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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Solar Power from Outer Space: Microwaves and Frickin’ Lasers

In order to meet our world’s rising energy needs, and to help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, some ideas that seem right out of a science fiction novel are picking up steam with start-ups and investors. But does using satellites for energy production really make sense financially or environmentally?

Space Based Solar Power (SBSP) is an idea first voiced by scientist Dr. Peter Glaser over 40 years ago, and during times of high energy costs or crises in fossil fuel supplies, the idea keeps rearing its head. The premise is that large photovoltaic arrays can be assembled in a geosynchronous orbit at 22,000 miles above the Earth, generating electricity that can then be transmitted via microwave or lasers to Earth.

On the positive side of SBSP, power can be produced 24 hours a day, regardless of the time of year, and…Read More.

Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 10:57 pm  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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IEA Says Oil and Gas Industry Needs $8.2 Trillion in Investment

The International Energy Agency estimates oil companies will need to invest $8.2 trillion dollars over the next 25 years to increase production capacity enough to meet demand. In a recent article on reasononline, science correspondent Ronald Bailey asks the multi-billion dollar question: Is that level of investment happening? In his insightful article, Bailey outlines the main obstacle to additional investment in the oil and gas sector: state-owned oil companies. He concludes that the “sad fact is that the world’s energy security would be a lot greater if more of the world’s oil and gas resources were in the hands of private companies.” Although that may be true, it is certainly not the case. About 77% percent of the worlds known oil and gas reserves are controlled by state monopolies that severely limit or completely bar outside investment. Bailey points out two major reasons for concern. In some regions, like Venezuela and Russia, foreign investors are being forced…Read More.

Published in: on August 12, 2009 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Americans Waste $130 Billion a Year on Energy

Our houses leak, our light bulbs produce more heat than illumination, our big screen TV sets draw power when they are turned off, and that’s just the start of it.

U.S. businesses and individuals could save money, curb emissions of global warming pollutants, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and cut energy consumption by 23 percent by 2020, merely by taking sensible, practical steps to use energy more efficiently, says a report from McKinsey & Company released today.

What’s more, energy efficiency is the very best way to create so-called green jobs — yes, even better than subsidizing solar or wind power — because it makes the economy more productive in the long run.

So what’s standing in the way?…Read More.

Published in: on August 11, 2009 at 6:24 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.