solar technology


ENDLESS ELECTRICITY: Here’s A Way Of Turning America’s Roads Into Gigantic Solar Panels

There are about 31,251 square miles of roads, parking lots, driveways, playgrounds, bike paths, and sidewalks in the lower 48 states. If Julie and Scott Brusaw have their way, they will all someday be replaced with solar panels.

For the better part of a decade, the Idaho couple has been working on prototyping an industrial-strength panel that could withstand the weight of even the largest trucks. They now appear to have cracked the formula, developing a specially textured glass coating for the panels that can not only bear tremendous loads but also support standard tire traction.

By their reckoning, at peak installation their panelized roads could produce more than three times the electricity consumed in the U.S.

The material could power electric vehicles through a receiver plate mounted beneath the vehicle and a transmitter plate is installed in the road.

Forty year old Mize Juma Othman installs a new photovoltaic panel on a home in Matemwe village, on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar. Othman trained for six months in India to become one of the first 13 “solar mamas” in Zanzibar, able to install, troubleshoot and repair the systems.

Zanzibar’s ‘Solar Mamas’ flip the switch on rural homes, gender roles

Photo Credit: Sam Eaton

Scientists invented fabric that makes electricity from motion and sunlight. To create the fabric, researchers at Georgia Tech wove together solar cell fibers with materials that generate power from movement. It could be used in “tents, curtains, or wearable garments,” meaning we’d virtually never be without power. Source


Scientists have unveiled the best photos of Pluto and its moons that humanity is likely to see for at least a generation. These images were taken Tuesday by NASA’s New Horizons space probe as it hurtled past Pluto at more than 30,000 miles per hour.

Since its discovery in 1930, Pluto has revealed itself to be an oddball world. It’s smaller than our own moon, and it orbits at an angle relative to the plane of the solar system. Because of its size and distance, even the Hubble Space Telescope could only make it out as a brown smudge, billions of miles away.

With New Horizons, all that has changed. Scientists can now see craters and regions of dark-reddish ground. A large, white, heart-shaped feature on the equator is made of ice, though Pluto is so cold it’s probably an ice of nitrogen or methane, rather than water. A new close-up of a small region on Pluto’s surface (top image) also reveals towering ice mountains, up to 11,000 feet high.

Strange Worlds At The Edge Of Our Solar System Finally Come Into Focus

Photo credits: NASA


Pluto and New Horizons - The First Color Images and Animations

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is currently on route to fly by Pluto in less than 2 weeks - on the 14th of July. During this pass we will finish the initial reconnaissance of our solar system. When this is accomplished our species will have sent probes to every major body in our solar system - all in less than 60 years. Thanks to science and technology, we have accomplished in a single lifetime what once would have taken centuries.

Credit: NASA/John’s Hopkins


Earth Art - Perpetual Ocean 

Only possible through the eyes of some of the world most powerful supercomputers and a team of extraordinary artists, these images shows the currents and channels of the world’s oceans.

You can view the video here >|<

Credit: NASA/GSFC Scientific Visualization Studio/Greg Shirah/Horace Mitchell/GSFC
Breakthrough solar cell captures CO2 and sunlight, produces burnable fuel
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have engineered a potentially game-changing solar cell that cheaply and efficiently converts atmospheric carbon dioxide directly into usable hydrocarbon fuel, using only sunlight for energy.

Unlike conventional solar cells, which convert sunlight into electricity that must be stored in heavy batteries, the new device essentially does the work of plants, converting atmospheric carbon dioxide into fuel, solving two crucial problems at once. A solar farm of such “artificial leaves” could remove significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and produce energy-dense fuel efficiently.

“The new solar cell is not photovoltaic – it’s photosynthetic,” says Amin Salehi-Khojin, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at UIC and senior author on the study.

“Instead of producing energy in an unsustainable one-way route from fossil fuels to greenhouse gas, we can now reverse the process and recycle atmospheric carbon into fuel using sunlight,” he said.

Every year on August 5, the Mars Curiosity rover celebrates the anniversary of its arrival by singing the Happy Birthday song. To itself. All alone. On Mars. Source Source 2

Happy Birthday to the Curiosity rover! 

I had to post this in hopes that maybe it won’t be so lonely if we’re all thinking about… it.
New material can harvest sunlight by day and release heat at night
By David Nield

As solar power becomes a bigger part of our overall energy mix, scientists are working on more efficient ways of storing the power of the Sun for use during the night-time, or on particularly cloudy days. And now a new type of material has been developed that can do just that - store solar energy when it’s in abundance, and release it as heat later on as required.

The transparent polymer film developed by a team from MIT can be applied to many surfaces, including glass and clothing. So imagine a warm jumper that goes with you from room to room, so there’s no need to fiddle with your central heating controls. Or a windshield overlay system that can burn away the ice on your car first thing in the morning, thanks to energy it had built up from the previous day.

“This work presents an exciting avenue for simultaneous energy harvesting and storage within a single material,” the University of Toronto’s Ted Sargent, who wasn’t involved in the research, told MIT News. “The approach is innovative and distinctive.”

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The Sliding House

When the house slides open it is an unusual sight to behold.  Four electric motors silently slide the 20 ton outer house shell back to reveal the inner glass and steel structure. The motors that power this sliding run on car batteries automatically recharged through solar power.

Currently the house shell slides back 28 meters (92 feet), a trip that takes about 6 minutes. In the “back” position the shell shades a patio. The London-based architectural firm that designed the house, de Rijke Marsh Morgan, allowed for the possibly of extending the track further to allow the roof shell to cover a garden or swimming pool.

Tree 2.0? The giving tree now offers USB charging, lighting, cooled water and free WIFI…  A seven-panel tree can generate up to 1.4 kilowatts, which is enough to run 35 laptops.

More info:
Chernobyl could soon find a second life as a giant solar farm
Revitalising a wasteland.
By Josh Hrala

The Ukrainian government has announced a plan to turn the area surrounding Chernobyl - the site of one of the worst nuclear meltdowns in history - into a solar energy farm, by constructing a series of solar panels inside the exclusion zone.

Not only would this plan - which is currently seeking investment - allow the country to use a giant chunk of radioactive land that’s unfit for human settlement, it would also provide a cheaper source of reusable energy that might decrease the country’s reliance on Russia.

“The Chernobyl site has really good potential for renewable energy,” Ukraine’s environment minister Ostap Semerak said in an interview in London. “We already have high-voltage transmission lines that were previously used for the nuclear stations, the land is very cheap and we have many people trained to work at power plants.”

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