Clean Technology ExFOB

This week the U.S. military hosted 13 different vendors invited to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California to demonstrate various new clean technologies which may hastily be developed to assist soldiers on the ground in spots like Afghanistan.

This is the third ExFOB event that the military has held. Erstwhile ExFOBs resulted in the Marine Corps acquiring new tools for reducing fuel and water demand on the battlefield. Now ExFOB 2011 has moved the focus over toward two main areas: concentrated solar harvesting technology and tactical vehicle fuel efficiency.

As outlined in a Federal Business Opportunities posting, in the solar category the military was searching for concentrated harvesting systems like lens-focused photovoltaics and solar thermal dishes powering Sterling engines, as well as concentrated passive solar water heating systems. As far as fuel efficiency, it searched for ways to improve fuel efficiency for tactical vehicles while idling or static, including bolt-on auxiliary power units and better engine or power train efficiencies, in concert with “other automotive technologies such as cold and hot weather idle free solutions for vehicle climate control, reduction of parasitic loads, or any other automotive solutions designed to improve vehicle fuel efficiency.”
CoGenera Solar was among the companies which put out word about its involvement in ExFOB 2011 saying that:

“The military is interested in Cogenra’s technology as a means to most rapidly and effectively enhance the self-sufficiency of FOBs roughly the size of a Marine Corps Company (approximately 200 Marines) by utilizing the sun to produce both power and hot water at remote locations…”

International Battery and NEST Energy Systems were two more vendors at ExFOB, which joined forces to demonstrate a system they said reduces fuel consumption in medium tactical vehicle replacement (MTVR) trucks – that use excessive idling as a means of generating electrical energy – by up to 75 percent. The companies said MTVRs are “frequently used to provide peak (2.5 kilowatts) power for ground-based systems, like, laptops, radios, blue-force trackers, etc.” For the purpose of the demonstration, the system was to be paired with a 430-watt portable solar panel in order to charge the unit.

Yosemite activates biggest solar installation in a U.S. park

The Yosemite National park is now the house to biggest solar energy project in the United States having superior solar batteries from the Solar World. By cutting the ribbon for this 5.8 million USD solar energy project, Yosemite is now paving the way in sustainability.

“Essentially, this installation fulfills the pollution reducing needs and air quality needs of Yosemite National park and reserves them to be the primary player on alternative energy. The goal of this project was not actually to save up some bucks, however instead to create advancement in regards to the alternative energy.” said spokesperson Chamberlain

This 672 kW (kilowatt) installation at Yosemite’s maintenance center and administrative is framed of:

– The hundred kilowatt roof mounts arrangement atop the storage warehouse

– The five hundred kilowatt parking canopy providing cover for the centre visitants and authorities

– The 72 kilowatt arrangement on the inclined wall of the office block

The installation price 5.8 million USD and was funded by 2009 Reinvestment Act and American Recovery.

They are going to save up to fifty thousand dollars per year roughly and bringing about the twelve percentage savings on electricity bought off the power system. Therefore in order to balance out the costs, it would take a long time. However it will bring down the cost of electricity for the Yosemite National park.

Yosemite was actually the first place happened to be a national park, thus they are matching it. They are now the primary player among the National parks over again with the solar energy project.

Chamberlain said, “Yosemite National park was booked by President Abraham Lincoln”. He licensed the park land for the use in the middle of Civil War, however at last Yellowstone finished up as 1st national park due to issues of Calif. statehood.

Contractors completed the construction of the system in February 2011 and later the utility service audited them and installed device to connect the Yosemite’s solar batteries to their power system a concord of interconnection with Solar World installers was contracted in June.

“This solar energy installation was made to protect the awesome park,” Smith, project manager of a Solar World installer company, stated in the press release.

SPI Solar and Nugen

SPI Solar, a leading developer of photovoltaic solar energy facilities recently announced it has entered into an engineering, procurement and construction contract with EPC contractor for a 1.69MW DC photovoltaic solar project in the great state of New Jersey. The system is a roof-mounted distributed generation system for on-site power consumption. The project is to be operated by NuGen Capital Management, LLC, through a subsidiary owned by NUGEN.

The SEF being constructed by SPI will be connected to five independent meters serving tenants at the complex owned by North Jersey Development Group, Inc. SPI has recently worked with NuGen on the 5-megawatt White Rose Foods project that is under construction now in New Jersey.

NuGen works with large-scale energy users and real estate owners to own, develop and operate commercial-scale PV solar systems.

Solar Power, Inc. is a vertically integrated photovoltaic solar developer with its own kind of high-quality, low-cost distributed generation and utility-scale solar energy facility development services.

NuGen Capital Management was founded in 2009 investing in commercial scale solar systems. NuGen develops its own projects and partners with other developers in its pursuit to operate and own solar systems. Working with large scale energy users and real estate owners, NuGen serves the long term energy and economic needs of its clients.

New Discovery in the Journal of Applied Physics

Light Magnet Lab

Researchers at the University of Michigan have made a discovery that presents a breakthrough in solar power generation.

Light Magnet LabStephen Rand, is a professor at the University of Michigan and author of the report that discusses his team’s discovery in the “Journal of Applied Physics,” the researchers discovered a way to make an “optical battery” that harnesses the magnetic properties of light which, until now, scientists did not imagine amounted to anything.

The paper explains how light has both magnetic and electric components though, until now, scientists believed the magnetic field effects were so weak they could be ignored. Rand and his associates, though, found that at the right intensity, when light is traveling through a material not conducting electricity, the light field may generate magnetic effects up to 100 million times stronger than once imagined possible. Under such conditions, according to Rand, the magnetic fields become similar in strength to a stalwart electric effect.

A doctoral student in applied physics at the same university as Rand, William Fisher, says what makes this possible is:

“A previously undetected brand of optical rectification.”

In traditional optical rectification, light’s electric field sends negative and positive charges to be pulled apart in a material.

Before, this effect had only been observed in crystalline materials which possessed a kind of symmetry. This process works with materials like glass, though, presently requires light that surpasses the sun’s natural intensity.

Who Can Afford An Energy Efficient Home?

Can green homes actually become affordable?

“To stand out in a still sluggish housing market, more builders are beginning to offer average-priced, ultra-efficient homes.”

Writes Wendy Koch a reporter and editor from USA Today.

Green One Construction Services, based in Beaverton, Oregon, is currently working on a zero-net-energy development of eighteen homes designed to produce at least as much power as they spend.

The triple bedroom, Sage Green homes come with excellent insulation, solar panels and triple-glazed windows. Prices start at $257,900.

In the southeast Phoenix suburb of Gilbert, Arizona, Meritage Homes unveiled the new Lyon’s Gate developments, which aim to be 80% more efficient than regular, code-compliant homes.

So what comes for the base price of $174,900? Try nine-inch thick exterior walls, a thermostat which can be remotely programmed using an iPhone and an ECHO solar electric/thermal system which may produce up to 10 kilowatts of power annually. Well, that is roughly half the amount consumed by a regular house.

Meritage’s vice president for environmental affairs, C.R. Herro told the publication, The Arizona Republic:

“If customers respond to this, this will become the way we build houses…If we built these with $50,000 worth of (green) features and charged $50,000 more, we wouldn’t sell one…I’m building these for people who couldn’t care less about energy efficiency.”

Energy bills will run at an estimated $734 annually for the 1,640 square-feet model and $1,218 per year for the largest, 3,062 square-feet one.

Flying on the Sun

First, man-kind was bedazzled to walk on the moon. Now, we could be flying on the sun; on the sun’s energy, that is. Think I’m crazy? Well, let me explain:

It simply does not make reasonable business sense, physics sense, or otherwise, to try and fly an airplane on solar power.

Not yet, anyhow.

With the state of technology, and given how relatively young the solar sector is – such an endeavor would be considered impracticable by today’s standards – forget 2003, when Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, the co-founders of technology firm Solar Impulse, announced that they would be designing a solar-powered aircraft to fly around the world.

It would be a statement about global dependence on fossil fuels and the untapped promise of blossoming green technologies. The Swiss pilot-entrepreneurs were on a dream of “perpetual flight”: a plane that could climb to 9,000 feet and fly on the sun’s energy by day, while descending below cloud cover to lower altitudes, where it would cruise on its stored battery power by night.

A long shot to say the least. Well, seven years of interesting innovation later, the 70-person team at Solar Impulse is nearing its goal:

Borschberg said:

“We were intrigued by this notion of perpetual flight…we wanted to be totally independent of any fuel…forget hybrid planes, or the biofuels fixating most of the sustainable aviation sector today; Piccard and Borschberg are purists. No fuel, no CO2, no pollution. It could fly almost forever, assuming good weather…”

By November of last year, test pilot Markus Scherdel, formerly of DLR German Aerospace, the NASA of Germany, if yo will, was climbing into the cockpit of the completed prototype to taxi down the Dübendorf runway for the very first time. And soon after that, Scherde was back in the cockpit, this time guiding the plane as it shot up into the air for a series of successful “flea-hop” mini-flights over the tarmac.

The Ups and Downs of Nuke-Powered Sleds

Did you know that sometime in this remaining lifetime of yours you might find yourself driving a nuclear-powered car? ‘Tis true, ’tis true. You also might be driving a solar-powered, wind-powered, landfill-gas powered, hydroelectric powered, ocean-energy powered, coal, oil or natural gas-powered car. ‘Tis true, ’tis true.

As it stands the US gets about 20% of its electricity from nuclear power and with President Obama’s new commitment for more uranium-fired power plants, we could see that percentage rise a few points. So, depending on what grid your electric car is recharging from, or what time of day it is, your car could very well be storing electricity generated at a nuclear plant. If this is the case, then you will have a nuclear-powered car.

This of course is assuming that someday you shall be driving an electrically-powered car, which is a likelihood that increases daily.

Financial help from Washington, using money on loan from taxpayers is helping to push along the drift toward electric driving. The requirement for automakers to meet new fuel economy standards is also helping the effort.

But government is not the sole force behind this electric drive effort: Small companies and startups are getting into the electric car business because they want to. Large companies too. Many of the majors are guaranteeing that electric cars and trucks are in their model portfolios of the future because they want them there.

Here are some reasons for the interest in electric cars…

1- Zero or largely reduced carbon emissions removes the cars as contributors to climate change.

2- Zero or largely reduced noxious emissions removes the cars as contributors to unhealthy air pollution.

3- Then of course there is the issue of oil supply. Manufacturers have seen the results – the widespread failure of their businesses – due partially to a spike in oil prices.

4- Leaps in technology, particularly in batteries. Lithium-based batteries with less weight and more stored power have improved range. Charging times have become reduced too. High voltage charging (440/480 volt for example) charging times could near that required to fill up a tank with gas. High voltage charging could also eliminate the need for battery swap-on-the fly schemes.

5- There is also battery life and afterlife. The lithium batteries are expected to last roughly the life of the vehicle. Also, when batteries can no longer hold enough charge to propel a car they can work in semiretirement storing electricity from renewable energy from the grid, like solar power.

6- Lastly, there appears to be enough demand in the marketplace. There are those people who want to charge from home, possibly with home-generated electricity. And there are people who want the relative simplicity of electric drive. And then there are the early-adopters who just want electric drive because it is new and different.

So if there is anything which is holding back the commercialization of electric cars it’s the cost of batteries that drive up the cost of the whole vehicle. Further, pure battery electric drive should not be expected to totally dominate the vehicle market for decades. The mix of vehicles on the road will range from conventional vehicles, any combination of hybrids, plug-in hybrids as well as variations of bio-fuel-powered vehicles for many years.

Me last thoughts are these:

President Obama’s yet-to-be-approved budget has $54 billion in federal loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors…you’ve probably heard this. ‘Tis true, the reactors will provide emission-free power, but nuclear power to charge electric cars is not necessarily the “green” way to go.

CASE: Forever Looking Good in the Sun

The dream of integrating solar power with building materials has been a source of wonder for decades, but aesthetics has been one of the biggest challenges, according to Anna Dyson, director of the Center for Architecture Science and Ecology, or CASE.

Most applications presented so far, according to Ms. Dyson,

“are pretty ugly and impede your view.”

Let’s face it architects and developers have to have aesthetics in mind, even when it comes to saving energy, because consumers want to be in fashion – and can you blame them?
Many building-integrated solar technologies are also somewhat inefficient, Ms. Dyson said, which means that large parts of a building have to be covered with solar energy-gathering materials, in order to receive significant benefits.

CASE, a research and development collaboration between Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and other engineering and architectural companies are confident in their abilities to overcome these challenges.

The group has developed what it calls a Dynamic Solar Facade — a glass frontage that looks something like an oversize bead curtain, with rows of transparent, pyramid-shaped concentrators, configured in a honeycomb pattern and hung up on wires that move from up to down, or twist from side to side, in order to track the sun.

Every concentrator comes equipped with a lens that magnifies light nearly 500 times and directs it to a postage stamp-size Spectrolab solar cell made of gallium arsenide.

The concentrators also bring light into the building while deflecting heat and glare, thereby reducing the need for artificial light during the day.

Meanwhile, heat sinks placed behind the solar cells absorb the sun’s warmth and may be used to heat water in the building.

Together, the Dynamic Solar Facade uses the sun’s light and heat with 60 to 80% efficiency, Ms. Dyson said, who also added that savings in electricity and heating costs could pay for the system in as little as two and a half years.

CASE has installed its first full-scale demonstration project – 64 concentrators in an 8-by-10-foot glass installation at the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems. It is scheduled to open in March.

Commercialization also depends on the ability of Spectrolab, which makes the gallium-arsenide cells.

The technology is apparently stylish enough to satisfy one prominent client: the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Though still a few years away, they have plans to include the solar facade in the development of a new student center.