- Are You Ready for Some (Renewable Energy) Football?
- SeaGen Tidal Stream Turbine Proves It’s Ready for Commercialization
- Discarded Silicon Gets New Life in Lithium-Ion Batteries
- Advanced Cooling Technology Can Cut Data Centers’ Energy Bills by One-Third
- Bikestorming.org Aims for 51% of the World to Pedal by 2030 (Video)
- Guangzhou Imposes Lottery to Limit New Car Ownership
- Save Energy in Your Laundry Room
- New Net-Zero Homes in Philly
- Working from Home More Productive, According to Chinese Study
- Clean Transport Link Bonanza!
- Biocompatible Material Much Tougher than Cartilage Developed, May be able to Replace Damaged Cartilage in Joints
- Wind Energy & ‘Other Cleantech’ Link Bonanza!
- Solar Tree that Doubles as an EV Charger Going Up at GM Site
- Solar Power Link Bonanza!
Posted: 09 Sep 2012 11:40 PM PDT
MetLife Stadium is the biggest venue in the NFL.
NRG Energy Solar Stadiums Catching On
The Giants and Jets aren’t the only team with some home field green technologies at work. The debut of a solar project at an NFL stadium was actually last year at the Washington Redskins’ FedEx Field, where there are 8,000 panels in the parking lot. This project can produce up to 20 percent of power needed on game days.
The New England Patriots are in the solar game as well, with a 3,000-panel construction effort going on at Patriot Place, a shopping area next to Gillette Stadium. Once this project is finished, the panels are expected to generate about 1.1 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year. That adds up to about 60 percent of Patriot Place’s power needs.
It’s Not All Fun and Games in Solar
The Seattle Seahawks put in a 2.5-acre solar array at CenturyLink Field last year. Unfortunately, the Seahawks’s solar vendor Solyndra has since gone bankrupt. No worries, though — the panels had already been installed by the time Solyndra announced bankruptcy.
NRG CEO David Crane seems to be a bit reticent on releasing the dollar amount each project costs. Crane told the Great Energy Challenge Blog that the solar endeavors cost about “several million” dollars each, and was calculated over an investment period of 20 years.
Posted: 09 Sep 2012 11:30 PM PDT
Owned by Siemens, SeaGen is the first marine tidal stream turbine to generate so much electrical energy — 5 gigawatt-hours (5 GWh) since this past January. Tidal stream currents are strong in Strangford Lough, a narrow inlet to and from the Irish Sea in County Down, an area known for fishing and picturesque towns and villages that’s popular with tourists, according to Belfast Telegraph reporter Clare Weir.
Tidal stream currents are regular and vary less than winds, which makes the energy output from tidal stream turbines less variable than wind turbines. That makes them better suited for grid connection. Potential energy generation from tidal stream systems has been estimated at 800 terawatt-hours (Twh) per year — between 3% and 4% of global power consumption — with demand for tidal power turbines forecast to grow at double-digit rates out to 2020, according to Siemens MCT.
Tidal Power Pioneer Marine Current Turbines
Though functioning basically as do wind turbines on land, there are numerous and varied adaptations to wind turbine concept, design, and construction that need to be taken into account when building a tidal stream turbine. For one thing, tidal stream turbine rotors and blades need to spin in two opposite directions in order to take advantage of the periodic ebb and flow of marine tidal streams. Doing so enables them to produce more energy than their land-based counterparts. On the other hand, environmental conditions in the marine environment are harsher and more difficult to assess, which adds to operation and maintenance costs.
SeaGen was developed by UK-based Marine Current Turbines (MCT), a pioneer in the field that set up shop in 1999. The origins of the technology used in SeaGen date back to the 1970s, however.
Having installed the world’s first offshore tidal turbine — the 300kW Seaflow system — off the Devon, England coast in 2003, SeaGen went on to install and commission the 1.2MW SeaGen tidal turbine in Strangford Narrows in 2008.
Germany’s Siemens took an initial equity stake in MCT in 2010. In 2012, it acquired all MCT’s equity shares and incorporated MCT into its Siemens Solar & Hydro Division.
Tidal Power Rising
Given SeaGen’s performance, Siemens MCT is looking forward to future deployments and orders from other tidal power project developers. Two Seagen projects — the 8MW Kyle Rhea project in Scotland and the 10MW Anglesey Skerries project in Wales — are in the advanced stages of development.
Part of Siemens’ Environmental Portfolio, which generated revenues of some €30 billion in fiscal 2011. In its last fiscal year, Siemens eco products and solutions enabled customers to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 320 million tones, which equals the total annual CO2 emissions produced by Berlin, Delhi, Hong Kong, Istanbul, London, New York, Singapore, and Tokyo, the company says.
Photo Credit: Siemens MCT
Posted: 09 Sep 2012 11:10 PM PDT
Silicon is able to absorb roughly 10 times more lithium than the carbon that is typically used in Li-ion batteries, but because of problems with how much it expands and contracts as it charges and discharges, it doesn’t last very long.
So the researchers created nano-wires from the “high-value but hard-to-recycle silicon” as an alternate design, to give more room for expansion and contraction. As the silicon is charged and discharged, it has the ability to expand and contract because of the spacing between the wires.
The researchers are hoping that their recycled devices will help in the advance towards the next generation of batteries: flexible, efficient, inexpensive, and able to conform to any shape.
“They used an established process, colloidal nanosphere lithography, to make a silicon corrosion mask by spreading polystyrene beads suspended in liquid onto a silicon wafer. The beads on the wafer self-assembled into a hexagonal grid — and stayed put when shrunken chemically. A thin layer of gold was sprayed on and the polystyrene removed, which left a fine gold mask with evenly spaced holes on top of the wafer.”
Metal-assisted chemical etching was then done using the mask, dissolving the silicon where it was touching the metal. After some time in the chemical bath, the metal catalyst sinks into the silicon and leaves behind millions of evenly spaced nanowires, around 50 to 70 microns long, rising through the holes.
“Etching is not a new process,” Reddy said. “But the bottleneck for battery applications had always been taking nanowires off the silicon wafer because pure, free-standing nanowires quickly crumble.” The electrolyte engulfs the nanowire array in a flexible matrix and facilitates its easy removal. “We just touch it with the razor blade and it peels right off,” he said. The mask is left on the unperturbed wafer to etch a new anode.
“The novelty of the approach lies in its inherent simplicity,” Reddy said. “We hope the present process will provide a solution for electronics waste management by allowing a new lease on life for silicon chips.”
Source: Rice University
Posted: 09 Sep 2012 11:00 PM PDT
The researchers are now “test-bedding a new data centre that combines Toshiba’s air cooling technology with NTU’s advanced info-communications technology (ICT),” a news release stated.
Aiming to provide a sustainable solution for the data centers that operate in South-East Asia’s tropical climate, the innovative test-bed is designed around a ‘cutting-edge modular structure’ (that is, container-sized modules that are able to stand alone or be combined with others for more computing power) and with an efficient, tailored cooling system.
Data centers, which contain and maintain the “back-end information technology (IT) systems and data stores consisting of mainframes, servers and databases,” usually use 100 to 200 times more energy than conventional office buildings.
The technologies that were used in this test-bed have demonstrated energy savings of up to 40% when they are compared to conventional data centers used in Japan.
Source: Nanyang Technological University
Posted: 09 Sep 2012 10:40 PM PDT
The folks at Bikestorming.org are not satisfied with puny attempts at increasing bike usage around the world. No sir, they are imploring major cities around the world to have 51% of residents using bikes as primary forms of transportation by 2030.
Check out the video above to hear about the launch of Bikestorming.org at Rio+20 in June, and its big vision for the next 18 years.
Source: Autoblog Green
Posted: 09 Sep 2012 10:30 PM PDT
“The average bid for a license plate for a private car stood at approximately $3,622.54,” Inhabitat reports.
Critics of the plate lottery say the restriction limits personal freedoms to own cars privately, and that more effective reforms include improving road planning, mass transit, and the use of low-emission cars.
Posted: 09 Sep 2012 10:20 PM PDT
This is part of a series of very short videos on important green living tips. Ed partnered up with Energy Upgrade CA in LA County to produce these and share them with as many folks as possible.
Posted: 09 Sep 2012 10:10 PM PDT
"We are excited about Foundry Court and the innovative work that Nexus Energy Homes is doing to bring sustainably designed, net-zero homes to Philadelphia," Mayor Nutter says of the project.
The townhomes were designed and built to feature a wide variety of green technology: geothermal heat pumps, photovoltaic solar panels, super insulated building shells, rooftop gardening, water reclamation, state of the art electronic, web-based controls and monitoring systems, and Energy-Star rated appliances.
Source: Solar Power World Online
Posted: 09 Sep 2012 10:00 PM PDT
The study compared two groups — one working from home, one in the office, both under the supervision of the same manager — and found that the group working from home had a 13% increase in productivity.
We already knew that taking commuters off the road and cutting power usage in offices were sustainable policies — now we have evidence that worker efficiency is not compromised but bolstered. So put on that comfy robe, slide into those fuzzy slippers, and… get to work!
Posted: 09 Sep 2012 10:59 AM PDT
Recently a 3D printer called a “chemputer” was announced. The headline read: “Researchers developing ‘chemputer’ that prints drugs.” This device, if modified, has very serious potential for disruptive change.
With one of these modified chemputers, you have the ability to create any chemical compound you wish in less than a day. With several hundred of them, you have the ability to order a custom chemical, queue it for manufacture and later use. This is where things get interesting and science advances very quickly.
Imagine a researcher working on polymer (plastic) solar cells and having access to this technology. Before he had access to this technology, he was testing several samples a week. Now, his lab is upgraded to include a rack mount with one thousand chemputers, and a reel-to-reel unit for printing and testing polymer solar cells, after which the number of samples he can test skyrockets.
In a day, he can test several thousand possible cell designs. In a month, tens of thousands. And in a year, several hundred thousand. With evolutionary software helping with the design process, it would not be long before solar cells became extremely cheap and extremely efficient. The current yearly increases in efficiency and reduction in cost would become something that could happen weekly.
Now, lets go to the lab next door where the researcher is designing new batteries for energy storage….
David Fuchs is a geek and builder of things. He’s a classically trained engineer and programmer involved in open source, software, and hardware. He’s interested in 3D printing and nanotechnology, predicting the future of technology, and low-cost power production in 3rd world nations using material at hand.
Posted: 09 Sep 2012 10:42 AM PDT
Clean (or Cleaner) Cars
Stanford’s 2012-2013 Solar Car Project Is Getting Underway: The Stanford Solar Car Project team is looking for new recruits. In case you weren’t aware, the team “designs, builds, and races solar cars to compete in the World Solar Challenge, a 2000 mile race across the Australian Outback.” The Stanford team also announced on Friday that IAR Systems has sponsored it. It granted the team “10 licenses for their Embedded Workbench compiler and debugger toolsuite,” the news release said. “Stanford Solar Car's code team is now using industry-standard tools for developing our embedded code.”
1st Electric Car Show in Cayman Islands: “Last Week, Cayman Automotive hosted the first-ever Caribbean International Electric Auto Show, an expo putting cutting-edge electric car designs on display.” This followed the passing of a new law allowing electric cars to drive in the Cayman Islands.
In-depth Interview with Elon Musk: Tesla’s rockstar CEO Elon Musk sat down with Autoblog Green for a long interview recently. Autoblog Green released interesting excerpts here and there throughout the week, before releasing the full deal on Friday.
Jaguar Plug-in Hybrid in the Works: the Jaguar XJ_e (yes, that’s the name) concept plug-in hybrid will be on show at the RAC Future Car Challenge in London (November). “The Future Car Challenge is just the place to showcase a concept like this, since the event is all about the best of green vehicle technology and covers the gamut from hybrid and electric vehicles to fuel-cell cars,” Jon LeSage writes. “The XJ_e prototype is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine alongside a 69-kilowatt electric motor and a 12.3-kWh lithium-ion battery pack.”
Plug-in Hybrids Crushing 100% Electric Cars in Sales: Adam touched on this in his Thursday piece about the Chevy Volt’s record sales numbers. But Green Car Congress takes an even closer look: “In August, the US sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) from the major OEMs (Chevy Volt and Prius PHV) totalled 3,336 units, while battery-electric vehicles (Nissan LEAF, Honda Fit EV, and Ford Focus Electric) sold a combined 728 units. Year-to-date, plug-in hybrid sales from these majors have totalled 19,579 units, while their battery-electric vehicle sales reached 4,406 units.” Not really that surprising. People are more likely to take baby steps away from gasoline-powered cars (to electric cars) than lunges. However, there are still those who are willing to lunge!
Electric Car School for Tackling Range Anxiety: Not sure how much of a money-maker this will be, but apparently Andy Barton of the Gateshead College AutoSkills Centre is running a course on tackling ‘range anxiety’, as well as “the mechanics of the technology and the advantages of batteries over the internal combustion engine.” The Guardian has a video (linked above) with physicist and science communicator Dr Melanie Windridge taking the course, and a summary of it all from Barton.
New Reward Program for Bicyclists in UK — BikeMiles: “Cyclescheme, a provider of the government’s cycle-to-work tax break incentive programme, is set to launch ‘BikeMiles’ in an attempt to reward cyclists with retail discounts and promotions based on the distance they travel by bike,” the UK’s BusinessGreen writes. “The scheme is expected to open at the end of this month and will be available to any of the 300,000 people who have ever bought or borrowed a bike to cycle to work via Cyclescheme.”Bamboo Bicycles in Berlin: The Ozon Cyclery is apparently working on a pretty interesting bamboo bicycle, and testing it out in San Francisco. “What happens when an orthopedics technician, an aerospace engineer, an industrial designer, and, a former bicycle courier join their curiosity and obsessions? A bamboo bike is born in Berlin! I spotted in on the streets of San Francisco last week where a rider from the Ozon Cyclery is currently working as a messenger and testing the bike at the same time,” Petz Sholtus of TreeHugger writes [sic]. “From their workshop in Berlin, Ozon has developped more and more durable and lightweight bicycles over the last 3 years, and ridden them over thousands of kilometers, from Berlin to Paris, to the Baltic Sea and Poland…. Made from TigerBamboo and hand sculpted flax fiber composite joints, the bikes weigh around 1.75 kg, and, according to the designers, "have a ride quality similar to high end steel, but with better vibration absorption." Bike Helmet with LEDs Included: Want a bike helmet that also doubles as a super energy-efficient light? Torch Apparel has your back with its new T1 bike helmet. “The design features ultra bright LEDs embedded into the front and back sections of a stylish bike helmet so riders can always see and be seen when cycling at night.” Currently, the helmet is available only through the Torch website for $120. However, it should be hitting also be hitting retail stores in early 2013. Here’s a short promo video of the helmet:
Posted: 09 Sep 2012 09:47 AM PDT
The material is a hydrogel, which means that its main component is water and that it is a hybrid of two weak gels combined to create a material much stronger than either was on its own.
This newly created gel is able to stretch to 21 times its original length, and is, more impressively, also extremely tough, biocompatible, and capable of self-healing. That’s an extremely valuable collection of attributes when taken together, opening up many new possibilities and opportunities in medical and tissue engineering fields.
The research on the new material, its properties, and an easy way to synthesize it are described in the September 6 issue of Nature.
The very tough new hydrogel was created by combining two common polymers, the primary being polyacrylamide (used in soft contact lenses), and the secondary being alginate (a seaweed extract used to thicken food).
“Separately, these gels are both quite weak — alginate, for instance, can stretch to only 1.2 times its length before it breaks. Combined in an 8:1 ratio, however, the two polymers form a complex network of crosslinked chains that reinforce one another. The chemical structure of this network allows the molecules to pull apart very slightly over a large area instead of allowing the gel to crack.”
The portion of the gel that is alginate is made of polymer chains that make weak ionic bonds with one another, “capturing calcium ions (added to the water) in the process.” If the gel is stretched out it allows some of these bonds between the chains to break, releasing the calcium. When this happens the gel slightly expands, while still leaving the polymer chains themselves intact. At the same time as this, the polyacrylamide chains form into a “grid-like structure that bonds covalently (very tightly) with the alginate chains.”
An important thing to note is that the new hydrogel is able to maintain its toughness and elasticity even after being stretched many times. As long as some time is provided to relax in between the stretches, the ionic bonds between the alginate and the calcium can “un-break.” In experiments, it was demonstrated that this healing process can be intentionally accelerated by increasing the ambient temperature.
“The unusually high stretchability and toughness of this gel, along with recovery, are exciting,” says Suo. “Now that we’ve demonstrated that this is possible, we can use it as a model system for studying the mechanics of hydrogels further, and explore various applications.”
Beyond artificial cartilage, the researchers suggest that the new hydrogel could be used in soft robotics, optics, artificial muscle, as a tough protective covering for wounds, or “any other place where we need hydrogels of high stretchability and high toughness.” Perhaps in some new cleantech?
Source: Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Posted: 09 Sep 2012 07:00 AM PDT
Wind Turbines Made of Wood: A German engineering firm thinks it has a big solution to cut down the cost of wind turbines, increase their height (considerably) and efficiency, and make them an even cleaner electricity source (they already top the list).
130MW Wind Power Project for Scotland: The Scottish government has approved a large 129.6MW wind farm, the Stornoway Wind Farm on the Isle of Lewis.
Most Powerful Heavy-Lift Jack-Up Vessel Christened: What is now the most powerful heavy-lift jack-up vessel, which will be used to build and maintain offshore wind farms (and, cough cough, offshore oil and gas facilities), is now in operation. The vessel, Innovation, was built at the Christ shipyard in Gdynia (Poland).
Clean Energy, in General
Clean Energy Photography Winners: Friends of the Earth recently hosted a clean British energy photography contest. The winners have been announced. You can see pics at the second link above, or read the news release via the first.
Morocco Gets $800 Million in Loans for Wind & Solar: Morocco has received $800 million in loans from the African Development Bank (AfDB). “The Bank's technical and financial support of Morocco's plan to develop a concentrated solar power (CSP) plant at Ouarzazate and its Integrated Wind/Hydro and Rural Electrification Program is helping Morocco realize its goal of increasing installed renewable energy capacity to 42 per cent by 2020 and becoming a renewable energy industry leader.”
LED Lamp Powered by Saltwater: Add a little saltwater and get light — that’s the idea behind a new LED lamp from Green House (though, I’m not seeing the product on its website… hmm). From Beth Buczynski: “When the saline water is put in the lantern, it functions as an electrolyte with a magnesium (Mg) rod (negative electrode) and a carbon rod (positive electrode) inside the lantern. In the official specs, Green House Co. Ltd. says that 16 g of salt should be mixed with 350ml of water in a special mixing bag to power the lamp. What's not clear is how the lamp will function if you used water straight out of the ocean.”
LEDs Surging Ahead in Energy Efficiency: A new report from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) finds that, while today’s LEDs nudge out today’s CFLs a bit to take the “I’m the greenest light around” crown, that gap is going to grow a lot in the next five years due to projected technological and manufacturing improvements. At that point, I guess LEDs will just be echoing Usain Bolt. “Who’s the best? I’m the best. All day. Every day.” (Well, that is, unless you count robotic cheetahs, Mr. Bolt.)
Ocean Power Technologies to Work with U.S. Homeland Security: Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have agreed to work together “to perform a new round of in-ocean tests on its Autonomous PowerBuoy® to further demonstrate its use for ocean surveillance.”
Posted: 09 Sep 2012 04:40 AM PDT
The company writes: “The patent pending, dual synchronous solar tracking system gives the array the ability to capture 25 percent more solar power than a conventional fixed solar canopy. The structure will produce up to 30,000 kilowatt hours a year and provide enough solar energy to charge six electric vehicles per day.” [sic]
This is actually the second solar tree installed at a GM site. (Notably, GM has taken a pretty strong stand on climate change of late, even dumping the Heartland Institute for its absurd approach to this important issue.)
To be honest, this probably should have just been included in our solar energy links bonanza, but when I saw all these awesome photos of solar trees on the Envision Solar site, I had to share them in a full post (even more pics on the site):
Source: Envision Solar
Posted: 09 Sep 2012 04:30 AM PDT
25MW California Solar Project Now Under Construction: SolarWorld has broken ground on the 25-megawatt (DC) Desert Star Solar Projects in California's Mojave Desert.
1st Distributed Solar Utility: Principal Solar, Inc is on its way to creating the world’s first the distributed solar utility. The company this week “announced the acquisition of a 3.5MW solar project slated for Andover, Mass. from SunGen and R&D Solar.”
Solar Panel Trade Case in EU May Lead to Trade War: I think Andrew did a great job the other day covering the new WTO investigation in China dumping solar PV in the EU. Ian Traynor of the Guardian continues on with that story in a discussion about the potential trade war that could result from it all.
Largest East Coast Solar Provider Hits 1 MW: I think it’s a testament to the wonderful distributed nature of solar power that the “largest full-service residential solar provider headquartered in the eastern United States” has only been contracted for about 1 megawatt of solar power. (Of course, it’s also a testament to how far we are behind Germany, Italy, and other leading solar power countries.) Nonetheless, kudos to Astrum Solar for hitting 1 MW.
Solar Inverter Output to Increase from New Partnership: Well, so says the companies that formed the new partnership. REFUsol, “a manufacturer of the highest efficiency solar inverters,” and Ampt have teamed up “to provide commercial and utility-scale inverters that lower photovoltaic (PV) system costs and maximize inverter output power.” Sounds good to me — how about you?
Trina Solar Expands into Latin America: Trina Solar, one of the top solar PV companies in the world (and one of the Chinese PV companies under a bit of threat from the US and EU solar trade cases) is now stepping into the Latin American solar market. Last week, it announced “a new Santiago, Chile, sales and business development presence.” From Santiago, the company will be offering solar PV products to commercial, utility, and off-grid customers throughout Latin America, but its focus will be Chile, Mexico, Brazil, and “neighboring countries.” (With South American glaciers rapidly disappearing, I’m sure folks down there will appreciate the solar push.
Suntech & Solarstrom AG Sign 26MW Contract: Suntech, another world-leading solar PV company at the center of the solar trade cases mentioned above, and Solarstrom, a German PV company, have signed a contract involving 26 megawatts (MW) of monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels. The solar panels will be sold from Suntech to Solarstrom for some new power plants in Germany.
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