We’ve Finally Built a Black Hole on Earth

earth orbiting black holeNo, we’re not going to suck ourselves into it. Don’t worry. The black hole only sucks light into it. Everything else is safe. The inventors, by the way, are Chinese.

While of course it’s very cool that humanity has succeeded in creating a black hole on Earth, the implications could be profound. If you can create a black hole, you can by definition trap and store light energy. This means you have a whole new way of storing solar energy for electricity. It could potentially be used to harvest solar energy in places where the light is too spread out for mirrors to push it onto a cell. An optical black hole would suck it in and direct it at a solar cell sitting at the center of the hole.

Quick overview on how it works: The way I understand it is that instead of curving spacetime itself, which requires a heck of a lot of matter in an infinitesimally small space – something that we don’t have and can’t do – these scientists have succeeded in curving electromagnetic waves, waves that cause light to bend. They’ve succeeded in bending it enough that the light curves inwards towards the device and gets absorbed. The object then takes the light and converts it into heat.

The guys that made it – Tie Jun Cui and Qiang Cheng at the Southeast University in Nanjing, China. “When the incident electromagnetic wave hits the device, the wave will be trapped and guided in the shell region towards the core of the black hole, and will then be absorbed by the core,” says Cui. “The wave will not come out from the black hole.”

Got it? By the way, this black hole only traps light in the microwave frequency. That’s not exactly visible (we can only see roughly from the infrared range until the UV range, and microwave is a bit higher than UV), but now that they’ve got it down for one frequency, they will most likely be able to do it for others at some point.

I can think of other potential uses for this thing. One is radiation clean up. If they can get it working for frequencies higher than microwaves, they can stick one in the middle of a gamma ray infested area or something and vacuum the place up. I say this as a layman, but it sounds right to me.

Solar Powered Coffee

Cup of JoeI’m in a solar mood today. I often am. I really think it’s the future of the energy market, because, when it comes down to it, everything is solar powered. The sun is the Earth’s only source of energy, ultimately speaking.

With that in mind, let’s turn to Waterbury, Vermont, where Green Mountain Coffee Roasters just completed the installation of a 572-panel solar array to power its coffee-producing operations. Altogether, the array provides 100 kilowatts of electricity to the plant. They are teamed up with Green Mountain Power, which has promised to install 10,000 panels in 1,000 days in the state of Vermont. I’ll be here counting and reporting.

“In addition to generating clean electricity for use in our facility, the array also demonstrates the feasibility of solar panels as a viable solution for producing power in Vermont,” said Paul Comey, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters’ vice president of environmental affairs, said Thursday.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters also offers its employees group discounts on solar power systems through a green benefits program with groSolar. They donate $1,000 toward an employee’s solar electric system, which also receives a $0.25 per watt installation discount. Now THIS is the kind of stuff we need to get off of foreign oil. If you’re going to pass a multibillion dollar stimulus, you might as well do it here and focus it in on this stuff.

And it seems this environmental company is getting place. Its most recent quarterly report had a 61 percent increase in revenue and 123 percent boost in profits. Wow. I might just buy some stock right now.

Sharp leads the way to harness solar energy

There’s more to the sun these days than just enjoying a beach outing or seeing a fantastic view from the Hubble telescope. The power of the sun, located 93 million miles from planet earth, is looking more and more like one of the main energy –and health sources that we on earth will be harnessing in the years to come. And one of the companies that will become a major developer of solar energy is the international Sharp Electronics corporation, through it’s subsidiary Sharp Solar Electricity.

The Sharp Corporation is not a newcomer to the development of solar energy for both private and public use. The company began producing solar power cells back in 1959, when the need became apparent to develop ways of providing electrical power to remote locations such as lighthouses, safety switches for railroads and other transportation installations (highway signs, roadside emergency telephones, etc), as well as communications satellites and other devices that most people now take for granted. And many of these installations now receive their energy directly from the sun – long after the need to use the sun’s power as a renewable energy source became apparent.

Now that the idea of solar energy has become acceptable, more and more private homes and business are installing solar paneling to create the energy to not only heat water (an idea that Israel and other Mediterranean countries have been capitalizing on for years), but to create enough electricity to not only supply their own needs, but even have enough “left over electricity” to sell it back to the electricity grids of the municipalities where they are located.

Although a number of alternative and renewable energy innovations are currently being developed in the world, including wind and thermal energy, hydrogen gas, bio-fuels (including algae and other aquatic vegetation); and even energy from ocean currents and waves, solar energy seems to have the most potential for generating maximum power, with the least environmental problems. Wind energy, although also promising, is now believed to be harmful to millions of migrating birds that ply the major migratory flyways annually on their flights from north to south and back again.

HayakawaThis belief in the suns power as a major energy sources was expressed by Sharp Corporation’s founder, Tokuji Hayakawa, back in 1970, when he said:

“I believe the biggest issue for the future is the accumulation and storage of solar heat and light. While all living things enjoy the blessings of the sun, we have to rely on electricity from power stations. With magnificent heat and light streaming down on us, we must think of ways of using that blessing. This is where solar cells come in…”

“We cannot store the wind, but we can store heat and light. We should think of ways to convert heat and light to electricity and accumulate it simply and cheaply in storage batteries. For example, if we can install solar systems on roofs, homes could be self sufficient in power. And if we attached such systems to the roofs of cars, we could eliminate our reliance on gasoline and eliminate emissions.”

“If we could find a way of generating electricity from limitless solar heat and light, that would benefit humankind to an extent we can scarcely imagine.”

Sharp Corporation’s solar energy development projects are now located in a number of countries and continents worldwide, including the USA and Mexico, major European countries, Russia, India, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and of course Japan, Sharp Corporation’s “home front”. The future of solar energy for power is unlimited, and as more and more locations switch to using solar energy to provide power for everyone’s electricity needs (it is estimated that less than 2% of the earth’s surface is needed for solar panel installation) the benefits of clean, non-CO2 emitting energy will be seen by all. And whether they live in a bustling metropolis like New York City or Tokyo, or in a remote village in Africa or Bangladesh, people will benefit tremendously from our long time friend and power source, the sun.

Solar Powered Air Conditioning

A company located in Denver Colorado has developed one of the most practical solar powered air conditioning systems made to date. Named the Coolerado, the device is manufactured in the mountain state where it was also developed by its originator Coolerado Corporation. Company CEO, Mike Luby, says that Coolerado is a

“portable completely environmental friendly unit that utilizes both the power of the sun, water, and a clean form of energy from the atmosphere known as psychometric energy, which deals with the heat transfer of water vapor which results in a virtual cooling process of the air itself”


The unit include a set of solar panels which create the electricity used to power the unit. Fresh air is drawn into the unit by means of a special fan, which then passes through a specially made filter to remove any impurities. The air then enters special chambers known as HMX’s for heat and mass exchanges. Since the air that enters the exchanges contain quantities of water, this water is retuned to the outside atmosphere, and the “conditioned” or cooled air is then sent to the structure to be cooled by means of air ducts. To give more efficiency to the solar panels themselves, who lose part of their ability to produce electricity due to overheating, cooled air can be sent to cool the panels from the back side.

Compared to a standard air conditioning system, a Coolerado AC unit is sufficient enough to cool a building of 3,000 sq. feet (sufficient for 20 people) and only needs 600 watts of power (about 1/3 the amount needed to operate a standard hair dryer) to run it. This is compared to a standard AC unit which needs around 6,000 watts to operate it. Coolerado units can be located in the empty attic space of a standard house, and the panels can be integrated with the roofing tiles ( like solar plates for water boilers are). They can also be placed on the roof of a flat topped building, with the solar panels positioned to face the sun.

The uniqueness of the Coolerado unit’s design has resulted in articles about it being published in a number of environmental and business publications, including The Green Hour, and Earth Times (which noted Coolerado receiving a Renewable Energy Award from the State of Colorado in January 2009), the Denver Business Journal, and the Appliance Design Magazine.

The units are currently available in a number of states in the USA, as well as overseas in Europe, Australia, and Singapore. The units carry a 5 year limited warranty and require very low maintenance. And most of all, they use all natural cooling elements and absolutely no CFC refrigeration gasses.

With summer now upon us, using a Coolerado AC unit will not only keep you and your family cool, but will help our environment by not needing electricity generated from fossil fuels.

GreenRay Solar Technology Aims to Bring the Sun Home

GreenRayGreenRay Inc, a solar energy innovation company based in Westford Massachusetts, USA, aims to bring practical solar powered electricity systems to private homes. Using an improved system of photovoltaic (PV) solar modular panels, GreenRay’s solar system designs are being developed to create solar energy into AC electric power which can either be used directly in a home or office or sold back to the local electricity grid.

Compared to other solar energy systems, this improved solar panel concept is said to reduce installation time, is more flexible in size than comparable systems, has mo optimized “on site” performance, and enables to system owner to expand it later on as per his needs.

By not requiring direct electrical current (DC) to have to be converted into alternating current (AC), the system is “ready to go” as soon as it is installed, enabling the owner to have electrical power immediately, and without the need for special engineering assistance. Since the company is focusing on systems for private homes, GreenRay’s concept claims to save as much as 40% of the total installation costs, said to be one of highest expenses for solar energy systems.

GreenRay’s president, Miles C. Russell, has 30 years experience in the photovoltaic panel industry, and designed a special mounting system for solar PV modules which is now being utilized in his company’s solar panel systems. The company’s staff also includes Zachary King, VP of Engineering, with 7 years experience in the PV module industry, and Ruel Little, VP of Technology, with 11 years experience in PV system and component design.

GreenRay’s AC modular systems enabled it to receive sizable funding assistance from the US Government Department of Energy (up to a sum of $ 2,300,000), available over a three year period. It also won third place in a Clean Energy Competition sponsored by Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) which enabled the company to eligible for an additional funding of $3.2 million for developing its unique AC modular panels.

Russell and his colleagues are very optimistic for the future of the company, whose product will carry a 20 year comprehensive warranty, and will be much simpler to install than competing solar energy systems. His company hopes to have this unique AC solar module system available very soon to customers worldwide.