A collaboration of physicists, scientists and businesses have teamed up to create cheap and highly effective solar cells on a nanoscopic scale. Spearheaded by the Idaho National Laboratory, this team is onto a fresh way of producing solar panels that can continue to absorb energy even after the sun has set. The technology, not only efficient at nearly 80%, will also be cheap to manufacture, at estimated pennies a yard.
A specialized manufacturing process will stamp tiny square spirals of a conducting metal onto a think sheet of plastic that have been coined “nanoantennas.” At the slight width on the order of 1/25 the diameter of a human hair, these nanoantennas can absorb energy produced through the infrared spectrum. Infrared energy is produced in massive quantities by the sun, a portion of which is absorbed by the earth only to be released as radiation after the sun has set. These nanoantennas can absorb energy from both the rays of the daylight sun and the heat radiated from the earth at a higher efficiency than modern solar cells.
Today, all acroos the country, participants are tuning in and submitting their two-bits on solutions to global warming in a “teach in” called Focus the Nation. More than 1,600 institutions, the majority of which are colleges and universities are involved in this solution think tank.
This gathering of minds involves faculty-led symposiums and round table discussions. The nice feature to it all is there will be an online ballot for anyone who wishes to submit what they think the top five solutions to global warmning should be.
Tonight, at 8 ET, there will be a live webcast coined The 2% Solution, which is produced by the National Wildlife Federation. The title is directly linked to the proposed goal of reducing carbon emissions 2% a year.
The webcast will host a live panel discussion as well as clips from the actor/activist Edward Norton, including many high profile scientists and global warming experts. The viewers will be able to send in text messages on how they might choose to spend $100 billion in a clean energy revolution.
The webcast will be broadcasted through Earthday Network TV and can be viewed at www.earthdaytv.net More information can be found at focusthenation.org
The 1980’s witnessed the inception of wood-pellet stoves but the benefits and efficiency of this innovative product, has not showed its face until recently. A pellet stove is a small electric unit that burns small pieces of recycled and compacted sawdust pellets. The advantages to wood pellet stoves are many, for one, they are extremely efficient, use inexpensive fuel and produce very little waste.
The fuel are the tightly compressed pieces of sawdust which are released into the stoves through some complicated machinery which adds new pellets to the fire when more fuel is needed. All that is required of the user is dumping pellets into the hopper when it is empty. The mechanical auger transfers the pellets into the fire as needed.
Are you curious to know your energy consumption within your home or business? Here is a simple and easily integrated device for your home or business. Considering the world-wide focus on green building sustainability this is a good measurement point for determining your energy consumption. E-Mon has recently introduced a line of Green Class meters. The E-mon D-mon Green Class meters are a useful tool for monitoring your energy usage data.
The meters provide a wealth of information such as usage trends and a record of the impact that your home or business is having on the environment. For example, a responsible business recently incorporating an energy retrofit will be able to verify the continual effectiveness of an energy savings initiative. It can even be displayed as a statement piece in a lobby or waiting room, highlighting your company’s resolve on reducing its footprint.
As much as I love to read, turning pages one by one, breaking a new paperback book into a well-weathered memory to trophy in my book case, I realize it is costing some forest, somewhere, a tree.
Although e-books have existed since the 90’s a portable platform designed just for e-books that is truly functional has not been available until recently. I read up on two products out there, Sony Reader, which I liked, and the Amazon Kindle, of which I liked a little better.
Earthen flooring is nothing more than what it sounds like – humble, natural earth compacted with straw or other fibers and stabilized with various natural oils to form eco-friendly high-quality flooring. These floors are easy to clean, comes in a variety of textures, colors, and materials. It can be installed over nearly any subflooring, it integrates well with radiant heat systems and it’s one of the cheapest flooring methods either conventional or green.
Earthen floors are picking up in popularity during the ever booming “green building” movement. Most earthen floors are laid over the top of a subfloor of tamped gravel and topped with a mixture of clay, sand and fiber. These layers can be 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch thick or more. The thinner layers will dry faster but require a better subfloor for strength or more layers. Earthen floors can be laid over the top of previously installed wood floors as well. The finishing generally involves a drying oil among which Linseed Oil is the most common application followed by hemp oil. Linseed is used to seal the floor and protect it from wear and tear. A final coat of Hard Oil and Wax Impregnation are also used for shine and weather proofing.
If you’re looking for an innovative and highly energy efficient daylighting system, Solatube may be the answer. These sunlight tubes combine art and science to provide beautiful and functional daylighting. This technology has actually been tauted as one of the most technologically advanced daylighting products available today. The combination of creative component integration along with a sleek design provides an abundance of pure, clean and natural light for any interior space.
The car of the future is not only going to come standard with a hybrid powered engine; rather, the whole concept of a car from the ground up will be an entirely redeveloped mobility machine. A fine example is the Hypercar, a vehicle designed in reverse; featuring ultra light construction, hybrid-electric drive, low-drag design and efficient accessories to accomplish a 3 to 5-fold improvement on fuel efficiency. The major highlight? It can actually pay you to drive the car, imagine receiving a check at the end of each month just for driving a smart vehicle. The performance is poised to match current automobiles through comparable saftety, amenities and affordability.
The Rocky Mountain Institute is the creative “green” engineering think tank behind this promising concept. The model was developed by looking at today’s vehicles and re-thinking virtually every aspect. Through aerodynamics, advanced composites to achieve light weight coupled with strength and a power train that is more effective than any before, they just might have found the answer to gas-guzzling, air-polluting autos.
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a recent convert to eco-friendly products, you’ll love the 21st centuries’ answer to the “old-school” trash compactor. Meet the Ecopod, recently made available this past fall, this innovative appliance provides an efficient way to crush, store and redeem recyclable beverage containers, particularly plastic bottles and aluminum cans. The design is simple and functional, not to mention sleek and attractive. It crushes with ease and comes with the engineering strength and smarts of the minds behind BMW.
Designed by BMW Designworks, USA, it provides a convenient foot pedal to initiate the compact of your bottle or can. Once compacted, the container falls into an internal bin, which can then be later removed for redemption or curbside disposal. Each storage pod will fit about 50 crushed containers. The upper compartment houses extra room for other recyclable materials (i.e. newspapers or glass bottles). This is the perfect energy efficient and well-built system for the home.
The nicest feature to the unit is the simple fact that it allows the users to see just how much recyclable waste they create; be it either a shocking revelation, or hopefully further inspiring efforts to reduce one’s footprint. Green and smart companies would be wise to also use this cheap and shining tool in the office. I see it as a simple way to get green by making room for one of these sleek units in the break room. Start the eco-trend in your office or business by promoting recycle solutions for your employees or co-workers. Awareness is the critical component to reducing waste in the internal work environment which, I might add, can potentially lead to increasing the profits of your bottom line by fostering eco-creativity and simple office solutions.
Waste: By the numbers
In 1990 the average American was sending 3.1 pounds of trash to landfills each day. On the brighter side, today that figure has been reduced to 2.5 pounds but only because the recycling rates have doubled in the past 17 years. However, it is fair to say that our amount of trash has not been reduced at all, only re-distributed and recycled which still costs us in time and energy. Roughly 1.5 pounds of garbage is now either recycled or composted while the remaining .6 pounds is incinerated.
Packaging is far and away the largest source of household waste. Between the plastic, glass, paper and metal that accompanies your products from the manufacturer to your doorstep, one third of these packaging materials end up in your garbage can. An additional quarter of your receptacle is filled with nondurable products, such as shoes, newspaper, etc. The remaining space is filled with an array of major items such as appliances, yard waste and food scraps.
Do you ever wonder, is my garbage can the problem or am I? Say you had to go without your canister of the wasted and undesirables, what would you do without one? It would be fair to say that for most Americans the answer would be panic!! The average Jack and Jill trashes 4.5 pounds of stuff every day, just imagine how quickly the heaps of garbage would pile up.
Minus the increasing trend to recyle our waste nationally and add up the junk from our country’s 1654 landfills and you still get roughly 133 million tons each year. That figure is equivalent to the dismantiling and disposing of the Empire State Building every day. The waste footprint for people includes far more than the landfill space they contribute to.
Grasscrete, the green alternative to standard concrete surfaces for parking lots, driveways, and access roads for vehicles or fire trucks. The benefit to Grasscrete for businesses and developers is that it drains at about the same rate as would an ordinary lawn in the same location. The presence of concrete has little effect on the drainage; the soil and the slope are the controlling factors which makes it beneficial for erosion control as well.
The idea is a simple one, the surface area of Grasscrete is 47% concrete and 53% holes (to be filled with Grass). Grasscrete is a pervious reinforced concrete structure for all types of areas that require traffic, either foot or wheel. Grass will generally spread and cover much of the concrete in areas not subject to regular vehicle traffic. Holes may also be filled or covered with crushed stone, seashells, and a wide variety of other drainable materials in cases where grass is not desired.
A brilliant new product has hit the market in the form of insulation without the irritating fiberglass found in its predecessors. This material caters to all those do-it-yourself handymen and women out there who have long dreaded installing insulation thanks to the glass dust and itchiness associated with fiberglass. Dow Chemical Company has recently introduced the solution. Welcome SAFETOUCH, fiberglass-free insulation.
It is a plastic fiber batt insulation that has the same R-value as fiberglass minus the common side effect of dust and itching. The only tool required is a utility knife, and let’s not forget, you can toss your goggles, work gloves and face mask because it’s just that simple to work with. Having trouble with those tough to reach spots and drafty little gaps, no problem, just rip off a piece and stuff it in those crevices and narrow, irregular spaces. As like any good batt insulation this material can support its own weight and hold itself into the desired position when placed in a stud bay. It’s so easy to use just about anyone can create a more comfortable and energy efficient building.
MagLev wind turbines, the next generation of wind turbines is capable of generating power from wind speeds as low as 1.5 m/s and reported to operate in winds reaching 40 m/s. This large wind turbine from maglev industries will also increase generation capacity by 20% at the same time decreasing operational costs by 50% over the traditional wind turbine. Maglev also claims that this particular turbine will be operational for 500 years, a staggering claim.
The MagLev wind turbine was first unveiled at the Wind Power Asia exhibition in Beijing. The unique operating principle behind this design is through magnetic levitation. Magnetic levitation is supposedly an extremely efficient system for wind energy. The vertically oriented blades of the wind turbine are suspended in the air replacing any need for ball bearings. The turbine operates via “full-permanent” magnets. electromagnets eliminating the need for electricity to run the machine. These full-permanent magnets consist of neodymium magnets of the rare earth metals which lose no energy through friction. This combination of magnetic components and reduction of moving parts should reduce maintenance costs and increase the life of the turbine.
Crowd Farm, developed by two MIT architecture grad students, is a concept that harvests the energy that is transmitted through our feet. It works like this: Beneath highly crowded subway platforms there would be a sub-flooring system made up of blocks that depress slightly due to the force of human footsteps above. These blocks rub together under the pressure generating power the same way as a dynamo, a device that converts energy from motion into an electric current.
This is a concept that is only worth its weight in gold in highly crowded ares where the feet are many since one human footstep can generate enough power for two 60-watt light bulbs for only a mere second. But get a coffee-primed crowd moving by the masses and the Farm could be in business. The typical New York subway train in Manhattan at rush hour will typically have 300 people in it, all of whom ran an average of 150 steps in the station to get onboard. That is equivalent to 45,000 steps every few minutes, which could be transferred to power the subway train. This is a brillant idea for reclycling the energy from human movement.