Has Your Home Got The Smarts?

Smartphone, Smart Home

Over the years, we’ve seen numerous variations of smart devices for your home, each one optimized for use with a remote control or smartphone. Often times, however, these units are very expensive and hardly ideal for the average consumer. Early iterations were limited by their lack of wi-fi and Bluetooth support, meaning they were ancient devices before they even hit the market. Today, a company called SmartThings has developed an affordable and utilitarian unit in each home. Taking advantage of the project funding website Kickstarter, SmartThings successfully reached and surpassed their entire funding goal. The device they’ve created is called… read more

3D Graphene Could Boost Thin Film Solar

3D Honeycombed Graphene Could Boost Thin Film Solar

Dye-sensitized solar cells are one of the up-and-coming renewable energy technologies, due to their flexibility, ease of production, and relatively low cost. But one of the materials essential to their manufacture, even if only in small amounts, is platinum, which currently costs as much as $1500 per ounce. But a recent breakthrough by a scientist at Michigan Technological University could replace the need for platinum in dye-sensitized solar cells by using a structure made from a plentiful and inexpensive material. Professor Yun Hang Hu and his team developed a way to inexpensively synthesize a new 3D version of graphene (a… read more

U.S. White House Installs Solar Panels

U.S. White House Installs Solar Panels

As part of an energy retrofit meant to improve the building’s overall energy efficiency, the United States White House will be getting solar panels to offset at least some of the iconic structure’s electrical demands. But the move to install a renewable energy source at a very notable location in the U.S. may help to do a lot more good in the long run than just through the electricity they generate, just by their very presence at the home of the President of the United States. According to the Washington Post, an official with the White House confirmed that solar… read more

CO2 from Power Plants Could Produce Electricity

CO2 from Power Plants Could Produce Electricity

Worldwide, power plants that burn coal, natural gas, or oil to generate electricity release a huge amount of CO2 – estimated at 12 billion tons of carbon dioxide released each year, as a byproduct of combustion. An additional 11 billion tons of CO2 per year is released to heat residential and commercial buildings generates, which adds up to quite a burden on the Earth’s atmosphere. But a new technology could be capable of using that same waste CO2 and generating electricity with it, which would turn a liability into a huge asset for the power industry. In a paper published… read more

Indian Railways Developing Solar-Powered Air Conditioning

Indian Railways to use Solar-Powered Air Conditioning

Solar power may eventually be used to power air conditioned coaches on railways in India, potentially cutting down on the use of fossil fuels to cool down the passengers. A new project from Integral Coach Factory and Indian Institute of Technology Madras will work to design a viable substitute for powering the air conditioning on passenger trains, some of which currently use an additional “power” car to provide energy for the AC systems. “We have asked IIT Madras to find ways to tap solar power and use it for interior lighting and air conditioning. An MoU was signed a month… read more

This Plastic Polar Bear Teaches Kids About Energy Use

This Plastic Polar Bear Teaches Kids About Energy Use

In order to really bring about a new energy paradigm, it’s important to start with our children, as the habits and attitudes they learn while young often end up being those they still have when they’re grown up. Educating our children on the importance of smart and reduced energy consumption can go a long way toward the helping the next generation build a more sustainable world. And to help with that, Bobo, a plastic polar bear, can make the electrical demand in your house easier to understand, by displaying different colors at different levels of power consumption. “Bobo is saving… read more

Fossil-Fuel Free Ammonia Process Produces Fuel from Air

Fossil-Fuel Free Ammonia Process Produces Fuel from Air

One of the fuels of the future could come from thin air, if a new technology pans out for producing ammonia from the atmosphere, without the need for any fossil-fuel feedstocks. While it’s mostly known for its use in agriculture as a fertilizer, ammonia (NH3) can be also be used as a cleaning agent, a refrigerant and as a fuel, powering engines such as that in the retrofitted Toyota GT86-R Marangoni Eco Explorer. But producing ammonia can be energy- and resource-intensive, most often created through heating coal or natural gas to use as a source for hydrogen, and then reacting… read more

Animated Guide to US Energy Use

Animated Guide to US Energy Use

How much do you know about the energy system in the U.S. (or any country, for that matter)? How much energy does it take to power an entire country, where does it all come from, and who’s using it all? It’s an incredibly complex system, and teasing out just enough information to be informed, without feeling as if we need to go get a graduate degree in order to understand it, can be tough. But The Atlantic’s series The User’s Guide to Energy goes a long way toward helping us get a grasp on how energy works in America. Here’s… read more

Dirt Cheap Solar Cells Could Be Coming

Dirt Cheap Solar Cells Could Be Coming

With today’s solar panels typically retailing for around $.75 USD, it’s no wonder that home solar power systems aren’t more widespread, as it takes a considerable investment to install a home-scale solar array. But if you can imagine a world where access to solar power could be as cheap as $.10 to .20 USD per watt, it’s simple to see that installing solar power systems for buildings and homes would become more of the norm, enabling owners to not only save money, but to be somewhat self-sufficient in their energy systems. And that day could be coming, as a new… read more

Low Cost, High Efficiency Mobile Solar Sensor Developed

Low Cost, High Efficiency Mobile Solar Sensor Developed

A new, highly efficient and low-cost mobile solar sensor for field analysis of solar cell performance has been developed by researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Electronics Science and Technology Division. The new sensor, which costs about $20 USD to produce, takes aim at the growing number of mobile solar power units, and the device can serve to measure and analyze solar cell irradiance performance and spectral distribution, which can help to improve both efficiency of systems and to forecast power supplies. “We have invented a novel minimum size, ultra-low power spectral radiometer unit with integrated data storage… read more