I think we are all familiar with the way a typical wind turbine looks. Those ubiquitous three propeller blades that make it look like the turf it’s on is about to take off. It’s called HAWT – Horizontal Axis Wind Turbine and they work fine out on flat land that’s facing a good strong wind. I’ve seen a ‘farm’ or them out in California deserts placed near mountains because the wind gets caught in those areas. But they don’t work too well in urban areas where wind is buffeted by large building suddenly rising up here and there.
quiet revolution is the resulting Vertical Axis Wind Turbine – VAWT. And it’s quite attractive! Click on the thumbnail to the right. I took that picture at the show while the blades were turning. You can’t really tell from a still that it was moving (the quietrevolution link takes you to a mov file). It wasn’t loud or annoying. And that’s an advantage when placing a group of these on top of highrises and tall buildings. Unlike the HAWT design, the VAWT doesn’t stop moving when the wind isn’t directly facing the blades. Because the VAWT blades are cleverly curved, they are always ‘facing’ any wind available. They may slow down and speed up as wind rises and falls, but there’s no sudden stopping and starting.
The other good news is how effective these turbines are at generating energy. The basic medium sized model (QR5) will generate about 10,000 kWh per year with a wind site of 5.8m/s average. That means powering several low-energy homes or a twenty personal office. Let’s not waste any time – or energy – start putting these things on your highrise!
So when I saw what ClearPower Technology had to offer my interest was peaked! They have created a new solar panel design. So new it’s invisible! By that I mean you don’t see those flat blue sheets that scream ‘SOLAR PANEL’! Instead what you see is a sort of window or clear material with tiny nonmoving ‘louvers’. It simply appears to be an interesting architectural design – Not a device. But looks can be deceiving! Like other solar panels this new design also uses silicon and thin films. However, the design requires much less of this expensive material – one way to reduce the cost. This is accomplished by directing the sunlight into and through the ‘non-imaging optics’ parts of the panel. At the bottom of this is the photovoltaic material which suck up the Sun’s light. Because the angle available to grab the Sun’s power is large there’s no need to track the movement of the Sun. No extra mechanics, just ‘passive’ concentration of energy storage. The advantage of non-imaging optics is that direct sunlight is not required and the panels work well on cloudy days. Now THAT is clever.
Farm-Way of Bradford, Vermont have decided they need this cleverness and have ordered $200k Stellaris module system to be installed next year. This system will be supplying about 20% of Farm-Way’s electrical requirements although they expect to increase that to about 50% in the coming years. This will include electricity-generating skylights, curtain walls and the entrance sign to the building. This will display the Farm-Way name on backing plates of the transparent modules. Wow! I can’t wait to see that. I’ll be following this up so expect to see more stories about Stellaris in the future!
NASA is always working on suits that needed for exploring different areas in out universe. Exploring the Martian surface requires protection from the thin atmosphere and extremely cold temperatures. But the suits have to be lightweight and flexible.
A completely new idea is the Bio-Suit – a sexy space suit!
The bio-suit has to be totally custom made for each astronaut. It will be custom fitted to each astronaut using a laser scanning/electrospinlacing process. Past and present suits are gas-filled pressure suits. It’s as if a person is shoved in a big ball of cotton wading and expected to performed complex physical actions. You’ll never see anyone dancing a ballet in one of those. AT least I hope not. The Bio-Suit reminds of those leotards that dancers wear. In such a suit an astronaut will be able to climb the Martians hills and mountains. And collect rocks, odd features and maybe even Martians (?) They will build housing, perform experiments and maybe a few Grand Jette.
At the NextFEST I watched a couple of fellows who each had one ‘Uni-Rover’ under radio control. They each moved their Child unit around. It gets about by rolling it’s wheel and making turns by positioning it’s arm to leverage the wheel about. It also has fingers at the end of the arm. They guys showed the dexterity of these Uni-Rovers by having one Rover pick up a piece of packing popcorn in it’s fingers and placing it in the other Rovers opened hand. It was very entertaining. Really.
Yes, I admit I have moved an atom. Really. The People from IBM Research had set up this web interface in New York which was connected to their lab in San Jose California. So, not only was I moving atoms, I was doing it from 2000 miles away! As soon as I easily moved a couple of atoms from one place to a nearby place which was probably so close no one but the atom cares I raised my hands in the air and proclaimed, ‘I am a GOD!’. The scientist admitted I probably was only a god to the atoms, which I admit is quite true. (Somehow I visualized that Twilight Zone episode with the giant people controlling the environment of a really tiny civilization. It didn’t end well).
Fantasies not-with-standing this ability is great for examining the continuing miniaturization of electronics. Yep, the flash drive of the future which may accidentally disappear if I happen to inhale can be examined under the Atomoscope. As soon I get it out of my sinuses.
Hug Shirt from cutecircuit.
The optimal situation is two people each with a shirt and a cell phone sending and receiving touching instructions. Both users can send an SMS text message to each others shirts and those instructions are transformed into a virtual hug. The sensors (using RoHS components) are removable – as they are placed in pockets – so the garment can be laundered. The Hug shirt runs on rechargeable batteries. I touched the shirts and they are light and comfortable and the sensors are not large at all. Now, the ‘hugging’ ability is fun but I envision the medical uses. Keeping track of certain people’s vital signs by Remote could prove to be quite important.
The GPS platform shoe The Aphrodite Project
l be able to find every piece of lint in every corner this way! And the best part is that the juice for this light comes from the solar panel on the side of the bag. No fuss, no muss. How clever is that?
The E-Taf Automatic form fitting door
Written by Cecilia