Energy Inventions News StoriesExcerpts of Key Energy Inventions News Stories in Major Media
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Is the economic, social and physical deterioration that has caused so much misery in the Motor City a sign of what’s in store for larger and larger segments of the United States? I found real reason to hope when a gentleman named Stan Ovshinsky took me on a tour of a remarkably quiet and pristine manufacturing plant ... about 30 miles north of Detroit. What is being produced in the plant is potentially revolutionary. A machine about the length of a football field runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, turning out mile after mile after mile of thin, flexible solar energy material, from which solar panels can be sliced and shaped. Mr. Ovshinsky ... developed the technology and designed the production method that made it possible to produce solar material “by the mile.” He invented the nickel metal hydride battery that is in virtually all hybrid vehicles on the road today. When I pulled into the parking lot outside his office ... he promptly installed me in the driver’s seat of a hydrogen hybrid prototype — a car in which the gasoline tank had been replaced with a safe solid-state hydrogen storage system invented by Mr. Ovshinsky. What’s weird is that this man, with such a stellar track record of innovation on products and processes crucial to the economic and environmental health of the U.S., gets such little attention and so little support from American policy makers. In addition to his work with batteries, photovoltaics and hydrogen fuel cells, his inventions have helped open the door to flat-screen televisions, new forms of computer memory and on and on.
Note: Ovshinsky has been at the forefront of new energy breakthroughs for years, yet has received very little press, likely because his inventions threaten the established oil industry. For a powerful, three-minute video showing how some of his key inventions have been shelved because they threatened profits, click here.
Troy, Mich., in the belly of the automobile industry, is an odd place to spark a revolution against the internal-combustion engine. But, then, Stanford Ovshinsky is no ordinary gearhead. Although he never went to college, he founded a new field of physics based on the superconductivity of certain alloys. The company he formed in 1960, Energy Conversion Devices, makes the photovoltaic cells used on the Mir space station to generate electricity from sunlight. In the '80s the Japanese licensed his patents to produce digital video discs. But what really revs him up these days is a car battery. How dull is that? Not at all, if it can "change the world," as he claims with a subversive glint in his eye. When Ovshinsky talked of scaling up his battery to run a car, he was ridiculed. "The auto companies said it wouldn't work," he recalls. "Then, after one car got 200 miles on a single charge, they said it couldn't be manufactured. Now that we are making them, they say it is too costly. But that is a red herring too." Ovshinsky's team of engineers and electrochemists has slashed the cost 40% in two years, they claim. If automakers would commit to buying tens of thousands, Ovshinsky says, the batteries would make electric cars as cheap as gasoline models.
Note: Ovshinsky, who has over 200 patents to his name, was censured for publicizing his amazing battery. GM refused to use his superior battery in the GM's EV-1 when it first came out. The inferior battery they used instead ensured the car would not be successful. Once Ovshinsky's battery became even more effective and looked sure to overtake conventional gasoline as the more effective way to run a car, his company was then sold by GM to Chevron Texaco, who shelved the project entirely. To see a three-minute clip from the excellent movie "Who Killed the Electric Car" on this, click here. For more on this remarkable man, click here.
Solar power may be cheaper than electricity generated by fossil fuels and nuclear reactors in three to five years because of innovations, said Mark M. Little, global research director for General Electric Co. “If we can get solar at 15 cents a kilowatt-hour or lower, which I’m hopeful that we will do, you’re going to have a lot of people that are going to want to have solar at home,’’ Little said. The 2009 average US retail rate per kilowatt-hour for electricity ranged from 6.1 cents in Wyoming to 18.1 cents in Connecticut, according to federal data. GE said in April that it had boosted the efficiency of thin-film solar panels to a record 12.8 percent. Improving efficiency, or the amount of sunlight converted to electricity, helps reduce costs. The panels will be made at a plant GE intends to open in 2013. Most solar panels use silicon-based photovoltaic cells. The thin-film versions, made of glass or other material coated with cadmium telluride or copper indium gallium selenide alloys, account for about 15 percent of the $28 billion in worldwide solar-panel sales. First Solar Inc. is the world’s largest producer of thin-film panels, with $2.6 billion in yearly revenue.
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Weren't we taught that radio was invented by an Italian named Guglielmo Marconi? And that the legendary Thomas Alva Edison devised today's electrical power system? "We were taught wrong," said Toby Grotz, president of the International Tesla Society. Two years before Marconi demonstrated his wireless radio transmission, [Nikola Tesla] performed an identical feat at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. On June 21, 1943, in the case of Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. vs. the United States, the Supreme Court ruled that that Tesla's radio patents had predated those of the Italian genius. To be sure, Edison invented the incandesent light bulb. But he powered it and all of his other projects with inefficient direct current (DC) electricity. It was Tesla who discovered how to use the far more powerful phased form of alternating current (AC) electricity that is virtually the universal type of electricity employed by modern civilization. There are indications that Tesla also discovered many of the devices ... for the Pentagon's controversial Star Wars antimissile defense system. "Tesla dreamed of supplying limitless amounts of power freely and equally available to all persons on Earth," said Grotz. And he was convinced he could do so by broadcasting electrical power across large distances just as radio transmits far smaller amounts of energy. [Tesla's] tests ... caused lights to burn as much as 26 miles away, according to news reports of the time.
Note: Tesla was written out of history texts likely because he advocated providing methods for extremely cheap electricity available to everyone. He successfully transmitted electricity through the air to lights 26 miles away. Yet the rich energy power brokers of his time could not stand for this. Only the little known Supreme Court ruling mentioned above restored his claim as original inventor of the radio. For lots more on this most fascinating genius, click on the article link above and click here and here. For revealing major media articles showing the suppression of other energy inventions which could transform our world, click here.
Volkswagen's amazing 300mpg-plus XL1 two-seater diesel/electric hybrid is a supercar where mpg matters more than mph. Imagine a different sort of supercar; small, lightweight, with the ... most parsimonious engine. That’s VW’s 21st-century streamliner, the XL1, honed not for speed but to achieve an astonishing 313mpg. VW has been messing about with these cigar-thin eco cars since the 1980 ARVW concept. In 1999, it developed a Lupo capable of three litres per 100km (94mpg), but Ferdinand Piëch, VW’s chairman, was more ambitious and had already ordered his R&D team to build him a “one-litre” (282mpg) car. In normal operation, the car stays in electric drive until full throttle is used, speeds exceed 62mph or the battery charge is down to 20 per cent. In e-mode, the car remains on battery power until 10 per cent of its charge remains (about 22 miles), whereupon the motor starts to charge it and power the vehicle. The 2.2-gallon fuel tank gives a range of about 340 miles. As might be expected, the body style is all about wind cheating. With a frontal area of 16.15sq ft and a drag coefficient of 0.186, the XL1 will be the world’s most aerodynamic production car.
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Hybrid vehicles are still tethered to the gas pump via a fuel-thirsty 100-year-old invention: the internal combustion engine. However, researchers at Michigan State University have built a prototype gasoline engine that requires no transmission, crankshaft, pistons, valves, fuel compression, cooling systems or fluids. Their so-called Wave Disk Generator could greatly improve the efficiency of gas-electric hybrid automobiles and potentially decrease auto emissions up to 90 percent when compared with conventional combustion engines. The engine has a rotor that's equipped with wave-like channels that trap and mix oxygen and fuel as the rotor spins. These central inlets are blocked off, building pressure within the chamber, causing a shock wave that ignites the compressed air and fuel to transmit energy. The Wave Disk Generator uses 60 percent of its fuel for propulsion; standard car engines use just 15 percent. As a result, the generator is 3.5 times more fuel efficient than typical combustion engines. Researchers estimate the new model could shave almost 1,000 pounds off a car's weight currently taken up by conventional engine systems. Last week, the prototype was presented to the energy division of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is backing the Michigan State University Engine Research Laboratory with $2.5 million in funding. Michigan State's team of engineers hope to have a car-sized 25-kilowatt version of the prototype ready by the end of the year.
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Two Italian scientists claim to have successfully developed a cold fusion reactor that produces 12,400 watts of heat power per 400 watts of input. Not only that, but they’ll be commercially available in just three months. Cold fusion is a tricky business -- some say a theoretically implausible business. Hypothetically (and broadly) speaking, the process involves fusing two smaller atomic nuclei together into a larger nucleus, a process that releases massive amounts of energy. If harnessed, cold fusion could provide cheap and nearly limitless energy with no radioactive byproduct or massive carbon emissions. Andrea Rossi and Sergio Focardi claim [their reactor] fuses atomic nuclei of nickel and hydrogen using about 1,000 watts of electricity which, after a few minutes, is reduced to an input of just 400 watts. This reaction purportedly can turn 292 grams of 68 degree water into turbine-turning steam -- a process that would normally require 12,400 watts of electricity, netting them a power gain of about 12,000 watts. They say that commercially scaled, their process could generate eight units of output per unit of input and would cost roughly one penny per kilowatt-hour, drastically cheaper than your average coal plant.
Note: For a balanced and informative article on this, see the Technology News article available here. Sadly, the only other media report on this fascinating news was a Washington Times article available here. For lots more useful information and videos on this exciting discovery, click here.
A few weeks before the tsunami struck Fukushima’s uranium reactors and shattered public faith in nuclear power, China revealed that it was launching a rival technology to build a safer, cleaner, and ultimately cheaper network of reactors based on thorium. China’s Academy of Sciences said it had chosen a “thorium-based molten salt reactor system”. The liquid fuel idea was pioneered by US physicists at Oak Ridge National Lab in the 1960s. Chinese scientists claim that hazardous waste will be a thousand times less than with uranium. The system is inherently less prone to disaster. “The reactor has an amazing safety feature,” said Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA engineer at Teledyne Brown and a thorium expert. “If it begins to overheat, a little plug melts and the salts drain into a pan. There is no need for computers, or the sort of electrical pumps that were crippled by the tsunami. The reactor saves itself,” he said. US physicists in the late 1940s explored thorium fuel for power. It has a higher neutron yield than uranium, a better fission rating, longer fuel cycles, and does not require the extra cost of isotope separation. The plans were shelved because thorium does not produce plutonium for bombs. As a happy bonus, it can burn up plutonium and toxic waste from old reactors, reducing radio-toxicity and acting as an eco-cleaner.
A Massachusetts biotechnology company says it can produce the fuel that runs Jaguars and jet engines using the same ingredients that make grass grow. Joule Unlimited has invented a genetically-engineered organism that it says simply secretes diesel fuel or ethanol wherever it finds sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. [The] company says it can manipulate the organism to produce the renewable fuels on demand at unprecedented rates, and can do it in facilities large and small at costs comparable to the cheapest fossil fuels. What can it mean? No less than "energy independence," Joule's web site tells the world, even if the world's not quite convinced. "We make some lofty claims, all of which we believe, all which we've validated," said Joule chief executive Bill Sims. Joule was founded in 2007. In the last year, it's roughly doubled its employees to 70, closed a $30 million second round of private funding in April and added John Podesta, former White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, to its board of directors. The company worked in "stealth mode" for a couple years before it recently began revealing more about what it was doing. This month, it released a peer-reviewed paper it says backs its claims. Joule says its organisms secrete a completed product, already identical to ethanol and the components of diesel fuel, then live on to keep producing it at remarkable rates. Joule claims, for instance, that its cyanobacterium can produce 15,000 gallons of diesel full per acre annually, over four times more than the most efficient algal process for making fuel. And they say they can do it at $30 a barrel. The company plans to break ground on a 10-acre demonstration facility this year, and Sims says they could be operating commercially in less than two years.
Note: For many other fascinating new energy inventions reported in the major media which should be making news headlines, click here. For a powerful two-page summary showing why these amazing inventions get so little attention and are sometimes even suppressed, click here.
New Zealand engineer John Fleming is part of an effort to bypass the hydrogen era and go directly to the nitrogen-hydrogen economy. Texas-based Fleming, 65, is responsible for a string of inventions that produced more efficient, cleaner-burning heating appliances and holds a number of patents. He ... is helping researchers at Texas Tech University look at the potential to power vehicles using liquid ammonia, produced by combining hydrogen and nitrogen. Fleming's most tangible contribution has been a small, cheap processing plant that converts hydrogen and nitrogen into ammonia using a compression and decompression system. It promises on-site production of hydrogen-carrying liquid fuel, solving the problem of storing and distributing (with considerable energy loss) a highly explosive gas from large and expensive centralised plants. "Ammonium can be liquefied, produces no carbon or solid deposits and can burn in internal combustion engines carrying a reasonable amount of hydrogen." Based on an electrolyser he devised for potential use in gas fireplaces, the processor offers huge cost savings in the production of hydrogen using electricity. The processor costs US$200 (compared with around $130,000 using large-scale conventional models) and is predicted to produce fuel for about US27c a litre [about $1.00/gallon] before taxes.
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If not for the Finnish American Reporter, Steve Lehto would never have eaten barbecued chicken in Jay Leno's garage after taking a ride in a car that sounds like a vacuum cleaner. Also, Lehto wouldn't have finally found an agent for his book [Chrysler's Turbine Car: The Rise and Fall of Detroit's Coolest Creation] about the Chrysler Turbine. The Chrysler Turbine was essentially a stylish, bronze-colored, four-seat sedan with a jet engine. It could run on gasoline, kerosene, or just about anything else, including Chanel No. 5 and tequila. Of the 55 that Chrysler produced, none were sold to the public, and all but nine were destroyed when the experiment ended. A collector in Indiana owns one. Museums have five. Chrysler had three -- and now one of them is [Jay] Leno's. "He offered to let me drive it if I was ever in town," Lehto says, "which I just happened to be, as soon as I could get tickets." Yelps and cheers from bystanders as they cruised the streets of Burbank. Cuisine from a grill in one of Leno's garages. Another ride in a steam-powered 1907 White. More yelps and cheers. Also, an offer from Leno. If it'll help sell the book, he'll write a [foreword]. It does help; a New York agent has agreed to shop it around. Lehto is still in car-buff heaven. "I was 3 feet across from Jay Leno," he marvels, "having lunch."
Note: This amazing engine could run on vegetable oil and more. Why didn't it get more publicity? For lots more fascinating information on the engine, click here. For why it never got developed, click here.
Rudolf W. Gunnerman has a tiger by the tail--the Exxon tiger. If the technology that the 66-year-old inventor has spent $6 million and the past seven years developing lives up to his claims, cars and trucks could one day be running on a fraction of the gasoline and diesel fuel they now use. Ditto for buses, planes, trains, and anything else powered by an internal-combustion engine--from lawn mowers to huge electrical generators. Gunnerman claims to have a technology that enables engines to burn a mixture of half fuel, half water. Yes, water. What's more, he says, the mixture gets 40% better mileage from the gasoline it contains and emits significantly less pollution because engines run cooler. In particular, tailpipes emit virtually no nitrogen oxides--the principal source of smog. Caterpillar Inc. is so intrigued that in early July it formed a joint venture with A-55 LP, Gunnerman's tiny, nine-person company in Reno, Nev. A-55 is short for aqueous 55%, the amount of water by weight in the patented fuels. But the key ingredient is 0.5% of a secret emulsifier that enables fuel and water to mix--and stay mixed. Gunnerman financed his work with royalties from other patents, especially those covering the making of pellets for woodstoves.
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It seems too good to be true, but rigorous tests under way in Nevada, California and Illinois show a breakthrough fuel that is more than half tap water could power the nation's vehicles, trains and gas-powered aircraft by century's end. The milky fuel was developed by Reno inventor Rudolf Gunnerman and is being pushed through the federal fuels-testing labyrinth by Gunnerman and diesel giant Caterpillar Inc. It has passed every test thrown at it. In virtually all categories, it tops conventional gasoline and diesel as a clean, cheap and safe fuel that can be used in almost any combustion engine. If it works -- and disinterested outsiders who have tested it say it may -- drivers could see the price of gasoline cut more than half. "Everybody said it cannot work, that I'm a fraud,'' the German-born inventor said. No one's laughing now: Nevada last November certified the water-based fuel as a "clean alternative fuel,'' meaning it can be used to meet federal mandates requiring clean fuels in fleets and other vehicles. The Energy Department is awaiting test data from trials run by Caterpillar before passing judgment. If DOE reaches the same conclusion as Nevada, Gunnerman's concoction could be used as a clean fuel in all states.
Note: If the above link fails, click here. Why didn't this exciting development make headline news? For lots more showing very promising results on this most intriguing invention, click here. For exciting reports from reliable sources on highly promising new energy developments and technologies, click here and here.
Inventors who are mixing water with fuel to power engines say they're onto something big. German-born inventor Rudolf Gunnerman [believes] that one of the world's most common compounds - good old tap water - can be blended with fuel to power your car, truck or lawn mower. Gunnerman claims to have devised a means to blend water with naphtha in order to power engines in a cleaner, cheaper, more efficient way. "New ideas and better ideas are not necessarily found by universities or by large companies. New ideas and better ideas are found by people who look for them," says Gunnerman, 68. "Caterpillar" is the single word that brings a degree of credibility to Gunnerman's claims. The Peoria, Ill.-based heavy- equipment manufacturer entered a joint venture with Gunnerman in July 1994. Together, under the name Advanced Fuels, they've conducted experimental uses of the A-21 fuel - made up of 70 percent naphtha, a crude-oil byproduct, and 30 percent water. And now, Paccar Inc. is throwing its trucking weight in Gunnerman's corner. The Bellevue-based manufacturer of Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks recently sent a truck to Peoria for testing with the A-21 fuel. Paccar changed out the engine to add a Caterpillar engine and modified the cylinders and fuel injectors to handle more fluid volume. They also did a series of baseline tests of noise, cooling, drivability and fuel economy, said Jim Reichman, Paccar's technology-development manager. Back at Paccar's Mount Vernon technical center, Reichman is enthused. "We're pretty pleased with it," he said.
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MIT professor Daniel G. Nocera has long been jealous of plants. He desperately wanted to do what they do--split water into hydrogen and oxygen and use the products to do work. That, he figures, is the only way we humans can solve our energy problems; enough energy pours down from the sun in one hour to power the planet's energy needs for a year. Nocera's discovery [is] a cheap and easy way to store energy that he thinks will be used to change solar power into a mainstream energy source. Plants catch light and turn it into an electric current, then use that energy to excite catalysts that split water into hydrogen and oxygen during what is called photosynthesis' light cycle. The energy is then used during the dark cycle to allow the plant to build sugars used for growth and energy storage. Nocera and Matthew Kanan, a postdoctoral fellow in Nocera's lab, focused on the water-splitting part of photosynthesis. They found cheap and simple catalysts that did a remarkably good job. They dissolved cobalt and phosphate in water and then zapped it with electricity through an electrode. The cobalt and phosphate form a thin-film catalyst around the electrode that then use electrons from the electrode to split the oxygen from water. The oxygen bubbles to the surface, leaving a proton behind. A few inches away, another catalyst, platinum, helps that bare proton become hydrogen. The hydrogen and oxygen, separated and on-hand, can be used to power a fuel cell whenever energy is needed.
An electric sportscar finished a remarkable road trip [on November 16] on the Panamerican Highway, traveling from near the Arctic Circle in Alaska to the world's southernmost city without a single blast of carbon dioxide emissions. Developed by engineers from Imperial College London, the SRZero sportscar ran on lithium iron phosphate batteries powering two electric motors with a peak output of 400 horsepower during its 16,000-mile (26,000-kilometer) journey. Powering up was a joy at times, the team said — such as in Chena Hot Springs, Alaska, where they started their trip July 3 after charging the batteries using geothermal energy. "The SRZero was literally being charged from energy taken straight out of the earth with absolutely zero CO2 emissions," Alex Schey, a mechanical engineer who organized the trip, wrote in his blog that day. Finding places to plug in along the way became a major challenge as the team passed through 14 countries in 70 days of driving. But every time the driver hit the brakes — and there was plenty of that as the team made its way through the Rocky Mountains, Mexico and Central America and then through South America — the car recovered kinetic energy, extending its capacity to drive as much as six hours and more than 400 kilometers (250 miles) on a single charge. This was no clunky science project — all that horsepower enabled the car to reach 60 mph (96 kph) in just seven seconds and reach top controlled speeds of 124 mph (200 kph), the team said.
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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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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.
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David Sandalow, the Energy Department's assistant secretary for policy and international affairs, practices what he preaches when it comes to alternative-energy vehicles. Sandalow drives a Toyota Prius converted to a plug-in electric for his 5-mile commute to work every day. He recharges at night in the carport of his Washington home. Sandalow's Prius, which was converted two years ago to allow him to recharge the battery from an electric outlet, gets more than 80 miles per gallon and lets him drive 30 miles on a single charge. He can drive up to 30 miles on a single charge, only has to fill the gas tank about twice a month, and he figures he gets about 80 miles a gallon. Including the six-hour electric plug-in a day, it works out to about 75 cents per gallon of gas. His aftermarket conversion cost about $9,000, on top of the price of the Prius. Sandalow wrote the 2007 book Freedom From Oil, and he thinks that hybrids and plug-ins are the quickest way for the country to lessen its dependence on foreign oil.
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Matt Reynolds, an assistant professor in the electrical and computer engineering department at Duke University, wears other hats, too — including that of co-founder of two companies. These days, his interest is in a real hat now in prototype: a hard hat with a tiny microprocessor and beeper that sound a warning when dangerous equipment is nearby on a construction site. What’s unusual, however, is that the hat’s beeper and microprocessor work without batteries. They use so little power that they can harvest all they need from radio waves in the air. The waves come from wireless network transmitters on backhoes and bulldozers, installed to keep track of their locations. The microprocessor monitors the strength and direction of the radio signal from the construction equipment to determine if the hat’s wearer is too close. Dr. Reynolds designed this low-power hat, called the SmartHat, with Jochen Teizer, an assistant professor in the school of civil and environmental engineering at Georgia Tech. They are among several people devising devices and systems that consume so little power that it can be drawn from ambient radio waves, reducing or even eliminating the need for batteries. Their work has been funded in part by the National Science Foundation.
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Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.