Monthly Archives: January 2012
Several recent studies have reported that they have been unable to find any credible evidence of health problems caused by living close to wind farms – although there may be significant annoyance at the noise. The U.S. State of Massachusetts has published a "Wind Turbine Health Impact Study". The panel of health and engineering experts that carried out the review concluded there was no evidence that psychological distress or mental health problems were caused by proximity to turbines. However, they did acknowledge that noise, vibrations, or shadow flickering might annoy people living near turbines and could cause sleep disruption, if … Continue Reading
Seaweed would seem to an ideal source of biomass for making renewable fuels. Kelp has a high sugar content; it doesn’t need farmland or fresh water and large quantities can be sustainably harvested. Harvesting the kelp which is already growing along 3% of the world’s coastlines could potentially produce 60 billion gallons of ethanol. The problem with kelp is that its primary sugar, alginate, could not be broken down efficiently enough to produce biofuel on an industrial scale. Now, scientists from the Bio Architecture Laboratory in Berkeley, California, have genetically engineered a strain of E. coli bacteria capable of digesting … Continue Reading
A new GreenBiz Cafe video is now on YouTube. Take a look:
We have just seen widespread protests aginst the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Act. Proponents of these Acts claim that they want to encourage creativity by protecting the rights of authors, artists and musicians. But copyright law is not about protecting authors, artists and musicians. It is, and always has been, all about protecting the income of publishers. When printing presses arrived in England in the late 16th century, they created an industry. Printers soon wanted to prevent others from competing by printing the same books that they had published. So they convinced the government to … Continue Reading
The U.S. Electric Power Research Institute is currently testing a turbine designed for generating hydroelectricity with significantly reduced fish mortality. The turbine, designed by Alden Laboratories, aims to provide safer passage for fish migrating downstream. Current methods of protecting fish, such as bypasses and non-generating spills, are estimated to reduce the amount of hydroelectic power produced by as much as 8,500 megawatt hours per annum in the United States alone. Instead of the six or more blades common in older turbine designs, the Alden turbine has only three blades, reducing the chance that fish will be struck by a blade. … Continue Reading
Scientists from MIT and RWTH Aachen University in Germany, have developed a computer program to calculate the efficiency of various layouts of heliostats, and tested it using the details of a real-life CSP plant, the PS10 plant outside Seville, Spain. The researchers found that the most efficient arrangement is a spiral with the heliostats arranged to resemble a sunflower, each mirror being angled at 137° to its neighbour.
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.
Solid-state batteries store energy in thin, solid film, rather than in a liquid like conventional lithium ion batteries. They are much lighter than standard batteries and, unlike standard lithium ion gatteries, they are not prone to catch fire when they are stressed. One company working on developing solid state lithium ion batteries is Sakti3 Inc, a spin off company from the University of Michigan, which has attracted investment from Khosla Ventures and General Motoirs. The company is converting equipment used to make potato chip bags, which consist of thin films of solid material, to make its batteries without have to … Continue Reading
Molecular Solar Ltd, a company spun out of the UK’s University of Warwick, has demonstrated a record voltage of more than 4 volts from organic photovoltaic solar cells. Being able to achieve 4 volts means that low cost organic PV cells could be used for built-in charging of handheld electronic devices, such as mobile phones and GPS systems. Dr Ross Hatton, Molecular Solar’s Research Director said that “This is an important advance. We are now very close to having highly flexible organic photovoltaic cells that will be capable of delivering electrical energy at a voltage suitable for recharging lithium ion … Continue Reading
A team of researchers at the University of Notre Dame has made a major advance toward creating an inexpensive "solar paint" that uses semiconducting nanoparticles to produce energy. The team coated nano-sized particles of titanium dioxide with either cadmium sulfide or cadmium selenide. The particles were then suspended in a water-alcohol mixture to create a paste. When the paste was brushed onto a transparent conducting material and exposed to light, it created electricity. The paint is only about 1% efficient in converting light into electricity but it can be made cheaply in large quantities. The research team believes that the … Continue Reading