2014 Paris Motor Show highlights

Electricity

The Samsung GT-E2121B mobile phone that researchers powered with urine

If asked what would be a great power source for mobile phones, it’s a fair bet that most people wouldn't make urine their first choice. But that's exactly what a group of scientists at Bristol Robotics Laboratory in the UK have done. As part of a project to find new ways to provide electricity for small devices in emergency situations and developing countries they have created a new fuel cell system powered by pee.  Read More

The Nectar fuel cell-powered USB charger converts butane into electricity

There's no doubt that mobile electronic devices have revolutionized our daily lives. A smartphone and laptop, both equipped with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, provide mobile computing capabilities only dreamed of a decade or two ago. If only the batteries would keep up. While portable fuel cells have been proposed for a decade as a solution to the requirement for more portable power, actually making such a beast has proven commercially impractical. Now Lilliputian Systems, Inc., an MIT spinoff company, is manufacturing the Nectar, a USB recharger based on a butane fuel cell.  Read More

The current wing is an inflateable wing specially built by a kitesurfing manufacturer for ...

The University of Delft has a program devoted to kite-based generation systems, with 20 years of research and development under their belt since Wubbo Ockels, the first Dutch astronaut established it. Now, members of the team are exploring practical niches where the compromises of kite-based power might pay off. One has just completed a trip through Kenya, Tanzania and Senegal discussing opportunities for rural African kite generation with governmental agencies, universities and companies in the renewables space.  Read More

Are 'innovative' wind technologies ever a match for three-blade turbines?

Virtually every week there are articles about new and innovative methods for harvesting wind energy. And every week more megawatts of capacity from three-blade horizontal-axis wind turbines (HAWT) becomes operational, despite all of the contenders. Why aren't these innovative new products knocking the iconic HAWT off its perch? Is it possible to tell which are likely to be viable? These eight points are a useful way to assess which technology has potential, and which are likely just hot air.  Read More

In 2009, electric bikes averaged the same speeds as 1936. In 2013, their speed had increas...

MotoCzysz today won its fourth TT ZERO race in a row, demonstrating just how far the electric motorcycle has come in a short time. The first five runnings of the TT ZERO event at the 105 year-old Isle of Man motorcycle racing festival suggest electric bikes will catch up to the fastest gas-powered bikes in about five years. Every practice session has seen lap speeds increase. The inaugural 2009 electric lap record was run at the same speed as the circuit record in 1936 on the first Manx Norton. This week, electric motorcycles have surpassed the laps times of Hailwood's RC181 Honda 500, Duke's Gilera, Agostini's MV Agusta fire engines, and they're about to better the Kawasaki KR750, Suzuki RG500 and Yamaha TZ750 two-strokes of the mid-seventies. Four decades of progress in 48 months. Read on  Read More

The Panasonic solar lantern can also charge small electronic devices

We live in an age where people in the developed world are so dependent on electricity that if it wasn't available a whole civilization would collapse in a week. It’s therefore ironic that 1.32 billion people around the world are still without what most people have come to see as a basic necessity. To mark its 100th anniversary, the Panasonic Corporation plans to distribute 100,000 solar lanterns that the company has developed that can not only provide light, but also charge mobile phones and other small devices.  Read More

The VOTO fuel-cell charger gets power from cooking fires

Just because someone is getting close to nature doesn't necessarily mean they need to ditch their smartphone. However, keeping a device charged while in the great outdoors is not always the easiest thing to do. After all, those trees don't come equipped with power outlets. We've already seen the BioLite stove that generates its own power. A new product called VOTO performs a similar function, but with any cooking fire.  Read More

Lockheed Martin and Reignwood Group plan to develop a 10 MW prototype OTEC pilot plant off...

Lockheed Martin has been getting its feet wet in the renewable energy game for some time. In the 1970s it helped build the world’s first successful floating Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) system that generated net power, and in 2009 it was awarded a contract to develop an OTEC pilot plant in Hawaii. That project has apparently been canceled but the company has now shifted its OTEC sights westward by teaming up with Hong Kong-based Reignwood Group to co-develop a pilot plant that will be built off the coast of southern China.  Read More

Every step counts at the Paris Marathon

While the term "electrifying" can sometimes be used to describe breathtaking performance in sports, it's not often you'll find it used for marathon runners. Yet, that's precisely the word I'd use to describe this year's Paris Marathon, which took place on Sunday April 7. You see, as the feet of almost 40,000 runners hit a 25-meter (82-foot) installation of special tiles at the beginning of the 26-mile (42-km) course, kinetic energy was harvested and turned into usable electricity.  Read More

The 'artificial leaf' created by Daniel G. Nocera, Ph.D. and his team now has self-healing...

Back in 2011, scientists reported the creation of the “world’s first practical artificial leaf” that mimics the ability of real leaves to produce energy from sunlight and water. Touted as a potentially inexpensive source of electricity for those in developing countries and remote areas, the leaf’s creators have now given it a capability that would be especially beneficial in such environments – the ability to self heal and therefore produce energy from dirty water.  Read More

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