UCLA creates transparent solar cell, dreams of current generating windows

solar panels

Transparent photovoltaics have yet to grace the face of your smartphone, but don’t give up hope — UCLA researchers are working on a new see-through solar cell that’s showing potential. Using a new type of polymer solar cell, the team has been able to build a device that converts infrared light into electrical current. Current prototypes boast 4 percent energy conversion efficiency at 66 percent transparency — not crystal clear, but certainly clean enough to peer through. According to a study in ACS Nano, the technology could be used in “building-integrated photovoltaics or integrated photovoltaic chargers for portable electronics.” Translation? It could one day be used to build solar windows or better sun collecting smartphones. Don’t get too excited though, the technology still has a ways to go before any of these dreams come to fruition. Still, feel free to head past the break for the team’s official press release, or skip to the source to take in the full academic study.

via UCLA creates transparent solar cell, dreams of current generating windows — Engadget.


Why Boston Is One Of The World’s Smartest Cities


It’s not just smart sensors, quality transit, and renewable energy leadership. The area’s educational opportunities attract smart citizens whose projects foster intense innovation.

via Why Boston Is One Of The World’s Smartest Cities | Co.Exist: World changing ideas and innovation.

WIRED HOME – all green and techy

Located in an exclusive, modernist home community of Los Angeles called Crestwood Hills, the large 4,057 sf WIRED LivingHome is set to be finished by Fall 2007. In anticipation of the final product, LivingHomes CEO and Founder Steve Glenn remarked, “We are honored to be working with WIRED on the next LivingHome…WIRED covers the future and the future of building is green. Their reputation for cutting-edge design and great editorial technology and innovation make them the perfect partner to demonstrate the balance of form, function and sustainability.”

Green Features:
The old structure on the lot is being deconstructed, rather than demolished, and a minimum of 75% of all materials will be reused and repurposed. While deconstruction is ongoing, the Ray Kappe-designed home will be manufactured in the factory, with installation to occur in August 2007. Here are some of the green products that will be part of the WIRED LivingHome: 4-kw SunPower solar power system; forced hot air radiant heating and cooling system; recycled glass countertops; Heath ceramic tile in the master bathroom; low-maintenance high-design ecological kitchen cabinetry by Valcucine; environmentally friendly washer/dryer system by Bosch; water-efficient fixtures by Toto; windows and doors constructed with recycled glass and aluminum by Fleetwood USA; reclaimed redwood by Pacific Heritage Wood; FSC-certified exterior siding; LED lighting (uses less energy than conventional lighting); tankless water heaters; and carbon offsets to cover the home’s first year of use. In the end, the WIRED LivingHome will be about 36% more efficient than a conventional residence of the same size.

See more at Wired Home.

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1 core, 2 core, now 4 core!

Intel Corp. says its new 50-watt quad core Xeon processors, released Monday 12/03/2007, would help the chipmaker gain market leverage in an energy-conscious business environment.

Quadcore processor

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel said the two new 50-watt server processors — dubbed the Intel Xeon L5320 and L5310 respectively — would decrease users’ server power consumption by 35 to 60 percent versus Intel’s current 80-watt and 120-watt quad core server processors.

Clearly, Intel’s strategy with these two chips is aimed at a server market in which its’ main competitor Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Advanced Micro Devices Inc. intends to release processors that feature lower power consumption rates.

Warren Shiau, associate partner and senior analyst, IT research for The Strategic Counsel, said Intel has been taking it to AMD on price and performance. The new Xeons are part of the next wave of Intel’s attack: Performance per watt.

Intel quadcore

“This isn’t necessarily about having the lowest power consumption,” he said. “Intel traditionally has not been able to get lower consumption rates than AMD, so it’s gone for decreasing it’s power consumption to offer competitive levels with AMD, but not necessarily equal or better. The upside being that Intel, across the board, is going for and getting better performance-per-watt which seems to be the more relevant measure in the marketplace than having the absolute lowest power consumption.”

Shiau said the general consensus is that AMD isn’t really going to have an answer for everything Intel is hitting it with until AMD gets Barcelona-based products out the door in volume, which probably means another half-year of Intel taking it to AMD’s margins.

Rob Enderle, principal analyst for The Enderle Group, said latching onto the ‘green’ movement Stateside is a wise strategy, one that is in vogue with most companies, and particularly in the run-up to the forthcoming U.S. federal election in 2008.

“Green is big right now and likely to get bigger in the U.S. as elections approach. Initially much of the cause isn’t an environmental concern as it is that many IT shops are hitting thermal limits in their data centers and the cost of increasing the cooling can run into millions of dollars for an existing building,” he explained. “As a result, power, or in this case heat, has become a big concern. But, with the increased focus on the environment and the growing cost of fossil fuels suddenly there is even more focus on doing things efficiently.


“Both Intel and AMD have seen this trend coming and one of the major areas the two will be competing on is which company can do the most with the least amount of power, heat, and noise.”

Moreover, Enderle said the new Intel Xeons also showcases a skill set that would become more popular going forward in the channel. That is, the ability to efficiently map out and design data centers to maximize capacity and minimize the thermal load and power requirements for the site.

“This should also help drive a swap out of the older, less efficient technology from both AMD and Intel, as well as older UNIX mainframe and mid-range products that are not power or heat efficient to new products that can do more, but without increasing the heat or power requirements and possibly reduce them,” he remarked.

Overall this is a signal for change, and change generally means good revenue for the channel if the players can position themselves to take advantage of it, Enderle added.

“Green is also the color of money, at least here in the U.S.,” he quipped.

A processor that throws off less heat is easier to package and requires less ancillaries, Shiau said.

“All other things being equal, a processor that consumes less power is going to reduce data center costs compared to one that consumes more,” he said. “If energy costs were inconsequential you could bet it wouldn’t be an issue.

“Marketing people and what’s in vogue; it all goes hand-in-hand.”

The goal is absolutely about finding solutions for customers who are facing increased electricity costs, said Bill Calder, spokesperson for Intel in Hillsboro, Ore.

“This is particularly acute in today’s data centers. The growing number and density of servers has made electricity costs a significant factor in IT purchases,” he said. “With products like the Intel Xeon 5300 series we offer both incredible performance and energy efficiency — the best of both worlds. As such, it is not about latching on to any particular movement as much as it is offering customers the right choices that meet their needs to lower overall cost and still have outstanding performance with the latest server technology.”

Of the new quad core chips, Intel’s Xeon L5320 runs at 1.86 GHz and the L5310 runs at 1.60 GHz and features 8MB on die cache for faster memory data communication and run on dedicated 1066 MHz front side buses. Servers based on the new low-power, quad-core processors are designed for dense data centers, blade servers, and industries such as financial services where the scale and density of servers are highly sensitive to power, real estate and cooling costs, the company said.

Intel said its’ Tier 1 server vendors would build solutions with the new Xeon chips in the coming months. Acer, Dell, Digital Henge, Fujitsu-Siemens, Hewlett-Packard, HCL, IBM Corp., Samsung, Verari and Wipro are all expected to announce plans to do so. Milpitas, Calif.-based Rackable Systems Inc., a server and storage products provider, did so recently when it unveiled plans to deploy servers featuring the L5320 and L5310 via unique server designs and delivered fully racked and cabled.

“Our newest low wattage servers demonstrate our ongoing commitment to green technology and reducing data center operational expenses,” said Giovanni Coglitore, CTO, Rackable Systems, in a statement. “With Intel’s new 50-watt quad core processors inside Rackable Systems’ thermally efficient servers, we can meet companies’ computing needs while effectively managing skyrocketing energy costs.”

Officials said the quad core Intel Xeon L5320 is priced at US$519 in quantities of 1,000. The Intel Xeon L5310 is priced at $455.

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The VentureOne Hybrid and EV: 100 MPH, 100 MPG, and that Crazy Tilty Action

A bright idea, some capital, and computer drafting software aren’t too hard to come by. We truly would like to believe, though, that the VentureOne will in fact, as its creators promise, be released in late 2008, priced in the $20,000 range. If that is indeed remotely possible, then the VentureOne is big news. This remarkable looking car, if you want to call it that (it’s a motorcycle as far as the law is concerned), brings together a handful of innovative and proven technologies to make for a very green means of short or long distance transport. First, let’s talk about the drive train (and I’ll
speak as if all this is really going to happen, fingers crossed).

The VentureOne will come in three configurations: a 50 kW plug-in hybrid (350-mile range), a 100 kW plug-in hybrid (300-mile range), and a 40 kW all electric model (120-mile range). Both hybrid models will be ethanol compatible with a 20-mile pure EV range, and can be charged from a conventional 110-volt outlet. The fastest of the bunch, the 100 kW hybrid, will top out at 120 mph and do 0-60 in less than 5 seconds. All three will get the equivalent of over 100 miles per gallon.

But then there’s the tippy thing. To picture this, check out the video of the Carver on the VentureOne’s site.

This is a patented technology licensed from a Dutch firm called Carver Engineering. The underlying concept is that as the vehicle corners, the front half (including the cockpit) tilts to counterbalance centrifugal force, much the way a motorcycle does, while the rear two wheels stay put. The Carver, a vehicle made by Carver Engineering itself, represents the 11th generation of this technology, and they claim that it’s pretty well perfected by this point.

There is quite a bit more that could be said about the VentureOne, like the specifics of its li-ion batteries, its many safety features, and its iPod compatibility, but since the green two-seater doesn’t actually exist yet, we’ll stop here and leave you with the words of Ian Bruce, a
founding partner of Venture Vehicles and founder of EVP Design and Engineering:

“With the same height and length as the MINI Cooper, the VentureOne will have both the performance of a sports car and the agility of a motorcycle… creating an incredibly exhilarating driving experience. The only way I can describe the sensation is comparing it
to flying a jet fighter at two feet off the ground. Plus, this extraordinary performance combines the significant environmental benefits of a flex-fuel, plug-in Hybrid with a high level of affordability.”

Here’s to hoping ::FlyTheRoad


Source: TreeHugger

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Lotus APX concept

It may look more like a Porche Cayenne SUV than a Tesla Roadster, but today’s announcement of a forthcoming ZAP/Lotus electric car promises to set new standards in range, top speed and charging time.

This won’t be the kinder, gentler yet odd-looking electric vehicle the market has come to expect from ZAP. Named the ZAP-X, the new vehicle is to be based on Lotus Engineering’s existing APX concept car body structure.

ZAP-X Gallery

The svelte, yet practically-sized new vehicle will be previewed at this weekend’s North American Dealers Association (NADA) annual meeting in Las Vegas.

A combination of lightweight aluminum structure, a new efficient drive and an advanced battery system is intended to enable a range of up to 350 miles between charges and a top speed of 150 miles an hour, ZAP said today.

By contrast, the Tesla Motors Roadster sportscar has a published 250 mile range, and top speed in the vicinity of 130 miles an hour.

Yet the most aggressive claim may be in the APX’s charging time. While the Tesla Roadster needs to be plugged in overnight, ZAP claims the ZAP-X will only require 10 minutes for a full recharge of its batteries. That’d be a full “tank”, yielding another 350 miles, the company said, in the time it takes for a roadside washroom break.

While ZAP director of communications Alex Campbell wouldn’t comment on the battery technology behind the claims, we noted similarities in statistics several months ago trumpeted by Reno, Nevada-based Altairnano (NASDAQ: ALTI) of its nanotech-based batteries. Altairnano had talked previously of being able to power an SUV for 350+ miles, and being able to fully charge its battery in 10 minutes.

This afternoon, Altairnano spokesperson Fayth Ross would not confirm or deny that it was working with ZAP.

ZAP plans to replace Lotus’ APX’s conventional gasoline V6 engine with revolutionary in-hub electric motors, delivering 644 horsepower in all wheel drive mode and theoretically capable of powering the ZAP-X to a potential top speed of 155mph.

“There are a lot of companies creating really exciting motors in the marketplace. Our goal at ZAP has always been to identify the technologies that are closest to market. We’re going to be using low cost motors that are ready for production or off the shelf,” said ZAP’s Campbell.

ZAP is targeting the $60,000 USD price range for the ZAP-X, with expected availability in 2008. Because the car is to be all-electric, the company expects to bypass many of the emissions requirements of new cars, Campbell said, noting the company has substantial experience in electric vehicle production and marketing.

“We’ve been in this business 12 years. We think the market is finally catching up to what we’ve been preaching.”

ZAP has built a network of 25 dealers around the world, with recent inroads into Latin America.

“We try to focus on low cost solutions that can fit world markets, not just the U.S.,” said Campbell.


Modern houses – sci-fi inspired

Space Houses on Earth

The European Space Agency has designed a house that uses technology designed for space could become the basis of the new German Antarctic station, Neumayer-III. The new station was designed to meet the stringent laws set up to protect the Antarctic environment, and presented at the 28th meeting of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research that took place in Bremen in July (2004).


Modular Treehouse Concept

May 14, 2006 There’s something primal about tree houses that enthralls children and returns adults to long lost afternoons filled with secret adventures. We’ve previously covered the exquisite designs of the English Treehouse designer-builders PearTree which include everything from custom-designs through two storey adult treehouses, home offices and even 30 seater conference suites, and we’ve waxed lyrical about the Free Spirit Sphere, but this latest concept tree house from UK-based Design Studio Sybarite excited us to new levels. The company is developing a modular tree house concept which we think could become very popular.


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Solar + LEDs = free night light

A building under construction in Japan will use natural light to illuminate its rooms, even during the night.

Japanese construction company Shimizu and electronics giant Sharp have jointly developed a transparent building material that absorbs light during the day and uses it to light up rooms when the Sun goes down. The material is being used to construct a new office complex in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, on the south eastern edge of Japan.

Sections of the office’s walls look transparent, but actually contain incredibly thin solar panels and as many as 320 light-emitting diodes that release whitish-blue light at night. According to NikkeiNet Interactive (paid subscription required), the walls can convert 7% of solar energy into electricity and illuminate the building for an average of 4.6 hours every night.

The image here shows another of Shimizu’s office buildings, named Izumi Garden, in Tokyo.

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