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— Science

New technique for turning sunshine and water into hydrogen fuel

A new technique developed by a University of Colorado Boulder team converts sunshine and water directly into usable fuel. The technique involves concentrating sunlight in a solar tower to achieve temperatures high enough to drive chemical reactions that split water into its constituent oxygen and hydrogen molecules. In this way, the team says it should be able to cheaply produce massive amounts of hydrogen fuel. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Solar steam sterilization system could clean up in the developing world

Last year, researchers at Rice University revealed a new way to convert solar energy directly into steam using light-absorbing nanoparticles. At that time, the technology had already been used to create a solar steam-powered autoclave for sterilizing medical and dental equipment and the project had been awarded a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to turn the technology to the task of sanitizing human waste. The researchers have now put both applications to the test. Read More
— Electronics

Portable SunSocket Solar Generator incorporates on-board tracking

To get the most out of solar panels they need to be facing the right way. Systems that track the sun are often used in large solar power stations and some larger home installations, but most flat panels for portable applications just lie there. Colorado-based Aspect Solar has come up with the SunSocket Solar Generator, a lightweight, portable, self-contained solar power system consisting of a battery and solar panels that brings the advantages of automatically tracking the Sun to small applications. Read More
— Mobile Technology Review

Review: Waka Waka Power solar lamp and device charger

Introduced early last year, the Waka Waka lamp is a solar-powered LED light designed for use both in first-world campsites and third-world homes. Towards the end of the year, the Waka Waka Foundation followed up on the lamp’s success with a similar product, known as Waka Waka Power. It not only provides light, but can also be used to charge up your electronic gadgets. We recently had a chance to try one out ... during sunny breaks in an otherwise very wet and cloudy June. Read More
— Environment

Nano-engineered panel passively cools buildings by emitting heat into space

Studies have already shown us how white-painted roofs can help cool buildings by reflecting sunlight, while "green" roofs beat the heat by blocking sunlight and providing a source of evaporative cooling. Now, a team of scientists from Stanford University have created a panel that not only reflects sunlight, but it also draws heat from within the building and emits it into outer space. Read More
— Science

Hybrid solar system boosts natural gas powerplant efficiency by 20 percent

Solar power holds the promise of clean, limitless energy, but it currently suffers from high costs and an inherent disadvantage of not working when the sun isn't shining. The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is taking a best-of-both-worlds approach by developing a hybrid solar/gas system that increases the efficiency and reduces the carbon footprint of natural gas power plants. Read More

Solar-powered skylight opens and closes by remote control

Skylights are a nice way of letting daylight into your house, and if they can be opened, they’re also effective at letting out the hot, stuffy air that rises to the ceiling. Depending on their location, however, they can be difficult to open without running electrical wiring up to them. That’s why Velux has introduced its no-wiring-required Solar Powered Fresh Air Skylight. Read More
— Environment

Simpler, cheaper way to make liquid methanol fuel using CO2 and sunlight

Most previous methods of producing methanol from carbon dioxide have involved lots of electricity, high pressures and high temperatures, and used toxic chemicals or rare earth elements like cadmium or tellurium. A team of researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) has developed a new method they claim is safer, less expensive, and simpler than current approaches and can be scaled up to an industrial scale to allow some of the CO2 emitted from electrical power plants to be captured and converted into a useful fuel. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

UV-measuring wrist band lets you know when to reapply sunscreen

If you spend much time outdoors in the summer, then you doubtless know how important it is to wear sunscreen. That said, you probably also know that just applying it once before you first go outside isn’t good enough – for sufficient protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, periodic reapplications are also necessary. The UVeBand is a new wearable device, that’s designed to let you know when it’s time for those reapplications. Read More
— Space

NASA to fly largest solar sail ever, in 2014

NASA is getting ready to ride the “winds” of space on sails lighter than gossamer, yet large enough to cover a small field. The space agency’s Solar Sail Demonstration, also known as the Sunjammer Project, may launch as early as 2014 when it will send the largest solar sail yet built into orbit, to demonstrate the technical viability of the device. Read More