Thursday, May 3, 2012

10 cool advancements in clean energy

The Space Race showed nations can accomplish great things when everyone is committed to a common goal. Increasingly, people are suggesting that same we-can-do-anything attitude be applied to clean energy. In many ways, it's occurring.

Here are 10 things that grabbed my attention in recent days:

1/Solar windows: Much is being written about solar shingles and even solar clothing, but researchers are also studying if windows - think skyscrapers - could double as energy generators. Challenges abound, as this post in environment 360 points out because they have to be clear, but a Maryland company claims to have a way to spray on a see-through solar coating. Researchers and students at UC Merced also are working on something similar here;

2/The smart minds up the road from us at UC Merced designed an innovative low-cost, non-tracking solar thermal collector system that is able to operate with a solar thermal efficiency of 50% at extreme temperatures. Previously, only more complex tracking solar thermal collector systems could achieve this temperature. The system has practical applications in solar heating, cooling, desalination, oil extraction, electricity generation, and food processing, says Ron Durbin, executive director of University of California Advanced Solar Technologies Institute. Here's an ABC 30 story on it;

3/ Speaking of universities and solar cells, the equally smart minds at USC are developing nanocells that could fit on plastic. Think of the possibilities! More here;

4/ Isn't nature great! The humpback whale is influencing windmill blade design. Click here.

5/ Iceland wants to lay an undersea cable to export geothermal to Europe;

6/ A New York company uses on-site wind turbines to meet 60 percent of the power needs of a mammoth manufacturing plant. Gigaom has it - and more here;

7/ Sidewalks that use kinetic energy from footsteps to generate power for nearby appliances. Crazy, but read about it here. Similarly, these trains in Philly can store kinetic energy from braking for further use.

8/  Superman may not be able to change in these booths, but folks will be able to power up their electric vehicle and monitor pollution. Oh, and they can also make a call;

9/ Making good clean power out of bad bad land. Our blog;

10/  The U.S. and U.K. joining forces to develop floating wind power. More here.

These are just a few things that I noted in recent days, but certainly isn't complete. These solar powered bins that text when they're full are pretty cool too. Maybe it's true when people say clean energy is the next industrial revolution.

Video by UC Merced
Photo of people walking by Graham Kingsley


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