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Monthly Archives: November 2010

Solar Cell Breakthroughs

Written by , on November 27, 2010

Researchers led by Associate Professor Shriram Ramanathan at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have reported signiificant breakthroughs in making fuel cells practical and affordable. Fuel cells operate by converting chemical energy from hydrogen, or a hydrocarbon fuel such as methane, into an electric current. Until now, fuel cells required electrodes coated with […]  Read more »

Sahara Project Aims to Produce Half World’s Electricity

Written by , on November 27, 2010

Universities in Japan and Algeria have commenced a project which aims to provifde half of the world’s electricity by 2050. Called the "Sahara Solar Breeder Project", the plan is to build manufacturing plants around the Sahara Desert to extract silica from sand. The silica would be used to make solar panels to build solar power […]  Read more »

Sustainable Sanitation for Slums

Written by , on November 26, 2010

It is estimated that around 2.6 billion people have no proper sanitation. A group of students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a low cost, modular sanitation solution which they call "Sanergy". The project, which would be operated and maintained by locals and the waste transported to nearby processing plants, through a network […]  Read more »

Frank Fish’s Fin Fans Go To Sea

Written by , on November 25, 2010

Back in 2008, we wrote about the discovery by Dr Frank Fish that the bumps on humpback whale flippers gave the whales more power and manouverability (see Frank Fish’s Fin Fans) and the possibility of this being applied to the design of wind turbines. Now the US Navy has taken up the idea. US Naval […]  Read more »

Peak Cheap Coal?

Written by , on November 24, 2010

According to a report published in Nature, although coal is plentiful, cheap coal may run out within a few decades. The article points out that the current large investments in carbon capture and storage are based on the assumption that coal will remain cheap for many decades but this may not be the case. It […]  Read more »

Sensor System Could Cut Lighting Costs by More Than Half

Written by , on November 23, 2010

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a lighting control system which they say can reduce power usage by 65 to 90% beyond the savings made by switching to efficient light sources, such as LEDs. The system consists of control devices, about the size of a business card, that can be placed on […]  Read more »

Pavement from Plastic Bottles

Written by , on November 22, 2010

Naji Khoury, an Assistant Professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, has developed a cement-like material, called "Plastisoil", made from discarded polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles which is mixed with soil. The mixture is then blended with a coarse aggregate and heated. The result is a hard yet non-watertight substance, similar to porous asphalt. With traditional […]  Read more »

Styrofoam Substitute from Milk and Clay

Written by , on November 20, 2010

Styrofoam is made from petroleum and is said to make up 25% of landfills. We recently wrote about a biodegradable styrofoam substitute made from mushrooms (see Are Mushrooms the New Plastic?). Now, scientists have created another biodegradable styrofoam-like material using mostly milk and clay. The research began with an accidental discovery at Case Western Reserve […]  Read more »

Flywheels Could Save Fuel on Buses

Written by , on November 20, 2010

Buses on city routes waste a lot of energy stopping and starting. One way of capturing some of that energy is by using a flywheel. The UK’s Technology Strategy Board has formed a consortium to test the idea. Construction has begun on the first “Flybus” prototype vehicle, It is estimated that the Flybus system could […]  Read more »

Wireless Charging for Electric Vehicles

Written by , on November 17, 2010

A New Zealand-owned company has launched the world’s first wireless technology which allows parked or moving electric cars to charge automatically without being "plugged in". The technology was developed by the University of Auckland’s Power Electronics Group HaloIPT, a UK based company, owned by Auckland UniServices Ltd and Ove Arup & Partners, is the first […]  Read more »