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GreenEnergy
America's Rooftop Solar Panels Are Probably Facing The Wrong Direction - http://www.popsci.com/article...
Rooftop solar panels Wikimedia Commons The direction of your rooftop solar panels benefits your wallet more than the environment, according to multiple energy officials interviewed by The New York Times. Virtually all homes point their solar panels south, where they can best capture rays from the sun when it rises in the southeast and sets in the southwest. That way, residents collect the most power possible throughout the day, which they can use in their own homes or sell to the grid (if they have any power leftover). But critics say the panels would actually do more good facing west, where they could capture sunlight during the midday and afternoon when energy is most needed. While south-facing solar panels are the most profitable for panel owners, they actually raise the demand for other power sources that they simultaneously put out of business. Relying on morning and evening sunlight means that solar panels aren’t producing as much as they could during the middle of the day, when...
GreenEnergy
Visionary Ideas From The South by Southwest Eco Awards - http://www.popsci.com/article...
Drinkwell Winner of the For-Profit Social Impact award The annual South by Southwest Eco conference held its climactic event Tuesday night, announcing the winners of its Startup Showcase competition and Place by Design awards. Now in its fourth year, SXSW Eco has entered a sweet spot in its growth, with a lot of big thinkers and promising startups in attendance but a less overwhelming crowd than the March music, film, and interactive SXSW conferences. We were there to meet the award winners. There were two main categories of awards, with a few awards in each category. Place by Design awards honor visionary sustainable design work on public spaces, with a goal of getting people to engage in their environment. The Startup Showcase is a Shark Tank-style competition in which competitors pitch a panel of expert judges (venture capitalists, industry leaders, and, ahem, PopSci Editor in Chief Cliff Ransom), on their concepts, and then endure a rapid-fire grilling. Winners are the startups...
GreenEnergy
Giant Clams Are Greenhouses For Algae - http://www.popsci.com/article...
Giant Clam James Heilman, MD, via Wikimedia Commons Giant clams loom large on coral reefs, their gaping maws filled with bright lights. On other mollusks, this iridescence is a camouflage, guiding the eye away from the creature’s body. Recent research published in the Royal Society of Science’s journal Interface reveals that these patches of iridescence filter and distribute light for algae that grows inside the clams. Algae and giant clams have a symbiotic relationship. Algae are the engine of the sea, turning sunlight into useful nutritional value for almost everything else. Clams host the algae so that they may consume the by-products of the algae's photosynthesis. Algae need sunlight to grow, but too much is harmful, so clams, which have tiny iridescent cells inside their mantles, offer the best of both worlds. In the paper, called “Photosymbiotic giant clams are transformers of solar flux", Amanda L. Holt and her team show that the iridocytes filter light, sending the wavelengths...
GreenEnergy
2014 Nobel Prize in Physics: Invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes - http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...
2014 Nobel Prize in Physics: Invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes
The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Isamu Akasaki, of Meijo University in Nagoya and Nagoya University, Japan; Hiroshi Amano, of Nagoya University, Japan; and Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, USA "for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources."
GreenEnergy
Batteries included: A solar cell that stores its own power - http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...
Batteries included: A solar cell that stores its own power
Is it a solar cell? Or a rechargeable battery? Actually, the patent-pending device is both: the world’s first solar battery. Scientists have succeeding in combining a battery and a solar cell into one hybrid device.
GreenEnergy
Blades of grass inspire advance in organic solar cells - http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...
Blades of grass inspire advance in organic solar cells
Using a bio-mimicking analog of one of nature's most efficient light-harvesting structures, blades of grass, an international research team has taken a major step in developing long-sought polymer architecture to boost power-conversion efficiency of light to electricity for use in electronic devices.
GreenEnergy
Climate Week 2014: The Wrap-Up - http://www.popsci.com/article...
March for climate action Two days before the 2014 United Nations Climate Summit, UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon (right) joined over 300,000 people to march in New York City for action on climate change. United Nations As Climate Week NYC slips into the rearview mirror, what can we take away? Did anything, you know, happen? Yes ... sort of. From the sci-tech perspective, important energy and conservation agreements were announced. Now the hard work of putting them into action begins for the pledgers and signers, as well as those watchdogging that process. It may not sound like much, but intent must exist for action to ensue, right? So if you're into environmental conservation -- particularly, curbing climate change -- these agreements are worthy of some renewed optimism. Here are some developments that blipped our tree-friendly radars: New York Declaration on Forests It's impressive: 32 national and 20 local or regional governments, 40 companies, 16 indigenous peoples groups, and 49...
GreenEnergy
How to make a 'perfect' solar absorber - http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...
How to make a 'perfect' solar absorber
Researchers have developed a solar cell that can tap the sun's full radiation spectrum. The material is a two-dimensional metallic dielectric photonic crystal, and has the additional benefits of absorbing sunlight from a wide range of angles and withstanding extremely high temperatures. Perhaps most importantly, the material can also be made cheaply at large scales.
GreenEnergy
Nitrogen fingerprint in biomolecules could be from early sun - http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...
Nitrogen fingerprint in biomolecules could be from early sun
The pattern of nitrogen in biomolecules like proteins, which differ greatly from that seen in other parts of the solar system, could have been generated by the interactions of light from the early sun with nitrogen gas in the nebula, long before Earth formed.
GreenEnergy
The Turbine Tweak That Could Save Battered Bats - http://www.popsci.com/article...
Spectacled Fruit Bat In A Tree. Shek Graham via Flickr CC By 2.0 Wind turbines kill upwards of 600,000 bats each year. (As if bats didn’t have enough problems already…) But the good news is that there may be something we can do to cut down on turbine-related deaths. Paul Cryan, a biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and the lead author of a new study, says that raising the “cut-in threshold”—the wind speed at which turbine blades start to spin—could reduce the number of fatal bat collisions at wind farms. Cryan's research, published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that certain species of tree-roosting bats are more likely to be killed by wind turbines when the blades are moving at low speeds. By tracking the bats with thermal surveillance cameras, near-infrared video, acoustic detectors, and radar, the researchers discovered that bats tend to approach turbines from downwind, particularly when the turbines spin slowly relative to the wind speeds...
GreenEnergy
Efficiently harvesting hydrogen fuel from Sun using Earth-abundant materials - http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...
Efficiently harvesting hydrogen fuel from Sun using Earth-abundant materials
Scientists have a new efficient way of producing hydrogen fuel from sunlight and water. By combining a pair of solar cells made with a mineral called perovskite and low cost electrodes, scientists have obtained a 12.3 percent conversion efficiency from solar energy to hydrogen, a record using Earth-abundant materials as opposed to rare metals.
GreenEnergy
World's smallest reference material is big plus for nanotechnology - http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...
World's smallest reference material is big plus for nanotechnology
The National Institute of Standards and Technology recently issued Reference Material 8027, the smallest known reference material ever created for validating measurements of these human-made, ultrafine particles between 1 and 100 nanometers -- billionths of a meter -- in size.
GreenEnergy
New organic semiconductor material: Organic tin in polymers increases their light absorption - http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...
New organic semiconductor material: Organic tin in polymers increases their light absorption
Researchers have integrated organic tin into semiconducting polymers (plastics) for the first time. Semiconducting polymers can be used, for example, for the absorption of sun light in solar cells. By incorporating organic tin into the plastic, light can be absorbed over a wide range of the solar spectrum.
GreenEnergy
Natural gas usage will have little effect on carbon dioxide emissions, researchers find - http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...
Natural gas usage will have little effect on carbon dioxide emissions, researchers find
Abundant supplies of natural gas will do little to reduce harmful U.S. emissions causing climate change, according to researchers. They found that inexpensive gas boosts electricity consumption and hinders expansion of cleaner energy sources, such as wind and solar.
GreenEnergy
New mobile solar unit is designed to save lives when the power goes out - http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...
New mobile solar unit is designed to save lives when the power goes out
Brooke Ellison draws her own power from will, but the ventilator that keeps her alive requires uninterrupted electricity. Dr. Ellison is allowing scientists to field-test, at her home, the Nextek Power Systems STAR, a mobile solar generator.
GreenEnergy
Solar cells cheap enough to quickly cover for their cost: Could double as semi-transparent blinds for windows - http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...
Solar cells cheap enough to quickly cover for their cost: Could double as semi-transparent blinds for windows
One of the most common complaints about solar power is solar panels are still too expensive to be worth the investment. Many researchers have responded by making solar cells, the tile-like components of solar panels that absorb and transfer energy, more efficient and longer lasting. But even the longest living solar cells that most effectively convert sunlight to energy will not become common if they are prohibitively expensive.
GreenEnergy
Solar energy-driven process could revolutionize oil sands tailings reclamation - http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...
Solar energy-driven process could revolutionize oil sands tailings reclamation
A civil engineering research team has developed a new way to clean oil sands process affected water and reclaim tailings ponds in Alberta's oil sands industry. Using sunlight as a renewable energy source instead of UV lamps, and adding chlorine to the tailings, oil sands process affected water is decontaminated and detoxified -- immediately.
GreenEnergy
Solar explosions 'inside' a computer: Understanding solar flares to improve predictions - http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...
Solar explosions 'inside' a computer: Understanding solar flares to improve predictions
Strong solar flares can bring down communications and power grids on Earth. By demonstrating how these gigantic eruptions are caused, physicists are laying the foundations for future predictions. The shorter the interval between two explosions in the solar atmosphere, the more likely it is that the second flare will be stronger than the first one.
GreenEnergy
Magnetic fields make the excitons go 'round: New way to improve efficiency of solar cells - http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...
Magnetic fields make the excitons go 'round: New way to improve efficiency of solar cells
A major limitation in the performance of solar cells happens within the photovoltaic material itself: When photons strike the molecules of a solar cell, they transfer their energy, producing quasi-particles called excitons -- an energized state of molecules. That energized state can hop from one molecule to the next until it's transferred to electrons in a wire, which can light up a bulb or turn a motor.
GreenEnergy
Fracking's environmental impacts scrutinized - http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...
Greenhouse gas emissions from the production and use of shale gas would be comparable to conventional natural gas, but the controversial energy source actually fared better than renewables on some environmental impacts, according to new research.
GreenEnergy
Next Week Is Climate Week - http://www.popsci.com/article...
Climate Change Collage Wikimedia Commons Next week is Climate Week in New York City. The happenings begin on Sunday with what promises to be a massive march demanding action to curb human-propelled global warming. On Tuesday, the United Nations will hold an all-day climate-focused summit for world leaders. Each day will also brim with meetings, panels, and exhibits on climate change, energy, and resilience happening all over town. PopSci will be covering the summit and the best of the rest, so check back here for updates. Tuesday's climate summit is being held at UN headquarters, but isn't officially part of the existing international climate treaty process (the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC). So it's not going to end with a unified international statement on how we'll curb global warming. But organizers hope that it will help those negotiations, by amping up the momentum for getting a strong agreement in late 2015, at the official climate talks in...
GreenEnergy
Solar-cell efficiency improved with new polymer devices - http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...
Solar-cell efficiency improved with new polymer devices
New light has been shed on solar power generation using devices made with polymers. Researchers identified a new polymer -- a type of large molecule that forms plastics and other familiar materials -- which improved the efficiency of solar cells. The group also determined the method by which the polymer improved the cells' efficiency. The polymer allowed electrical charges to move more easily throughout the cell, boosting the production of electricity -- a mechanism never before demonstrated in such devices.
GreenEnergy
Superabsorbing ring could make light work of snaps, be ultimate camera pixel - http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...
Superabsorbing ring could make light work of snaps, be ultimate camera pixel
A quantum effect in which excited atoms team up to emit an enhanced pulse of light can be turned on its head to create 'superabsorbing' systems that could make the 'ultimate camera pixel'.
GreenEnergy
A more efficient, lightweight and low-cost organic solar cell: Researchers broke the 'electrode barrier' - http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...
A more efficient, lightweight and low-cost organic solar cell: Researchers broke the 'electrode barrier'
For decades, polymer scientists and synthetic chemists working to improve the power conversion efficiency of organic solar cells were hampered by the inherent drawbacks of commonly used metal electrodes, including their instability and susceptibility to oxidation. Now for the first time, researchers have developed a more efficient, easily processable and lightweight solar cell that can use virtually any metal for the electrode, effectively breaking the 'electrode barrier.'
GreenEnergy
Solar Car Powers Your House When It's Parked - http://www.popsci.com/article...
Stella Kristen Hall-Geisler Her flat roof, squashed teardrop shape, and low profile don’t scream “showroom-ready family car,” but Stella, which I saw at the 2014 Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress in Detroit, is indeed the world’s first four-seat solar-powered car. A team of twenty students at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands entered the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2013, a six-day solar race across Australia’s Outback, in the new Michelin Cruiser Class. Practicality was paramount for these entries, though energy use, payload capacity, and speed counted as well. The question to answer, according to Jordy de Renet, one of Stella’s drivers, was, “Do you want it in your daily life? Would you want to take it to get groceries?” Well, would you? De Renet grinned and opened the sloping rear compartment, where the car's guts -- motors, controller, etc. -- were housed in little more than a couple of glorified wooden cigar boxes, leaving vast amounts of...
GreenEnergy
American-made wind turbine blades - http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...
American-made wind turbine blades
New research is helping makers of wind turbine blades improve the labor productivity associated with blade fabrication and finishing. This improved productivity makes US blades more cost competitive with blades from countries that pay workers lower wages.
GreenEnergy
The Quest To Harness Wind Energy At 2,000 Feet - http://www.popsci.com/article...
Altaeros' Buoyant Air Turbine Last year, Altaeros tested a prototype of the turbine at a height of 500 feet in Maine, where it flew in 45mph winds. courtesy Altaeros Nothing about the grooved, inflatable body taking shape inside Greentown Labs in Somerville, Massachusetts, resembles a wind turbine. It looks more like a jetliner's emergency ramp, or something you'd tie behind a boat and cling to desperately while bumping across the surface of a lake. But the 14-foot-long structure most resembles what it actually is--an air-filled wing. To be more precise, it's a stabilizing fin, part of a tube-shaped, robotic airship designed to tap the power of high-altitude winds. The blade tips of today's tallest conventional wind turbine, installed at a test center in Denmark this year, stretch to 720 feet. The fully autonomous, lighter-than-air BAT (short for buoyant airborne turbine) will climb as high as 2,000 feet, where winds blow stronger and steadier. How To Capture Energy At 2,000 Feet Pete...
GreenEnergy
A Shift in Nuclear Powers [Infographic] - http://www.popsci.com/article...
Nuclear energy provides 11 percent of the world’s electricity, but most reactors are now decades old. Many are approaching—or have surpassed—their initial 30- to 40-year lifespans (though upgrades can extend their lives to 60 years). Early nuclear adopters like France and Germany are curtailing their programs, even though analysts—including the authors of a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—say nuclear is necessary to keep worldwide carbon emissions in check. Emerging economies may take up the mantle: Planned reactors in China and Russia could keep the world’s inventory stable. Source: International Atomic Energy Agency; data current as of December 2013. Data Visualization by Giorgia Lupi, Simone Quadri, Gabriele Rossi, Davide Ciuffi, and Tommaso Renzini, Accurat Since late 2012, the U.S. has announced the retirement of five reactors, and several planned units are currently on hold. China is one of the only nations investing heavily in nuclear power—28...
GreenEnergy
Like Sassy Teenagers, Atoms Talk Back - http://www.popsci.com/article...
Atom Sound Capture An artificial atom generates sound waves consisting of ripples on the surface of a solid. Philip Krantz, Krantz NanoArt If you talk to an artificial atom, it turns out the atom will say something back to you. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to hear it. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have communicated with an artificial atom in a lab. When they fed their atom extremely high frequency sound energy, the atom regurgitated the energy back to them in the form of sound waves. The researchers were then able to record these auditory rumblings with high-tech audio equipment, as the sounds were too high to be heard by human ears. This absorption/emission interaction is very similar to how atoms interact with light. When a photon of light gets close enough to an atom, sometimes the atom will gobble it up, absorbing the photon into its body. However, atoms aren’t very good at holding this energy for long, so they usually spit it back out in the form...
GreenEnergy
Ahoy, offshore wind: Advanced buoys bring vital data to untapped energy resource - http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...
Ahoy, offshore wind: Advanced buoys bring vital data to untapped energy resource
Two large buoys that are decked out with advanced scientific instruments will help more accurately predict offshore wind’s power-producing potential.
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