- Is it possible to create energy from the air? Well, if scientists at BlackLight Power and six independent universities, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), are correct, then the answer is an emphatic, Yes! BlackLight has invented a technology that appears to create an electrical current by catalyzing hydrogen in water vapor into a newly discovered form of hydrogen called ‘Hydrino.’ The process uses a series of metal panels as one would expect to see in a homemade battery to generate power at a cost that is 1 to 10% of current generation technologies from non-renewable to renewable. BlackLight plans to release a 100-W unit by the end of 2012 with more powerful units planned for 2013 and beyond. If BlackLight lives up to the promises they make, this could revolutionize the power generation industry and even replace the internal combustion engine with a renewable, carbon-neutral source of power.Another intriguing idea to generate power from a renewable energy source comes from the folks at Eco Wave Power. They completed successful tests of their medium-scale wave-energy power plants, the ‘Wave Clapper’ and the ‘Power Ring,’ in live tests along the shores of the Black Sea during April. These tests showed that the units could power between 6 and 10 homes and are strong enough to withstand even extreme weather conditions.
- Efficiency rating records for solar power generation continue to be set and tumble not a year later. Proof positive, in the recent weeks, three new efficiency records have been set. MiaSolé, based in Santa Clara, California, reached an efficiency rating of 15.5% for a thin-film flexible photovoltaic (PV) solar module, surpassing the previous record set last year by 2%. A research team in the Physics Department at the University of Florida shattered the previous efficiency record of 2.9% for graphene solar cells by achieving a rating of 8.6% after chemically treating the single layer of carbon atom chains. Graphene solar cells are attractive as they are cheaper to produce and more sustainable than current PV film technology based on metallic molecules. The third record was achieved by Sharp. when they developed a solar concentrator cell with a 43.5% efficiency surpassing the previous record by 1.2%. And in a related news piece, on May 25th and 26th, Germany produced a record setting 22 GW of power from solar sources – an amount equal to nearly half of the country’s midday energy needs and to 20 nuclear power plants running at full capacity!
- Online interactive maps fueled by constantly updated government databases continue to spring up on the web. The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) adds its own website to the growing list of APIs with an interactive platform that displays, sorts, symbolizes, etc. data on HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis. The map created by the CDC is easy to read and allows a high level of customization and filtering. Users will be able to display the geography that matters most to them as well as the gender, age groups and diseases that are of more interest.
- GIS can save money during these financially strapped times for state and local governments; and in Chicago, Illinois, GIS has helped to save the City money as well as reduce the back log of tree trimming requests. By employing spatial cluster analysis that can be completed in GIS, the Streets and Sanitation Department can target its crews more effectively so that they cut more trees during each visit and so that the number of repeat visits to an area is reduced. The mapping database is populated by both city employees and feedback from the public; and in its first three months of existence, the mapping application already reduced the backlog of tree trimming requests by nearly 25%.
Brock Adam McCarty