Energy Inventions News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on new energy inventions
Thane Heins ... has invented a technology that he says will put out more energy than it consumes. His invention, he boldly claims, offers a way to make electric cars that can travel hundreds of kilometres from the energy in a small, inexpensive battery. The Star first profiled Heins and his controversial invention a year ago. In a nutshell, he had figured out a way to eliminate the electromagnetic friction that typically limits the performance of an electrical generator – an effect known as “Back EMF.” Not only that, but he also learned how to redirect that magnetic energy so that, instead of causing resistance, it gave an electrical motor connected to the generator a significant boost. The result, as far as Heins was concerned, violated Lenz’s law or what’s often called the law of diminishing returns. For many, that equates to a perpetual motion machine, an impossible claim in the conventional field of physics. Within no time the story spread globally across the Internet, became chatter on blogs, and triggered a flood of email to this reporter’s inbox – some praising Heins for his determination, others calling the Star irresponsible for giving credibility to his claim. The story, love it or hate it, was the second-most read article on TheStar.com in 2008. Much has happened over the past 12 months. Through his Ottawa-based company Potential Difference Inc., Heins has been in serious talks with a designer of small wind turbines in Montreal, a senior engineer from a large utility in Turkey, and a small manufacturer of electrical equipment in Toronto.
Note: Read how an esteemed MIT professor was baffled by this invention in the original Star article available here. For lots more on promising new energy inventions and technologies from major media sources, click here.
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.
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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.
The [Panasonic World Solar] Challenge is the world's premier long-distance race for solar-powered vehicles, with competitors traveling 3000 kms [1,800 miles] along the Stuart Highway from Darwin in the far north of Australia to Adelaide in the south in cars powered solely by sunlight. In the process they ... send out a strong environmental message, pushing forward the boundaries of green technology and promoting the benefits of solar power as an alternative energy source. "It's a great adventure," the race director Chris Selwood told CNN, "One that allows the bright young people of the globe to come up with creative solutions to the problem of sustainable transport, while at the same time drawing attention to the importance of lightening the environmental footprint of our personal transport needs." First run in 1987, the race was the brainchild of Danish adventurer and environmental campaigner Hans Thostrup, who in 1982 designed and built "Quiet Achiever," the world's first ever solar-powered car. The inaugural competition featured 23 teams, with the winning vehicle -- the General Motors-sponsored Sunraycer -- completing the distance at an average speed of 67 kilometers per hour (42 miles per hour). The average speed has shot up to 103 kph (64 mph) ... while the competition has expanded to incorporate several different classes of vehicle: the Challenge and Adventure Classes for exclusively solar cars, and the Greenfleet Technology Class for other types of environmentally friendly, low-emission vehicles.
Note: Cars running on nothing but solar power averaging more than 60 mph over 1,800 miles? Why isn't this front page news? For lots more from reliable, verifiable sources on promising new energy and auto designs, click here.
Venture capitalists are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into [Silicon] Valley solar startups pursuing technological breakthroughs to make sun power as cheap as fossil fuel. Three of the largest tech IPOs of 2005 were for solar companies. The world's largest chip-equipment maker will begin producing machines to manufacture solar wafers, laying the groundwork for an industrial infrastructure that should lower the cost of producing solar cells. Solar energy has just the sort of oversize potential that the titans of tech saw in computing: a free and practically inexhaustible power source. California is also committing $3.2 billion to fund a drive to install solar panels on a million rooftops by 2018, and a November ballot initiative ... would tax Big Oil to provide $4 billion in funding for alternative-energy research, programs, and startups. Perhaps no startup has benefited more from the solar gold rush than Nanosolar. The Palo Alto company ... has racked up more than $100 million in funding so far. Nanosolar is pursuing a technology that produces solar cells on a film that's a 100th the thickness of conventional silicon wafers. Its ultimate goal: integrating thin-film cells directly into building materials. A skyscraper's glass windows, for instance, could be embedded with thin-film cells, giving them energy-producing capabilities. Nanosolar plans to build a manufacturing facility next year ... that will eventually produce 430 megawatts' worth of solar cells per year. That would nearly triple the nation's manufacturing capacity and make Nanosolar one of the world's largest solar producers. Thanks to aggressive government subsidies, Germany and Japan are currently the global leaders in solar production.
Note: With all of its talk about energy independence, why isn't the U.S. aggressively supporting research into solar power like Japan and Germany? For reliable, verifiable information which answers this question, click here.
From a plug-in hybrid car to the sexy electric Tesla Roadster, celebrities wanting to make a green statement on the way to the red carpet of the Oscars will have plenty of environment-friendly rides. Global Green USA has lined up 30 cars to shuttle the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Davis Guggenheim, director of the Oscar-nominated documentary on global warming "An Inconvenient Truth," to the star-studded ceremony in Hollywood. The environmental group began the green limousine campaign five years ago at the Oscars to raise awareness among the tens of millions of viewers worldwide about alternative fuel cars, energy independence and solutions to global warming. On a Hollywood parking lot ahead of Wednesday's Global Green USA celebrity party, Steve Schneider showed off his tiny $10,000 ZAP (Zero Air Pollution) cars made in California. One was a mini pick-up and the other a three-wheeler. "It is the first time that common people can be introduced to this type of technology," said Schneider. "We are trying to have mass appeal. This vehicle operates at a cost of a penny a mile." But it is the two-seat, scarlet-colored prototype of the Tesla Roadster, invented and financed in Silicon Valley, that will be the coveted car pulling up to the red carpet. Already 330 celebrities, including George Clooney, have signed up to buy the electric car that goes from 0 to 60 mph (0 to 100 kph) in four seconds. Production will begin later this year and the base price is $92,000, although the company also is working on a sedan that will cost between $50,000 and $65,000.
Thirty years after it was founded by President Jimmy Carter, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory at the edge of the Rockies here still does not have a cafeteria. The hopes for this neglected lab brightened a bit just over a year ago when President George W. Bush made the first presidential call on the lab since Carter. But one year after the presidential visit, the money flowing into the primary national laboratory for developing renewable fuels is actually less than it was when the Bush Administration took office. "Our budget is nothing compared to the price of a B-2 bomber or an aircraft carrier," said Rob Farrington, manager of advanced vehicle systems at the lab. The problem is that, despite a lot of promises, no one so far has wanted to pay the extra costs to make wind and solar more than a trivial energy source. Most of the money and attention is still focused on the dirty, but cheaper energy standbys: offshore oil, oil sands and coal. Companies can still deduct purchases of sport utility vehicles and utility bills. Meanwhile, fuel efficiency standards for automobiles have changed only slightly over the decades. Renewable energy today supplies only 6 percent of America's energy needs. Under current policies [renewables] would supply 7 percent of U.S. energy supplies by 2030 while coal would increase over the same period from 23 percent to 26 percent. While top energy companies are ... beginning to invest significant amounts of money in wind, solar and biomass, those investments pale in comparison with the resources they are pouring into making synthetic fuels out of oil sands, which emit significantly more carbon than conventional oil.
Note: With all the talk about oil dependence and energy crisis, why wouldn't the government and industry want to put serious money into development of new energy sources? For a startlingly clear answer, click here.
A poignant new documentary asks who killed GM's promising electric car project? A new documentary released June 28 in New York and Los Angeles, appropriately titled Who Killed The Electric Car? tries in Clue-like fashion to figure out why GM pulled the plug on its EV1 electric vehicle program, which by most accounts was approaching success when the first prototype was introduced in the mid-1990s. "It was a revolutionary, modern car, requiring no gas, no oil changes, no mufflers, and rare brake maintenance," according to a synopsis of the film. In the 1990s a strict clean-air mandate introduced in California that called for zero-emission vehicles was what led GM to introduce the EV1. Eventually that California mandate got watered down from "zero" to "low" emissions, and the automakers decided to literally blow up their EV programs. GM, which leased out the EV1 cars it produced, called them all back after California changed its policy. The cars were crushed and shredded. Who were the people leasing these vehicles? Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson and Ted Danson, among others, many of whom appear in the movie and talk favourably about their electric cars. If the implications of an advance means loss of future business to a paradigm, the key players of that paradigm will lobby to kill it. The paradigm? Big oil. Similarly, the auto industry has an interest in perpetuating the manufacture of vehicles that require routine, costly maintenance.
Note: For more information and showing times on the highly revealing Who Killed The Electric Car, visit www.whokilledtheelectriccar.com. For even deeper information www.WantToKnow.info/newenergysources
The son of [a] rocket scientist thinks he is close to perfecting...a machine that might make cheap, clean electricity from the ocean. "I believe it'll change the world," said second-generation inventor Tom Woodbridge, a NASA engineer. In theory, the idea is simple. Spinning copper wires through a stable magnetic field makes electricity — lots of electrons jumping off the magnetic field and zooming through a conductive metal. And since the ocean waves are already moving, why not cobble together a machine to harness that energy? Think Pogo Stick inside a floating drum. The rocking motion of the waves pushes a long cylinder of magnets up and down a copper coil. His small model generates 10 watts of power in a 6-inch wave chop. A full-scale version could generate 160 kilowatts. That one buoy is enough to power 160 houses, following the rule of thumb that the average U.S. home uses about 1,000 kilowatts of electricity each month.
Note: The Houston Chronicle actually cut off part of the original article, including the last three sentences above. To read the entire article, click here. For lots more on new energy inventions, see click here.
and regulators are putting more pressure on the auto industry to enhance fuel
economy, which was stagnant at an average 20.8 miles per gallon among all
2004 models and below the 1988 high of 22.1 mpg." --
"The Prius is the first significant departure from the combustion engine to make any major inroads in the auto industry since Henry Ford invented the Model T in 1908." -- Newsweek, 9/20/04
"Ford's Model T, which went 25 miles on a gallon of gasoline, was more fuel efficient than the current Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicle -- which manages just 16 miles per gallon."
-- Detroit News, 6/4/03
Genius inventors for the past 100 years have made remarkable discoveries of new, more efficient energy sources, only to find their inventions either suppressed or not given the attention and funding needed to break us free of our dependence on archaic oil-based technologies. Read this article for more reliable information on this vital topic.
To gather in the latent electricity in the clouds and with the globe itself as a medium of transmission to convey telegraphic messages, power for commercial purposes, or even the sound of the human voice to the utmost confines of the earth is the latest dream of Nikola Tesla. The transmitting station is an octagonal tower, pyramidal in shape, and some 187 feet in height. J. Pierpont Morgan [was] interested in his odd enterprise and furnished him with financial assistance. Tesla's transmitting tower as it stands in lonely grandeur and boldly silhouetted against the sky ... is a source or great satisfaction and of some mystification. No instruments have been installed as yet in the transmitter, nor has Mr. Tesla given any description of what they will be like. But in his article he announces that he will transmit from the tower an electric wave of a total maximum activity of ten million horse power. This, he says, will be possible with a plant of but 100 horse power, by the use of a magnifying transmitter of his own invention. What he expects to accomplish is summed up in the closing paragraph as follows: "When the great truth, accidentally revealed and experimentally confirmed, is fully recognized, that this planet ... is to electric currents virtually no more than a small metal ball and that by virtue of this fact many possibilities ... are rendered absolutely sure of accomplishment; when the first plant is inaugurated and it is shown that a telegraphic message ... can be transmitted to any terrestrial distance, ... the energy of a waterfall made available for supplying light, heat or motive power, anywhere ... humanity will be like an ant heap stirred up with a stick."
Note: If the above link fails, click here Claimed by some to be greater than Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla was a brilliant inventor whose name and inventions were long suppressed after J.P. Morgan and others realized Tesla's inventions could give the public free energy, thereby taking away a major source of income for the elite. For a PBS tribute to Tesla, click here. For lots more on this energy genius, click here. For more on the energy cover-up, click here.
A breakthrough can come from the least expected - perhaps like an 81-year-old eccentric from Massachusetts who toiled in isolation with no financial support for more than a decade. His focus? A challenge that has stumped scientists for many years: how to transform inedible plant life into environmentally friendly transportation fuels in a clean and cost-effective way. 25 years ago, [Marshall Medoff] became obsessed with the environment and decided to abandon his business career and become an amateur scientist. "What I thought was, the reason people were failing is they were trying to overcome nature instead of working with it," [said Medoff]. He knew that there's a lot of energy in plant life. It's in the form of sugar molecules that once accessed can be converted into transportation fuel. The key word is "access." This sugar is nearly impossible to extract cheaply and cleanly since it is locked tightly inside the plant's cellulose. What's so tantalizing is that sugar-rich cellulose is the most abundant biological material on earth. Medoff's novel idea [was to use] machines called electron accelerators to break apart nature's chokehold on the valuable sugars inside plant life - or biomass. Machines like these are typically used to strengthen materials. Medoff's invention was to use the accelerator the opposite way - to break biomass apart. This process, Medoff's remarkable invention, releases plant sugars that he's now using to make products he claims will solve some of the world's most intractable problems.
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A research team at the University of Bristol has developed a way to use a type of nuclear waste to generate electricity in a nuclear-powered battery that is an actual diamond. Such a battery produces very low power, but has no moving parts, no emissions of any type including radiation, needs no maintenance, does not need to be recharged and will operate for thousands of years. The team grew a man-made diamond that, when placed in a radiation field, was able to generate a small electrical current. And the radioactive field can be produced by the diamond itself by making the diamond from radioactive carbon-14 extracted from nuclear waste. Even better, the amount of radioactivity in each diamond battery is a lot less than in a single banana. Diamonds are made from pure carbon subjected to high pressures, usually deep in the Earth’s crust. But we have been artificially making them for decades. The normal way to produce electricity is to use energy, like burning coal or capturing wind, to move a magnet through a coil of wire to generate a current. However, a diamond is able to produce a charge simply by being subjected to a radiation field. The cost to produce a diamond is a lot less than disposing of used nuclear fuel and nuclear waste. These radioactive diamond batteries would have a very specific purpose – low power and extremely long life. The ... battery would still be putting out 50% power after 5,730 years.
Researchers at Japan's Tohoku University are making a bold claim: an entirely new state of matter. The team, led by Kosmas Prassides, says they've created what's called a Jahn-Teller metal by inserting rubidium, a strange alkali metal element, into buckyballs, a pure carbon structure which has a spherical shape from a series of interlocking polygons (think of the Epcot Center, but in microscopic size.) The researchers created a complex crystalline structure that seemed to conduct, insulate, and magnetize while acting as a metal. It goes far beyond what ordinary matter can do. So what's the big deal? Applying pressure to the compound when it's in the conductor/insulator phase turns it into the weird state of matter, and also makes it superconductive at (relatively) high temperatures. Most superconductors that we know of need to be barely above absolute zero. Understanding and then mastering high-temperature superconductors, which this weird state of matter could help researchers to do, could make all sorts of new things possible in computing, transportation, infrastructure ... sort of everything. Discoveries of superinsulators in 2008 sort of hinted that this state of matter was possible, but confirmation would be a game changer for materials science.
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Chemical engineers at UC Berkeley have created a new, cleaner fuel out of an old concoction that was once used to make explosives. The fuel, which uses a century-old fermentation process to transform plant material into a propellant, could eventually replace gasoline and drastically cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, according to the team of Berkeley scientists. The discovery, published in the journal Nature, means corn, sugar cane, grasses and other fast-growing plants or trees, like eucalyptus, could be used to make the propellant, replacing oil. The research into creating a diesel substitute is part of a 10-year development program by the Energy Biosciences Institute, a collaboration among UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The research, paid for using $50 million a year from the British oil company BP, has been going on for five years. [The researchers] extracted the acetone and butanol from the fermentation mixture [and] then created a catalyst that converted the brew into a mix of hydrocarbons similar to those in diesel fuel. The resulting substance burns as well as petroleum-based fuel and contains more energy per gallon than ethanol, according to the study. It can be produced using a variety of renewable starches and sugars that can be grown in crops. The expectation in California is that it will be used initially for niche markets, like the military, and eventually in trucks, trains and other vehicles that need more oomph than hybrid or battery power can provide.
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A small British company has produced the first "petrol from air" using a revolutionary technology that promises to solve the energy crisis as well as to help curb global warming by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Air Fuel Synthesis in Stockton-on-Tees has produced five litres of petrol since August when it switched on a small refinery that manufactures gasoline from carbon dioxide and water vapour. The company hopes that within two years it will build a larger, commercial-scale plant capable of producing a ton of petrol a day. It also plans to produce green aviation fuel to make airline travel more carbon-neutral. "We've taken carbon dioxide from air and hydrogen from water and turned these elements into petrol," said Peter Harrison, the company's chief executive. "There's nobody else doing it in this country or indeed overseas as far as we know. It looks and smells like petrol but it's a much cleaner and clearer product than petrol derived from fossil oil," Mr Harrison told The Independent. Being able to capture carbon dioxide from the air, and effectively remove the principal industrial greenhouse gas resulting from the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal, has been the holy grail of the emerging green economy. Using the extracted carbon dioxide to make petrol that can be stored, transported and used as fuel for existing engines takes the idea one step further.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on new energy technologies, click here.
Egyptian Aisha Mustafa, 19, has dazzled the physics world with a new invention that could launch spacecraft off the Earth's surface and soaring through space without any fuel. Space is filled with a billowing sea of quantum particles that jump in and out of existence, and Aisha Mustafa proposes using thin silicon panels, spaced closely together, to trap these particles and then move against them, creating a propelling force. This innovation would make space exploration lighter, safer and cheaper. Mustafa still has some design work to do, but unfortunately her research is currently limited by lack of state funding for space science departments at the university level, though her school's science club did help fund her application for a patent.
Note: For more on this intriguing innovation, click here.
The founder of an apparel company has given the University of Missouri $5.5 million to study new sources of clean energy. Sidney Kimmel, founder and chairman of The Jones Group — which includes brands such as Anne Klein, Nine West and Gloria Vanderbilt — donated the money through his charitable foundation. The money will be used to create the Sidney Kimmel Institute for Nuclear Renaissance, SKINR, which will involve researchers from the MU Research Reactor and physics, engineering and chemistry departments. Mostly, MU scientists will be trying to figure out why excess heat has been observed when hydrogen or deuterium interacts with materials such as palladium, nickel or platinum under extreme conditions. Researchers don’t know how the heat is created, nor can they duplicate the results on a consistent basis. “It’s a chance to turn cold confusion to real understanding and opportunity,” said Rob Duncan, MU’s vice chancellor for research. Since researchers Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons declared they had observed tabletop energy, scientists have been scrambling to re-create the phenomenon. Once dubbed “cold fusion,” some now refer to the process as a low-energy nuclear reaction. Some companies have even been trying to find marketplace applications for the excess heat, even though it’s not consistent. Duncan has called on the scientific community to stop trying to label the phenomenon before figuring out what causes it. The gift, he said, will let MU’s research team focus on the pure science without being distracted by trying to find uses for it.
Note: The comment about scientists scrambling to reproduce the cold fusion research of Pons and Fleischmann is not quite the reality. The two scientists were slammed and ridiculed in a coordinated effort to suppress their amazing discoveries, which threatened the huge profits of the oil industry. For lots more reliable information on this, click here and here.
In the fight against maternal mortality in the developing world, a rugged, portable “Solar Suitcase” is providing reliable electricity to clinics in 17 countries where healthcare workers previously struggled to provide emergency obstetric care by the light of candles, flashlights and mobile phones. The Solar Suitcase powers medical LED lights, headlamps, mobile phones, computers and medical devices. Healthcare workers using the Solar Suitcase report greater facility and ease in conducting nighttime procedures. Improved lighting allows health workers to identify and treat complications such as obstetric lacerations and hemorrhage, nurses to locate and administer intravenous medication, and emergency Caesarean sections to be performed 24 hours a day. Solar-powered mobile phones allow on-call doctors to be alerted when obstetric emergencies require surgery. With augmentation, the solar suitcase powers blood bank refrigeration, permitting life-saving transfusions to occur without delay. An estimated 358,000 maternal deaths occur worldwide. Reducing childbirth deaths depends, in part, on providing adequate emergency obstetric care. However, a lack of health facility power translates to an inability to perform life-saving care.
Loyd Bryant used to pump manure from his 8,640 hogs into a fetid lagoon, where it raised an unholy stink and released methane and ammonia into the air. The tons of manure excreted daily couldn't be used as fertilizer because of high nitrogen content. The solution to Bryant's hog waste problem was right under his nose - in the manure itself. A new waste-processing system - essentially a small power plant - installed on his 154-acre farm uses bacteria to digest the waste and burns methane to produce electricity. It also converts toxic ammonia into forms of nitrogen that can be used as fertilizer for more profitable crops. Waste-to-energy systems have been around for at least 15 years. But Duke University, which helped develop and pay for Bryant's system, says this one is the cleanest in existence - and virtually the only one that tackles all of the environmental problems created by animal waste. The system was built with off-the-shelf parts and simple design plans that are free for the asking. It's poised to become the standard for a cleaner waste-to-energy model that brings together farmers, utilities and private companies in an environmentally friendly effort. Bryant saves money on electricity and gets a cleaner farm. Improved air quality in his hog barns also means his pigs will have lower mortality rates and convert feed more efficiently, fattening Bryant's profits.
Note: For reports from reliable sources on exciting new energy developments, click here.
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