Productive Product: From the UK's Techworld magazine, "A small US startup has announced technology for running Wi-Fi routers in remote places using only the power of the sun. Among the first round of products from Solis Energy is the Solar Power Plant, touted as being capable of supplying 12, 24 and 48 Volts DC for use in standalone applications such as surveillance cameras and outdoor Wi-Fi."
Engineers and system designers can exchange information around the world using instant messaging, Web browsers, and e-mail protocols based on Ethernet. The impact on our daily jobs is part of a larger trend described in the book The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman. Friedman describes how broad Ethernet adoption, combined with open protocols and widely adopted platforms such as the World Wide Web, causes a dramatic shift in the global economy. In his words, the global economy is becoming “flat.” In addition to delivering data in the global economy, Ethernet is well suited for distributed test and industrial automation systems. New Ethernet standards have increased bandwidth from 10 Mb/s in 1983 to 1 Gb/s in 1998. It will take several years for the new 10GBASE-T standard (2006) to reach comparable price points with the currently deployed 1GBASE-T and 100BASE-T standards. With Ethernet, as well as PCI Express and USB, industrial automation and test systems can operate with higher performance at lower costs.
Many different standards for wireless communications equipment are in use today. Narrowband communication standards use stronger transmission in a small slice of bandwidth. Wideband standards use lower transmission power across a larger bandwidth. Each standard defines minimum performance characteristics for receivers, and includes specifications such as bandwidth, maximum signal level, and sensitivity. GSM is one narrowband example; the channel bandwidth is 200 kHz. A GSM receiver must have a minimum sensitivity of –104 dBm and be able to tolerate a –13 dBm signal at the antenna. In contrast, CDMA2000 is a wideband standard that uses a 1.25 MHz bandwidth. CDMA2000 receivers need to have a minimum sensitivity of –117 dBm/1.25 MHz and tolerate a maximum signal of –30 dBm at 900 kHz offset.1
"Cost still rules applications," said Ross Bannatyne, Marketing Director at Silicon Laboratories, a supplier of 8051-based MCUs. "If 8-bit MCUs solve problems, why use more expensive 32-bit chips?" Newer 8051 derivatives, for example, execute 100 MIPS and on-chip multiply-accumulate accelerators let them handle signal-processing tasks. According to Bannatyne, some engineers might not realize 32-bit MCUs can incur code penalties. "They might assume an algorithm that requires 16 KB in an 8-bit MCU also needs 16 KB in a 32-bit processor. Often the code takes more memory in the 32-bit processor, often much more."
Energy News: Does your company have a chief green officer? They do at Sun Microsystems, as explained in this San Jose Mercury News article. Dave Douglas' job involves everything from auditing the green practices of the corporate cafeteria to participating in data center design.
Op-Ed: To quote Paul Shaffer, "we've got lots and lots of letters" about The Efficiency Zone and my recent editorial in our print edition of ECN. Here are some highlights, surnames edited
Op-Ed: Two years ago, while editing a non-ECN technology newsletter, I stumbled onto this headline: "CRM School: A ray of hope for mentally retarded children." I wasn't sure whether to laugh or be offended because it sounded so strange. The hyperlink went to an Indian domain, which gave it credibility, but was this a joke, or a tale of some slimy corporation, or what?
Productive Product: It’s tough to say exactly what the word “Zonbu” implies. Is it: A., the name of a millionaire’s estate, B. an unpopular central-African republic, C. some kind of vegetarian dessert, or D., just a made-up word because all the good names for a high-tech company are taken?
Op-Ed: Apple Inc. co-founder and legendary hacker Steve Wozniak recently found a new passion in energy-efficient housing. Last month he told PC World magazine, "I have a long dream to build my own house in a very energy-efficient approach," and here at ECN we thought you'd like to know more. So we interviewed Woz by email. Here is a transcript
Productive Product: What happens when you combine carbon nanotubes and electrolytes, embedded in paper? You create a flexible battery which can be molded into any shape and even cut with scissors, according to faculty and students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Center for Biotechnology.
Op-Ed: Last week I wrote about energy harvesting; here is a new example. MIT researchers are studying ways to power anything from subway trains to rock concerts by capturing the power of simple movements -- in these two cases it's the movement of human feet -- and to borrow
Op-Ed: If the world’s industrial and information cultures are going Earth-friendly, then we’ll need a new generation of trained technical professionals to be leaders. Universities are catching on to this demand by offering a variety of courses devoted to clean technology. Here in ECN’s home state of New Jersey, three top-flight schools exemplify the trend – the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rutgers University, and Stevens Institute of Technology.
Energy News: Massachusetts history is rich in technology, not just colonial times. Now its local companies are making new history in the clean-tech field -- it's the fastest growing job market, surveyors found. "Of the current 14,400 jobs attributed to the sector, 6,258 are in energy efficiency
Productive Product: What if physics research into levitation could lead to frictionless electromechanics? Levitation is cool, but think of all the power you'd save in new product designs. It may soon be possible because scientists at the University of St. Andrews figured
Energy News: Tomorrow's data centers may not need any help with air conditioning, due to new R&D in server and appliance cooling techniques, and that process may yeild tax breaks, eWeek magazine reports. For cooling, the major hardware companies are working on
Energy News: The number of construction consultants calling themselves "green" experts is skyrocketing. They have varied backgrounds, such as in business, engineering, or general contracting, and there may be some without real qualifications at all.
Op-Ed: I keep seeing articles about energy harvesting, which is the concept of generating electricity from life's daily movements. The latest reference is in this Associated Press story about environmentally friendly nightclubs -- a non-profit group called Enviu is working on a dance floor that captures
Energy News: The U.S. Department of Defense's ARPA -- Advanced Research Projects Agency -- is a hugely successful organization, most famous in academic and civilian circles for funding the original Internet research (no, it wasn't made by Al Gore.) Now Congress hopes to copy that
One of the most critical factors in designing handheld, portable electronics today is reducing overall system power consumption. With increased consumer expectations, portable devices require longer battery life and higher performance. Even power reductions on the order of 10 mW are crucial to portable system designers and manufacturers.
The industry’s conversion from leaded (eutectic) to lead-free has been slow. The industry perception prior to July 2006 was a virtual overnight switch to lead-free. However, today many OEMs still have a “don’t care, wait and see attitude” since they’re either RoHS-exempt at this time or don’t sell into Europe.
As a youngster I enjoyed wiring up circuits with knife switches, lamps, buzzers and large dry cells. While in high school I made frequent trips to surplus-electronics stores in New York City and ordered components from mail-order supply houses. My projects included a 4-bit binary adder -- built from switches and relays -- and a tic-tac-toe machine. I also built my share of kits from Knight, Eico and Heath. My friend Bill Kuhn designed and built relay-logic learning machines.
Energy News: Researchers found bacteria that can transform light into chemical energy -- a method of photosynthesis still not completely understood by science, but which could become an energy windfall if it's duplicatable by industry. The discovery happened at the famed Yellowstone National Park. The bacterium has "light-harvesting antennae known as chlorosomes
Energy News: Said the fictional Nick Sundin: "These 'eco' products are amazing -- they've totally changed my life Now, I just toss my used Seventh Generation-brand paper plates out the car window, knowing they'll soon be absorbed into the earth."
Productive Product: The city of Sacramento will soon test a system for regenerative braking on its light-rail trains. The idea is to capture the heat energy that exits trains when they're braking, and redirect that energy back into the grid. Similar technology is already used in hybrid cars, so this isn't too experimental, and therefore the prospects look good for taking it into production.
Energy News: Now this is innovative: a 93-year-old, 250,000 sq. ft. factory in Chicago is becoming a shopping, office, and housing complex exclusively for environmentally-friendly products and services. The local government is almost done with the permit approvals stage. There is a similar location in Oregon but not on this scale and not as diverse.