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Efficiency

Solar cells created from ultra-thin layers of quantum dots (Photo: Chia-Hao Chuang, Depart...

Flexible, inexpensive, large-area, lightweight solar cells are difficult to produce as they require an inert atmosphere and high temperatures, and they often degrade in a short time after exposure to air. Researchers at MIT, however, have used a new method to craft solar cells from ultra-thin layers of quantum dots in a process that promises to avoid these problems, and at room temperature. At the same time, they have also set a new record of nine percent for the most efficient quantum-dot solar cells produced to date.  Read More

GE has found a way to extend wind turbine rotor blades without replacing them

Sometimes progress can be its own worst enemy, with early adopters being stuck with obsolete equipment that leaves them with the choice of living with out-dated technology or an expensive replacement. The green energy field isn’t immune to this, and as part of a US$2 million renewable energy project, GE has developed a way to make smaller, less efficient wind turbines into bigger more efficient ones with a bit of plastic (or carbon composite) surgery.  Read More

The fairings are made to fit most standard road bikes

If you were designing a vehicle to be as aerodynamic as possible, it would definitely be counterproductive if parts of that vehicle actually moved into the oncoming wind. According to Los Angeles-based engineer Garth Magee, however, that's just what the forward-turning top sections of bicycle wheels do. His solution? Upper Wheel Fairings, which shield the spokes from the breeze. He claims that cyclists using his fairings can go up to 20 percent faster without any extra effort.  Read More

Panasonic is claiming a world-record conversion efficiency of 25.6 percent for its HIT sol...

Panasonic is reporting a 25.6 percent conversion efficiency for its HIT (Heterojunction with Intrinsic Thin layer) solar cells. This is an improvement of 0.9 percentage points over the 24.7 percent conversion efficiency Panasonic achieved in February 2013, with the company claiming it as a world record for crystalline silicon-based solar cells of a "practical size."  Read More

The Audi traffic light system uses icon prompts

One of life's small but satisfying pleasures is hitting the sweet spot while driving across town and catching all the green lights. At the moment, having that happen is a matter of luck, but Audi is developing a system that will make never getting caught by a red light an everyday thing as a way of speeding up traffic while improving fuel efficiency and cutting emissions.  Read More

According to Boston-based startup Spritz, you spend as little as 20 percent of your readin...

Static blocks of text like the one you’re looking at now are an antiquated and inefficient way to get words into your head. That’s the contention of Boston-based startup Spritz, which has developed a speed-reading text box that shows no more than 13 characters at a time. The Spritz box flashes words at you in quick succession so you don’t have to move your eyes around a page, and in my very quick testing it allowed me to read at more than double my usual reading pace. Spritz has teamed up with Samsung to integrate its speed reading functionality with the upcoming Galaxy S5 smartphone.  Read More

The rear sections of the RD House come into direct contact with the hillside, so are natur...

Cave homes, pit houses and other part or fully-underground dwellings all offer benefits in energy efficiency when compared to typical above-ground homes, thanks to natural insulating properties that help to maintain a near-constant interior temperature. Architectural firm Vasho made use of the same principle to keep RD House cool by partially burying it within a steep Dominican Republic hillside.  Read More

The Speed Up Bag is a combination cargo compartment and aerodynamic partial fairing

It's not uncommon for cyclists to carry snacks, phones, wallets or other items in a handlebar-mounted bag when out for a ride. Unfortunately, though, putting a block-shaped bag right on the front of the bike doesn't do wonders for its aerodynamics. That's why Slovenian inventor Joze Petkovsek created the Speed Up Bag. Not only is it sleeker than a regular bag, but a bicycle equipped with one is claimed to produce less wind drag than one with no bag at all.  Read More

Panigale batch hits the chassis assembly area.

For motorcycle lovers, this is where dreams are made. Ducati's resident historian Livio Lodi takes us on a tour of the Ducati Factory near Bologna, Italy, talking us through the production of the 1199 Panigale superbike from start to finish, and showing us the techniques Ducati has used to vastly improve its efficiency, output and reliability.  Read More

Researchers are claiming a record efficiency of 15.6 percent for a new graphene-based sola...

In 2012, researchers from the University of Florida reported a record efficiency of 8.6 percent for a prototype solar cell consisting of a wafer of silicon coated with a layer of graphene doped with trifluoromethanesulfonyl-amide (TFSA). Now another team is claiming a new record efficiency of 15.6 percent for a graphene-based solar cell by ditching the silicon all together.  Read More

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