Monthly Archives: April 2008
Diesel fuel can be made from many forms of biomass. How it works:
Biomass can be used to generate electricity. There are many sources of biomass: How it works: Wood waste or biomass from another source is burned to heat water in a boiler. The resulting steam drives a turbine which generates electricity.
Electricity can be produced from the wind. How It Works Are wind turbines noisy? Do they interfere with TV signals? Are they safe? Do they kill birds or bats? Do they interfere with wildfire habitats? Are they expensive or inefficient? Answers to these questions and more are in the American Wind Energy Association’s paper "Wind Power Myths vs Facts" Click here to download the Paper (280K pdf).
Solar photovoltaic cells convert sunlight into electricity. A solar powered laundry in California How It Works Light falling on a layer of n-type silicon releases negative electrons which try to flow to positive "holes" in the p-type silicon layers. But the silicon semiconductor does not allow direct flow. So, if we provide an external path, it produces a current. The New South Wales Department of Energy, Utilities and Sustainability has produced two Guides to solar energy use: "Solar Power: Your Questions Answered" and "Solar Power Case Studies". Some of the questions covered in the first guide include: How many solar … Continue Reading
Power is generated by hot air rising in a tall tower. A solar tower is planned for a site near Mildura, New South Wales. How It Works: Sunlight heats an enormous greenhouse at the base of the tower. The hot air rises driving turbines.
The heat from the sun is used to heat water. How it works: Sunlight heats water through glass panels. The water is stored in a tank for use as needed.
In the next 25 years, the world’senergy consumption is expected to increase by 50% and could almost double. Most of the energy we use today comes from fossil fuels and, in some countries, nuclear. Sustainable and renewable energy sources, which could replace fossil fuel use, include solar, wind, wave and tide geothermal, hydro, biomass and new forms of nuclear energy.
The term "nanotechnology" strictly refers to technology on the scale of one billionth of a metre. (For comparison, a biological cell is of the order of 10,000 nanometres across.) It is now commonly used to refer to any technology which operates at a microscopic scale. Nano-scale particles have been used to change the properties of other materials for a long time – the use of sulphur to vulcanise rubber is one example. Many of the catalysts which help chemical reactions work at the nano-scale. They aid the reaction because the shape of their molecules causes molecules of other chemicals to … Continue Reading
FID (Radio-Frequency Identity) tags are tiny computers costing just a few cents each. They have their own hardware, operating system, software and memory and built-in power generators which could, in theory, last for 100 years. Each chip is mounted on a piece of paper on which is printed an aerial in a special ink. When a tag comes within about two metres of special radio transmitters, they respond with a short data transmission. All this is not really new, RFID tags have been in use since 1997. The difference now is that the cost has dropped and production volumes are … Continue Reading
The information technology industry has become used to a stunning pace of development – consistently doubling performance in terms of speed and storage capacity every couple of years. But the switch from dial-up to broadband Internet dwarfs this rate of change with an improvement in performance by a factor of about 40 or 50. The "broadband era" has only just begun, with 100 million subscribers connected to broadband services being achieved in 2004. Yet by 2010, the current form of broadband, with restrictions on the volume of data that can be downloaded in a given period, is expected to be … Continue Reading