Tag Archives | Energy

Greenery Power: Charge Your Phone Using a Plant

Coastal wetlands at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Massachusetts. By Kelly Fike/USFWS via Flickr.

Coastal wetlands at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Massachusetts. By Kelly Fike/USFWS via Flickr.

Anmar Frangoul writes at CNBC:

The way we power our towns and cities is changing. Solar, wave and wind energy are just some of the renewable sources that could, with time, make our current reliance on fossil fuels a thing of the past.

But what about clean, renewable energy from the planet’s lawns, plants, paddy fields and wetlands? It sounds a little outlandish, but for nearly a decade researchers in the Dutch town of Wageningen have been painstakingly working towards that very goal.

Plant-e, a Wageningen University spin-off company, uses technology that enables living plants to generate electricity.

“The idea of the technology is to produce electricity from a new source,” David Strik, Assistant Professor at Wageningen University’s Sub-department of Environmental Technology, and co-founder and CTO of Plant-e, told CNBC.com in a phone interview.

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Could Cannabis-Based Batteries Be The Future?

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Another win for the cannabis industry.

via AlterNet:

On top of its vast medicinal benefits and a “high” that’s safer and mellower than alcohol, what if cannabis could also power a cheap, sustainable super battery and forever change the energy game? It sounds like a far-fetched dream cooked up by Cheech and Chong after a bong rip or three, but it’s possible, according to a team of researchers at the University of Alberta.

During the American Chemical Society’s national meeting in San Francisco on Tuesday, engineering professor David Mitlin (who now works at Clarkson University in New York) presented the findings. The study he led investigates the potential for industrial hemp (the non-psychoactive cannabis plant closely related to marijuana) to aid in the creation of extremely efficient batteries called supercapacitors, or “supercaps.” By heating hemp fibers, the researchers were able to rearrange the plant’s carbon atoms to create thin, two-dimensional sheets, or nanosheets.

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Surprising Material Could Play Role in Saving Energy

PIC: JURII (CC)

PIC: JURII (CC)

Megan Fellman writes for Northwestern University:

One strategy for addressing the world’s energy crisis is to stop wasting so much energy when producing and using it, which can happen in coal-fired power plants or transportation. Nearly two-thirds of energy input is lost as waste heat.

Now Northwestern University scientists have discovered a surprising material that is the best in the world at converting waste heat to useful electricity. This outstanding property could be exploited in solid-state thermoelectric devices in a variety of industries, with potentially enormous energy savings.

An interdisciplinary team led by inorganic chemist Mercouri G. Kanatzidis found the crystal form of the chemical compound tin selenide conducts heat so poorly through its lattice structure that it is the most efficient thermoelectric material known. Unlike most thermoelectric materials, tin selenide has a simple structure, much like that of an accordion, which provides the key to its exceptional properties.

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Can Fire Ice Save The World?

A burning methane hydrate chunk - inlay is a lattice of the clathrate. USGS.

A burning methane hydrate chunk – inlay is a lattice of the clathrate. USGS.

Methane hydrate, colloquially known as Fire Ice, is being discussed as the energy of the future that will render peak oil and all the other expiring fossil fuel sources irrelevant. BBC News investigates the pros and cons of what is, after all, another hydrocarbon:

The world is addicted to hydrocarbons, and it’s easy to see why – cheap, plentiful and easy to mine, they represent an abundant energy source to fuel industrial development the world over.

The side-effects, however, are potentially devastating; burning fossil fuels emits the CO2 linked to global warming.

And as reserves of oil, coal and gas are becoming tougher to access, governments are looking ever harder for alternatives, not just to produce energy, but to help achieve the holy grail of all sovereign states – energy independence.

Some have discovered a potential saviour, locked away under deep ocean beds and vast swathes of permafrost.

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Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough: More Energy Out Than In

You have to love that one of the scientists at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory who has managed to get more energy out of a nuclear fusion experiment than was put in is named Omar Hurricane. ABC Australia reports the breakthrough from Professor Hurricane and his colleagues:

Scientists in the United States say they have taken an important step on a decades-old quest to harness nuclear fusion to generate nearly inexhaustible energy.

Nuclear fusion forces diagram

For the first time, two nuclear fusion experiments succeeded in producing more energy than was used to trigger the reaction, the journal Nature reports.

The researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, led by physicist Omar Hurricane, described the achievement as important but said much more work is needed before fusion can become a viable energy source.

They noted that they did not produce self-heating nuclear fusion, known as ignition, that would be needed for any fusion power plant.

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How the U.S. Exports Global Warming

AirPollutionSourceSad but not surprising that as the Greedy Lying Bastards of Big Carbon are being exposed and opposed in the United States, they are turning to less developed countries to make their megabucks. Tim Dickinson reports for Rolling Stone:

The greening of American energy is both real and profound. Since President Obama took office, the nation’s solar capacity has increased more than tenfold. Wind power has more than doubled, to 60,000 megawatts – enough to power nearly 20 million homes. Thanks to aggressive new fuel-efficiency standards, the nation’s drivers are burning nearly 5 billion fewer gallons of gasoline a year than in 2008. The boom in cheap natural gas, meanwhile, has disrupted the coal industry. Coal-power generation, though still the nation’s top source of electricity, is off nearly 20 percent since 2008. More than 150 coal plants have already been shuttered, and the EPA is expected to issue regulations in June that will limit emissions from existing coal facilities.

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Richard Gordon: ‘Genesis of the Gods’

411px-The_magic_circle,_by_John_William_Waterhouse

Pic: ‘The Magic Circle’ by John William Waterhouse (PD)

In magick the circle has been generally accepted as being the universal symbol of protection, in ritual work it should not be seen as being a two dimensional disc but rather as a sphere of energy that totally encompasses the practitioner. This sacred space can then be safely utilized as a portal between our world and the mysterious other worldly realms of the gods.

The worship of gods and idols has been well documented throughout history and is evident within the belief structure of nearly every culture, but if asked the question, “From where and why did the pantheon of familiar idolized gods we know so well today arise?” most would be lost towards proposing a plausible answer, in fact I myself have been involved in many such empty ended raucous debates.Then several months ago whilst I was having an in depth chat on the subject of ritual healing, a chance remark by one of the people involved opened up a new avenue of thinking that may perhaps go a long way towards revealing the truth of the matter.… Read the rest

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Japan’s Plan To Supply All The World’s Energy With A Power Plant On The Moon

Kelvinsong (CC)

Kelvinsong (CC)

Jeez, why can’t we just leave the moon alone? The United States and the Soviet Union wanted to to nuke it, NASA now wants to turn it into a vegetable garden, and the Japanese want to turn it into a power plant. The latter story from Quartz:

Shimizu, a Japanese architectural and engineering firm, has a solution for the climate crisis: Simply build a band of solar panels 400 kilometers (249 miles) wide (pdf) running all the way around the Moon’s 11,000-kilometer (6,835 mile) equator and beam the carbon-free energy back to Earth in the form of microwaves, which are converted into electricity at ground stations.

That means mining construction materials on the Moon and setting up factories to make the solar panels. “Robots will perform various tasks on the lunar surface, including ground leveling and excavation of hard bottom strata,” according to Shimizu, which is known for a series of far-fetched “dream projects” including pyramid cities and a space hotel.

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Two Lectures and One Interview: Eric R. Kandel on learning, memory, and individuality; Elon Musk on the Future of Energy and Transport; and Ladar Levison on Lavabit

via chycho

Two lectures and one interview well worth the watch:


I. Eric R. Kandel: The Molecular Biology of Memory Storage and the Biological Basis of Individuality
In my opinion and those of many others, the root cause of our society’s ills is how we deal with education, and the following lecture by Eric Kandel emphasizes this point. The argument is made that evolving, learning, memory; our humanity should be looked upon in a holistic manner. That our genes do not necessarily decide who we become; our culture, our methods of learning and teaching, our setting is what decides our individuality, and we, in large part, are in control of our future.


II. Elon Musk: the Future of Energy & Transport
Tesla Motors and Elon Musk have been all the rage lately, and rightfully so considering Tesla just blew away their quarterly earnings and Musk just revealed details of Hyperloop (pdf), a “hypothetical mode of high-speed transportation” which he has proposed.… Read the rest

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Laws Of Man And Laws Of Nature

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Marcelo Gleiser philosophizes on how the laws of man and the laws of naure differ. via NPR

We humans are an unruly bunch. So much so that we need laws to keep order, to make sure we stay on track. Without our laws, society would quickly descend into chaos. The laws of man are guarantors of order, a necessary control against the inherent greediness of our species.

Nature, on the other hand, shows ordered patterns at all scales: trees branch, and so do rivers, bodies, and arteries; tides and planetary orbits are periodic, day follows night, the seasons alternate, the moon has phases. The display of order in Nature allowed for a methodic counting and organizing as a means to gain some level of control over what was otherwise distant and unapproachable, the marching patterns of a world moving in ways beyond human reach.

The laws of Nature, from the simplest to the most complex, are attempts to summarize this widespread display of order.

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