alternative energy


Bernie Sanders interviews Bill Nye about climate change and alternative energy, and it’s as adorable as it sounds.

EPCOT geeks will be pleased that, when Bernie bemoans Big Oil’s fixation with money, Bill replies:

“Well, that’s what I don’t get! […] They make a lot of money, and as I told the people at Exxon in 1994 when I did a job with Exxon and Ellen DeGeneres and the Walt Disney Company, ‘You guys should be in the energy business, not the oil business!’ […] They would get even richer!”

So there you have it: behind the scenes of Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Bill Nye was trying to persuade Exxon to use the one source of energy that will never run out: brain power!

New, long-lasting flow battery could run for more than a decade with minimum upkeep

Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a new flow battery that stores energy in organic molecules dissolved in neutral pH water. This new chemistry allows for a non-toxic, non-corrosive battery with an exceptionally long lifetime and offers the potential to significantly decrease the costs of production.

The research, published in ACS Energy Letters, was led by Michael Aziz, the Gene and Tracy Sykes Professor of Materials and Energy Technologies and Roy Gordon, the Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Materials Science.

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This is the Ridgeblade residential wind turbine, a horizontal access turbine that mounts along the peak of a house. An aesthetically pleasing idea and also one that allows wind power in areas where local ordinance might ban a tower mounted turbine. The company also offers a hybrid installation that includes a solar roof. There is a commercial application as well.

As with all wind installations, the prevailing wind patterns will affect efficiency greatly but this could prove a boon mounted on sky scrapers in urban areas and small benefits to suburban houses in cutting electricity usage are still benefits.
Dutch electric trains become 100% powered by wind energy
The national railway company, NS, said that its renewables target had been met a year earlier than planned

All Dutch electric trains are now powered by wind energy, the national railway company NS has said .

“Since 1 January, 100% of our trains are running on wind energy,” said NS spokesman, Ton Boon.

Dutch electricity company Eneco won a tender offered by NS two years ago and the two companies signed a 10-year deal setting January 2018 as the date by which all NS trains should run on wind energy.

“So we in fact reached our goal a year earlier than planned,” said Boon, adding that an increase in the number of wind farms across the country and off the coast of the Netherlands had helped NS achieve its aim.

Eneco and NS said on a joint website that around 600,000 passengers daily are “the first in the world” to travel thanks to wind energy. NS operates about 5,500 train trips a day.

One windmill running for an hour can power a train for 120 miles, the companies said. They hope to reduce the energy used per passenger by a further 35% by 2020 compared with 2005.

It’s coming up to 40 years since my first arrest. It was at Seabrook in late April 1977, protesting the nuclear power plant construction. One of the largest mass arrests in US history, we were held for about a week. This photo is the following year when a group of us cycled from Amherst to Seabrook. We called ourselves the solar rollers…

Masters of Clockmaking Turn Attention to Fusion

Switzerland, long known for its engineering prowess in fields from timekeeping to coffee making, is turning its eye and resources to a bigger goal–unlocking the promise of fusion. 

Officials at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne are busy upgrading their plasma physics center to play a key role in a global effort to turn the fusing of hydrogen atoms into a usable, abundant energy source. Their efforts are expected to contribute to the success of the multibillion-dollar ITER megaproject, whose goal is to create a fusion reactor that produces 500 megawatts of electricity from 50 megawatts of input power.

Scientists have been working on nuclear fusion for decades because huge amounts of energy can be produced from small quantities of common ingredients. In fact, the energy content that can be extracted from two bottles of water and a lithium coin battery is equal to that released by burning around five barrels of oil. And, unlike the fission process, fusion produces no radioactive waste that must be carefully contained for centuries. 

The top image shows the inside of the Swiss fusion reactor, a complex machine called a tokamak. Learn more and see an infographic on how fusion works below.

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Creating a better biofuel from poop

When it comes to liquid fuels, the market is dominated by gasoline, diesel and jet fuel—all compounds derived from crude oil. These fuels are highly energy dense, cheap and (for now) abundant.

But for years, scientists have been working toward a secure and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.

Ethanol, one of the earliest biofuel that’s largely derived from corn, hasn’t been able to compete with liquid fossil fuels. It isn’t particularly energy-dense and you need special modifications on your car to use ethanol or similar biofuels.

But researchers at UCLA are working on the next generation of advanced biofuels like Isobutanol.

“We try to produce branched-chain alcohols, that are a little larger, more energy dense and burn more like real gasoline,” explains UCLA researcher David Wernick.

Unlike ethanol, these biofuels are compatible with current fuel infrastructure, which means that you could use them with your current car.

By engineering bacteria (Bacillus subtilis), Wernick and his UCLA cohorts have enabled these tiny organisms to break down manure and other protein-rich waste like wastewater algae and byproducts from fermenting wine and beer.  

Once the protein is broken down, the bacteria convert it into biofuel and ammonia, which can be used for fertilizer. The next step is scaling up the process and improving the amount of biofuel produced.

Learn more about the lab and their process of transforming poop and protein waste into fuel:


POWER TO THE PEOPLE: A solar revolution is transforming lives in the developing world. Clean-energy lights are transforming lives-and creating entrepreneurs - in Africa and India. (full story National Geographic November 2015)

by award-winning photographer Rubén Salgado Escudero: “Solar-powered light was the only source of illumination I used in all of the portraits for this project. I wanted to work with the same type of light that is improving my subject’s quality of life so substantially.”

  • “Ibrahim Kalungi and Godfrey Mteza both 20, worked at night in their motorcycle repair shop in Nbeeda, Uganda. The mechanics credit solar lights with enabling them to work longer hours and earn more money.”
  • “A worker at a logging camp in Myanmar’s Bago region, where elephants have been used by loggers for centuries, sits atop his 11-year-old animals. Laborers in these camps have no electricity, so they use solar lanterns before sunrise.”
  • “At a  brick kiln in India’s rural state of Uttar Pradesh, workers use solar lanterns to illuminate their paths. The developing world struggles to provide power to its people. Worldwide, about 1.1 billion people have no access to electricity.”
  • “In India’s state of Odisha villagers trap fish using cone-shaped baskets and solar light. Fewer that half of Odisha’s 42 million residents use grid electricity.” -
  • “Electricity is a rare luxury in Ugunda. Denis Okiror, 30 began using solar lights at his barbershop in Kayunga two years ago. He says most of his customers prefer to visit him in the evening. – Michael Edison Hayden

Things that aren’t going to save the environment:
-reusable water bottles, hybrid cars, ethanol/biodiesel fuel, commercially produced “natural”/“organic” food, and other supposedly “green” consumer products
-“population control” that targets developing nations that are barely contributing to global pollution
- pretending that “clean coal” is a thing

Things that will save the environment:
- large scale green energy projects using clean technologies such as solar, hydroelectric, wind, and nuclear power that substantially reduce the use of fossil fuels
- reduction of overall global energy usage such as long term sustainable manufacturing and agricultural practices, localised production of goods and energy that reduce the need for freight transportation
-the end of first-world consumerism and global industrial capitalism
-full communism now
How Standing Rock Protesters Are Surviving Winter
ABC News photographed Red Cloud’s visit in December to the Standing Rock Reservation where he installed solar air furnaces to help keep protesters warm.
By ABC News

So like, how cool is it that Red Cloud has not only installed solar energy to keep the camps warm and running, but has also TAUGHT them how to install this infrastructure?

All in the face of people who have explicitly shat on Green Energy saying that it was impossible to power, or even survive off such alternatives?

Standing Rock is showing the world that survival and production is still possible with alternate energy resources.

At its core, America and other countries issue is not that Green energy doesn’t work, its that our economy is so stepped is fossil fuels, oil and the like. They have built this complex system that would take money from the fat cats if broken, that would force the corporate gears to dismantle. 

Also, at the end of the day, it would take WORK. And these individuals who refute changes that work to protect our environment, are the laziest of us all.

Props to RedCloud and Standing Rock for setting the example.

Turning Poop into Fuel

UCLA alum David Wernick is essentially trying to solve two problems at once. One is that he’s trying to find a renewable alternative to fossil fuels. The second problem is the 1 billion tons of manure that the U.S. produces each year alone.

That mountain of excrement not only poses a disposal problem, it also creates a potent source of methane emissions and nitrous oxides — greenhouse gases that are more potent than CO2.

But to Wernick and his colleagues at UCLA, it’s not just a big pile of poop: it’s a really big – and renewable – source of biofuel. What’s the big deal about poop? It’s the protein.

Typically, bacteria look for protein in the environment and then use that to grow.

But Wernick engineers the metabolism of bacteria (Bacillus subtilis) so that instead of just growing on the protein, it takes a portion of it and uses it to produce biofuels.

Poop in; fuel out.

Manure isn’t the only material that can be used in this process. Protein-rich byproducts like wastewater algae and fermentation leftovers from wine and beer production could also work.

Learn more about how they’re turning poop into fuel in the video below:


Scientists in India and Germany have unveiled a material that generates tiny amounts of electricity from mechanical stresses like a person’s touch or step. The idea is to create a biodegradable energy source that can pump electricity into a storage supercapacitor to power electronics, replace batteries and safely break down without polluting the environment. 

Their material, described in the journal Applied Materials & Interfaces, is a biodegradable plastic polymer called polyvinylidene difluoride sandwiched between conducting carbon electrodes. Interestingly, they mixed DNA with the plastic because the genetic material is biodegradable while having properties that help harvest electricity. In fact, DNA is known for its ability to accumulate electric charge when mechanical stress is applied to the molecule, a property called piezoelectricity.

In lab tests, a researcher pressing on a small piece of the prototype material generated enough electricity to light 55 blue LEDs. Putting the material on a shoe and then juggling a soccer ball, they recorded small bursts of electricity with every hit.

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The Department of Defense is the biggest investor in alternate forms of energy because right now a majority of military bases, especially in the middle east, run on fuel-hungry diesel generators. The demand for diesel and other fuels is so high that about 80% of all military convoys are for oil alone. With the risk of attack on these convoys so high they must always have an armed escort, which drives the cost per gallon upwards of 8 dollars. Plus you have the fact that men and women are putting their lives on the line again and again for a truckload of diesel.

Looking at these factors, it is great to see the Department of Defense and the Pentagon investing in technology that is not only objectively better for the environment, but also better for the safety of our troops and cheaper for our military to maintain. Effectively, a very good cartoon.

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Solar power is causing homes to grow from the minds of college students, and the competition is heating up for this year’s Solar Decathlon.

The U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored event, which happens every two years, challenges teams to design, build and operate homes whose sole power source is the sun. The buildings must be cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive to stand a chanceof winning, organizers say. This year’s competition will culminate in a 10-day event to be held in October at a park in Irvine, Calif., where the structures will be built and judged.

Winning teams will need to do more than merely erect a structure. The home must provide comfortable conditions for occupants while generating its own power to supply adequate hot water and electricity to run household appliances. 

Seventeen teams are competing in the 2015 decathlon, like the University of Buffalo crew that created the computer-generated walkthrough of their GRoW (Garden, Relax, or Work) House above. “GRoW House will take a radical stand on the concept of sustainable urban living in Buffalo, New York, where farming and gardening have become a widespread movement that is re-energizing neighborhoods,” they write in their entry. “The residents of GRoW House will resist energy-intensive food production and instead grow the fresh, healthy produce they consume.”

See more examples, from the University of Florida, the Technical University of Munich, Stephens Tech, and more below.

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Uganda produces Africa’s first solar-powered bus

Kiira Motors of Uganda has launched Africa’s first solar-powered bus. Known as the “Kayoola”, the 35 seater bus can travel up to 50 miles straight and is powered by two batteries. One is connected to solar panels on the roof, while the other is charged electrically for longer distances and journeys at night.

Paul Isaac Musasizi, Kiira Motors’ CEO says it takes just one hour to fully charge each battery, making the vehicle suitable for “all sorts of duties in the cities”, such as school buses or longer-haul journeys across borders.

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Will a Marine Plastic Harvester Shrink the World’s Giant Floating Garbage Patches?

These gifs show the latest concept from a project called The Ocean Cleanup to retrieve some of the millions of tons of plastic waste choking the world’s oceans. 

The idea is to deploy long floating barriers at mid-ocean gyres that naturally collect garbage shed by land and ships. The booms would be set up so that the motion of ocean currents would do the work to corral plastics in concentrated areas, where a solar-powered collection platform would extract the waste for recycling.

The group, which is led by 20-year-old founder Boyan Slat and includes volunteer oceanography and engineering specialists, estimates it will cost a little less than $5 per kilogram to remove the garbage. They have already completed a proof-of-concept project demonstrating their design and conducted a feasibility study, in which they estimate that each garbage patch that has developed in the world’s five major gyres could be reduced by half within 10 years. The people behind The Ocean Cleanup hope to launch a coastal pilot study sometime in 2016 and to start full-scale operations in late 2019. Learn more and see a video below.

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Solar Impulse completes historic round-the-world trip
Solar Impulse is no heavier than a car, but has the wingspan of a Boeing 747. It is powered by 17,000 solar cells.

The Solar Impulse has become the first aircraft to circle the globe powered by the sun, after landing in Abu Dhabi on the last leg of its journey.

Bertrand Piccard piloted the plane for a final time, steering it safely from the Egyptian capital Cairo to the UAE.

He has been taking turns at the controls with Swiss compatriot Andre Borschberg.

It brings to an end an epic, 17-leg voyage that began in Abu Dhabi on 9 March last year.

The journey took in four continents, three seas and two oceans.

The longest leg, a 8,924km (5,545-mile) flight from Nagoya in Japan to Hawaii, US, lasted nearly 118 hours and saw Mr Borschberg break the world record for longest uninterrupted solo flight.

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