In this inaugural issue and every issue hereafter, you'll see the best news and op-ed from the cleanest, greenest, nature-friendliest part of ECNmag.com. Our goal is to help you not only save the planet by using technology, but also to save money and build smarter products. Meanwhile, we totally dig your feedback. Send your comments to our free-range, organically-grown editor Evan Koblentz and check out our links library.
Energy News: There are biofuel critics who say America can never grow enough raw material for the technology to be affordable and ubiquitous, but some scientists believe algae is a better option. At the University of Minnesota, they're figuring out how to make algae grow very fast, and how to get up to 15,000 gallons of oil per acre -- that is 750 percent more yield than
Energy News: Three stories about energy efficiency, focusing on computers, landed in my inbox today -- with a big fat asterisk attached. The stories are: Google Plans Renewable Energy Push -- they want to make one a gigawatt of clean energy cheaper to produce than the same amount of coal; HP Enters Two Renewable-Energy Contracts -- they're using solar and wind power for facilities in San Diego and Ireland; and Climate Savers Computing Initiative Empowers Smarter Computing Choices -- there's an online catalog of green desktops and servers, but it's only for companies that pay to join
Productive Product: What if you could eliminate all of the material friction in a windmill? (And why is this our third consecutive Efficiency Zone lead in question form?) No ball bearing is that good, but you could use maglev technology to just suspend the turbine blades in air. Magnetic levitation is more common for high-speed train research
Productive Product: It was good enough for Columbus, Magellan, and Ellison, but is wind power -- the sail -- better in some cases than modern engines for oceanic cargo ships? A few companies are voting affirmatively. A blogger for Network World writes, "A kite the size of a football field will provide most of the power for a German
Productive Product: What if nuclear power were mass-produced in portable battery-like containers? That's the mission of Hyperion Power Generation, a start-up based on the research of Los Alamos National Labs scientist Otis Peterson. The bathtub-sized device with no moving parts could power 25,000 homes for five years, and Hyperion is poised to build 4,000 around
Energy News: "Making a Business of Energy Efficiency: Sustainable Business Models for Utilities" is the topic of next month's Edison Electric Institute meeting in Washington. The EEI is an electric company association and the agenda focuses on money -- not customers, the environment, or technology. There is an interesting
Op-Ed: Ah, winter: the holidays, the Superbowl, snow sledding and nasty weather, the hassle of decorating, and what to get the engineer who has everything? We here at ECN figure the answer to that last point -- high-tech for the holidays -- is best derived from you, the readers.
Productive Product: Maxwell Technologies is working with China's Lishen Battery to design hybrid lithium-ultracapacitor products, Maxwell officials said today. Immediately, Lishen will start making lithium cells adjacent to ultracapacitors in the same package, while preparing to merge lithium with ultracapacitors in individual hybrid cells by summer 2009.
Productive Product: UCLA researchers are able to print batteries on flexible circuits by using nanotube inks, NewScientist reports. There are similar projects, such as at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and it's not immediately clear how the UCLA project differs. However, NewScientist explains
Productive Product: I wrote about energy harvesting a few times before, and now there's a practical application: power for field soldiers. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on M2E Power, a Boise, Idaho start-up that says it has a (no pun intended) more efficient way to perform energy harvesting -- the general idea of energy harvesting from mechanical movements traditionally does work but hasn't been worth the trouble.
Productive Product: Not everyone can live in a solar-powered European city or build a solar-powered cubist house, but Iqua Ltd.'s solar Bluetooth headset will soon be available to all, the Register reports. Will it work when the skies are cloudy or dark? Will it have comparable sound quality and between-charges life to standard headsets? Will it cause any sunburn on your ear?
Energy News: More from the NREL: they announced that a photovoltaics start-up, Wakonda Technologies, is the winner of the Clean Energy Entrepreneur of the Year award. Wakona's name derives from a native American word regarding spirit and nature; they're working on thin films of gallium arsenide for solar cell substrates. Typically thin-film
Op-Ed: Plenty of energy-efficiency news piled up while I was on vacation last week. Much of the time I was at the Mountain View, Calif. Computer History Museum, where they happen to be hosting a few Smart cars. That made me wonder what I was missing back home, so here are
Energy News: Colorado didn't get a World Series victory, but here's something they can be charged up about: tomorrow the National Renewable Energy Lab will break ground on its new home there. From the press release, Secretary [Samuel] Bodman also is expected to announce two renewable power projects at NREL and