Wednesday, May 25, 2011

This Gigantic Sea Snake Transforms Waves Into Electricity [Monster Machines]


This Gigantic Sea Snake Transforms Waves Into ElectricityLike a gigantic, sea-faring Shake Weight, the Pelamis system uses the power of the ocean to generate electricity. But, unlike the dubious exercise equipment, this device actually produced results when it was installed in the Aguçadoura Wave Farm.

The Pelamis machine is comprised of hinged cylinder-shaped sections, each measuring 120m long and 3.5m in diameter, which float, semi-submerged, on the surface of the water. As waves roll in, the machine flexes, causing hydraulic rams in each section to drive fluid into high pressure accumulators. The pressurized fluid is then used to drive electricity-generating turbines. The higher the waves, the more electricity generated.

Engineers at Pelamis Wave Power, the Scottish company that produces the device, estimate an peak output of 750kWhr. And by stringing three machines together, as they did at Aguçadoura, the peak capacity jumps to 2.25MW, enough to power more than 1,500 Portuguese homes. This system also saves about 2,000 tons of CO2 yearly that would be emitted from a conventional combined cycle gas power station.

The Aguçadoura Wave Farm, the first and only of its kind, was located about three miles off of Póvoa de Varzim in Northern Portugal. It officially began operating September 23rd, 2008 — just about two months before Babcock & Brown, the parent company of Pelamis, went belly up and the project was forced to close. [Pelamis Wave]

Monster Machines is all about the most exceptional machines in the world, from massive gadgets of destruction to tiny machines of precision, and everything in between.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

$50 Worth of LEDs May One Day Replace Your Basic 100-Watt Light Bulb. Soon. [Light]


 Worth of LEDs May One Day Replace Your Basic 100-Watt Light Bulb. Soon.Get ready to dump your government-banned incandescent light bulbs and replace them with some LED-inspired lighting. The government ban on 100-watt incandescent bulbs goes into effect January 2012 and, like it or not, LED may be the replacement.

Light bulb manufacturers are looking at LED technology because it is energy-efficient and easily mass produced. All it takes to create an LED bulb is a handful of these light-emitting diodes and some bright engineers to figure out how to cram them into a standard pear-shaped bulb. Progress comes with a price tag and these 100-watt LED bulbs may cost as much as $50 each when they first arrive.

If you haven't started already, you may want to stockpile these incandescent bulbs and avoid the riots. It's almost a guarantee that shoppers will erupt when they discover a single light bulb now costs more than a carton of cigarettes and a six-pack of beer. [AP]


ORNL energy harvester turns heat waste into electricity, converts hot machines into cool customers


We've heard of turning yesterday's lunch into tomorrow's electricity, but a new energy converter coming out of Oak Ridge National Laboratory harnesses the power of a different type of hot waste. The as-of-yet unnamed thermal waste-heat converter has the potential to cool electronic devices, solar cells, and computers while generating electricity from excess heat. Its creators see the new conversion process being used to reduce the massive amounts of heat generated by petaflop computers. The converter employs up to one thousand tiny cantilevers attached to a one square inch surface (e.g. a computer chip) to produce between one and ten milliwatts of electricity -- admittedly a very small amount of energy. However, it's creators are quick to point out that a slew of these converters could generate enough power to perform small tasks in the heat-generating device -- things like sensing when a server room gets too hot for comfort. Sure it's a small step, but if they can get this stuff to save our future babies from cooking, we're all in. Full PR after the break.

Continue reading ORNL energy harvester turns heat waste into electricity, converts hot machines into cool customers

ORNL energy harvester turns heat waste into electricity, converts hot machines into cool customers originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 16 May 2011 20:02:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use! of feed s.

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Philips EnduraLED A21 bulb offers bright light for big bucks


If the expected price tag for Philips' latest LED light bulb is any indication, a brighter tomorrow won't come cheap. The "75W replacement," known as the EnudraLED A21, apparently reduces energy by 80 percent, lasts 25 times longer than its conventional counterpart, and is expected to cost between $40 and $45. Given that's significantly less expensive than the outfit's 60W equivalent, but for us regular folks, that's not exactly a drop in the bucket. However, if you're picking up what Philips is laying down, the bulb -- which uses a mere 17 watts of electricity to beam 1,100 lumens -- could save the US 5,220 megawatts of electricity and $630,000,000 annually (if we all switch over tomorrow). That certainly sounds good, but somehow we doubt a $45 light bulb is going to be the incandescent killer. Full PR after the break.

Continue reading Philips EnduraLED A21 bulb offers bright light for big bucks

Philips EnduraLED A21 bulb offers bright light for big bucks originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 16 May 2011 22:39:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Mizzou Professor says nantenna solar sheet soaks up 90 percent of the sun's rays, puts sunscreen to shame


Photovoltaics suffer from gross inefficiency, despite incremental improvements in their power producing capabilities. According to research by a team led by a University of Missouri professor, however, newly developed nantenna-equipped solar sheets can reap more than 90 percent of the sun's bounty -- which is more than double the efficiency of existing solar technologies. Apparently, some "special high-speed electrical circuitry" is the secret sauce behind the solar breakthrough. Of course, the flexible film is currently a flight of fancy and won't be generating juice for the public anytime soon. The professor and his pals still need capital for commercialization, but they believe a product will be ready within five years. Take your time, guys, it's not like global warming's getting worse.

[Image source: Idaho National Laboratory (PDF)]

Mizzou Professor says nantenna solar sheet soaks up 90 percent of the sun's rays, puts sunscreen to shame originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 17 May 2011 07:48:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Cellphones Cause Bees to Swarm to Their Death, Says a New Study [Weird]


Cellphones Cause Bees to Swarm to Their Death, Says a New StudyOh no. A Swiss Research team conducted 83 experiments and found that mobile phone calls cause bees to leave their hive, become disoriented and die.

The researchers measured the reaction of a bee hive to a mobile phone when it was actively in a call, in standby mode and turned off. According to the article published in the bee journal Apidologie, the bees responded violently to a mobile phone when it was in a call. They hive began to make a noise called the working piping signal which caused the bees to swarm. Disoriented by the noise, the colony fled their hive, flew erratically and suddenly died. This response was not observed when the phone was off or in an idle state.

Earlier studies blamed the Israeli acute paralysis virus for the massive bee colony deaths reported around the world. Besides protecting their hives from this virus, this Swiss study suggests beekeepers should probably stop yakking on their phone when tending to their hive. [Via The Daily Mail]


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Shell opens America's first pipelined hydrogen-fueling station in Southern California


Residents of SoCal's Torrance should consider themselves lucky, as they're now living in America's first-ever city to have a pipelined hydrogen-fueling station. You can thank Shell and Toyota for picking up this government-funded green project. Sure, while the few other hydrogen stations still rely on delivery by supply truck (presumably running on diesel, ironically), this nevertheless marks a new milestone for our squeaky clean fuel, and it's only a matter of time before more stations get piped up to Air Products' hydrogen plants. If there's any indication of a time frame, Wired reminds us that 2015 should see the arrival of many new mass-market hydrogen cars from Toyota, Honda, and Mercedes-Benz. Not long to go now, fellow tree huggers.

Shell opens America's first pipelined hydrogen-fueling station in Southern California originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 11 May 2011 10:44:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New Fog-Harvesting Devices Could Provide Clean Drinking Water for the World's Poor


Shrouded in Fog Wikimedia Commons
MIT engineer takes advantage of a mist opportunity

Clean drinking water is arguably the most basic human necessity, yet in developing countries it's a rare and precious resource - nearly 900 million people worldwide live without it, according to the World Health Organization. One MIT researcher has a solution: Drink the fog.

Improved fog-harvesting materials could make it easier to collect water from morning dewdrops or coastal water vapor. Drawing inspiration from nature, MIT engineer Shreerang Chhatre is designing devices that attract water droplets and pool them together. Villagers could then collect water at their homes rather than lugging it across great distances, as an MIT News article explains.

Chhatre has been studying the materials used in fog-harvesting devices, which typically consist of a fine mesh panel that attracts droplets, which collect inside receptacles. Chhatre is studying the "wettability" of materials, seeking a combination that attracts and repels water. Fog harvesters would not do much good if they only soaked up water; you'd also need a surface that repels it so it can be collected later.

Fog harvesters are already available in Chile, where they are made of a nylon or polypropylene netting, according to the Organization of American States, which has promoted the technology in Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Guatemala, among other places.

The concept is at least 30 years old, but Chhatre has recently published papers in which he describes improving the efficacy of some fog harvesters. They work best in coastal regions, where winds move water vapor inland. But Chhatre is testing materials that could also work in arid climates that experience early morning fog, and in high-altitude areas where moisture collects on mountains and in valleys.

In some tests, fog harvesters have captured one liter of water (roughly a quart) per one square meter of mesh, per day, according to MIT.

Several high-tech solutions promise to provide potable water for the world's poor, yet they are often expensive, cumbersome or otherwise impractical. Fog nets could be a simpler solution, Chhatre believes - as long as there's enough investment to develop the technology. That's where developed countries come in: Environmentally conscious communities might try fog harvesting to reduce the costs and emissions associated with transporting water and powering massive water treatment facilities.

If Chhatre can sell enough fog harvesters to affluent customers, their price could drop enough to make the technology more viable in poor countries, MIT says. Calling all San Franciscans!

[MIT News]


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

This is the new New York City taxi [Taxis]


This is the new New York City taxiThe city of New York will choose Nissan as the supplier for the next generation of taxi cabs, giving the Japanese automaker an exclusive 10-year contract for the city's fleet of 13,200 yellow people haulers.

This is the new New York City taxiClick here to read our first drive review of the new Nissan New York City taxi's big, rear-wheel-drive commercial cargo-carrying brother, the 2012 Nissan NV van.

According to the New York Daily News, the Nissan design beat out the Ford Transit van and a design from Turkish builder Karzan, based on durability and interior specs. The win means Nissans will slowly replace the Ford Crown Victorias and hodgepodge of hybrid Ford Escapes and other assorted vehicles bought by taxi firms and used to brainwash New Yorkers with Sandy Kenyon's celebrity ramblings.

This is the new New York City taxiWhile the Nissan's van bears a resemblance to its big NV commercial line in America, it's actually based on the smaller NV200, a model Nissan sells in Europe and Asia. The city's pick has some controversy; the Karzan V1 design won a public poll, while taxi company owners preferred the Ford Transit Connect given their experience with knowing how to fix Crown Vics and their supposed lower price point.

This is likely a big loss for Ford, which had hoped to anchor sales of the new Transit Connect with a winning New York City taxi bid. It's also no win for "buy American" advocates; none of the three competitors are currently built in the United States — Nissan assembles the NV200 in Spain and China — but then again, the once-dominant Crown Victoria was a Canadian import.