In the French city of Toulouse, the newest craze in sustainable energy is about to hit the streets. Literally. Inspired by a nightclub in Rotterdam, Netherlands, the city of Toulouse has begun investigating the installation of energy-absorbing sidewalk panels that would harvest pedestrian power to fuel the street lights.
This year, the White House is asking you to send more than just your taxes to the government on April 15th. They also want you to send your ideas on which grand, unsolved scientific challenge of the 21st century you think the US should tackle first. They're thinking big here. Landing-on-Mars, cure-for-HIV, cold-fusion big. And Uncle Sam wants you to help them direct the research.
This past weekend, high school students from all over the country gathered at California's NASA Ames Research Center to meet their brilliant peers, present their groundbreaking research -- and chat with interested venture capitalists on the side.
Here at PopSci we're always looking for the best and baddest in robotics news. But this week -- National Robotics Week -- we'll be ratcheting up our coverage, highlighting some of the most thought-provoking, future-driven concepts in robo-tech each day.
What if we could use our pollution as fuel? That notion seems intractable within the current energy paradigm, in which so many of our pollutants are byproducts of our fuels. But it's precisely that idea that inspired Mexican artist Gilberto Esparza to create "Nomadic Plants," a working art-bot that uses polluted water to power its fuel cell and feed the plants and microorganisms living symbiotically within the bot's body.
Viruses generally get a bad rap, but they can also be very helpful little machines. For instance, bacteriophages have been engineered to clear up infections that seemed otherwise untreatable, and genetic material from viruses has been used to ease biofuel production.
Battery capacity is the main thing keeping our lifestyles tethered: to the wall socket, to the gas pump, etc. But while we can extend our batteries' charges with smarter, low-power tech, we're still leaving a good deal of capacity on the table within current lithium-ion technology.
By deploying LED lighting across the board, the United States could save $120 billion – and untold tons of greenhouse gas emissions – over the next two decades. But it's another kind of green that’s keeping the era of the LED from coming to fruition. While scientists have long been able to produce red and blue LED lights, the essential third ingredient for creating good, brilliant white light—green–has proven elusive. But researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have finally cracked the code on LED green.
In an ideal world, we'd use natural light to brighten every darkened nook that needs illumination. But in reality, skylights and windows can let only so much light into a structure, and the amount of light varies based on the time of day. The Sundolier robotic skylight from Boulder-based Sunflower aims to change all this by actively "pumping" natural light into interior spaces, illuminating areas of up to 2,500 square feet with a single unit.
We thought it was cool when a team of Arizona State researchers engineered genetic bombs that blow biofuel-producing cyanobacteria wide open, releasing their sweet fatty acids without intense chemical processing. But now those very same researchers have figured out how to get at those fatty acids in a far less violent manner: by genetically engineering cyanobacteria to secrete their fatty cargos directly through their cell walls.
Algae has been floated again and again as a possible means of biofuel production, usually through chemical processes that extract sugars or other organic compounds that can be processed into fuel. But what if we could simply steal electricity from algae, no processing or chemical wizardry necessary? We can, says a team of researchers who recently stole electrons directly from algae for the very first time