- There is always so much to talk about in the world of solar energy; as such, our focus will remain on this topic in November.
First, here are a few ideas to improve the efficiency of solar cells. Stanford University scientists have invented self-cooling solar panels that will increase efficiency by expelling extra heat from pyramid silica structures. Princeton research has developed a metal-plastic sandwich of solar cells that traps light to increase efficiency by 175%. NC State researchers have pioneered a new technique to link multiple solar panels without losing much voltage as waste heat (or energy). And Yale has found a way to make solar cells more efficient using a fluorescent dye which captures photons over a broader range of the spectrum.
One of the challenges of solar energy production is storing the power you generate – here are three new approaches to overcome this hurdle. A team of UCSD researchers have developed a silicon nanoparticle material that can absorb 90% of the radiation focused on it by solar concentrating power plants. U of Tokyo scientists have created a ceramic material that could efficiently store heat generated by solar energy and/or waste radiant heat. This revolutionary plastic material developed by UCLA research could store solar energy for several weeks.
Finally, here are two ideas for generating solar energy in unique landscapes or ways: how about solar panel covered canals that generate power and also reduce water evaporation? Or how about these art deco printed solar trees that could power small appliances nearly anywhere?
- The global warming trend continues as confirmed by the September 2015 NOAA global climate report. Here are a few highlights from the latest report. This is the fifth month in a row that set an all-time high temperature record for that month. September 2015 was also the warmest month on record out of the 1,629 months we have data on. The months from January to September 2015 represent the hottest 9-month stretch in the 136 year record as well.
- In honor of North Dakota joining the United States on November 2, 1889, for my Google search of the month I used this string, “North Dakota and GIS.” If you comb through the results, you might come across this poster which highlights oil spills in the state – events that are rarely covered unless they are of a significant size. The poster of maps and associated metadata was put together by Elena Nikolova of Tufts University.
- From Ohio we travel to the other side of the Midwest with a review of the online GIS resources of Oklahoma’s largest city, Oklahoma City. And while their main page on the OKC government website is less than spectacular, their data portal is likely the best online GIS resource we have seen for a city yet. It has everything any user could ever need, including downloadable datasets; an online map viewer; searches for parcel level information by address, street and plat code; and even a web API access for developers. Huge props to the Oklahoma GIS folks – this is one awesome site!
Brock Adam McCarty
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