Op-Ed: It's crazy to think that American farms can supply enough corn biofuel to make any substantial dent into the energy crisis, columnist John Wasik says. Illinois is America's best place to grow corn, and even if you bulldozed the whole state (including Chicago), you'd only
Productive Product: Researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology are working on solar cells that can be painted or printed onto flexible plastic sheets. Head researcher Prof. Somenath Mitra predicts that someday, consumers will be able to make these cells using their computer printers
Op-Ed: My hobby outside of life at ECN is collecting and restoring vintage computers. I write a blog about the hobby and, for my personal collection, I focus on portable systems. Last week I interviewed Henry Laxen who ran software development for a small company called Friends Amis in the early-to-mid 1980s. Friends Amis designed the Hand Held Computer
Energy News: There's a good article in The New York Times about the promise vs. the realities of solar energy research. The best thing of solar energy is that it's infinite, at least for the next few billion years -- scientists agree on that much. But solar energy has an image problem. The new movie Sunshine
Energy News:This made it onto Slashdot today but in case you missed it, a company called Range Fuels is ready to build America's first cellulosic ethanol production factory. Unlike sugar ethanol, which can only be made from certain plants, cellulose ethanol can be extracted
Productive Product: What's the difference between speeding and not turning light offs when you leave a room? When you speed, there are cops and signs to remind you. But when you leave the lights on, or your computers, TVs, and other gadgets, the power they waste just disappears into a lump-sum electricity bill. That's why an alliance of UK energy companies
Productive Product: We last gave an update on electric sports cars three months ago but now we're hearing about ZAP ("Zero Air Pollution") which is promising a $60,000 crossover SUV that goes 0-60 in 4.8 seconds and can travel 350 miles with one charge.
Energy News: Pressed recently about the need for alternative energy research, Exxon's CEO persisted on a traditional tack: "We're in the business of oil and gas." But Shell's CEO is being more progressive. "Well, you won't see me in an SUV. And I've just installed solar electricity panels on my roof," he told U.S. News & World Report.
Energy News: Cleantech America is planning the world's largest solar farm, at 640 acres, for completion in 2011 in Fresno, California. At 80 megawatts, that would dwarf the current largest solar farms in the 4-5 megawatt range.
Op-Ed: Want to save $119 and deprive Earth of 1,405 pounds of CO2? Then all you have to do is activate your computers' power management settings, tech writer Larry Magid notes (but you'll have to register to read this one.) Computers and other common home electronics
Energy News: Yesterday was Independence Day here in the US, which serves as a nice reminder that we're all free to be foolish from time to time. On the energy front, some people do this conspicuously, such as driving large SUVs for no particular reason. Others are more subtle: would you believe that some people still go for perpetual energy?
Energy News: AgriPower Inc. is preparing to commercialize its biomass burners. These aren't quite the Mr. Fusion gadgets commonly found on your time machine, but the idea is similar: rather than paying to haul away your trash, why not
Energy News: Replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps is a simple way to save energy, but a new technology using microwave power may soon lead to traditional(-ish) bulbs that last for thousands of hours. According to The Economist, researchers at Ceravision are perfecting a bulb with no filament, and therefore
Productive Product: Solar power worked pretty well for calculators in the 1980s, and now it's available in cell phones from China's Hi-Tech Wealth company. Like any other new technology, this does not come cheap: think about the $500 range and for now it's only available in China. But it's a great way to show off your green-friendliness to friends and colleagues without having to invest in a hybrid car
Productive Product: Google.org is giving up to $11 million for hybrid vehicle research, with the goal of developing plug-in vehicles capable of reaching 70 to 100 miles per gallon. Google also hopes the project, dubbed RechargeIT, will lead to development of
Op-Ed: It happened a month ago: two months after founding The Efficiency Zone, someone in readerland finally posted a reply. They said, "You're an idiot. Energy efficient design is not about saving mother earth. It's about delivering a device that lasts on a battery all day such as a cell phone. All the new devices stress low power needs to keep the battery going, not because an extra mWh is gonna lessen the carbon foot print on Motorola."
Productive Product: Try, try again: it might work for solar thermal technology, which unlike traditional solar power can still generator power in the evening. A 64-megawatt plant just opened outside of Las Vegas, but even at that scale it may not be efficient enough to offer mainstream cost savings.
Energy News: Energy efficiency is vital if the world's leading nations want to curb global warming, officials at the Group of Eight summit said last week. The necessary long-term steps are to "promote the appropriate policy approaches and instruments, including inter-alia economic incentives and sound fiscal policies, minimum standards
Productive Product: Texas Instruments announced a line of floating point digital signal controllers. The TMS320F2833x devices provide 300 million FLOPS at 150 MHz at costs typically associated with fixed point processors, which means developers can accomplish more tasks using fewer chips, and thereby consume less energy. Software development is also simplified. Technology from solar power inverters to automotive radar
Productive Product: Efficient power supplies warm our heart. Synergistic Technology Solutions's latest models, in its BlueCube series, are the 3 W LX3i and 5 W LX5i. Neither requires any additional components. They offer input voltage ranges
Op-Ed: Exxon Mobil Corp. shareholders voted yesterday to keep the world's largest oil company focused on fossil fuels. Some institutional investors and individual stock holders raised strong objections, saying that Exxon's focus on R&D is not enough for a company if its size and scope.
Op-Ed: What is "green fatigue"? It's when ordinary people "just want to go about their lives, avoid cancer and feel like responsible citizens," blogger Hemal Vasavada Gill explains. As for constant media attention to green-ness (are we guilty here at ECN?), it "might make us replace a few light bulbs and recycle more frequently, but it will ultimately leave us overwhelmed
Energy News: Explained at BurningMan.com: "This year our art theme will express the immanence of nature in our lives The Burning Man will stand atop a structure that resembles green mountain peak. Nestled at its base, will be the Green Man Pavilion
Productive Product: Texas Instruments announced a new low-power control chip, the UCC28060, features an interleaved transition-mode power factor correction circuit. The two-phase high-performance controller for 75W to 800W applications
Energy News: New York City will require all new vehicles entering the taxi fleet after October 2008 to get at least 25 miles per gallon; to get 30 miles per gallon and be hybrid by 2009; and all taxis must be hybrids by 2012, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced today.