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Alternative Energy

It seems that half the world’s R&D is involved in solar energy, which isn’t a bad thing considering the mess our reliance on traditional energy generation has got us into. Interestingly, engineers at Princeton University have developed a new technique for producing electricity-conducting plastics that could dramatically lower the cost of manufacturing solar panels, making alternative power within reach of more consumers and industry. Read More
It's been a while since we've taken a look at the weird and wonderful canvas that is Dubai's skyline of the future, and this proposal from James Law Cybertecture would slot neatly in among radical designs like the Almeisan Tower and the spiraling ZPO. Shaped like a giant disco ball, the Technosphere is conceived as a self-sustaining model of the Earth in miniature incorporating a range of active and passive systems to meet these goals. Read More
Japan's Tokai Challenger solar vehicle has taken victory against a strong international field in the 2009 Global Green Challenge. After covering almost 1860 miles (3000km) in four days across Australia's baking red center, the entry from Japan's Tokai University crossed the finish line at 3.39pm local time. The team's run was nearly flawless, reporting only a single flat tire with just over 100 miles of the course to race and the win breaks a string of four consecutive victories by the Dutch Nuon team, which is currently battling it out for second place against University of Michigan Solar Car Team. Read More
Baltimore has taken the environmental benefits of car-sharing programs a step further by launching one that features the all-electric, zero local emissions Maya 300. Powered by a lithium-ion battery, the Maya 300 seats five, can travel up to 120 miles on a single charge, has a top speed of 35mph and can be charged via a standard 110V household electrical outlet. Read More
If the words "human hybrid" conjure terrifying images of Christian Bale battling it out against Skynet and a league of Terminators then the Solar Human Hybrid Project (SOHH for short) might come as a bit of light relief. It's a one of a kind, great-looking 4-wheeler where the power comes courtesy of the harmonization of solar energy and a good old-fashioned lower body workout. There's an iPod dock, a GPS navigation system, a cargo area and even a platform especially for the dog. It's definitely a worthy contender for the crown of coolest green transportation around. Oh, and it's also a school project. Read More
Bullet trains are considered by many to be one of the greener forms of transport, so imagine how environmentally friendly they might be if the sun’s power was harnessed to power them. That’s precisely what Solar Bullet LLC hopes to do with its 220mph solar bullet train, which the company claims can travel from Tucson to Phoenix in just 30 minutes. Read More
Biofuels continue to steal the spotlight when it comes to the search for a renewable, environmentally friendly replacement for crude oil. While that’s understandable when considering the transport industry, but crude oil is also used in the production of conventional plastics and chemical products such as fertilizers and solvents. Now chemists have learned how to convert plant biomass directly into a chemical building block that can not only be used to produce fuel, but also plastics, polyester and industrial chemicals cheaply and efficiently. Read More
Running vehicles on biofuels such as ethanol reduces CO2 emissions and offers a way to lessen the world's reliance on oil. While this sounds great from an environmental perspective, the energy required to produce the biofuel and the land clearing for crops that can result means biofuels aren’t necessarily the environmentally friendly solution they initially appear to be. Recognizing this, researchers have analyzed the best way to maximize the “miles per acre” from biomass and discovered that the far more efficient option is to convert the biomass to electricity, rather than ethanol. Another tick for the electric car. Read More
Clean, renewable energy is freely available – in the form of wind, sun and water. However, harnessing it reliably and cost-effectively remains a barrier. Wind power is one of the fastest growing alternative energy markets and researchers at Purdue University and Sandia National Laboratories in West Lafayette, Indiana, are working to make wind turbines more efficient, reliable and resilient. Read More
Scientists at the Singapore-based Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) have made an unprecedented breakthrough in transforming carbon dioxide, a common greenhouse gas, into methanol, a widely used form of industrial feedstock and clean-burning biofuel. Using "organocatalysts", researchers activated carbon dioxide in a mild and non-toxic process to produce the more useful chemical compound. Read More
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