A nano-sized electric motor

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: September 5, 2011   View Article

Scientists have downsized the electric motor to the molecular level. That is, they’ve created an electrical motor that’s the size of a nanometer. About 60,000 of them equal the width of a human hair.

The molecular motor is a breakthrough that could lead to new types of electrical circuitry, according to Charles Sykes, an associate professor of chemistry at Tufts University in Massachusetts.

Strong, light blades a boost for wind energy?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: August, 30, 2011   View Article

Bigger is better … when it’s also lighter and stronger, goes the thinking of engineers and materials scientists designing the next generation of blades to wring energy from the wind.

Bigger blades can get more energy from the wind, but this advantage is lost if the blade is also heavier, since more wind is needed to turn the rotor. In addition, the more the blade flexes in the wind, the more potential energy is lost.

Shoes redefine ‘power walking’

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: August 24, 2011   View Article

Going on a power walk could soon do more than blow off steam; it could recharge your cell phone and other portable electronics, according to engineers working on a new way to harvest the mechanical energy in the human gait.

The concept is called reverse electrowetting. It uses a micro-fluidic device consisting of thousands of micro-droplets that move past a novel nanotechnology-based thin film. This motion of the droplets is converted into an electrical current.

“The normal way of using the harvester would be couple it with a tiny, rechargeable battery not unlike the ones which we have in cell phones,” Tom Krupenkin, an engineering researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, explained to me on Tuesday.

An electric plane you can (almost) buy

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: July 29, 2011   View Article

A single-passenger electric airplane that you can (almost) buy is waiting for its day in the sun at an air show in Wisconsin where it hopes to showcase the future of zero-emissions aviation.

Torrential rains at the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh earlier this week has created a backlog of flights, delaying a demonstration of the Elektra One, officials said.

Graphene-coated sensors to strike oil?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: July 20, 2011   View Article

Tiny sensors coated with the wonder-material graphene and powered by flowing water could expedite the discovery of oil and natural gas reserves, according to university researchers supported by the energy industry.

The idea is to plop the sensors into the water injected down exploration wells where they can then move sideways through cracks and crevices in the Earth in search of hydrocarbons. The electricity generated by the flow of water would allow the sensors to relay their findings to the surface.

Six easy ways to get your garage ready for a plug-in car

Publication: MSN / SwitchYard Media   Date: July 16, 2011   View Article

So you want an electric vehicle? Cool. You are at the leading edge of a trend that has the potential to revolutionize transportation.

Before you change the world, though, you might need to make a few changes around the house. After all, your garage is about to become a filling station.

Here are six ways to get your garage ready for your electric car.

Is the smart grid too smart for us?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: June 21, 2011   View Article

The Obama administration unveiled a string of new initiatives last week that will pump political muscle and federal dollars into the development of the smart grid. Did you miss the news? You’re not alone. Most of us don’t really know what the smart grid is or care that much about it.

This lack of knowledge about and interest in the smart grid is the biggest impediment to its implementation, the energy consulting firm Black and Veatch found in its annual survey on the electric utility industry.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach