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Alternative Energy

An experimental new direct solar steam generation power plant generates electricity by usi...

When most of us think of sunlight being used to generate power, we likely picture photovoltaic cells. Concentrated solar power plants however, use lenses or mirrors to heat fluid – such as synthetic oil – which in turn is used to generate high-pressure steam to drive a conventional turbine. A new experimental solar steam generation power plant that opened last week in southern Spain is aiming to improve on the efficiency of existing systems by using water as the direct working fluid and incorporating novel methods for storing the energy, so it can be dispensed even on cloudy days or at night.  Read More

The T-box concept would be installed between railway sleepers, and would harness the wind ...

As anyone living near railway tracks will tell you, speeding trains generate quite a bit of wind as they whoosh past. Industrial designers Qian Jiang and Alessandro Leonetti Luparini have come up with a device that's installed between the sleepers on a track, and as the train passes overhead, the wind drives a turbine to generate electricity. The T-box devices could be placed along railway or subway lines, and make good use of an otherwise wasted resource.  Read More

Shewanella bacteria, which produces ketones that are processed into fuel(Image from 'Culti...

Researchers from the University of Minnesota have announced a breakthrough in the quest to create a viable fuel alternative using greenhouse gases. The process uses two types of bacteria to create hydrocarbons from sunlight and carbon dioxide. Those hydrocarbons can in turn be made into fuel, which the scientists are calling "renewable petroleum."  Read More

The H2O Power radio generates its own operating power via the force of the running water f...

For all the people out there who like listening to the radio while they’re in the shower, various companies offer waterproof battery-operated “shower radios.” There’s nothing particularly wrong with these radios, but ... why change or recharge the batteries if you don’t have to? No, we’re not suggesting running a power cord into the shower. Instead, you might be interested in getting an H2O Power water-powered radio.  Read More

A scientific team including Christian Kisielowski, Anne Ruminski, Rizia Bardhan and Jeff U...

Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have created a composite material that they claim can store hydrogen densely and safely, yet that also allows it to be easily accessed for creating electricity. Some materials that are currently used for hydrogen storage have a relatively small capacity, and need to be superheated or supercooled in order to work at peak efficiency. The new material, however, is said not to have either of these limitations.  Read More

AQUASUN is a system of floating solar panels, that can be installed on the surface of exis...

One of the potentially limiting characteristics of solar power is the fact that it takes up a lot of space. Solar panels obviously aren’t going to be of much use if they’re stacked one on top of the other, so instead must be spread out side-by-side, so each one can soak up the sun. Although they’re generally not in the way when mounted on top of buildings, large arrays of solar panels could start to become a hindrance when located on the ground. Tech companies from Israel and France, however, are developing what could be a way of avoiding that situation – floating solar panels that are installed on the surface of existing bodies of water.  Read More

Solar Power, Inc. has completed installation of a 160 kW solar array at Twentieth Century ...

Twentieth Century Fox is cranking up the star power at its Century City studios, where Solar Power, Inc. has completed the installation of a large solar array. The 160 kW photovoltaic (PV) solar system was mounted on Fox Studio's historic Building 99 using Solar Power's SkyMount commercial rooftop system, as well as conventional racking. The new PV system is the movie giant's first on-site renewable energy system.  Read More

Wind farm near Wadena, Indiana (Image: John Schanlaub via Flickr)

Torque vectoring is a relatively new technology that has been employed in automobile differentials, most commonly all-wheel-drive vehicles, that allows the amount of power sent to each wheel to be varied. Scientists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) have now adapted this technology to wind turbines, to eliminate the need for converting the alternating current produced by the turbines into direct current and back again before it is fed into the grid.  Read More

Quantum dot solar cells could offer a cheaper, more efficient alternative to conventional ...

Developing solar cells that are cheaper to produce and can harness the sun’s energy more efficiently are both important factors in ensuring the widespread use of solar energy to provide a clean alternative to fossil fuels in the future. Stanford researchers have found that adding a single layer of organic molecules can achieve both these goals by increasing three-fold the efficiency of quantum dot solar cells, which are cheaper to produce than traditional solar cells.  Read More

A wind tunnel on the Homewood campus the researchers used to experiment with variables suc...

While there are increasing numbers of wind farms being built around the world, many of these projects are underperforming and not producing as much power as expected. New research suggests the reason could be that the wind turbines are being placed too close together. The researchers say that spreading the turbines out will result in a more cost-efficient for wind farms and they’ve come up with a formula through which the optimal spacing for a large array of turbines can be obtained.  Read More

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