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Green ideas get ecomagination showcase


March 15, 2011

The second phase of GE's ecomagination challenge is concentrating on innovations for capturing, managing, and using energy in the home

The second phase of GE's ecomagination challenge is concentrating on innovations for capturing, managing, and using energy in the home

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General Electric (GE) has already chosen a dozen new partners to accelerate and commercialize technologies to help build the next generation power grid, as part of Phase I of its ecomagination challenge. Idaho's Solar Roadways project received the highest number of community votes in that round, and looks to be doing well in the current phase. As the hopefuls in the "Powering Your Home" phase go before the judges, we take a quick look at some of the entries that have caught our attention.

The ecomagination challenge is GE's US$200 million innovation experiment which invites businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators, students – well, anyone over 18 years of age, in fact – to share their ideas for future clean energy technologies. If submissions impress the judges, they may end up being funded by GE and its venture capital partners. Now in Phase II, the challenge is concentrating on innovations for capturing, managing, and using energy in the home. Judges are currently weighing up the most promising of the 700+ entries, looking to award five of them US$100,000 in prize money.

As I write, Solar Roadways has received the most support from the community, for a home application of its road panel power generation and distribution system. The main thrust of the project is to replace asphalt and concrete road surfaces with solar panels that are tough enough to be driven upon, but there are many more areas that can be turned into sun-soaking power generators.

"Driveways, sidewalks, patios, walkways, pool decks, etc., can all be covered with the smaller version of the Solar Road Panels," says the project's Scott Brusaw. "If enough surface area is available (and exposed to the sun), a home can go completely off-grid. If not, it can certainly put a dent in its energy bill!"

Something in the air

Another proposal that's attracted a fair number of community votes is the 1.8kW SmartWind RidgeBlaster turbine. Instead of building domestic wind turbine towers in a back yard, the RidgeBlaster turbines are placed along the ridge of the roof, are said to be made from silver-metalized EPP, and designed to catch the wind from all directions with turbulence-resistance built in.

Xompu takes the managed desktop environment common in businesses and offers the consumer a similar experience. A PC, software and remote maintenance are all brought together into one service solution. Customers get low-power computers with cloud technology integration, and are offered the opportunity to neutralize CO2 emissions.

Cleanliness is next to...

By adding a special additive derived from plant material to the waste from a composting toilet, San Diego's Joseph Kennedy says that hydrogen gas can be released into fuel cell technology to produce energy and water.

Robotic vacuum cleaners like those from iRobot are always welcome at Gizmag Towers, but is there enough surface area on such a device so that it's able to get the power it needs from the sun? Kenya's General Propulsion Technologies seems to think so, as its Solar Powered Home Vacuum & Cleaning Robot will also sport light sensors, so that when not in action it heads towards the light for a top-up.

Sadly, that's all we have space for this time. The clean energy muse certainly seems to have been very busy inspiring the hundreds of entrants in Phase II of GE's ecomagination challenge. Which ideas, if any, would you invest in? Let us know your thoughts via the comments ...

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden

Everything is decentralized and autonomous is viable permanent as the 1.8kW SmartWind RidgeBlaster turbine.

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I don\'t think you picked the winner when it comes to wind, check out my idea. http://challenge.ecomagination.com/home/The-Shrouded-Dual-Turbine-Generator-a-hi


In regards to Solar Road Ways and your comments of the support they received. If everyone in this challenge solicited their entire Church and family network to support and comment. All ideas would have beaten this over blow costly adventure by a mile. This personally to me. Was one of the worst ideas. And then you folks pick a robot Vacuum? Nice, there are many better ideas than that you could have wrote about that entered.

PS I would never invest in SRW\'s and neither would anyone in their right mind at 1/2 billion $ for 1 mile of road. Give me a break.

I sure hope the judges really do pick things that are marketable and create jobs to better the environment.


The ridge blaster is a good idea but it is not an original one. It has been copied from the winning entry in the European Green Challenge Contest held in 2009. Here is the url : http://www.thepowercollective.com/ridgeblade.htm as you can see, even the name is not original ! Half a billion dollars for a 1 mile stretch of road for solar roadways is conservative I think.


General Propulsions Swahili cleaning robot the Jumbo really is. In order to get the energy to clean even one large room the robot needs to be over a meter in diameter. Further since it depends on the indirect UV poor light from lamps or indirect window filtered sunlight it must charge for many hours each day or be placed outside in direct sunlight and then brought in again.

The solar powered Jumbo floor vacuum robot is not the stupidest idea ever- not at all- but it isn\'t very far behind.

Inductive charging or a low voltage charge plug the robot can park on make the most sense which is why most such robots use the latter approach. If you have to power with solar then put the solar on the roof not the robot.


This message is for the critics of GENERAL PROPULSION TECHNOLOGIES, solar powered v/c bot. If my innovation wasnt selected as the top 5 i probably be angry at gizmag results of not posting my tech.like Edison (founder of GE) said \"genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration\" Ryan says Ge ecomagination and billion dollar ideas are judged on 98% entreprenuership 1% innovation/cutting edge tech the other 1% on originality.As humans we are always going to debate on something we are against/support.If you don\'t have nothing nice to say don\'t say nothing.Swahili what sense does that make,fits in an indirect racial shot.Funny am not even black and i speak more than 5 languages apart from swahili.GIZMAG should delete comments that are against it\'s judging/decision,because they show that this individual undermine GIZMAG.\"HATER\" if you can do a better job why don\'t you publish your own mag.Some of us like HUMMER TRUCKS and some like Toyota prius.Some people think ABORTION is wrong other\'s think its right.As i have always said \"IF IT DONT MAKE DOLLARS IT DONT MAKE SENSE\".Be against GPT and the other winner\'s bottom line i made you look/got your attn,TWICE.enuf said.

Ryan hotrod

Ryan Hot Rod,

There was no hate meant by the comment. Just bringing attention to the fact that most of the support I read on SWR is from folks who seem to have been asked to comment and didn\'t even belong to the community of IDEA publishers. I find it funny that people would take the time to go to the site and look at one IDEA \"SWR\" and support, or comment on that only and none of the other IDEA\'s. I\'m not saying all. I\'m saying most. That to me seems solicited just to look good. I didn\'t feel compelled to pass the word to my contacts around the world which would be thousands to do that for my IDEA. Just to look like the world wanted it.

I would think the GIZ people would maybe see that. As for your BOT. Great Idea. Were can I buy one? I would love to try it out.

Bottom line, I\'m not against any idea. Read the last sentence of the previous comment. \"I sure hope the judges really do pick things that are marketable and create jobs to better the environment. \" I still hold hope that this is what it\'s about.

Good luck to all



As the saying goes may the best man win. I dont have positive feedback on where you can get the solar v/c bot unless GE awards me, or even better Irobot CEO Colin Angle shows an interest in my concept.But one of my ideas the G.W.A.P.-HIGH EFFICENCY GENERATOR( HUMAN WEIGHT) has received vast interest from a chinese company,the way things are going you can expect to see this technology in stores globally probably by late 2012.It will retail under U.S.$400

Ryan hotrod
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