Monthly Archives: March 2012
The Spanish greenhouse supply company, ULMA Agricola, is testing a solar photovoltaic system which it has developed for greenhouses. The system allows electricity to be generated without the crops being affected by over-shading. A lens-based system diverts the sun’s rays by different angles depending on the season of the year. During winter, the critical factor is to provide the maximum amount of light for the plants inside the greenhouse; whereas, during summer, it is important to provide cooling and the right amount of shade. When light is diverted away from the plants by the lens system, it is directed onto … Continue Reading
Dr Mark Bissett, from Flinders University in South Australia, has developed a solar cell using transparent carbon nanotubes that can be sprayed onto windows. The solar cell is created by taking two sheets of electrically conductive glass and sandwiching a layer of functionalised single-walled carbon nanotubes between the glass sheets. The nanotube cells can be applied to windows without blocking light, and are flexible enough to be weaved into a range of other materials. Carbon nanotubes are cheaper and more efficient than silicon-based solar cells. According to Dr Bissett, they could eventually supply much of the electricity used in skyscrapers … Continue Reading
A Dutch company, Ecofys, is investigating the possibilities of integrating seaweed cultivation into offshore wind farms. The project is financed by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, Ecofys and several partners are creating a test module for seaweed cultivation in an offshore environment. The test module consists of nets a few metres below the sea surface, held in place by steel cables attached to buoys. The Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands is looking into refining the seaweed into proteins that could be components for biofuels or used as biomass for energy generation. Ecofys also believes that … Continue Reading
DK City, a Taiwanese company, has come up with a kit which converts a standard bike to electric by simply changing a wheel and clipping a wireless console to the handle bar. The kits come in eight colours and two sizes but, unfortunately, are quite expensive at $US 1,170.
A Californian company, Twin Creeks Technologies, has developed a technology which it claims could halve the cost of pphotovoltaic cells and make solar pv technology price competitive with fossil fuels. Currently, most photovoltaic cells are made by slicing blocks of silicon into 200 micron thick wafers. Electrodes are attached and the silicon wafers are covered with protective glass. Because silicon crystals are brittle, it cannot be sliced thinner than 200 microns. And the process of slicing it wastes almost half of the silicon as "sawdust". In the Twin Creeks technology, standard wafers of silicon are bombarded with high energy protons. … Continue Reading
Brazillian designer, João Lammoglia has come up with a couple of renewable energy sources that we hadn’t thought of: The Aire converts the energy of the user’s breathing into electrical energy. Inside the device, small wind turbines produce the electricity which is transferred through a cable to charge a electronic device. The Doormate converts the energy supplied by the user wiping their feet to power an electric doorbell. To enhance the efficiency of the system, the wooden door is used as a sound amplifier.
A New York-based company, Eos Energy Storage, is developing a system that refills an electric vehicle’s battery in a way similar to the way petrol cars are refueled at service stations. Eos Energy Storage says that it can make a zinc-air battery in which the used electrolyte can be pumped out and a new electrolyte pumped in, just like filling up a petrol tank. The process would take about three minutes to provide sufficient charge to travel more than 600 kilometres at about one-tenth of the cost of petrol. An electric car, with zinc-air batteries, would have a similar cost … 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
A Japanese company, Kyosemi Corporation, has developed a micro spherical solar cell which elimates the need for solar panels to be pointed at the sun to operate most effectively. Normal flat solar cells work at optimal efficiency only when they pointing directly at the sun. Unless they are mounted on motorized tracking systems, which consume some of the energy the cells are producing, they are only at their most efficient for part of the day. Kyosemi’s "Sphelar" cells use an array of tiny spheres that collect the sun’s rays no matter which direction they are coming from. In addition, they … Continue Reading
Envia Systems, a Californian company with prototyping and production facilities in China, has developed a lithium-ion battery with roughly twice as much energy per gram as present batteries. Envia Systems found that by including manganese in a mix of materials for the cathode better energy densities could be achieved. The team then boosted the performance of the anode by incorporating silicon along with the usual graphite. Silicon anodes swell and, until now, have been disintegrated by being charged and recharged as few as ten times. By encasing the silicon in a carbon coating and interlacing the carbon fibres, the Envia … Continue Reading