Solar

‘Artificial leaf’ makes real fuel

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

It doesn’t look like the leaves changing colors and piling up on the lawn, but a nature-inspired “artificial leaf” technology has taken a notable step toward the goal of producing storable and clean energy to power everything from factories to tablet computers.

The leaf is a silicon solar cell coated with catalytic materials on its side that, when placed in a container of water and exposed to sunlight, splits the H2O into bubbles of oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen can be stored and used as an energy source, for example to power a fuel cell.

Materials wizard wins $500,000 prize

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: June 14, 2011   View Article

The man behind a stretchy heart monitor, an electronic eye camera, and a solar energy technology that is potentially price-competitive with coal has bagged a $500,000 prize for his creative, inventive mind.

John Rogers credits a fortunate upbringing by a physicist dad and poet mom, as well as a team of talented colleagues, for making him one of the most successful midcareer scientists in the country and recipient of this year’s Lemelson-MIT Prize.

Software can point to climate tech

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: May 19, 2011   View Article

A team of U.S. researchers has developed a model to identify technologies that are on the fast track to constant improvement. When applied to energy, it could help investors and policymakers sort out which ones will help us avoid catastrophic climate change.

“That is certainly an inspiration for this kind of work,” Jessika Trancik, an assistant professor of engineering systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told me on Wednesday.

International climate negotiators have set a goal of limiting climate warming to 2 degrees Celsius, which will require keeping a lid on concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to between 450 and 550 parts per million.

“If you look at the international goals that have been set limiting greenhouse gas emissions, you can see that we really need to move quickly,” Trancik said.

Solar hot water with a jolt

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: May 4. 2011   View Article

With the aid of nanotech materials, scientists have engineered a new way to convert the sun’s heat into electricity that is roughly eight times more efficient than previously reported solar thermoelectric devices.

What’s more, the device could be added to existing solar water heaters, giving people a jolt of electricity to power their gadgets along with warm bath water, noted Gang Chen, an engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“We just changed the existing system a little bit,” he told me today. “Then we generate electricity and supply hot water.”

Eight hurdles on the track to a green energy future

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: September 21, 2010   View Article

The green energy future envisions a technological road that leads to an infinite supply of power, independence from potentially hostile nations and an atmosphere cleared of the excess heat-trapping gases that are blamed for warming the planet. The track to this future, however, is full of technological and policy hurdles. Learn how eight of the biggest hurdles might be cleared.

Ten hot green-energy trends to watch

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: September 14, 2010   View Article

From the rollout of sexy new electric vehicles to technologies that convert turkey poop to electricity, green energy is the source of constant hype and buzz. What do green-energy experts have on their radar screen?

To find out, we checked in with Dan Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley; and Ron Pernick, co-founder and managing director of Clean Edge, a research firm with offices in Oregon and California.

7 ways to generate and save energy at home

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: November 17, 2009   View Article

Prepare for battle if you’re ready to pull away from the electricity grid and generate at least some of your energy at home.

“The first thing you do is make war on consumption,” said Richard Perez, the publisher of Home Power Magazine, which guides people through the transition to a life built around renewable energy. “In other words, analyze where you are using electricity and see where you can make it more efficient.”

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach