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Alternative Energy

Febot wind charging concept

We're always on the lookout for new, ‘greener’ ways of saving or renewing energy. South Korean designers Ji-yun Kim, Soon-young Yang and Hwan-ju Jeon have developed the Febot, a small, easily-assembled portable battery charger concept that harnesses the power of the wind rather than using electricity. Place a rechargeable battery inside the Febot and stick it on the outside of a window or wall, or any other outdoor surface, using the suction cap at the base of the unit.  Read More

Smart Lite CFL

Compact fluorescent lights (CFL) are a smaller version of their long established big brothers which, despite some drawbacks such as a small amount of mercury content, have gained serious ground in recent years as an energy-efficient alternative to conventional incandescent globes. CFLs reduce carbon emissions because they convert electricity into light more efficiently and also last up to ten times longer, but the globe still reaches its used by date long before the base (ballast) section that connects it to the power socket. 3E Technologies has identified this as another wasteful aspect of the process that could be eliminated and its solution is the Smart Lite - a two-piece CFL which allows the bulb to be removed from the ballast and replaced with a simple ‘insert and twist’ operation.  Read More

Ricardo's combination two and four stroke motor

Automotive technology specialist Ricardo has revealed the development of technology that optimizes ethanol-fuelled engines to a level of performance that exceeds gasoline engine efficiency and approaches levels previously reached only by diesel engines. The technology, called Ethanol Boosted Direct Injection (EBDI), takes full advantage of ethanol’s best properties – higher octane and higher heat of vaporization – to create a renewable fuel scenario that is independent of the cost of oil.  Read More

GE Energy’s Smart CFL

GE Energy’s new Smart compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb combines miniaturized electronics with GE’s Spiral CFL inside the glass bulb to achieve a conventional-sized bulb with added energy saving capabilities. The profile of the CFL bulb is virtually identical to a standard incandescent light bulb but offers the equivalent power of a 60W bulb with just 15W.  Read More

The Agucadoura wave farm

The world’s first commercial wave farm in Portugal is now operational. Three 750kW Pelamis Wave Energy Converters (PWEC) have been installed in the first stage of a project which, when complete, will provide enough clean energy to meet the needs of 15,000 households.  Read More

Making waves work: the Searaser hydro-power system

Our second ingenious example of bringing new approaches to hydro-power generation for the week, SEARASER works on the conventional principle of using water pressure to drive turbines but achieves this in a unique way. The system consists of a tethered wave energy converter which uses the rolling motion of waves to pump water to higher ground on-shore from where it can then be stored and used to create electricity on demand.  Read More

European researchers achieve solar efficiency record

Scientists from the EU funded FULLSPECTRUM project have developed solar cells which are able to convert 39.7 percent of the energy of sunlight into electricity. The result represents the highest percentage ever reached in Europe and is more than double the efficiency of most conventional silicon-based PVs in production today.  Read More

Applied Materials' newly completed solar energy system

Two new solar power installations totaling 2.1 megawatts are now online at Applied Materials' corporate research facilities in Sunnyvale, California. The systems, which include a 950 kilowatt SunPower PowerGuard installation and a 1.2 megawatt SunPower Tracker installation atop an elevated parking canopy, represent the largest solar power deployment at a corporate facility in the US.  Read More

Fuel cell breakthrough promises cheaper eco-friendly cars

A team of Australian scientists has developed a new fuel cell prototype that could pave the way for a generation of much cheaper, more fuel efficient fuel-cells for powering eco-friendly cars. The new fuel cells feature a new cathode made from a conducting polymer rather than the expensive cathodes used in existing fuel cells.  Read More

Pic courtesy Pink Tentacle.

A research team at the Tokyo Institute of Technology has developed a plastic motor that is powered solely and directly by light. Unlike solar-powered motors, which use photovoltaic cells to convert light to electric power and therefore require wires and batteries to deliver and store the power, the light activated motor converts light directly into mechanical energy. The first of its kind motor achieves this by using a belt made from a special elastomer whose molecular structure expands or contracts when illuminated, depending on the wavelength of light. An 0.08-millimeter thick belt coated with the shape-shifting plastic is able to turn a pair of wheels measuring 10 millimeters and 3 millimeters in diameter at 1 rpm, and although the device is still quite inefficient in terms of converting light into energy at this stage, the idea throws up an amazing number potential applications.  Read More

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