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Energy Inventions Media Articles
Excerpts of Key Energy Inventions Media Articles in Major Media


Below are key excerpts of highly revealing new energy inventions articles reported in the major media. Links are provided to the full articles on major media websites. If any link fails to function, read this webpage. These new energy inventions articles are listed by article date. You can also explore the articles listed by order of importance or by date posted. By choosing to educate ourselves on these important issues and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.

Note: Explore our full index to key excerpts of revealing major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.


Petrol pricey? Japanese invent car that runs on water
2008-06-13, Reuters News
http://in.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idINSP7366720080613

Tired of petrol prices rising daily at the pump? A Japanese company has invented an electric-powered, and environmentally friendly, car that it says runs solely on water. Genepax unveiled the car in the western city of Osaka, saying that a liter (2.1 pints) of any kind of water -- rain, river or sea -- was all you needed to get the engine going for about an hour at a speed of 80 km (50 miles). "The car will continue to run as long as you have a bottle of water to top up from time to time," Genepax CEO Kiyoshi Hirasawa told local broadcaster TV Tokyo. "It does not require you to build up an infrastructure to recharge your batteries, which is usually the case for most electric cars," he added. Once the water is poured into the tank at the back of the car, the a generator breaks it down and uses it to create electrical power, TV Tokyo said. Whether the car makes it into showrooms remains to be seen. Genepax said it had just applied for a patent and is hoping to collaborate with Japanese auto manufacturers in the future. Most big automakers, meanwhile, are working on fuel-cell cars that run on hydrogen and emit -- not consume -- water.

Note: To watch a Reuters video clip on this amazing car, click here.


Taming the Gas-Hogging SUV
2008-06-09, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/GlobalWarming/story?id=5028894

Johnathan Goodwin walks to the back of his auto conversion shop in Wichita, Kan., and lifts up a gas nozzle connected to a huge cube-shaped container. The orange stuff he's pumping is the key to his company's mission: converting the worst gas-gulping SUVs into cleaner, meaner machines. "This is 100 percent canola oil, refined to biodiesel," Goodwin said. His well-maintained shop is a bit like a showroom for that much-maligned symbol of environmental ruin: the Hummer. The silver H-1 – which Goodwin says gets 60 miles per gallon – has already been modified to run on biodiesel, diesel, vegetable oil, gasoline, ethanol, hydrogen, natural gas and propane. On a standard gasoline-to-biodiesel conversion, Goodwin starts by taking a new nine-mile-per-gallon Hummer and removing the original gas engine. In goes an off-the-shelf GM Duramax engine that runs on diesel fuel. A few extra modifications and a tank full of biodiesel later, the Hummer – now boasting 500 horsepower and getting about 20 miles per gallon – is ready for the road. He offers a couple of lower-cost options, including a fuel vaporizer for $1,000 that he says boosts fuel economy by 30 percent, and a $500 software download that reprograms diesel engines to get up to an additional seven miles per gallon. His work has many wondering why the big automakers can't simply reconfigure their assembly lines to make their own cars run as efficiently as Goodwin does. "I don't know why GM hasn't done it," says Goodwin. "But I can tell you that all the parts that I use for the conversion – 95 percent – are all GM parts. I'm not reinventing anything."

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5 electric cars you can buy now
2008-06-08, CNN Money
http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2008/autos/0806/gallery.electric_cars_now/inde...

The Tesla Roadster, which recently entered production, is probably the best known electric car in America. The company's president has called it "the only production electric car for sale in the United States." There are several other electric car companies that would differ with him on that point, but those other vehicles are either limited to speeds below 25 miles per hour or have fewer than four wheels, making their status as "cars" somewhat debatable. With a full set of wheels and a claimed top speed of 125 mph, there's no question this two-seat convertible is a real car. Tesla also boasts an amazing 220-mile range on a full charge as measured in EPA fuel economy tests. Meanwhile, the charging time claimed by Tesla is less than half that of other electric vehicles, thanks to advanced lithium-ion batteries -- which do account for much of the car's high cost. But even gasoline-powered two-seat soft-tops are luxury toys, not daily drivers. Tesla promises it is working hard on a more moderately priced four-door model for driving's other half. The GEM car, from Chrysler's Global Electric Motorcars division, is more typical of what's available to today's average consumer. It's a small, lightweight vehicle that can go up to 25 mph. It can go just a little faster on a downhill grade, but the electric motor automatically steps in to slow it down. The 25 mph top speed is a matter of law, not engineering. "Low Speed Vehicles" (LSVs) like the GEM don't have to meet the same safety requirements as faster cars. But 25 mph is still adequate for many daily commutes and around-the-town errands.

Note: For many exciting reports on new automotive and energy developments, click here.


Canadian teen's process decomposes plastic bags
2008-06-05, Reuters News
http://www.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idUSN0535499620080605

As countries and cities around the world move to ban plastic bags, a Canadian teenager is tackling the problem of what to do with them. High school student Daniel Burd successfully isolated microorganisms from soil and used them to help degrade 43 percent of his polyethylene sample within a few weeks in a science project that recently won him the C$10,000 ($9,800) top prize at the Canada-Wide Science Fair. "The purpose of my project was to first of all prove that it's possible to do the degradation, and I just wanted to develop a beginning procedure that could be used," said the 17-year-old Grade 11 student, who also walked away with nearly C$35,000 in university scholarship offers. "We know that after 40 to 100,000 years, the plastic bags will be degraded naturally. Some type of microbe must be responsible for this. So the first step was to isolate this microbe and that's what I did," said Burd, who began his research in December 2006. To isolate the microorganism, he turned the plastic bags into a powder -- an important step, Burd said, because it increases the surface area and helps the microorganisms that can use the plastic to grow. Once he had the powder, he collected soil samples from a landfill, and combined the two with a home-made solution that would encourage microorganism growth. After months of experimenting, he isolated two microbial strains from the genuses sphingomonas and pseudomonas. Burd worked with the microbes to find the combination that would degrade strips of plastic bags best, and optimized the process by factoring in elements such as temperature and concentration of microbes. "In the end I was able to find that after six weeks incubation 43 percent of my plastic bag is degraded."

Note: Why wasn't this all over the news? Very few media outlets covered this highly inspiring story. For a more recent article on this fascinating topic, click here.


Electric car for the masses to be made in Southern California
2008-04-22, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/news/science/environment/la-fi-think22apr22,1,4269330....

Norwegian automaker Think Global said Monday it planned to sell low-priced electric cars to the masses and will introduce its first models in the U.S. by the end of next year. The battery-powered Think City will be able to travel up to 110 miles on a single charge, with a top speed of about 65 mph, the company said. It will be priced below $25,000. Oslo-based Think said venture capital firms RockPort Capital Partners and Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers had made investments to fund its entry into the U.S. under the auspices of Think North America. "This is not a toy," said Wilber James, RockPort managing partner. "This is a serious car that we expect to sell." Although technology for electric cars has been advancing -- and consumer interest has been rising amid growing concern over gasoline prices and greenhouse gases -- few vehicles have come to market. Last month, San Carlos, Calif.-based Tesla Motors began production of its Roadster, an electric vehicle that costs $100,000. The Think City "is a mass-market vehicle," said Kleiner managing partner Ray Lane, dismissing comparisons to the Roadster. Tesla's car is being produced in relatively small numbers, with roughly 300 expected by the end of this year. "Our desire is to be selling 30-40-50,000 of these cars in a couple of years." Think Chief Executive Jan-Olaf Willums said the company would bring test vehicles to the U.S. in the coming months. The Think City runs on sodium batteries, but future versions could use lithium ion batteries, Willums said. The Think City, a two-seater that can be fitted with two additional seats for children, has a mostly plastic exterior and is 95% recyclable. Willums said a convertible was in development. "Women want to buy it immediately," he said.

Note: For many exciting reports on new auto and energy developments from major media sources, click here.


Aptera's 3-wheeler looks as if it could soar
2008-04-16, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/04/15/HOP1103V8S.DTL

An airplane-inspired car that costs $10,000 less than a basic Volvo and gets 300 miles per gallon? Not quite yet, but San Diego robot-builder Steve Fambro may be onto something with the Aptera ("wingless" in Greek) vehicle. Fambro was inspired to build the vehicle when his wife deemed a kit airplane he was building was too dangerous. The vehicle pictured was designed by Jason Hill and his firm "11" for Fambro. The three-wheeled, 1,500-pound prototype has 2 1/2 seats, and when the vehicle goes into production in October, Fambro expects that it will have an acceleration rate of zero to 60 mph in 11 seconds (a second slower than the Prius) and retail for less than $30,000. The Aptera will come in two versions: an all-electric that is expected to go 120 miles on a charge and a hybrid that will have a 600-mile range on a full charge and full tank. Unlike other three-wheeled cars that are technically motorcycles (thus skirting a lot of safety criteria), the Aptera's airplane-wide wheel base makes it stable. The fiberglass shell is reinforced with steel and aluminum, and there will be air bags in the seat belts. What's not to like, unless, of course, you're the passenger in the half seat.

Note: For a fascinating video clip of this car on a local ABC news affiliate, click here. Why aren't other major media picking up this exciting story?


Scientists unlock frozen natural gas
2008-04-16, Toronto Star
http://www.thestar.com/sciencetech/article/415215

A remote drilling rig high in the Mackenzie Delta has become the site of a breakthrough that could one day revolutionize the world's energy supply. For the first time, Canadian and Japanese researchers have managed to efficiently produce a constant stream of natural gas from ice-like gas hydrates that, worldwide, dwarf all known fossil fuel deposits combined. "We were able to sustain flow," said Scott Dallimore, the Geological Survey of Canada researcher in charge of the remote Mallik drilling program. "It worked." For a decade now, Dallimore and scientists from a half-dozen other countries have been returning to a site on Richards Island on the very northwestern tip of the Northwest Territories to study methane gas hydrates. A hydrate is created when a molecule of gas – in this case, methane or natural gas – is trapped by high pressures and low temperatures inside a cage of water molecules. The result is almost – but not quite – ice. It's more like a dry, white slush suffusing the sand and gravel 1,000 metres beneath the Mallik rig. Heat or unsqueeze the hydrate and gas is released. Hold a core sample to your ear and it hisses. More significant is the fact that gas hydrates concentrate 164 times the energy of the same amount of natural gas. And gas hydrate fields are found in abundance under the coastal waters of every continent. Calculations suggest there's more energy in gas hydrates than in coal, oil and conventional gas combined. Last month, the Mallik team became the first to use that method to get a steady, consistent flow. "That went really well," said Dallimore. "We definitely demonstrated that these hydrates are responsive enough that you can sustain flow. We were able to take conventional technologies, modify them, and produce. That's a big step forward."

Note: For lots more information on new energy developments, click here.


Mater Dei team gets 2,843 miles to the gallon
2008-04-13, WFIE TV (NBC affiliate in Evansville, IN)
http://www.14wfie.com/Global/story.asp?S=8159222&nav=3w6o

Mater Dei High School finished first and third out of 33 high school and college student teams from North and South America, shattering the miles per gallon record set last year by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Mater Dei's "6th Gen" car won the traditional fuel combustion category in the Shell Eco-Marathon Americas with [a] run of 2,843.4 miles per gallon. Mater Dei's other car in competition, "5th Gen" finished third with a Friday run of 2,383.8 miles per gallon. Mater Dei wins $10,000 for first prize, along with an additional $2,400 for internal combustion engine awards. The Eco-Marathon Americas, which began in 2007, is a gathering of college and high school student teams trying to drive the farthest distance using the least amount of fuel. Collectively, it's an effort to change the way the world uses energy. Each team uses a hand-built, high-mileage prototype vehicle at the California Speedway from vehicle design to management to financing, the student teams managed their vehicles from start to finish. In addition to being eco-friendly, the competition is also about giving the students an opportunity to gain practical experience in science, math, business and design.

Note: Why wasn't this remarkable news covered by any major media other than this NBC affiliate? For another astonishing, yet little-known engine invention by high school students, click here. For more on the repression of new energy inventions, click here.


Algae: 'The ultimate in renewable energy'
2008-04-01, CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/science/04/01/algae.oil/

Texas may be best known for "Big Oil." But the oil that could some day make a dent in the country's use of fossil fuels is small. Microscopic, in fact: algae. Literally and figuratively, this is green fuel. "Algae is the ultimate in renewable energy," Glen Kertz, president and CEO of Valcent Products, told CNN while conducting a tour of his algae greenhouse on the outskirts of El Paso. "We are a giant solar collecting system. We get the bulk of our energy from the sunshine," said Kertz. Algae are among the fastest growing plants in the world, and about 50 percent of their weight is oil. That lipid oil can be used to make biodiesel for cars, trucks, and airplanes. Most people know algae as "pond scum." And until recently, most energy research and development projects used ponds to grow it. But instead of ponds, Valcent uses a closed, vertical system, growing the algae in long rows of moving plastic bags. The patented system is called Vertigro, a joint venture with Canadian alternative energy company Global Green Solutions. The companies have invested about $5 million in the Texas facility. "A pond has a limited amount of surface area for solar absorption," said Kertz. "By going vertical, you can get a lot more surface area to expose cells to the sunlight. It keeps the algae hanging in the sunlight just long enough to pick up the solar energy they need to produce, to go through photosynthesis," he said. Kertz said he can produce about 100,000 gallons of algae oil a year per acre, compared to about 30 gallons per acre from corn; 50 gallons from soybeans. Valcent research scientist Aga Pinowska said there are about 65,000 known algae species, with perhaps hundreds of thousands more still to be identified. A big part of the research at the west Texas facility involves determining what type of algae produces what type of fuel.

Note: For many exciting reports of new energy inventions, click here.


Aiming to put fuel cells to work
2008-03-31, Boston Globe
http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2008/03/31/aiming_to_put_f...

A powerful winter storm swept across northeastern Ohio in early January, knocking out power for nearly 60,000 customers. But in an isolated one-story building, tucked among the trees and fields of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the lights stayed on. So did the computers. The power source: two fuel cells, each about the size of a refrigerator. "It worked seamlessly," said Tom Toledo, maintenance operations supervisor at the park. "We didn't even realize there was a power outage." The performance of these fuel cells, a demonstration project for fuel cell maker Acumentrics Corp. of Westwood, is an example of a technology whose time may be approaching. Unlike traditional technologies, which burn fuels like oil, coal, and natural gas to make power, fuel cells rely on chemical reactions to produce electricity and heat. Fuel cells are most frequently imagined as an advanced engine for automobiles. But as Acumentrics' success in Ohio demonstrates, on-site generation represents another application, one that specialists say will make it to market long before fuel cells replace the internal combustion engine. Acumentrics, in fact, is moving toward commercial production of a compact fuel cell system to power and heat homes. Working with the Italian heating products company Merloni TermoSanitari, Acumentrics hopes to get these household units, small enough to hang on a wall, into European markets by 2010. Estimated price: $5,200. "This is a new way of making electricity," said Gary Simon, Acumentrics chief executive. "It's like going from vacuum tubes to microchips." Acumentrics is one of about 40 Massachusetts firms developing fuel cell technology that someday may power everything from military outposts to cellphones.

Note: For many exciting reports of new energy inventions, click here.


Powering the Future
2008-03-13, Newsweek Magazine
http://www.newsweek.com/id/123021

Chances are you've heard of hybrids and biofuels, but what about oil-producing yeast and turbinelike buoys that transform ocean waves into electricity? Those are just a couple of the alternative-energy sources that may power the future according to Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund and coauthor, with Miriam Horn, of the new book Earth: The Sequel (Norton). "Everyone knows the current story of melting glaciers, rising sea levels, worsening hurricanes, dying coral reefs," said Krupp. "'The Sequel' is the story of what happens next." Newsweek's Katie Paul talked with Krupp about ... the next industrial revolution. Newsweek: You seem to be a big fan of solar energy. Why do you think there's so much promise to it? Fred Krupp: We have two chapters on solar energy at the beginning of the book because we think there's tremendous potential there. Every hour, the sun provides the earth with as much energy as all of human civilization uses in an entire year. So, if you could capture just 10 percent of it on a ... 100-mile square piece of land, you could power the entire United States. With solar thermal energy, capturing heat instead of immediately going to electricity, one advantage is that you can store hot water much more cheaply than you can store electricity. There is tremendous potential there, even before advanced batteries are developed, and reason to think solar energy can compete. [Newsweek:] And besides solar? How are they addressing some of the negatives associated with biofuels? [Krupp:] I think we've come to understand that the current generation of biofuels has problems and that we need a whole new generation.

Note: For more exciting reports from major media sources on new energy technologies, click here.


Loremo: The 'Low Resistance Mobile'
2008-02-20, MSN
https://web.archive.org/web/20080308132816/http://editorial.autos.msn.com/art...

The idea is deceptively simple. Forget about fancy batteries, regenerative braking, and alternative fuels. Instead, make a car that's elegant in its minimalism and efficiency. The Loremo's German designers revisited the basics — engine efficiency, low weight, and minimal drag — to create a car that offers fuel-efficiency in the neighborhood of 130 to 150 miles per gallon. The Loremo is likely to dazzle drivers not with its acceleration, but with its ability to drive from New York to L.A. with only three stops at the pump. Loremo stands for low resistance mobile, and its engineers have stuck obsessively to this idea. By building the car around a 2-cylinder turbodiesel engine, and cutting back on weight, drag, and other excess fat such as side-opening doors, the Loremo puffs out a mere 50 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer. This is about 40 grams less per kilometer than the tiny diesel smart. According to its creators, this will make the Loremo the most efficient production car ever sold. If the Loremo showed up as a concept on an auto show pedestal, it would certainly garner some attention. But the Loremo is not a car for dreamers; not only will it enter mass production next year, it will sport a base price attainable by mortal motorists: 15,000 euros (about U.S. $22,000). After its 2009 release in Europe, the Loremo will be redesigned to reach the North American market the following year. A $30,000, 3-cylinder GT model will also become available, offering better acceleration (0-60 in roughly 10 seconds, vs. 16 for the base model). Both hybrid and fully electric versions are also in the works.

Note: For many exciting, reliable reports on new energy and automobile technologies, click here.


Turning physics on its ear
2008-02-04, Toronto Star (Toronto's leading newspaper)
http://www.thestar.com/Business/article/300042

Thane Heins is nervous and hopeful. In four days the Ottawa-area native will travel to Boston where he'll demonstrate an invention that appears ... to operate as a perpetual motion machine. The audience, esteemed Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Markus Zahn, could either deflate Heins' heretical claims or add momentum to a 20-year obsession. Zahn is a leading expert on electromagnetic and electronic systems. In a rare move for any reputable academic, he has agreed to give Heins' creation an open-minded look rather than greet it with outright dismissal. The invention ... could moderately improve the efficiency of induction motors, used in everything from electric cars to ceiling fans. At best it means a way of tapping the mysterious powers of electromagnetic fields to produce more work out of less effort, seemingly creating electricity from nothing. Heins has modified his test so the effects observed are difficult to deny. He holds a permanent magnet a few centimetres away from the driveshaft of an electric motor, and the magnetic field it creates causes the motor to accelerate. Contacted by phone a few hours after the test, Zahn is genuinely stumped – and surprised. He said the magnet shouldn't cause acceleration. "It's an unusual phenomenon I wouldn't have predicted in advance. But I saw it. It's real. To my mind this is unexpected and new," he [said]. "There are an infinite number of induction machines in people's homes and everywhere around the world. If you could make them more efficient, cumulatively, it could make a big difference."

Note: For a treasure trove of reports on new energy breakthroughs from reliable, verifiable sources, click here.


Humming a greener tune for vehicles
2008-01-24, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/jan/24/it.greentech

In 2000 Jonathan Goodwin, a self-described "gearhead", bought his first Hummer, an old H1, in Denver, Colorado. "The thing did eight miles to the gallon and nought to 60 in about two days," he recalls. On his drive home to Wichita, Kansas, it broke down three times. The engine died. Rather than fix the engine, he replaced it with a new Duramax diesel and doubled the fuel economy to 20 miles per US gallon (equivalent to 24 miles per Imperial gallon), tripled the horsepower to 600 and quadrupled the torque to 1,200ft lbs. Driven by his quest for more power and less consumption he had inadvertently stumbled across a solution for America's SUV-loving masses. The byproduct of the system he installed is lower emissions - a greener output for these thirsty beasts. "Now we can have our cake and eat it," he says. "It's difficult for these huge companies. The technology is there to make cars that have vastly improved consumption figures already, but they're driven by the need to sell all the cars they currently make," Goodwin says. "If they announced they were bringing out a 100mpg car then no-one would buy the old line." Goodwin sees three stages to a process of change: converting all autos to diesel which can then run on biofuel, making the step to bio-electric and finally to hydroelectric, meaning cars will run on water.

Note: For more on this amazing man and his cool inventions, click here.


2008 Tata Nano Is the $2500 Car That Might Change the World
2008-01-10, Popular Mechanics
http://www.popularmechanics.com/automotive/new_cars/4244226.html

Fireworks blossomed on giant video screens, the 2001: A Space Odyssey theme reached its brassy peak, and the world’s most affordable car—the $2500 Tata Nano—rolled out onto the stage. Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group, parked and got out as hundreds of camera flashes speckled the darkened convention hall. Here at the 2008 AutoExpo in India, the Nano’s debut was about much more than a car. The Nano, many tradeshow attendees seemed to believe, would transform the country and then, maybe, the world. The Nano looked underwhelming, [like] a golf cart crossed with a jelly bean. Its journey onto the stage and into history was powered by a 2-cylinder, 33-hp engine, and the spec sheet is best given as what the car has not: no air conditioning, no radio, no power steering, no sun visors. But it carries four people, gets 50 mpg, and costs less than a trendy motor scooter. The Nano is no solution to the traffic problem in big [Indian] cities; a prominent Indian environmentalist called the prospect of these ultra-affordable vehicles flooding the roads a “nightmare.” But the Nano represents both national pride about India’s ingenuity and the promise that the benefits of middle-class life will reach more people. “What can you get for $2500 in the U.S.?” a young man ... asked. “You can’t carry your family for $2500 in a [new] car. But in India we have done this.” His friend, Rajesh Relia, agreed. He makes 6000 rupees a month, about $150. He doesn’t own a car, and carries his family of four, dangerously and cumbersomely, on a motor scooter. The Nano is a car he can actually afford, and he said he will buy one as soon as it becomes available in late 2008. “This is my dream,” he said, beaming toward the stage. “I am very happy today.”


Aptera's Super-MPG Electric Typ-1 e: Exclusive Video Test Drive
2007-12-21, Popular Mechanics
http://www.popularmechanics.com/automotive/new_cars/4237853.html

Three hundred miles per gallon and a Jetsons-style look are enough to get anyone excited. But ever since the word got out on it last month, Aptera’s innovative Typ-1 three-wheeler has been the target of relentless theorizing and conjecture across the Web. Is it real? Does it have what it takes to be a practical vehicle for daily transport? Is it stable enough to drive? Does it even actually drive? Well we wondered some of those things, too, so we scouted out if a drivable prototype really exists. It does. This week we visited Aptera’s headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif., and became the very first outside of the company to hit the street in the Typ-1 e. And, as you can see from the video of our 20-mile test drive above, we’re impressed. Aptera has two innovative models that are almost production-ready at $30,000 and below: for next year, the all-electric, 120-mile-range Typ-1 e that we drove; and, by 2009, the range-extended series gasoline Typ-1 h, which Aptera says will hit 300 mpg. A more conventional third model, called “Project X” or perhaps Typ-2, is now in the design phase, with plans for a four-wheeled chassis and seating up for to five passengers. For now, though, the Typ-1 will certainly do. Check out a full gallery for the inside scoop on all the specs from the shop and the street.

Note: To watch the video of the test drive of this exciting new vehicle, click on the article link above. For many exciting reports on new energy technologies and innovative vehicle designs, click here.


A way to squeeze oil and gas from just about anything
2007-12-01, Popular Science magazine
http://www.popsci.com/popsci/flat/bown/2007/innovator_2.html

Everything that goes into Frank Pringle’s recycling machine — a piece of tire, a rock, a plastic cup — turns to oil and natural gas seconds later. “I’ve been told the oil companies might try to assassinate me,” Pringle says without sarcasm. The machine is a microwave emitter that extracts the petroleum and gas hidden inside everyday objects. Every hour, the first commercial version will turn 10 tons of auto waste — tires, plastic, vinyl — into enough natural gas to produce 17 million BTUs of energy (it will use 956,000 of those BTUs to keep itself running). Pringle created the machine about 10 years ago after he drove by a massive tire fire and thought about the energy being released. He went home and threw bits of a tire in a microwave emitter he’d been working with for another project. It turned to what looked like ash, but a few hours later, he returned and found a black puddle on the floor of the unheated workshop. Somehow, he’d struck oil. Or rather, he had extracted it. Petroleum is composed of strings of hydrocarbon molecules. When microwaves hit the tire, they crack the molecular chains and break it into its component parts: carbon black (an ash-like raw material) and hydrocarbon gases, which can be burned or condensed into liquid fuel. If the process worked on tires, he thought, it should work on anything with hydrocarbons. The trick was in finding the optimum microwave frequency for each material. In 2004 he teamed up with engineer pal Hawk Hogan to take the machine commercial. Their first order is under construction in Rockford, Illinois. It’s a $5.1-million microwave machine the size of small bus called the Hawk, bound for an auto-recycler in Long Island, New York. Oil companies are looking to the machines to gasify petroleum trapped in shale.

Note: For many exciting breakthroughs in new energy technologies, click here.


The New Dawn of Solar
2007-12-01, Popular Science magazine
http://www.popsci.com/popsci/flat/bown/2007/green/item_59.html

Imagine a solar panel without the panel. Just a coating, thin as a layer of paint, that takes light and converts it to electricity. From there, you can picture roof shingles with solar cells built inside and window coatings that seem to suck power from the air. Consider solar-powered buildings stretching not just across sunny Southern California, but through China and India and Kenya as well, because even in those countries, going solar will be cheaper than burning coal. That’s the promise of thin-film solar cells: solar power that’s ubiquitous because it’s cheap. The basic technology has been around for decades, but this year, Silicon Valley–based Nanosolar created the manufacturing technology that could make that promise a reality. The company produces its PowerSheet solar cells with printing-press-style machines that set down a layer of solar-absorbing nano-ink onto metal sheets as thin as aluminum foil, so the panels can be made for about a tenth of what current panels cost and at a rate of several hundred feet per minute. Nanosolar’s first commercial cells rolled off the presses this year. Cost has always been one of solar’s biggest problems. Traditional solar cells require silicon, and silicon is an expensive commodity. That means even the cheapest solar panels cost about $3 per watt of energy they go on to produce. To compete with coal, that figure has to shrink to just $1 per watt. Nanosolar’s cells use no silicon, and the company’s manufacturing process allows it to create cells that are as efficient as most commercial cells for as little as 30 cents a watt. "It really is quite a big deal in terms of altering the way we think about solar and in inherently altering the economics of solar," says Dan Kammen, founding director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley.

Note: For exciting reports of other new energy technologies, click here.


Researcher sets saltwater on fire
2007-11-14, CNN
http://edition.cnn.com/2007/TECH/science/11/14/saltwater.fire/

Last winter, inventor John Kanzius was already attempting one seemingly impossible feat -- building a machine to cure cancer with radio waves -- when his device inadvertently succeeded in another: He made saltwater catch fire. TV footage of his bizarre discovery has been burning up the blogosphere ever since, drawing crackpots and Ph.D.s alike into a raging debate. Can water burn? And if so, what good can come of it? Some people gush over the invention's potential for desalinization or cheap energy. Briny seawater, after all, sloshes over most of the planet's surface, and harnessing its heat energy could power all sorts of things. Skeptics say Kanzius's radio generator is sucking up far more energy than it's creating, making it a carnival trick at best. For now, Kanzius is tuning out the hubbub. Diagnosed with leukemia in 2002, he began building his radio-wave blaster the next year, soon after a relapse. If he could seed a person's cancerous cells with nanoscopic metal particles and blast them with radio waves, perhaps he could kill off the cancer while sparing healthy tissue. The saltwater phenomenon happened by accident when an assistant was bombarding a saline-filled test tube with radio waves and bumped the tube, causing a small flash. Curious, Kanzius struck a match. "The water lit like a propane flame," he recalls. "People said, 'It's a crock. Look for hidden electrodes in the water,' " says Penn State University materials scientist Rustum Roy, who visited [Kanzius] in his lab in August after seeing the feat on Google Video. A demo made Roy a believer. "This is discovery science in the best tradition," he says. Meanwhile, researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have made progress using Kanzius's technology to fight cancer in animals. They published their findings last month in the journal Cancer.

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PG+E embraces solar thermal power technology
2007-11-05, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/11/05/BUBTT5KM2.DTL

As California utilities scramble to buy more renewable energy, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and a Palo Alto startup will announce plans today to build a solar power plant big enough to light more than 132,000 homes. Ausra Inc. will design and build the plant, which will be located on the Carrizo Plain of eastern San Luis Obispo County and could begin operating as soon as 2010. San Francisco's PG&E has agreed to buy the plant's power for 20 years. Like the rest of California's big utilities, PG&E faces a state-imposed deadline to derive 20 percent of its power from certain renewable sources by the end of 2010. So the company is turning to solar thermal power plants, which can generate large amounts of energy on a reliable basis. In July, the company agreed to buy power from a solar plant planned for the Southern California desert, which will generate 553 megawatts, enough for more than 414,000 homes. PG&E plans to buy 1,000 megawatts of solar thermal energy within the next five years. "Solar works best when it's really hot, and that's when we need a lot of power," said Peter Darbee, the utility's chief executive officer. "So solar is something we're exploring more." Solar thermal plants do not use the solar cells that more Californians are bolting to their rooftops. Instead, they use the sun's energy to heat liquids that turn turbines and generate power. Ausra's technology uses flat mirrors that focus sunlight on tubes carrying water, which then turns to steam. The plants can produce far more electricity than silicon solar cells provide and at a far lower price. Ralph Cavanagh, with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said he's pleased to see the recent attention on solar thermal plants. "They're a very good idea for California, and they're also a really good idea for the world," said Cavanagh, director of the environmental group's energy program. "This is one of the scalable solutions that can make a big difference."

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