Archive for the ‘sustainability’ category

Nov 26, 2015

US electrical grid can’t affordably store enough standby electricity to keep the system stable, says researcher

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability

A common criticism of a total transition to wind, water and solar power is that the US electrical grid can’t affordably store enough standby electricity to keep the system stable. Now a researcher proposes an underground solution to that problem.

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Nov 25, 2015

New technology makes metal wires on solar cells nearly invisible to light

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability

A solar cell is basically a semiconductor, which converts sunlight into electricity, sandwiched between metal contacts that carry the electrical current.

But this widely used design has a flaw: The shiny metal on top of the cell actually reflects sunlight away from the semiconductor where electricity is produced, reducing the cell’s efficiency.

Now, Stanford University scientists have discovered how to hide the reflective upper contact and funnel light directly to the semiconductor below. Their findings, published in the journal ACS Nano, could lead to a new paradigm in the design and fabrication of .

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Nov 25, 2015

Stephen Hawking’s Legacy Could Be ‘Holy Grail’ Of Physics: Combining Gravity And Quantum Mechanics At Black Hole Horizons

Posted by in categories: cosmology, neuroscience, nuclear energy, particle physics, quantum physics, sustainability


To suggest that quantum mechanics and gravity are on the verge of being reconciled would be, to the physics world at least, as significant as the discover of splitting the atom. While splitting the atom might have led to the nuclear bomb, it also led to the technology of nuclear power, i.e. nuclear fission, which, if harnessed properly, creates a renewable and sustainable energy resource. The problem has always been that quantum mechanics — the rules that govern sub-atomic particles — and gravity, the rule that governs mass as we know it (the stuff we can touch and feel), do not agree with each other. The question has always been, what is it that “unifies” these two theories? Is quantum mechanics God playing dice, as Einstein suggested?

“God doesn’t play dice with the universe.”

Continue reading “Stephen Hawking’s Legacy Could Be ‘Holy Grail’ Of Physics: Combining Gravity And Quantum Mechanics At Black Hole Horizons” »

Nov 24, 2015

Ray Kurzweil: This is your future

Posted by in categories: food, Ray Kurzweil, solar power, sustainability

By 2030 solar energy will have the capacity to meet all of our energy needs. The production of food and clean water will also be revolutionized.

Kurzweil believes solar energy could satisfy 100% our power needs. — CNN

If we could capture one part in ten thousand of the sunlight that falls on the Earth we could meet 100% of our energy needs, using this renewable and environmentally friendly source.

As we apply new molecular scale technologies to solar panels, the cost per watt is coming down rapidly. Already Deutsche Bank, in a recent report, wrote “The cost of unsubsidized solar power is about the same as the cost of electricity from the grid in India and Italy. By 2014 even more countries will achieve solar ‘grid parity.’”

Continue reading “Ray Kurzweil: This is your future” »

Nov 23, 2015

Underwater balloons could give us a new way of storing renewable energy

Posted by in category: sustainability

While solar or wind farms are now contributing more energy than ever to the world’s power supply, traditional energy sources are often required at peak times or to supplement renewable sources during dips in availability — at night, for example. So Canadian startup Hydrostor has invented a system of pressurised underwater balloons that can store renewable energy until it’s needed, which could reduce the need for diesel or gas as a back-up source of power.

The company says its solution can last twice as long as the best batteries we have today, and at a much lower cost. The first facility has been set up in Lake Ontario near Toronto, with a series of balloons set 55 metres under the surface of the water and connected to the power grid via a pipeline.

“Compressed air’s been around for 40 years,” Hydrostor CEO Curtis VanWalleghem told Canadian Manufacturing. “It’s finding places to store the air that’s been the problem [and] why it hasn’t been massively adopted. We open it up to thousands more sites because we use hydrostatic water pressure.”

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Nov 18, 2015

Apple to Introduce 100% Solar-Powered Retail Store

Posted by in categories: policy, solar power, sustainability

Tech behemoth Apple is set to become the first completely solar-powered company in Singapore.

As part of a long-term partnership with Sunseap Group, Apple will draw upon Sunseap’s vast network of more than 800 solar panel-equipped buildings, which will satisfy the energy requirements for the company’s forthcoming 2,500-person corporate campus and retail store operations in Singapore.

According to Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, the company aims to completely kick its dependence on fossil fuels and rely instead on renewable energy sources for its facilities worldwide.

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Nov 18, 2015

Bioengineered Shark Fins Could Save 70 Million Sharks

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, food, information science, sustainability

Each year, an estimated 70 million sharks are killed for their fins. The brutal shark finning process involves cutting off a live shark’s fins and returning the debilitated animal back into the water to die a slow death. Highly valued in traditional Asian medicine and cuisine, the fins can sell for as much as $300 a pound on the black market.

What if an artificial shark fin could remove sharks from the equation completely?

New Wave Foods, a San Francisco-based sustainable seafood company, is developing a bioengineered fin product that could pull the rug out from underneath the shark trade.

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Nov 17, 2015

Scientists have created transparent solar panels that could replace windows

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability


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Nov 16, 2015

This new laser could make things hotter than the centre of the Sun almost instantly

Posted by in categories: materials, nuclear energy, sustainability

Scientists have proposed a laser model that can could heat materials to temperatures hotter than the centre of the Sun in just 20 quadrillionths of a second. That’s 10 million degrees Celsius almost instantaneously.

The discovery brings us one step closer to the dream of achieving thermonuclear fusion energy — the production of clean, sustainable, and limitless energy using the same process the Sun uses to produce heat.

The challenge in harnessing the energy from thermonuclear fusion is that, as with any form of energy production, you need to get out more than you put in, and heating things to temperatures that rival the centre of the Sun is not easy. Current laser technology has failed to make the heating process efficient enough to make the process worthwhile, but a team from Imperial College London in the UK has come up with a model for a laser than can heat things about 100 times faster than the world’s most powerful fusion experiments.

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Nov 11, 2015

Cops Called After Tesla Model S Owners ‘Put A Child In The Trunk’

Posted by in categories: habitats, sustainability, transportation

Police waited at the home of a family after someone called in seeing the parents “put a child in the trunk” of the car — someone who clearly wasn’t aware that the Tesla Model S can be equipped with a third row of seats for children.

I stumbled upon this video after comments veteran and Twitter tweeter @_McMike_ tweeted it.

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