watt-hours a day, based on an average of four hours of sunlight. At that rate, a one-mile stretch of four-lane highway could power about 500 homes. "If we could ever replace all the roads in the U.S., then, yeah, we would produce more electricity than we use as a nation," says Brusaw, an electrical engineer who completed his first prototype panel in February with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Brusaw's goal is to get the cost per panel under $10,000. That's roughly three times the cost of asphalt. But he wants to make panels that last three times longer than asphalt roads, which have to be resurfaced every 10 years in many places. "Then the cost is about the same," he says. "But that's just a break-even. We're also generating electricity."

The key to commercial viability will be the panels' glass. It must be textured for traction, embedded with heating elements for melting away ice and snow, and able to survive years of traffic. "The toughest is going to be that fast lane on the highway," Brusaw says, "where you've got a 40-ton truck, maybe with snow chains. It will have to be able to withstand all that." At the same time, it has to be self-cleaning if sunlight is to reach the PV cells; Brusaw points to experimental hydrophilic glass that uses sunlight to break down organic dirt, and rainwater to wash it away without streaking.

Next up for Solar Roadways will be qualifying for Phase II funding, a two-year, $750,000 deal to develop a commercial plan for the panels. At the end of those two years, Brusaw would like to be ready for testing in parking lots, which he sees as the perfect proving grounds for the lights and the power-generation system. Directional arrows and parking lines could be reconfigured to deal with busy times, and the electricity generated could feed adjacent businesses. "I talked to the guy in charge of power for Wal-Mart," Brusaw says. "Superstores are roughly 200,000 square feet, and parking lots are about four times that. I crunched the numbers for an 800,000-square-foot lot and told him how much power it could generate even if it was completely full of cars. It was 10 times the power they use."

Brusaw wants to start smaller, though-on the scale of, say, a fast-food restaurant. A McDonald's retrofitted with a solar parking lot could take itself largely or entirely off the grid or become a site for recharging electric vehicles (while the owners stopped inside for food, naturally). "Even the best electric cars have a range of about three hours," he explains. "But if all I have to do is find a McDonald's, I could drive from Idaho to the southern tip of Florida." Improbable? Yes. But "Billions of watts served" would be a cool new tagline.

Josh Dorfman is the author of The Lazy Environmentalist: Your Guide to Easy, Stylish Green Living


Monday, July 12, 2010

Make Your Own Rechargeable, Water-Powered Battery [DIY]


Make Your Own Rechargeable, Water-Powered BatteryWe've covered how to make a beer battery before, but if you've yet to get into the home brewing scene, you can make a smaller battery with a carbon rod and a bit of water or vinegar.

Besides the rod and your liquid of choice, you'll also need a bit of aluminum foil, some wire, and a small cylindrical container in which to hold it all. As far as tools go, you'll just need some basics: scissors, pliers, and a glue gun. It's a fairly easy set-up to put together, and what's even better is that you can recharge it after it dies just by refilling the water. It won't power anything too gargantuan, but if you're sick of buying AAs all the time, it's a nice, rechargeable solution for small calculator or something similar. Hit the link for the full instructions.

Water Powered Calculator [Instructables]


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Honda shows off conceptual, solar-powered station to refill your conceptual, hydrogen-powered car (video)


Honda shows off conceptual, solar-powered station to refill your conceptual, hydrogen-powered car
Hydrogen-powered cars, like Honda's FCX Clarity, face a lot of hurdles, not the least of which being a fuel source requiring more energy to produce than it in turn gives out as energy. Honda is showing one way to mitigate that with its conceptual home-based recharging station. It relies on a six-kilowatt solar array to power an electrolyzer, splitting water molecules into hydrogen atoms. Eight hours of sunlight generates a half-kilogram of hydrogen, enough for the FCX to cover about 30 miles -- your average commute. However, there are some obvious concerns, not the least of which being that massive solar array (shown on the right in the picture above), which is twice the size of car it's powering. Then there's the cost, and while Honda isn't saying how much this might set you back if it ever did come to production, we're guessing it'd make the JFE Engineering's $60k quick charger look like something of a bargain.

Continue reading Honda shows off conceptual, solar-powered station to refill your conceptual, hydrogen-powered car (video)

Honda shows off conceptual, solar-powered station to refill your conceptual, hydrogen-powered car (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 07 Jul 2010 10:42:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

JFE Engineering's quick auto charger does 50% charge in three minutes, hits parking lots in March


JFE Engineering's quick auto charger does 50% charge in three minutes, hits parking lots in March
While range is an unfortunate limiting factor for electric vehicles, slow recharging time is perhaps even more troubling. Going 100 miles on a charge would be okay if you could stop at the corner electron stand and top up your cells while hitting the potty, and JFE Engineering's quick charger gets makes that a reality, able to charge an EV's batteries to 50 percent in just three minutes. Five minutes gets you a 70 percent charge, but from there things go downhill, with 30 minutes required for an 80 percent charge. The company is now pledging that these units will be ready for installation at convenience shops and the like by March -- in Japan, of course. The "low cost" version is said to go for $60,000, while the standard model costs twice that. Fast-flowing electrons: expensive business.

JFE Engineering's quick auto charger does 50% charge in three minutes, hits parking lots in March originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 06 Jul 2010 09:09:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Monday, July 5, 2010

algae that grows in salt water

- in the algae farm we should raise it out of the ground so there is more surface area that can catch the sunlight

- use wave action to push seawater up higher than sea level

- is there algae that can grow in salt water?  perhaps we can use kelp which grows extremely fast

- can we make use of deep water organisms that live and thrive near geothermal vents? 

- can they be used to clean up unwanted chemicals at high temperatures (solar thermal waters)?