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Thermal

The full moon has long been associated with any number of superstitions. While links with lunacy, violence, fertility, disasters, and the stock market have been thoroughly debunked, the possibility of a causative role in some arenas still remains a possibility. A lunar ranging study carried out using reflectors has long contended with the "Full-Moon Curse," a near-total fading of reflected signals during the full Moon. This Curse is real, and has now been explained. Read More
Put a polar bear and a biophotonics expert together in a chilly room and what do you get? Potentially, better insulation. When looking to uncover the secrets of the impressive insulation properties of polar bear fur, researchers at the University of Namur in Belgium and the University of Hassan I in Morocco found that radiation plays a larger role than conduction in the insulation of polar animals, such as penguins and polar bears, than previously believed. Read More
Most bracelets aren't likely to alter your temperature too much either way, but the Wristify isn't most bracelets. Developed by four MIT engineering students, the Wristify works on the principle that heating or cooling the skin on one part of the body can make the entire body feel warmer or colder. By creating a personal heating and cooling device, the Wristify team ultimately hopes to cut the amount of energy currently used to heat or cool entire buildings. Read More
Researchers at the University of Toronto say they can improve the energy of efficiency buildings by fitting window panes with tiny channels of water. The scientists says that these channels, inspired by vascular systems in nature such as the network of blood vessels in the human body, can provide 7º to 9º C of cooling in the summer, and reduce heat loss during winter. Read More
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
Developed by British engineer James Bentham, the Solar Kettle can boil water simply by using sunlight. The portable thermos-like product uses a special thermal technology to boil water without the need for any power input, thus making it ideal for camping, picnics and outdoor activities. Read More
The Southern California Gas Company, the largest natural gas distribution company in the U.S., has become the first utility in that country to test Cogenra’s solar cogeneration solution for cooling purposes. The system will provide air conditioning for SoCalGas’s Energy Resource Center (ERC). Until now, the technology has been mainly applied to solar hot water, space heating and electricity. Read More
This rather novel solar collector draws inspiration from the lotus flower to provide small-scale solar energy - both electric and thermal - to domestic and small business users. The aptly named Monarch Lotus' (rebranded from the Solar Umbrella) 18 petals unfold to to form a 4-meter (13-foot) diameter flower that will, if development goes to plan, produce 3 kW of photovoltaic electrical power and 3 kW of solar thermal power per 100-kg (220-pound) unit in ideal conditions. Read More
When you have wet skin, you no doubt notice a cooling sensation as it dries. This is because the water droplets are carrying heat away from your skin with them, as they evaporate. Phase-change thermal diodes work the same way – through an evaporation and condensation process, they use liquid to transport heat away from things such as microchips. In most of these diodes, liquid placed on a hot surface evaporates, the vapor then rising onto a cooler surface, where it condenses back into liquid. In a closed-loop cycle, gravity subsequently carries that condensate back down to the hot surface, so it can once again be evaporated. Now, scientists from North Carolina's Duke University have discovered a method of getting condensed water droplets to jump back to the hot surface – and they can do so in any direction, including straight up. Read More
Given that it typically gets hottest outside when the sunlight is most direct, it would make sense to have air conditioners that were powered by the thermal energy from solar rays. Unfortunately, collecting enough of that energy in a cost-effective manner can be challenging. Now, however, a team of University of California, Merced students have created a solar thermal collection system that is said to be significantly simpler, cheaper and more efficient than anything that’s come before. Read More
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