Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Kite Wind Generator

Experts estimate that the wind blowing across the planet holds enough energy to meet all human needs 100 times over. The question then is how to capture it. There are some interesting new approaches being developed.

Alternative Energy News.Info reports.

"The Kite Wind Generator simply known as KiteGen is an Italian company. They are installing kites that sprout from funnel like structures. They are mounted on giant poles. When wind blows these kites come out of funnels. For short, use kites that spring from funnels on the end of giant poles when the wind blows. For each kite, winches release a pair of high-resistance cables to control direction and angle. These kites are light and ultra-resistant. These kites are similar to those used for kite surfing - light and ultra-resistant, capable of flying up to a height of 2,000 meters.

The basics of the wind turbines and KiteGen are same. But they have moved the heaviest parts to the ground. They claim that the resulting structure, base foundation included, is much lighter and cheaper. They have also provided flexibility regarding the height of kites. If the wind is strong at certain height, the height of the kite too can be adjusted accordingly. If today wind if blowing nicely at 1000m, say, kites can be adjusted at the same height. If tomorrow the strong wind is blowing at certain other height, wind kites can be flown at that height to gain maximum advantage of the wind power." See full article and video.

World Bank Will Invest In North African Solar Projects

The sun-soaked regions of North Africa provide major opportunities for alternative energy development.

Alternative Energy News.Info reports:

"The World Bank will invest $5.5 billion for North African solar power projects. They have announced that initially World Bank will put in $750 million dollars from the Clean Technology Fund with the remaining amount will be arranged from other sources. World Bank is expecting to complete these projects by 2015. They are willing to include five countries in this project and hoping to triple world wide concentrated solar power technology (CSP) capacity. This relatively new technology uses mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto a single point, heating water to drive turbines. Construction of the 11 facilities in the project is scheduled to begin in 2011. It is expected that the North African project will generate a total of 900 MW in capacity by 2020." See full article.

Zero Emissions Concept Taxi May Come To Market In Mexico

Mexican car builders are showing interest in a dramatic new taxi design.

Mike Spinelli from reports:

"Industrial designer Alberto Villareal had an idea for a zero-emissions taxicab to replace the copious cabs of his home domicile: smog-choked Mexico City. He named the fuel-cell-powered taxi, which maximizes space while reducing weight and uses solar power to supplement its electrical system, MX-Libris.
Officials at Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen in Essen, Germany thought MX-Libris was such a novel solution to the city's car-for-hire ills that they gave Villareal their coveted Red Dot design award in 2008. Now, Villareal says two Mexico-based companies -- a taxi distribution and management firm and a car body maker -- could be ready to build a prototype of MX-Libris, and maybe even put it into production." See full article

Tiny Glitter-sized Solar Cells -- An Energy Revolution

Technology is emerging that can make the average person on the street a walking battery charger.

Jude Garvey for reports:

"Scientists from Sandia National Laboratories have developed tiny, glitter-sized photovoltaic cells that are ten times thinner than conventional solar cells and could one day be used in a variety of applications – from satellites and remote-sensing, to tents and perhaps even clothing.

The Sandia research team identified over 20 benefits of scale for these tiny cells over traditional solar cells, including better performance, more efficiencies and possibly reduced costs." See full article.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Eighteen Wheeler Design Innovation Cuts Fuel Use By 7.5%

A "boat tail" addition to the nation's eighteen-wheeled tractor trailers would make a significant difference in U.S. fuel consumption.

Alternative Energy reports:

"A simple attachment of a tapering protrusion at the back of a truck can save up to 7.5% in fuel consumption. This is a significant amount of fuel saving with a simple alteration. This fuel saving is possible due to dramatically-improved aerodynamics. It has been verified by road tests conducted by the Dutch PART (Platform for Aerodynamic Road Transport) public-private partnership platform.

They short listed adding of a boat tail to the back of the truck. What is a boat tail? It is a tapering protrusion which is mounted on the back end of a truck. Tail ends length is about two meters. The feasibility of this arrangement is already demonstrated by the wind tunnel experiments and computer simulations." See full article.

First Sea Water Osmotic Power Plant Goes Live

A form of alternative energy that shows great promise involves the ocean and the use of osmosis.

Clay Dillow of reports:

"Osmotic power works by separating saltwater and seawater in two chambers separated by a polymer membrane that will only allow freshwater to pass through. The salinity of the seawater draws the freshwater through the membrane, creating a great deal of pressure on the seawater side. That pressure can be used to turn a turbine to create power.

The Norwegians have no problem going big on their maritime energy projects either. Norwegian energy giant StatiolHydro recently erected Hywind, the world's first floating full-scale offshore wind turbine, and Statiol's Snohvit field in the Barents sea is the world's most environmentally friendly liquid natural gas plant and boasts the world's longest undersea pipeline system." See full article.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Goblin Motors: The Future of Pedal Power

For some people a pedal-powered commute make sense. This technology is evolving along with speed and comfort.

Alternative Energy reports:

"Based upon high tech aerodynamics engineering and standard cycling technology, Goblin Motors introduces products that offer a reasonable way to commute using human power alone. Drivers have protection from the elements, whether it is hot or cold, sunny or raining. Popular in Europe for years, this is the first time that such vehicles have been designed and manufactured to accommodate larger American citizens.

Visit the Goblin Aero page for project details and photos. Look forward to the release of Goblin Motors’ new hybrid drive power assist on Earth Day, 2009." See full article.

Icetape: 90% Less Cooling Energy At Large Data Centers:

A new approach to cooling computer server "farms" could make a big difference in global greenhouse gas emissions.

Clay Dillow at reports:

"Server farms are undeniably awesome in that they store huge pools of data, enable such modern phenomena as cloud computing and Web-hosted email, and most importantly, make the Internet as it stands today possible. The downside: data centers get very, very hot. Cooling huge banks of servers doesn't just cost a lot, it eats up a lot of energy, and that generally means fossil fuels. UK-based Iceotope hopes to cut those costs by about 93 percent by wrapping servers in liquid coolant.

Iceotope works by wrapping individual components inside each server in a kind of ice-pack filled with synthetic coolant. The system also employs water to carry excess heat out of the data center, either releasing it into the atmosphere or channeling it to offices or other areas as a form of heating during cold weather." See full article.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New High-Performance Hybrid Two-Wheeler Will Get 150 MPG

Hybrid vehicle technology continues to improve and Piaggio is making great advances with three and two-wheels.

Mike Hanlon for reports:

"Piaggio's MP3 was the world's first hybrid three-wheeler and at EICMA this week, it showed what is likely to be the first two-wheeled hybrid – the Piaggio USB (urban sport bike). The combination of a highly efficient, low-emmission GDI (gasoline direct injection) two-stroke motor and an electric motor, the USB is much smaller than it looks in the images and weighs in at just 130 kg. The USB runs 50km (30 miles) on electric only, and returns 1.5 l/100 km (156 U.S. mpg and 188 imperial mpg).
Quite remarkably, the performance of the USB is awesome using both to develop a claimed combined torque figure of 200 Nm which means the plug-in USB blitzes to its top speed of 100 kmh far faster than your average performance car." See full article.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Lamp That Runs On Phone Jack Electricity

The electricity that comes through the phone lines is, in many ways, wasted except when you are making or receiving calls. Some think of this as a way to lower carbon footprint using "free" power.
Darren Quick at reports:

"If you’re looking to shave every last cent off your next electricity bill then this gooseneck lamp is for you. The lamp is so energy efficient its eight white LED lights are powered by the trickle of electricity flowing from a RJ11 socket – or garden-variety telephone socket. This means that, even if you’ve fallen behind on your electricity bill and the power has been cut off, you can still enjoy some late night reading. If the only RJ11 jack available is already being used by another appliance – say a phone – then you’ll be left in the dark, as the light isn’t able to connect to a regular power point." See full article.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Table-Top Solar Storage Unit: ReNu

A new home table-top unit will run an Ipod -- a desk lamp and more.

Paul Ridden at reports:

"A recent winner of the i-stage consumer electronics competition, the ReNu system couples a sleek, minimal design with clever looking functionality. The separate ReNu panel charges in nine hours when placed in direct sunlight or 20 hours in poorer light, and can then be used to power an iPod or iPhone dock or charger, or an LED lamp. The panel gives around eight hours of playback time, two full iPhone charges, or four hours of light, and does away with users having to expose their iPods or iPhones to direct sunlight while the charger does its work.
The interface displays the amount of energy harvested, the level remaining in reserve, as well as when it is time to expose the ReNu panel to sunlight again. The iPod dock features a USB port for syncing, and all units have an AC adapter should the sun's rays really be in scarce supply." See full article.

Wind Turbines May Be Getting Stealth Technology

High-flying wind turbines near low-flying aircraft can cause radar confusion. Military stealth technology may offer a solution.

Paul Ridden at reports:

Radar technology tracks moving objects by looking for Doppler but if an aircraft flies low over a wind farm, even though only the moving parts on a turbine are its blades the radar is unable to easily distinguish one moving object from the other.
Technology consultants, QinetiQ (which was formed after the breakup of the UK Government's Defence Evaluation and Research Agency in 2001) and turbine manufacturer Vestas believe that the solution lies in hiding the turbines and blades from the radar using stealth technology.
In a project partly funded by the UK Government, radar absorbing materials were integrated in a turbine blade which was then fitted to an existing Vestas V90 turbine. Radar cross section measurements were then taken using a system developed by QinetiQ. The results showed a significant reduction in the radar signature of the turbine" See full article:

The Movement Toward Home-Brewed Electricity

Home made (and stored) electricity is getting closer to a reality: reports:

"A report by an international expert on solar energy ... describes a long-awaited, inexpensive method for solar energy storage that could help power homes and plug-in cars in the future while helping keep the environment clean. Daniel Nocera explains that the global energy need will double by mid-century and triple by 2100 due to rising standards of living world population growth. Personalized solar energy - the capture and storage of solar energy at the individual or home level - could meet that demand in a sustainable way, especially in poorer areas of the world.

The report describes development of a practical, inexpensive storage system for achieving personalized solar energy. At its heart is an innovative catalyst that splits water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen that become fuel for producing electricity in a fuel cell." See full article.

Monday, October 26, 2009

An Inconvenient Truth In The Classroom: Free High School Curriculum

Many Americans have seen the Oscar-winning film documentary, An inconvenient Truth. It is based on a powerful visual and factual presentation on the realities of global warming that was developed through many years of hard work by former U.S. Vice President, Al Gore.

The National Wildlife Federation has, in cooperation with Mr. Gore, and with the support of film producer Particpant Media and the Tosa Foundation, developed an Incovenient Truth high school curriculum that focuses on the science of global warming and educational activities about global warming solutions.
The curriculum and other materials on climate change education can be found on the NWF Climate Classroom website which has age-differentiated sections for both teens and younger children and a wide range od useful parent, child and educator resources.
Click here and scroll down the page to access and download free copies of An Incovenient Truth high school curriculum

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Color-Changing Roof Tiles: Dark In Winter & Light In Summer

If you have ever been in an attic in the summer, you know it can be incredibly overheated. In the winter, on a sunny day, it can be surpisingly warm. A group of students are working on a way to have the best of both worlds. reports:

"The ideal situation, then, would be to get the advantage of white roofs when it's hot and black roofs when it's cold. Now, there may be a way to have both. A team of recent MIT graduates has developed roof tiles that change color based on the temperature. The tiles become white when it's hot, allowing them to reflect away most of the sun's heat. When it's cold they turn black and absorb heat just when it's needed.

The team's lab measurements show that in their white state, the tiles reflect about 80 percent of the sunlight falling on them, while when black they reflect only about 30 percent. That means in their white state, they could save as much as 20 percent of present cooling costs, according to recent studies. Savings from the black state in winter have yet to be quantified." See full article.

Working On Solar Cells That Will Print Like Newspaper

Investing in solar power still has a long enough economic break-even period to discourage more widespread investment. Creating less expensive and more efficient soalr panels is a key aspectof making solar power more universal.

Alternative Energy News reports:

"It is believed that solar cells could soon be produced more cheaply using nanoparticle “inks”. These nanoparticles can help in printing solar cells like newspaper or painted onto the sides of buildings or rooftops to absorb electricity-producing sunlight. Brian Korgel along with his team is working on this low-cost, nanomaterial solution that can replace the current photovoltaics. Brian Korgel is a chemical engineer at University of Texas at Austin. He is quite hopeful that his new technique coupled with different manufacturing processes will lower the price of solar cells to one tenth

Korgel is utilizing the light-absorbing nanomaterials. Their specialty is that they are 10,000 times thinner than a strand of hair. Their microscopic size makes it possible to attain higher-efficiency devices. The inks could be printed on a roll-to-roll printing process. They can use a plastic substrate or stainless steel for printing. It seems that this type of ink could be used to paint a rooftop or building and it doesn’t look like a tall claim." See full article.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

New Green Concrete Developed -- Implications For The Building Industry

In the national discussion about green buildings and green development, there is considerable hope that the use of concrete can be made more climate and eco-friendly. Some recent breakthroughs make that more possible .

Jeff Salton at reports:

"Concrete is the most prevalent building material on the planet, and though the world would be pretty flat without it (not many tall buildings and structures), it does come at a price – around 5-8 percent of all human-generated atmospheric CO2 comes from the concrete industry. A culprit is Portland cement, the binding agent in concrete. It’s the most widely produced man-made material on earth. Production of Portland cement is currently exceeding 2.6 billion tons per year worldwide and growing at 5 percent annually. To halt these alarming pollution figures, innovative research on geopolymer concrete, along with ways of using a waste byproduct from coal-fired powerplants, is being conducted by Dr Erez Allouche, assistant professor of civil engineering at Louisiana Tech University and associate director of the Trenchless Technology Center.
A greener alternative, inorganic polymer concrete (geopolymer) fits into an emerging class of cementitious materials that utilize ‘fly ash’, one of the most abundant industrial by-products on earth, as a substitute for Portland cement. Geopolymer concrete has a number of benefits. The first is it has the potential to substantially curb CO2 emissions. It can also produce a more durable infrastructure capable of lasting hundreds of years, instead of tens. And by utilizing the fly ash, it can conserve hundreds of thousands of acres currently used for disposal of coal combustion products, and protect our water ways from fly ash ‘contamination’, too." See full article.

Using Mobile Phone Towers For Wind Power

As the world moves toward lower carbon energy production it will cause us to look for new power production opportunties including cell towers. This is particularly important for areas where electric distribution is limited.

Paul Ridden of reports:

"Later this month, Helix Wind Corporation will deliver its first test wind turbines to Eltek Network Solutions Group for installation at two test sites in Nigeria. Sites in the US are also set to take delivery of test modules. The turbines will provide a clean energy solution for mobile phone towers and if tests prove successful, could see wind power being rolled out to hundreds of sites over the next few years.

'Currently such towers are powered by diesel generators, which are bad for the environment and extremely expensive to operate,' said Helix Wind CEO Ian Gardner. 'Anywhere the power grid is unreliable, expensive or simply non-existent, wind is an ideal renewable energy resource able to power these towers and reduce their operating cost."' See full article.