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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

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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

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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

Nuclear Bathtub Full of Controversy

November 26, 2007 5:57 am | Blogs | Comments

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

Utilities' Perspectives on Green Biz

November 26, 2007 5:29 am | Blogs | Comments

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

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A Call For Green Holiday Tech

November 20, 2007 11:53 am | Blogs | Comments

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.

Lithium, Ultracaps Merge for Hybrid Power

November 19, 2007 11:13 am | Blogs | Comments

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.

UCLA Puts Twist on Flexible Batteries

November 16, 2007 10:53 am | Blogs | Comments

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

Energy Harvesting in the Military

November 16, 2007 9:18 am | Blogs | Comments

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.

But What About the Sunburn on My Ear?

November 13, 2007 8:50 am | Blogs | Comments

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?

PV Start-up Shines in NREL's Eyes

November 12, 2007 7:14 am | Blogs | Comments

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

An Efficient Hodgepodge of News

November 7, 2007 9:06 am | Blogs | Comments

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

US Energy Lab Gets High-Tech Home

October 29, 2007 11:32 am | Blogs | Comments

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

Germans Win Solar Decathlon

October 24, 2007 6:55 am | Blogs | Comments

Energy News: Congratulations to the students of Technishe Universität Darmstadt for winning the 2007 Solar Decathlon's top prize of US $100,000. The event involved students from 20 schools who all brought solar-powered homes to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. There are beautiful pictures and videos but here are some of mine from

Ann Arbor Trades Maize and Blue for Green

October 17, 2007 12:44 pm | Blogs | Comments

Energy News: City officials in Ann Arbor, Michigan announced a two year plan to convert all 1,046 of its 120W incandescent downtown streetlights to efficient 56W LEDs. They say the $630,000 installation project will save the city $100,000 per year and will reduce

Energi To Go or Not To Go?

October 15, 2007 12:08 pm | Blogs | Comments

Productive Product: No, that's not a misspelling: Energizer markets its lithium (not li-ion) backup system for portable gadgets with the "Energi To Go" moniker.  Basically this is a battery holder fitting one or two AA cells, a power charging and management chip from Techtium, and your connector

That's Teleconferencing: Chuck Peddle Video

October 10, 2007 6:14 am | Blogs | Comments

VIDEO | Op-Ed: Here's an example of energy savings at a technology conference. MOS 6502 and Commodore legend Chuck Peddle planned to fly to New Jersey to give a 90-minute computer history lecture. But he was stuck in Sri Lanka for his job, so he videoconferenced instead. The twist: instead of using an expensive, professional videoconferencing "solution", Chuck used ordinary Skype

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