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The small prototype device created by researchers at EPFL

As scientists endeavor to increase the efficiency of solar panels, the challenge of storing the resultant energy cheaply and in an environmentally responsible way must also be met. To this end, researchers at Switzerland’s École polytechnique fédérale de Lausann (EPFL) have developed an inexpensive device that transforms light energy into hydrogen, for storage and later use. The new prototype makes use of sunlight, water, and metal oxides, including iron oxide – or rust.  Read More

The Sunseeker Duo is billed as the world's first two-passenger solar aircraft

Piloted solar flight has been a reality for some time, with even international flights now possible. Up to this point, such voyages have been a strictly solo affair, however the team originally responsible for the Sunseeker II intends to change this by manufacturing what’s billed as the world’s first two-seater solar aircraft – a motor glider named the Sunseeker Duo.  Read More

Conceptual image of HGA's Palm Springs campus design (Image copyright HGA Architects and E...

Images have been released of a design for the College of the Desert's new self-sustaining "Net Zero-plus" campus to be built at Palm Springs. The "Net Zero-plus" refers to the design's aim of generating more energy than it uses.  Read More

The Polaris lunar water prospecting robot prototyple

Astrobotic Technology Inc., a spin-off company of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), has debuted its full-size flight prototype of its Polaris lunar water-prospecting robot. Polaris is specially designed to work in the permanently shadowed craters at the Moon’s poles. Scheduled to be sent to the Moon using a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle, the solar-powered rover is a contender in the US$20 million Google Lunar X Prize and is tasked with seeking ice deposits that could be used by future colonists.  Read More

The components in the BRIGHT lamp

BRIGHT Products has created a new solar-powered lamp with the intended goal of bringing more light to developing nations. Not only that, the lamp can be used as a mobile phone charger through the built-in micro USB cord.  Read More

V3Solar has developed a cone-shaped solar energy harvester that is claimed to generate ove...

For the vast majority of those looking to harvest energy from the sun to satisfy domestic or business electricity needs, the photovoltaic world is a static and flat one. Even many large scale solar farms feature row upon row of rigid panels, although there may at least be some movement as the panels follow the path of the sun as it moves across the sky. V3Solar's Spin Cell is a little different. It's claimed to be capable of generating over 20 times more electricity than a flat panel with the same area of PV cells thanks to a combination of concentrating lenses, dynamic spin, conical shape, and advanced electronics.  Read More

The Romanian Solar Decathlon team, in front of their Prispa home

The Romanian Solar Decathlon team has presented its innovative solar-powered prefab home ... and it looks good enough to move into. Dubbed Prispa, it blends comfortable living zones with an abundance of natural light. The prototype uses wood as its primary material, while clay has been used to finish the interior walls, and the photovoltaic system has been mounted onto the roof’s metallic boarding.  Read More

The Eliodomestico costs US$50 to build (Image: Gabriele Diamanti)

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Concerned about the lack of fresh water in the developing world, designer Gabriele Diamanti wanted a solution to desalinate water that was available to households rather than relying on giant centralized plants. He also wanted it to be something inexpensive that could be made by local craftsman. The result is a ceramic solar still called the Eliodomestico that operates like an “upside-down coffee percolator”.  Read More

A prototype of the Fraunhofer system, with the RF node at left, and the sensor housing at ...

If a storm rolls in while you’re at work, and you’re wondering if you left your bedroom window open, you can tell via an internet connection – if that window is equipped with a contact sensor. Ordinarily, such sensors require electrical wiring, and a battery or mains power. A new window system developed by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, however, works without wires, and draws its power from the environment around it.  Read More

Bill Gates weighs evaluates the Toronto Toilet at the Reinvent the Toilet fair in Seattle

In an effort to improve conditions for the more than 2.5 billion people worldwide with no access to safe sanitation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last year awarded grants totaling US$3 million to eight universities to reinvent the toilet. At the two-day “Reinventing the Toilet” fair held in Seattle this week, where Bill Gates was on hand with 50 gallons (189 l) of fake feces made from soybeans and rice to put the various designs through their paces, a California Institute of Technology (Caltech) team claimed first place for their solar-powered toilet.  Read More

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