Graphene Could Boost Solar Efficiency to 60%

Graphene

Current solar cell technology, using silicon as the base, has a theoretical limit to its efficiency, which falls somewhere around 30%, but solar cells made with graphene may push that limit up to somewhere around 60%. The results of a study from researchers at the Institute of Photonic Sciences suggest that graphene might be the material of choice for the next generation of photovoltaic cells, as it is “highly efficient” at generating electrons from light. When hit by light, silicon generates just one electron for each photon absorbed, which is only a fraction of the potential energy in the photon…. read more

Fried Fuel

Fried Fuel

In the 1900’s, Rudolf Diesel successfully constructed the diesel engine, then stirred up controversy when he showed that his invention could be powered with peanut oil. The cooking oil as fuel concept did not really resurface again until the 1970’s when the oil industry was in emergency mode. Though the idea may not be new, innovative products are appearing that are making it easier for the average consumer to utilize agricultural based fuel methods. Diesel engines can be converted which enables them to run on new or recycled cooking oil. Though examples may make it sound as simple as pour… read more

Battery Recycling

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Batteries can be found in most homes, businesses and schools. While we need these little operators to power up our necessities and gadgets, they can pose a devastating effect on our environment as they contain toxic metal compounds. Recycling keeps them out of landfills and allows extracted metals to be reused. More services are becoming available to make recycling batteries easier as up to now it has been expensive and recycling centers have not been equipped to handle salvaging them. Earth911 provides an overview of various types of batteries. Alkaline manganese batteries are used to power many household items. These… read more

Energy from Footsteps

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With sustained growth in the population of urban regions, demand for power has increased drastically. Higher costs and less availability of fossil fuels means the need for innovation in harnessing alternative energy sources is urgently needed. One British company is working hard to make use of the urban “crowds” to generate power. A floor tile has been developed by Pavegen Systems Ltd that harvests energy from footsteps. The idea has enormous application when we consider the number of people who walk through a given area such as shopping malls, subways, and pedestrian paths everyday. The tile itself is green in colour, and is… read more

Simplifying Modern Life

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Technology makes life easier and more convenient. With the advancements in software and micro chip design, technology has enabled consumers to reduce their carbon footprint by consolidating many devices into one. For instance, it is no longer necessary to carry a camera, or an mp3 player, or a GPS or a laptop or a gaming console or an eBook. Instead a compact Smartphone can do the work of all the above mentioned devices and proves the proverb that “good things come in small packages”. Due to the personal nature of this mobile technology, we as consumers can modify our behaviour… read more

Eco-Friendly Washers

ECO Bubble

Water is becoming a rare and valued commodity these days, especially in underdeveloped nations and countries with overpopulation problems. Solutions have been to ration water intake in places such as Australia, places in South Africa, cities in the U.S., etc. One of the main water-guzzlers is the washing machine. We typically wash 3-5 loads of laundry each week, which adds up over time. And up until recently, there hasn’t been a clear (or affordable) alternative to the traditional washing machine. According to the Energy Star website, to be considered an eco-friendly washer, the machine must use “20% less energy, and… read more

Glowing Trees

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The blockbuster movie Avatar depicted many inspirational and creative ideas of new forms of life. Imagine if one such idea, the glowing trees providing luminescence in the dark, could become a reality. Modern display and lighting devices use LED for illumination,which includes phosphor powder to simulate light of different wavelengths. These phosphor powders are highly toxic and are expensive. Dr Yen-Hsun Su of the Academia Sinica in Taiwan, has led a team that have discovered a way to develop a less toxic substance to replace the phosphor powder which poses a serious threat to human health. This project resulted in bio-LEDs, developed by… read more

Smart Wind Turbines

A New Kind of Rotor

Everything seems to be getting smarter these days. First were the cellphones, then came smart cars, wristwatches, and houses. The next tech getting a brainy update will be, quite unusually, wind turbines.Yes, those giant, looming turbines you see as you drive past empty fields will soon be smarter than you . . . almost. The turbines themselves won’t change much, as their infrastructure will remain. The only difference will be in production levels. With wind and solar power leading our nation away from dependence on oil to power the nation’s energy grid, it only makes sense that we should increase… read more

Tips for a Green Computer

A green computer

In a report last year by Environmental researchers some alarming information was released. They took four laptop computers of leading brands and took an x-ray scan which revealed that those laptops had some very hazardous materials inside them. Unavoidably, the manufacturing itself involves additions of hazardous materials in order to fulfill certain customer needs such as a sleek design and an appealing look. We cannot compromise the hardware by spending money on a “Green Computer” which would be made of non-toxic recycled materials; rather we can save the power consumed when we are using the computer. There are some very simple and… read more

A Light in the Dark

GravityLight

From time to time we read a lot of news about innovation in the lighting industry and new means of producing light which is green and energy efficient. Apart from electricity which powers incandescent and LED lights, solar is another option for generating power. Due to its cost and practical application this alternative source of energy is not widely used in many developing countries. Recent research at the University of California claims kerosene lamps which are used in most part of India and Africa are more hazardous to the environment and human health than we think. Designers Martin Riddiford and… read more