The mid-term future for fuel efficient vehicles with useful range is likely a hybrid solution of electric motors powered by batteries, topped up by a fuel-burning generator. Prof. Norbert Müller at Michigan State, backed by $2.5 million from the US Government, aims to make that last part of the equation a much more compact and efficient proposition with a revolutionary new form of combustion engine.
For the past several years, scientists from around the world have been engaged in the development of nanogenerators – tiny piezoelectric devices capable of generating electricity by harnessing minute naturally-occurring movements, such as the shifting of clothing
or even the beating of a person's heart
. So far, while they may have worked in principle, few if any of the devices have been able to generate enough of a current to make them practical for use in consumer products. Now, however, scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology are claiming to have created "the world's first practical nanogenerator."
Torque vectoring is a relatively new technology that has been employed in automobile differentials
, most commonly all-wheel-drive vehicles, that allows the amount of power sent to each wheel to be varied. Scientists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) have now adapted this technology to wind turbines, to eliminate the need for converting the alternating current produced by the turbines into direct current and back again before it is fed into the grid.
A collaboration led by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has announced that it's been selected to design a new waste-to-power station on the outskirts of Copenhagen. In an attempt to unify an industrial area and residential housing, the project will turn the vast roofing expanse of the power station into an Alpine ski resort. Skiers will begin their downward journey from the top of the smokestack, which will also pump out smoke rings every time a ton of carbon dioxide is produced to remind citizens of the impact of power consumption.
There’s a number of small portable solar chargers
available which are designed to keep mobile gear such as MP3 players and mobile phones powered up when there’s no electrical outlet around. But with people cramming more and more devices on their person or in their cars when heading off the grid, we're seeing a growing number of larger and more powerful units
designed for more power hungry devices. The latest is thid portable solar-powered generator from Wagan Tech which provides 1,500 watts of power for seven to eight hours.
The Danish company Dantherm Power has recently announced its plans to sell solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) plants as environmentally-friendly power stations for private homes. Even though the project is only in its infantile stages, the company predicts the now bulky prototype will evolve over the next few years as the green alternative to power generators, or act as a buffer for buildings that are powered by renewable but intermittent energy sources such as wind or solar.
generators that harness otherwise wasted energy from vibrations has been proposed for capturing energy in everything from shoes
. Now a new device made out of piezoelectric material by researchers at Louisiana Tech University could allow a wide range of electronic devices to harvest their own wasted operational energy, resulting in devices that are much more energy efficient. It even offers the potential to perpetually power micro and nano devices, such as biomedical devices or remotely located sensors and communication nodes.
A number of kinetic energy chargers have been hitting the market in recent years including the nPower PEG
. Researchers have also been working to improve the technology, developing such devices as the Kinetic Energy Cell
and a tiny generator
that derives electrical energy from the vibrations and movements that occur within its environment. Now Brother Industries Ltd., a company better known for its printers, has put the technology into a form factor that should prove much more versatile – a battery. Its Vibration Energy Cell batteries are deigned to replace AA or AAA batteries in some low power devices that can then be powered with a shake.
Scheduled to go on sale at Honda
dealers throughout Japan this May, the ENEPO EU9iGB is pretty compact as far as generators go. It's powered by common butane canisters, which makes for safe and easy storage in contrast with gasoline-fueled alternatives. A fold-down handle makes transport dead simple, as the design is reminiscent of carry-on luggage with two wheels at the base.
Hydroelectric power specialist Bourne Energy has developed a human-portable hydroelectric generator which can create clean, quiet power from any stream deeper than four feet. The "Backpack Power Plant", which joins the company's Riverstar
, Oceanstar and Tidalstar designs, is aimed at bringing cheap, practical energy technology to remote areas.