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Innovative Technology to Maximize Output of Solar Panels

July 1, 2008 6:14 am | by Jason Lomberg | Blogs | Comments

In 1839, French physicist Alexandre Edmond Becquerel discovered the “photovoltaic” effect, or the natural phenomenon which allows the conversion of solar into electrical energy. Over the next 150 years, this inexorably led to solar-powered satellites, solar cars, and solar-panel technology for domestic use. Among their many strengths, financial savings (after the initial investment), environmental conservation, and minimal upkeep, solar panels always suffered weaknesses inherent in a technology that relies on a giant ball of ionized gas 150 million kilometers away.

Nextreme Strives to Increase Efficiency of Heat-to-Power Conversion

June 30, 2008 10:47 am | Blogs | Comments

With soaring energy costs, all sectors are feeling the crunch, including the thermoelectrics industry. But Nextreme Thermal Solutions has a plan to stem the tide. One potential solution is to convert a system’s thermal energy byproduct into a functional resource. Using a grant from the North Carolina Green Business Fund, Nextreme plans to optimize their thin-film growth process with the goal of doubling the power output of a single device from 250mW to 500mW.

Chip Uses Novel Sleep Mode to Set Low-Power Record

June 24, 2008 4:23 am | Product Releases | Comments

A low-power microchip developed at the University of Michigan uses 30,000 times less power in sleep mode and 10 times less in active mode than comparable chips now on the market.The Phoenix Processor, which sets a low-power record, is intended for use in cutting-edge sensor-based devices such as medical implants, environment monitors or surveillance equipment. The chip consumes just 30 picowatts during sleep mode.

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Researchers demonstrate 'avalanche effect' in solar cells

June 12, 2008 10:55 am | Blogs | Comments

Researchers at TU Delft (Netherlands) and the FOM Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter have found irrefutable proof that the so-called avalanche effect by electrons occurs in specific, very small semiconducting crystals.

“Challenge X” Vehicles Strut Their Stuff In Manhattan

May 19, 2008 6:56 am | by Alix Paultre | Blogs | Comments

It may have been a cold and damp morning in Manhattan, but that didn’t damp the passions of the participants in the Challenge X national collegiate engineering competition. This year’s challenge, sponsored by the US Department of Energy and General Motors, focuses on technology integration and full-vehicle development of advanced alternate-technology drivetrain and subsystems. By participating in the Challenge X program, the students gain real-world engineering skills and hands-on learning to better prepare them for a future career in engineering.

Printed Flexible Solar Cells Provide Embedded Renewable Power

May 12, 2008 6:43 am | Blogs | Comments

With the cost of energy approaching the insane, new and improved methods of creating better and more easily deployable solar power cells are very welcome. This advance in manufacture by Konarka Technologies promises to deliver cheaper power cells in large quantities. I hope they can commercialize the technology to the point we can use solar as a tricke-charge backup in every powered application exposed to the sun.

Green is also the Color of Money

April 9, 2008 10:08 am | Blogs | Comments

Improving the environment is always a good idea, but wireless companies are finding ways to go green while bringing more “green” to their bottom lines.

New Record: Wind Powers 40% Of Spain

April 4, 2008 11:50 am | Blogs | Comments

Wind power is breaking new records in Spain, accounting for just over 40 percent of all electricity consumed during a brief period last weekend. As heavy winds lashed Spain on Saturday evening wind parks generated 9,862 megawatts of power which translated to 40.8 percent of total consumption.

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X PRIZE Group Offers $10 Million Challenge to Auto Industry for 100-MPG Car

March 21, 2008 10:54 am | Blogs | Comments

The goal is to inspire a new generation of viable, super fuel-efficient vehicles that offer more consumer choices.

One Step Closer to Making OLEDs a Viable Option

March 12, 2008 7:46 am | Blogs | Comments

GE Global Research announced the successful demonstration of “roll-to-roll” manufactured OLEDs. The company claims that this process is a key step toward lower costs of the technology.

On the Spot: Digital Power Management Drives Energy Efficiency

February 27, 2008 11:27 am | by Jim MacDonald, Zilker Labs, Inc. www.zilkerlabs.com | Blogs | Comments

Jim MacDonald, Zilker Labs, Inc. comments "The need for higher energy efficiency in embedded systems continues to rise on the priority list of systems developers and end users alike"

Trend Report: Energy Conservation and Sustainable Design

February 27, 2008 11:23 am | by by Jeff Uden, Newark, www.newark.com | Blogs | Comments

The concept of sustainable design started, not as a way of conserving the environment, but to prolong battery life in portable consumer goods such as cell phones, laptops and PDAs.

MIT and Texas Instruments Develop Energy-Efficient Microchip

February 4, 2008 9:45 am | Blogs | Comments

Researchers at MIT and Texas Instruments (TI) unveiled a new chip design for portable electronics that can be up to ten times more energy-efficient than present technology.

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Free Patents, Pending Members and Fees

January 14, 2008 10:54 am | Blogs | Comments

Energy News: IBM is leading a charge of freely available energy efficiency patents, as part of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development's new Eco-Patent Commons, officials said today. So far the commons has 31 patents, 27 being from Big Blue (not the football team). Nokia, Pitney-Bowes, and Sony also joined.

Daydream or Wild Fantasy, But Still a Good Idea

January 7, 2008 5:14 am | Blogs | Comments

Productive Product: Sometimes technology ideas are so good and so obvious that we don't even dare to suggest them, for fear of being rebuffed with a sarcastic, "Yeah, right!" An example is the idea that all of life's gadgets could connect to a single universal power supply -- no more jumble

Global CFL Maker Ready to Shine

December 27, 2007 10:46 am | Blogs | Comments

Productive Product: The Wall Street Journal (may require site registration) has a story about Aurora, Ohio's TCP Inc., the world's largest manufacturer of spiral compact-fluorescent light bulbs. TCP was the idea of a Chinese immigrant who is now benefitting from the Western energy-efficiency push -- they had sales of $300 million this year

It's Good to Drop the Ball!

December 27, 2007 5:10 am | Blogs | Comments

Energy News: What's worth $1 million, shines with 9,576 Philips Luxeon LEDs, and is built from 672 Waterford crystals? It's the 2008 New Years Eve ball to be dropped in New York's Times Square next week. This year is the 100th anniversary of the famed ball, now controlled by computers

Last-Minute Green Holiday Gifts

December 21, 2007 5:48 am | Blogs | Comments

Op-Ed: We searched and searched, and came up with perfect holiday gifts for environmentally conscious technophiles. Here are 10 in no particular order. It doesn't matter if you celebrate a belated Bodhi, Chanukah, Christmas, Diwali, Eid-Ul Adha, Festivus, HumanLight, Kwanzaa, or anything else -- every earthy engineer loves a present. Try LED holiday lights, solar chargers, practical books, recycled wrapping, a high-tech energy meter, low-power PC, or digital ornaments.

Bobbing for Energy in the Pacific Northwest

December 17, 2007 4:50 am | Blogs | Comments

Energy News: Most of Earth's surface is covered with free, green, non-depleting energy -- the movement of ocean waves -- and scientists say that power could be a major contributor to electric grids if only it were easily captured. So, researchers at universities such as Oregon State, and at start-ups such as Finavera Renewables and Ocean Power Technologies, are experimenting with special buoys that transfer movement into energy.

Smithsonian Plans LED-Spangled Banner

December 5, 2007 6:36 am | Blogs | Comments

Energy News: The 40-ft. x 32-ft. American flag defended at Fort McHenry in 1814 was made just a few years after the dawn of the incandescent lamp, and now Smithsonian preservationists will protect it further with modern LED technology.

Inaugural Efficiency Zone Newsletter

December 4, 2007 6:31 am | Blogs | Comments

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 From Your Tranquil Pond

November 30, 2007 11:24 am | Blogs | Comments

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

Get Your Low-Energy Computing with a Catch

November 27, 2007 11:21 am | Blogs | Comments

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

Gone With the Wind, Part 2: Maglev Tech

November 27, 2007 5:44 am | Blogs | Comments

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

Gone With the Wind, Part 1: The Sailboat

November 27, 2007 5:40 am | Blogs | Comments

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

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