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Efficiency

A small PETE device made with cesium-coated gallium nitride glows while being tested insid...

Photovoltaic solar cells convert light energy from the sun into electricity. Although significant strides have been made in increasing the efficiency of photovoltaic technology, they usually only result in incremental increases. Researchers at Stanford University have come up with a way that could more than double the efficiency of existing solar cell technology and potentially reduce the costs of solar energy production enough for it to compete with oil as an energy source. Instead of relying solely on photons, the new process, called “photon enhanced thermionic emission,” or PETE, simultaneously combines the light and heat of solar radiation to generate electricity.  Read More

The Zap Alias is one of just nine vehicles left in the Automotive X PRIZE

Well, it’s hard to believe the day is finally here, but the on-track testing phase of the Automotive X PRIZE Finals stage is finally over. Of 136 vehicles representing 111 teams that originally entered the competition, just 9 vehicles representing 7 teams remain. All that the cars need to do now is pass the Validation stage, then the winners will be announced in September. Here’s a quick look at what happened over the past few days, at the Michigan International Speedway.  Read More

Cornell Ranger gets a walking buddy in Fatemeh Hasaneini, a daughter of one of the student...

It might not have been setting a cracking pace, but a Cornell University robot named Ranger set an unofficial world record on July 6 when it walked 14.3 miles in about 11 hours on a single charge. The untethered, four-legged robot was steered around the 1/8-mile indoor track in Cornell’s Barton Hall by a human operator using a standard toy remote control some 108.5 times. On its record setting journey Ranger made 65,185 steps, beating the former record for an untethered legged robot of 12.8 miles set by Boston Dynamics’ BigDog.  Read More

SunPower Corp. has achieved a world record solar cell efficiency of 24.2 percent

Although we’ve seen sunlight to electricity conversion efficiencies of over 40 percent with multi-junction solar cells in lab environments, most mass-produced cells can only boast a conversion rate of around 15 percent. Now SunPower Corp., a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar power systems, has claimed a new world record solar cell efficiency of 24.2 percent.  Read More

The Niagara Stealth Toilet

First things first – yes, with a name like the Stealth Toilet, it should be matte black, not glossy white. It gets its name, however, from the fact that it flushes very quietly. More importantly, it could also be considered stealthy because conventional radar will barely be able to detect the amount of water it uses - at just 0.8 gallons per flush, it is touted as the world’s most efficient toilet.  Read More

First green LED means a lighting revolution is fast approaching

When scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) tried to apply their expertise in solar cell technology to build a green LED light from the ground up, they surprisingly centered the objective at their very first try. In doing so they solved a long-standing technological problem and paved the way for the large-scale employment of white LEDs for public and domestic illumination over the course of the next few years.  Read More

Researchers from North Carolina's State University have come up with a way to break up pro...

For some programs, the arrival of multi-core processing power has made little difference to how they operate. Some applications, such as word processors and web browsers, are unable to split process operation over a number of cores and instead pile everything onto just one. Researchers from North Carolina's State University have come up with a way to break up such programs into different threads, resulting in a 20 percent increase in run speed.  Read More

The CubeTube is like a circular indoor solar panel

Although great strides have been made recently to make offices more energy efficient, fluorescent office lighting is still great cause for concern. Installing controllers which automatically switch off lighting when no movement is detected is one method of saving energy but Solaroad Technologies proposes recycling otherwise wasted light energy by placing cylindrical photovoltaic harvesting and storage devices on top of workstation cubicle walls.  Read More

A schematic diagram of the light-trapping elements used to optimize absorption within a po...

Using arrays of long, thin silicon wires embedded in a polymer substrate, a team of researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have created a new type of flexible solar cell. Promising enhanced sunlight absorption and efficient conversion of photons into electrons, the new solar cell uses only a fraction of the expensive semiconductor materials required by conventional solar cells, and because they are flexible, they will be cheaper to manufacture.  Read More

The FABLABHOUSE entry from Instituto de Arquitectura Avanzada de Cataluna is shaped for op...

Madrid will host the first European version of the Solar Decathlon competition this summer which sees teams from universities throughout the world designing, building and displaying efficient and sustainable solar homes. The overall competition winner being decided after the completion of ten trials aimed at gauging each entry's energy efficiency and sustainability credentials.  Read More

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