- Solar energy technology is always a hotbed of innovation so this month we turn our attention to advancements in this industry.
First, here are a series of advancements that will make solar energy cheaper to produce. Connecting with last month’s focus on graphene, here is an idea to make solar panels cheaper by replacing expensive platinum dyes with 3-d graphene. By using abundant earth crust elements, scientists may be able to produce nanoparticle solar cells that can be painted onto surfaces. This research focuses on making low-cost plastic panels with two polymers.
Now here are several ideas to use solar energy to help those who are less fortunate. This Swedish water purifier uses ultraviolet radiation from the Sun to clean up to 11 liters of water in 2 to 6 hours. Here is a solar powered toilet that recycles water, produces hydrogen gas as waste is broken down and finally converts the waste to fertilizers. This research uses sunlight in a process similar to photosynthesis to produce an energy-rich liquid, methanol.
Finally, we take a look at three novel ideas to expand the reach of solar technology. University of Michigan researchers have developed colored solar panels which could be used to make beautiful stained glass in the near future. This idea embeds nanocrystals in windows to allow occupants to control the entry of visible light and/or the heat-producing near-infrared spectrum. Here is a novel approach to reducing the need for air conditioning by reflecting the heat produced by sunlight out of our atmosphere.
- This fun interactive map put together by the University of California, Berkeley breaks down average carbon footprint by zip code. I checked out my home zip code, 80302, and we are better than average with regards to our average footprint. You are also able to calculate your own estimated carbon footprint here. That said, any time an analysis of this size is completed, you have to take a minute and question the source of the data and its reliability on a nationwide scale.
- It’s time to pack up a lunch and send your kids back to school, and in honor of this yearly transition, this month I Googled, “GIS and high school.” After combing through the results, I found this interesting research on secondary education and GIS completed by Eyup Artvinli. This research was completed with the assistance of 665 Turkish students at 15 high schools. I wonder if Artvinli would have found the same results had he worked with 665 American high school students?
- From one of the East Coast’s premier cities, we travel west to the heart of the Midwest and review the online GIS resources of Michigan’s largest city, Detroit. For all of our readers that are pure GIS users, you will be happy to find this page full of shapefiles for nearly every geographic theme you can think of. And for those users who would prefer online maps and/or PDF versions of Detroit’s GIS files, here is a link you can check out. One drawback is that many of the links on this page appear to be broken.
Brock Adam McCarty
Snippets of interest for the geospatial community.