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.
Electrostatic discharge (ESD) occurs when objects -- including people, furniture, machines, integrated circuits or electrical cables -- become charged and discharged. Electrostatic charging brings objects to surprisingly high potentials of many thousands of volts in ordinary home or office environments. ESD produces currents which can have rise times less than a nanosecond, peak currents of dozens of Amps and durations that can last from tens to hundreds of nanoseconds. Unless ESD robustness is included during design, these current levels can damage electrical components and upset or damage electrical systems from cell phones to computers.
Competitive telecom businesses have realized they can no longer design proprietary hardware. In response to this changed business climate, members of the PICMG, a consortium of industrial-computer vendors, developed PICMG 3.0, or the Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (ATCA). Marc LeClaire, a product manager in the Advanced Blades and Servers Division at Kontron, stressed that the ATCA standard covers boards, enclosures, interconnections, communications, and other architectural components. "Designers must think of the ATCA as a complete architecture, not simply as a bus."
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
I think the simplist productivity metric which should be used across the industry is the total number lines of code in the organization divided by the number of people who are working on that code (including QA as well as development).
The trend toward miniaturizing medical electronics devices also brings with it a number of challenges. In this month's edition of Brainstorm, we ask industry experts in the medical electronics market what they believe to be the most critical of these challenges and what current and developing technology is available to help the designer meet those challenges.
What do you consider to be the most important factors that will further the development of power management in portable systems? What do you think are some of the customer misconceptions about power management that must overcome to move the industry forward?
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
As I kid, I sometimes got frustrated with what I saw as my Dad not giving me a straight answer. For instance, I would say, “Dad, I need a hammer”. “What are you using it for?” he would say. “There’s a finishing nail sticking out the wooden floor in my room and I need to pound it back in.” (I grew up in an very old farm house.) “Then you need a rubber mallet, not a hammer.
Designers are always on the lookout for semiconductors and algorithms that help to boost the efficiency of appliances with a minimum addition to the overall system cost. Motor-control systems need to compensate for system input changes and can use control algorithms to ensure the efficient operation of the motor. Using advanced algorithms, such as a field oriented control (FOC), motor torque can be controlled dynamically, keeping it constant within the rated speed range (see Figure 1). Toward this, the most commonly used motor-control loop is the Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) controller, which comprises error calculation (reference minus measured variable), compensator (controller), and output generation to the system.
Consumer electronics manufacturers must develop completely different television receiver product designs for different countries or regions. The standards and technologies for television reception vary considerably so it has been impractical to consider a single flexible design covering multiple standards or regions. However, new technologies are emerging which will make it possible to have a single product design address multiple countries or regions.
Years ago I ditched my 9600 bps modem, but I still rely on dial-up modems. Those modems exist in automated teller machines, gasoline pumps, traffic controllers, medical instruments, security systems, point-of-sale (POS) equipment, and other devices. According to several sources, dial-up modems still provide the largest number of access points to the Internet. Fortunately, several OEM vendors supply dial-up modem modules that offer drop-in communications in small packages.
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
Hi-Tech Software has announced a new compilation technology that generates object code based on call- and pointer-reference graphs derived from all the modules in an embedded program. The new technology, called Omniscient Code Generation (OCG), overcomes problems in conventional compilers that can miss inconsistent calling conventions, variable declarations and redundant code because they compile each module independently and separately. OCG results in more easily ported code that is nearly 50 percent more dense than code from competing compilers.
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