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Solar Wind: Answer to Earth’s Energy Quest?

October 8, 2010 in Alternative Energy

Read this article on College News titled “Dyson-Harrop satellites: The answer to the energy crisis?” On reading the entire article I understood that 2 Washington State University Scientists Brooks L. Harrop and Dirk Schulze-Makuch were proposing that a solar wind power satellite that could be an answer to the world’s energy crisis.

Solar Wind Ions charging the Moon by NASA

Solar Wind Ions charging the Moon by NASA

Wondering what is “Solar Wind”? I did too! The solar wind is a stream of energized, charged particles, primarily electrons and protons, flowing outward from the Sun, through the solar system at speeds as high as 900 km/s and at a temperature of 1 million degrees (Celsius).

Harrop and Schulze-Makuch suggest using a massive 8,400-kilometer-wide (5,220-mile-wide) solar sail to harvest the power in solar wind, the team hopes their concept could generate 1 billion billion giga Watts of power, far more power than humanity needs — if they can get that power back to Earth.

Concept of the Dyson Sphere has been around for 50 years, the scientists do not consider it a pragmatic solution, as it requires excessive matter to create and too much energy to stabilize. The technology needed to realize such a device is far beyond what we are capable of at this time.

What is the Dyson-Harrop (DH) satellite?

DH satellites use electrons from solar winds to generate energy, and then use photons from the sun to eject the used electrons.  It’s best said by Harrop and Schulze-Makuch, “DH satellites can be produced to collect any amount of power desired, up to the total energy of the Sun.”

What are its pros and cons?

Pros:

  • Easy to manufacture and it is made almost entirely of copper with no circuitry. The copper would capture electrons flowing out from the sun.
  • Modeling suggests it is an effective generator – modeling suggests that the DHS can provide power at a rate that increases proportionally to the square of current through the Main Wire.
  • Even large satellites have a minimal impact on the Sun’s solar wind output.
  • They believe it may be possible to design a satellite that can remain in a stationary position.

Cons

  • Compared to the Dyson sphere, the DHS generates power at a fairly low rate.
  • Initially it could be used to power the space station or satellites, rather than the earth.
  • The simplicity of the DHS could also be its downfall – this model possesses no method of protecting itself from debris or actively maintaining its position.
  • Heat dissipation could also be an issue.
  • Distributing power – Right now they are looking at existing laser technology to transmit power to a collector on earth, the accuracy from that large a distance allows for very little error in aiming.
  • By their own admission they have not made allowances for engineering difficulties.

Opinion:

The idea of a clean energy dependent sustainable lifestyle is mind-blowing! It is fascinating via research new ideas and new horizons keep coming up. Hopefully some day this idea will be feasible enough and create enough energy for the human race to survive.

Sources -

Harrop and Dirk Schulze-Makuch

Brooks L. Harrop and Dirk Schulze-Makuch (2010). The Solar Wind Power Satellite as an alternative to a traditional Dyson Sphere and its implications for remote detection. International Journal of Astrobiology, 9, pp 89-99 doi:10.1017/S1473550410000066

College News Article By Misty Mix

MSNBC article


Solar Makes It’s Way Back to The White House!

October 6, 2010 in Environmental News

By Spring of 2011 The White House will have Solar Panels heating water, keeping up with the president’s executive order that called on the federal government buildings to lead in the establishment of a clean energy economy.

It was just 4 weeks back that 350.org’s Bill Mckibben and a team of students from the Unity College Maine made a trip to the White house to put Solar back on the White House roofs where Jimmy Carter put it in 1979! They were also carrying one of the solar panels which was installed on the White House roof with them.We covered it here

Today Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that Solar panels and a solar hot water heater will soon be installed at the White House, at the 2010 GreenGov Symposium in Washington, accompanied by Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the Council of Environmental Quality.

What better way to put alternative energy on the front page  and highlight our need to let go of fossil fuel as a source of energy than putting the most powerful home in the world go Solar! Live Green!

Source -

Article on CNN – Solar Power Coming to the White House

350.org and their road trip to the White house in early September of 2010 – Big Victory White House Goes Solar!


Stanford’s Thinner Than The Wavelength of Sound Solar Cells

September 29, 2010 in Solar energy

One thing we know about solar cells is that thinner it is less expensive it gets; thin film solar is cheaper than the standard silicon cells. Stanford University’s team of Researchers has come up with Solar cells thinner than the wavelengths of light which are also more efficient! They say Ultra-thin solar cells can absorb sunlight more efficiently than the thicker, more expensive-to-make silicon cells used today, because light behaves differently at scales around a nanometer (a billionth of a meter).

The team consists of Shanhui Fan, associate professor of Electrical engineering and postdoctoral researcher Zongfu Yu who is the lead on the PNAS paper. Aaswath Raman, a graduate student in applied physics, also worked on the research and is a coauthor of the paper.

Everyone worked with the assumption that light travels in a straight line i.e. if a ray of light hits a mirror it bounces back as another ray. When Yu began investigating the behavior of light inside a material of deep subwavelength-scale – substantially smaller than the wavelength of the light – that it became evident to him that light could be confined for a longer time, increasing energy absorption beyond the conventional limit at the macroscale. On further research Yu figured out that he could increase absorption rate by 12% by sandwiching the organic thin film between two layers of material – called “cladding” layers – that acted as confining layers once the light passed through the upper one into the thin film. Atop the upper cladding layer, he placed a patterned rough-surfaced layer designed to send the incoming light off in different directions as it entered the thin film.

The project was supported by funding from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, which supports the Center for Advanced Molecular Photovoltaics at Stanford, and by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Source – The Stanford News


MagneGas: Recycling Liquid Waste Into Usable Fuel

September 28, 2010 in Alternative Energy

CNN Money.com™ had an article titled From Trash to Gas, it piqued my interest and following it I got to a video link about MagneGas™ a natural gas alternative and metal working fuel made from liquid waste such as sewage, sludge, manure and certain industrial and oil-based liquid wastes. The Company’s patented Plasma Arc Flow™ process gasifies liquid waste, creating a clean burning fuel that is essentially interchangeable with natural gas, but with lower green house gas emissions. MagneGas™ can be used for metal cutting, cooking, heating, powering bi fuel automobiles and more.

The MagneGas technology has been developed by the Italian-American scientist Dr. Ruggero Maria Santilli. He developed a new class of fuels called MagneFuels™. The Company MagneGas founded in 2007 in Florida sells a device which turns waste water into clean water and a natural gas alternative.

Prof Santelli calls his machine the PlasmaArcFlow Recycler™, it can convert everything from sewage water to used motor oil to MagneGas™ a synthetic natural gas alternative.

The PLASMA ARC FLOW(TM) process gasifies a number of liquid waster into usable byproducts. The byproducts include: A fuel MagneGas, heat, carbon precipitates and sterile effluent fuid which can be used for irrigation or as a liquid fertilizer (ongoing research).

The machine can process 2000 gallons of sewage an hour and produce just under a 1000 cubic feet of gas an hour.

There are 3 kinds of PlasmaArcFlow Recycler™

  1. “Total Recyclers” – intended for maximum conversion of liquid to fuel. Waste is converted to MagneGas™ and a carbon deposit which the company is trying to find uses for in the production of electrodes etc.
  2. “Linear Recyclers” intended for the sterilization of bio-contaminated liquid wastes (such as city or ship sewage) via its single passage through one or more electric arcs. This results in the production of MagneGas, carbon precipitates, plus sterilized liquid that can be processed further via industrially available filters and other systems to produce final effluent as clean as requested by local environmental requirements.
  3. “Total-Linear Recyclers” for the processing of farm manure and ship or city sludge via their treatment in the Total Mode until the entire liquid is sterilized and its solid content is carbonized. The liquid is then processed in the Linear Mode for the removal of carbonized solids and completes other processes as may be required by local environmental authorities. This process results in MagneGas, carbon precipitants plus sterilized liquid that can be processed further via industrially available filters and other systems to produce final effluent to meet local environmental requirements.

What Makes MagneGas Different:

  • MagneGas™ is produced from liquid waste and the byproduct clean water, can be used to water plants lawn etc.
  • MagneGas™ is a greener, cleaner and safer alternative to acetylene in torches used in metal work.
  • MagneGas™ manufacturing costs 1/3rd of what petroleum costs, can be produced anywhere and produces virtually no emissions when it burns.
  • It has been available for fleets since 2006.
  • MagneGas™ can be used in place of natural gas in any automobile.
  • MagneGas™ will be cheaper than propane and other alternatives. MagneGas™ can be used instead of acetylene in torches for metal working.
  • MagneGas™ has is in the process of building a 200kW PlasmaArcFlow™ refinery for a DDI International in China, which should be done by end of this year.
  • PlasmaArcFlow™ ranges from a 50KW unit that produces MagneGas™ for a metal cutting shop up to a 1 megawatt plant capable of processing various liquid waste in high volume.
  • It has the lowest Green Gas emissions when compared to fossil fuel. The refinery has no odor or noise pollution as it runs quietly in a completely sealed environment. The fuel can be used for metal cutting, cooking, heating, or powering natural gas bi fuel automobiles.

Check out the video below – 1.What is the latest with MagneGas™ 2.Video About MagneGas™
1.

2.

If MagneGas™ works like the manufacturers say and becomes a viable alternative for natural gas, the day might not be far before we see towns and cities turning their trash and sewage into fuel to run vehicles.Less Pollution, trash to fuel what is more Green!

CNN Money has this video report from Fortune Magazine HERE

Source for data and Pictures – MagneGas


EPA Green Power Community Challenge

September 25, 2010 in Green Press Release

GPP

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is kicking off its national “Green Power Community Challenge,” a year-long campaign to encourage cities, towns, villages, and Native American tribes to use renewable energy and fight climate change. Purchases of green power help to prevent greenhouse gas emissions and also help accelerate the development of new renewable energy capacity across the United States.

To participate in the challenge, a local government must join EPA’s Green Power Partnership and use green power in amounts that meet the program’s purchase requirements. The local government must also conduct a campaign to encourage local businesses and residents to collectively buy or produce green power on-site in amounts that meet EPA requirements.

Green power is generated from renewable resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, biogas, and low-impact hydropower. Green power resources produce electricity with an environmental profile superior to conven tional power technologies, and produce no net increase of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Challenge will begin on September 20, 2010. EPA will update the rankings in December 2010, March 2011, and June 2011. Communities will be able to review the standings and make changes to their purchases until September 1, 2011, when the final green power use is determined. Throughout the Challenge EPA will provide technical and outreach assistance to participants to help them increase their green power usage rates.

The winning GPCs will receive special recognition from EPA, including being featured on the GPP website and in a nationally released press announcement. The two winning GPCs will also receive awards and be featured in an outreach and media event.

More information on EPA’s Green Power Community Challenge: http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/gpcchallenge

More information about EPA’s Green Power Communities:
http://epa.gov/greenpower/communities/index.htm


Ampyx Power A Rising Star in Airborne Wind Power

September 23, 2010 in Green Press Release

We have decided to highlight new Green Technology companies which are vying to make an impact in the field of Alternate Energy, Auto industry etc…This being so close to the starting of the Airborne Wind Energy Conference of 2010 at Stanford University, we decided to choose one of the Air Borne wind energy companies.

Ampyx Power

The company we are covering is Ampyx Power; a young company located in the Hague.  Ampyx Power is developing the PowerPlane, a machine that can extract energy from the wind much more economically than wind turbines.

What is the Power Plane?

Above is a picture of the 10 kW PowerPlane on the cable. The wing span of the aircraft is a little over 5 meters.

The principle of operation of the power plane is based on the aircraft’s flying patterns in the sky and generating high tension forces in the connecting tether. The system generates power as the cable is unwound from a drum located at the ground. When the cable is fully unwound, the aircraft performs a dive and part of the cable is retrieved quickly in order to minimize power losses. It is the difference in tension during retrieval that allows net energy to be generated. When the cable is retrieved to its original condition, the process is repeated.

The team is aiming at completion of automation for the 10kW prototype by end of 2010. Ampyx has secured financing from the European fund for Regional Development and the press release is attached below.

Airborne Wind Energy Startup Ampyx Power secures subsidy from the European fund for regional development

The Hague, 14.09.2010 – The energy technology startup company Ampyx Power has succeeded in securing a subsidy from the European fund for regional development. This subsidy will allow Ampyx Power to finalize the automation of the prototype PowerPlane system. The PowerPlane system has the potential to generate renewable energy at costs similar to fossil fuel generated electricity.

Ampyx Power develops a straightforward Airborne Wind Energy system, which successfully utilizes winds at higher altitudes for energy production. The PowerPlane system uses a glider plane to unwind a cable from a winch during flight and thereby propel a generator on the ground. The expected costs of this way of energy production are significantly lower than those of commonly used wind turbines and comparable to grey energy production.

The subsidy from the European fund for regional development was obtained through the Kansen voor West program in the city of The Hague, the Netherlands.

Together with the investment deal earlier this year with the Norwegian energy company Statkraft, Europe’s biggest producer of renewable energy and Byte, a Dutch IT company, this completes the financing required for full automation of electricity production with the company’s current 10kW PowerPlane prototype and start the next development phase of scaling up to a 100KW system.

Ampyx Power plans to demonstrate fully automated power production in late 2010. The development of a commercial 1MW PowerPlane is expected to be finalized in 2013.

Website – http://www.ampyxpower.com/


Airborne Wind Energy Startup Ampyx Power secures subsidy from the European fund for regional development
The Hague, 14.09.2010 – The energy technology startup company Ampyx Power has succeeded in securing a subsidy from the European fund for regional development. This subsidy will allow Ampyx Power to finalize the automation of the prototype PowerPlane system. The PowerPlane system has the potential to generate renewable energy at costs similar to fossil fuel generated electricity.
Ampyx Power develops a straightforward Airborne Wind Energy system, which successfully utilizes winds at higher altitudes for energy production. The PowerPlane system uses a gliderplane to unwind a cable from a winch during flight and thereby propel a generator on the ground. The expected costs of this way of energy production are significantly lower than those of commonly used wind turbines and comparable to grey energy production.
The subsidy from the European fund for regional development was obtained through the Kansen voor West program in the city of The Hague, the Netherlands.
Together with the investment deal earlier this year with the Norwegian energy company Statkraft, Europe’s biggest producer of renewable energy and Byte, a Dutch IT company, this completes the financing required for full automation of electricity production with the company’s current 10kW PowerPlane prototype and start the next development phase of scaling up to a 100KW system.
Ampyx Power plans to demonstrate fully automated power production in late 2010. The development of a commercial 1MW PowerPlane is expected to be finalized in 2013.Airborne Wind Energy Startup Ampyx Power secures subsidy from the European fund for regional development
The Hague, 14.09.2010 – The energy technology startup company Ampyx Power has succeeded in securing a subsidy from the European fund for regional development. This subsidy will allow Ampyx Power to finalize the automation of the prototype PowerPlane system. The PowerPlane system has the potential to generate renewable energy at costs similar to fossil fuel generated electricity.
Ampyx Power develops a straightforward Airborne Wind Energy system, which successfully utilizes winds at higher altitudes for energy production. The PowerPlane system uses a gliderplane to unwind a cable from a winch during flight and thereby propel a generator on the ground. The expected costs of this way of energy production are significantly lower than those of commonly used wind turbines and comparable to grey energy production.
The subsidy from the European fund for regional development was obtained through the Kansen voor West program in the city of The Hague, the Netherlands.
Together with the investment deal earlier this year with the Norwegian energy company Statkraft, Europe’s biggest producer of renewable energy and Byte, a Dutch IT company, this completes the financing required for full automation of electricity production with the company’s current 10kW PowerPlane prototype and start the next development phase of scaling up to a 100KW system.
Ampyx Power plans to demonstrate fully automated power production in late 2010. The development of a commercial 1MW PowerPlane is expected to be finalized in 2013.

A Road Trip to Reignite The White House Solar Project

September 10, 2010 in Eco Warriors

Today morning at 9AM EST Bill McKibben the founder of 350.org will lead a group of Unity College students to meet White House representatives about Solar Installations on the White house roof. The team started a road trip from Maine on the 7th of September with the intent to reignite the solar installation project in the white house which was started by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 and dismantled by Ronald Reagan. The team will be carrying one of the original Carter panels from Maine as a symbolic gesture.

You can ask the President to Fix his roof here :)

Bill McKiben’s aim is to get solar panels on the roof of the white house; in his words “as visible as the White House Garden”. Any worthwhile environmental legislation has been shot down or watered down by the Fossil Fuel industry and its allies without breaking sweat. Putting Solar panels on the White house roof is something the President can make a decision on without being worried about a filibuster proof majority.

When the most powerful Country’s Government is dragging its feet when it comes to action on climate and environment, how can we expect other countries to take measures easily?

What I found interesting is the fact that President George W Bush did add some solar panels to the roofs of a maintenance shed, the presidential Spa and Cabana! Sad part is it did not get the coverage it deserved as it was not popularized. When President Carter put in the Solar panels for a water heating in 1979 he believed that it would be there until 2000 providing every president with hot water! The panels taken down by President Ronald Reagan were taken and used by the Unity college where it has provided hot water for 3 decades now!

The team is hoping for 10/10/2010 as the date when the panels will be installed on the White house roof. It is the Global Work Party day, the date is 10/10/10. The place is wherever you live. And the point is to do something that will help deal with global warming in your city or community. New Zealand has plans for giant bike fix-up day, Uganda plans to plant thousands of trees, Bolivia plans to in install solar panels to negate their carbon foot print. The Hope is to see our president helping his home go solar for the entire world to see.

Wondering whether the tax payer will have to foot the bill for these panels? No need to worry, Sungevity Solar a California based solar manufacturer has promised to provide them free of cost provided they will be mounted visible to the public.

China has more than 60 million solar water heaters installed! The White House leading the way will make a push for Solar unlike any other by reigniting the “Green Movement” which was allowed to wither away 3 decades back. The Global climate depends on each one of us doing our bit to get away from using fossil fuels, lesser fossil fuel we consume better it will be for the environment and our planets future.

Waiting for the meeting today and hope we get a positive outcome out of it.  Seeing Solar Panels on the roof of the most powerful home in the world, what can be more symbolic and Green.

Watch the coverage on Democracy Now:

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi “We must be the change that we want to see in this world”

Go 350.org! Go Eco Warriors! you make me proud to be a follower! Live Green!

Sources:

Put Solar On it

Unity College
350.org

NYtimes

UPDATE:

The meeting with White house officials sadly did not produce any positive result and the write up by McKibben can be read here . The Carter Panel will stay in Washington albeit not in the White house, and the 10/10/10 Global Work Party is going ahead full steam. May be President Obama will rethink about fixing his roof sooner than later.


Heritage Solar Slate Roofing: Green And Visually Pleasing

September 8, 2010 in Green Products

Read about this new solar roofing tile from Heritage solar called “Solar Slate” which truly makes use of your roof space without taking away from the aesthetic appeal of your home. The slates are designed to not stand out, there by helping with planning permission and regulations. It can even be used in historic preservation areas. Solar slate is manufactured by Renewable Energy Systems Ltd: a UK based leading company in the field of alternative energy projects.

Snowdonia national Park in the UK has a traditional cottage called Y Stabal which has 340 panels of the solar slate installed in its roof.

Heritage Solar Slates are innovative roof-integrated photovoltaic solar slates.
They are efficient, reliable, fully weather proof and look just like regular roofing slates. Unlike traditional solar panels, they blend in with standard roof slates to create a virtually invisible solar panel roof. Heritage Solar Slates are ideal for use in conservation areas, on historic buildings, new builds, or renovation projects. They are very low maintenance and easy to install.

What makes Heritage Solar Slates better than competition:

  • Reliability: No moving parts
  • Aesthetics: At last a perfect match to traditional slates
  • Practically no maintenance
  • Feed-in-tariffs eligible
  • Easily meets planning requirements
  • Plug and play: painless installation

The company site has the Guarantee terms as follows: Guarantee terms include a 10 year roof integrity guarantee and 10 year minimum performance guarantee (subject to terms, conditions, and limitations).

Clean, reliable, sustainable, renewable and aesthetically appealing! Check it out when you think about a new roof.

Source –

Pictures and Data – Heritage Solar slate Website

World Architectural News Article – The Solar Slate is a challenger for the 2010 WAN Awards

Inhabitat article


Air The Next Alternative Power Source

August 27, 2010 in Alternative Energy

Imagine capturing power from thin air, seems unbelievable doesn’t it? Nikola Tesla dreamed of capturing and using electricity from air, even before that and after him for centuries man has wondered about lightning and how it is discharged in our atmosphere. Remember the experiment by Benjamin Franklin using the kite to figure out whether lightning was really an electric phenomenon. Lightning causes many deaths and injuries worldwide every year along with millions of dollars in property damage.

According to a report presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) scientists are already in the early stages of developing such devices.

The study leader Fernando Galembeck, PhD says “Our research could pave the way for turning electricity from the atmosphere into an alternative energy source for the future” His research may help explain a 200-year old scientific riddle about how electricity is produced and discharged in the atmosphere. Dr.Galembeck works with the University of Campinas, in Campinas SP, Brazil.

Scientists have noticed formation of static electricity as steam escaped from boilers. Using that premise Gambleck and his team figured out through experiments in their laboratory that simulated water’s contact with dust particles in air accumulated electrical charges and transferred it to materials that came in contact with it. They have named it “Hygroelectricity” meaning “humidity Electricity”.

“These are fascinating ideas that new studies by ourselves and by other scientific teams suggest are now possible,” Galembeck said. “We certainly have a long way to go. But the benefits in the long range of harnessing hygroelectricity could be substantial.”

Their aim is to create collectors which can harness this electricity just like the solar cells trap the sun’s energy. It should be interesting to see how far it goes and how soon.

My Opinion

I for one never did think that man would ever be able to harness the magnitude of power a lightning strike generates. It would be the breakthrough of the century for me if man did succeed! Last week we had a strike right next to our home and it hit this giant oak tree splintered and spread its bark all around. Now I watch it slowly dying bit by bit by bit… Just imagine being able to trap a lightning strike and use all that energy! That would be mind blowing!

Read the entire article on the ACS website HERE


Futuristic Off Shore Wind turbines: The Wind Lens

August 25, 2010 in Wind Energy

Kyushu University professor Yuji Ohya has developed an ultra efficient wind turbine which is unlike anything we have seen before. At the Yokohoma Renewable Energy International Exhibition 2010, Professor Ohya and his team unveiled the Wind Lens, a honeycomb-like structure which supposedly triples the amount of wind energy that can be produced by off shore turbines.

The basic tenet of the Wind lens is kind of like a lens concentrating solar energy onto photo voltaic surfaces, here the ring like structure “the hoop” acts like a wind collector concentrating the wind onto the turbines. The structure has a 112 meter diameter and supposedly will also reduce noise pollution. According to reports verification experiments show that wind lens turbines produce 3 times as much electricity as those without a hoop.

According to Professor Yuji Ohya  even a gentle breeze can accelerate the revolution of the turbines considerably. The 2.5 meter-wide blades can, at with wind speed of 5 meters a second, can provide a sufficient amount of electricity to power an average household. There is a diffuser placed along the edge of the turbine which does not rotate there by reducing the vortices and increasing efficiency.

The smaller size of the turbines could in the long run make it cheaper to manufacture, for now though they are pricey.

My Opinion

To me anything that interferes with the Ocean and is man-made is not safe until proven safe for the environment around and in the Oceans. So though impressed by the design aspect and the increased efficiency of the wind lens I will wait to see the environmental impact studies.

Check out Professor Yuki Ohya’s website for more details here

Read more about the Wind Lens and Yokohoma Exhibition here

CNN article here

Inhabitat.com article is here