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Thermal

Artist's conception of a commercial hydrogen production plant that uses sunlight to split ...

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 usi...

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

Cogenra's cogeneration system produces heat and electricity, increasing efficiency to up t...

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

Artist's impression of an installed Lotus solar collector (Image: Monarch)

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

Scientists have created a new type of thermal management system, that utilizes jumping dro...

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

Professor Roland Winston and his student team, with an array of External Compound Paraboli...

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

The wooden structure of Solepark's Sole Arena resembles a classic Swedish bath house (imag...

The town of Bad Essen in Northern Germany has long been the home of salt works facilities, where in the early 1900's it was discovered that the salt in the surrounding air proved to be a natural remedy for many respiratory illnesses. Located in the town is Solepark, a health resort devoted entirely to the contemplation of the five senses. One of the highlights of the resort is its unique Sole Arena.  Read More

A new heat-regulating material could be used in buildings to cut heating and cooling costs

Researchers at the Ningpo, China campus of the University of Nottingham (UNNC) have created a new heat-regulating material that could be used to cut the heating and cooling costs of buildings. The non-deformed storage phase change material (PCM) can be fixed so that it starts absorbing any excess heat above a pre-determined temperature and releasing stored heat when the ambient temperature drops below the set point. The researchers say the material can be manufactured in a variety of shapes and sizes, even small enough so that it can be sprayed as a microscopic film to surfaces in existing buildings.  Read More

Molten salt technology was demonstrated at the Solar Two project

One of the biggest problems with solar energy is that the sun doesn’t shine 24 hours a day. This means that unless users are only planning on using electricity when the sun is shining, some form of energy storage system is required. Since storing excess electricity in rechargeable batteries isn’t really practical for large-scale solar power plants, another storage system is needed. U.S. utility-scale solar project developer SolarReserve has now received approval for the first solar power plant in California that uses molten salt technology to store the sun’s thermal energy as heat so it can generate electricity when needed, at any time of the day or night.  Read More

Fujitsu converts heat and light into electricity with a single device

Fujitsu Laboratories today announced a two-in-one energy harvesting device that can convert both light and heat into electricity. With no electrical wiring or batteries to replace, Fujitsu says that this sort of device can be manufactured from organic materials keeping costs to a minimum.  Read More

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