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Electricity

Environment

Low-cost system uses passing vehicles to generate electricity

Over the years, various researchers have developed systems in which the weight transferred through cars' wheels onto the road – or through pedestrians' feet onto the sidewalk – is used to generate electricity. These systems utilize piezoelectric materials, which convert mechanical stress into an electrical current. Such materials may be effective, but they're also too expensive for use in many parts of the world. That's why Mexican entrepreneur Héctor Ricardo Macías Hernández created his own rather ingenious alternative. Read More

Electronics

New lithium/sulfur battery doubles energy density of lithium-ion

Batteries. We buy them at the store, use them up, and throw them away without much thought. In reality, however, batteries are remarkably complex electrochemical devices that are continually evolving. The latest example of this comes from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where researchers have invented an advanced lithium/sulfur (Li/S) cell that offers a unique combination of energy storage, power, recharge speed, and survivability. Read More

Robotics

Scientists develop "heart pump" for pee-powered robots

It's strange to wrap one's mind around the idea of human pee powered robots, but that's exactly what a group of UK researchers are attempting to create. Mimicking the human heart, their latest innovation is a heart pump with artificial muscles that aims to deliver human urine to their latest generation of Ecobots – a self-sustaining robot that runs on all manner of waste matter collected from its environment.Read More

Good Thinking

Pedal Power provides off-grid power while keeping you fit

If you'd like to live off-grid but still retain access to power when you need it, then New York-based company Pedal Power might have you covered – providing you don't mind putting in the legwork, that is. The firm has launched a Kickstarter campaign for its two stationary bike-like gadgets that are claimed to produce enough electricity to run a laptop when pedaled. Read More

Electronics

Power-harvesting device converts microwave signals into electricity

Joining the ranks of devices designed to harvest energy from ambient electromagnetic radiation comes an electrical circuit from researchers at Duke University that can be tuned to capture microwave energy from various sources, including satellite, sound or Wi-Fi signals. The researchers say the device converts otherwise lost energy into direct current voltage with efficiencies similar to that of current solar cells.Read More

Around The Home

"Ene-Farm" home fuel cell moves into a condo

Panasonic and Tokyo Gas have continued joint development of their "Ene-Farm" home fuel cell unit, which became the world's first commercialized fuel cell system targeted at household heating and electricity generation when it went on sale in Japan in May 2009. The latest model is aimed at use in condominiums and features a number of modifications to ensure the units meet the more stringent installation standards placed on those buildings.Read More

Electronics

Paper Generators bring a spark of new life to the printed page

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

Good Thinking

Wired merry-go-rounds provide energy to remote schools in Ghana

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

Science

Dramatic phone-charging experiment tells us little about lightning

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

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