Hot Towns, Urban Heat Islands. Sunlight: Solar as Equitable Energy Source. Environment Technology 

Sunlight: Equitable Energy Source

By Jonathan Trinastic @jptrinastic Solar energy is touted for a variety of reasons: it is renewable, clean, and quiet, and can be used as a decentralized form of electricity generation. But while doing some reading I came across a figure that reveals a less-discussed benefit of using solar energy that may be most important—depending on your priorities when it comes to global issues. Below is the figure, reproduced from a recent 2015 paper in Energy and Environmental Science that reviewed all that we know about the solar resource and the…

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Chilean Solar Farm: Cheapest Power Project Ever Environment Science Policy Technology 

Chilean Solar Farm: Cheapest Power Project Ever

By Jonathan Trinastic @jptrinastic For a long time, Chilean president Michelle Bachelet has been looking for some sort of magic to ignite her country’s sluggish economy. The spell may finally be cast in the form of solar energy. Chilean Solar Farm Bloomberg reports that a host of electricity supply contracts decreasing the average price for customers by 40 percent have been auctioned off. Among these contracts is one deal with Solarpack Corporación Tecnológica to sell power from a 120-megawatt (MW) solar farm for only $29.10 per megawatt hour (MWh). That…

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Solar-Powered Oxygen Saves Lives in Africa Health Technology 

Solar-Powered Oxygen Saves Lives in Africa

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore If you’ve ever stayed in a hospital, you might remember the oxygen delivery system mounted on the wall behind your bed or at your bedside. Many of us take these for granted, but in developing countries such as Uganda they are not easily available—and even when present, they are unreliable because power cuts are rife. Now, scientists have devised an innovative solution for delivering oxygen to children with severe pneumonia: harnessing solar energy to power oxygen delivery systems. “Ours is the first study to describe the…

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graphene Engineering Technology 

Moth Eyes Inspire Graphene-Based Smart Tech

Look into the eyes of moths and see the future. The future of smart gadgets, that is. Moths’ eyes are the latest inspiration for thin solar material. Researchers from the University of Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute say that new, ultra-thin, patterned graphene sheets will be essential in designing “smart wallpaper” and other future technologies. Graphene is traditionally an excellent electronic material, as the graphene-based microphone demonstrates, but it is inefficient for optical applications. It usually absorbs only 2 or 3 percent of the light that lands on it. That’s not…

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Lens Flare, Steven Spence Environment Physics Technology 

Spying on the Atomic Structure of Perovskites

By Jonathan Trinastic, @jptrinastic Spying on the Atomic Structure of Perovskites Perovskites are darling materials in the world of solar cells but still somewhat of a mystery to scientists. Perovskite-based photovoltaics boast a combination of high performance and cheap production that makes them an ideal candidate to lead the next solar energy revolution. Like many young and talented upstarts, however, they don’t always perform consistently, and they burn out quickly. Scientists do not yet completely understand why, but they have taken an important step by creating the first images of individual…

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Kirigami-inspired solar cell courtesy of Lamoureux A et al. Physics Science & Art Technology 

New Solar Cells Inspired by 400-year-old Art

By Jonathan Trinastic @jptrinastic Artists in  seventeenth century Japan probably never expected their unique paper-cutting artwork, known as kirigami, to inspire leading-edge technology four hundred years later.  But the traditional art and new science have been recently well-paired to improve renewable energy technology, according to a recent paper1 in Nature Communications that details a creative design for a lightweight solar cell that tracks the Sun’s position throughout the day. Kirigami is the art of cutting paper to create elaborately textured, three-dimensional works of art.  Kirigami artists generally begin by cutting…

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Truly transparent solar energy Engineering Environment Featured Physics Technology 

Solar Energy that Doesn’t Block the View

By Kate Stone In 2014, a team of researchers at Michigan State University developed a new type of solar concentrator that, when placed over a window, creates solar energy while still allowing people to see through the window. It is called a “transparent luminescent solar concentrator” and it can be used on buildings, cell phones, and anything else that has a clear surface. According to Richard Lunt of MSU’s College of Engineering, the operative word in this story is “transparent.” One year ago, researchers predicted that, while the technology was at an early…

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The UT Arlington team developed a new solar cell that is more efficient and can store solar energy even at night. (UT Arlington) Engineering Technology 

New Solar Energy Storage Works at Night

By Kate S. Most solar energy systems rely on using sunlight as an immediate power source, but can’t function at night or in cloudy weather. So, what if a solar cell could store solar energy and release it for use after the sun goes down? That’s the technology a materials science and engineering team from the University of Texas at Arlington has developed. They have successfully built a new energy cell that can store large-scale solar energy, even when it’s dark. The prototype is an “all-vanadium photo-electrochemical flow cell” that…

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Off-grid tiny house Engineering Environment Technology 

Off-Grid Tiny House Will Blow Your Mind

By Kate S. This is not the set of a sci-fi show. It is the Ecocapsule, an independent off-the-grid micro house from Nice Architects, an architectural studio in Bratislava, Slovakia. The Ecocapsule has been in development since 2008. Recently, a prototype went on display for the first time at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna, Austria, and EH Science invited the architects to talk about their egg-shaped creation. “With its off-grid life span, portability, and flexibility, it is suitable for a wide range of applications–from an independent research station or a…

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Solar material is sprayed on (David Baillot, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering) Engineering Environment Technology 

Solar Power Material 90 Percent Efficient

By Kate Stone Solar power is on the verge of becoming a lot cheaper, more efficient, and longer lasting. A team of scientists at the University of California, San Diego has developed a new material for concentrating solar power (CSP). The new material is sprayed on and can absorb and convert more than 90 percent of the sunlight it captures into heat. The new spray-on solar material is incredibly efficient because it has a multi-scale surface, which is made up of particles of many sizes ranging from 10 nanometers to…

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