MIT Energy Storage Discovery Could Lead to ‘Unlimited’ Solar Power

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have discovered a new way of storing energy from sunlight that could lead to ‘unlimited’ solar power.

The process, loosely based on plant photosynthesis, uses solar energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. When needed, the gases can then be re-combined in a fuel cell, creating carbon-free electricity whether the sun is shining or not.

According to project leader Prof. Daniel Nocera, “This is the nirvana of what we’ve been talking about for years. Solar power has always been a limited, far-off solution. Now, we can seriously think about solar power as unlimited and soon.

Nocera has also explained that the process (video) uses natural materials, is inexpensive to conduct and is easy to set up. “That’s why I know this is going to work. It’s so easy to implement,” he said.

Other prominent scientists in the field have rushed to highlight the revolutionary potential of the new process. According to James Barber, biochemistry professor at Imperial College London, this research is a ‘giant leap’ towards generating clean, carbon-free energy on as massive scale. In a statement, he also said:

“This is a major discovery with enormous implications for the future prosperity of humankind. The importance of their discovery cannot be overstated since it opens up the door for developing new technologies for energy production, thus reducing our dependence for fossil fuels and addressing the global climate change problem.”

No news has yet been released of a predicted timescale to commericial development or mainstream adoption. However, Nocera has said that he’s hopeful that within 10 years homes will no longer be powered using electricity-by-wire from a central source. Instead, homeowners will be able to harness solar power during daylight hours and use this new energy storage method for electricity at night.

Source: CleanTechnica

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Published in: on August 16, 2009 at 2:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Toyota Plants Giant Solar-Powered Flowers Across US Cities

Meant to represent the theme of “Harmony between Man, Nature, and Machine,” the 18-foot flowers have behind their petals and at the base of the stem. The generated travels down the stem to plastic green benches with 110-volt outlets. Each of the five flower provide room for up to 10 people to sit while charging their cell phones, laptops and other devices. Currently appearing in Boston, the solar flowers will later travel to New York, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The flowers operate daily from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm.

In addition to the flowers, Toyota is also demonstrating solar ventilation bus shelters in some cities. The shelters feature on the…Read More.

Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 9:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Nuclear power plants: Shaping new fuels for higher efficiency

MIT researchers have created innovative designs for nuclear fuels that will allow the cooling water inside a nuclear reactor to extract more heat from the uranium fuel. Their new fuels have channels that increase the exposed hot surface area and bumps that churn up the passing water, ensuring that fresh water is continuously brought to the hot surface, thus increasing the cooling effect. These new designs could boost the amount of energy recovered in the same volume of fuel by 30–50 percent, while reducing the cost of electricity by as much as 7 percent.

Nuclear power plants now provide about one-fifth of all the electricity used in the United States. Adding more nuclear plants—or getting more power out of the ones we have—could help us meet growing energy demand without adding to greenhouse gas emissions or oil imports.

At MIT, researchers are looking to improve both current and future plants by changing the design—or “geometry”—of the fuel inside the reactor. “We’ve had many…Read More.

Published in: on August 12, 2009 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Israel’s Bright Sparks Invent ‘Electric’ Road

Scientists in Israel say they have invented a way of turning traffic into electricity.

The bright sparks at the country’s Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa have developed a road that generates power when vehicles pass over it.

And they hope the technology will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

In a university car park, Haim Abramovich and his team run a heavy truck repeatedly over a special…Read More.

Published in: on August 11, 2009 at 6:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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New battery could change world, one house at a time

In a modest building on the west side of Salt Lake City, a team of specialists in advanced materials and electrochemistry has produced what could be the single most important breakthrough for clean, alternative energy since Socrates first noted solar heating 2,400 years ago.

The prize is the culmination of 10 years of research and testing — a new generation of deep-storage battery that’s small enough, and safe enough, to sit in your basement and power your home.

It promises to nudge the world to a paradigm shift as big as the switch from centralized mainframe computers in the 1980s to personal laptops. But this time the mainframe is America’s antiquated electrical grid; and the switch is to personal power stations in millions…Read More.

Published in: on August 11, 2009 at 6:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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4 Life Style Changes To Be More Environmentally Friendly

Simply Unplug

Simply Unplug

1. Unplug Any Unused Gadgets or Appliances.

Turning off any sort of device does not completely stop it from using power. As long as it’s plugged into a power source it will still siphon energy and raise your electric bills through the roof.
To solve this, you can simply unplug and unused devices, or more conveniently, get a power strip to manage more of your devices simultaneously.

Fluorescent On The Right, Incandescent To The Left

2. Make The Switch To Fluorescent.

On average, regular light bulbs use 12 times more energy than standard fluorescent lights. Fluorescent lights, on top of using 12 times less energy, also last 5 times longer than standard light bulbs. They cost a little extra, but that extra is worth it in the long run. If every American household replaced only ONE of its standard light bulbs with an energy efficient fluorescent light bulb, Americans would save the equivalent amount of energy that a nuclear power plant produces in a year!

You Don't Need To Drive Everywhere

You Don't Need To Drive Everywhere

3. Don’t Drive Everywhere.

Many places that people go to every day, don’t require a car to get to. Try walking, riding a bike, taking a bus, or even carpool. Almost every gallon of gas you use, produces 22 pound of CO2 emissions. Vehicles consume half of the worlds produced oil, and are responsible for a quarter of all green-house gas emissions. If driving is a constant necessity, then try to drive more responsibly; make sure your tires are properly inflated, don’t idle and waste gas, plan your trips more effectively, don’t drive aggressively, and follow the recommended maintenance plan for your vehicle.

Eat Responsibly

Eat Responsibly

4. Eat Responsibly.

18 percent of human-caused emissions can be attributed to the livestock industry. You do not in any way need to be a vegetarian to make a huge difference, simply skip meat one day a week to make a difference. In fact, if every American skipped meat one day a week, it would have the same impact as if 8 million cars disappeared off the road.Yeah, little things add up.

Plastics That Convert Light To Electricity

We all are familiar with the positive impact of alternative energy on our environment. Now researchers are trying to improve upon the existing alternative energy technology. As far as solar energy is concerned they are trying to make solar panels cheap and people friendly. Normally the solar panels are quite bulky and difficult to fit in on existing architecture. Therefore scientists all over the world are focusing on developing organic solar cells. They could be inexpensive and look like thin films.

Although the above concept looks so romantic on paper reality is always different. Researchers are facing many hurdles to acquire a desired result. One major obstruction is to utilize these carbon-based materials to unfailingly form the appropriate structure at the nanoscale (tinier than 2-millionths of an inch). This way the structure would be highly efficient in converting light to electricity. They…Read More.

Published in: on August 11, 2009 at 4:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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