It's one of those ideas that just sounds wrong: a barge-like floating nuclear plant in the middle of the ocean. But despite its somewhat unconventional approach, a Russian firm we first reported on in 2006 is forging ahead with plans to have the first model ready to begin service in 2012.
The American electric grid is an engineering marvel, arguably the single largest and most complex machine in the world. It's also 40 years old and so rickety that power interruptions and blackouts cost the economy some $150 billion a year. The idea of building a connected "smart" grid that can route power intelligently is beyond daunting, no matter how much stimulus money gets thrown at it. But if we want to cut carbon, we have no choice. Today's grid simply cannot handle a large-scale rollout of the clean-energy sources outlined in this series.
Inspired by designs created by his father decades ago, Jared Potter is building an arsenal of ultra-powerful flame-jet drills. As seen in the NatGeo video above, one prototype directs a jet of burning hydrogen at 3200°F against a slab of solid granite.
Making good on a promise from December, start-up battery maker Boston-Power announced today that its almost-too-good-to-be-true Sonata lithium-ion batteries are now for sale, as upgrades for HP laptops.
Boston-Power's claims are impressive: A Sonata cell promises to charge to 40 percent capacity in just 10 minutes (say, the airport wait time from when they start boarding first class until they get to your steerage section). And they reach 80 percent capacity in just 30 minutes.
Dear EarthTalk: What is the so-called "smart grid" I've been hearing about, and how can it save energy and money? -- Larry Burger, Litchfield, CT
America's electricity grid is built upon what many consider to be an antiquated principle: Make large amounts of electricity and have it always available to end users whether they need it or not. It's much like the way most home water heaters keep water constantly hot even when it is not being used. It is also a strictly one-way relationship, with utilities supplying power to end users, but not vice-versa.
What to do with energy-draining server farms? A few creative minds tackle the problem in unlikely ways
By Matt RansfordPosted 04.09.2008 at 1:28 pm 2 Comments
While computing power consumption is not at the top of the list of the most egregious energy drains, it is a large enough source on the grid that it warrants creative thinking, especially in the context of server farms. Not only are server clusters a more concentrated power draw than individual computers, but the energy needed to house and cool them is a significant source in and of itself. Two new ideas—one in theory and one in practice—aim to address these questions with novel solutions.
Can concentrated PV plants beat solar thermal technology?
By Michael MoyerPosted 02.26.2008 at 4:34 pm 2 Comments
The last few years have seen tremendous growth in solar thermal power plants—huge arrays of mirrors that concentrate the sun's energy onto a liquid which then boils and spins a turbine. The process is generally more efficient than using photovoltaic panels, and new solar thermal plants under construction in Spain and Australia will be among the largest capacity solar plants in the world. Old-fashioned PV panels were starting to look archaic, or at least suitable only for small-scale projects like roof instillations. But not all PV panels are created alike.
Perusing the deluge of overheated press releases from the CES conference a few weeks ago, one in particular, for Panasonics new line of EVOLTA batteries, got me thinking. And when I say thinking, I mean muttering curse words and shaking my fist. The release made a big deal about the fact that these new batteries last from 1.3 to 2 times as long as other alkaline batteries—which is to say, slightly less poisonous and wasteful, but not much. Whoopdee-flipping-doo.