Researchers, led by Professor Shanhui Fan, at Stanford University are developing rooftop panels that cool buildings by sending heat into space. The panel’s materials are engineered to emit thermal radiation in a very specific wavelength that is not absorbed by the atmosphere and, so, passes through it into space. The researchers estimate that, in theory, such a device could achieve a net cooling of 100 watts per square metre. The panels would have two components, both using layers of nanostructured photonic crystals. One layer is essentially a mirror with materials optimized to minimize the amount of solar radiation absorbed by … Continue Reading
Researchers at Wake Forest University in North Carolina have reported that they have developed a plastic material that glows when an electric current runs through it. The material, which can be formed in any shape, gives off a soft, white light, similar to sunkight, and is just as energy efficient as LEDs. The researchers made the material by adding multi-walled carbon nanotubes to three layers of moldable white light-emitting polymer. Adding the nanotubes led to a five-fold increase in the light emitted by the polymer without the nanotubes. The material can be shaped into bulbs that fit standard light fittings, … Continue Reading
Sharp has announced that it is launching semi-transparent solar panels designed for balcony railings in apartment blocks. The semi-transparent black solar panels are 1.4 metres wide by 1 metre tall and just 7.6 millimetres thick. They have an efficiency of about 6.8% with a maximum output of 95 watts. While this conversion rate is relatively low, other commercially available panels have not been designed for this appication. As well as providing solar power, the panels act as a heat shield and create a privacy screen when viewed from a distance.
Google says that its data centres use half the energy of a typical data centre. This is achieved through simple energy saving methods including siting of the data centre, efficient temperature management and reductions in residual energy loss.
The Center for Architecture, Science and Ecology in New York has come up with a building exterior that not only helps the interior comfortable but purifies water. The exterior surface of the building is clad in modular glass blocks which are configured to capture, refocus and intensify sunlight. Greywater from sinks, showers and hand washing flows through channels in the glass blocks. Inside the building, the blocks create a diffused daylight which eliminates solar heat gain and keeps rooms cooler. This reduces the need for high-energy heating and cooling mechanisms as well as being easier on the eyes. The glass … Continue Reading
A New York design company, Pensa LLC., has come up with the idea of adding charging points for mobile phones to street furniture, such as bus shelters and signs. The charging points would be pwered by solar PV panels on the roof of the bus shelter or on brackets attached to signposts. The solar PV panels could also be used for lighting. Meanwhile, a Vancouver writer and artist, Douglas Coupland, has unveiled his concept of a "V‑Pole" – a slim, modular utility pole connected to underground wiring. A V-Pole would provide neighborhoods with wi-fi and mobile wireless, LED street lighting, … Continue Reading
A study lead by Columbia University scientist, Stuart Gaffin, with the assistance of NASA, has found that white roof coating reduced peak rooftop temperatures New York in summer by an average of 23.6 C°. The study looked at how different white roofing materials performed “in the field” over multiple years. The study tested three different white materials which all produced similar results. The lowest cost material tested, "an asphaltic multi-ply built-up membrane coated with white elastomeric acrylic paint" (that is, white paint on a typical roof surface), is being promoted by New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, as part of a … Continue Reading
Tony Fadell, who led the team which designed the first eighteen generations of the iPod and the first three iPhones, has come up with the Nest thermostat for air conditioning systems. As you might expect, it looks a lot better and is much easier to use than current thermostats – and it also has some very smart energy-saving software.
The Japanese company, TIS & Partners, has developed a construction material called CO2 Structure, which is claims hardens quickly, delivers 2.5 times the tensile strength of concrete, is made from cheap materials and sequesters carbon dioxide. High silicon content sand is put into an air tight mould that can be virtually any shape. CO2 is pumped into the mould and bonds with the silica to make a solid material, as hard as a brick, in less than a minute. However, while this material is very strong under lateral loads it crumbles under tensile pressure. The company then bathes the bricks … Continue Reading
A Brooklyn company called SMIT(Sustainably Minded Interactive Technology) is taking orders for a product called Solar Ivy which is leaf-like solar panels that can be arranged artistically on a building’s facade. Solar Ivy can be customized in several ways: Each leaf can be coloured. The density of the leaves can be increased or reduced for energy gain, visibility requirements or architectural needs. The leaves can have more or less pitch or angle at different places to take into account architectural and aesthetic priorities Solar Ivy can be produced with one of several different types of photovoltaic material. The stainless steel … Continue Reading