Get Prepared Now is NOT Just a Slogan

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Electronic bucket brigade could boost solar cell voltages

Some ferroelectric materials can develop extremely high voltages when light falls on them, which might greatly improve solar cells if scientists could figure out how they do it. Researchers have solved the mystery for one ferroelectric, bismuth ferrite, revealing a principle that should apply to other materials too. The secret is an electronic "bucket brigade" that passes electrons stepwise from one electrically polarized region to the next.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lessons to be learned from nature in photosynthesis

Lessons to be learned from nature could lead to the development of an artificial version of photosynthesis that would provide us with an absolutely clean and virtually inexhaustible energy source, say researchers.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tiny gold particles boost organic solar cell efficiency: Plasmonic technique helps enhance power conversion by up to 20 percent

Researchers have demonstrated how they inserted a gold nanoparticle layer between two subcells to combine the tandem cell strategy with the plasmonic effect -- a process that concentrates light via scattering from nanoparticles. As a result, a 20 percent improvement of power conversion efficiency has been attained by the light concentration of gold nanoparticles.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Measuring elusive solar neutrinos flowing through the Earth, physicists learn more about the sun

Using one of the most sensitive neutrino detectors on the planet, physicists are now measuring the flow of solar neutrinos reaching Earth more precisely than ever before. The detector probes matter at the most fundamental level and provides a powerful tool for directly observing the sun's composition.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Down to the wire: Inexpensive technique for making high quality nanowire solar cells

Researchers have developed a solution-based technique for fabricating core/shell nanowire solar cells using the semiconductors cadmium sulfide for the core and copper sulfide for the shell. These inexpensive and easy-to-make nanowire solar cells hold great promise for future solar cell technology.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Colloidal quantum dots: Performance boost next-generation solar cell technology

Researchers have created the most efficient solar cell ever made based on colloidal quantum dots (CQD). Quantum dots are nanoscale semiconductors that capture light and convert it into an energy source. Because of their small scale, the dots can be sprayed on to flexible surfaces, including plastics. This enables the production of solar cells that are less expensive to produce and more durable than the more widely known silicon-based version. In a new study, the researchers demonstrate how the wrappers that encapsulate the quantum dots can be shrunk to a mere layer of atoms.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New type of solar cell retains high efficiency for long periods

Scientists are reporting development of a new genre of an electrolyte system for solar cells that breaks the double-digit barrier in the efficiency with which the devices convert sunlight into electricity.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

First nuclear power plants for settlements on the moon and Mars

The first nuclear power plant being considered for production of electricity for manned or unmanned bases on the Moon, Mars and other planets may really look like it came from outer space, according to a leader of the project in a recent presentation.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Installed cost of solar photovoltaic systems in U.S. declined significantly in 2010 and 2011

The installed cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems in the United States fell substantially in 2010 and into the first half of 2011, according to the latest edition of an annual PV cost tracking report.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Advance offers new opportunities in chemistry education, research

Researchers have created a new, unifying method to describe a basic chemical concept called "electronegativity," first described almost 80 years ago by Linus Pauling and part of the work that led to his receiving the Nobel Prize. The new system offers simplicity of understanding that should rewrite high school and college chemistry textbooks around the world, even as it opens important new avenues in materials and chemical research.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cheap and efficient solar cell made possible by linked nanoparticles

Researchers have demonstrated that electrons can move freely in layers of linked semiconductor nanoparticles under the influence of light. This new knowledge will be very useful for the development of cheap and efficient quantum dot solar cells.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hydrogen powered prototype vessel for inland waterways: Canal boat runs on fuel cell drive

Researchers have been operating a canal boat with a fuel cell drive for three years now. In the world of shipbuilding, however, different rules apply than those in the automobile manufacturing industries. Weight is of practically no significance, but the propulsion plant must have an operating lifetime as long as that of the boat itself. The hydride storage system -- the hydrogen tank -- must meet this challenging requirement.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Novel alloy could produce hydrogen fuel from sunlight

Using state-of-the-art theoretical computations, a team of scientists has determined that an alloy formed by a 2 percent substitution of antimony in gallium nitride has the right electrical properties to enable solar light energy to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The alloy functions as a catalyst in the photoelectrochemical electrolysis of water.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Astrophysicists solve 40-year-old Mariner 5 solar wind problem: Turbulence doesn’t go with the flow

Astrophysicists have resolved a 40-year-old problem with observations of turbulence in the solar wind first made by the probe Mariner 5. The research resolves an issue with what is by far the largest and most interesting natural turbulence lab accessible to researchers today.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Copper film could lower touch screen, LED and solar cell costs

Copper nanowires may be coming to a little screen near you. These new nanostructures have the potential to drive down the costs of displaying information on cell phones, e-readers and iPads, and they could also help engineers build foldable electronics and improved solar cells, according to new research.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Parabolic mirrors concentrate sunlight to power lasers

Borrowing from modern telescope design, researchers have proposed a way to concentrate sunlight to ramp up laser efficiency.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New Saudi Arabias of solar energy: Himalaya Mountains, Andes, Antarctica

Mention prime geography for generation of solar energy, and people tend to think of hot deserts. But a new study concludes that some of the world's coldest landscapes -- including the Himalaya Mountains, the Andes, and even Antarctica -- could become Saudi Arabias of solar.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Flexible films for photovoltaics

Displays that can be rolled up and flexible solar cells -- both are potential future markets. Barrier layers that protect thin-film solar cells from oxygen and water vapor and thus increase their useful life are an essential component.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New mineral discovered: One of earliest minerals formed in solar system

A team of scientists has discovered a new mineral -- krotite, one of the earliest minerals formed in our solar system. It is the main component of an unusual inclusion embedded in a meteorite (NWA 1934), found in northwest Africa. These objects, known as refractory inclusions, are thought to be the first planetary materials formed in our solar system, dating back to before the formation of Earth and the other planets.

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sun-free photovoltaics: Materials engineered to give off precisely tuned wavelengths of light when heated

A new photovoltaic energy-conversion system can be powered solely by heat, generating electricity with no sunlight at all. While the principle involved is not new, a novel way of engineering the surface of a material to convert heat into precisely tuned wavelengths of light -- selected to match the wavelengths that photovoltaic cells can best convert to electricity -- makes the new system much more efficient than previous versions.

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Improving photosynthesis? Solar cells beat plants at harvesting sun's energy, for now

In a head-to-head battle of harvesting the sun's energy, solar cells beat plants. But scientists think they can even up the playing field. Plants are less efficient at capturing the energy in sunlight than solar cells mostly because they have too much evolutionary baggage.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

New superstrate material enables flexible, lightweight and efficient thin film solar modules

DuPont's Kapton colorless polyimide film, a new material currently in development for use as a flexible superstrate for cadmium telluride thin film photovoltaic modules, has enabled a new world record for energy conversion efficiency. A Swiss team has now demonstrated a conversion efficiency of 13.8 percent using the new colorless film, leapfrogging their previous record of 12.6 percent and nearing that of glass.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Record efficiency of 18.7 percent for flexible solar cells on plastics, Swiss researchers report

Swiss scientists have further boosted the energy conversion efficiency of flexible solar cells made of copper indium gallium (di)selenide (also known as CIGS) to a new world record of 18.7 percent -- a significant improvement over the previous record of 17.6 percent achieved by the same team in June 2010. The measurements have been independently certified.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Phone losing charge? With photovoltaic polarizers, devices could be powered by sunlight, own backlight

Researchers have developed a novel energy harvesting and recycling concept for electronic devices -- incorporating their LCD screens with built-in photovoltaic polarizers -- so they could convert ambient light, sunlight, and the device's own backlight into electricity. Called polarizing organic photovoltaics (or ZOPVs), these can potentially boost the function of a LCD, Light Crystal Displays, by working simultaneously as a polarizer, as a photovoltaic device and as an ambient light or sunlight photovoltaic panel.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Solar inverters: Losses are cut in half

A switching trick makes it possible to cut the losses of a series-production inverter in half and increase the efficiency from 96 to 98 percent. The new technology makes it possible to achieve a world-record efficiency of more than 99 percent.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Power from the air: Device captures ambient electromagnetic energy to drive small electronic devices

Researchers have discovered a way to capture energy transmitted by such sources as radio and television transmitters and cell phone networks. By scavenging this ambient energy from the air around us, the technique could provide a new way to power networks of wireless sensors or other devices.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Physicists explore the key energy transport process underlying solar energy harvesting

Physicists have developed an imaging technique that makes it possible to directly observe light-emitting excitons as they diffuse in rubrene, a new material being explored for its extraordinary electronic properties.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Inkjet printing could change the face of solar energy industry

Inkjet printers, a low-cost technology that in recent decades has revolutionized home and small office printing, may soon offer similar benefits for the future of solar energy. Engineers have discovered a way for the first time to create successful solar devices with inkjet printing, in work that reduces raw material waste by 90 percent and will significantly lower the cost of producing solar energy cells with some very promising compounds.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Neutron analysis explains dynamics behind best thermoelectric materials

Neutron analysis of thermoelectric materials could spur the development of a broader range of products with the capability to transform heat to electricity.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Pairing quantum dots with fullerenes for nanoscale photovoltaics

In a step toward engineering ever-smaller electronic devices, scientists have assembled nanoscale pairings of particles that show promise as miniaturized power sources. Composed of light-absorbing, colloidal quantum dots linked to carbon-based fullerene nanoparticles, these tiny two-particle systems can convert light to electricity in a precisely controlled way.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

New solar product captures up to 95 percent of light energy

A chemical engineering researcher is developing a flexible solar sheet that captures more than 90 percent of available light. Today's solar panels only collect 20 percent of available light.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Putting sunshine in the tank

Scientists are working on how to use the energy of the Sun to make fuels, which could help to solve the world's escalating energy crisis.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Researchers create tool to put the lid on solar power fluctuations

How does the power output from solar panels fluctuate when the clouds roll in? And can researchers predict these fluctuations? Researchers in California have found the answer to these questions. They also have developed a software program that allows power grid managers to easily predict fluctuations in the solar grid caused by changes in the cloud cover.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Metal particle generates new hope for hydrogen energy

Tiny metallic particles produced by Australian chemistry researchers are bringing new hope for the production of cheap, efficient and clean hydrogen energy.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Simulated atmosphere research to help NASA interpret data from Juno mission to Jupiter

In August of 2016, when NASA's Juno Mission begins sending back information about the atmosphere of the planet Jupiter, research done by engineers using a 2,400-pound pressure vessel will help scientists understand what the data means.

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Solar energy: Smart energy management systems help store power for later use

Storing power is complicated and expensive, but very often, especially far away from the regular power grids, there is no way around large batteries for grid-independent electricity consumers. It would make more sense to use the electricity when it is generated. This becomes possible with the help of a smart energy management system.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hybrid solar system makes rooftop hydrogen

While roofs across the world sport photovoltaic solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity, an engineer believes a novel hybrid system can wring even more useful energy out of the sun's rays. Instead of systems based on standard solar panels, an engineer proposes a hybrid option in which sunlight heats a combination of water and methanol in a maze of glass tubes on a rooftop. After two catalytic reactions, the system produces hydrogen much more efficiently than current technology without significant impurities. The resulting hydrogen can be stored and used on demand in fuel cells.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New way to store sun's heat: Modified carbon nanotubes can store solar energy indefinitely, then be recharged by exposure to the sun

A novel application of carbon nanotubes shows promise as an innovative approach to storing solar energy for use whenever it's needed. Storing the sun's heat in chemical form -- rather than converting it to electricity or storing the heat itself in a heavily insulated container -- has significant advantages, since in principle the chemical material can be stored for long periods of time without losing any of its stored energy. The problem with that approach has been that until now the chemicals needed to perform this conversion and storage either degraded within a few cycles, or included the element ruthenium, which is rare and expensive.

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

New solar cell: Engineers crack full-spectrum solar challenge

Engineering researchers report a new solar cell that may pave the way to inexpensive coatings that efficiently convert the sun's rays to electricity.

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

‘Cling-film’ solar cells could lead to advance in renewable energy

A scientific advance in renewable energy which promises a revolution in the ease and cost of using solar cells, has just been announced. A new study shows that even when using very simple and inexpensive manufacturing methods - where flexible layers of material are deposited over large areas like cling-film - efficient solar cell structures can be made.

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Solar panels keep buildings cool

Those solar panels on top of your roof aren't just providing clean power; they are cooling your house, or your workplace, too, according to a team of environmental engineering researchers.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Improved hybrid solar collector has higher efficiency, longer lifespan

A researcher in the Netherlands has developed a new type of hybrid solar collector with a higher efficiency and a longer lifespan than the current hybrid systems. Hybrid solar collectors combine photovoltaic solar cells that convert sunlight into electricity with a solar heater that provides warm water.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Solar cells get a boost from bouncing light

A new twist on an old solar cell design sends light ricocheting through layers of microscopic spheres, increasing its electricity-generating potential by 26 percent.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Solar panels for NASA's Juno spacecraft complete testing

The three massive solar panels that will provide power for NASA's Juno spacecraft during its mission to Jupiter have seen their last photons of light until they are deployed in space after launch. The solar-powered Juno spacecraft will orbit Jupiter's poles 30 times to find out more about the gas giant's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Unexpected clue to thermopower efficiency: Uneven temperature can lead to electronic whirlpools and sideways magnetic fields

Scientists have discovered a new relation among electric and magnetic fields and differences in temperature, which can result in swirling vortices of electrons and holes in semiconductor devices and emit sideways magnetic fields. Understanding the unusual new effect may lead to more efficient thermoelectric devices, which convert heat into electricity or electricity into heat.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Global investments in green energy up nearly a third to $211 billion

Wind farms in China and small-scale solar panels on rooftops in Europe were largely responsible for last year's 32 percent rise in green energy investments worldwide according to the latest annual report on renewable energy investment trends. Last year, investors pumped a record $211 billion into renewables -- about one-third more than the $160 billion invested in 2009, and a 540 percent rise since 2004.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

California's energy future: Aggressive efficiency and electrification needed to cut emissions

In the next 40 years, California's demand for energy is expected to double. So can it really reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, as required by an executive order? Scientists who authored a new report on California's energy future are optimistic that the target can be achieved, though not without bold policy and behavioral changes as well as some scientific innovation.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Energy harvesters transform waste into electricity

Billions of dollars lost each year as waste heat from industrial processes can be converted into electricity with a new technology under development.

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Scientists generates hydrogen as an energy source from ethanol and sunlight

A team of researchers from Spain, Scotland, and New Zealand has used ethanol and sunlight to generate hydrogen as an energy source. The advance offers a scalable and economically viable energy production process that uses ethanol as a renewable fuel.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Transition to renewable energy stimulates the economy

The transition to renewable energy is set to deliver an economic pay off as well in the years to come. Various studies show that a shift to alternative energy sources will raise the GNP in the coming decade and create new jobs.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chemistry with sunlight: Combining electrochemistry and photovoltaics to clean up oxidation reactions

Researchers can make the oxidation reactions used in the synthesis of organic molecules cleaner by hitching photovoltaics to electrochemistry. The idea is simple and yet it has huge implications. To underscore the simplicity of the idea, researchers used a $6 solar cell sold on the Internet and intended to power toy cars to run a variety of chemical reactions. If their suggestion were widely adopted by the chemical industry, it would eliminate the toxic byproducts currently produced by a class of reactions commonly used in chemical synthesis -- and with them the environmental and economic damage they cause.

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

'Swiss cheese' design enables thin film silicon solar cells with potential for higher efficiencies

A bold new design for thin film solar cells that requires significantly less silicon -- and may boost their efficiency -- is the result of a new Sw1ss-Czech collaboration.

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Supercapacitors: Cheaper, greener, alternative energy storage

Students are working on a supercapacitor that will allow us to harness more solar energy through biochar electrodes for supercapacitors, resulting in a cleaner, greener planet.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Solar greenhouses: China's winning solution to global energy crisis

A new report from China touts the benefits of solar greenhouses as having the potential to solve the world's energy crisis and climate change. The research study of China's single-slope solar greenhouses provides important recommendations for agricultural operations in China and countries such as Japan, Korea, and Russia, where the designs have been successfully adopted. The researchers discuss the challenges of solar dependence in winter and recommend strategies for sustaining the development of solar structures.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Debut of the first practical 'artificial leaf'

Scientists have claimed one of the milestones in the drive for sustainable energy -- development of the first practical artificial leaf. Researchers have developed an advanced solar cell the size of a poker card that mimics the process, called photosynthesis, that green plants use to convert sunlight and water into energy.

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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Nanoparticles improve solar collection efficiency

Using minute graphite particles 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, mechanical engineers hope to boost the efficiency -- and profitability -- of solar power plants.

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Wind and solar can reliably supply 25 percent of Oahu's electricity need, new study shows

When combined with on-Oahu wind farms and solar energy, the Interisland Wind project planned to bring 400 megawatts (MW) of wind power from Molokai and Lanai to Oahu could reliably supply more than 25 percent of Oahu's projected electricity demand, according to a new study.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Solar power goes viral: Researchers use virus to improve solar-cell efficiency

Researchers have found a way to make significant improvements to the power-conversion efficiency of solar cells by enlisting the services of tiny viruses to perform detailed assembly work at the microscopic level.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Testing smart energy systems

The residential housing sector needs smart energy systems. And yet the potential for developing these kinds of systems remains largely untapped. Researchers are able to analyze, assess and develop almost any energy management system for controlling power and heat at a new lab.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

First polymer solar-thermal device heats home, saves money

A new polymer-based solar-thermal device is the first to generate power from both heat and visible sunlight -- an advance that could shave the cost of heating a home by as much as 40 percent.

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Collecting the sun's energy: Novel electrode for flexible thin-film solar cells

Conventional silicon-based rigid solar cells generally found on the market are not suitable for manufacturing moldable thin-film solar cells, in which a transparent, flexible and electrically conductive electrode collects the light and carries away the current. A new woven polymer electrode has now produced first results which are very promising, indicating that the new material may be a substitute for indium tin oxide coatings.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

New technology for cheaper, more efficient solar cells

Applying an organic layer less than a nanometer thick improves the efficiency of certain solar cells three-fold. The technology could lead to cheaper, more efficient solar panels.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hydrogen fuel tech gets boost from low-cost, efficient catalyst

Scientists have engineered a cheap, abundant alternative to the expensive platinum catalyst and coupled it with a light-absorbing electrode to make hydrogen fuel from sunlight and water. The discovery is an important development in the worldwide effort to mimic the way plants make fuel from sunlight, a key step in creating a green energy economy.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

New stretchable solar cells will power artificial electronic 'super skin'

"Super skin" is what one researcher wants to create. She's already developed a flexible sensor that is so sensitive to pressure it can feel a fly touch down. Now she's working to add the ability to detect chemicals and sense various kinds of biological molecules. She's also making the skin self-powering, using polymer solar cells to generate electricity. And the new solar cells are not just flexible, but stretchable -- they can be stretched up to 30 percent beyond their original length and snap back without any damage or loss of power.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Measurement of 'hot' electrons could have solar energy payoff; Nanoantennas hold promise for infrared photovoltaics

Basic scientific curiosity paid off in unexpected ways when researchers investigating the fundamental physics of nanomaterials discovered a new technology that could dramatically improve solar energy panels.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Neutron analysis yields insight into bacteria for solar energy

Structural studies of some of nature's most efficient light-harvesting systems are lighting the way for new generations of biologically inspired solar cell devices.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mimicking photosynthesis path to solar-derived hydrogen fuel

Inexpensive hydrogen for automotive or jet fuel may be possible by mimicking photosynthesis, according to a materials chemist, but a number of problems need to be solved first.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Solar power without solar cells: A hidden magnetic effect of light could make it possible

A dramatic and surprising magnetic effect of light discovered by researchers could lead to solar power without traditional semiconductor-based solar cells. The researchers found a way to make an "optical battery." In the process, they overturned a century-old tenet of physics.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Low cost solar cells: New European record in efficiency

Scientists have developed an improved preparation process for kesterite solar cells, which resulted in a new European record efficiency of 6.1 percent.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Chemist designs new polymer structures for use as 'plastic electronics'

A chemistry professor is designing new organic polymer structures that conduct electricity and could be useful in solar cells, light-emitting diodes and thin-film transistors. She and her research group are doing fundamental studies of the relationship between the polymer structures and their electronic, physical and optical properties.

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

New solar cell technology greatly boosts efficiency

With the creation of a 3-D nanocone-based solar cell platform, scientists have boosted the light-to-power conversion efficiency of photovoltaics by nearly 80 percent.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New technique enables much faster production of inexpensive solar cells

Researchers have demonstrated that the speed at which inexpensive solar cells are produced can be increased by a factor of 10 -- and that this can be achieved without any detriment to the energy yield of the cells. This will almost certainly result in a further reduction in the price of the cells, which are made of amorphous silicon.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Ultrafast laser 'scribing' technique to cut cost, hike efficiency of solar cells

Researchers are developing a technology that aims to help make solar cells more affordable and efficient by using a new manufacturing method that employs an ultrafast pulsing laser.

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Affordability of batteries key to harnessing wind and solar power

Researchers say future batteries used by the energy grid to store power from the wind and the sun must be reliable, durable and safe, but affordability is key to widespread market deployment of these technologies.

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Friday, June 3, 2011

Smaller particles could make solar panels more efficient

New research could significantly improve the efficiency of solar cells. The size of light-absorbing particles -- quantum dots -- affects the particles' ability to transfer energy to electrons to generate electricity.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Golden window electrodes developed for organic solar cells

Researchers have developed a gold plated window as the transparent electrode for organic solar cells. Contrary to what one might expect, these electrodes have the potential to be relatively cheap since the thickness of gold used is only 8 billionths of a meter.

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Floating solar panels: Solar installations on water

Most of the solar energy systems on the market today bare two major weaknesses: they require vast land areas in order to be built, and the costs related to solar cells fabrication and maintenance are high. A new technology is about to overcome these challenges and many more: floating solar power plants.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Giant batteries for green power

In the future, the growing amounts of solar and wind energy will need to be stored for dark or low-wind periods. One solution is redox flow batteries that can supply current for up to 2000 households. Scientists are now working on these fluid batteries of the future.

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Solar power systems could lighten the load for British soldiers

A revolutionary type of personal power pack now in development could help troops when they are engaged on the battlefield. With the aim of being up to 50 percent lighter than conventional chemical battery packs used by British infantry, the solar and thermoelectric-powered system could make an important contribution to future military operations.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Solar-thermal flat-panels that generate electric power: Researchers see broad residential and industrial applications

By using a nanostructured material with improved thermoelectric properties inside a vacuum-sealed flat panel, researchers report adding the capacity to generate electricity to solar-thermal energy technology.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

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

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 Danish report. 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.

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

New equation could advance research in solar cell materials

A groundbreaking new equation could do for organic semiconductors what the Shockley ideal diode equation did for inorganic semiconductors: help to enable their wider adoption.

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Practical full-spectrum solar cell comes closer

Researchers have demonstrated a new solar cell design that can not only convert the full spectrum of sunlight to electrical energy, it is also practical to make using common manufacturing techniques in the semiconductor industry.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

New ultra-clean nanowires have great potential in solar cell technology and electronics

New ultra-clean nanowires will have a central role in the development of new high-efficiency solar cells and electronics on a nanometer scale.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Efficient, inexpensive plastic solar cells coming soon

Physicists have discovered new properties in a material that could result in efficient and inexpensive plastic solar cells. The discovery reveals that excitons, or energy-carrying particles generated by photons, can travel on the order of a thousand times farther in organic semiconductors than scientists previously observed. This boosts scientists' hopes that organic solar cells may one day overtake silicon in cost and performance.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Finding a buckyball in a photovoltaic cell

A new technique analyzes the reflection of neutrons to locate buckyballs within composite materials. The work may lead to more effective research on photovoltaic devices.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mimicking nature, water-based 'artificial leaf' produces electricity

Scientists have shown that water-gel-based solar devices -- "artificial leaves" -- can act like solar cells to produce electricity. The findings prove the concept for making solar cells that more closely mimic nature. They also have the potential to be less expensive and more environmentally friendly than the current standard-bearer: silicon-based solar cells.

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Off-the-shelf dyes improve solar cells

Scientists report success in boosting the ability of zinc oxide solar cells to absorb visible light simply by applying a blended mixture of various off-the-shelf dyes commonly used in food and medical industries -- in a soak-then-dry procedure not unlike that used to color a tee-shirt in a home washing machine.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Wide-Field Imager selected for Solar Probe Plus mission

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.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Striding towards a new dawn for electronics

Conductive polymers are plastic materials with high electrical conductivity that promise to revolutionize a wide range of products including TV displays, solar cells and biomedical sensors. Researchers now report how to visualize and study the process of energy transport along one single conductive polymer molecule at a time, a key step towards bringing these exciting new applications to market.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Alternative energy use at forward operating bases can save dollars, lives, say US military researchers

To cut down on convoys trucking fuel to forward operating bases, as well as implement the Department of the Navy's vision for energy efficiency, the Office of Naval Research and elements within the Marine Corps have successfully demonstrated their goal to reduce petroleum and energy usage in remote locations in Afghanistan.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

The precious commodity of water

Water is a valuable resource, which is why researchers are demonstrating how we can extract precious drinking water from air, discover a leak in pipeline systems and even effectively clean sewage water.

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Is the hornet our key to renewable energy? Physicist discovers that hornet's outer shell can harvest solar power

The brown and yellow parts of the Oriental hornet's body are able to harvest solar energy, and if that function can be mimicked, a novel way of achieving high-efficiency solar energy collection might be just around the corner, says a physicist who has demonstrated that the brown and yellow stripes on the insect's abdomen can absorb the sun's radiation, and the yellow pigment transforms that radiation into electric power.

View the original article here

Friday, April 8, 2011

New solar prediction system gives time to prepare for the storms ahead

A new method of predicting solar storms that could help to avoid widespread power and communications blackouts costing billions of pounds has been launched by researchers in the UK.

View the original article here

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

More efficient polymer solar cells fabricated

Researchers have developed a process for fabricating more efficient polymer solar cells. They discovered a textured substrate pattern that allows deposition of a uniformly thin light-absorbing layer. The result is a polymer solar cell that captures more light and produces more power.

View the original article here

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Photovoltaic medicine: Miniature solar cells might make chemotherapy less toxic

Micro-scaled photovoltaic devices may one day be used to deliver chemotherapeutic drugs directly to tumors, rendering chemotherapy less toxic to surrounding tissue.

View the original article here

Sunday, April 3, 2011

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

Researchers have developed a new system to monitor how clouds affect large-scale solar photovoltaic 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.

View the original article here

Friday, April 1, 2011

Offshore wind farms: Low loss solutions for transferring current

Using wind energy where the wind blows strongest makes perfect sense as long as the energy can be readily transported to where it is needed. The first offshore plants are already being erected, and many more are planned. But the farther they are away from the coast, the more urgent becomes the problem of transferring the current with as low a loss as possible. Over long distances, this is possible only with direct current.

View the original article here

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Microchip harvests its own energy

Microchips that ‘harvest’ the energy they need from their own surroundings, without depending on batteries or mains electricity. That will be possible now that researchers have for the first time succeeded in manufacturing a microchip with an efficient solar cell placed on top of the microelectronics.

View the original article here

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Duelling dipoles: In search of a new theory of photosynthetic energy transfer

Chemists have refuted a basic postulate of Förster theory, which describes energy transfers between pigment molecules, such as those that underlie photosynthesis. A revised version of the theory could have an impact on the design of optical computers and improve the efficiency of solar cells.

View the original article here

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Structure of plastic solar cells impedes their efficiency

Scientists have found that the low rate of energy conversion in all-polymer solar-cell technology is caused by the structure of the solar cells themselves.

View the original article here

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Easy fabrication of non-reflecting and self-cleaning silicon and plastic surfaces

Scientists specializing in microfabrication and microfludics have developed a new and rapid method for fabrication of non-reflecting and self-cleaning surfaces. Surface properties are based on the nanostructured surface.

View the original article here

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Solar cells thinner than wavelengths of light hold huge power potential

Ultra-thin solar cells can absorb sunlight more efficiently than the thicker, more expensive-to-make silicon cells used today, because light behaves differently at scales around a nanometer (a billionth of a meter), say engineers. They calculate that an organic polymer thin film could absorb as much as 10 times more energy from sunlight than was thought possible.

View the original article here

Friday, March 25, 2011

Researchers aim to harvest solar energy from pavement to melt ice, power streetlights

The heat radiating off roadways has long been a factor in explaining why city temperatures are often considerably warmer than nearby suburban or rural areas. Now a team of engineering researchers is examining methods of harvesting that solar energy to melt ice, power streetlights, illuminate signs, heat buildings and potentially use it for many other purposes.

View the original article here

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elusive intermediary: Newly discovered protein may help improve crop yields, solar cells

Plants use specialized protein complexes to collect the light that drives photosynthesis. Researchers in Germany have now identified a protein that is necessary for the assembly of one such complex. The discovery could lead to improved crop yields and might even form the basis for new types of solar cells.

View the original article here

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

'Tall order' sunlight-to-hydrogen system works, neutron analysis confirms

Researchers have developed a biohybrid photoconversion system -- based on the interaction of photosynthetic plant proteins with synthetic polymers -- that can convert visible light into hydrogen fuel.

View the original article here

Monday, March 21, 2011

Which methods of heating are most efficient?

Supplying energy is in the process of metamorphosis because people want to know what is the most intelligent and efficient way to utilize all types of energy carriers. Researchers put the most common ideas for heating under the microscope and come up with major potential.

View the original article here

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Computer in wrapping-paper form give solar cells a makeover

Investigators in New York are giving factory production of solar energy cells a modern makeover. Their new approach includes the use of "continuous electronic sheets," something like a computer flattened into wrapping paper.

View the original article here

Friday, March 18, 2011

High-efficiency photovoltaic cells developed

Scientists have produced silicon photovoltaic cells with a conversion efficiency of 20.5%, the highest level achieved in Spain using this material.

View the original article here

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

World can be powered by alternative energy, using today's technology, in 20-40 years, experts say

A new study analyzing what is needed to convert the world's energy supplies to clean and sustainable sources says that it can be done with today's technology at costs roughly comparable to conventional energy. But converting will be a massive undertaking on the scale of the moon landings. What is needed most is the societal and political will to make it happen.

View the original article here

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A new twist for nanopillar light collectors

Researchers have created unique dual-diameter nanopillars -- narrow at the top, broad at the bottom -- that absorb light as well or even better than commercial thin-film solar cells, using far less semiconductor material and without the need for anti-reflective coating.

View the original article here

Monday, March 14, 2011

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

Conventional solar cells made from crystalline silicon are difficult and energy-intensive to manufacture. Organic solar cells are cheaper, but have always produced less electricity. Why this is so has never been fully explained. Now, a method developed by researchers in Germany reveals that current flow inside a solar cell can be affected by the spin of the charge-carrying particles.

View the original article here

Saturday, March 12, 2011

System for heat collection from asphalt pavements under development

Researchers are working at developing a system for collecting the solar energy absorbed by asphalt paved surfaces.

View the original article here

Friday, March 11, 2011

Data clippers to set sail to enhance future planetary missions

A new golden age of sailing may be about to begin -- in space. Future missions to explore the outer planets could employ fleets of ‘data-clippers’ -- manoeuvrable spacecraft equipped with solar sails, to ship vast quantities of scientific data to back Earth. The technology could be ready in time to support mid-term missions to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn.

View the original article here

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Environmental impact of organic solar cells assessed

To better understand the energy and environmental benefits and detriments of solar power, a research team has conducted one of the first life-cycle assessments of organic solar cells. The study found that the embodied energy -- or the total energy required to make a product -- is less for organic solar cells compared with conventional inorganic devices.

View the original article here

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Designing instruments for a robotic space probe to the Sun

A researcher is helping to design instruments for a robotic space probe that will go where no other has gone before: the sun. NASA's Solar Probe Plus project is slated to launch by 2018.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

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

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 as scientists reported discovery of a powerful new catalyst that is a key element in such a system. The advance could help free homes and businesses from dependence on the electric company and the corner gasoline station.

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Funneling solar energy: Antenna made of carbon nanotubes could make photovoltaic cells more efficient

Using carbon nanotubes (hollow tubes of carbon atoms), chemical engineers have found a way to concentrate solar energy 100 times more than a regular photovoltaic cell. Such nanotubes could form antennas that capture and focus light energy, potentially allowing much smaller and more powerful solar arrays.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Scarcity of new energy minerals may trigger trade wars, expert suggests

It's not hard to argue in favor of alternatives to fossil fuels these days, but one popular argument -- domestic energy security -- may be standing on very shaky legs. A lot of rare metals are needed to make photovoltaic panels, rare earth magnets for wind generators, fuel cells and high-capacity batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles. But most industrialized nations, including the United States, are almost entirely dependent on foreign sources for those metals. The only way this is going to change is if there is more domestic exploration and mining, a leading expert says.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

New method for reporting solar data

A straightforward new way to calculate, compile, and graphically present solar radiation measurements in a format that is accessible to decision makers and the general public has been developed.

View the original article here

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Turning waste heat into power

Physicists have discovered a new way of harvesting waste heat and turning it into electrical power. Taking advantage of quantum effects, the technology holds great promise for making cars, power plants, factories and solar panels more efficient.

View the original article here

Monday, February 28, 2011

Forcing mismatched elements together could yield better solar cells

In what could be a step toward higher efficiency solar cells, researchers have invalidated the most commonly used model to explain the behavior of a unique class of materials called highly mismatched alloys.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Debunking solar energy efficiency measurements: Physicist 'recalculates' efficiency paradigm for thin film solar panels

Solar energy developers have been hopeful that new advances in thin-film solar panels will make the technology more marketable. Now a physicist is putting a lid on some of the current hype surrounding the technology -- and may bring the development of solar energy more down-to-earth.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Planar power: Flat sodium-nickel chloride battery could improve performance, cost of energy storage

A redesign of sodium-nickel chloride batteries promises to overcome some of the obstacles long associated with rechargeable batteries. Replacing their typical cylindrical shape with a flat disc design allows the battery to deliver 30 percent more power at lower temperatures, according to new research. Scientists say these sodium-beta batteries could eventually be used in electricity substations to balance the generation and delivery of wind and solar power on to the grid.

View the original article here

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Researchers design, fabricate innovative energy harvesting device

Electrical engineers have reported success in designing and fabricating a device that allows microscale electronic devices to harvest their own wasted energy.

View the original article here

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Which methods of heating are most efficient?

ScienceDaily (Dec. 13, 2010) — Carsten Beier from the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT in Oberhausen, Germany does not believe that "anyone would burn a 50-dollar bill just to keep warm. It's obvious that it simply is too valuable for that." But, in contrast to dollar bills, most energy carriers are all too frequently burned for less than they are worth. Take wood, for example. Beier and his colleagues have analyzed the efficiency of heat supply systems and he explains that "wood is a high-quality fuel that can be compared to natural gas. With adequate technologies we could utilize it for power generation. As a fuel, there's a lot more in wood that we are taking advantage of at the moment."

Beyond this, the researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology have come up with a model for comparing various systems and technologies in heat supply ranging from heating boilers for single-family dwellings right down to district heating networks for whole cities. They apply exergy as a criterion of analysis which is a thermodynamic parameter defined by the quantity and quality of an energy. In contrast to the CO2 balance sheet and primary energy consumption, the exergy analysis indicates whether we are sufficiently taking advantage of the potential lying dormant in the energies we use. Carsten Beier has come to the conclusion that "if we used fuels such as natural gas or wood for power generation and only use the waste heat for heating, we would be able to save large quantities of primary energy and avoid generating CO2 emissions."

Cogeneration plants are taking advantage of these potentials. While large-scale power plants lose an average of 60 percent of the energy as waste heat through the cooling tower, cogeneration plants use this flow of heat for heating purposes, which means that they achieve overall efficiency of more than 80 percent. The researchers distinguished four categories of heat generation in their analyses: burning, cogeneration and using heat pumps or waste heat from industrial processes. Comparing these categories, using waste heat was particularly good in connection with heat networks. That said, it also became apparent that the way drinking water was heated was a key factor in exergy efficiency. Beier reveals that "even heating a room with waste heat has a poor overall exergy balance sheet if the service water for the household is electrically heated."

Researchers derived one basic recommendation from their comparison of systems and technologies. Beier demands "we should take advantage of all sources of heat whose temperature level corresponds to our heating requirements." And we could take advantage of the fact that there are a whole series of applications where heat is needed at different temperature levels. Beier explains how. "Any type of cascade is very efficient. For instance, if you use fuel for power generation first, then the waste heat for water heating and finally the remaining heat for space heating." He confesses that there might be discussions on the economic efficiency of these scenarios, especially because the initial investments are rather high. "But, on the other hand, it is essential to restructure our energy system quickly and an exergy analysis is an excellent tool for identifying how power supply should be designed in future."

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 Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

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


View the original article here

New reactor paves the way for efficiently producing fuel from sunlight

Using a common metal most famously found in self-cleaning ovens, Sossina Haile hopes to change our energy future. The metal is cerium oxide -- or ceria -- and it is the centerpiece of a promising new technology developed by Haile and her colleagues that concentrates solar energy and uses it to efficiently convert carbon dioxide and water into fuels.

View the original article here

Monday, February 21, 2011

Microchip harvests its own energy

ScienceDaily (Dec. 15, 2010) — Microchips that 'harvest' the energy they need from their own surroundings, without depending on batteries or mains electricity. That will be possible now that researchers from the University of Twente's MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, together with colleagues from the universities of Nankai (China) and Utrecht, have for the first time succeeded in manufacturing a microchip with an efficient solar cell placed on top of the microelectronics.

The researchers presented their findings at the International Electron Device Meeting in San Francisco.

The placement of a solar cell directly on top of the electronics means the autonomous chip does not need batteries. In this way, for example, a sensor chip can be produced, complete with the necessary intelligence and even an antenna for wireless communication. However, the chip's energy use must be well below 1 milliwatt, say the researchers. The chip can then even collect enough energy to operate indoors.

The simplest solution would seem to be to manufacture the solar cell separately and then fit it on top of the electronics, but this is not the most efficient production process, so instead the researchers use the chip as a base and apply the solar cell to it layer by layer. This uses fewer materials, and also ultimately performs better. But the combination is not trouble-free: there is a risk that the steps in the production of the solar cell will damage the electronics so that they function less efficiently.

For this reason the researchers decided to use solar cells made of amorphous silicon or CIGS (copper -- indium -- gallium -- selenide). The manufacturing procedure for these cells does not influence the electronics, and these types of solar cells also produce sufficient power, even in low light. Tests have shown that the electronics and the solar cells function properly, and the manufacturing process is also highly suitable for industrial serial production with the use of standard processes.

The research was carried out in the Semiconductor Components group led by Prof. Jurriaan Schmitz. The researchers collaborated with colleagues from Nankai University in Tianjin, China and the Debye Institute of Utrecht University. The research was made possible by the STW Technology Foundation.

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 Twente, via AlphaGalileo.

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


View the original article here

ESA’s Mercury mapper feels the heat

Key components of the ESA-led Mercury mapper BepiColombo have been tested in a specially upgraded European space simulator. ESA’s Large Space Simulator is now the most powerful in the world and the only facility capable of reproducing Mercury’s hellish environment for a full-scale spacecraft.

View the original article here

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Power grid of the future saves energy

Green energy too comes out of the electricity socket, but to get there it has to travel a long journey -- from wind turbines in the North Sea or regional solar, wind and biogas power plants. On the way to the consumer lots of energy is lost. New electronic components will change things in future.

View the original article here

Sunforce 50022 5-Watt Solar Battery Trickle Charger

The Sunforce 50022 5-Watt Solar Battery Trickle Charger gives you another reason to love the sun--it can help keep your vehicle's battery charged. It provides up to 5-Watts or 350mA of power to prevent the natural voltage drain of batteries over time. It includes both a lighter socket adapter and alligator clips to give you flexible connection options.


The Sunforce 5-Watt Solar Trickle Charger is compact and easy to install.
Convenient Power That Helps Keep Your Batteries Charged
The Sunforce 50022 5-Watt Solar Battery Trickle Charger lets you harness the power of the sun, the most powerful and plentiful source of energy available to us. Unlike nuclear and fossil fuels, solar power is clean and pollution-free, and the equipment requires very little maintenance to operate.

This trickle charger is designed to stave off the natural voltage drain that 12-Volt batteries undergo over time. It can also maintain the charge of a 12-Volt battery while it is providing energy to small electronics like cell phone chargers or small pumps and motors. The Sunforce 50022 5-Watt Solar Battery Trickle Charger is constructed with durable ABS plastic and features amorphous solar cells and an ultra-bright blue LED charging indicator. Four mounting holes are pre-cut in the frame for easy permanent installation. It is weatherproof and remains effective even on cloudy days. The built-in overcharge/discharge protection prevents overcharging and reverse-current drain. This trickle charger is an ideal choice for automobiles, recreational vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, tractors, boats and more.


Sunforce Solar Panels are effective in areas of both high and lower
sun exposure, making them ideal for use in the United States.
View Larger
About Amorphous Solar Power
Amorphous solar panels are created by spraying silicon on to glass in very thin layers, and are commonly known as thin film solar panels. This process allows them to be better at generating electricity in all lighting conditions, including cloudy or shady environments. Sunforce amorphous solar panels are weatherproof and suitable for outdoor use. They have a maximum operating temperature range of -40 to 176-degrees Fahrenheit, require virtually no maintenance, and are also effective on cloudy days.

Solar cells convert sunlight into an electric current; they do not actually store power. The Sunforce 50022 5-Watt Solar Battery Trickle Charger is designed to maintain an existing battery charge, and not to fully recharge a battery. It can remain connected to a vehicle battery at all times and will not adversely affect its operation or electrical components. Unless the trickle charger is permanently mounted, you should remove and store it to prevent physical harm while the vehicle is in motion.

Price: $69.99


Click here to buy from Amazon

Friday, February 18, 2011

Homebrew Wind Power

Homebrew Wind PowerA Hands-on Guide to Harnessing the Wind

Have you ever wondered how wind turbines work and why they look like they do? Are you interested in adding wind power to your off-grid electric system, but have been put off by the high cost of equipment and installation? Well, now you can build and install your own wind turbine!

Harnessing the wind can be a tricky business, but in this groundbreaking book the authors provide step-by-step, illustrated instructions for building a wind generator in a home workshop. Even if you don't plan on building your own turbine, this book is packed with valuable information for anyone considering wind energy. It covers the basic physics of how the energy in moving air is turned into electricity, and most importantly, will give you a realistic idea of what wind energy can do for you--and what it can't.

Full-scale, actual size blueprints for the 10-foot diameter wind turbine featured in this book are also available from Amazon to help you along in the construction process. Search Amazon books for "Homebrew Wind Power Blueprints" by Tyrone Banderet!

Price: $39.95


Click here to buy from Amazon

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Green Science Windmill Generator by Toysmith

Green Science Windmill Generator by ToysmithAges 8 & up. Learn about renewable energy with this wind generator. LED light will glow as it is powered by free energy from the wind. No batteries required!

Price: $11.99


Click here to buy from Amazon

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Living Off The Grid


The shortage of power, the rapid consumption of nonrenewable energy, the ever-increasing demand for power supply, the daily warnings about our environment are not signs to tell us that it's time we do something.

Don't know where to start?  How about living off the grid?  Living off the grid not only helps the environment and help save power; it also cuts down our electric bill substantially.  Reducing our eliminating your electricity bill is a tangible benefit apart from the good you can do the world.

Here is a list of some advantages of living off the grid.
1.  Reduced dependability on exhausting resources.  Who wants to depend on public utilities all the time?  Living off the grid helps you rely only on your resources and not the one supplied by governments or corporations.  How often have you cursed when faced with the power outage in the mist of some important work?  Wouldn't you like to take charge of such factors affecting your life?  With alternative power solutions, you can.
2.  Freedom from usage of naturally available resources.  How would you feel when you don't have to pay for the power you use?  Wouldn't it be delightful to use as much power as you want without worrying about the electric meter?  You can make use of the abundant power available in the nature to light your home and make your food.  The solar power solution and the wind power solutions are the answer to your power solution guest (literally!).
3.  Reduce power costs, helping save your money.  How would you feel if the electric bills stopped coming in your letter box?  The alternate power solutions give you a return on investment very soon, that's making the power supply to your home eventually free!
4.  Making way for a healthier environment.  Don't you bless the people who planted trees years ago not expecting them to miraculously grow?  They planted those trees for future generations.  Make the future of your future generations secure by giving them a greener, healthier world.  Try to use water minimally.  There is not much drinking water left for the next generations.

If you are thinking it is not feasible to live off the grid, research the alternative power solutions and you will be surprised to learn that they are not only cost effective but also extremely feasible.


Elusive intermediary: Newly discovered protein may help improve crop yields, solar cells

ScienceDaily (Oct. 8, 2010) — Plants use specialized protein complexes to collect the light that drives photosynthesis. Researchers at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet in Munich have now identified a protein that is necessary for the assembly of one such complex. The discovery could lead to improved crop yields and might even form the basis for new types of solar cells.

Photosynthesis is the process used by plants to convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into the energy-rich chemicals upon which all life-forms depend. The energy trapped in these compounds comes from sunlight, and photosynthetic organisms -- plants, algae and certain types of bacteria -- capture this energy in a usable form with the help of protein complexes called photosystems. Photosystems include antenna proteins that collect incident light, and green plants have two sorts of photosystems, which respond best to light of different wavelengths.

A team of researchers at LMU, led by Professor Dario Leister, has now identified a protein named PAM68 that is essential for the assembly of Photosystem II in green plants. The protein is also found in photosynthetic cyanobacteria, but there it serves a different function. "It turns out that PAM68 itself does not form part of the functional photosystem II at all," says Leister. In the longer term, the new finding may make it possible to improve the yields of important crops and might even form the basis for new types of solar cells.

The research is published online in the journal Plant Cell.

Photosynthesis can be thought of as the central pillar of the biosphere, because this set of biochemical reactions provides the oxygen and energy-rich foodstuffs upon which other organisms, including humans, subsist. The energy for the process comes from sunlight, and is captured by molecules that act as solar collectors in photosynthetic organisms, such as plants, algae and cyanobacteria. "All of these organisms possess two different photosystems, each of which responds most efficiently to light of a particular wavelength," says Professor Dario Leister of the Department of Biology I at LMU Munich.

The photosystems consist of light-absorbing chlorophyll pigments and a variety of proteins. "Assembly of these multiprotein complexes takes place in several steps and requires the participation of specific accessory proteins," explains Leister. In their latest study, he and his team set out to identify assembly factors necessary for correct formation of photosystem II in the model plant thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) and in the cyanobacterial species Synechocystis. They showed that a previously unknown protein, which they called PAM68, interacts with several of the components of photosystem II and is required to put the functional complex together.

"PAM68 is found in both the plant and the cyanobacterium," Leister points out, "but it has quite different functions in the two organisms." In both cases, the newly discovered assembly factor is essential for the first steps in the construction of Photosystem II. In thale cress mutants that lack PAM68, however, these early intermediates accumulate. Inactivation of the cyanobacterial protein, on the other hand, actually facilitates the assembly of larger complexes. Strikingly, although it is required in the building of Photosystem II, PAM68 is not a member of the fully assembled, functional complex. "This is one case where the whole is less than the sum of the parts," says Leister.

The new work has uncovered common features of plant and bacterial photosynthesis, but also points to distinct differences between the two. "In the long term, a comprehensive understanding of the function of Photosystems I and II should enable us to utilize solar energy more efficiently," says Leister. It could, for instance, contribute to the development of artificial systems that mimic photosynthesis, perhaps leading to new types of solar cell. The new results will also be of interest to agronomists, as they suggest that it should be possible to produce more robust strains of crop plants that can cope with higher levels of light stress and produce better yields. At all events, Leister and his team will continue their quest for the new factors involved in photosystem assembly. (CA/suwe)

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 Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Journal Reference:

U. Armbruster, J. Zuhlke, B. Rengstl, R. Kreller, E. Makarenko, T. Ruhle, D. Schunemann, P. Jahns, B. Weisshaar, J. Nickelsen, D. Leister. The Arabidopsis Thylakoid Protein PAM68 Is Required for Efficient D1 Biogenesis and Photosystem II Assembly. Plant Cell, 2010; DOI: 10.1105/tpc.110.077453

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


View the original article here

Friday, January 28, 2011

Graphene organic photovoltaics: Flexible material only a few atoms thick may offer cheap solar power

ScienceDaily (July 24, 2010) — A University of Southern California team has produced flexible transparent carbon atom films that the researchers say have great potential for a new breed of solar cells.

"Organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells have been proposed as a means to achieve low cost energy due to their ease of manufacture, light weight, and compatibility with flexible substrates," wrote Chongwu Zhou, a professor of electrical engineering in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, in a paper recently published in the journal ACS Nano.

The technique described in the article describes progress toward a novel OPV cell design that has significant advantages, particularly in the area of physical flexibility.

A critical aspect of any OPV photo-electronic device is a transparent conductive electrode through which light can couple with active materials to create electricity. The new work indicates that graphene, a highly conductive and highly transparent form of carbon made up of atoms-thick sheets of carbon atoms, has high potential to fill this role.

While graphene's existence has been known for decades, it has only been studied extensively since 2004 because of the difficulty of manufacturing it in high quality and in quantity.

The Zhou lab reported the large scale production of graphene films by chemical vapor deposition three years ago. In this process, the USC engineering team creates ultra thin graphene sheets by first depositing carbon atoms in the form of graphene films on a nickel plate from methane gas.

Then they lay down a protective layer of thermo plastic over the graphene layer, and then dissolve the nickel underneath in an acid bath. In the final step they attach the plastic-protected graphene to a very flexible polymer sheet, which can then be incorporated into a OPV cell.

The USC team has produced graphene/polymer sheets ranging in sizes up to 150 square centimeters that in turn can be used to create dense arrays of flexible OPV cells.

These OPV devices convert solar radiation to electricity, but not as efficiently as silicon cells. The power provided by sunlight on a sunny day is about 1000 watts per meter square. "For every 1000 watts of sunlight that hits a one square meter area of the standard silicon solar cell, 14 watts of electricity will be generated," says Lewis Gomez De Arco, a doctoral student and a member of the team that built the graphene OPVs. "Organic solar cells are less efficient; their conversion rate for that same one thousand watts of sunlight in the graphene-based solar cell would be only 1.3 watts."

But what graphene OPVs lack in efficiency, they can potentially more than make for in lower price and, greater physical flexibility. Gomez De Arco thinks that it may eventually be possible to run printing presses laying extensive areas covered with inexpensive solar cells, much like newspaper presses print newspapers.

"They could be hung as curtains in homes or even made into fabric and be worn as power generating clothing. I can imagine people powering their cellular phone or music/video device while jogging in the sun," he said.

The USC researchers say graphene OPVs would be major advance in at least one crucial area over a rival OPV design, one based on Indium-Tin-Oxide (ITO). In the USC team's tests, ITO cells failed at a very small angle of bending, while the graphene-based cells remained operational after repeated bending at much larger stress angles. This would give the graphene solar cells a decided advantage in some uses, including the printed-on-fabric applications proposed by the USC team.

Zhou and the other researchers on the USC team -- which included Yi Zhang, Cody W. Schlenker, Koungmin Ryu, and Mark E. Thompson in addition to Gomez de Arco -- are excited by the potential for this technology.

Their paper concludes that their approach constitutes a significant advance toward the production of transparent conductive electrodes in solar cells. "CVD graphene meets the most important criteria of abundance, low cost, conductivity, stability, electrode/organic film compatibility, and flexibility that are necessary to replace ITO in organic photovoltaics, which may have important implications for future organic optoelectronic devices."

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 Southern California, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Journal Reference:

Lewis Gomez De Arco, Yi Zhang, Cody W. Schlenker, Koungmin Ryu, Mark E. Thompson, Chongwu Zhou. Continuous, Highly Flexible, and Transparent Graphene Films by Chemical Vapor Deposition for Organic Photovoltaics. ACS Nano, 2010; 4 (5): 2865 DOI: 10.1021/nn901587x

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


View the original article here

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kaito Electronics Inc. KA500BLK Voyager Solar/Dynamo Emergency Radio - Black

Kaito Electronics Inc. KA500BLK Voyager Solar/Dynamo Emergency Radio - BlackThe Kaito KA500 Voyager is the next generation emergency radio. It comes with all the features that you need in an emergency situation. The KA500 packs in a multi-band AM/FM and shortwave (SW) radio, 7 NOAA weather channels, five LEDs adjustable reading lamp, a multi-function LED flashlight - the super bright LED flashlight can be Bright Color or Red Color for normal or emergency use. All these features can be operated indefinitely without external power thanks to the high quality hand crank AC brushless generator. The solar panel powers the radio by itself and charges the built-in batteries as well. To maximize the sunlight, the solar panel is tiltable with at any angles to face the sunlight to receive the energy during day time. Furthermore, it can be used with 3 AA batteries allowing you to play the radio the old fashioned way, plugged it in an electrical outlet with the optional power adapter, or charged it from an external USB power source . The Kaito KA500 is a perfect radio for any emergencies and disasters. So put one in your household emergency kit and it will be ready for you to use in any emergency situations or get one for your families and friends. Weather Band - 7 NOAA Weather Channels - PLL crystal control circuit for stable reception Weather Alert - To be activated by weather alert signals 5 LEDs reading lamp for camping and emergency use White LED flashlight Red LED blinking for emergency alert 6 Ways of Power - Dynamo Cranking Power - 120 turns per minute cranking will power the built in Ni-MH battery pack with strong current and voltage / Solar Panel Power - under the direct sunlight, the solar panel will power the radio with no question / AA Batteries - You can use 3 normal AA batteries to run the radio with maximum reception (optional) / The built-in Rechargeable battery pack - the Ni-MH battery pack will run the radio for over 12 hours when fully charged / AC adaptor charge f
Price: $79.99

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Solar / Hand-Crank Powered Emergency Flashlight, Radio, & Cell Phone Charger

Solar / Hand-Crank Powered Emergency Flashlight, Radio, & Cell Phone ChargerThe unit uses a rechargeable Ni-Cad battery: a rechargeable battery that has the ability of recharging over 500 times. This remarkable radio and light recharges these batteries using either the hand crank and/or solar panel to charge them. You can simply charge the battery in the sun, charge it in artificial light, or charge it using the hand crank. After the battery has been fully charged and discharged, one minute of hand cranking produces 10 minutes of play. The radio is compact with dimensions of 7-1/2 inches in width, 5-1/2 inches in height, and 2-1/2 inches in depth. To charge in car, 4.5 volt DC auto lighter can be purchased separately.

Price: $34.95


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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Structure of plastic solar cells impedes their efficiency

ScienceDaily (Oct. 8, 2010) — A team of researchers from North Carolina State University and the U.K. has found that the low rate of energy conversion in all-polymer solar-cell technology is caused by the structure of the solar cells themselves. They hope that their findings will lead to the creation of more efficient solar cells.

Polymeric solar cells are made of thin layers of interpenetrating structures from two different conducting plastics and are increasingly popular because they are both potentially cheaper to make than those currently in use and can be "painted" or printed onto a variety of surfaces, including flexible films made from the same material as most soda bottles. However, these solar cells aren't yet cost-effective to make because they only have a power conversion rate of about three percent, as opposed to the 15 to 20 percent rate in existing solar technology.

"Solar cells have to be simultaneously thick enough to absorb photons from the sun, but have structures small enough for that captured energy -- known as an exciton -- to be able to travel to the site of charge separation and conversion into the electricity that we use," says Dr. Harald Ade, professor of physics and one of the authors of a paper describing the research. "The solar cells capture the photons, but the exciton has too far to travel, the interface between the two different plastics used is too rough for efficient charge separation, and its energy gets lost."

The researchers' results appear online in Advanced Functional Materials and Nano Letters.

In order for the solar cell to be most efficient, Ade says, the layer that absorbs the photons should be around 150-200 nanometers thick (a nanometer is thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair). The resulting exciton, however, should only have to travel a distance of 10 nanometers before charge separation. The way that polymeric solar cells are currently structured impedes this process.

Ade continues, "In the all-polymer system investigated, the minimum distance that the exciton must travel is 80 nanometers, the size of the structures formed inside the thin film. Additionally, the way devices are currently manufactured, the interface between the structures isn't sharply defined, which means that the excitons, or charges, get trapped. New fabrication methods that provide smaller structures and sharper interfaces need to be found."

Ade and his team plan to look at different types of polymer-based solar cells to see if their low efficiencies are due to this same structural problem. They hope that their data will lead chemists and manufacturers to explore different ways of putting these cells together to increase efficiency.

"Now that we know why the existing technology doesn't work as well as it could, our next steps will be in looking at physical and chemical processes that will correct for those problems. Once we get a baseline of efficiency, we can redirect research and manufacturing efforts."

The research was funded by a grant by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, U.K. The Department of Physics is part of NC State's College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.

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 North Carolina State University.

Journal References:

Sufal Swaraj, Cheng Wang, Hongping Yan, Benjamin Watts, Jan Lu¨ning, Christopher R. McNeill, Harald Ade. Nanomorphology of Bulk Heterojunction Photovoltaic Thin Films Probed with Resonant Soft X-ray Scattering. Nano Letters, 2010; 10 (8): 2863 DOI: 10.1021/nl1009266Hongping Yan, Sufal Swaraj, Cheng Wang, Inchan Hwang, Neil C. Greenham, Chris Groves, Harald Ade, Christopher R. McNeill. Influence of Annealing and Interfacial Roughness on the Performance of Bilayer Donor/Acceptor Polymer Photovoltaic Devices. Advanced Functional Materials, 2010; DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201001292

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


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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunforce 60032 30 Amp Digital Charge Controller

Sunforce 60032 30 Amp Digital Charge ControllerDigital controller links solar panels together and stabilizes incoming voltage to prevent 12V batteries from overcharge and discharge. Unit reduces overall system maintenance and prolongs battery life. Amps: 30, Watts: 500

Price: $129.99


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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Easy fabrication of non-reflecting and self-cleaning silicon and plastic surfaces

ScienceDaily (Nov. 9, 2010) — The Microfabrication group of Aalto University which specializes in microfabrication and microfludics has developed a new and rapid method for fabrication of non-reflecting and self-cleaning surfaces. Surface properties are based on the nanostructured surface. The research results were just published in the journal Advanced Materials.

The most laborious part the fabrication process was excluded when the Aalto University's Microfabrication group developed a novel maskless method for fabrication of pyramid-shaped nanostructures on a silicon surface using deep reactive ion etching. The nanostructured silicon wafer can be further used as a template to create an ealstomeric stamp, which can be used to replicate the original non-reflective and self-cleaning nanostructure into the different polymers.

Smooth silicon surfaces are mirror-like and they reflect more than 50 percent of incoming light, while nanostructured silicon and polymeric surfaces are almost completely non-reflecting. The reflectance is reduced at broad wavelength range due to smooth refractive index transition from air to substrate because of the nanostructures, says Lauri Sainiemi from Microfabrication group.

Non-reflecting surfaces and their fabrication methods are hot research topics because they are needed in realization of more efficient solar cells. Similar nanostructured silicon and polymeric surfaces can also be utilized in chemical analysis, because low reflectance is needed in analysis procedure. The second beneficial property of the surfaces is self-cleaning, which is based on nanostructures, which are coated with a thin low surface energy film.

The applications of the developed nanofabrication methods for silicon and polymers range from sensors to solar cells. The biggest strength of the fabrication methods is their scalability and possibility to large scale industrial manufacturing. I believe that there is interest because our fabrication methods enable simple and low-cost manufacturing of nanostructures on large areas and the methods are compatible with single-crystalline, poly-crystalline and amorphous silicon as well as wide variety of different polymers, concludes Sainiemi.

The group has already developed surfaces for chemical analysis of drugs in collaboration with other research groups and that research will continue in future. An interesting novel field is the development of more effective self-cleaning and dirt-repellant surfaces that would especially benefit solar cell research. The fabrication of water-repellent surfaces is fairly straightforward, but liquids with low surface tension can still contaminate the surface. At the moment we are developing novel surfaces that also repel oily liquids.

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 Aalto University, via AlphaGalileo.

Journal Reference:

Lauri Sainiemi, Ville Jokinen, Ali Shah, Maksim Shpak, Susanna Aura, Pia Suvanto, Sami Franssila. Non-Reflecting Silicon and Polymer Surfaces by Plasma Etching and Replication. Advanced Materials, 2010; DOI: 10.1002/adma.201001810

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


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Friday, January 21, 2011

Designing instruments for a robotic space probe to the Sun

ScienceDaily (Oct. 6, 2010) — A University of Delaware researcher is helping to design instruments for a robotic space probe that will go where no other has gone before: the sun.

William Matthaeus, professor of physics and astronomy at UD, is involved in NASA's Solar Probe Plus project, which is slated to launch by 2018.

The unmanned spacecraft, the size of a small car, will plunge directly into the sun's atmosphere to help uncover answers to perplexing mysteries about the fiery ball of plasma at the center of our solar system.

"The experiments selected for Solar Probe Plus are specifically designed to solve two key questions of solar physics -- why is the sun's outer atmosphere so much hotter than the sun's visible surface, and what propels the solar wind that affects Earth and our solar system? We've been struggling with these questions for decades and this mission should finally provide those answers," said Dick Fisher, director of NASA's Heliophysics Division, in a NASA news release.

Astrophysicists have been discussing the idea of sending an unmanned mission to the sun for years, Matthaeus says, but the technology to protect a space probe from the star's mega-heat was unavailable until recently.

To avoid the fate of the mythical Icarus, who flew too close to the sun and melted his wax-and-feather wings, the spacecraft's heat shield must be able to withstand extremely high temperatures and blasts of intense radiation in the solar atmosphere as it makes the nearly 90-million-mile trip from Earth to within 4 million miles of the sun.

"At the Solar Probe's closest approach, the light from the sun will be more than 500 times as intense as at Earth, and the surrounding gas, although very tenuous, will likely be at hundreds of thousands of degrees," Matthaeus notes. "Fortunately, NASA engineers have developed an effective special carbon-fiber heat shield and thermal control system."

The Solar Probe Plus mission encompasses five investigations totaling approximately $180 million for preliminary analysis, design, development and testing of the spacecraft and the instruments that will fly aboard it.

Matthaeus is the lead theorist on the Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun (ISIS) project, which is led by David McComas at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. The team is developing two instruments for monitoring the electrons, protons and ions that are accelerated to high energies in the sun's atmosphere. This continuous stream of outward-flowing particles from the sun is known as solar wind. It causes the northern and southern lights on Earth, and can cause magnetic storms capable of knocking out electrical power grids.

"The more we rely on satellite technology, such as GPS, the more vulnerable to magnetic storms we become. So we need to understand how they work in order to protect societal assets such as satellites in space, as well as humans who explore or work in space," says Matthaeus.

"The Solar Probe Plus orbit will spiral inward. The spacecraft will eventually get as close to 9-10 solar radii, which is about 20 times closer to the sun than Earth is," he notes.

As the instruments aboard the spacecraft measure magnetic and electric properties, astrophysicists will be able to eliminate some theories for how solar wind is generated and better understand the heliosphere, the vast magnetic bubble that contains our solar system.

"It is a real mission of discovery, visiting the sun's immediate environment for the first time," notes Matthaeus. "All along its journey into the solar atmosphere, Solar Probe will measure many of the ongoing processes that are responsible for maintaining and controlling the heliosphere."

Matthaeus is working to have UD students participate in exchange programs with collaborators from Italy, Great Britain, Thailand and Argentina who are involved in the theoretical research related to the mission.

Additionally, Matthaeus is a co-investigator on the Plasma Electron And Current Experiment (PEACE) electron instrument for the Cluster mission, an unmanned space mission sponsored by the European Space Agency to study Earth's magnetosphere using four identical spacecraft orbiting the Earth in formation; and on NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission, under development to explore magnetic reconnection, the often explosive mechanism by which magnetic energy is dissipated in the outer layers of Earth's magnetosphere, where Earth's magnetic field meets the solar wind.

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 Delaware. The original article was written by Tracey Bryant.

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


View the original article here