November 4, 2008

Solar Tree Sculpture Charges Your Gadgets

solar-cell-tree-charger-vivien-muller.jpg I think this solar gadget is aesthetically pleasing and very cool, almost as cools as it iYo. Using 54 solar panels, this metal solar tree sculpture will charge your iPod, cell phone, and digital camera. Furthermore, the branches are movable, so you can create your own unique shape for the solar tree whenever you feel the whim.

Via: Reevoo

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October 21, 2008

Self-Powered Progress for Third World Countries: The Free Play Foundation

cleantechforeveryone.jpg The Free Play Foundation is an "internationally acclaimed humanitarian organisation enabling vulnerable people to transform their lives using sustainable, self-sufficient and environmentally friendly technologies." Free Play recognizes that clean power and technology is the solution to lifting many people out of poverty. By focusing on lighting and radios, Free Play is able to change lives:
A farmer listens to the radio for news of the incoming cyclone, ready to spread the alarm to her neighbours.

A child, orphaned by conflict and caretaker of his younger brothers, is soothed by voices on the radio as they fall asleep at a refugee camp.

With safe, renewable lighting, a midwife assists a night-time birth with no fear of fumes from hazardous kerosene or firewood.

With a bright LED light, a girl studies after sundown, when her long day of chores has finally come to an end.

Since 2003, more than 160,000 wind-up and solar-powered Freeplay Lifeline radios have been distributed worldwide, mostly in Africa. In addition, Free Play has developed the Weza foot-powered generator that can power cell phones and other low energy devices
Via: ecogeek
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October 7, 2008

Solar Stik Portable Solar Array Cheaper than a Generator to Run

solarstik4-small.jpg If you ever have the need for green, portable power, Solar Stik is the "new generator". For example, Solar Stiks were sent to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. What is a Solar Stik? It is portable solar system that weighs about 100 pounds and can be set up in about 10 minutes. You can chain units together, as well as add accessories such as a wind turbine. Solar Stiks can be used in an emergency, for recreation, on boats, for humanitarian missions, and by the military. In fact, it is classified as a Tactical Quiet Generator (TQG) and been given the name "TESS" (Tactical Electric Solar System) by the U.S. Army's Rapid Equipping Force and the Testing & Evaluation Command (USATEC). Solar Stik claims it can "can completely replace a small gasoline generator in many applications".
Via: Red Ferret
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September 11, 2008

Manure-Powered Carnival Ride at the California State Fair

1345801188_18a106cf06_m.jpg Moo poo power has been used to provide energy for farms, but this summer the world's first manure-powered carnival ride debuted at the California State Fair. "The Barnyard Animal Train" used California dairy cow manure to create renewable biogas to power the ride. Children learned about renewable energy on the ride.. I wonder how the ride smelled...
Via: CleanTechnica
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September 2, 2008

Forget About Tequila: Mexico Looks to Agave for Ethanol Source

blue-agave.jpg Agave has a long history in Mexico, and as researchers look for indigenous plants not used for food production to make ethanol, Agave has caught their attention. The Agave-to-ethanol project shows promise, as Professor of Agricultural Biotechnology Remigio Madrigal Lugo, Ph.D. explains, "Agave can bring in the new era of bio-economics giving the world enough clean energy for a peaceful and secure world." It is estimated that varieties of Agave tequilana weber can yield up to 2,000 gallons of distilled ethanol per acre per year due to its high sugar content, which is much greater than corn-based ethanol. The Agave-to-ethanol project may not affect food production prices like corn, but what about tequila and Agave nectar?
 Via: Renewable Energy World
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August 12, 2008

Forget Solar, Forget Hydrogen: Kite Power will Solve the Energy Crisis

Dutch researchers have discovered the power of kites! Since kites are not in a fixed location, like a wind turbine, they are able to soar to higher altitudes where higher wind speeds exist. With their initial test, the Delft University of Technology scientists produced 10 kilowatts of power with one kite. They hope with future tests using multiple kites, the researchers can produce 10 megawatts!
Via: Engadget

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August 5, 2008

Learning from Plants: Major MIT Solar Discovery to Turn Every Home into a Power Plant

Using the process of photosynthesis as a model, MIT scientists have discovered a way to store solar energy when the sun is not shining. Current off-the-grid solar systems rely on expensive batteries to store excess power produced during the day for nighttime and cloudy day use, and these batteries need to be replaced every eight to ten years. MIT's Daniel Nocera has discovered a new process that uses a catalyst to split oxygen from hydrogen in water, in order that later it can be recombined as a fuel cell.
The new catalyst consists of cobalt metal, phosphate and an electrode, placed in water. When electricity -- whether from a photovoltaic cell, a wind turbine or any other source -- runs through the electrode, the cobalt and phosphate form a thin film on the electrode, and oxygen gas is produced.

Combined with another catalyst, such as platinum, that can produce hydrogen gas from water, the system can duplicate the water splitting reaction that occurs during photosynthesis.

James Barber, the Ernst Chain Professor of Biochemistry at Imperial College London, explained the implications of this discovery:
This is a major discovery with enormous implications for the future prosperity of humankind. The importance of their discovery cannot be overstated since it opens up the door for developing new technologies for energy production thus reducing our dependence for fossil fuels and addressing the global climate change problem.
Nocera thinks within 10 years, this new solar technology will be available to home owners. Via: MIT
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July 22, 2008

Organic, Solar Wifi Teepee Alaskan Retreat

organicsolarwifiteepee Looking for the perfect eco-trip, but you need to stay connected? Try Perfect Earth Tours' Yukon teepee suites. Made from organic canvas, these Alaskan teepees have wifi to complement your all organic meals and solar off-the-grid electricity. This sounds like the perfect green vacation for this blogger!
Via: Dvice
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May 6, 2008

People Pedal Powered Cell Phones

Based in Nicaragua, Llamadas Pedaleadas brings affordable, renewable cell phone service to the people. By using a car alternator, a vendor can use pedal power to charge the batteries on the cell phones and bring telephones to the people, who usually go to call shops rather than use their expensive personal cell phones.

Via: Triple Pundit

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April 24, 2008

Should Your Home Go Solar?

solar-house-front-1.jpg When I first purchased solar panels 15 years ago, there was very little help for homeowners beyond other homeowners who had already gone solar. Solar panels were mostly the realm of do-it-yourselfers. I remember taking a protractor with a weighted string to our building site and trying to figure out our solar window from charts. Basically, solar success was by trial and error, but those days are over now. If you live in California, two new websites are offering services for homeowners wanting to explore their solar options.
Renewzle offers homeowners a simple way to:
  • Learn the basics
  • Explore your options
  • Shop for a system
Simply enter your zip code, select your region and utility company, then submit your average monthly utility bill. Renewzle will give you a "Solar Overview" that includes your recommended system, monthly cost, solar potential (including savings), average monthly emissions, etc. You can make adjustments based on your energy needs and then request quotes from multiple retailers/installers.
Sungevity asks users to first enter their home address. Next, a virtual earth map pops up of your neighborhood, and you find your rooftop. Sungevity calculates your roof's dimensions, including the pitch and azimuth, and then selects appropriately sized solar arrays. You are then given an image of your house with panels installed, as well as a computation of your investment return. If you decide to purchase, the panels are shipped directly to you, and an installation crew is dispatched.

Since I live in a very remote region of Northern California without a real physical address, I could not get Sungevity's map to find my house. The virtual map is very cool, but it was much easier to simply enter my zip code on Renewzle. I did try Sungevity on a friend's house in Arcata, only to find out they are only serving the San Francisco Bay Area currently after I selected her roof. It appears Renewzle gives you access to many different suppliers and installers for quotes, whereas Sungevity provides only one option for purchasing.  If I was a homeowner in California interested in solar energy, I would probably explore both sites to determine my options.

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