Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Electricity

A Paper Generator is used to reveal an e-ink greeting

Disney Research, Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University have released details of another one of their collaborative projects, this one involving thin, flexible generators that can be built into paper items such as the pages of a book. By simply rubbing or tapping one of these pages, users can illuminate LEDs, prompt applications on linked computers, or even activate e-ink displays – no batteries or outlets required.  Read More

Empower Playgrounds' merry-go-round

At first glance, a merry-go-round that generates electricity appears to be a charming idea. But Empower Playgrounds President, Ben Markham, came up with the idea in 2006 during an 18-month stint volunteering in Ghana. There he was struck by the lack of lighting in rural schools and dwellings, as well as the paucity of playground equipment. A charming idea it remains, but it's a serious one, too.  Read More

Are we really a step closer to harnessing the power of lightning? (Photo: Wim Vandenbussch...

In a development that would seem to bring a whole new meaning to the term Lightning charger, Nokia and the University of Southampton claim to have used simulated lightning to charge a Nokia Lumia 925 mobile phone. A University press release states that a 200,000 V was "sent" across a 30 cm gap with the light and heat generated supposedly similar to that of a lightning strike. But is there really any cause for excitement, or are we merely witnessing special effects?  Read More

The primary niche is to clip the generator to the top of existing solar panels in large ar...

Crowdfunding has come to the small wind generation field with an Indiegogo campaign intended for an interesting target niche: a small wind generator designed to be clipped onto solar panels. According to his pitch, Michael Ring has not only created a prototype, but calculated possible energy returns, targeted a price point and lined up suppliers for initial deliveries and has turned to Indeigogo to get his small startup off the launch pad.  Read More

The ARES system uses electric locomotives as a form of energy storage

We’ve recently looked at ocean-based energy storage system concepts from MIT and Subhydro AS that are designed to overcome the intermittency problems of renewable energy sources like wind and solar by pumping water out of large tanks and using gravity to let it back in and generate electricity when needed. Santa Barbara, California-based company Advanced Rail Energy Storage (ARES) has come up with a land-based alternative that would provide grid scale energy storage using electric locomotives.  Read More

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

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