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Electricity

Thanks to zinc oxide nanorods, phones may someday be able to recharge using the sounds aro...

Four years ago, we first heard about how Korean scientists had proposed using sound to charge mobile phones. They explained that it could be done via a piezoelectric effect, in which zinc oxide nanowires converted sound-caused vibrations into electricity. At the time, the researchers couldn't generate enough of a current to actually charge a phone. Now, however, scientists from Nokia and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have succeeded in doing so.  Read More

The tinyTelsa musical Telsa coil from oneTesla

The folks who successfully crowdfunded a DIY singing Tesla coil kit last year have taken to Kickstarter again to bring a smaller version into production. Like its older and bigger brother, the tinyTesla shoots out bolts of artificial lightning while playing MIDI music using the electricity itself. It looks like that polyphonic MIDI version of Danger High Voltage by Electric Six might just come in handy after all.  Read More

Newcastle University prototype system provides cooling, heating, and electrical power usin...

A team of researchers led by Newcastle University has produced an all-in-one Biofuel Micro Trigeneration (BMT) prototype system fueled entirely by unprocessed plant oils that provides combined cooling, heating, and electrical power. This first-generation system is designed for use in homes, with the potential for up-scaling for larger commercial and industrial applications.  Read More

Google and the IEEE are offering a US$1 million prize in their Little Box challenge

The old saying says good things come in small packages. Google and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) seem to agree having launched the Little Box Challenge, an open competition with a US$1 million first prize to find innovative electronic designs to shrink power inverters down from their current bigger-than-a-bread-box size to something less than the size of a small laptop.  Read More

The Stanford University system uses a glass layer patterned with micro-pyramids and cones ...

Photovoltaic cells are one of the more promising alternative energy sources. Mechanically they are very simple, with no moving parts, and are clean and emission-free. Unfortunately they are also inefficient. One of the reasons for this is that they overheat, a problem that a Stanford University team under electrical engineering professor Shanhui Fan is addressing with the development of a thin glass layer that makes solar cells self-cooling.  Read More

Waste like this should meet all of a UK grocery store's electrical needs (Photo: Shutterst...

It's an unfortunate fact that every day around the world, supermarkets throw out tons of food that has spoiled before it could be purchased. While it would be best if that spoilage could be avoided in the first place, British grocery chain Sainsbury's is taking what might be the next-best approach – it's about to start using that unsellable food to power one of its stores.  Read More

Harvesting electricity from condensation could take renewable power to remote areas (Photo...

MIT researchers have found a way to generate small amounts of electricity from condensation, by having electrically-charged droplets jump between superhydrophobic (water-repelling) and hydrophilic (water-attracting) metal plates. The advance could be especially useful in remote areas or developing countries, not least because it produces clean water as a side product.  Read More

PowerCube is deployed as a shipping container and morphs into a power stations, communicat...

It was seven years ago that Ecosphere Technologies revealed its first iteration of a self-contained relief unit to provide power, water and shelter to disaster-struck areas. The company has since been busy refining the system's form and function and now announces the completion of what it says to be the world's largest deployable solar power generator. Capable of generating 15 kW of electricity, PowerCube is transported as a standard shipping container and can morph into a shelter, water treatment plant and communications base all with a push of a button.  Read More

The USC organic redux flow battery (not pictured) replaces metals with water-soluble organ...

Lithium-ion batteries have made portable, rechargeable electronics commonplace. Unfortunately, they do have some glaring drawbacks, including heat issues, being made with rare, toxic elements, and the fact the technology doesn't scale up very well, which limits applications. A team of scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) is working on an alternative in the form of a water-based organic battery that is not only cheaper and more environmentally friendly, but also holds the potential for scaling up for use in wind and solar power plants as a means to store large amounts of energy.  Read More

Solar Wind Energy's Downdraft Tower generates its own wind that is directed down the hollo...

When we think of wind power, we generally think of huge wind turbines sitting high atop towers where they can take advantage of the higher wind speeds. But Maryland-based Solar Wind Energy, Inc. is looking to turn wind power on its head with the Solar Wind Downdraft Tower, which places turbines at the base of a tower and generates its own wind to turn them.  Read More

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