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Laser-sparked fusion power passes key milestone July 9, 2014

Filed under: Energy Exploration,Energy Generators,Green Living — bferrari @ 7:50 am

The dream of a completely clean, high powered and almost limitless renewable energy source is getting closer. Nuclear Fusion is the process by which atoms
are compressed to such a degree that their nuclei fuse, releasing a huge amount of energy. Essentially it is the opposite of current Nuclear Power, based on fission whereby large nuclei are torn apart to release energy. This is the process which happens in stars, turning Hydrogen into the heavier Helium, and all other natural elements.

The National Ignition Facility in California began experimenting in 2009 to slow progress. They are using lasers and X-rays to compress a fuel pellet with a frozen Hydrogen Istotope, but it takes significantly more energy to start the fusion reaction than the process actually produced, making it currently ineffective as a fuel source.

However, an article in Nature this week confirmed that a milestone had been passed, whereby of the amount of energy actually delivered to the pellet, the reaction released a surplus of energy. The next step is to improve the efficiency of how the lasers deliver energy to the pellet. However, this is still a long way away, perhaps decades, but once that has been refined, mankind will essentially be able to build miniature stars to produce nearly unlimited energy.

Source

 

Magnets Mean Your New Refrigerator Will Make History

Filed under: Energy Generators,Green Living — bferrari @ 7:44 am
Heat-transferring fluid moves into the heart of the magnetic refrigeration unit, where regenerators comprised of advanced alloys are exposed to magnetic fields. The visible rotating magnets turn on and off as they move, heating and cooling the fluid. (GE)

Heat-transferring fluid moves into the heart of the magnetic refrigeration unit, where regenerators comprised of advanced alloys are exposed to magnetic fields. The visible rotating magnets turn on and off as they move, heating and cooling the fluid. (GE)

Coming soon to a kitchen near you—magnets in your refrigerator. And we’re not talking about slapping your kid’s artwork inside the fridge next to the milk and butter.

It’s the next generation of residential food and drink cooling, and it’s powered by magnets. Gone will be the almost century-old unit in your kitchen that uses a heat-transfer process based on liquid refrigerants called vapor compression refrigeration. Condensers and refrigerants will be replaced with magnets and special alloys that get hot and cold based on their proximity to magnetic fields. The technology could also be used for air-conditioning.

Magnetic refrigeration, proponents say, is a rapidly approaching technology that will amount to a revolution in domestic energy use.

“It’s the equivalent to a gas-powered car moving to electric—that’s the kind of leap we’re making in refrigeration,” said Ed Vineyard, a senior researcher at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Vineyard’s Building Technologies Programhas teamed up with GE to bring magnetic refrigeration to the public in around five years.

The idea behind refrigerators and air conditioners is all the same. In their broadest sense, they are heat pumps—devices that take heat energy from inside your refrigerator box or room and move it outside. Removing this energy makes the temperature go down.

In most contemporary home and commercial refrigeration systems, mechanical work compresses and expands a liquid refrigerant. The pressure drop associated with expansion lowers the temperature of the refrigerant, which then cools air blown over it by a fan into the refrigerator box or the cooled room. In magnetic refrigeration systems, the compressor is replaced with magnetic fields that interact with solid refrigerants and the water-based cooling fluid. Changing the strength of magnetic fields alters how much heat is pulled away from the refrigerator box.

Along with this refrigerator revolution comes a dramatic drop in the amount of energy you need to cool your cucumbers and cantaloupes. ORNL says magnetic refrigeration “is a promising alternative to the vapor compression systems used in today’s appliances” that could theoretically drop energy consumption by 25 percent compared to current technology. Those liquid refrigerant chemicals that can be damaging to the environment and hard to recycle at the end of a refrigerator’s life are also being replaced by cheaper water-based fluid.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Ayyoud Momen works on the team’s “breadboard” prototype refrigerator-freezer: a flexible platform used to evaluate material compatibility and to analyze components including the magnet, generators, motor, pump, heat exchangers, plumbing and leakless rotating valve. ( ORNL.)

Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Ayyoud Momen works on the team’s “breadboard” prototype refrigerator-freezer: a flexible platform used to evaluate material compatibility and to analyze components including the magnet, generators, motor, pump, heat exchangers, plumbing and leakless rotating valve. ( ORNL.)

Developers expect the new refrigerators to cost a bit more than vapor compression models, but buyers should see savings through spending less on electricity over the long term. If the technology is adopted broadly, it could mean major electricity savings on the national scale. Besides savings from more efficient refrigerators, magnetic cooling would lower electricity use in heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment, which accounts for around 60 percent of the average household’s energy use.

“We’ve spent the past 100 years making the current technology more efficient, but most of the major efficiency increases have been achieved,” Venkat Venkatakrishnan, director of advanced technologies for GE Appliances, said in a company statement. “We figured out how to create heat or cold without a compressor or chemical refrigerants. This breakthrough can power your fridge with greater efficiency, and because the technology does not contain traditional refrigerants, recycling refrigerators at end of life will be easier and less costly.”

Source

 

Safe Nuclear Reactor Runs on Spent Fuel June 20, 2014

Filed under: Energy Generators,Energy Ineffiency,Green Living,Recycling — bferrari @ 2:14 pm

ALTERNATIVE POWER SOURCES

Molten salt is the key to this reactor's safety.

Molten salt is the key to this reactor’s safety.

It’s pretty straightforward to get some coders together in a spare room to create a software start-up. Should a nascent company have hardware inclinations, it might set out to make a consumer electronics gadget with an assist from Kickstarter. And then there’s Transatomic Power Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., which is trying to build a nuclear reactor.

Cofounders Leslie Dewan and Mark Massie began dreaming up the idea in 2010, while working on their Ph.D.s in nuclear engineering at MIT. “We realized this is probably the smartest we will ever be in our lives,” Dewan remembers. So the two decided to use their knowledge to design a better reactor, one that deals with what they see as the nuclear industry’s biggest problems: waste and safety.
The Fukushima disaster reignited the nuclear power debate, but it turns out, even with its faults, nuclear power is saving lives! That’s according to a new NASA study about the effects of pollution on health.

The design they came up with is a variant on the molten salt reactors first demonstrated in the 1950s. This type of reactor uses fuel dissolved in a liquid salt at a temperature of around 650 °C instead of the solid fuel rods found in today’s conventional reactors.

Improving on the 1950s design, Dewan and Massie’s reactor could run on spent nuclear fuel, thus reducing the industry’s nuclear waste problem. What’s more, Dewan says, their reactor would be “walk-away safe,” a key selling point in a post-Fukushima world.

“If you don’t have electric power, or if you don’t have any operators on site, the reactor will just coast to a stop, and the salt will freeze solid in the course of a few hours,” she says.

Dewan and Massie incorporated the company in April 2011, but they were still essentially just two grad students with a cool idea. Then, after their presentation at a TEDx meeting in November 2011, they met Russ Wilcox, the founder and former CEO of E Ink Corp. Having sold E Ink for US $215 million in 2009, Wilcox was looking for a new project, and he had reason to be receptive to Dewan and Massie’s scheme for extra safe nuclear power: He and his family had been at Tokyo Disneyland when the Fukushima disaster began, and he had gotten a dose of Japan’s nuclear fear.

Wilcox also thought it augured well for the technology when the TEDx attendees gave the talk a standing ovation, as nuclear projects often depend on public support. Soon the three decided to go into business together.

The team has raised about $1 million so far, much of that from friends, family, and angel investors who aren’t expecting immediate returns; now they’re looking for $15 million more to fund a series of lab experiments. Wilcox says this research will quickly reveal whether the reactor will work.

“You want to start with the riskiest parts of your design and test those first,” he says, adding that he learned that lesson while at E Ink. “Don’t spend effort designing the box before you’ve built the product.”

If those experiments reveal no showstoppers, Transatomic hopes to find industrial partners to help build a 5-megawatt demonstration plant at a U.S. national lab site. And if that demonstration is convincing, Dewan and Massie’s reactor will be ready for full-scale commercialization.

But Dewan says that’s where the entrepreneurial ride will end. “We can’t become the next Westinghouse,” she says. “The goal is to demonstrate that this is a functional technology; then we would likely be subsumed by one of the industrial partners that funded us in the earlier phases.”

Where Do We Store Nuclear Waste?

According to Albert Machiels, an expert on advanced nuclear reactors at the Electric Power Research Institute, the industrial giants of the United States and the European nuclear industry are “not bullish” on advanced reactors. But the global market looks quite different, with countries such as China and India pursuing ambitious nuclear power policies.

Machiels also notes that another interesting nuclear start-up, the Bill Gates–backed TerraPower, is cooperating with international organizations in China and elsewhere to develop its technology. If these start-ups can prove out their engineering and economics, they might find willing buyers for their intellectual property on other shores.

Source

 

Coca-Cola Creates Modular System To Reuse Plastic Bottles June 4, 2014

Filed under: Green Living,Recycling,Wierd — bferrari @ 12:03 pm

 

Plastic waste is a huge problem in the world today, with recycling centers struggling to figure out what to do with all the plastic bottles being thrown away every day and landfills filling up with waste that won’t degrade for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

So what do we do with all those leftover plastic bottles? Coca-Cola has come up with a very creative way to reuse their plastic bottles- the 2ndLives cap system.

2ndLives is a set of 16 screw on sprayers, marker tips, pencil sharpeners and other useful objects that can be attached to the top of any plastic soda bottle, essentially upcycling the plastic waste and giving it new life.

So far the bottle tops are only being distributed (for free) in Vietnam, with Indonesia and Thailand to start receiving them soon, and hopefully they’ll soon make their way to the U.S. because they look like a great idea!

 

The Tiny Creek That Connects the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans April 22, 2014

Filed under: Green Living,Nature — bferrari @ 9:18 am
There's a natural spring in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming that flows in 2 directions. One ultimately connects to the Mississippi River, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico. The other connects to the Columbia River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean. It's a natural wonder called the Parting of the Waters.

There’s a natural spring in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming that flows in 2 directions. One ultimately connects to the Mississippi River, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico. The other connects to the Columbia River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean. It’s a natural wonder called the Parting of the Waters.

There’s a natural spring in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming that flows in 2 directions. One ultimately connects to the Mississippi River, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico. The other connects to the Columbia River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean. It’s a natural wonder called the Parting of the Waters.

 

 

 

You can reach the spot after a 15-mile hike from a trailhead in the park. A sign points to the flow of both oceans.

(Photo: Actroterion)

(Photo: Actroterion)

But there’s more! The Parting of the Waters isn’t the only water connection in the United States between the Atlantic and the Pacific. Just a few miles away is Isa Lake, which also divides its two outlets between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. But Isa Lake does it backwards. The western outlet loops around and flows to the Gulf of Mexico. The eastern outlet also loops around and heads toward the Pacific.

Source

 

What Do You Do With Material That is Barely Recyclable? Repurpose It. April 9, 2014

Filed under: Green Computing,Green Living,Recycling — bferrari @ 11:45 am
Repurposing glass from cathode ray tubes from old televisions.

Repurposing glass from cathode ray tubes from old televisions.

Once a critical part of every home and office’s technology, cathode ray tubes (CRT) were located inside televisions and computer monitors around the globe. As these devices have since become outdated in favor of flater and clearer LCD and plasma screens, we’re left with over 860 pounds of waste from the CRT alone.

Unfortunately, these tubes are one of the hardest forms of electronic waste to recycle, which means we are stuck with a whole lot of very unusable (and potentially dangerous) tubes. ButFireclay Tile has a clever solution to breathe new life into CRT by melting them down into glass tiles.

The company is now selling the tiles to the public for residential purposes and they are working on a version that can stand up to the challenges of a commercial site. They are available in 2×8, 2×4 and penny-size, sold in matte and gloss, and can be used for indoor or outdoor purposes.

The cathode ray tubes were required to be very thick and highly shatter resistant for their original intended purposes, which makes them perfect to be reused as tiles. After melting the tubes down at tempertures over 1,700 degrees fahrenheit, Fireclay adds a touch of white color pigment before pouring the glass into the molds to create a more design friendly hue.

Source

 

London’s new solar bridge is the largest in the world January 29, 2014

Filed under: Energy Generators,Government Policies,Green Living,Solar — bferrari @ 1:46 pm

London's largest solar bridge, in the world.

London’s largest solar bridge, in the world.

Network Rail, which is responsible for Britain’s rail infrastructure, just opened the “world’s largest solar-powered bridge” — which stretches across the Thames, has 4,400 solar panels on it, and will provide half the energy to central London’s Blackfriars train station.

BusinessGreen reports:

The project was one of the most complex to date for Solarcentury, which installed the panels in a series of phases over the past two years, pausing to minimise the impact on the station during the 2012 Olympic Games.

“We had different sections of roof available at different times to fit in with this complicated jigsaw of getting everything up and going,” explained Gavin Roberts, Solarcentury’s senior project manager, adding that the company had even considered shipping some of the components in via the Thames.

This is exactly the sort of project, though, that gets easier the more times a company’s done similar work — the more big, urban solar projects go up, the faster and cheaper the next one will be. Looking forward to an all-solar London Bridge!

 

 
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