Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Generator

Scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology are claiming to have created the world...

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."  Read More

Wind farm near Wadena, Indiana (Image: John Schanlaub via Flickr)

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.  Read More

A collaboration led by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has announced that it's been selected...

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.  Read More

Wagan Tech's five-panel solar-powered generator

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.  Read More

Danish company Dantherm Power has announced plans to test and release a highly efficient c...

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.  Read More

The piezoelectric CNF-PZT Cantilever device

Piezoelectric generators that harness otherwise wasted energy from vibrations has been proposed for capturing energy in everything from shoes to roads. 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.  Read More

Brother's AA-size Vibration Energy Cell battery prototype whose generator and rechargeable...

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.  Read More

Honda's new generator is powered by butane gas canisters

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.  Read More

Bourne Energy's Backpack Power Plant is ultra-portable at under 3 feet long and weighing l...

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.  Read More

A fiber nanogenerator (on a plastic substrate) that can convert energy from mechanical str...

If engineers at the University of California have their way, "Power Dressing" could be back in vogue. However, instead of 80’s-style shoulder pads the engineers have been creating energy-scavenging nanofibers. These nano-sized generators could one day be woven into clothing and textiles to harness the energy created through normal body movements to power mobile electronic devices.  Read More

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