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Alternative Energy

Electronics

New efficiency record for flexible CIGS solar cells

Swiss researchers have claimed a new world record efficiency of 18.7% for flexible copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS) solar cells on plastics. Flexible CIGS solar cells have the potential to drive down the price of solar electricity because they are cheaper to produce and this latest breakthrough brings them closer to the highest efficiency levels achieved by crystalline silicon and rigid CIGS cells.Read More

Environment

Radio-controlled car runs on soda can rings

As anyone who has seen Back to the Future will remember, the movie ended with Doc Brown fueling the time-traveling DeLorean’s “Mr. Fusion” reactor with household waste. Well, a student and a professor from the School of Industrial and Aeronautic Engineering at Barcelona’s Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) have taken a step towards making that scenario a reality by adapting a radio-controlled model car to run on hydrogen fuel derived from waste aluminum and water. In a nod to the movie, they have named the car the dAlh2Orean ... as in, d-aluminum-water-rean.Read More

Marine

Europe’s largest ecological catamaran sets sail

It may be 24 meters (79 feet) long, 10.5 meters (34.5 feet) wide and be able to carry up to 150 passengers, but the Eco Slim seagoing catamaran produces less of a carbon footprint than vessels much smaller than itself. There are two main reasons for this – its electric motors, which are powered by several onboard renewable sources, and its lightweight, streamlined hull, that allows it to move through the water using a minimum amount of energy. Created by Spain’s Drassanes Dalmau shipbuilders and launched on March 31st, it’s officially Europe’s largest “green” catamaran.Read More

Environment

Experimental direct solar steam generation power plant opens in Spain

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

Environment

T-box concept to capture wind energy from trains

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

Around The Home

H2O Power radio runs on water from the shower

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

Science

New material designed for hydrogen storage

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

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

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

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