What’s next: Highly efficient thin film solar panels

October 21, 2011 by  
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Jaspreet Kaur Walia: Highly efficient thin film solar panels Highly efficient thin film solar panels the futuristic renewable energy resource As we know it Thin Film Solar Cells or TFSC are solar cells in actuality. Also known as thin film photovoltaic cells or TFPC, they consist of a substrate that is used to place thin layers of photovoltaic material one above the other. They come in a wide variety and give people the flexibility to pick and choose in terms of fabrication and design. A lot of substrates can be used to deposit the different layers along with a variety of techniques. The performance of a device can be enhanced by tailoring and engineering the layers. The thickness of these layers can vary and range from as less as a few nanometers to tens of micrometers. TFSC are split into various categories depending on the kind of photovoltaic material that has been used to make them. They are commercially available and can be installed on roofs to convert solar energy into electricity. Need for change Traditional silicon based cells are thick and hence have a problem absorbing light as compared to thin film solar cells. TFSCs use less material as compared to silicon ones and are also light in weight. These can be effortlessly deposited on supple substrates as well. No doubt silicon is cheap and readily available, but the amount of energy and processing required getting the crystalline structure and purity is very high in comparison with thin film solar cells. What’s Next? 1. IBM thin-film PV solar cell IBM thin-film PV solar cell IBM’s New Thin-film Solar Cell is 40% More Efficient What’s new IBM has developed an all new thin-film PV solar cell that is 9.6 percent efficient. It has been made from earth abundant materials and is thought to be the one of the most efficient thin film solar cell. The wide production will be achieved because of the presence of tin, zinc, copper, selenium and/or sulfur. The device will perform without getting obstructed by impurities like carbon, chlorine or oxygen because of the presence of hydrazine. What difference will it make Thin-film PV solar cell by IBM is able to achieve 40 percent more efficiency than its previous products in the same league. It is 9.6 percent efficient which is quite commendable keeping in mind it has been made using earth abundant materials. There are more commercial versions available that boast of an 11 percent efficiency but not to forget they have been created from expensive compounds such as cadmium, gallium, copper, indium and tellurium that pumps up their price as well. Usage of earth abundant materials makes it possible to produce it at a large scale. Problems The concept is at its initial stages so no one knows what the final product will be like. Moreover, chances are people may opt for something that gives higher efficiency irrespective of the price tag it comes stashed with. IBM is on no mood to manufacture Thin-film PV solar cells but is thinking to license the technology, which may again take time. 2. SoloPower thin-film rooftops solar cells SoloPower thin-film rooftops solar cells SoloPower’s thin-film flexible solar cells for commercial rooftops What’s new SoloPower has unveiled a line of thin-film rooftop solar cells in a hope to lower the cost of solar energy. These flexible panels are light in weight and easy to install. They are apt for commercial use and have been made by coupling gallium, indium, selenium and copper. These materials have been positioned on a supple foil and company has made good use of roll to roll electroplating process. Usage of this process makes the solar panels very cost competitive in comparison to other technologies and manufacturers available in the market. What difference will it make SoloPower thin-film rooftop solar cells weigh much lighter than the glass encased panels. It can easily achieve an efficiency of 11 percent, which is worth applauding. These are easy to install rooftop solar cells that can be used at a commercial level. They have been specially designed for commercial buildings with a flat roof where they can be laminated onto the rooftop. Problems The use of expensive materials will definitely make the line expensive. It won’t be picked by people who want a cost-effective solution for their homes. 3. CIGS thin film solar cell CIGS thin film solar cell CIGS thin film solar cell by Researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong What’s new CIGS thin film solar cell does not need buckets of cash in terms of making it and is being developed by researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The best part being it can be used for a variety of purposes which includes installation on outer walls, rooftops plus handbags and even backpacks. This is quite impressive and makes sure that people can use solar energy efficiently and effectively. What difference will it make The thin film solar cell by CIGS can effortlessly touch 17 percent conversion efficiency. This will allow people to charge electronic gadgets right away without having to hunt for an electric socket. If this becomes a reality and the solar cells are installed on all roofs of the city, it is expected that almost 40 percent of electricity needs can be fulfilled by using just solar cells. Problems Since they are being produced using Cu(InGa)Se2 it may take a good number of years for these thin film solar cell to overpower crystalline silicon solar cell that dominate the present day markets and are very popular.

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The good, the bad and the ugly about vertical axis wind turbines

October 21, 2011 by  
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Leka Ram: Vertical axis wind turbines Main rotor shaft is set vertically and the main components are located at the base of the turbine Vertical wind turbines look completely different from the conventional wind turbines that have blades rotating on the horizontal axis. The vertical turbine can be compared to a coin spinning on its vertical axis. Modifications in the design and structure have been done for improving the performance and serving more benefits. The major parts of the vertical wind turbine are a rotor shaft that is arranged vertically, a vertical wind generator located near the ground, a gearbox also located near the ground and the blades that are two or three in number. These wind turbines are being improved in terms of function and design for enjoying more advantages. There are different types of vertical axis wind turbines such as; Darrius turbine : Named after George Darrius, the French inventor. The turbine is known for its efficiency. However, it is criticized for the low torque. It requires an additional rotor to start it. Gorlov Helical turbne : This turbine is designed in a helical configuration and was built to deal with the problems in the Darrius turbine. They are self-starting and reliable. Giromill : It is a variation of Darius turbine. It offers high starting torque and variable pitch. The blades used in this type of turbines are curved, straight or v-shaped. Savonius turbine : The turbine has helical scoops for providing smooth torque. Most of these are self-starting. Apart from these there are many other types such as the neo-aerodynamic turbine, quiet revolution turbine, novel turbine and zephyr turbine. The good Low Cost Lower construction and transportation costs 1. The energy generation with the vertical turbines cost is less and comes to about 2.5-3.5 cents for a kilowatt hour when compared to the 4-5 cents per kilowatt hour. 2. These turbines can handle high wind speeds. The maximum speed for harvesting the energy from wind is 28-33 mph. With the vertical design it can produce electricity from winds with a speed of 70 mph. The design can be used in areas with very strong winds. 3. One of the major problems with the conventional wind mills is that they kill the birds that come in their way. The design of the vertical turbine looks like a solid structure keeping the birds away from it. 4. The new device blends well with the environment. It can be painted in such a way that it blends well with the surroundings. Being smaller they can be installed in areas where huge structures cannot be used. 5. Another advantage is that the generator can be easily accessed for service. There is no magnetic field resonance, interference with communication or aircraft navigation and no ground resonance. 6. They function quietly too. Can this be better? The major difference between the vertical and horizontal wind turbines is the position of the blades. In the horizontal model the blades are mounted on the top while in the vertical model they are at the base of the tower and close to the shaft. The main advantage is that they can be mounted close to the ground making it beneficial for residential purposes. The bad Inefficiency Blades constantly spinning back into the wind causing drag 1. When compared to the horizontal turbines, these vertical axis wind turbines are able to produce only about 50 percent of the energy. 2. Since no tower is required for the structure, they are not able to take advantage of the high wind speeds usually available on elevated and higher areas. 3. Some energy is required to start the device because of the low starting torque. 4. If any part of the device is damaged, the entire structure has to be disassembled for changing it. 5. Wires are required for holding the complete structure in place. 6. The vertical wind turbines have a complicated structure with high rate of failure. 7. Wind efficiency is low and costs higher. Can this be avoided? New designs of the vertical axis turbines are being made in order to deal with the problems faced by the earlier designs. More research and analysis is still required to develop a turbine without the above mentioned drawbacks. The ugly Bird Killing Wind turbines affect migratory birds Though wind energy is considered to be one of the renewable and dependable sources of energy, there are several downsides to this. 1. Wind is not dependable. To turn the blades you need wind. If there is no wind they cannot function effectively. They are great only for areas where you can have wind all through the day and year. They may be useless in areas where wind is less. 2. One of the best places where you can get wind all through the year is the coastal areas, mountain tops and valleys. All these areas are very expensive and it can be very difficult to afford the area first and then build the turbine also. 3. Many people consider wind farms as an eyesore. Though they are able to produce energy using the wind, many people do not like the idea of residing near a wind farm. 4. Apart from that, the turbines are also known to interfere with the radio and television signals, kill birds and make noise. Why are we so critical Every new invention has its advantages and disadvantages. Similarly, the wind turbines faced some problems with respect to the availability of winds for turning the turbines, birds coming in between and so on. However, the researchers are trying to find solutions to each of these problems by creating new designs and using improved technologies. This gave rise to the vertical axis turbines. Though there are some negative aspects to this too, the researchers are striving hard to overcome them. Wind is everywhere. We need to make proper efforts to use it to the maximum in order to save other sources of energy and use the renewable sources in an effective way. The bottom line Wind energy is renewable. More and more devices have to be developed to harness the wind energy for generating electricity. The wind mills are efficient in generating energy. The type of turbines used depends on the area and the amount of power required in that particular area.

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Seven ways to recycle old NES controllers

October 21, 2011 by  
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SARASWATI DEVI: NES MP3 player NES controllers recycled to MP3 players Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is an icon of gaming world. NES controllers made all the game lovers crazy as it provided the platform for the early popular games like Super Mario and Contra. NES controllers entered the market in 1980s and it traveled for almost 30 years now but its existence has not been faded as gamers have incorporated creative thoughts and recycled NES controllers to keep them always closer to their heart. Let’s have a look at the seven ways to recycle old NES controllers: 1. NES PC card reader NES card reader NES controller recycled into PC card reader. Ryan McFarland has designed an amazing PC card readers by recycling old NES controllers. It can be created at your home itself by employing a card reader, an NES controller and a tool box having screw driver and glue. For making your own NES card reader, unscrew the NES controller and card reader then fit the circuit board of the card reader into an empty NES controller. After fitting the card reader’s circuit board into the NES controller, screw it up. This finalizes your NES PC card reader. NES PC card readers are fully functional and are also break resistant. 2. NES belt buckle NES belt buckle NES controller recycled into belt buckle with sound effects. NES controllers can also be recycled into belt buckles with sound effects making it a fantastic option for party wearing. To prepare an NES belt buckle, you just need to merge a sound key chain’s circuit board into an empty NES controller. After gluing the sound key chain’s circuit board in the NES controller, screw it up. This finalizes your NES belt buckle. You can choose a sound key chain of your own choice and incorporate it into the NES controller. It is a fantastic product to enhance your occasional wearing. 3. NES USB controller NES USB controller NES controller recycled into USB device. NES controllers can also be recycled into a USB device offering plug and play features. You just need to fit the USB controller’s circuit board into the NES controller after dissembling them. These USB controllers are fully compatible with all version of operating systems and they don’t require the installation of software after plunging it into the PC as they are plug and play devices. It also gives an extra dimension to the design of your tech products. 4. NES controller wallet NES Wallet NES controllers recycled into a wallet A wallet designed from old NES controller is a unique concept. For designing your own NES controller wallet, you need a NES controller, wire snippier, long zip and glue. For designing it, dissemble the NES controller and then glue the rubber buttons to ensure that it don’t fall. After fixing the rubber buttons, glue a long zip covering all the sides of the controller to finalize your wallet. NES controller wallets apart from having sporty look also offer durability. 5. NES controller mouse NES Mouse NES controller recycled to a mouse. NES controllers can also be recycled into a fully functional mouse. For structuring your own NES controller mouse, disassemble an NES controller and a mouse. After disassembling them, incorporate the circuit board of mouse into the NES controller. Don’t forget to open a hole for mouse sensor. After soldering all the wires, screw the NES controller which finalizes your NES controller mouse. It is a great design for those who want to experiment with their PC accessories. 6. NES controller storage box NES Storage Box Nintendo controller recycled into a nifty storage box. A storage box can also be designed by recycling an NES controller. To create your own NES controller storage box, you just need to disassemble the NES controller and glue the rubber buttons to ensure that they are fixed at their place. This finalizes your NES controller storage box which has enough space to store push pins, paper clips, keys, etc. It is a great idea for gamers. 7. NES controller MP3 player NES MP3 player NES controllers recycled to MP3 players NES controllers can also be recycled into an MP3 player. For designing your own NES MP3 player, modify your controller in accordance to the shape of the MP3 player and solder the disassembled parts of the player into the empty NES controller. It is a concept design for those who are passionate for both NES controllers and music.

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7 Good reasons to drive an electric car

October 21, 2011 by  
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Mohd Hasan: Electric car Good reasons to drive an electric car They’re finally here! After years of anticipation, plans, promises and the occasional test drive, electric vehicles (EVs) arrived with a thump this week: Nissan delivered the first Leaf to a customer, Chevy put 350 Volts on trucks for delivery to dealers in several states, Mercedes handed over its first leased F Cell hydrogen car (to the head of the Producers Guild of America) and Think opened its new Indiana factory with 15 City plug ins for the state’s Department of Natural Resources. The new EVs are expensive, starting around $32,780 (the Leaf’s price) and rising to $87,400 (the Fisker Karma plug in hybrid). But the purchase price can be offset with a $7,500 federal income tax credit, and state rebates and tax credits. The most lucrative of those is a $5,000 rebate for California residents, and Tennessee (where the Leaf will be built) offers $2,500 for the first 1,000 cars. A list of subsidies by state is here, but it may be out of date in some instances — you’ll need to check locally. Here are the seven good reasons why you should drive an electric car: 1. Zero Air Pollution: Electricity is the fuel of the future and with electricity to power our transportation, our world can tap into renewable resources like hydroelectric, solar, wind, or geothermal power; resources that lessen our environmental footprint. Furthermore, studies show that millions of electric vehicles can recharge at night using existing surplus electrical generation; a vast, virtually untapped resource. 2. Save Gas: Gasoline is a precious natural resource and vital to the world economy. ZAP vehicles use no gasoline and require no oil changes. Using less fossil fuel can help relieve our current energy shortages while ensuring that future generations can rely on the same inexpensive, useful, petroleum products that we all take for granted. 3. Save Money: Gas keeps getting more expensive nowadays. Imagine all the money you can save by ZAPPING to work every day, rather than driving your gas vehicle. The typical electric car costs a penny per mile versus ten cents per mile with gas. Electric bikes and scooters are even less expensive. Plus, electric motors have fewer moving parts, meaning fewer trips to the mechanic. If you live close to work, you can save thousands of dollars per year by replacing your car with a ZAP bicycle. 4. Save Time: Traffic congestion and parking shortages eat away at our busy days, but a ZAP vehicle can help you save time, especially in busy urban areas. ZAP bikes and scooters slice through traffic jams and finding a place to park your space-saving ZAP car is a snap. 5. Help the Economy: Today, the majority of USA’s foreign trade deficit is attributed to imported oil. Using a ZAP vehicle will reduce our reliance on foreign oil. Furthermore, by investing in advanced transportation technologies, the USA can take the technological lead in offering energy efficient products that emerging economies around the world can use to build their own transportation infrastructures. 6. Combat Global Warming: Evidence is mounting that carbon emissions are contributing to ozone depletion, climate change, and global warming. ZAP vehicles can reduce CO2 emissions by more than 90 percent compared to internal combustion vehicles, even counting the emissions from fossil fueled power plants. The USA constitutes less than 10 percent of the world’s population, but is responsible for almost 30 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions. 7. Protect the Environment: Reducing fossil fuel consumption relieves pressure on our natural resources. It eliminates the need to explore for oil in environmentally sensitive habitats. Less automotive emissions means less toxic pollutants in our air, water, and soil. Less oil consumption reduces the risk of oil spills which can safeguard sensitive coastal regions and wildlife for future generations to enjoy.

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7 Interesting green products that run without electricity

October 21, 2011 by  
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Bijendra Singh Rana: Green living …. The only option….. We are living in a world where energy consumption increases every second. Soon we may face acute scarcity of energy just like some of the infamous energy crisis faced by several nations now and then. It is imperative to reduce our dependence on electricity and look out for sustainable alternatives. Reciprocating the same, many people around the globe have been working on creating devices that do not require electricity or any other non-renewable source of energy to operate. In present age of electricity, we present amazing innovations that will make your life green and help you save energy as well as money. 1. Love pot humidifiers Love pot humidifiers Love Pot Humidifier are based on amazing technology that does not requires any electricity to function Love Pot Humidifier are based on amazing technology that does not requires any electricity to function. Bacteria free, eco-friendly and beautifully designed, Love Pot Humidifiers was designed for Nanum Poject. Nanum is a charity initiative that will donate all the money earned from sales of these humidifiers to fulfill the educational requirements of needy children. Bring home this humidifier and fill your life as well as of some children with aroma and joy. 2. Pocket shower Pocket shower This tiny shower can hold around ten liters of water Those who can’t bath without shower can breathe a sign of relief as Pocket Showers are here. With these one can take a shower in the middle of nowhere. Ultra-portable, this tiny shower can hold around ten liters of water. All you have to do is to attach it above your head and open up the shower head for a refreshing experience. What’s more, you can fill this gizmo with water and place it in sunlight. The black fabric of Pocket Shower absorbs heat and warms the water in no time that too without any requirement of electricity. Once you are done, pack this in small palm sized pouch and move on. 3. Thermodynamic cooler Thermodynamic cooler The innovative cooling system that doesn’t require any electricity to operate Thanks to Rochus Jacob for introducing the innovative cooling system that doesn’t require any electricity to operate. This thermodynamic cooler utilizes the evaporating water to cool and preserve the food stored in it. Rochus used raw material like bio-plastics, clay and glass foam to manufacture this cooler. It has a wet glass-foam that evaporates to keep the temperature in control like a pond. You just have to refill this cooler with water in an interval of two days. The green indicator fitted at the exterior of the cooler keeps one informed about the moisture and water level within. Bring home this innovative Thermodynamic Cooler and help in sustaining the environment whilst saving considerable electricity cost. 4. Aqua drop maze game Aqua drop maze game This one is the revised, non-electric version of classical maze game This one is the revised, non-electric version of classical maze game. Available in different designs, the Aqua Drop Maze game has a super water-repellant coating within that allows the water to group together like a semi solid. The player has to gather all the drops together to form a single drop and navigate it through different paths to the hole. The direction of the water balls can be easily controlled by tilting the device to the direction you want it to move. The best thing is that you do not need any battery or electricity to play the game. 5. Solar powered UVonion Solar powered UVonion Designed by Yun Li Bring home the solar powered UVonion that illuminates and sanitizes simultaneously. Designed by Yun Li, this onion shaped ultraviolet lamp with ultraviolet LEDs that can be used to illuminate your surrounding while saving considerable amount of energy. Just expose UVonion in daylight to absorb the energy from ultraviolet rays just like solar panels and it emits the same at night. This lamp is a ground breaking innovation that allows one to harness solar energy into electrical energy and reduce your energy. 6. Iiamo go self heating feeding bottle Liamo go self heating feeding bottle This bottle takes just four minutes to heat up Welcome Iliamo, a baby milk feeding bottle that is self-heating in nature that too without any usage of electricity. Free from any BPA and PVC, this bottle takes just four minutes to heat up. This bottle has 100 percent disposable organic salt and water cartridge that actually heat the bottle. The design of this bottle is equally enticing, thanks to Karim Rashid, renowned Prada and Ralph Lauren designer. Iiamo Go Self Heating feeding bottle is available in different colors along with additional cartridges. 7. R2B2 Equipment R2B2 Equipment Unique design by Christoph Thetard The R2B2 Equipment was recently showcased in Milan Furniture Fair, where it drew huge appreciation. It is a unique design by Christoph Thetard that allows the user to grind, blend and process food without using any electricity. This equipment utilizes manually operated flywheel that stores the energy to power it mechanically as well as directly.

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