Last night, Google announced that it has agreed to invest heavily in a proposed $5 billion, 350-mile power transmission backbone that would provide infrastructure for future offshore wind projects along the mid-Atlantic coast. But even with the backing of one of the world's mightiest tech companies, various financial investment firms, and many important officials in government, the transmission line is going to be something of a technological trick.
The U.S. may be years behind some European nations and China when it comes to taking advantage of solar power tech, but even global superpowers have to start somewhere. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has approved the first large-scale solar energy projects to be built on public lands, a first step in unlocking the acres upon acres of federal and state managed real estate for clean energy production.
Of all places, the U.S. military has proven one of the fiercest proponents of renewable energy, and for totally practical reasons -- most importantly cost and safety. Now, military higher-ups plan to rely on renewable energy sources for 50 percent of their power by 2020, which could help the worldwide advancement of those technologies immeasurably. One company of Marines, saddled with tons of solar power tech, is kickstarting this revolution.
The Empire State Building, arguably the world's most famous office tower, is 1,472 vertical feet of historic American real estate. It also contains 2.8 million square feet of office space, constructed to the energy efficiency standards of the early 1930s. So when Anthony Malkin took over management of the building several years ago, he also inherited an $11 million annual energy bill and a problem: How could he turn the iconic but aging building into a 21st-century office tower?
Now, a sweeping $13.4 million energy retrofit is slashing the Empire State Building's energy consumption by nearly 40 percent and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 105,000 metric tons over the next 15 years while trimming $4.4 million from annual energy costs. We took a firsthand look at what such a massive and meaningful project looks like, starting in a nondescript corner of the fifth floor where the Empire State Building is turning two-decade-old glass into future dollars.
It’s a 21st-century conundrum: You want a power-assisted bike that’s electrically powered and that packs an energy density (and a light weight) that lithium-ion batteries simply can’t provide. But the idea of strapping a tank of compressed hydrogen between your legs makes you somewhat uncomfortable as well. SiGNa Chemistry has a solution: a metallic metal powder of sodium silicide that generates hydrogen as soon as it comes in contact with water.
Piezoelectric materials have long been used to turn kinetic energy into electrical energy, but a clever application by Georgia Tech researchers is making those materials much smarter. By adding a gate to piezoelectric circuits, researchers have turned a mechanical action directly into a logic operation for the first time. This approach could turn conventional “dumb” circuits into computational circuitry that might run smaller micro-robots to harvest power as they perform their functions.
Seven miles off the coast of Kent, 100 380-foot turbines, spanning 22 square miles and representing two years of construction, have begun to power Britain. Bearing a price tag of 780 million pounds, this is the world’s largest offshore wind farm.
While the developed world wrestles with curbing carbon emissions from luxuries like personal automobiles and the multi-megawatt power plants that keep homes and offices at a comfortable 72 degrees, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is engineering an ambitious bottom-up approach to reduce emissions in the third world: providing cleaner cooking stoves. Clinton aims to introduce 100 million clean stoves to poor people the world over by 2020.
Rare earth elements have received a good deal of attention lately, not least because they are indeed very rare, and the country holding most known reserves – China – is gobbling them up faster than it can mine them, leaving few leftovers for export. But now Boeing has announced a deal to deploy its remote sensing technology to map out possible U.S. deposits of rare earth elements in an effort to rebuild a domestic supply chain for U.S. industry.
It seems like we get everything from automated vending kiosks these days, from cash to DVDs to postal service to gasoline. The French have simply taken the next logical step. Putting a modern (and greener) spin on an old way of doing business, a French vendor has begun selling wine by volume from 500- and 1,000-liter vending pumps in French supermarkets. All customers need is a container.