Tag Archives | Solar Power

Secrets of the First Practical Artificial Leaf

LeafSolar power is getting less and less expensive. Via ScienceDaily:

A detailed description of development of the first practical artificial leaf — a milestone in the drive for sustainable energy that mimics the process, photosynthesis, that green plants use to convert water and sunlight into energy — appears in the ACS journal Accounts of Chemical Research. The article notes that unlike earlier devices, which used costly ingredients, the new device is made from inexpensive materials and employs low-cost engineering and manufacturing processes.

Daniel G. Nocera points out that the artificial leaf responds to the vision of a famous Italian chemist who, in 1912, predicted that scientists one day would uncover the “guarded secret of plants.” The most important of those, Nocera says, is the process that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. The artificial leaf has a sunlight collector sandwiched between two films that generate oxygen and hydrogen gas.

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Solar Paint Your House With Nanoparticles

This paste of cadmium sulfide-coated titanium dioxide nanoparticles could turn large surfaces into solar cells. (Credit: ACS Nano)

This paste of cadmium sulfide-coated titanium dioxide nanoparticles could turn large surfaces into solar cells. (Credit: ACS Nano)

Via ScienceDaily:

Imagine if the next coat of paint you put on the outside of your home generates electricity from light — electricity that can be used to power the appliances and equipment on the inside. A team of researchers at the University of Notre Dame has made a major advance toward this vision by creating an inexpensive “solar paint” that uses semiconducting nanoparticles to produce energy.

“We want to do something transformative, to move beyond current silicon-based solar technology,” says Prashant Kamat, John A. Zahm Professor of Science in Chemistry and Biochemistry and an investigator in Notre Dame’s Center for Nano Science and Technology (NDnano), who leads the research.

“By incorporating power-producing nanoparticles, called quantum dots, into a spreadable compound, we’ve made a one-coat solar paint that can be applied to any conductive surface without special equipment.”…

Read more here.… Read the rest

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Solar Plant Pollutes River in China … Riots Ensue

Solar PanelWhat does sustainability truly mean in an industrial world? Villagers in Zhejiang Province are wondering the same thing since the production of solar cells and batteries at a factory in the area has effectively poisoned their river and their children … Via the BBC:

Hundreds of villagers in eastern China have held three days of protests at a solar panel plant over pollution fears. Around 500 people started gathering at Zhejiang Jinko Solar company in Haining city, Zhejiang province, on Thursday. Some of protesters stormed the factory, overturning several company cars and destroying offices, officials said. Residents in the nearby village of Hongxiao said they became concerned after the deaths of a large number of river fish.

One 64-year-old villager told the Associated Press that the factory — located close to a school and kindergarten – discharges waste into the river and spews dense smoke out of a dozen chimneys.

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How To Use The Fibonacci Series Of Numbers To Build The Ultimate Solar Tree

Photo: Yzmo (CC)

Photo: Yzmo (CC)

What else could we learn from nature, one wonders, if we only paid attention. Andrew Michler reports on this amazing discovery for Inhabitat:

While most 13-year-olds spend their free time playing video games or cruising Facebook, one 7th grader was trekking through the woods uncovering a mystery of science. After studying how trees branch in a very specific way, Aidan Dwyer created a solar cell tree that produces 20-50% more power than a uniform array of photovoltaic panels. His impressive results show that using a specific formula for distributing solar cells can drastically improve energy generation. The study earned Aidan a provisional U.S patent – it’s a rare find in the field of technology and a fantastic example of how biomimicry can drastically improve design.

Aidan Dwyer took a hike through the trees last winter and took notice of patterns in the mangle of branches. His studies into how they branch in very specific ways lead him to a central guiding formula, the Fibonacci sequence.

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Solar Roads Can Beat Peak Oil And The Icing Over Of America

This is a pretty amazing idea -- the roads might even be able to charge electric cars while they travel using mutual induction! Check out Solar Roadways:
Suppose we made a section of road out of this material and housed solar cells to collect energy, which could pay for the cost of the panel, thereby creating a road that would pay for itself over time. What if we added LEDs to "paint" the road lines from beneath, lighting up the road for safer night time driving? What if we added a heating element in the surface (like the defrosting wire in the rear window of our cars) to prevent snow/ice accumulation in northern climates? The ideas and possibilities just continued to roll in and the Solar Roadway project was born. In 2009, we received a contract from the Federal Highway Administration to build the first ever Solar Road Panel prototype. During the course of its construction, we learned many lessons and discovered new and better ways to approach this project. These methods and discoveries are discussed throughout this website...
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Driverless Vans Drive From Italy To China

Road rage could be a thing of the past. USA Today reports:

Across Eastern Europe, Russia, Kazakhstan and the Gobi Desert— it certainly was a long way to go without getting lost.

Four driverless electric vans successfully ended an 8,000-mile test drive from Italy to China — a modern-day version of Marco Polo‘s journey around the world — with their arrival at the ShanghaiExpo on Thursday.

The vehicles, equipped with four solar-powered laser scanners and seven video cameras that work together to detect and avoid obstacles, are part of an experiment aimed at improving road safety and advancing automotive technology.

The sensors on the vehicles enabled them to navigate through wide extremes in road, traffic and weather conditions, while collecting data to be analyzed for further research, in a study sponsored by the European Research Council.

Continues at USA Today

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Is Solar Power Too Powerful For Germany?

456px-Electricity_Grid_Schematic_EnglishUPI reports:

The German electricity grid faces instability because of too much solar power, an expert said.

Thanks to a generous feed-in tariff, the installation of rooftop solar panels and large-scale photovoltaic plants has exploded in Germany.

Stephan Kohler, chairman of the DENA agency, an energy adviser to the government, has warned that the green boom could turn into a disaster for Germany’s aging power grid.

“The network is facing a congestion due to solar power,” Kohler told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper. “That’s why the expansion of solar power has to be cut back quickly and drastically.”

Experts have long called for an overhaul of the European power grid to integrate the fluctuating renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.

Experts forecast between 8 gigawatts and 10 GW of solar power capacity to be installed this year — the equivalent of roughly 10 large coal-fired power plants. In 2009, only 4 GW were installed.

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Portable Solar Powered Desalination System A Reality

I’ve been clamoring for this kind of tech to break out of development status and into marketability for most of the last decade, and it’s just great to see it finally manifest in a way that allows for ease of transport and comparatively simple maintenance. In a world top-heavy with serious issues, this is a breath of fresh air … or more to the point, a drink of fresh water. Stephen C. Webster writes on RAW Story:

Desalination System

About one in eight humans do not have access to clean drinking water, according to the World Health Organization. That’s approximately 884 million people.

The repercussion of this reality are a daily reality in developing nations: an estimated 1.4 million children perish each year due to diarrhea brought on by waterborne bacteria. In spite of breathtaking advances in human technology, over 97 percent of the world’s water is still undrinkable.

And while salty or impure water can be cleaned through existing water desalination technologies, the facilities needed are massive and consume vast amounts of energy.… Read the rest

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White House To Go Solar

The White House is going green. First Michelle Obama began a vegetable garden, now they’re installing solar panels. The Obama’s are encouraging an environmentally conscious lifestyle. From The Environmental Leader:

The White House announced plans to install solar panels and a solar hot water heater on the roof of the White House Residence. These two solar installations will be part of a Department of Energy (DOE) demonstration project that shows that American solar technologies are available and reliable for installation in homes throughout the country, according to the DOE.

President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the White House’s West Wing 31 years ago but they were removed by his successor, Ronald Reagan, reports Bloomberg.

“President Obama has said the Federal Government has to lead by example in creating opportunity and jobs in clean energy,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, in a statement. ”By installing solar panels on arguably the most famous house in the country, his residence, the President is underscoring that commitment to lead and the promise and importance of renewable energy in the United States.”

Continues at The Environmental Leader

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