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Efficiency

Architecture

Green living: Top 10 sustainable houses

The cost of a house can be counted in dollars, but the construction and running of a house takes a toll on the environment that's harder to measure. Increasing numbers of people are looking to minimize both environmental impact and financial outlay by outfitting their homes with sustainable technology, and the resulting boom in sustainable building is driving new levels of architectural innovation. With this in mind, Gizmag highlights ten remarkable sustainable houses.Read More

Environment

Buddhist singing bowls could inspire highly efficient solar cells

While the unique shape of Buddhist singing bowls is vital to the creation of their signature sound, a researcher from Australia National University (ANU) has used their design as the inspiration for a new breed of solar cells. In completing his PhD at the University of Cambridge, Dr Niraj Lal found that just as the bowls cause sound to resonate, miniaturized versions can be made to interact with light in much the same way, inspiring solar cells better able to capture sunlight. Read More

Automotive

Duke Engines' incredibly compact, lightweight valveless axial engine

New Zealand's Duke Engines has been busy developing and demonstrating excellent results with a bizarre prototype axial engine that completely does away with valves, while delivering excellent power and torque from an engine much smaller, lighter and simpler than the existing technology. We spoke with Duke co-founder John Garvey to find out how the Duke Axial Engine project is going.Read More

Science

New record efficiency for quantum-dot photovoltaics

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

Science

GE uses plastic surgery on wind turbine blades for more power

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

Bicycles

Upper Wheel Fairings are designed to give bicycle wind resistance the slip

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

Mobile Technology

Spritz reader: Getting words into your brain faster

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

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