60% Solar Heat to Electricity conversion efficiency- by Super Soaker inventor

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image courtesy of Designboom.com

Lonnie Johnson has been inventing thermodynamics systems for NASA and other organizations. But one day while he was working on a environmental heat pump he got the idea of a powerful water squirt gun- the Super Soaker, which the product alone makes him hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now he is back, with a new solar technology called Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Conversion System, or JTEC. The company claims that this new method can convert up to 60 percent of received solar energy into electricity without using any photovoltaic (PV) materials.

Here’s some info from Popular Mechanics:

This is not PV technology, in which semiconducting silicon converts light into electricity. And unlike a Stirling engine, in which pistons are powered by the expansion and compression of a contained gas, there are no moving parts in the JTEC. It’s sort of like a fuel cell: JTEC circulates hydrogen between two membrane-electrode assemblies (MEA). Unlike a fuel cell, however, JTEC is a closed system. No external hydrogen source. No oxygen input. No wastewater output. Other than a jolt of electricity that acts like the ignition spark in an internal-combustion engine, the only input is heat.

Here’s how it works: One MEA stack is coupled to a high- temperature heat source (such as solar heat concentrated by mirrors), and the other to a low-temperature heat sink (ambient air). The low-temperature stack acts as the compressor stage while the high-temperature stack functions as the power stage. Once the cycle is started by the electrical jolt, the resulting pressure differential produces voltage across each of the MEA stacks. The higher voltage at the high-temperature stack forces the low-temperature stack to pump hydrogen from low pressure to high pressure, maintaining the pressure differential. Meanwhile hydrogen passing through the high-temperature stack generates power.

Original article via Popular Mechanics

the world’s lowest-cost solar panel $.99/Watt

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 photo source: NanoSolar.com

Nanosolar is a startup based in Silicon that got heavy financed and already won contracts from Department of energy and DARPA. They has developed a proprietary NanoParticle ink that makes it possible to simply print CIGS (copper-indium-gallium-selenium) onto a thin polymer that does not involve the expensive silicon. Here’s some key point from their site:

– the world’s first printed thin-film solar cell in a commercial panel product;

– the world’s first thin-film solar cell with a low-cost back-contact capability;

– the world’s lowest-cost solar panel – which we believe will make us the first solar manufacturer capable of profitably selling solar panels at as little as $.99/Watt;

– the world’s highest-current thin-film solar panel – delivering five times the current of any other thin-film panel on the market today and thus simplifying system deployment;

– an intensely systems-optimized product with the lowest balance-of-system cost of any thin-film panel – due to innovations in design we have included.

photo source: NanoSolar.com

The Price of Biofuels

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Technology Review has a great 3-part article about the economy downturn and science of the biofuels in U.S.A.

“Now ethanol producers are struggling, and many are losing money. The price of a bushel of corn rose to record highs during the year, exceeding $4.00 last winter before falling back to around $3.50 in the summer, then rebounding this fall to near $4.00 again. At the same time, ethanol prices plummeted as the market for the alternative fuel, which is still used mainly as an additive to gasoline, became saturated. In the face of these two trends, profit margins vanished.”

David Berry on Novel Biofuels

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David Berry is the 29th years old genius behind the innovation of Renewable petroleum from microbes.

“Berry took the lead in designing a system that allowed LS9 researchers to alter the metabolic machinery of ­micro­örganisms, turning them into living hydrocarbon refineries. He began with biochemical pathways that microbes use to convert ­glucose into energy-storing molecules called fatty acids. Working with LS9 scientists, he then plucked genes from various other organisms to create a system of metabolic modules that can be inserted into microbes; in different combinations, these modules induce the microbes to produce what are, for all practical purposes, the equivalents of crude oil, diesel, gasoline, or hydrocarbon-based in­dustrial chemicals.”

The TR35 Innovator of the Year below explains how to create organisms that produce hydrocarbons. Here is the link to the video and the link to the Technology Review page.

DIY 1000 watt wind turbine

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Click on the pic to learn!

fuel cell that uses bacteria to generate electricity from waste

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Researchers at the Biodesign Institute are using the tiniest organisms on the planet ‘bacteria’ as a viable option to make electricity. In a new study featured in the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering, lead author Andrew Kato Marcus and colleagues Cesar Torres and Bruce Rittmann have gained critical insights that may lead to commercialization of a promising microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology.

“We can use any kind of waste, such as sewage or pig manure, and the microbial fuel cell will generate electrical energy,” said Marcus, a Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate student and a member of the institute’s Center for Environmental Biotechnology. Unlike conventional fuel cells that rely on hydrogen gas as a fuel source, the microbial fuel cell can handle a variety of water-based organic fuels.

“There is a lot of biomass out there that we look at simply as energy stored in the wrong place,” said Bruce Rittmann, director of the center. “We can take this waste, keeping it in its normal liquid form, but allowing the bacteria to convert the energy value to our society’s most useful form, electricity. They get food while we get electricity.”

Original article via BioDesign Institute Arizona State University

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