TAG: Energy

Solar Panels Finally Giving Back

Solar panels on a building

Solar panels aren’t usually the type of thing you’d worry about sucking energy. After all, they’re supposed to be harnessing natural energy from the sun and putting it to good use towards whatever it’s connected to. Yet, until roughly 2010, solar panels used more electricity than they put out. This is due largely in part to the extraordinary speed in which the solar industry has grown. We’re finally seeing progress on the energy-usage front, but it’s been a slow and steady campaign. Luckily, analysts believe we’ll put back that used energy by the year 2020, so all is well. Manufacturing… read more

Keeping Cool And Green

Keeping Cool And Green

Life without air conditioning has become impossible to imagine in some parts of the world and with temperatures predicted to rise in the future this situation does not look like changing. However air conditioning is notorious for increasing energy consumption dramatically in households and businesses. There are a few checks that you can make to reduce the carbon footprint that your air conditioner makes. Mind about MERV MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It is a scale developed for measuring filtering effectiveness, and this scale was developed by the American Society of Heating in around 1981. The scale ranges from 1… read more

New Process Produces Hydrogen from Any Biomass


Virginia Tech University researchers have discovered a process for producing large quantities of hydrogen from virtually any plant material, making it a very real possibility that the cheap clean fuel of the future is hydrogen. An associate professor at the university, Y.H. Percival Zhang, along with his team, has successfully used xylose, a plant sugar, to produce hydrogen in large quantities, a method possible using any source of biomass. “Our new process could help end our dependence on fossil fuels. Hydrogen is one of the most important biofuels of the future.” – Zhang While the process was possible in theory… read more

Reinventing the Toilet

Toilets Of Tomorrow

Bill and Melinda Gates want to harness the power of our excrement. About 2.5 billion people use unsafe toilets or defecate in the open. Poor sanitation causes severe diarrhea, which kills 1.5 million children each year. Smart investments in sanitation can reduce disease, increase family incomes, keep girls in school, help preserve the environment, and enhance human dignity. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation sponsored a fair in which universities and other research facilities competed to reinvent the toilet. The California Institute of Technology in the United States received the $100,000 first prize for designing a solar-powered toilet that generates… read more

Traveling Smart

Smart traveling

Whether you are lucky enough to book a global adventure or content to hike through a local terrain, responsible traveling is a model to take along. You might not think about your need to explore having much of an environmental effect, but when thinking in terms of the numbers of transnational travelers each year, it helps to watch your own steps. According to the World Tourism Organization, international travel was up 5% in 2012, which was around a 22 million person increase since the previous year. That’s a lot of worldwide trekking. And while there is no way to put… read more

Los Angeles to Go Coal-Free by 2025

LA Beyond Coal

The mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, has announced that over the next 12 years, the giant metropolis will completely eliminate coal as an energy source on its grid. While LA has made earlier moves to source some of their energy through renewable energies, this ambitious plan takes aim at the 39% of the demand that is currently met by coal. The plan calls for a gradual transition over the next 12 years, with the city ending its contracts with coal plants and covering the resulting gap in demand with power from cleaner energy sources, such as natural gas. “Los… read more

Meet the Soccer Ball that Charges Batteries


In places in the world where electricity is scarce and precious commodity, this innovative soccer ball may provide lights and battery charging at the end of the day. The sOccket is an energy-harvesting ball that is not just portable and easy to use, but it’s fun as well. Kicking the ball around provides impact energy, which can be stored for future use. The current iteration of the sOccket uses an inductive coil mechanism to capture the energy, and with just 15 minutes of play, it can provide three hours of LED lighting (which is significant in places where lights and… read more

It’s Ions To Mars


When ion thrusters were first imagined in the 1960’s, they were little more than a pipedream curiosity. Now, NASA has logged over 43,000 continuous hours with their current model of the futuristic propulsion system. This is a new world record, and a sign that NASA is headed in the right direction. Ion propulsion differs from traditional chemical thrusters in that it doesn’t burn fuel. Instead, the thruster’s energy comes from solar panels or a nuclear-powered system. In the case of the NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) ion engine, xenon molecules are ionized and then accelerated electrostatically using a cathode. The molecules… read more

Bladeless Wind Generator Has No Moving Parts


Most modern wind generators take the form of the classic windmill configuration, which is a tried and true setup incorporating large spinning blades that then spin a generator for electricity production. But a new type of wind generator from researchers at TU Delft doesn’t have any moving parts at all. The device, called the EWICON (Electrostatic WIndenergy CONvertor), was developed by a pair of researchers, Johan Smit and Dhiradj Djairam, and is said to be able transform the energy of the wind into electricity, without using any mechanical moving parts. It appears that this generator is a variation on the… read more

Using Trains and Gravity for Energy Storage


Grid scale energy systems, especially those with renewable energy inputs, need storage. They need better and cleaner and more efficient storage solutions, and one company believes the answer lies in electric trains and gravity. The most common way to store energy on a grid scale is through using “pumped” hydropower, where the off-peak energy is stored as water pumped to a higher elevation, which can then be released to produce electricity as gravity pulls it down to a lower elevation again. Pumped hydro is effective, but it has a number of drawbacks, mostly in the difficulty of finding the right… read more