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Alternative Energy

— Science

New material designed for hydrogen storage

By - March 15, 2011 3 Pictures
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
— Environment

AQUASUN system puts floating solar panels on bodies of water

By - February 28, 2011 1 Picture
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
— Environment

Twentieth Century Fox signs its latest big star – the Sun

By - February 25, 2011 1 Picture
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
— Environment

Torque vectoring gears for smaller, more efficient wind turbines

By - February 24, 2011 1 Picture
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
— Electronics

Researchers increase the efficiency of cheaper quantum dot solar cells

By - February 21, 2011 1 Picture
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
— Environment

Less is more for cost-efficient wind farms

By - January 23, 2011 1 Picture
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
— Science

New approach could mean break-even nuclear fusion reactions within 2-3 years

By - November 15, 2010 1 Picture
Even with all the developments taking place in the areas of alternative energy such as solar and wind power, nuclear fusion still remains the holy grail of clean electricity generation. However, after decades of worldwide research costing billions of dollars, the goal of achieving “net-gain,” where more energy is produced than is required to trigger the fusion chain reaction, still remains elusive. Now researchers at Sandia Labs are claiming a breakthrough that could see break-even fusion reactions in as little as two to three years. Read More
— Science

New transparent, light-harvesting material could lead to power generating windows

By - November 3, 2010 3 Pictures
While rooftops are the obvious place to put solar cells to generate clean electricity for the home, we’ve seen a number of technologies aimed at expanding the potential solar collecting area to include windows using transparent solar cells. These include Octillion Corp’s NanoPower Window technology, RSi’s semi-transparent photovoltaic glass windows, and EnSol’s transparent thin film. In this latest development, U.S. scientists have fabricated a new type of self-assembling transparent thin film material that could boost the cost effectiveness and scalability of solar window production. Read More
— Science

Japanese company lays claim to world's cheapest hydrogen production process

By - October 18, 2010 1 Picture
At least half of the world’s usable hydrogen is obtained through a process known as steam reforming, in which steam reacts with fossil fuels such as natural gas to produce hydrogen gas. On a smaller scale, hydrogen can also be obtained through the process of electrolysis, in which ordinary water is split into its oxygen and hydrogen components by running an electrical current through it – consumers can even buy their own electrolysis-based home hydrogen extraction kit, in the form of the HYDROFILL. Now, however, Japan’s FUKAI Environmental Research Institute has announced a new technology for obtaining hydrogen that it claims is less expensive and more efficient than anything that’s been tried so far. Read More

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