Green technology is on the rise, but the U.S. still consumes an enormous amount of fossil fuels
By Fathom Information DesignPosted 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 RosenblumPosted 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.
A new champion amongst solar-powered cars has emerged in sunny Australia: A student-built solar car, christened the Sunswift IV, has crushed the previous speed record with a run that topped out at 56.85 mph.