When design student Markus Kayser wanted to test his sun-powered, sand-fed 3-D printer, he knew the gray skies outside his London apartment wouldn’t do. So he shipped the 200-plus-pound contraption to Cairo, Egypt, flew there himself, and haggled with officials for two days to get it out of customs. A few small “tips” and 11 hours of driving later, he finally made it to the Sahara.
If you want to be a part of discovering the future of solar power, you can be. You don't need any special knowledge or equipment, just let Alán Aspuru-Guzik borrow your computer when you're not using it.
Plenty of us head into the woods to find inspiration. Aidan Dwyer, 13, went to the woods and had a eureka moment that could be a major breakthrough in solar panel design.
On a bleak winter hiking trip to the Catskill Mountains, the 7th-grader from New York noticed a pattern among tree branches, and determined (as naturalist Charles Bonnet did in 1754) that the pattern represented the Fibonacci sequence of numbers. Aidan wondered why, and figured it had something to do with photosynthesis.
By Jennie Walters
Posted 07.19.2011 at 10:55 am 39 Comments
When officials in Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Spain, suggested placing solar panels in the town’s cemetery, they were met with significant skepticism. But after three years of public outreach, the city council prevailed and the town mounted 462 solar panels on top of a quarter-acre of mausoleums.
Markus Kayser’s Solar Sinter project takes the desert’s two most abundant resources, sunlight and sand and puts them to work manufacturing glass objects. Kayser loads the sand into a solar-powered 3-D printer where it serves as the raw material for glass. In a process that’s fascinating to watch, concentrated sunlight replaces the laser typically found in 3D printers, melting sand (instead of resin) in patterns to form an abstract sculpture or, more usefully, a bowl.
A new hybrid power plant to be built in Turkey will combine a traditional gas-fired steam turbine with solar thermal power and wind power, according to GE. It’s a step toward integrating renewable sources into the traditional power grid, using steam and mirrors.
Green technology is on the rise, but the U.S. still consumes an enormous amount of fossil fuels
By Fathom Information Design
Posted 06.06.2011 at 3:42 pm 0 Comments
The U.S. consumed 94.6 quadrillion BTUs of energy in 2009, more than any other nation. It also produced more energy than any nation but China: some 73 quadrillion BTUs.Those 94.6 quads break down into 308 million BTUs per capita--the equivalent of about 50 barrels of oil for every American.
On the ground, solar power has its limitations. Solar cells are not especially efficient. It rains. The sun disappears at night. A space-based solar panel can generate five times the energy of a similar panel on Earth by circumventing both weather and hours lost to darkness. A 2007 study by the National Space Society estimates that a half-mile-wide band of photovoltaics in geosynchronous orbit with Earth could generate the energy equivalent of all the oil remaining on the planet over the course of one year. Though costly, launching working solar satellites is possible today. It’s transmitting the captured energy to Earth that presents a challenge—one that scientists are just starting to work on.
Residents of New Jersey, a state well known for its elegant aesthetic sense, are unhappy with the solar panels installed on electrical poles in leafy residential neighborhoods by the state's largest utility company. In suburban Bergen County, locals call the panels "ugly," "hideous," and an "eyesore," in addition to protesting their installation with complaints and (possibly) vandalism, according to the New York Times.
The sun makes an excellent coffee roaster, it turns out
By Andrew Rosenblum
Posted 04.27.2011 at 10:11 am 0 Comments
In 2004, artist Dave Hartkop was looking for a way to move out of his parents’ house. Pairing his interest in alternative energy with his brother Mike’s passion for coffee, he decided to start an online coffee business, and designed a huge solar-powered roasting system to supply it. Now the brothers are on their fourth, and by far largest, version of the roaster. Dubbed Helios 4, it’s made up of more than 600 mirrors and has a 35-foot-by-35-foot footprint.
Teams of viruses can help build better solar panels by ensuring nanoscale components behave properly, according to a new study. MIT researchers say their virus-assisted breakthrough could improve solar panels’ energy conversion efficiency by one-third.
Future camouflage uniforms will draw power from the sun during the day and from a soldier’s body during the night, turning infantrymen into true sunshine patriots. The system could provide continuous power for a radio, GPS and weapons, but at half the weight of traditional battery packs.
After 188 days (80 of which were spent driving), four continents, and one defeated team, the Zero Emissions Race--world tour of renewably-powered electric cars--is finally over, with the three remaining teams having pulled into Geneva this morning.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.