UK based 40South Limited is to install a 150 kilowatt wave power module outside Livorno Port in Tuscany. The device uses two connected buoyant sections that sit one above the other at different depths. The lower section is moored to the seabed. The arms that connect them move inside each other like pistons, generating power as they move. The whole structure sits below the sea surface and automatically adjusts its vertical position in the water depending on conditions – sinking deeper during large, potentially damaging storms. This also helps the device produce consistent levels of power.
Rearchers at Australia's CSIRO have built a gigantic printer that spits out solar cells at a rate of about ten metres a minute. The printer system uses existing technology to embed polymer solar cells (also known as organic solar cells) in thin sheets of plastic. The A3-sized panels are created by laying a liquid photovoltaic ink onto the thin, flexible plastic. According to the researchers, the technology is so simple that it could soon mean everyone has the ability to print their own solar panels at home. Project co-ordinator and University of Melbourne researcher, Dr David Jones, said that “We’re … Continue Reading
Researchers from the U.S. National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have develpoed a new type of flow battery which could potentially provide low-cost, long-life storage for solar and wind energy. Current flow batteries pump two different liquids through an interaction chamber where dissolved molecules undergo chemical reactions that store or release energy. The chamber contains a membrane that only allows ions which are not involved in reactions to pass between the liquids. Flow batteries are among the most promising technologies for grid storage because they include tanks, pumps and pipes which are easily scaled up to whatever size is required. … Continue Reading
Researchers at MIT have proposed a method of storing the energy generated by offshore wind farms using concrete tanks on the seafloor under the wind turbines Their concept is to place spherical concrete tanks, about 25 metres in diameter, on the seafloor under floating wind turbines. The concrete tanks would serve both as anchors to moor the floating turbines and as a means of storing the energy they produce. When the wind turbines produce more power than is needed, that power would be used to pump seawater out of the tank. When power is needed, water would be allowed to … Continue Reading
Scientists at Airlight Energy have joined IBM and the Swiss universities, ETH Zurich and Interstate University of Applied Sciences, to develop an affordable photovoltaic system that is capable of concentrating sunlight 2,000 times onto hundreds of one centimetre square PC cells – yielding high efficiency at low cost. The system uses a large parabolic dish made from a multitude of mirror facets. The dish is attached to a tracking system that determines the best angle based on the position of the sun. Once aligned, the sun’s rays reflect off the mirror onto triple-junction PV chips. On average, each chip can … Continue Reading
Georgia Institute of Technology and Purdue University researchers have developed efficient solar cells on cellulose nanocrystal substrates. The cellulose substrates and made from plants and can be easily recycled at the end of their life. To date, organic solar cells have usually been fabricated on glass or plastic. Neither of these is easy to recycle if, for example, they are broken during manufacture or installation. Cells on plastic have the further disadvantage of being petroleum-based. Paper substrates have been tried but have limited performance because of paper's rough surface and porosity. However, cellulose nanomaterials, being made from plants, are renewable … Continue Reading
Researchers at Virginia Tech, led by Associate Professor Percival Zhang, have developed a process by which approximately 30% of the cellulose from any plant material (including agricultural waste) can be converted into a starch known as amylose. Amylose can be used in food or as biodegradable packaging. Cellulose and starch have the same chemical composiition – the difference being their chemical linkages. Professor Percival Zhang's team used an enzyme cascade to break up the bonds in cellulose, enabling their reconfiguration as the starch, amylose. Amylose s a good source of dietay fibre and has been shown to decrease the risk … Continue Reading
Researchers at Virginia Tech have discovered a way to extract large quantities of hydrogen from any plant, a breakthrough that has the potential to be a low-cost, environmentally friendly fuel source. Associate Proffessor Y.H. Percival Zhang and his team have succeeded in using xylose, the most abundant simple plant sugar, to produce a large quantity of hydrogen. The method can use any source of biomass. Unlike previous methods of producing hydrogen from biomass, which are expensive and release greenhouse gases, the new process releases almost no greenhouse gasses and does not require costly materials or heavy metals. The hydrogen is … Continue Reading
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed new microbatteries which out-power even the best supercapacitors and could drive new applications in radio communications and compact electronics. Currently capacitors are used for applications that need a lot of power because they can release energy very quickly – however, can only store a small amount of energy. Batteries or fuel cells are used for applications that need a lot of energy because they can hold a large amount of energy but they release or recharge it slowly. The new microbatteries offer both power and energy. They owe their high … Continue Reading
Back in 2008, we wrote about the Sahara Forest Project – a plan to use solar power and seawater desalination to produce renewable energy, food and water in an area of desert. As shown in this video, the first fully operational pilot plant has now been built. A documentary about the people and progress of the Project is being made using Kickstarter funding.