ENERGY STUDENTS CLEAN UP ... MIT has selected the winner of its annual Clean Energy Prize. A team from Stanford University called C3Nano collected $200,000 and serious bragging rights for coming up with a cheap, flexible photovoltaic electrode. I'll admit, the product lost me. But Scientific American explained it: they’ve developed a transparent electrode like the screens on computer monitors and phones. But C3Nano's design is flexible, and one tenth the price. They also claimed that while transparent electrodes used today in solar cells absorb up to 20 percent of available light––theirs, being significantly more transparent, will absorb "much more". Read more here.
UNDERWATER KITES ... Sorry to disappoint those expecting the next greatest birthday present, this is not child's play. Swedish/UK company Minesto has developed an underwater turbine known as "Deep Green". The turbine's technology converts energy from tidal stream flows into electricity. The "kite" has a wingspan of 1 meter and is designed to be tethered 100 meters above the ocean floor, maximizing the use of energy by implementing a rudder that will steer it in proper direction. According to Minesto "the kite flies in a figure eight and travels 10 times faster than the water it is tethered in." An artist's rendition and the full story can be found here.
NUCLEAR FUSION CLAIMS ... North Korea claimed Wednesday that its scientists succeeded in creating a nuclear fusion reaction. Say what?! But experts, especially those in South Korea, doubted the isolated communist country actually made the clean energy breakthrough. Such reactions produce little radioactive waste, unlike fission, which powers conventional nuclear power reactors. Proponents say it could one day provide a nearly limitless supply of clean energy. U.S. and other scientists have been experimenting with fusion for decades, but it has yet to be developed into a viable energy alternative. The drama alone that comes with making claims like this is worth following.
INCONTINENCE GOES GREEN ... Super Faiths, a Japanese automation firm, has turned the country's aging population into the newest form of energy. The company has developed a series of recycling machines that convert used diapers - primarily from adults - into fuel for biomass boilers and stoves. The machines automatically shred, dry, and sterilize used disposable diapers and turn them into bacteria-free material for making fuel pellets. The firm has three models that can handle 330, 661, and 1,102 pounds of diapers, respectively, per day. A bit gross, but genius! See a video of the machine in action.
SIXTH GRADERS 'SCHOOL' ALTERNATIVES ... Richard Ira and Brian Niguidula were named national first place winners in this year's Toshiba/NSTA ExloraVision Competition. The kids came up with the prototype of a renewable energy processing unit called Community Algae Bioreactor, or mCAB, which creates biofuels from algae. The mCAB uses plastic tubes lined with nanosand to catch the "super-algae," which is rich in oil, and extracts it for use as fuel. As first place winners, they boys will travel to Washington D.C. in June to meet a Congressional representative and present their project to the National Press Club. They say the inspiration for their project came from "the growing concern about future sources of the world's power." Whoa. It's almost unbelievable when you read the process they went through, check it out.
ECO-GREEN COAL ... Green Energy Resources has received a $25 million dollar, 5-year, 1 million ton letter of intent from a Dutch company to create eco-green coal in the USA. The Dutch company is already producing a prototype in Europe. Green Energy Resources has been working since 2005 to develop a torrified pellet/ briquette that can be readily transportable and premixed with coal for co-firing. Anyone know more about this technology?
NUCLEAR FINLAND ... The Finnish cabinet last week decided to approve two out of three applications for the building of new nuclear power plants, which is being considered a landmark decision with consequences for the rest of Europe. The two successful applicants, TVO and Fennovoima, are both non-profits consisting of a mix of energy-intensive industries and municipalities. The third applicant, Fortum, profit-based and majority state-owned, was rejected. The Finnish government’s reasoning: it wants independence from Russia, to reduce CO2-emissions, and decided the only way is to expand nuclear power projects. Read details in the European Energy Review.
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