Diatoms and Solar Nanotechnology

Article HERE

Microscopic algae called diatoms could help triple the electrical output of experimental, dye-sensitized solar cells, according to researchers at Oregon State University and Portland State University.

I won’t bother to summerize…

diatoms3a

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Blight the lighting shades

Today was the annual Green Gadgets Design competition.  I think it’s fantastic that people are excited about being innovative for a positive purpose.  Many of these products will contribute to a better world and others will simply waste time and money.  We should be skeptical of these new inventions because while they all have good motives, some may do more harm than good.

Blight.  I’m not behind the idea. 

Taking the sunlight that shines on high tech venetian blinds and turning the shades into lamps at night seems like a great idea until we consider the cost of producing these complicated machines.  Motors, circuitry, mini solar panels, paper thin lights are just a few of the things that go into the design.

I can also tell you based on long experience selling and owning Venetian blinds that they break easily, particularly when rolled up and down every day (yes even the high quality blinds).

These would do well marketed to the wealthy chic as an interesting lamp and conversation piece.  I don’t think it should be widely implemented because the construction would be a waste of resources for incomparable gain.

Imprimer

Space Based Solar Power and Microwave transmission

A company called Space Energy Inc. has plans to collect solar enery in space and beam it back down to earth via microwave radiation.  They are currently trying to secure more funding for a prototype to prove the concept works.

In theory this is something that can be done.  We know the physics of the sun’s radiation and have been able to convert and transmit the energy from the radiation for some time.  You may have seen that I am a huge proponent of Space based Solar and Orbiting Solar Arrays.

We should understand, however, that this is a very long term goal.  Space energy inc does say that this energy supply will only become cost effective as the world’s fossil fuels run out and the prices go up. As such it may be difficult to raise the appropriate amount of investment because people generally want to see a return in their lifetime.  It may be up to far thinking governments to shoulder the development costs.

The basic technology has been around since the sixties but it will take some serious commitment to make this a valuable alternative energy.

sbsp

Space Energy Inc.

CO2 + H2O = energy

This is well written article on converting Carbon Dioxide and water into energy using nanotubes.  The potential of nanotechnology often seems to good to be true and I really hope the promise pans out.

 

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16621-sunpowered-device-converts-co2-into-fuel.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=environment

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nl803258p

Nano Solar and nanoimprint lithography molds

nanosolar20powersheet

Nanotechnology is great despite what you may have read in the Michael Crichton novel “Prey”.  I suppose the only problem is that our hands are too big.

There has been a new breakthrough in the manufacturing of nano particles and by breakthrough I mean research by college students.  Metallic glass can be used to create a mold that is very durable and suited to casting nano size particles.

The most immediate application for this technology (aside from a space elevator)  would be their use in making nano solar panels.  These nanosolar panels are already being mass produced worldwide but are obviously limited by the time is takes to create atom sized machines.

This is a good segue into why certain kinds of patents are bad.  The worst kind, I just have to mention, is the patenting of Genes and the reasons are endless and I would have thought obvious.  The more relevant kinds of bad patents are the ones that stifle the use of innovative new technologies.  Lets say that this nanoimprint technology discovered by Yale is licensed to an established solar power company.  This seems fine except they didn’t license the technology to use it, they just don’t want to compete with it.

Call it a pre-emptive strike on progress. The new technology will sit on the shelf so the old technology can continue turning a profit.

Oddly enough the same thing often happens in Hollywood.  A major studio will often buy scripts that are similar to something they are producing so as to avoid competition at the box office.

nanoparticles

References:

http://www.technologyreview.com/business/22167/?a=f

http://www.nanosolar.com/index.html

Why we need a Space Elevator

It can be done, we have the technology.

and if that’s not reason enough…

The launching of a Satellite will be a simple and relatively inexpensive proposition. No more Giant expenditures of rocket fuel so comcast can have more premium channels.

Space exploration will be come much less expensive and maybe we can reduce NASA’s budget as well. As interesting as space exploration is, I really don’t see any practical benefits to it, at least not until someone figures out how to travel faster than the speed of light.

The largest benefits is that Orbiting Solar Arrays could be put into place inexpensively.  These are basically solar panels in space, satellites and the space station are power by the same technologies.  The difference in terms of producing power for earth is that the amount of energy is increased enormously because there is no atmosphere to block the radiation, as well as the fact that they get sun twenty four hours a day.

The elevator would be made of carbon nanotubes and would operate on the principles of centripetal force.

nasasolararray1

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