Get Prepared Now is NOT Just a Slogan

Thursday, December 30, 2010

ProWeatherStation Wireless Data Logging Weather Station

ProWeatherStation Wireless Data Logging Weather StationThe ProWeatherStationTM is a high performance wireless data logging weather station with advanced sensor technology resulting in good accuracy at a low cost. It provides instantaneous and historical data on Inside and Outside Temperature and Humidity, Wind Speed (average and gust), Wind Direction, Barometric Pressure and Rainfall. The backlit touch screen controller logs 4080 data points with adjustable (5 minute minimum) sample interval. There is a memory meter on the display that shows when the memory is getting full so the data can be downloaded and archived to a computer thru the built in USB port and included EasyWeather software. The unit has a radio controlled clock (WWVB) for improved accuracy. The controller runs on 3 AA batteries and can be mounted up to 300 feet away from the sensor array. The sensor array runs up to 2 years on 2 AA batteries so there are no worries with mounting the array on top of a building or tower.
The ProWeatherStationTM comes with an advanced sensor array (anemometer, direction meter, temp/humidity sensor, rain gauge, mounting pole), wireless touch screen controller/display, USB cable for connection to a PC, EasyWeather software and pipe clamps for mounting the sensor array to a mast. Note: 5 AA batteries are required but not included.

Price: $259.95

Click here to buy from Amazon

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Carbon dioxide-free energy can meet the world’s energy needs in 2050, Danish report finds

ScienceDaily (Dec. 6, 2010) — Taken as a whole, energy sources with low or no carbon emissions could easily cover the global energy supply in 2050, according to a new report from Denmark's Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy. The challenge for a sustainable global energy system with low carbon emissions will be to use this potential in the energy system the best way possible seen from an economic point of view.

Risø Energy Report 9 lists a wide range of energy technologies in the market with low or no emissions of greenhouse gases, describing how several of these will be made commercially available in the next decades.

However, it is not possible to make the world's energy supply CO2-free as cheaply as possible, using only technology development in the current energy systems. There must be room for technological leaps and there is a need for an integrated process to optimise the entire energy system, from energy production, through transformation into energy carriers, to energy transportation and distribution and efficient end use.

There is also a need for a smart grid, connecting production and end use at local level. End users should contribute to maintain balance in the future energy system and new technologies should be introduced to the end users, including houses with low and flexible consumption, smart electronic equipment, heat pumps, energy storage and local energy supplies such as solar cells and micro CHP. Information and communication technology (ICT) will determine how successful the integration of renewables into the grid actually will be.

Considering the security of supply in the short and long term, there is still a need for access to fossil fuels, but they must be continuously replaced with renewable energy sources. If we do not make efforts to promote renewable energy sources, coal and gas might easily be prevailing in the global energy supply for the rest of this century. For many countries, however, it could be advantageous to switch to renewable energy sources in order to reduce dependence on imported oil and gas. In addition, this transition can help the countries achieve their environmental policy goals.

Seen in isolation, Denmark has a great chance for achieving these goals and for phasing out fossil fuels at a rapid pace and thus reduce emissions of greenhouse gases at the required pace.

Danish wind and biomass resources in particular will make it possible to phase out fossil fuels in connection with power generation and heat production before 2040. It will take further 10 years to eliminate fossil fuels within the transport sector.

A future smart energy system requires that we start investments now. If we do not make these investments, future generations will look back on this period wondering how we could be satisfied with an outdated energy system, without taking advantage of the opportunities which we already were aware of.

The Risø Energy Reports series is available at:

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy.

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

View the original article here

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wind Power, Revised Edition: Renewable Energy for Home, Farm, and Business

Wind Power, Revised Edition: Renewable Energy for Home, Farm, and BusinessWind energy today is a booming worldwide industry. The technology has truly come of age, with better, more reliable machinery and a greater understanding of how and where wind power makes sense--from the independent homestead to a grid-connected utility-wide perspective. Heightened concerns about our environment mean that this resurgence of interest in wind--a natural and widespread power source--is here to stay. Wind Power is the completely revised and expanded edition of Paul Gipe's definitive 1993 book, Wind Power for Home and Business. In addition to expanded sections on gauging wind resources and siting wind turbines, this edition includes new examples and case studies of successful wind systems, international sources for new and used equipment, and hundreds of color photographs and illustrations.

Price: $50.00

Click here to buy from Amazon

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Sunforce 50012 1.8-Watt Solar Battery Maintainer

Sunforce 50012 1.8-Watt Solar Battery MaintainerThe Sunforce 50012 1.8 Watt Solar Battery Maintainer gives you another reason to love the sun -- it'll help keep your car's battery charged. Just plug this helpful 1.8-watt solar charger into your vehicle's 12-volt lighter socket and position the panel to pick up the most daylight possible. Or, if you prefer, use the included alligator clips to connect it directly to the battery, so you can keep your lighter socket open for cell phone chargers or other accessories. Regardless of how you hook up the battery maintainer, you'll never get caught off guard without the juice you need to start your car. This device is designed to work with automobile, all terrain vehicle (ATV), personal water craft (PWC), and boat batteries, and is even effective on cloudy days. The 50012 is made of durable ABS plastic and amorphous solar cells, measures 6.5 x 1.25 x 18 inches (WxHxD), and has a maximum temperature range of -40 to 176-degrees Fahrenheit.

Price: $29.99

Click here to buy from Amazon

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Pros and Cons of Solar Energy - Solar Energy Facts!

Have you got frustrated lately seeing your electrical bill? Do you wonder what you can do to solve the problem and one of the solution would be the solar power. Here are some of the pros and cons of solar energy. However, the advantages of using solar power outperform the disadvantages of solar energy.

The main cons against the solar energy are these:

o it is very expensive to install( this is partially true, as nowadays you can find good suppliers of solar cells or you can build them yourself with the right guide);

o you may realize that your house is not in good position to capture the maximum sunlight;

o your roof may not be appropriate for installing solar panels( you can use them on a garage or other type of building if you have one);

o you can produce energy only when there is sunlight, so you have to store the excess of energy for bad weather days

The main pros of solar energy are the followings:

o once installed, the solar energy is very cheap, almost free if you like

o depending where do you live, there are governmental grants for installing alternative energy at your home, including sunlight energy

o it is a renewable energy type, meaning that it not produce any type of pollution, helping you and others make a difference for the environment

o you will not depend on the power companies and their variations of prices, lately only on the upward directions

o if you live in a remote area, is a good alternative for lighting and heating your house

o you can sell your excess of power to power companies

o there are easy to maintain once installed

These are the solar energy facts, and as you can see the positives aspects of using it are clearly outperform the negatives. The main cause that people are put off from installing residential solar energy is the expensive cost of installing it. However, you can make solar panels very cheap nowadays with the right guide on how to build them. Judging the pros and cons of solar energy is a good way to analyse if solar energy is right for you and for your house.

Tired of spending so much money on energy bills? Do you want to cut the cost of your electric bill and have a residential solar power which will save thousands of dollars in the future? HERE it is my pros and cons of solar energy product review. Than take a look at this earth4energy review and you will find your energy freedom.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Home Solar Energy System

Energy conservation can be a challenge for everybody especially now that times is so hard and every home owners had to save on electricity costs. As home owners are looking for every possible ways to save home energy by becoming environment friendly homes many people have turned into using solar energy as an effective energy alternative. Home solar energy system is the most frequently used alternative to produce electricity, though it is used to be a vague idea before but right now it is within everybody's reach.

Solar energy is gaining much popularity everywhere but how does it actually works? Photovoltaic or PV systems convert light into energy through its solar panels. Solar cells absorb the sun's energy which is the most powerful source of light on the planet. The use of these PV systems is present even in the very small things we have at home like calculator and watches. There are a number of benefits of home solar energy system contributed to mankind ranging from simple lighting requirements to the more complicated ones. PV systems work satisfactorily on pumping water requirements and also for powering communications equipment. When solar cells are connected to the modules or panels there the conversion of energy happen. The modules or panels are those structures you see on the rooftop of your homes and business locations. Silicon made semi conductors are the main components of PV cells and these semi-conductors absorb power when sunlight strikes them thus converting the energy into electricity.

Home solar energy system costs can vary depending on your home types and electricity needs. These system is typically expensive though it has marked down its cost of about 80% in two years time still it will costs you around around $20,000 -$40,000 for a medium-sized house. Because of its high installation costs the federal government has been extending help and incentives in the form of rebates and federal tax credits for a gradual initial investment reduction from the consumers. Utilizing home solar energy system for your electrical needs will spare you from the usual payment of monthly electric bills which is more convenient on your part. By installing it in your homes you can take advantage of net metering agreement. Net metering allows the homeowners to sell back to utility company any excess electricity produced by the solar panels less the electricity you consume during a period of time. This net metering systems allows you to receive credits on surplus electricity from your solar panels and in turn will give you more benefits.

The energy coming from the sun is an excellent source of power for electricity at home so that you will not rely much on the electrical supply from utility companies. Extending power lines from the electric grid will normally cost you around $20,000 to $80,000 per mile. If you want real savings solar energy is the best alternative to use for homes around the world that even remote countries have started installing home solar energy system rather than power lines from utility companies.

While it is true that installing home solar energy system will costs you much initially but the long terms benefits exceed its cost. Homeowners must start on saving on electricity uses before a solar energy system is installed. Aside from being economical it can also contribute much on saving the mother earth because global warning will be reduced and we can have a longer better life ahead of us.

Kevin Johnson is a home energy expert. For more great information on ways to save home energy, visit

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Solar Energy Power - A Great Breakthrough Towards Environment Friendly Living

For centuries countless inhabitants on Earth have worshiped the sun in one method or another. This is definitely not confusing if you take into account the fact that we all can not live without it. There is no energy source as immediately obtainable or perhaps available as that provided by the sun.
Solar Energy Power has soared to the forefront when it comes to alternative energy. Solar power plants are advertised around the globe. The reason is really simple. We can't rely on age old power sources such as oil, fossil fuel, wood, and gas to support us in the foreseeable future.
Solar energy is an alternative energy source that includes utilizing the radiant light power released by the sunshine and changing it into power current.
Since the middle of the twentieth century, the opportunity to harness as well as utilize sun's energy has considerably improved, making it possible for residences and also companies to make use of the actual renewal energy source instead to rely on more traditional means of building power.
It is described as the variety of alternative energy supplied by the sunlight that is captured and also used to produce electricity. It is predicted that by 2025, ten percent of the world's energy will be produced by solar power systems.
Solar energy systems can be very high priced to put up. However, there are a number of local, state, and national tax rewards and discounts that can support to pay for the price, but it will still be a bit initial investment.
Solar technologies offer a fresh, green and domestic power source. Ride the alternative energy wave with coaching onsite or on-line. Sun's energy is also used to heat water. Water heating is typically the second leading home energy expenditure, costing the average family around $400, a annually.
Solar panel systems are a viable alternative energy source, both environmentally and economically. Presently, there is a need for allocating improved resources with solar exploration. In contrast to the old forms of depletable energy (coal, oil, nuclear), solar energy delivers a clean alternative type of energy.
Current standard cells possess a theoretical optimum efficiency of 31 percent because of the electronic digital properties of the silicon material. But new materials, arranged in novel techniques, can avert that limit, with a few multilayer cells reaching thirty four percent efficiency.
Solar panels are able to develop a flow of electrons or in other words electric power, as they gather protons from the sunlight, which will displace neutrons as the creating of electricity process.
Solar panels can be obtained in two methods, professionally or do-it-yourself. To put it simply your solar panel collects solar energy that is converted into electrical energy for your home. Solar energy panels are ecological friendly and generate no pollution while creating electricity.
Solar energy facts are significant reminders why we should follow it and make certain we're also thinking about it for our households, enterprise and local community for a prospective supply to respond all of our growing demand for energy. Solar energy facts are easily accessible on the web.
The Sun is continual that provides more energy potential than we could ever hope to use on this planet. Solar Energy Power and many other environment friendly energy resources will one day sustain us and modify the approach we utilize energy.
It will take time to get it proper, nevertheless when we succeed, our planet will be a greater place because of this. So, prepare yourself at this moment with helpful solar energy information and guidelines.
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Shane Green had been involved in a number of credible, extensive researches about alternative energy. Over the time, he accumulated valuable facts, and wrote it down in his articles. Read, and learn more from his quality articles about Solar Energy Power. Visit his site about solar energy.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Alternative Power - Solar Energy

If you have an interest in understanding how solar energy works and how to reduce your energy bills by utilizing it as an alternative power source, then facts about this form of energy is going to capture your interest! This energy is a renewable resource and one of the oldest method of energy consumption. The fact of the matter is that the sun's rays are so powerful that if we are to convert that into energy, the Earth will never run out of energy for no less than another 4.5 billion years, scientists say. The sun never creates any unsafe by-product which could harm the environment.

In the early '50s, this energy was considered as a substitute for man-made energy resources. Further studies lead to the discovery that energy could be obtained through less-expensive sources. The demand for this energy has grown significantly within 20 to 50 % over the last twenty years.

Solar power can support home devices, lighting and water heaters. Nowadays, this form of energy is more heavily priced, but in the future, with increased systematic research, it will cut down the expenses, and will increase its efficiency in the process. By 2025, it's predicted to generate around 2.5% of the world energy demand through solar energy. This makes it the fastest growing technology.

There are some basic facts about this form of energy that you should know. It is measured in kilo watt hours, and 1 kilowatt=100 watts. One kilo watt hour equals the total quantity of electric energy which is needed to burn a hundred watt light bulb in a span of ten hours. 866 kilowatt hours is the monthly consumption of an average American household. The Residential Energy Consumption Survey conducted in 2001 shows that a yearly energy bill was around 2,000 dollars.

A decrease in unit costs has contributed towards a growth in expansion rates, making it an imperative energy resource. After the year 2000, solar energy has grown at a yearly rate of 40%. Solar power is moving at a progressive rate in the developing countries too, as the employment of fossil fuel has doubled over time.

Compared to this energy which is an unending alternative power source, ordinary fuel reserves are reducing. And unlike costly power grids, setting up solar energy devices (if you're going to make solar panels, for example) is quite easy. The disadvantage of fossil fuels is that the costs have risen along with the cost of transporting coal, oil and gas.

Mike Araujo is an expert on alternative power systems. To know more, visit Green Power Easy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Alternative Energy-Solar Energy - What Are Solar Balloons?

Last year a unique concept in alternative energy won the "Forward Thinking" award in the RE:VOLT Electrifying Ideas competition. What was this new concept? Solar balloons developed by Israeli scientists Joseph Cory and Dr. Pini Gurfil for Sun Hope.

What are Solar Balloons?

Historically the term "solar balloon" has referred to simple black balloons that were filled with air. According to Wikipedia, "as sunlight shines on the balloon, the air inside is heated and expands, causing an upward buoyancy force, much like an artificially-heated hot air balloon. Some solar balloons are large enough for human flight, but usage is limited to the toy market as the surface-area to payload-weight ratio is rather high."

As technology evolves, terminology evolves as well. Now the title of "solar balloon" can also refer to a balloon like "platform" that contains embedded photovoltaic arrays or solar arrays in order to convert solar energy into electrical energy. In the case of the Joseph Cory and Dr. Pini Gurfil's Sun Hope design we see a lighter-than-air helium filled fabric balloon as the platform or base. Each fabric balloon is tied to the ground with two cables - one for helium refills, the other for passing generated electricity to a control panel.

Sun Hope isn't alone in their quest for a cost effective, functional solar balloon design. Another solar balloon design comes from Cool Earth Solar. Cool Earth Solar uses plastic balloons that are suspended on wires. To get a visual, imagine a 2 meter wide mylar balloon. These plastic balloons also have concentrated solar photovoltaics where light is magnified onto solar cells to maximize electricity generation output. A common concern about solar balloons is their ability to stand up in high wind environments, according to Cool Earth Solar, their system can withstand wind speeds of up to 100 miles per hour.

While solar balloons show promise as a photovoltaic implementation there are some concerns to be noted. These concerns however, are no different than those found with medium to large wind power installations. Depending upon the size and location of installation one may have to consider items like air traffic regulations and potential bird collisions.

Solar balloons provide impressive value in isolated, off-grid locations as well as temporary portable power supplies. In situations such as these, solar balloons provide a route to escaping a fossil fuel dependency.

Concentrating Solar Power

In both of examples of solar balloons, the efficiency of the photovoltaic cells are improved by concentrating solar power (CSP). According to the US Department of Energy, "concentrating solar power's relatively low cost and ability to deliver power during periods of peak demand - when and where we need it - mean that it can be a major contributor to the nation's future needs for distributed sources of energy."

Concentrating solar power system work by using mirrors or other reflective surfaces to intensify the energy of the sun to a specific point. This concentration of energy can improve the efficiency of photovoltaic cells. According to Cool Earth Solar, "multi-junction, high efficiency cells derived from satellite technology allow CPV systems to generate the same amount of electricity as traditional flat panel PV systems while using up to 500 times less solar cell material." With diminishing supplies of raw materials required to manufacture photovoltaic cells, concentrating solar power can provide more energy with less raw materials.

While today solar balloons are a new technology, in the near future they may be a solution to curing our nation of it's dependence on fossil fuels. The Cool Earth team recently received $21 million which they plan to use to build a 10 megawatt plant using their solar balloon technology. Thanks to forward thinking, environmentally conscious investors, a solar balloon based solar power plant may be a reality in the next few years, someday it may even power your home.

Sam Greyhawk is an environmental evangelist who spreads the message of reduce, reduce and recycle. Are you interested in learning how to stop greenwashing? Read more articles by Sam Greyhawk.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Is There Any Alternative for Solar Energy?

Environment and climate both are inter-related to each other and lots of industrialists are using non-renewable energy which is full of contaminated fuels and gases, making life of the people adverse due to its heavy bills and pollution. This is surely an alternative to solar energy. These fossil fuels are very contagious for health as when they burn; they are full of carbon which is ultimately polluting the environment. But solar energy is free from all polluted stuff and it is termed as green energy.

Much of the world's population is consuming fossil fuels and other non-renewable energy and paying thousands of dollars every year which is at times difficult for a families to pay it off. But on the other hand, solar energy is a direct resource from the sun and can be acquired in an easy way by installing solar panels. The solar panels are made of silicon and they are very sensitive. It is advised to handle them with care. Solar energy alternatives are less expensive but they are not worthy to go for.

We all know that our lives are mainly dependent upon sun. Nowadays as people are getting aware about this form of energy, they are trying to use this boundless energy in their day to day activities rather than other fuels. People who are installing solar panels in their houses are converting their common places into solar houses due to which they will be saving themselves by throwing lots of money to power supply companies. The prices of other oils are comparatively cheap in respect to solar energy but they are not healthy for the environment. The fossil fuels companies are making huge profits as they have grabbed the main share of the market by dismaying other replacements.

In a nutshell, all these oils and non-renewable energies are the substitute of solar energy but it is better to go for this form of energy as it is an easy resource. Most importantly by investing one time, you will be able to save your money in huge amounts. Secondly, you will be able to save your environment from the pollution which is detrimental for the humanity.

In today's market there are many types of solar panels and solar systems for hot water and electricity to power your home.

We provide advice on the top solar energy installers in the UK. Solar Energy

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New equation could advance research in solar cell materials

ScienceDaily (Oct. 21, 2010) — A groundbreaking new equation developed in part by researchers at the University of Michigan could do for organic semiconductors what the Shockley ideal diode equation did for inorganic semiconductors: help to enable their wider adoption.

Without the Shockley equation, the computers of today would not be possible.

Developed in 1949 by William Shockley, the inventor of the transistor, the Shockley equation describes the relationship between electric current and voltage in inorganic semiconductors such as silicon.

The new equation describes the relationship of current to voltage at the junctions of organic semiconductors -- carbon-rich compounds that don't necessarily come from a biological source, but resemble them. Organic semiconductors present special challenges for researchers because they are more disordered than their inorganic counterparts. But they could enable advanced solar cells, thin and intense OLED (organic light-emitting diode) displays, and high-efficiency lighting.

"The field of organic semiconductor research is still in its infancy. We're not making complicated circuits with them yet, but in order to do that someday, we need to know the precise relationship of current and voltage. Our new equation gives us fundamental insights into how charge moves in this class of materials. From my perspective, it's a very significant advance," said Steve Forrest, the William Gould Dow Collegiate Professor of Electrical Engineering and U-M vice president for research.

Forrest and his doctoral students, Noel Giebink (now at Argonne National Laboratories) and Brian Lassiter, in the U-M Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, contributed to this research. Two papers on the work are published in the current edition of Physical Review B.

About six years ago, researchers in Forrest's lab realized that they could use Shockley's equation to describe the current/voltage relationship in their organic solar cells to a degree.

"It fit nicely if you didn't look too hard," Forrest said.

Their findings were published, and from that time on, many physicists and engineers used the Shockley equation for organic semiconductors even though it didn't describe the physics perfectly. The new equation does.

Forrest says it will allow researchers to better describe and predict the properties of the different organic semiconductors they're working with. And in that way, they'll be able to more efficiently choose which material best suits the needs of the device they're working on.

"People have been investigating organic semiconductors for 70 or 80 years, but we're just entering the world of applications," Forrest said. "This work will help advance the field forward."

The papers are titled, "The Ideal Diode Equation for Organic Heterojunctions. I. Derivation and Application," and "The Ideal Diode Equation for Organic Heterojunctions. II. The Role of Polaron Pair Recombination."

Forrest is also a professor in the departments of Physics, and Materials Science and Engineering. Others contributing to this work are affiliated with Argonne National Laboratory's Center for Nanoscale Materials and Northwestern University.

This research is funded in party by the Department of Energy's Office of Basic Energy Sciences through the U-M Center for Solar and Thermal Energy Conversion, and the Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research Center.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by University of Michigan.

Journal References:

N. Giebink, G. Wiederrecht, M. Wasielewski, S. Forrest. Ideal diode equation for organic heterojunctions. I. Derivation and application. Physical Review B, 2010; 82 (15) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.82.155305N. Giebink, B. Lassiter, G. Wiederrecht, M. Wasielewski, S. Forrest. Ideal diode equation for organic heterojunctions. II. The role of polaron pair recombination. Physical Review B, 2010; 82 (15) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.82.155306

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

View the original article here

Monday, December 13, 2010

Current loss tracked down by magnetic fingerprint; Researchers solve the case of lost current in organic solar cells

ScienceDaily (Oct. 28, 2010) — Scientists have been working on organic solar cells for about a decade. Their manufacture is environmentally friendly and they can be applied to all kinds of materials, such as plastic film, for instance. The trouble is, they only yield a fifth of the electrical energy that silicon solar cells do, with most of the electrical current trickling away into the material instead.

Scientists at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) have developed a method that uses the magnetic fingerprint of the charge-carrying particles to reveal exactly how electricity is being lost. They did so by cleverly manipulating the magnetic properties of these particles. Together with Scottish researchers, they have published their findings in Physical Review Letters.

Being made from carbon compounds, in other words plastics, organic solar cells are also known as plastic solar cells. The heart of the cell is a layer only a hundred millionth of a millimetre thick, made of two components, polymers and soccer ball-shaped fullerenes, mixed together. When light strikes a layer of this mixture, the polymer component is set into an excited state, dubbed an exciton. When an exciton bumps into a fullerene, an electron jumps over to the soccer ball molecule and a "hole" remains behind in the polymer. So that current can flow, the electrons and holes must travel to their respectively opposite contacts. The electrons travel via the fullerenes while the holes travel via the polymer chain. The holes, which scientists call polarons, can obstruct one another along their path and thus reduce the efficiency of the solar cell. This sets the limit on how much electrical energy can be yielded from a given amount of solar energy.

Using electrically detected magnetic resonance (EDMR), the scientists demonstrated that the polarons always get in one another's way when their magnetic moment (spin) is identical. "For the first time, we have uncovered and thus proven the long-assumed formation of these so-called bipolarons," says Jan Behrends, who performed the measurements during his doctorate at the HZB Institute for Silicon Photovoltaics.

The researchers' EDMR method involved manipulating the spin of the polarons using an external magnetic field and a microwave pulse. Using a resonance effect, the randomly distributed spin could be turned and aimed like a compass needle. Measurements revealed that current flows freely when the tiny magnets are oppositely aligned, but is blocked when they are aligned in the same direction.

The researchers demonstrated these current losses in plastic solar cells at room temperature, having redesigned an experimental method originally developed for silicon. "With this important finding, we should soon see advancements in organic solar cell technology as new plastics are introduced that develop no spin blockades," says project leader Dr. Klaus Lips.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Journal Reference:

J. Behrends, A. Schnegg, K. Lips, E. Thomsen, A. Pandey, I. Samuel, D. Keeble. Bipolaron Formation in Organic Solar Cells Observed by Pulsed Electrically Detected Magnetic Resonance. Physical Review Letters, 2010; 105 (17) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.105.176601

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

View the original article here

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rain or shine, researchers find new ways to forecast large photovoltaic power plant output

ScienceDaily (Sep. 28, 2010) — Sandia National Laboratories researchers have developed a new system to monitor how clouds affect large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants. By observing cloud shape, size and movement, the system provides a way for utility companies to predict and prepare for fluctuations in power output due to changes in weather. The resulting models will provide utility companies with valuable data to assess potential power plant locations, ramp rates and power output.

Sandia researchers' work is currently focused at the 1.2-megawatt La Ola Solar Farm on the Hawaiian island of Lana'i. La Ola is the state's largest solar power system, and can produce enough power to supply up to 30 percent of the island's peak electric demand, which is one of the highest rates of solar PV power penetration in the world. Understanding variability of such a large plant is critical to ensuring that power output is reliable and that output ramp rates remain manageable.

"As solar power continues to develop and take up a larger percentage of grids nationwide, being able to forecast power production is going to become more and more critical," said Chris Lovvorn, director of alternative energy of Castle & Cooke Resorts, LLC, which owns 98 percent of the island. "Sandia's involvement and insight has been invaluable in our efforts to meet 100 percent of the island's energy needs with renewable resources."

The effects of clouds on small PV arrays are well-documented, but there is little research on how large-scale arrays interact and function under cloud cover. A small system can be completely covered by a cloud, which drastically reduces its power output, but what's less well understood is what happens when only part of a large system is covered by a moving cloud shadow, while the rest stays in sunlight.

"Our goal is to get to the point where we can predict what's going to happen at larger scale plants as they go toward hundreds of megawatts. To do that, you need the data, and the opportunity was available at La Ola," said Sandia researcher Scott Kuszmaul.

The high penetration of PV power on Lana'i, combined with the sun and cloud mix at the 10-acre La Ola plant, provides an optimal environment for prediction and modeling research. Research could not interfere with the ongoing operations of the plant, which currently sells power to Maui Electric Company (MECO), so Sandia engineers connected 24 small, nonintrusive sensors to the plant's PV panels and used a radio frequency network to transmit data. The sensors took readings at one-second intervals to provide researchers with unprecedented detail about cloud direction and coverage activity.

A radio frequency transmission system has the added benefit of being portable. "Currently, a utility company that wants to build a large solar PV power plant might have a lot of questions about the plant's output and variability at a proposed site. Work being done at the La Ola plant is leading to new methods that eventually can be used to answer these questions," said Sandia researcher Josh Stein. "These techniques will allow a developer to place a sensor network at a proposed site, make measurements for a period of time and use that to predict plant output variability."

La Ola was commissioned in December 2008 by Castle & Cooke Resorts, LLC, and SunPower Corp., a manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells. The project uses SunPower's Tracker technology. Panels rotate on a single axis to follow the sun, which increases energy capture by up to 25 percent. Since February, Sandia Labs has held a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with SunPower to conduct research on integrating large-scale PV systems into the grid. The CRADA is funded with about $1 million of combined U.S. Department of Energy and SunPower funding and is expected to achieve significant results, which will be disseminated through joint publications over the next two years.

For more information about Sandia's photovoltaic work, please visit:

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by DOE/Sandia National Laboratories.

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

View the original article here

Friday, December 10, 2010

Researchers design, fabricate innovative energy harvesting device

ScienceDaily (Oct. 10, 2010) — Dr. Long Que, assistant professor of electrical engineering at Louisiana Tech University, has reported success in designing and fabricating a device that allows microscale electronic devices to harvest their own wasted energy.

The work was described in a paper published in the September edition of Applied Physics Letters, co-authored by students Pushparaj Pathak, Tianhua Zhang, Yuan He, and Shashi Yadav.

Developed at Louisiana Tech and described in the paper, this technology uses a cantilever made out of piezoelectric material -- material capable of converting distortions to itself into electrical energy -- and is coated with a carbon nanotube film on one side. When the film absorbs light and/or thermal energy, it causes the cantilever to bend back and forth repeatedly, which causes the piezoelectric material to generate power as long as the light and/or heat source is active.

Through cyclical bending activity, the device would essentially allow small electronic devices to harvest their own operational energy.

"The greatest significance of this work is that it offers us a new option to continuously harvest both solar and thermal energy on a single chip, given the self-reciprocating characteristics of the device upon exposure to light and/or thermal radiation," said Que. "This characteristic might enable us to make perpetual micro/nano devices and micro/nanosystems, and could significantly impact the wireless sensory network."

In their experiments, Que's research team showed that the device could generate enough power to adequately operate some low-power microsensors and integrated sensors. One of the most unique and innovative aspects of this energy harvesting system is its ability to "self-reciprocate" -- the perpetual production of energy without needing to consume other external energy sources.

The researchers state that the self-reciprocation occurs from the cantilever's constant absorption of photons and its high electrical conduction and rapid thermal dissipation into the environment. The self-reciprocation phenomenon has been routinely observed, not only in the lab, but also in the field under sunlight. This technology can also harvest different types of energies such as vibrational and wind energies.

"It is truly a hybrid energy-harvesting technology," Que said. "My lab has been optimizing and making great progress on this technology in an effort to enhance its efficiency and overall performance, indicating great promise for this technology."

Que believes that, in the future, the device could be used to power a number of different nano and microsystems such as implanted biomedical devices or remotely located sensors and communication nodes.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Louisiana Tech University.

Journal Reference:

Venu Kotipalli, Zhongcheng Gong, Pushparaj Pathak, Tianhua Zhang, Yuan He, Shashi Yadav, Long Que. Light and thermal energy cell based on carbon nanotube films. Applied Physics Letters, 2010; 97 (12): 124102 DOI: 10.1063/1.3491843

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

200-fold boost in fuel cell efficiency advances 'personalized energy systems'

ScienceDaily (Aug. 23, 2010) — The era of personalized energy systems -- in which individual homes and small businesses produce their own energy for heating, cooling and powering cars -- took another step toward reality today as scientists reported discovery of a powerful new catalyst that is a key element in such a system.

They described the advance, which could help free homes and businesses from dependence on the electric company and the corner gasoline station, at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, being held in Boston.

"Our goal is to make each home its own power station," said study leader Daniel Nocera, Ph.D. "We're working toward development of 'personalized' energy units that can be manufactured, distributed and installed inexpensively. There certainly are major obstacles to be overcome -- existing fuel cells and solar cells must be improved, for instance. Nevertheless, one can envision villages in India and Africa not long from now purchasing an affordable basic system."

Such a system would consist of rooftop solar energy panels to produce electricity for heating, cooking, lighting, and to charge the batteries on the homeowners' electric cars. Surplus electricity would go to an "electrolyzer," a device that breaks down ordinary water into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen. Both would be stored in tanks. In the dark of night, when the solar panels cease production, the system would shift gears, feeding the stored hydrogen and oxygen into a fuel cell that produces electricity (and clean drinking water as a byproduct). Such a system would produce clean electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week -- even when the sun isn't shining.

Nocera's report focused on the electrolyzer, which needs catalysts -- materials that jumpstart chemical reactions like the ones that break water up into hydrogen and oxygen. He is with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. Good catalysts already are available for the part of the electrolyzer that produces hydrogen. Lacking, however, have been inexpensive, long-lasting catalysts for the production of oxygen. The new catalyst fills that gap and boosts oxygen production by 200-fold. It eliminates the need for expensive platinum catalysts and potentially toxic chemicals used in making them.

The new catalyst has been licensed to Sun Catalytix, which envisions developing safe, super-efficient versions of the electrolyzer, suitable for homes and small businesses, within two years.

The National Science Foundation and the Chesonis Family Foundation provided funding for this study. Nocera did the research with post-doctoral researcher Mircea Dinca and doctoral candidate Yogesh Surendranath. The U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency has recently awarded the team with a grant, which it plans to use to search for related compounds that can further increase the efficiency of its electrolyzer technology. The team hopes that nickel-borate belongs to a family of compounds that can be optimized for super-efficient, long-term energy storage technologies.

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Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by American Chemical Society, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New solar energy conversion process could double solar efficiency of solar cells

ScienceDaily (Aug. 2, 2010) — A new process that simultaneously combines the light and heat of solar radiation to generate electricity could offer more than double the efficiency of existing solar cell technology, say the Stanford engineers who discovered it and proved that it works. The process, called "photon enhanced thermionic emission," or PETE, could reduce the costs of solar energy production enough for it to compete with oil as an energy source.

Stanford engineers have figured out how to simultaneously use the light and heat of the sun to generate electricity in a way that could make solar power production more than twice as efficient as existing methods and potentially cheap enough to compete with oil.

Unlike photovoltaic technology currently used in solar panels -- which becomes less efficient as the temperature rises -- the new process excels at higher temperatures.

Called "photon enhanced thermionic emission," or PETE, the process promises to surpass the efficiency of existing photovoltaic and thermal conversion technologies.

"This is really a conceptual breakthrough, a new energy conversion process, not just a new material or a slightly different tweak," said Nick Melosh, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering, who led the research group. "It is actually something fundamentally different about how you can harvest energy."

And the materials needed to build a device to make the process work are cheap and easily available, meaning the power that comes from it will be affordable.

Melosh is senior author of a paper describing the tests the researchers conducted. It was published this week in Nature Materials.

"Just demonstrating that the process worked was a big deal," Melosh said. "And we showed this physical mechanism does exist, it works as advertised."

Most photovoltaic cells, such as those used in rooftop solar panels, use the semiconducting material silicon to convert the energy from photons of light to electricity. But the cells can only use a portion of the light spectrum, with the rest just generating heat.

This heat from unused sunlight and inefficiencies in the cells themselves account for a loss of more than 50 percent of the initial solar energy reaching the cell.

If this wasted heat energy could somehow be harvested, solar cells could be much more efficient. The problem has been that high temperatures are necessary to power heat-based conversion systems, yet solar cell efficiency rapidly decreases at higher temperatures.

Until now, no one had come up with a way to wed thermal and solar cell conversion technologies.

Melosh's group figured out that by coating a piece of semiconducting material with a thin layer of the metal cesium, it made the material able to use both light and heat to generate electricity.

"What we've demonstrated is a new physical process that is not based on standard photovoltaic mechanisms, but can give you a photovoltaic-like response at very high temperatures," Melosh said. "In fact, it works better at higher temperatures. The higher the better."

While most silicon solar cells have been rendered inert by the time the temperature reaches 100 degrees Celsius, the PETE device doesn't hit peak efficiency until it is well over 200 degrees C.

Because PETE performs best at temperatures well in excess of what a rooftop solar panel would reach, the devices will work best in solar concentrators such as parabolic dishes, which can get as hot as 800 degrees C. Dishes are used in large solar farms similar to those proposed for the Mojave Desert in Southern California and usually include a thermal conversion mechanism as part of their design, which offers another opportunity for PETE to help generate electricity, as well as minimizing costs by meshing with existing technology.

"The light would come in and hit our PETE device first, where we would take advantage of both the incident light and the heat that it produces, and then we would dump the waste heat to their existing thermal conversion systems," Melosh said. "So the PETE process has two really big benefits in energy production over normal technology."

Photovoltaic systems never get hot enough for their waste heat to be useful in thermal energy conversion, but the high temperatures at which PETE performs are perfect for generating usable high temperature waste heat. Melosh calculates the PETE process can get to 50 percent efficiency or more under solar concentration, but if combined with a thermal conversion cycle, could reach 55 or even 60 percent -- almost triple the efficiency of existing systems.

The team would like to design the devices so they could be easily bolted on to existing systems, making conversion relatively inexpensive.

The researchers used a gallium nitride semiconductor in the "proof of concept" tests. The efficiency they achieved in their testing was well below what they have calculated PETE's potential efficiency to be, which they had anticipated. But they used gallium nitride because it was the only material that had shown indications of being able to withstand the high temperature range they were interested in and still have the PETE process occur.

With the right material -- most likely a semiconductor such as gallium arsenide, which is used in a host of common household electronics -- the actual efficiency of the process could reach up to the 50 or 60 percent the researchers have calculated. They are already exploring other materials that might work.

Another advantage of the PETE system is that by using it in solar concentrators, the amount of semiconductor material needed for a device is quite small.

"For each device, we are figuring something like a six-inch wafer of actual material is all that is needed," Melosh said. "So the material cost in this is not really an issue for us, unlike the way it is for large solar panels of silicon."

The cost of materials has been one of the limiting factors in the development of the solar power industry, so reducing the amount of investment capital needed to build a solar farm is a big advance.

"The PETE process could really give the feasibility of solar power a big boost," Melosh said. "Even if we don't achieve perfect efficiency, let's say we give a 10 percent boost to the efficiency of solar conversion, going from 20 percent efficiency to 30 percent, that is still a 50 percent increase overall."

And that is still a big enough increase that it could make solar energy competitive with oil.

The research was largely funded by the Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford and the Stanford Institute for Materials Energy Systems, which is a joint venture of Stanford and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, with additional support from the Department of Energy and DARPA.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Stanford University. The original article was written by Louis Bergeron.

Journal Reference:

Jared W. Schwede, Igor Bargatin, Daniel C. Riley, Brian E. Hardin, Samuel J. Rosenthal, Yun Sun, Felix Schmitt, Piero Pianetta, Roger T. Howe, Zhi-Xun Shen & Nicholas A. Melosh. Photon-enhanced thermionic emission for solar concentrator systems. Nature Materials, 01 August 2010 DOI: 10.1038/nmat2814

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Wide-Field Imager selected for Solar Probe Plus mission

ScienceDaily (Sep. 30, 2010) — NASA has chosen the Naval Research Laboratory's Wide-field Imager to be part of the Solar Probe Plus mission slated for launch no later than 2018. The Solar Probe Plus, a small car-sized spacecraft will plunge directly into the sun's atmosphere approximately four million miles from our star's surface. It will explore a region no other spacecraft ever has encountered in an effort to unlock the sun's biggest mysteries.

For decades, scientists have known that the corona, or the outer atmosphere, is several hundreds of times hotter than the visible solar surface and that the solar wind accelerates up to supersonic speeds as it travels through the corona. In the Solar Probe Plus mission, scientists hope to find answers to the questions: why is the solar corona so much hotter than the photosphere? And how is the solar wind accelerated? The answers to these questions can be obtained only through in-situ measurements of the solar wind down in the corona.

NRL's Wide-field Imager for Solar Probe (WISPR) is one of five science investigations selected by NASA for this mission. It is the only optical investigation because the solar environment is so hot the instruments need to be tucked behind a heat shield. NRL's Dr. Russell Howard, the principal investigator, says, "This is an extremely exciting mission -- no other spacecraft has ever gone this close -- it is like the early voyagers of the earth, we don't really know what to expect, but we know, whatever it is, it is going to be spectacular."

The imager is a telescope, which looks off to the side of the heat shield, and will make 2-D images of the sun's corona as the spacecraft flies through. But like a medical CAT scan, the orbit of the spacecraft through the corona will enable 3-D images and a determination of the 3-D structure of the corona. The experiment actually will see the solar wind and provide 3-D images of clouds and shocks as they approach and pass the spacecraft. "We'll be flying through the structures that we've only seen from 100 million miles away. We'll be able to see all the phenomena (mass ejections, streamers, shocks, comets, and dust) up close. Other instruments will be able to measure the magnetic and electric fields and the plasma itself," explains Howard. This investigation complements instruments on the spacecraft by providing direct measurements of the plasma far away as well as near the spacecraft -- the same plasma the other instruments sample.

The other four investigations chosen for the Solar Probe Plus mission include:

The Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons Investigation will specifically count the most abundant particles in the solar wind -- electrons, protons and helium ions -- and measure their properties. The investigation also is designed to catch some of the particles in a special cup for direct analysis. (Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts)The Fields Experiment will make direct measurements of electric and magnetic fields, radio emissions, and shock waves that course through the sun's atmospheric plasma. The experiment also serves as a giant dust detector, registering voltage signatures when specks of space dust hit the spacecraft's antenna. (University of California Space Sciences Laboratory in Berkeley, California)The Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun consists of two instruments that will take an inventory of elements in the sun's atmosphere using a mass spectrometer to weigh and sort ions in the vicinity of the spacecraft. (Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas)The Heliospheric Origins with Solar Probe Plus is led by Dr. Marco Velli who is the mission's observatory scientist, responsible for overseeing assembly of the spacecraft. He will ensure adjacent instruments do not interfere with one another and guide the overall science investigations after the probe enters the sun's atmosphere. (NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California)

The Solar Probe Plus mission is part of NASA's Living with a Star Program. The program is designed to understand aspects of the sun and Earth's space environment that affect life and society. The program is managed by NASA'S Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, with oversight from NASA's Science Mission Directorate's Heliophysics Division. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, is the prime contractor for the spacecraft.

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The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Naval Research Laboratory.

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