Comments Off on New super-thin film acts like "air conditioner" for buildings
Engineers at the University of Colorado Boulder have developed a thin, artificially structured “metamaterial” that can cool objects without the use of water or energy. The film works to lower the temperature of the surface beneath it through a process known as “passive cooling,” meaning that it vents the object’s heat through thermal radiation while bouncing off any incoming solar energy that may negate those losses. As described last week in the journal Science , the glass-polymer hybrid material could provide an “eco-friendly means of supplementary cooling” for thermoelectric power plants, which require colossal amounts of water and electricity to keep their machinery chugging along at optimum temperatures. The film measures a lithe 50 micrometers thick, or just slightly more substantial than the aluminum foil you’d find in your kitchen. And, much like foil, researchers say it can be easily and economically manufactured by the roll for large-scale residential and commercial applications. “We feel that this low-cost manufacturing process will be transformative for real-world applications of this radiative cooling technology,” Xiaobo Yin, an assistant professor who co-directed the research, said in a statement. Buildings and power plants aren’t the only structures that could benefit, Yin said. The material could keep solar panels from overheating, allowing them to not only work longer, but harder, as well. Related: 3D-printed “Cool Brick” cools a room using only water “Just by applying this material to the surface of a solar panel, we can cool the panel and recover an additional one to two percent of solar efficiency,” said Yin. “That makes a big difference at scale.” Yin and his cohorts have applied for a patent as a prelude to exploring potential commercial applications. They also plan to create a 200-square-meter “cooling farm” prototype in Boulder sometime this year. “The key advantage of this technology is that it works 24/7 with no electricity or water usage,” said Ronggui Yang, a professor of mechanical engineering and a co-author of the paper. “We’re excited about the opportunity to explore potential uses in the power industry, aerospace, agriculture and more.” + University of Colorado Boulder Photo by Chris Eason
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New super-thin film acts like "air conditioner" for buildings
Comments Off on 5 things climate-conscious companies have in common
As more businesses set emissions goals in line with the latest climate science, best practices are bubbling to the surface.
5 things climate-conscious companies have in common
Comments Off on Cities, startups tap the wisdom of crowds for sustainability
New York City and various startups have succeeded with citizen-generated data, but experts say we've only scratched the surface.
Cities, startups tap the wisdom of crowds for sustainability
Comments Off on 8 ways to build a business with a higher purpose
Want to make your business really matter? It starts and ends with soul.
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8 ways to build a business with a higher purpose
Comments Off on Are Wood Pallets Safe for Reuse Projects? It Depends
On the surface, the ubiquitous pallet seems ideal for reuse: It’s wood, it’s recycled and it’s free. How can you go wrong? We’ve even featured a roundup of cool pallet crafts here on Earth911. But it turns out that pallet …
Are Wood Pallets Safe for Reuse Projects? It Depends
Getting under the surface of green investing funds and strategies.
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Deep green investing: A closer look
November 4, 2011 by
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Comments Off on Wall-Crawling Robot Mimics the Sticky Feet of Geckos
[ By Steph in Science & Research & Technology & Gadgets . ] When engineers turn to nature for inspiration, they rely upon the wisdom of millions of years of evolution to guide the design of modern technology. In a stunning example of this biomimicry , researchers at Simon Fraiser University have developed a robot that can climb vertical surfaces thanks to the biology of a gecko’s foot. (above image via: sfu; top images via: keith marshall + sfu ) Instead of using wet adhesives, the researchers turned to a dry adhesive method that would not leave behind a sticky trail. Some dry adhesive methods require pumping air for suction or use magnets that are only effective on metal surfaces. But the surface of a gecko’s foot can stick to any surface using the force that holds molecules together. (image via: furrycrawly ) A gecko’s foot is covered in microscopic hairlike growths called setae, which the researchers mimicked using mushroom cap-shaped artificial hairs. According to SFU , “The mushroom cap shape allows the setae on the treads to release at an angle, so no extra force is require to unstick them from a surface. That’s what allows the tank to roll forward with ease, without dropping off the surface.” Watch how it works: SFU explains, “”The research…provides an alternative to using magnets, suction cups or claws which typically fail at climbing smooth surfaces like glass or plastic. It also paves the way for a range of applications, from inspecting pipes, buildings, airplanes and even nuclear power plants to employment in search and rescue operations…” Want More? Click for Great Related Content on WebEcoist: Brilliant Bio-Design: 14 Animal-Inspired Inventions That’s not a bat in the sky – it’s a surveillance camera. Scientists and engineers are looking toward animal and human biology to inspire inventions like these. 1 Comment – Click Here to Read More »» Marine Muse: 12 More Sea-Inspired Designs & Inventions These 12 designs and inventions take inspiration from the sea and the marine life it contains, from a robot squid to an earthquake-resistant man-made island. Click Here to Read More »» Oceanic Biomimicry: 13 Designs Inspired by the Sea Tough body armor, pollution-sensing robots, graceful architecture and cars designed to function like schools of fish: all examples of sea-inspired biomimicry. 2 Comments – Click Here to Read More »» [ By Steph in Science & Research & Technology & Gadgets . ] [ WebEcoist | Archives | Galleries | Privacy | TOS ]
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Wall-Crawling Robot Mimics the Sticky Feet of Geckos
Comments Off on The Big Question: Is geothermal energy the future of clean energy?
Rajeev Kumar: Geothermal Energy Geothermal energy is thermal energy generated and stored in the Earth. Why we are asking this now? The difference between world’s energy demand and supply is growing everyday. Along with this, the existing sources of electricity are depleting faster than ever as the global economy get more dependent on fossil fuels than ever. There is not only an economic side of this story. Rather, on a bad note, the use of fossil fuels has endangered the world with twin threats of climate change and global warming. This situation has also prompted many to search and switch over to green sources of electricity. But the rate at which this is happening is far from satisfactory. There are many technological, policy-level and budgetary challenges that have so far prevented the full growth of renewable energy sector. The idea of tapping geothermal energy for meeting the electricity demand of the world is also facing similar challenges. As, little has been done so far even when many have claimed that the geothermal energy can alone supply electricity for the entire world. Not only this, it would be cheap, non-radioactive and emission-free electricity. Is it really that serious? Yes. This can be judged from the fact that most of the world’s politics revolves around energy as countries try to push themselves on an advantage position with respect to the others. Wars have been fought on this issue in recent times. Many have even alleged that the major inspiration behind the US’s bombing of Iraq post 9/11 was the vast oil reserves of this turbulent nation. As far as the issue of geothermal energy is concerned, scientific facts speak in its favor. Most of the earth is made up of heat and different types of rocks are differently heated as one go to different layers of the earth. The heat only grows as one go deeper below the surface. Scientists have proposed to capture a portion of earth’s heat and convert it into electricity. Such electricity would be carbon-neutral and inexhaustible. With little efforts, they say, geothermal energy can supply electricity for the whole world. What others are saying: Are Lund, senior researcher at the SINTEF Material and Chemistry, says, If we can drill and recover just a fraction of the geothermal heat that exists, there will be enough to supply the entire planet with energy â€“ energy that is clean and safe. Jefferson Tester, professor of chemical engineering at the MIT Laboratory, says, Geothermal has a couple of distinct differences. One, it is very scalable in baseload. Our coal-fired plants produce electricity 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The nuclear power plants are the same way. Geothermal can meet that, without any need for auxiliary storage or a backup system. Unni Skoglund, writer for GEMINI, says: Geothermal heat offers incredible potential. It is an inexhaustible energy source that is nearly emission-free. Heat energy is found in the different rock types that make up the Earthâ€™s surface, and deeper in the crust. The deeper you get, the hotter it is. The developments: 1. Utahâ€™s 10MW geothermal power plant ready to function Utah The project has been made along the largest geothermal hotbeds exposed since the last 25 years and has took just 6 months to complete. Raser Technologies has constructed the first geothermal power plant in Utah in over 20-years. Constructed in just six-month time, the power plant can provide 10MW of electricity to the city. It has been constructed along the largest geothermal hotbed discovered in last 25-years. 2. Canadian university harnesses geothermal energy for heat and power Canadian The University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) has invested $4 million in an ambitious project to capture geothermal energy to meet the power needs of its academic buildings and campus. The University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Canada has started this ambitious $4 million project for capturing geothermal energy to meet all the power demands on campus. 375 boreholes at the cost of $10,000 each have been dug in the campus area for this. It can produce 8 MW electricity which can be supplied to about 1000 homes in and around the campus of the university. 3. Acconia crafts zero-emission headquarters using solar and geothermal energy Acconia Acconia is a solar and thermal energy development firm Solar and thermal energy development firm Acconia has constructed geothermal and solar energy-based zero-emission new headquarter. The building is completely powered by multiple green sources like sunlight, solar thermal power, geothermal energy and biodiesel. The entire building walls from outside and the roof top is covered with photovoltaic cells. They generate solar power which is transferred to a central unit. The central unit also receive power generated by tapping the geothermal energy. The main hurdles: Some of the hurdles behind large-scale harvesting of geothermal energy are: 1. Cost consideration as large amount of money is needed for drilling the surface of earth. 2. Geothermal power plants would require a large amount of land which is not easily available. 3. The possible impact of geothermal plants on the surface ecology is unknown. It may be bad. 4. Adequate technology for deep drilling and capturing this energy is not available world wide. What can be done? Geothermal energy can become a future source of energy for the entire world. However, it would require a large scale policy-level and technological collaboration among countries and organizations. For instance, many oil companies dig well below 10,000-12,000 feet to fetch oil and gas from below the earth’s surface. Their expertise could be used for geothermal plants and even the oil wells could become sites for capturing geothermal energy if proper technology could be developed.
August 26, 2011 by
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Comments Off on Dispersants Used on BP Spill Contain Chemicals Associated with Cancer: New Report
Image credit: pppsics via Flickr/CC BY Many of us sounded the alarm as soon as we learned of BP’s plans to dump huge quantities of the chemical dispersant Corexit into the Gulf in an attempt to break up the oil slick. Experts were concerned, seeing as how the chemical had never been used in such quantities before, nor in such a manner — until the federal government made them stop, BP was blasting the stuff directly into the source, seeking to disperse the oil before it even reached the surface. Well, now
Comments Off on First Takes: Is the Deepwater Well Still Leaking? GM & LG Team Up on EVs & More
The Marcellus Shale gas estimate gets a huge cut, reporters find oil on the surface of the sea in the Gulf, and H&M publishes its ninth annual CSR report, in this morning’s first look.