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Alternative Energy

Power seems to come from the center mounted console shifter as no accelerator peddle is no...

The perfect do-it-yourself gift for budding designers and architects during the holiday season has to be Lego. The small blocks of plastic with millions of design outcomes have entertained many a child since the early 1950s. Now an ambitious duo has snapped together 500,000 pieces of the stuff to create the world’s first air-powered Lego roadster.  Read More

The Brussels sprout battery, with the Christmas tree

You've probably seen a light powered by a lemon or a clock hooked up to a potato before, but a group in London recently built a similar device using a much smaller, less popular piece of produce. To promote The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair, a team of designers built the world's first Brussels sprout-powered battery and hooked it up to a set of Christmas tree lights.  Read More

The new system puts the weight of vehicles to use

Over the years, various researchers have developed systems in which the weight transferred through cars' wheels onto the road – or through pedestrians' feet onto the sidewalk – is used to generate electricity. These systems utilize piezoelectric materials, which convert mechanical stress into an electrical current. Such materials may be effective, but they're also too expensive for use in many parts of the world. That's why Mexican entrepreneur Héctor Ricardo Macías Hernández created his own rather ingenious alternative.  Read More

The HydroBee generates electricity using the current of a stream or river

There are already plenty of gadgets that allow people to charge their mobile devices while off the grid. Most of those products utilize solar power, while a few have gone the thermoelectric route. The HydroBee, however, generates electricity using the power of flowing water – think of it as a portable hydroelectric station.  Read More

Research at UNSW increases the conversion efficiency of solar cells made using lower-cost,...

While we wait for affordable multi-junction solar cells that are pushing past the 40 percent conversion efficiency mark to make it out of the lab and onto our roofs, we have to make do with standard commercial silicon cells that currently max out at around 19 percent. A team from the University of New South Wales in Australia has found a way to improve the quality of low-grade silicon, enabling higher efficiency solar cells to be produced from cheaper, low-grade silicon.  Read More

Lockheed Martin and Reignwood Group plan to develop a 10 MW prototype OTEC pilot plant off...

Lockheed Martin has been getting its feet wet in the renewable energy game for some time. In the 1970s it helped build the world’s first successful floating Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) system that generated net power, and in 2009 it was awarded a contract to develop an OTEC pilot plant in Hawaii. That project has apparently been canceled but the company has now shifted its OTEC sights westward by teaming up with Hong Kong-based Reignwood Group to co-develop a pilot plant that will be built off the coast of southern China.  Read More

Close-up look of PNNL’s concentrating solar power system

Solar power holds the promise of clean, limitless energy, but it currently suffers from high costs and an inherent disadvantage of not working when the sun isn't shining. The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is taking a best-of-both-worlds approach by developing a hybrid solar/gas system that increases the efficiency and reduces the carbon footprint of natural gas power plants.  Read More

Test flights of the Vienna University of Technology/EADS thermoelectric Energy Harvesting ...

A European project to develop self-powered sensors for monitoring aircraft integrity is off the ground, with EADS Innovation Works and Vienna University of Technology reporting that the first test flights of the thermoelectric Energy Harvesting Modules have been carried out on an Airbus aircraft.  Read More

Spectrolab has achieved a record 37.8 percent efficiency with a new multi-junction solar c...

Spectrolab, a Boeing subsidiary known for the manufacture of solar cells for satellites and spacecraft, has in recent years turned its attention to terrestrial solar cells to tap into the expanding alternative energy market. Now the California-based company has claimed a new solar cell efficiency record of 37.8 percent for a ground-based multi-junction cell without solar concentration.  Read More

Oxide heterostructures could be used to produce solar cells in which light is converted in...

Researchers from the Vienna University of Technology, together with colleagues from the U.S. and Germany, have used computer simulations to show how the unique electrical properties of a new class of materials known as layered oxide heterostructures can potentially be used to create a new type of efficient, ultra-thin solar cell.  Read More

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