Tuesday, May 21, 2013

This Printer Spits Out 10 Meters of Solar Panel Every Minute

Source: http://gizmodo.com/this-printer-spits-out-10-meters-of-solar-panel-every-m-508966042

Australia is on the cusp of a solar energy revolution. First, a recent study suggests that the country could power its entire national domestic infrastructure using only solar (while slashing the price of home electricity by 70 percent). Now, the University of Melbourne has introduced a new organic PV cell printer that rolls out a functional binder page-sized sheet of solar panel every two seconds, making the production of all those cells cheaper and a whole lot faster.

The printer system was developed by VICOSC, the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium—a collaboration between the University of Melbourne, CSIRO Molecular and Health Technologies, and Monash University—and utilizes only existing printer technology to embed polymer solar cells (also known as organic or plastic solar cells) in thin sheets of plastic or steel at a rate of ten meters per minute. "We're using the same techniques that you would use if you were screen printing an image on to a T-Shirt," project coordinator and University of Melbourne researcher Dr David Jones said in a press release.

Organic solar cells rely on organic electronics, hydrocarbon molecules specifically, to generate a photovoltaic effect and convert the Sun's rays into usable DC current. The primary benefit to using organic cells is that these sheets can be printed in bulk for very little and the optical absorption coefficient of of the hydrocarbon molecules is so high that even small amounts of material can suck up a lot of light. On the other hand, organic cells are less efficient than their inorganic alternatives and tend to break down faster due to the chemical changes occurring within.

Currently, these organic sheets are able to produce up to 80W in the lab and between 10 and 50W under real world conditions. These cells aren't meant to replace conventional, inorganic panels, quite the opposite in fact. "The different types of cells capture light from different parts of the solar spectrum. So rather than being competing technologies, they are actually very complementary," said CSIRO materials scientist Dr Scott Watkins.

This printing technique could soon lead to buildings with PV laminated windows and exteriors and homes covered in solar shingles. [CSIRO via Cleantechnica - Wiki - University of Michigan]


'Crazy Ants' That Eat Electrical Equipment Are Taking Over The Southeast

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/crazy-ants-invading-southeastern-us-2013-5

piles of dead crazy ants around a florida home

A new invasion of circuitry-eating "crazy ants" is beginning to wreak havoc in the Southeastern US.

"These ants, commonly called Rasberry crazy ants, probably will be the worse insect that we've ever had to deal with in this part of the United States," pest control expert Tom Rasberry, who first saw the mystery invaders, told The Texas Country Reporter.

The ants are called crazy because of their random, nonlinear movements when looking for food, as opposed to the orderly formations of other ants who line up to transport food to the hive. 

A new study, published in the April 2013 issue of the journal Biological Invasions, found that these crazy ants, which are formally known as tawny crazy ants and scientifically called Nylanderia fulva, are driving out the previous ant invaders, the fire ants, which sounds like a good thing, but really, these ants are much worse. 

"When you talk to folks who live in the invaded areas, they tell you they want their fire ants back," study researcher Edward LeBrun, of the University of Texas at Austin, said in a statement. "Fire ants are in many ways very polite. They live in your yard. They form mounds and stay there, and they only interact with you if you step on their mound."

queen crazy !   ant head

The problem is that crazy ant aren't just confined to yards and forests, but often take up residence in the walls and crawl spaces of people's homes. They are attracted to electrical equipment and household appliances.

They are probably attracted to the magnetic fields or heat from the electronics.

When they make their way to electrical equipment, they chew through wires and electrocute themselves, which makes the release a compound that attracts other ants, in an effort to call for help. These ants can form balls that can short out systems. They also die in droves and their carcasses can cause overheating and mechanical failures.

They've even attacked the Johnson Space Center, though NASA quickly took action to prevent any damage to their electrical systems.

Here's a fuzzy video of the ants having taken over a computer mouse. According to YouTube user eyehatetests, who posted it:

I came home from work to go on my computer and found a trail of ants coming from my mouse, I took the mouse outside and found out that there was a ant colony in my mouse. So I took a Ziploc bag and put it in there with a piece of tissue drenched in rubbing alcohol. Soon enough they all died and I got my mouse back.

crazy ants in leaf litter on handNot only do they infest electronics and chew through wires, they will also have a big impact on the environment. The new study found that these crazy ants are breeding so quickly they are pushing out every other kind of ant in every area they invade, often within a year.

The crazy ants rapidly take over new habitats — they can be 100 times as d! ense as all other ants combined.

Traditional ant traps don't seem to work on these ants, and they form super colonies which can quickly re-infest anywhere that's been treated with insecticides.

The ants started showing up in Houston and Florida in 2002 and in the last decade have spread all throughout the Gulf coast. They seem to like the moist coast line area. Luckily, they don't move too fast, about 20 to 30 meters per month.

They also kill off other insects in the area. This biological richness is important for the ecology of the area — these insects and ants break down and help decompose the leaf litter covering the forest floor. Here's a video of just how dense these ants can get in the forest:

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Monday, May 13, 2013

75-Year-Old Soybean Planter Loses Against Monsanto In Supreme Court

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/supreme-court-monsanto-patent-lawsuit-2013-5

Soybean drought

The US Supreme Court ruled in favor of Monsanto Monday over an Indiana farmer accused of having pirated the genetically-modified crops developed by the agribusiness giant.

The high court was unanimous in its decision, ruling that laws limiting patents do "not permit a farmer to reproduce patented seeds through planting and harvesting without the patent holder's permission."

The crux of the argument was over "patent exhaustion" which states that, after a patented item has been sold, the purchaser has "'the right to use (or) sell' the thing as he sees fit."

But the court's 10-page opinion says patent exhaustion only applies to the actual item sold -- in this case the seed itself -- and still prevents anyone from making, using and selling copies of the item.

The ruling gave Monsanto shares a bounce after falling more than one percent in opening trade Monday. At 10:20 (1420 GMT) they were at $107.59, down 0.5 percent.

In a lawsuit filed in 2007, Monsanto had accused Vernon Hugh Bowman, a farmer, of infringing on its intellectual property rights by replanting, cultivating and selling herbicide-resistant soybean seeds it spent more than a decade developing.

The patented seed, which allows farmers to aerially spray Monsanto-made Roundup herbicide over their entire fields, was invented in 1996 and is now grown by more than 90 percent of the 275,000 US soybean farmers.

The farmer, 75, said he had respected his contract with Monsanto and purchased new Roundup Ready seeds each year for his first planting.

But he said hard times forced him to purchase a cheaper mixture of seeds from a grain elevator starting in 1999, which he used for his second planting.

The mixture included Roundup Ready soybeans, which Bowman was able to isolate and replant from 2000 t! o 2007.< /p>

Copyright (2013) AFP. All rights reserved.

SEE ALSO: A Lone Indiana Soybean Farmer Is Taking On Monsanto In the Supreme Court

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

This Power Plant Will Tap the Ocean For Endless Power

Source: http://gizmodo.com/this-power-plant-will-tap-the-ocean-for-endless-power-493207669

It's not the motion of the ocean that matters to Lockheed's Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) power plant, only the temperature of the water.

Lockheed Martin announced yesterday that it is partnering with Beijing-based Reignwood Group to construct a 10MW green power plant that leverages the difference bewteen sun-warmed surface water and icy water from deep below to power a planned low-carbon real estate development on Hainan Island in the South China Sea. It will be the largest commercial OTEC plant ever constructed when it's finished in 2017.

French physicist Jacques Arsene d'Arsonval first described the theoretic principals of thermal energy production in 1881, though it wasn't until 1930 that someone built an actual plant in Cuba. OTEC systems typically operate using either a closed or open loop. Closed systems, like the proposed Hainan plant, use a working fluid with a low boiling point, like ammonia, to create steam which drives a turbine (the ammonia is then recondensed using cold water pumped up from the ocean's depths, hence a closed loop). Open systems on the other hand cycle through seawater vapor as the working fluid.

The primary engineering challenge for these systems revolves around how to wring more energy out of the seawater than it takes to pump it up from the depths. The system is only about 6 percent efficient under ideal conditions (though most OTEC projects float around 2-3 percent). But what it lacks in efficiency, OTEC makes up for in endurance. These systems can produce energy 24/7, unlike wind and solar power that are dependent on, well, the wind and sun.

The plants are also location-limited to areas where there is at least a 40 degree water temperature difference year-round (read: the tropics and a thin band of the Atlantic coast) and deep water is fairly close to shore (unless you're building a floating OTEC platform, in which case you can put it anywhere you please). and to a portion of the Atlantic coast.

The Hainan plant builds off of lessons learned from Lockheed's previous OTEC plant, which has operated for the last few years in Hawaii with help from Makai Ocean Engineering, the DoE, and the US Navy. "The Navy wants a thriving OTEC industry because they would benefit from it," Duke Hartman, a spokesman for Makai Ocean Engineering, told Scientific American. Submarines and ships carrying their own OTEC plants would be granted unlimited range, for example.

It will be a while before our oceans are overrun with super subs, however, the technology is still in its infancy. "The biggest obstacle to OTEC is economies of scale," Hartman said. "You get a lot more bang for your buck if you go bigger." He estimates that a 100MW plant, the kind the Pentagon hopes to eventually build, would run about $1 billion.

[Phys Org - Ocean Energy - How Stuff Works - Wikipedia - Lockheed - Scientific American]


9 Signs That Americans Will See Solar Power Everywhere Within The Decade

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/rise-of-solar-power-2013-5

mars 18 acre solar garden new jersey

Last week, Massachusetts announced it had reached its goal of obtaining 250 megawatts of power — enough to power multiple mid-sized cities — four years early.

It's another sign that, as we've recently discussed, solar is booming. 

The main reason is China, which has so thoroughly flooded the global market with cheap parts that today, Europe slapped them with a new tariff.

But there are other signs that solar power is set to take off.

We've compiled some of them here.

In the past few years, the doubling of solar capacity has resulted in a 40% reduction in solar costs.

Mostly thanks to China.

Solar has high start-up costs, but give it enough time and it becomes the cheapest power source out there.

That's even without subsidies.

Source: GWU 

Warren Buffett recently purchased the largest solar developme! nt in th e world, a set of arrays in California.

This is a man not known for making bad bets.

Source: Business Insider

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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