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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.


View the original article here

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.


View the original article here

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.


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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

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

ScienceDaily (Nov. 12, 2010) — New ultra-clean nanowires produced at the Nano-Science Center, University of Copenhagen will have a central role in the development of new high-efficiency solar cells and electronics on a nanometer scale. PhD student Peter Krogstrup, Niels Bohr Institute, in collaboration with a number of well-known researchers and the company SunFlake A/S, is behind the breakthrough. The new findings have recently been published in the journal Nano Letters.

Nanowires are one-dimensional structures with unique electrical and optical properties -- a kind of building blocks, which researchers use to create nanoscale devices. In recent years, there has been a great deal of research into how nanowires can be used as building blocks in the development of solar cells. One of the challenges is controlling the production of nanowires. The new ultra-clean nanowires are part of the solution. Ultra clean means that the electronic structure is perfectly uniform throughout the nanowires, which is a very important part in obtaining nano-electronic devices of high performance. This is achieved by growing the wires without the use of a metal catalysis like gold, and at the same time having a perfect crystal of only one single structural phase which until now have been impossible for these types of nanowires.

"The ultra-clean wires are grown on a silicon substrate with an extremely thin layer of natural oxide. The element Gallium, which is a part of the nanowire material, reacts with the oxide and makes small holes in the oxide layer, and here the gallium collects into small droplets of a few nanometers in thickness. These droplets capture the element Arsenic -- the other material in the nanowire and through a self-catalytic effect starts the growth of the nanowires without interference from other substances," explains Peter Krogstrup. The breakthrough is the result of a year's work in connection with his PhD.

Control over the cultivation of nanowires

Numerous experiments with different growing conditions have made the researchers wiser to physics behind the formation of the nanowires. A nanowire normally consists of both hexagonal and cubic crystal segments, but the new nanowires only consist of a perfect cubic crystal structure. This means that the path of the electrons through the wire is unaffected and thus suffers less energy loss which leads to a higher efficiency.

"This better understanding of the growing process gives us control over the cultivation of nanowires and the clean wires are the starting point for my current work developing a high efficiency solar cell based on nanowires. With these results we are a good step closer to this goal," explains Peter Krogstrup, pointing out that his nanowires are grown on a silicon substrate.

"The substrate is cheaper than the alternative substrates that many other researchers use. It is important because ultimately it is about getting as much energy as possible for as little cost as possible," explains Peter Krogstrup, whose research is conducted in collaboration with the company SunFlake A/S, which is located at the Nano-Science Center at the University of Copenhagen. The company is working to develop the solar cells of the future based on the nanostructures of Gallium and Arsenic.

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 Copenhagen.

Journal Reference:

Peter Krogstrup, Ronit Popovitz-Biro, Erik Johnson, Morten Hannibal Madsen, Jesper Nygård, Hadas Shtrikman. Structural Phase Control in Self-Catalyzed Growth of GaAs Nanowires on Silicon (111). Nano Letters, 2010; : 101008135250080 DOI: 10.1021/nl102308k

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


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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Data clippers to set sail to enhance future planetary missions

ScienceDaily (Sep. 20, 2010) — 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.

According to Joel Poncy of Thales Alenia Space, the technology could be ready in time to support mid-term missions to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Poncy will be presenting an assessment of data clippers at the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) 2010 in Rome on Sept. 20, 2010.

"Space-rated flash memories will soon be able to store the huge quantities of data needed for the global mapping of planetary bodies in high resolution. But a full high-res map of, say, Europa or Titan, would take several decades to download from a traditional orbiter, even using very large antennae. Downloading data is the major design driver for interplanetary missions. We think that data clippers would be a very efficient way of overcoming this bottleneck," said Poncy.

Poncy and his team at Thales Alenia Space have carried out a preliminary assessment for a data clipper mission. Their concept is for a clipper to fly close to a planetary orbiter, upload its data and fly by Earth, at which point terabytes of data could be downloaded to the ground station. A fleet of data clippers cruising around the Solar System could provide support for an entire suite of planetary missions.

"We have looked at the challenges of a data clipper mission and we think that it could be ready for a launch in the late 2020s. This means that the technology should be included now in the roadmap for future missions, and this is why we are presenting this study at EPSC," said Poncy.

Poncy's team have assessed the communications systems and tracking devices that a data clipper would need, as well as the flyby conditions and pointing accuracy required for the massive data transfers. Recent advances in technology mean that spacecraft propelled by solar sails, which use radiation pressure from photons emitted by the Sun, or electric sails, which harness the momentum of the solar wind, can now be envisaged for mid-term missions. The Japanese Space Agency, JAXA, is currently testing a solar sail mission, IKAROS.

"Using the Sun as a propulsion source has the considerable advantage of requiring no propellant on board. As long as the hardware doesn't age too much and the spacecraft is manoeuvrable, the duration of the mission can be very long. The use of data clippers could lead to a valuable downsizing of exploration missions and lower ground operation costs -- combined with a huge science return. The orbiting spacecraft would still download some samples of their data directly to Earth to enable real-time discoveries and interactive mission operations. But the bulk of the data is less urgent and is often processed by scientists much later. Data clippers could provide an economy delivery service from the outer Solar System, over and over again," said Poncy.

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 Europlanet Media Centre, via AlphaGalileo.

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


View the original article here

Sunday, January 16, 2011

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

ScienceDaily (Nov. 1, 2010) — 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.

"There's a misunderstanding in the public about moving to alternative energy and moving from mining, which can't be done," said James Burnell of the Colorado Geological Survey. Burnell will be speaking about the resource demands of alternative energy technologies on Nov. 2 at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Denver.

There is a long list of scarce metals needed for alternative energy and transportation. Metals like gallium, indium, selenium, tellurium, and high purity silicon are needed to make photovoltaic panels. To make batteries there's zinc, vanadium, lithium and rare earth elements as well as platinum group minerals for fuel cell-powered vehicles. One of the biggest players in the scarce metals game is China, and they are starting to play hard ball, says Burnell.

China is preparing to build 330 giga-watts worth of wind generators. That will require about 59,000 tons of neodymium to make high-strength magnets -- more than that country's annual output of neodymium. China supplies the world with a lot of those rare earth elements, like neodymium, and will have little or none to export if it moves ahead with its wind power plans.

"So the source for the West is problematical," said Burnell. Trade wars are on the horizon, he predicted. Yet policy makers and the public seem only superficially aware of the problem.

"It is obvious that Japan was upset by the practical pause of rare earth export by China in late September," said Yasushi Watanabe of the Institute for Geo-Resources and Environment in Tsukuba, Japan. On Nov. 1 at the same Geological Society of America meeting Watanabe will be presenting his work on the geology of these critical elements and where they can be found.

New sources of these critical metals are needed, said Watanabe, as well as new methods for extracting the rare elements from different kinds of rocks.

"Extraction methods of metals from new minerals and materials are not well established," said Watanabe. "We need to develop new (refining) and smelting methods for new type ores."

We also need to find those ores and start exploiting them, said Burnell. That means more mining. It's the only way we can stay competitive in the new energy future, he believes.

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 The Geological Society of America, via AlphaGalileo.

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


View the original article here

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Camper Designs and Alternative Energy : Solar Power to Grid Plans

Camper Designs and Alternative Energy : Solar Power to Grid PlansCamper Designs:
There are 18 different camper designs for Slide-on Campers, Truck Campers and Campervans. These 18 designs provide you with a good choice and a range of ideas. Most of the designs are for a removable camper that will suit most small flat tray vehicles, utes, trucks, pickups etc. Equipped with camping and sleeping facilities for two to five the designs are to scale and incorporate fridge, sink, stove, double bed, shower, seating with table, benches and cupboards. There is space provided for a small TV and a small microwave if required with most designs also incorporating an additional single bunk and shower. The designs incorporate some unique aerodynamic features, to reduce drag, and take into consideration weight and weight distribution. The camper designs and wiring diagram are also accompanied by a comprehensive publication covering topics like how to install optional extras such as an auxiliary battery, low voltage isolator, water pumps etc with explanations on the use and advantages of these appliances. Many other camper tips are also included. There is no frame work shown as this may vary depending on the materials used to manufacture the camper eg timber or metal.

Electrical Systems:
This information is mainly on the 12 Volt system which in simple terms explains how the system works and what various components are used for enabling you to design your own circuits.

Alternative Energy:
Explains the advantages and disadvantages of alternative energy including solar power, wind and water generators etc and how to determine which is the most efficient and effective method for your needs including connecting your system to the grid. Also explains the different types of lighting systems available and their advantages. Compares the efficiency of different technologies used in some electrical appliances and exposes some of the myths.

How this book came about:
I've spent 9 years on and off writing this publication. I am an automotive electrical mechanic by trade (auto electrician). I did 3 years camping around in a campervan attending camper club rallies and expos along the way. I have designed houses with energy saving concepts, including solar power connected to the grid, a couple of which have been built and I also designed approx 35 slide on campers and campervans. The publication does not contain all of these, just a good variety of styles of the best designs.
Thank you for your time in reading this. Regards Geoff

A few of the topics covered by this comprehensive publication are as follows:

- Introduction
- Aerodynamics
- Ventilation
- Safety and security
- Camper frame
- Features
- Fridges
- Automatic charging
- Camper designs
- Resistance
- Current
- Voltage
- Watts
- Difference 12V & 110V / 240V
- Formulas
- Ways electricity works
- Connecting metres
- Fuses
- Relays
- Voltage isolator
- Inverters
- Spare battery
- Regulators
- Smart regulators
- Lighting
- Alternator or Generator
- Perpetual motion
- Alternative energy
- Solar panels
- Wind power
- Water power
- Genset
- Efficiency
- Solar hot water
- Examples
- Dummy loads
- Converters
- Maximisers
- Efficiency and costs
- Self sufficient 12V
- Self sufficient 110V / 240V
- Wiring Diagrams

© G Tabain 2002 - 2010

Price: $8.50


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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Kaito Electronics Inc. KA500GRN Voyager Solar/Dynamo Emergency Radio - Green

Kaito Electronics Inc. KA500GRN Voyager Solar/Dynamo Emergency Radio - GreenThe 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 daytime. 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 fro

Price: $79.99


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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thames and Kosmos Alternative Energy and Environmental Science Power House Green Essentials

Thames and Kosmos Alternative Energy and Environmental Science Power House Green Essentials

To live sustainably, we must use Earthâ??s resources at a rate at which they can be replenished, and thus provide for future generations to live as we have. In this kit, you can learn about alternative energy and sustainable living by conducting experiments and building energy-related models. Thirty of the best experiments and the ten most important building projects from the original Power House kit are presented in this new Green Essentials Edition. The ten building projects include: the power house itself, a greenhouse, a solar cell array, a passive solar collector, a solar oven, an air conditioner, a refrigerator, a hydrometer, a lemon battery, and a wind power generator.

Experiment with the heating, cooling, and insulation of the house and greenhouse. Test passive solar collection methods with a solar collector. Assemble a solar power array to explore active solar power with photovoltaics. Build a model refrigerator and air conditioner to learn about heat transfer. Experiment with a lemon battery to learn about power storage. Set up a wind turbine to generate electricity from the wind.

As you perform the experiments, you will read the diary entries of a group of young explorers who are learning to live a sustainable existence on an island. To survive, they must implement real-world versions of the projects you are doing in the kit. Ages 10 and up.

Price: $99.99


Click here to buy from Amazon

Monday, January 10, 2011

Turning waste heat into power

ScienceDaily (Oct. 3, 2010) — What do a car engine, a power plant, a factory and a solar panel have in common? They all generate heat -- a lot of which is wasted.

University of Arizona physicists have discovered a new way of harvesting waste heat and turning it into electrical power.

Using a theoretical model of a so-called molecular thermoelectric device, the technology holds great promise for making cars, power plants, factories and solar panels more efficient, to name a few possible applications. In addition, more efficient thermoelectric materials would make ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, obsolete.

The research group led by Charles Stafford, associate professor of physics, published its findings in the September issue of the scientific journal, ACS Nano.

"Thermoelectricity makes it possible to cleanly convert heat directly into electrical energy in a device with no moving parts," said lead author Justin Bergfield, a doctoral candidate in the UA College of Optical Sciences.

"Our colleagues in the field tell us they are pretty confident that the devices we have designed on the computer can be built with the characteristics that we see in our simulations."

"We anticipate the thermoelectric voltage using our design to be about 100 times larger than what others have achieved in the lab," Stafford added.

Catching the energy lost through waste heat has been on the wish list of engineers for a long time but, so far, a concept for replacing existing devices that is both more efficient and economically competitive has been lacking.

Unlike existing heat-conversion devices such as refrigerators and steam turbines, the devices of Bergfield and Stafford require no mechanics and no ozone-depleting chemicals. Instead, a rubber-like polymer sandwiched between two metals acting as electrodes can do the trick.

Car or factory exhaust pipes could be coated with the material, less than 1 millionth of an inch thick, to harvest energy otherwise lost as heat and generate electricity.

The physicists take advantage of the laws of quantum physics, a realm not typically tapped into when engineering power-generating technology. To the uninitiated, the laws of quantum physics appear to fly in the face of how things are "supposed" to behave.

The key to the technology lies in a quantum law physicists call wave-particle duality: Tiny objects such as electrons can behave either as a wave or as a particle.

"In a sense, an electron is like a red sports car," Bergfield said. "The sports car is both a car and it's red, just as the electron is both a particle and a wave. The two are properties of the same thing. Electrons are just less obvious to us than sports cars."

Bergfield and Stafford discovered the potential for converting heat into electricity when they studied polyphenyl ethers, molecules that spontaneously aggregate into polymers, long chains of repeating units. The backbone of each polyphenyl ether molecule consists of a chain of benzene rings, which in turn are built from carbon atoms. The chain link structure of each molecule acts as a "molecular wire" through which electrons can travel.

"We had both worked with these molecules before and thought about using them for a thermoelectric device," Bergfield said, "but we hadn't really found anything special about them until Michelle Solis, an undergrad who worked on independent study in the lab, discovered that, low and behold, these things had a special feature."

Using computer simulations, Bergfield then "grew" a forest of molecules sandwiched between two electrodes and exposed the array to a simulated heat source.

"As you increase the number of benzene rings in each molecule, you increase the power generated," Bergfield said.

The secret to the molecules' capability to turn heat into power lies in their structure: Like water reaching a fork in a river, the flow of electrons along the molecule is split in two once it encounters a benzene ring, with one flow of electrons following along each arm of the ring.

Bergfield designed the benzene ring circuit in such a way that in one path the electron is forced to travel a longer distance around the ring than the other. This causes the two electron waves to be out of phase once they reunite upon reaching the far side of the benzene ring. When the waves meet, they cancel each other out in a process known as quantum interference. When a temperature difference is placed across the circuit, this interruption in the flow of electric charge leads to the buildup of an electric potential -- voltage -- between the two electrodes.

Wave interference is a concept exploited by noise-cancelling headphones: Incoming sound waves are met with counter waves generated by the device, wiping out the offending noise.

"We are the first to harness the wave nature of the electron and develop a concept to turn it into usable energy," Stafford said.

Analogous to solid state versus spinning hard drive type computer memory, the UA-designed thermoelectric devices require no moving parts. By design, they are self-contained, easier to manufacture and easier to maintain compared to currently available technology.

"You could just take a pair of metal electrodes and paint them with a single layer of these molecules," Bergfield said. "That would give you a little sandwich that would act as your thermoelectric device. With a solid-state device you don't need cooling agents, you don't need liquid nitrogen shipments, and you don't need to do a lot of maintenance."

"You could say, instead of Freon gas, we use electron gas," Stafford added.

"The effects we see are not unique to the molecules we used in our simulation," Bergfield said. "Any quantum-scale device where you have a cancellation of electric charge will do the trick, as long as there is a temperature difference. The greater the temperature difference, the more power you can generate."

Molecular thermoelectric devices could help solve an issue currently plaguing photovoltaic cells harvesting energy from sunlight.

"Solar panels get very hot and their efficiency goes down," Stafford said. "You could harvest some of that heat and use it to generate additional electricity while simultaneously cooling the panel and making its own photovoltaic process more efficient."

"With a very efficient thermoelectric device based on our design, you could power about 200 100-Watt light bulbs using the waste heat of an automobile," he said. "Put another way, one could increase the car's efficiency by well over 25 percent, which would be ideal for a hybrid since it already uses an electrical motor."

So, next time you watch a red sports car zip by, think of the hidden power of the electron and how much more efficient that sports car could be with a thermoelectric device wrapped around its exhaust pipe.

Funding for this research was provided by the University of Arizona physics department.

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 Arizona, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Journal Reference:

Justin P. Bergfield, Michelle A. Solis, Charles A. Stafford. Giant Thermoelectric Effect from Transmission Supernodes. ACS Nano, 2010; 4 (9): 5314 DOI: 10.1021/nn100490g

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


View the original article here

Saturday, January 8, 2011

SOS Charger ® Hand-Crank Emergency Cell Phone Charger with 3 LED Flashlight

SOS Charger ® Hand-Crank Emergency Cell Phone Charger with 3 LED Flashlight

Charge your cell phone and light the way when you need it most. For travel, auto/boat, outdoors and emergencies.



What would you do in an emergency situation only to have no power on your mobile phone? How many times have you reached for your flashlight just to find the battery dead, especially during a power outage?



SOS Charger is the perfect solution for these scenarios and more! Compact, small and reliable, the SOS Charger is powered by you-simply wind the handle to generate the power needed to make a quick call, send a text message, and light the way!



Fast reliable charging, powered by YOU:



Recharging your mobile phone or USB-powered device (such as Bluetooth headsets) is as simple as turning the handle. Rotating the handle in either direction outputs stable, voltage-regulated power to your mobile phone or other mobile device.



Super-bright 3 LED Flashlight:



Winding for 60-seconds provides up to 30-minutes of continuous light. Rechargeable internal power cell allows simultaneous flashlight use and device charging. Flashlight operates in three power settings:





Full power (3-LED Mode) outputs super-bright light


Energy saving (1-LED Mode) bright light with lower energy consumption


SOS Mode (Flashing LED Mode) flashes to get attention



Mobile Phone adapter pack included:



Compatible with most modern phones with included adapters for BlackBerry, Nokia, LG, Motorola, Sony-Ericsson and other brands that utilize mini-USB or micro-USB inputs.

*Not currently compatible with iPhone.



Universal USB Charger:



Works with many USB powered devices including MP3 players, GPS units, PDA units and Bluetooth headsets. Simply use one of our adapter tips or your existing portable device's USB charging cable.

Price: $24.99


Click here to buy from Amazon

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Renewables account for 62 percent of the new electricity generation capacity installed in the EU in 2009

ScienceDaily (July 5, 2010) — The "Renewable Energy Snapshots" report, published by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, shows that renewable energy sources accounted for 62 percent of the new electricity generation capacity installed in the EU27 in 2009. The share rose from 57 percent in 2008. In absolute terms, renewables produced 19.9 percent of Europe's electricity consumption last year.

Cautious optimism

In 2009, and in absolute terms, about 19.9% (608 TWh) of Europe's total electricity consumption (3042 TWh) came from renewable energy sources. Hydro power contributed with the largest share (11.6%), followed by wind (4.2%), biomass (3.5%), and solar (0.4%).

With regards to the new capacity constructed that same year (27.5 GW), among the renewable sources, 37.1% was wind power, 21% photovoltaics (PV), 2.1% biomass, 1.4% hydro and 0.4% concentrated solar power, whereas the rest were gas fired power stations (24%), coal fired power stations (8.7%), oil (2.1%), waste incineration (1.6%) and nuclear (1.6%) (see figure1).

As not all installed technologies operate continuously 24 hours a day, figure 2 shows the expected yearly energy output (TWh) from the new capacity. The new gas-fired electricity plants will deliver yearly 28 TWh, followed by wind and PV with 20 TWh and 5.6 TWh, respectively.

If current growth rates are maintained, in 2020 up to 1400 TWh of electricity could be generated from renewable sources, the report concludes. This would account for approximately 35-40% of overall electricity consumption in the EU, depending on the success of community policies on electricity efficiency, and would contribute significantly to the fulfilment of the 20% target for energy generation from renewables.

However, it also advises that some issues need to be resolved if the targets are to be met. Particular areas of focus include ensuring fair access to grids, substantial public R&D support, and the adaptation of current electricity systems to accommodate renewable electricity. The study highlights that cost reduction and accelerated implementation will depend on the production volume and not on time.

Summary of 2010 snapshot findings

Wind energy: with more than 74 GW of total installed capacity in 2009, it has already exceeded the 2010 white paper target of 40 GW by more than 80%. The European Wind Association's new target aims for 230 GW of installed capacity (40 GW offshore) by 2020, capable of providing about 20% of Europe's electricity demand.

Biomass: if current growth continues, electricity output from biomass could double from 2008 to 2010 (from 108 TWh to 200 TWh). However, other energy uses such as heat and transport fuels compete for this particular source, which could potentially hinder the development of bioelectricity. Being storable for use on demand increases its importance as a source of electricity.

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP): installed capacity is still relatively small in Europe: 0.430 GW in May 2010, about 0.5% of the total, but is steadily increasing. An estimated 30 GW could be installed by 2020 if the European Solar Industry Initiative ESII is realised. Most CSP projects currently under construction are located in Spain.

Solar Photovoltaic: since 2003, the total installed capacity has doubled each year. In 2009 it reached 16 GW, which represents 2% of the overall capacity. The growth will continue, as for 2010, installations of up to 10 GW are expected. Solar photovoltaic has also exceeded the capacity predictions formulated by in the EU white paper on renewable sources of energy.

Other sources of power: technologies such as geothermal, tidal and wave power are still at the R&D stage, so they have not yet been included in the Renewable Energy Snapshots. Yet, they are likely to be introduced to the market within the next decade. As far as hydro generation is concerned, no major increase is expected, as most of the resources are already in use. However, pumped hydro will play an increasingly important role as in a storage capacity for the other renewable energy resources.

Background

The JRC has produced the annual Renewable Energy Snapshots since 2007 to give an up-to-date picture of the EU's progress towards the binding target of 20% for energy generation from renewable sources by 2020.

These Renewable Energy Snapshots are based on two types of data: official figures from EU countries or EUROSTAT and those provided by industry associations, research industries, etc.

This second type is known as "grey" data. It consists of more recent, unconsolidated data, which are needed for such an early analysis. They are cross-checked, consulted and validated by the JRC.

However, due to the methodology of collection, values might deviate and there is therefore a margin of uncertainty which should be taken into account.

Download

The 2010 Renewable Energy Snapshots is available at: http://re.jrc.ec.europa.eu/refsys/

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 European Commission Joint Research Centre, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

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


View the original article here

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Reports detail global investment and other trends in green energy

ScienceDaily (July 15, 2010) — In 2009, for the second year in a row, both the US and Europe added more power capacity from renewable sources such as wind and solar than conventional sources like coal, gas and nuclear, according to twin reports launched today by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21).

Renewables accounted for 60 per cent of newly installed capacity in Europe and more than 50 per cent in the USA in 2009. This year or next, experts predict, the world as a whole will add more capacity to the electricity supply from renewable than non-renewable sources.

The reports detail trends in the global green energy sector, including which sources attracted the greatest attention from investors and governments in different world regions.

They say investment in core clean energy (new renewables, biofuels and energy efficiency) decreased by 7% in 2009, to $162 billion. Many sub-sectors declined significantly in money invested, including large (utility) scale solar power and biofuels. However, there was record investment in wind power. If spending on solar water heaters, as well as total installation costs for rooftop solar PV, were included, total investment in 2009 actually increased in 2009, bucking the economic trend.

New private and public sector investments in core clean energy leapt 53 per cent in China in 2009. China added 37 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power capacity, more than any other country.

Globally, nearly 80 GW of renewable power capacity was added, including 31 GW of hydro and 48 GW of non-hydro capacity.

China surpassed the US in 2009 as the country with the greatest investment in clean energy. China's wind farm development was the strongest investment feature of the year by far, although there were other areas of strength worldwide in 2009, notably North Sea offshore wind investment and the financing of power storage and electric vehicle technology companies.

Wind power and solar PV additions reached a record high of 38 GW and 7 GW, respectively. Investment totals in utility-scale solar PV declined relative to 2008, partly a result of large drops in the costs of solar PV. However, this decline was offset by record investment in small-scale (rooftop) solar PV projects.

The reports also show that countries with policies encouraging renewable energy have roughly doubled from 55 in 2005 to more than 100 today -- half of them in the developing world -- and have played a critically important role in the sector's rapid growth.

The sister reports, UNEP's Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2010 and the REN21's Renewables 2010 Global Status Report, were released by UN Under-Secretary-General Achim Steiner, UNEP's Executive Director, and Mohamed El-Ashry, Chair of REN21. The UNEP report was prepared by London-based Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The REN21 report was produced by a team of authors in collaboration with a global network of research partners.

The UNEP report focuses on the global trends in sustainable energy investment, covering both the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors. The REN21 report offers a broad look at the status of renewable energy worldwide today, covering power regeneration, heating and cooling and transport fuels, and paints the landscape of policies and targets introduced around the world to promote renewable energy.

Says Mr. Steiner: "The sustainable energy investment story of 2009 was one of resilience, frustration and determination. Resilience to the financial downturn that was hitting all sectors of the global economy and frustration that, while the UN climate convention meeting in Copenhagen was not the big breakdown that might have occurred, neither was it the big breakthrough so many had hoped for. Yet there was determination on the part of many industry actors and governments, especially in rapidly developing economies, to transform the financial and economic crisis into an opportunity for greener growth.

"There remains however a serious gap between the ambition and the science in terms of where the world needs to be in 2020 to avoid dangerous climate change. But what this five years of research underlines is that this gap is not unbridgeable. Indeed, renewable energy is consistently and persistently bucking the trends and can play its part in realizing a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy if government policy sends ever harder market signals to investors," he added.

Says Mr El-Ashry: "Favorable policies now in place in more than 100 countries have played a critical role in the strength of global renewable energy investments recently. For the upward trend of renewable energy growth to continue, policy efforts now need to be taken to the next level and encourage a massive scale up of renewable technologies."

Says Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance: "The relatively resilient performance of the sector during the current economic downturn shows that clean energy was not a bubble created by the late stages of the credit boom, but is instead an investment theme that will remain important for the years ahead."

In 2009 renewable sources represented:

25 per cent of global power (electricity) capacity (1,230 gigawatts (GW) out of 4,800 GW total all sources, including coal, gas, nuclear)18 per cent of global power production60 per cent of newly installed power capacity in Europe and more than 50 per cent in the US; the world as a whole should reach 50 per cent or more in newly-installed power capacity from renewables in 2010 or 2011.

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 UNEP Division of Technology Industry and Economics, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

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


View the original article here

Monday, January 3, 2011

Striding towards a new dawn for electronics

ScienceDaily (Oct. 13, 2010) — 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. A team of McGill University researchers now reports 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.

"We may easily study energy transport in a cable as thick as a hair, but imagine studying this process in a single polymer molecule, whose thickness is one-millionth of that!" said Dr. Gonzalo Cosa of McGill's Department of Chemistry, lead researcher.

Working in collaboration with Dr. Isabelle Rouiller of McGill's Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, the team used state-of-the-art optical and electron microscopes and were able to entrap the polymer molecules into vesicles -- tiny sacs smaller than a human body cell. The researchers visualized their ability to transport energy in various conformations.

"This research is novel because we are able to look at energy transport in individual polymer molecules rather than obtaining measurements arising from a collection of billions of them. It's like looking at the characteristics of a single person rather than having to rely on census data for the entire world population," Cosa explains. Conductive polymers are long organic molecules typically referred to as nanowires. Components along the polymer backbone successfully pass energy between each other when the polymer is collapsed (coiled within itself), but the process is slowed down when the polymer backbone is extended. A greater understanding of how this process works will enable us to develop a range of technologies in the future."

The studies are critical to applications in daily life such as sensors involving the detection and the differentiation of cells, pathogens, and toxins. They may also help in the future to develop hybrid organic-inorganic light harvesting materials for solar cells.

The research was published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and received funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

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 McGill University, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Journal Reference:

Pierre Karam, An Thien Ngo, Isabelle Rouiller, Gonzalo Cosa. Unraveling electronic energy transfer in single conjugated polyelectrolytes encapsulated in lipid vesicles. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2010; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1008068107

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


View the original article here

Why Are People So Resistant to Self-Preparedness?

My husband and I survived a record ice storm shortly after moving into a new home in a new state. We were totally unprepared. If nothing else the experience taught me the importance of being prepared.

Why are people so resistant to self-preparedness? Must it take being caught unaware and facing the very real danger of not coming out on the other side to wake us up?

Now, being prepared for disaster makes as much sense to me as being prepared for life by putting your attention and money toward your education.

Speaking of education, here are some interesting facts I discovered while educating myself on self-preparedness. It's not just an occasional ice storm that concerns me now, its the state if our beautiful planet as a whole.

1. In 1790, in England, the first gaslights were developed.

2.  In 1859 the first oil well was drilled the United States.

3.  In 1861 a German, Nikolaus Otto, invented the first gasoline-burning engine.

4.  In 1882 coral Benz invented the automobile.

5.  In 1920 we saw the first regular airplane passenger service.  Some
geologists warned the fossil fuel deposits would soon be used.  But
their morning was not heeded.

6.  By the mid-1900s cars had become the favorite mode of travel.

7.  By the 1950s the citizens of the US enjoyed brand names, credit,
automobiles, processed and packaged foods and more and more plastic
products.  Outhouses were on their way out with the development of
waterborne sewage management.  We were now dependent on lavish
consumptions of fossil fuel.

8.  In 1975 1 million cars were registered.  In New York City in
entire neighborhoods were wiped out so the city could be redesigned to
accommodate this wonderful invention that so greatly changed our
lives.

I am amazed at what mankind could accomplish between the years 1790 in 1975.
Today we have almost reached the point of no return. I for one do not
believe that jobs will be lost and economies fail if we put the same
intelligence and drive we used to pollute our planet toward finding
ways to save our planet through alternative energy.

Could not a populace of such intelligence and drive have been more
responsible in their consideration to the health of our world as well
as the health of themselves and generations to come?  And yet today
the pollution and depletion of our fossil fuels continues to increase
amide warnings after warnings.

Another thing I have learned is setting up solar can be expensive and work intensive, or it can be easy and even portable. I don't know about you, but I prefer less expensive, easy and portable.

To check out the systems I found, go to www.alternativeenergysolution.info
To look at a whole range of self-preparedness products go to www.solutionsfromscience.com 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Charging up electric car batteries in environmentally-friendly way

ScienceDaily (July 24, 2010) — Electromobility makes sense only if car batteries are charged using electricity from renewable energy sources. But the supply of green electricity is not always adequate. An intelligent charging station can help, by adapting the recharging times to suit energy supply and network capacity.

Germany aims to have one million electric vehicles -- powered by energy from renewable sources -on the road by 2020. And, within ten years, the German environment ministry expects "green electricity" to make up 30 percent of all power consumed. Arithmetically speaking, it would be possible to achieve CO2-neutral electromobility. But, in reality, it is a difficult goal to attain. As more and more solar and wind energy is incorporated in the power grid, the proportion of electricity that cannot be controlled by simply pressing a button is on the increase. In addition, there is a growing risk that the rising number of electric vehicles will trigger extreme surges in demand during rush hour.

"What we need is a smart grid that carries information in addition to power," says Dominik Noeren of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE. The structure of the grid has to change from a push system based on energy demand to a pull system based on production output. In Noeren's opinion, "electric cars are best equipped to meet this challenge." Introduced in large numbers, they have the capacity to store a lot of energy. On average, a car is parked for at least 20 hours out of 24. That is more than enough time to recharge them when the wind picks up or the demand for electricity is low.

Developed by Fraunhofer researchers, the "smart" charging station is a device that enables electric vehicles to recharge when the system load is low and the share of energy from renewable resources is high. In this way, load peaks can be avoided and the contribution of solar and wind power fully exploited. "For us, it is important that end consumers are completely free to decide when they want to recharge. We do not want them to suffer any disadvantages from the controlled recharging of their vehicles' batteries," Noeren emphasizes. That's why he favors electricity rates that adapt to the prevailing situation in the power grid -- ones that are more expensive in periods of peak demand and particularly cheap when there is a surfeit of renewable energy.

The person using the "smart" charging station could then choose between recharging immediately or opting for a cheaper, possibly longer, recharging time. If they go for the second option, all they need to do is enter the time when their vehicle has to be ready to drive again. The charging station takes care of everything else, calculating the costs and controlling the recharging process. Via the display the user can track the progress of recharging and also see the costs incurred and the amount of energy used.

The experts will be presenting their charging device at the Hannover Messe from April 19 through 23.

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, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

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


View the original article here