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Algae Biofuel Hits a Speedbump

Synthetically grown (all-natural) algae biofuel has recently been pegged as the most promising replacement for traditional fuels.  The potential to grow it in a factory setting and the much lower carbon footprint make it a potential miracle fuel source. Until researchers found one pretty big snag.  Growing the algae biofuel in the manner most thought to be scalable, (large, clear cylinders) has been found to have a carbon footprint 3.7x that of petro-diesel, the fuel it was intended to replace. The study also found that when grown in ponds instead of turbo-sized test-tubes, the carbon footprint of algae biofuel drops to 4.5 x lower than petro-diesel.  However, this method consumes more water.  Not an issue in regions with an abundance. …

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Solar Powered Plane Proves It Works

“Solar Impulse”, a completely solar-powered airplane took off just before 5 am GMT, Wednesday from an airfield in Payerne, near Geneva.  The plane set off to prove it could stay aloft for 24 hours, it flew 26. Piloted by Andre Borschberg, the flight plan included altitudes between 5,000 and 28,000 feet with a dawn landing.  The wingspan on this breakthrough innovation is 63 meters – rivaling the Airbus A340 and boats an array of solar cells numbering 12,000. So why such a venture? The founder of the project, Bertrand Piccard, says the goal is to create a plane that can fly day and night on purely solar energy.  Does the name sound familiar?  Piccard piloted the first balloon to circumnavigate …

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Snap Away With A Solar Powered Camera Strap

You can snap photos all day with a new camera strap powered by the sun.  As Inhabitat puts it, photography is the art of light, so what better way to enter the artistic environment than by powering your art with the sun. Wired’s Gadget Lab tested the device and came up with one piece of critical feedback.  The strap’s cables connect directly to the batter port, meaning you cannot have a battery in place as a backup.  This isn’t a challenge when in the sun.  However, when those clouds roll out, it’s time to switch to a more reliable power source. As film has become virtually obsolete with the digital revolution, so soon, will batteries perhaps.

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EV Infrastructure Moves Forward

Think back to the ’90s when Electric Vehicles first became a reality for the average consumer. (Yes, I mean the 90’s that happened 20 years ago, EV’s were alive and well then). One of the chief concerns for both consumers and change-makers was that of range.  EV manufacturers are now toying with different solutions to the same problem: people don’t want to be limited by battery life or lack of charging stations. A small startup is hoping to be one component of the answer.  They are testing a battery swapping station that will allow, in this stage of development, three taxi cabs to drive in and roll along a conveyor belt as if in a car wash.  In less than …

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BP to Purchase Costner’s Device

We reported not long ago that Kevin Costner had invested $20 million of his personal fortune in a centrifugal device that separates oil from water. BP has announced that it will purchase 32 of these centrifuge pumps to aid in the cleanup effort. These machines can reportedly filter up to 210,000 gallons of water per day, outputting 99% pure water and reclaiming oil. Costner has been touting the need for such a machine since he purchased the rights to it nearly 15 years ago.  He recently testified in front of Congress and just today held a press conference indicating the plan for BP to utilize the machines. As oil still pours from the well, BP’s CEO Tony Hayward took a …

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FedEx Goes All Electric (sort of)

Electric cars are coming into their own with the announcement of the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf, the first two all-electric consumer market vehicles available. Although electric cars are not new (read: Who Killed the Electric Car) they are growing exponentially as the only legitimate solution for removing the top cause of greenhouse gas emmissions. FedEx announced recently that they will be converting a (very) small part of their fleet to all-electric vehicles. Specifically, four vehicles will be added to their Los Angeles fleet. In line with my previous post on not buying a hybrid, FedEx is doing a good job of utilizing their existing fleet by converting them to hybrids. FedEx is also selling the concept with an …

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99 Solar Balloons

$21 Million.  That’s how much Cool Earth Solar has raised to bring its solar balloons to market.  Using technology called concentrated solar photovoltaics, these balloons focus the sun’s energy onto PV cells.  They’re rugged too.  These balloons can withstand 100 mile-per-hour winds, and decrease costs to rival a natural gas power plant. Another bonus: this technology is scalable, allowing both small and massive installations to be rolled out with relative simplicity. As numerous states begin to implement mandatory alternative energy futures, new technologies are coming out of the gate faster than we can report on them. Read all about it here. Editors note: Read more about Cool Earth Solar from a post I wrote for CleanTechnica.com

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Trees in the sky to scrub air of CO2

It’s well known and documented that trees sequester CO2 from the air and return clean oxygen to the atmosphere.  Basic physics also tells us that warm air rises, and the chemicals emitted from factories and other polluters rise above human habitation levels and into the upper parts of the atmosphere. Scientists have taken the logical step of bringing the air scrubbing of trees to where the chemicals stay.  Plans for a skyscraper holding thousands of evergreen trees are in the works.  The trees will do what they do, while water is pumped to them from a wind-powered rig. Now, it should be noted that trees do not eliminate the CO2, rather stores it until the trees die and rot.  The …

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Transonic Combustion Increases Efficiency by 50%

Did you know only 13% of the energy in gasoline is converted to physical motion in your car?  The rest is lost in heat, drivetrain, accessories and idling.  By compressing and heating gasoline before it enters the chamber, Transonic Combustion has increased the efficiency of the internal combustion engine by 50%. Similar to diesel engines, there are no spark plugs to slop-up the process, relying on basic physics.  Alas, the production facility for this new technology won’t be built until 2013.  Rest assured the technology will move by leaps and bounds by then, and probably improve in efficiency, reliability and cost. Besides completely revamping a 100 year old technology, the new systems look super-cool.  Read more about it.

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Solar Panel Kits That Anyone Can Afford

By Kriss Bergethon New innovations in the solar power industry are making solar more affordable than ever. Now nearly anyone can afford a small startup kit that will allow homeowners and business owners to start producing renewable energy and add more panels as their budget allows in the future. Out With The Old Just a couple years ago the minimum solar power kit you could find was about $8000. This was primarily because of the inverter, which changes the DC power from the panels to AC power for your home. The smallest grid-tie inverter that you could buy was about 1500W, and cost about $2000. Because of this, it only made sense to maximize the capacity of the inverter with …

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