A camera has successfully been powered using spare Wi-Fi signals

Researchers in the US have tweaked a regular Wi-Fi router and made it capable of continuously powering a battery-free surveillance camera. Even better, their work didn’t interfere with the router’s data transfer speeds.

The breakthrough could help researchers overcome one of the main challenges when it comes to the development of new technology – including the Internet of Things, which aims to put a chip inside all our household appliances and bring them online: how do we keep everything powered up without lots of cords?

Researchers have long known that the electromagnetic waves broadcast by Wi-Fi routers could be harnessed for energy as well as sending information, but the challenge was finding a way to do this reliably and continuously. A team from the University of Washington in the US has now accomplished this by simply changing the way a router broadcasts. They’re calling their new approach ‘power over Wi-Fi’ or PoWi-Fi.

“The ability to deliver power wirelessly to a wide range of autonomous devices and sensors is hugely significant,” writes MIT’s Technology Review. “PoWi-Fi could be the enabling technology that finally brings the Internet of Things to life.”

In the past, scientists have never been able to harness enough Wi-Fi signals to power anything of much use. But the team’s big break came when they attached a simple antenna to a temperature sensor in order to see how much power they could get from a nearby router.

They found that the resulting voltages produced by the Wi-Fi signals were never high enough to cross the operating threshold of around 300 millivolts. But they often came close.

The problem, they realised, was that Wi-Fi routers don’t continuously blast out electromagnetic waves, they send them out on a single channel in bursts. But by programming a router to broadcast noise across a range of Wi-Fi channels even when it wasn’t transmitting information, they were able to pump out enough signals that their antenna could then use to provide continuous power to electronic devices.

Using their prototype, the team managed to show for the first time that they could not only run battery-free temperature and camera sensors using Wi-Fi signals from a distance of six and five metres respectively, they also proved that they could charge a range of coin-cell batteries at distances of up to nine metres.

They then took their system into six metropolitan homes to show that the set-up worked in real life, and didn’t interfere with data transfer speeds. The results are published over at arXiv.org.

The question that needs to be answered now is how these routers interfere with other signals in the area. “Having a router next door that is blasting out signals on three Wi-Fi channels might not be everybody’s idea of neighbourly behaviour,” writes MIT’s Technology Review. “It is worth pointing out, however, that if this kind of interference turns out to be a problem for current routers, it is one that could be solved in future generations.”

The next step is further testing on these routers under a range of different conditions to make sure they really can help to provide us with regular power for our devices while we browse the Internet. And if that’s the case, then it could seriously change the way we power up our homes. We can’t wait.

Source: A camera has successfully been powered using spare Wi-Fi signals – ScienceAlert

Glass window that can produce electricity

Solar cells on a Photovoltaic panel at the Nat...

New Energy researchers have developed a working prototype in the development of new methods and technologies for applying New Energy’s electricity-generating the world’s first glass window that can produce electricity.

A glass window was generated  using the world’s smallest working organic solar cells.

In contrast to the conventional solar systems, the solar cells developed by New Energy Technologies can produce power from both natural and artificial sources of light. These solar cells show a 10 times better performance than the solar and thin-film technologies used today.

Spray-on Liquid Glass that Can Cover Any Surface

The main ingredient used in the liquid glass is silicon dioxide that is obtained from quartz sand.  Water or Ethanol can be added according to the type of surface that needs to be covered.  The spray produces a coating that is just 100nm thick. This coating can be easily cleaned using water or a damp cloth.

It is flexible and breathable. The invention was tested in plants, scientists found that the plants could resist the fungal diseases much more, and the seeds grew faster.

The liquid glass can protect any type of surface from damages caused by water, UV radiation, dirt, heat, and bacterial infections.  The invention could be also used on clothing, because it cannot be seen by the naked eye, thus clothes could become stain resistant. Due to its unique properties, the liquid glass can be used to cover bathrooms, tiles, sinks and many other surfaces in the home. According to the researchers, the spay-on glass can last for a year.

Source: SolarWindow – glass window that can generate electricity

Solar And Wind Power Generators

Everyday, Solar energy and Wind Energy become more necessary to keep our environment clean, so researches all around the world are being done all around the clock.

Some inventions had been already established, other are still just researches.

We already have three generations of solar cells
The first generation solar cells were large, silicon-based are common used in the market. The second generation cells are cheaper than the first generation but have lower efficiencies. The third generation solar cells contains a wide range of potential solar innovations including polymer solar cells, nanocrystalline cells, and dye-sensitized solar cells.

Solar  Power Generators

Solar power is the conversion of solar energy into a useful form of energy.

The solar thermal power industry is growing rapidly. There are several Solar Stations in the world especially  in USA, Spain. In developing countries, Egypt, Mexico, and Morocco, the World Bank projects for integrated solar thermal/combined-cycle gas-turbine power plants in have been approved.


Wind Power Generators

Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy.

Such as using wind turbines to make electricity, wind mills for mechanical power, wind pumps for pumping water or drainage, or sails to propel ships.
Several countries have achieved relatively high levels of wind power penetration such Denmark, Portugal, Spain,  Republic of Ireland, Germany and other 80 countries around the world are using wind power on a commercial basis.

There are two kinds of wind power farms onshore and offshore. The onshore wind farms take advantage of the strong winds flying over the ocean, so the offshore are more effective than land wind farms.

The previous inventions are already used but the following inventions are under construction.

Flodesign’s “jet engine”-shaped wind turbine

It is three to four times more efficient than the usual turbines. Flodesign’s wind turbine design is made more simple and small. Its blades can handle high wind velocities, and the density of the wind farm can be much higher. You only need one truck to carry all of its components to the building site.

Futuristic Tornado Tower Uses Wind Power
A Tornado Tower is one of the inventions that are bringing green tech to a whole new level with its rotating facade that produces power from high-altitude winds.

The following projects are still researches that are waiting to go.

Wind lens that triples the power of wind turbines
A group of researchers led by Kyushu University professor Yuji Ohya has recently unveiled its latest invention called Wind Lens, a structure that resembles a honeycomb. The structure is meant to increase the amount of wind energy generated by offshore turbines.

Spherical Generator that produces  solar and wind power
Arttu-Matti Immonen is an industrial designer who came up with the idea of combining wind and solar energy in one device, thus considerably increasing energy output. He managed to design a generator called Aard.

The use of the power of water energy

Water power has been first used by inventing waterwheels that had been used to power flour mills, it worked best on larger rivers and did not work well in the faster moving and less voluminous mountain creeks and waterfalls, while water turbines used wheels with cups rather than flat panels solved this problem. Nowadays scientists made a big jump trying to benefit from the water power to generate energy.

Tidal Power
When tides comes into the shore, they can be trapped in reservoirs behind dams. Then when the tide drops, the water behind the dam can be let out just like in a regular hydroelectric power plant.
In order for this to work well, you need large increases in tides. An increase of at least 16 feet (4.8768 meter)  between low tide to high tide is needed. There are only a few places where this tide change occurs around the earth.
Wave Energy
Can be used in different types, the first type is by using the kinetic energy that exists in the moving waves of the ocean, the wave rises into a chamber. The rising water forces the air out of the chamber. The moving air spins a turbine which can turn a generator. When the wave goes down, air flows through the turbine and back into the chamber through doors that are normally closed. The second type uses the up and down motion of the wave to power a piston that moves up and down inside a cylinder. That piston can also turn a generator.

Ocean Thermal Energy Use 

s temperature differences in the ocean as it gets colder in the deep than the surface.

Power plants can be built that use this difference in temperature to make energy. A difference of at least 38 degrees Fahrenheit (3.333 Celsius) is needed between the warmer surface water and the colder deep ocean water. This type of energy source is called Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion or OTEC.

BioWave, BioStream and BioBase
BioWave and BioStream are  two technologies to generate renewable energy by tapping the motion of currents within the sea. A third technology, called BioBase, serves as a mooring system, for bioWave and bioStream.
Plant-shaped blades imitate the motion of ocean sea plants in order to absorb maximum power from sea currents. The blades lie flat on the sea bed during extreme currents. While the bioStream system has a rotating arm and flexible fin attached to a fixed pole. Passing currents drive the arm and fin and, an electrical generator.
Hydroelectricity comes by using potential energy of flowing water. At waterfalls and dams gravity pulls water downstream, where it turns the blades of a large hydroelectric turbine which turns the generator rotor, and that creates electricity. Another  smaller hydroelectric plants use straight river flow and do not involve dams. Other models that are micro-generators use ordinary streams to generate power.

Robots That Reduce Solar Panels Cost

The labor money for installing the solar panels is very expensive which affect the cost of solar power, using a robot for installing the solar panels will surely lessen the cost, plus other benefits that the robot can work day and night and in any weather. PV Kraftwerker and Gehrlicher is a German company that is producing robots that can install the solar panels.

The main idea is to save money on labor, which accounts for a growing fraction of the cost of solar power as panels get cheaper. According to PV Kraftwerker, a construction firm specializing in solar parks, installations that used to require 35 workers can now be done with just three workers in an eighth the time.

For a 14-megawatt solar plant, the company estimates, it might cost about $2 million to install the panels manually. Using the robot could cut that cost by nearly half. The company says that the robot, which lists for $900,000, could pay for itself in less than a year of steady use.

Robotic help could be a plus given Germany’s ambitious plans to get a third of its electricity from renewable sources within eight years and 80 percent by 2050 (see “The Great German Energy Experiment”). Germany led the world in solar installations in 2011, putting up panels capable of generating around 7.5 gigawatts and covering an estimated 50 square kilometers of ground and rooftops.

PV Kraftwerker built its robot from off-the-shelf Japanese components. The machinery consists of a robotic arm mounted on an all-terrain vehicle with tanklike tracks. Suction cups grip the glass face of the solar panels and the arm swings them into place, guided by cameras that give the robot a three-dimensional view of the scene.

The robot’s limitations give a glimpse of how hard it’s going to be to completely automate the installation process. Much solar power in Germany is generated by rooftop arrays, but the shape and orientation of roofs is too varied for robots to handle. Even for small solar farms and those using ordinary-size panels, human workers are both faster and cheaper than the robot, says Markus Gattenlöhner, head of marketing at PV Kraftwerker.

Solar Impulse HB-SIA Finished Its Solar Powered Trip

Solar Impulse HB-SIA, the first solar powered aircraft have finished the first trip successfully starting from Europe to Africa then back to Europe. The story of Solar Impulse started back to 2009 when the Swiss long-range solar powered aircraft was ready to be tried, it was first tried in Switzerland, and then on May 2012 the trip to Africa started.

As anticipated, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA experimental solar-powered aircraft completed the first ever solar-powered intercontinental roundtrip journey between Europe and Africa today. The roughly 6,000 km (3,728 mile) trip commenced on May 24 and consisted of a total of eight legs averaging 800 km (497 miles) before reaching its conclusion with a landing back where it all began in Payerne, Switzerland at 8:30 pm on July 24, local time.
The final leg of the journey was piloted by Bertrand Piccard, who shared duties in the single-seater cockpit with André Borschberg over the course of the journey. Originally built to prove that an aircraft powered only by the sun’s rays could be flown at night, which it proved in 2010, the HB-SIA prototype aircraft has continued to rack up a number of solar aircraft distance records.
Over the course of its latest record-breaking journey, the aircraft visited Madrid, Rabat, Ouarzazate, and Toulouse. Although its 400 kg (882 lb) of lithium batteries give it the ability to fly through the night, it often landed after midnight to avoid thermals. However, the Solar Impulse team says the aircraft was almost always brought back to the hangar with the batteries almost fully charged.

News About Solar Power Systems

The largest solar power plant is appearing now in Las Vegas. It spread over 3600 acres, and it will generate370 megawatts of electricity on the sunny days. The big project will be built Oakland, California-based Brightsource.

The project has been a long time coming. Brightsource first filed an application for the project in the summer of 2007. Approval took three years. Construction was temporarily slowed to accommodate the care and relocation of desert tortoises—a threatened species—found in larger numbers than expected. The project, which will generate electricity by using mirrors to concentrate sunlight to heat up water and drive steam turbines, is now expected to be finished next year.
Even as the project nears completion, the future of solar thermal power plants is in doubt. That’s in large part because prices for solar panels—which convert sunlight to electricity directly—have dropped quickly in the last few years, causing at least one company to abandon plans to build solar thermal plants in favor of making ones that use solar panels.
Yet solar thermal has at least one great strength compared to many other types of solar power: the heat it produces is easy to store, so electricity can be generated even after the sun goes down, and power can be dispatched to the grid whenever it’s most needed.

While there is another technology in the compose of the solar cell, as Northwestern University researchers, have produced a stable dye-sensitized solar cell that is cheaper than silicon-based cells.

The new cell design is a variation on the Grätzel cell(named after the Swiss chemist Michel Grätzel), a type of dye-sensitized solar cell that replaces silicon with the semiconductor titanium oxide, which is more abundant, cheaper and less toxic, further improving solar energy’s green credentials. However, there is a problem with the Grätzel design: its electrolyte is made of an organic liquid that leaks, threatening to corrode the cell. Northwestern University researchers have solved the problem by using a new material that solidifies, thus avoiding leaks and making the solid-state cell more stable. The material is a thin-film compound called CsSnI3, a combination of cesium, tin and iodine.
It is added in liquid form to dye-coated nanoparticles and then it turns into a solid mass.
At 10.2 percent, the conversion rate leaves something to be desired when compared to silicon cells that can achieve around 20 percent, but it nearly matches the performance of a Grätzel cell, which reaches around 11 or 12 percent. The technology is projected to improve, however. “This is the first demonstration of an all solid-state dye-sensitized solar cell system that promises to exceed the performance of the Grätzel cell,” researcher Robert P. H. Chang said. “Our work opens up the possibility of these materials becoming state of the art with much higher efficiencies than we’ve seen so far.” The CsSnl3 compound can absorb more light than the dye used in Grätzel cells, increasing the cell’s conversion potential.

Different Algae Biofuels

Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech researchers have reached to the genome of the marine algae sequence which will help in producing new biofuel from algae.

Researchers at Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech have assembled the draft genome of a marine algae sequence to aid scientists across the US in a project that aims to discover the best algae species for producing biodiesel fuel. The results have been published in Nature Communications.

The necessity of developing alternative, renewable fuel sources to prevent a potential energy crisis and alleviate greenhouse gas production has long been recognized. Various sources have been tried—corn for ethanol and soybeans for biodiesel, for example. But to truly meet the world’s fuel needs, researchers must come up with a way to produce as much biofuel as possible in the smallest amount of space using the least amount of resources.

Enter algae. Unlike other crops like corn or soybeans, algae can use various water sources ranging from wastewater to brackish water and be grown in small, intensive plots on denuded land. While algae may still produce some C02 when burned, it can sequester C02 during growth in a way that fossil-fuel based energy sources obviously can’t.

Scientists in VBI’s Data Analysis Core (DAC), Robert Settlage, Ph.D., and Hongseok Tae, Ph.D., assisted in the assembly of the genome of Nannochloropis gaditana, a marine algae that may be capable of producing the lipid yields necessary for a viable fuel source.

While the French scientist Pierre Calleja has been working on a street lamp that work using algae. As some kinds of algae can convert the carbon dioxide to oxygen, and also produce energy from the organic carbon.

It’s this algae that has been targeted for use in these unique prototype lamps that would scrub carbon emissions from the air, and use the energy created by photosynthesis and the carbon conversion to power the lights.

French biochemist Pierre Calleja has been developing the algae powered lamp. The lamps are tanks filled with water and algae that convert sunlight and carbon dioxide in the air during the daytime; the energy generated is stored in batteries that come with the tank. At night, the batteries power the lights creating a bright green glow.

Because the algae used in the lamp could be such a powerful tool in keeping carbon emissions in check, the lamps could also be used in areas such as underground parking garages. The algae could go to work munching on the carbon dioxide emissions and be lit artificially if needed.

Sapphire Energy Funds $144M To Turn Algae Into Gasoline

As the need for alternative sources of fuel beside the fossil fuel arises, algae fuel has started to draw attention. The Algae fuel release carbon dioxide as fossil fuel when it is burnt, but the growing of more algae will absorb the carbon dioxide unlike the fossil fuels. Sapphire Energy has announced that it has funded 144 million dollars out of 300 million aimed to turn algae into gasoline.

In recent years several startups have emerged to create fuel out of plant material, all hoping to lure people away from gasoline made from crude oil. Solazyme, Algae.tec, and Sapphire Energy all dominate the space, trying to edge not only each other, but oil companies as well.

All three companies covert algae into a petroleum replacement, one that can work with the traditional cars we already have on the road.

Creating green crude, a substance that is converted into jet fuel, automobile gasoline, and biodiesel, is a process that has been around for several years. However, Sapphire’s recent investment proves that the technology is still going strong and we could very well all be driving around on algae-based gas sometime soon. Sapphire has gained a lot of traction by signing deals with Continental Airlines and Boeing to test out algae-based jet fuel, and the company partnered with Toyota to create an algae powered Prius.

Monsanto was one of the investors in this round and the company has been using Sapphire’s technology for its own genetic modification needs. Arrowpoint Partners and other private undisclosed investors led the round as well. This $144 million third round brings the green tech company’s total to $300 million.

New Efficient Structure Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Researchers of the University of Central Florida (UCF) announced that they have reached a solution that will solve the problem of the less efficiency and the high cost of the hydrogen fuel cell. The concept is making the structure of the device on the shape of a sandwich in order to use more materials as a catalyst in the cells.

The majority of hydrogen fuel cells use catalysts made of a rare and expensive metal – platinum. There are few alternatives because most elements can’t endure the fuel cell’s highly acidic solvents present in the reaction that converts hydrogen’s chemical energy into electrical power. Only four elements can resist the corrosive process – platinum, iridium, gold and palladium. The first two are rare and expensive, which makes them impractical for large-scale use. The other two don’t do well with the chemical reaction.
UCF Professor Sergey Stolbov and postdoctoral research associate Marisol Alcántara Ortigoza focused on making gold and palladium better suited for the reaction.
They created a sandwich-like structure that layers cheaper and more abundant elements with gold and palladium and other elements to make it more effective.
The outer monoatomic layer (the top of the sandwich) is either palladium or gold. Below it is a layer that works to enhance the energy conversion rate but also acts to protect the catalyst from the acidic environment. These two layers reside on the bottom slice of the sandwich — an inexpensive substrate (tungsten), which also plays a role in the stability of the catalyst.