David Kirkpatrick

October 2, 2008

More news on solar-integrated roofing

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:42 am

I’ve covered CertainTeed in the past when writing for a now-defunct home improvement magazine.

The release:

Energy Conversion Devices and CertainTeed to Develop Sustainable Solar Residential Roofing Products

Next-Generation Residential Roofing Materials Will Generate Clean, Renewable Energy

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (ECD) (NASDAQ:ENER), the leading global manufacturer of thin-film flexible solar laminates, and CertainTeed Corporation, a leading North American building products manufacturer, today announced a joint agreement to develop roofing- integrated photovoltaic products for the residential market, combining ECD’s UNI-SOLAR cells with CertainTeed roofing products. The companies expect these new products to be commercially available beginning in 2010.

Mark Morelli, ECD’s President and CEO stated, “This agreement is a significant expansion into a new market for ECD. CertainTeed is clearly an industry leader in building materials and has a broad product offering that can take advantage of the unique characteristics of our flexible, lightweight and reliable UNI-SOLAR cells.”

“We are very pleased to be working with ECD to develop solar roofing products for residential roofing applications,” said Guillaume Texier, President of CertainTeed Roofing.  “The lightweight and flexible design of the UNI-SOLAR solar cells makes them ideal for integrating directly into our roofing products and will help us create aesthetically pleasing solar solutions that blend seamlessly into the homeowner’s architecture, while generating clean, renewable energy. This agreement reinforces our commitment to developing sustainable building products, which is in line with our parent company Saint-Gobain’s strategy to provide innovative solutions for the construction markets.”

About Energy Conversion Devices

Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (ECD) (NASDAQ:ENER) is the leader in building integrated and commercial rooftop photovoltaics, one of the fastest growing segments of the solar power industry. The company manufactures and sells thin-film solar laminates that convert sunlight to energy using proprietary technology. ECD’s UNI-SOLAR brand products are unique because of their flexibility, light weight, ease of installation, durability, and real- world efficiency. ECD also pioneers other alternative technologies, including a new type of nonvolatile digital memory technology that is significantly faster, less expensive, and ideal for use in a variety of applications including cell phones, digital cameras and personal computers. For more information, please visit www.ovonic.com.

About CertainTeed

Through innovation and creative product design, CertainTeed has helped shape the building products industry for more than 100 years. Founded in 1904 as General Roofing Company, the firm made its slogan “Quality Made Certain, Satisfaction Guaranteed,” which quickly inspired the name CertainTeed. Today, CertainTeed(R) is North America’s leading brand of exterior and interior building products, including roofing, siding, windows, fence, decking, railing, trim, foundations, pipe, insulation, gypsum, ceilings and access covers.

Headquartered in Valley Forge, Pa., CertainTeed and its affiliates have more than 7,000 employees and more than 70 manufacturing facilities throughout the United States and Canada. In 2007 the group had total sales of more than $3 billion. www.certainteed.com.

This release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Safe Harbor Provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements include statements concerning our plans, objectives, goals, strategies, future events, future net sales or performance, capital expenditures, financing needs, plans or intentions relating to expansions, business trends and other information that is not historical information. All forward-looking statements are based upon information available to us on the date of this release and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside of our control, that could cause actual results to differ materially from the results discussed in the forward-looking statements. Risks that could cause such results to differ include: our ability to maintain our customer relationships; our ability to expand our manufacturing capacity in a timely and cost- effective manner; the worldwide demand for electricity and the market for solar energy; the supply and price of components and raw materials for our products; and the resolution of pending legal disputes. The risk factors identified in the ECD filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the company’s most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and most recent Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, could impact any forward-looking statements contained in this release.

Source: Energy Conversion Devices, Inc.

Web site:  http://www.ovonic.com/


September 30, 2008

Environmentally friendly batteries from EnerSys

Filed under: Business, Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:23 pm

The press release from today:

EnerSys Launches EcoSafe Batteries for Renewable Energy Generation Applications

READING, Pa., Sept. 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — EnerSys (NYSE:ENS), the world’s largest manufacturer, marketer and distributor of industrial batteries, significantly broadened its product support for the fast growing renewable energy market with the recent launch of its EcoSafe product line. EcoSafe batteries, which use lead, nickel and lithium technologies, were developed specifically for renewable energy storage applications, including solar, wind turbine and other electricity-generation alternatives.

“EcoSafe batteries are important for EnerSys,” said John D. Craig, chairman, president and chief executive officer of EnerSys. “They strengthen our position as a global leader in energy storage and position us at the center of an important and emerging sector of this market. The strong links that we have forged already with the renewable energy industry will help ensure that we continue to develop the technologies and the products needed for the future.”

EcoSafe products include an enhanced line of lead chemistry batteries, as well as batteries that employ nickel and lithium technologies. EcoSafe batteries offer a selection of energy storage solutions designed to meet the requirements of the latest renewable power-generating operations.

This year, EnerSys is investing in its worldwide manufacturing facilities to expand capacity of lead-based products, including its proprietary thin plate pure lead (TPPL) technology. Recent investments also led to new developments in nickelbased products for solar and wind turbine applications and developments in new lithium-based solutions. These investments resulted in the acquisition and utilization of a comprehensive range of technologies, with particular attention paid to battery chemistry, manufacturing processes and quality control.

“We are seeing a broadening interest in all major energy storage technologies for renewable applications,” Craig said. “Our products and solutions are experiencing increased interest in a variety of applications from our customers, who are demanding more and larger energy storage components to make solar, wind turbine and other alternative electricity generation more productive for both in-grid and off-grid systems.

“We expect considerable growth for lead, nickel and lithium technologies and are committed to supplying solutions to meet our customers’ growing needs. Our sales for renewable energy storage will be presented as focused solutions in the expanding EcoSafe product line.”

Caution Concerning Forward-Looking Statements

This press release (and oral statements made regarding the subjects of this release) contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements may include, but are not limited to, (i) statements regarding EnerSys’ plans, objectives, expectations and intentions and other statements contained in this press release that are not historical facts, including statements identified by words such as “expects,” “anticipates,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “seeks,” “estimates,” “will” or words of similar meaning; and (ii) statements about the benefits of the product line, including any impact on our financial and operating results and estimates, and any impact on EnerSys’ market position that may be realized from this product line. These forward-looking statements are based upon management’s current beliefs or expectations and are inherently subject to significant business, economic and competitive uncertainties and contingencies, many of which are beyond our control. The foregoing factors, among others, could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forwardlooking statements. EnerSys may not realize benefits from these contracts. The statements in this press release are made as of the date of this press release, even if subsequently made available by EnerSys on its website or otherwise. EnerSys does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statement to reflect circumstances or events that occur after the date such forward-looking statement is made. For a list of other factors, which could affect EnerSys’ results, see EnerSys’ filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including “Item 1A. Risk Factors,” set forth in EnerSys’ Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2008.


EnerSys, the world leader in stored energy solutions for industrial applications, manufactures and distributes reserve power and motive power batteries, chargers, power equipment and battery accessories to customers worldwide. Motive power batteries are utilized in electric forklift trucks and other commercial electrically powered vehicles. Reserve power batteries are used in the telecommunication and utility industries, uninterruptible power suppliers and numerous applications requiring standby power. The company also provides aftermarket and customer support services to its customers from more than 100 countries through its sales and manufacturing locations around the world. More information regarding EnerSys can be found at http://www.enersys.com/

Source: EnerSys

Web site:  http://www.enersys.com/

Most efficient solar cells to date

From KurzweilAI.net — This is yet another in a long string of solar breakthroughs. The most efficient photovoltaic cells yet, converting almost 50% of harvested light into electricity. Kudos to the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

NREL Solar Cell Sets World Efficiency Record at 40.8 Percent
ElectricalEngineer.com, Sep. 29, 2008Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy‘s National Renewable EnergyLaboratory (NREL) have set a world record in solar cell efficiency with a photovoltaic device that converts 40.8 percent of the light that hits it into electricity.

The new design uses compositions of gallium indium phosphide and gallium indium arsenide to split the solar spectrum into three equal parts that are absorbed by each of the cell‘s three junctions for higher potential efficiencies.

Read Original Article>>

September 29, 2008

There’s a lot of solar action in China right now

Filed under: Media, Politics, Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:03 pm

A press release from this morning:

Kunming, ‘Spring City’, to Build the Biggest Solar Energy Production Base in China

KUNMING, China, Sept. 29 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ — Dou Jinming, Development and Reform Commission deputy director of Kunming, Yunnan said today that Kunming will take the lead in developing the solar energy industry ( http://www.new-energy-supply.com/ ) in China, thereby popularizing it across the whole country. Kunming is aiming to become a solar energy demonstration city with the characteristics of a solar energy industry base in China.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080605/CNTH022LOGO )

Dou Jinming said that Kunming is rich in solar energy resources ( http://www.new-energy-supply.com/buying_leads/ ): the average annual amount of sunshine is more than 2250 hours, and the average annual solar radiation ( http://www.new-energy-supply.com/products/ ) is over 5400 MJ/m. Photo-thermal application of solar energy is also at the top of the whole country in Kunming, with more than a hundred techniques and enterprises to support its production.

To solve energy shortages and improve the urban environment, Kunming’s Government has released “Advice on renewable energy development and utilization”. According to the “Advice”, around the Kunming Dianchi Lake basin, up to 2920 square kilometers of area will be used to utilize solar light and heat ( http://www.new-energy-supply.com/companies/ ). This will achieve a penetration rate of 50% by 2010. The first demonstration zone will achieve 70% utilization. Urban construction with integration of solar energy application should be present in 90% of new architecture. The percentage of urban area that will utilize solar energy will reach 60%, with the percentage in rural areas reaching 20%. The government says that by 2015 the solar light and heat utilization area will amount to 6,000,000 square meters, with solar photovoltaic applications of up to a hundred megawatts or more.

At present, Kunming High-tech Zone has been planning to provide 3 square kilometers of land to build solar thermal ( http://www.new-energy-supply.com/ ) production bases, solar battery production bases and equipment to stimulate the development of solar energy companies.

It is estimated that after the implementation of these initiatives, electricity production will be highly increased and 200,000 tons of diesel oil and 150,000 tons of gasoline will be saved. The production value is up to 17,900,000,000 yuan. By 2015, it will save 300,000 tons of diesel and petrol, and the production value will reach 27,000,000,000 yuan.

Source: Tootoo.com

Web site: http://www.tootoo.com/

September 24, 2008

Largest single-rooftop North American solar installation

I’m posting two releases on this very subject, mostly because they arrived in the inbox at 7:16 am and 7:19 am this morning.

The header from 7:16? “Toyota and SunPower Complete Largest Single-Roof Solar Installation in North America.” How about 7:19? “Trina Solar to Power North America’s Largest Single Rooftop Installation.”

These are two different installations and I’ll allow you to sort through the details and decide which is really the largest.

Unintentional comedy or not with the timing, this is good solar news. The more viable installations out there, the better.

The release from 7:16 am:

Toyota and SunPower Complete Largest Single-Roof Solar Installation in North America

ONTARIO, Calif. and SAN JOSE, Calif., Sept. 24 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Toyota and SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR), a manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, today announced the completion of the largest single-roof solar power installation in North America. The 2.3-megawatt SunPower system will begin operation in early October at Toyota’s North America Parts Center California (NAPCC) in Ontario, Calif.

Toyota expects the solar installation will provide nearly 60 percent of the total electricity needs for the 760,000-square foot NAPCC.  The system covers more than 242,000 square feet of the NAPCC’s roof and includes 10,417 solar modules, enough to cover more than four football fields. It is expected to avoid about 6.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually, which is the equivalent to the emissions from the energy use of approximately 255 homes in a year.

“Toyota’s Earth Charter challenges the company to pursue all possible environmental technologies in the pursuit of sustainable mobility,” said Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.  “That extends the company’s environmental responsibilities beyond products to include our manufacturing plants and other facilities where sustainable and renewable energy sources such as solar power are increasingly important.”

“Toyota is a global business leader in environmental sustainability,” said Tom Werner, chief executive officer of SunPower. “The solar power generated by this system will reduce Toyota’s operational costs at the Ontario facility immediately and over the long term, as electric utility rates continue to increase. Toyota understands that solar is affordable today as a means to improve the quality of our environment and promote local, clean, reliable power.”

SunPower installed SunPower(R) T10 Solar Roof Tiles at the Toyota facility, equipped with SunPower solar panels, the most efficient solar panels available on the market today. T10 Solar Roof Tiles are non-roof penetrating and tilt at a 10-degree angle to increase energy capture.

Toyota will purchase the electricity generated from the system from GE Energy Financial under the SunPower Access(TM) power purchase agreement (PPA) program. GE Energy Financial will finance, own and operate solar power systems, providing Toyota with immediate savings and a long-term hedge against rising peak power prices. Toyota owns the renewable energy credits associated with the system.

The NAPCC is not Toyota’s first foray into solar power.  The company’s South Campus headquarters building in Torrance, Calif., featured one of the largest privately funded systems of its kind when it opened in 2003.  Also built by SunPower, the system covers 53,000 square feet of rooftop.

About Toyota

Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. is the marketing, sales, distribution and customer service arm of Toyota, Lexus and Scion.  Established in 1957, TMS markets products and services through a network of more than 1,450 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealers.  Toyota directly employs over 35,000 people in the U.S. and sold more than 2.6 million vehicles in 2007.  For more information about our company, please visit http://www.toyota.com/, http://www.lexus.com/ and http://www.scion.com/.

About SunPower

SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR) designs, manufactures and delivers high-performance solar electric systems worldwide for residential, commercial and utility-scale power plant customers. SunPower high-efficiency solar cells and solar panels generate up to 50 percent more power than conventional solar technologies and have a uniquely attractive, all-black appearance. With headquarters in San Jose, Calif., SunPower has offices in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. For more information, visit http://www.sunpowercorp.com/. SunPower is a majority-owned subsidiary of Cypress Semiconductor Corp. (NYSE:CY).

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Forward-looking statements are statements that do not represent historical facts. The companies use words and phrases such as “will,” “expects,” “is expected,” and similar expressions to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements in this press release include, but are not limited to, the companies’ plans and expectations regarding: (a) the system beginning operations in October; (b) the solar installation providing nearly 60 percent of the total electricity needs for the 760,000-square foot NAPCC; (c) Toyota avoiding about 6.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually, which is the equivalent to the CO2 emissions from the energy use of 255 homes in a year; and (d) the system reducing Toyota’s operational costs at the Ontario facility immediately and over the long term, as electric utility rates continue to increase. These forward-looking statements are based on information available to the companies as of the date of this release and management’s current expectations, forecasts and assumptions, and involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated by these forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include a variety of factors, some of which are beyond the companies’ control. In particular, risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ include:  (i) construction difficulties or potential delays in the project implementation process; (ii) unanticipated delays or difficulties securing necessary permits, licenses or other governmental approvals; (iii) the risk of continuation of supply of products and components from suppliers; (iv) unanticipated problems with deploying the system on the sites; (v) actual electricity generation; (vi) the actual energy consumption rate; (vii) unexpected changes in utility service rates; (viii) variations in actual carbon dioxide emissions; and (ix) other risks described in SunPower’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 29, 2008, and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing the companies’ views as of any subsequent date, and the companies are under no obligation to, and expressly disclaim any responsibility to, update or alter their forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Source: SunPower Corporation
Web site:  http://www.sunpowercorp.com/

Find the second release after the jump:


September 23, 2008

Venture capitalists not concerned about green tech bubble

Filed under: Business, et.al., Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:07 am

I’ve blogged about VC funding and green technologies here, and this release from today on a KPMG study seems to bear out the idea that venture capital investment will continue to flow into the greentech space.

The release:

Venture Capital Community Not Worried About Greentech Investment Bubble, See Significant Increase in 2009 Funding, KPMG Study Finds

VCs hedging their bets across greentech sub-sectors, see Brazil and Israel as attractive targets; project crude oil prices to end year over $120 per barrel

NEW YORK, Sept. 23 /PRNewswire/ — The venture capital community is not worried about a greentech investment bubble, and expect investment in the greentech sector to significantly increase in 2009, according to a recent survey by the U.S. audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG LLP.

In polling 301 venture capitalists, corporate executives, entrepreneurs and bankers, KPMG found that 91 percent of respondents indicated they expect venture capital activity in the greentech sector to continue rising in 2009, compared to only 76 percent who indicated the same the previous year. In fact, some 50 percent of respondents say investment activity in greentech will increase by 20 percent or more over 2008 levels, while another 34 percent expect  investment levels to increase by 10-19 percent range.

According to the KPMG study, 67 percent of respondents say the focus on greentech is a sustainable investment cycle, not another investment bubble.

“There is no doubt that the greentech sector is very active with many companies receiving significant funding,” said Packy Kelly, KPMG partner based in Silicon Valley and co-leader of its venture capital practice. “Our data showed that investments are being made across all sub-sectors of the greentech space”

When asked which sub-sectors of greentech would receive the most investment over the next two years, the responses indicate that investments will be diversified.  Fifteen percent of respondents say energy storage (fuel cells, batteries, etc.) will see the most funding, followed by clean coal and wind with 14 percent each.  Alternative fuels and solar rounded out the top five with 11 percent and 10 percent respectively. Interestingly, when asked what will become the dominant clean-air energy source in the next 20 years, 39 percent of venture capitalists say solar, 27 percent say nuclear and 18 percent say wind.

Fifty-three percent of respondents to KPMG’s survey expect end of year crude oil prices to be higher than $120 per barrel – only 13 percent expect oil prices to drop below $100.  Moreover, 47 percent of respondents feel that oil prices won’t peak until after 2010, while 24 percent expect we will see the peak in this second half of 2008.  Fourteen percent think the peak will come in 2009.

With regard to where greentech investment will be spread geographically in the United States, 60 percent of respondents say it will be directed toward the West, followed by 14 percent for Southwest, 13 percent for Midwest, and nine and four percent for the Northeast and Southeast respectively.  Outside the U.S., and beyond China and India, venture capitalists expect greentech investment to be geographically diverse, but Brazil, selected by 28 percent of respondents, and Israel, 27 percent, are the clear areas of opportunity. Russia (11 percent) and South Korea (10 percent) were the only other countries to top double digit response rates.

“As with any good long-term investment strategy, diversification is essential,” said Brian Hughes, KPMG partner based in Philadelphia and co-leader of its venture capital practice. “With technology innovation taking place across the globe, venture capital investors are focused on capturing emerging-market opportunities.”

KPMG conducted the survey in partnership with AlwaysOn, the venture capital new media organization, in advance of the GoingGreen conference taking place in San Francisco on September 15-17.

KPMG LLP, the audit, tax and advisory firm (www.us.kpmg.com), is the U.S. member firm of KPMG International. KPMG International’s member firms have 123,000 professionals, including more than 7,100 partners, in 145 countries.

Source: KPMG LLP

Web site:  http://www.us.kpmg.com/

September 5, 2008

Improving solar through stronger sunlight

Concentrating sunlight gets solar more close to competing with fossil fuels. Solar breakthroughs are really hitting the wire on a regular basis these days.

From the Technology Review link:

In his darkened lab at MIT, Marc Baldo shines an ultraviolet lamp on a 10-­centimeter square of glass. He has coated the surfaces of the glass with dyes that glow faintly orange under the light. Yet the uncoated edges of the glass are shining more brightly–four neat, thin strips of luminescent orange.

The sheet of glass is a new kind of solar concentrator, a device that gathers diffuse light and focuses it onto a relatively small solar cell. Solar cells, multilayered electronic devices made of highly refined silicon, are expensive to manufacture, and the bigger they are, the more they cost. Solar concentrators can lower the overall cost of solar power by making it possible to use much smaller cells. But the concentrators are typically made of curved mirrors or lenses, which are bulky and require costly mechanical systems that help them track the sun.

Unlike the mirrors and lenses in conventional solar concentrators, Baldo’s glass sheets act as waveguides, channeling light in the same way that fiber-optic cables transmit optical signals over long distances. The dyes coating the surfaces of the glass absorb sunlight; different dyes can be used to absorb different wavelengths of light. Then the dyes reëmit the light into the glass, which channels it to the edges. Solar-cell strips attached to the edges absorb the light and generate electricity. The larger the surface of the glass compared with the thickness of the edges, the more the light is concentrated and, to a point, the less the power costs.

September 1, 2008

Wal-Mart making solar a bit easier

Filed under: Business, et.al., Science — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:14 pm

Good solar installation newsfrom the retail behemoth Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club:

Getting a solar system installed on your house is decidedly complicated. There is no centralized system, only contractors who you may or may not be able to trust. Prices for installation vary wildly, as do prices for the modules themselves.

But in California, where things are getting a bit more consolidated and simplified, one retailer is trying to make solar easy. And it’s Wal-Mart. Or, Sam’s Club in nine California stores: Corona, Murrieta, Glendora, Ontario, La Habra, Chino, Long Beach, Fountain Valley, and Torrance.

The solar kiosks will hook consumers up with established solar sellers and installers including Borrego Solarand BP Solar. The kiosks also offer $100 off every kilowatt of installed solar power. Honestly, that’s not very much, considering a kilowatt of installed solar can cost up to $10,000, but Sam’s Club members expect savings — so savings they will have!

(Hat tip: Wes)

August 13, 2008

Major solar breakthrough at NREL

This is exciting news for alternative energy.

From the PhysOrg.com link:

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have set a world record in solar cell efficiency with a photovoltaic device that converts 40.8 percent of the light that hits it into electricity. This is the highest confirmed efficiency of any photovoltaic device to date.

The inverted metamorphic triple-junction solar cell was designed, fabricated and independently measured at NREL. The 40.8 percent efficiency was measured under concentrated light of 326 suns. One sun is about the amount of light that typically hits Earth on a sunny day. The new cell is a natural candidate for the space satellite market and for terrestrial concentrated photovoltaic arrays, which use lenses or mirrors to focus sunlight onto the solar cells.

August 11, 2008

$1 watt solar breakthrough looming

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:33 pm

From KurzweilAI.net:

First Solar: Quest for the $1 Watt
IEEE Spectrum, August 2008

First Solar’s solar cells will likely meet typical grid-parity prices ($1/Watt) for the off-peak market in developed countries in just two to four years, analysts say.

Its product has three massive cost benefits: its ­active element is just a hundredth the thickness of silicon; it is built on a glass substrate, which enables the production of large panels; and manufacturing takes just two and a half hours–about a tenth the time it takes for silicon equivalents.

Read Original Article>>

Potential battery storage breakthrough

If this Texas-based firm is right on the science, this is a major breakthrough in battery life. EEStor says it’s prepared to do battle with lithium-ion batteries, possibly besting the current technology’s energy density by three times.

From the link:

A Texas startup says that it has taken a big step toward high-volume production of an ultracapacitor-based energy-storage system that, if claims hold true, would far outperform the best lithium-ion batteries on the market.

Dick Weir, founder and chief executive of EEStor, a startup based in Cedar Park, TX, says that the company has manufactured materials that have met all certification milestones for crystallization, chemical purity, and particle-size consistency. The results suggest that the materials can be made at a high-enough grade to meet the company’s performance goals. The company also said a key component of the material can withstand the extreme voltages needed for high energy storage.

“These advancements provide the pathway to meeting our present requirements,” Weir says. “This data says we hit the home run.”

Also from the link:

Despite its critics, EEStor has won support from some significant corners. In addition to Lockheed Martin, venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is an investor, and former Dell Computer chairman Morton Topfer sits on EEStor’s board.

The company is also in serious talks with potential partners in the solar and wind industry, where EEStor’s technology can, according to Weir, help put 45 percent more energy into the grid. He says that the company is working toward commercial production “as soon as possible in 2009,” although when asked, he gave no specific date. “I’m not going to make claims on when we’re going to get product out there. That’s between me and the customer. I don’t want to tell the industry.”


August 1, 2008

Solar energy storage breakthrough

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:50 am

This is a major breakthrough in solar power in terms of being able to store and use the energy collected. There seems to be a lot of different areas of solar power being worked on and pushed right now.

I’d love to be able to cover 40% of my roof with panels and actually sell back to the grid every once in a while. Developments like these make that idea that much closer to reality.

From the link:

Researchers have made a major advance in inorganic chemistry that could lead to a cheap way to store energy from the sun. In so doing, they have solved one of the key problems in making solar energy a dominant source of electricity.

Daniel Nocera, a professor of chemistry at MIT, has developed a catalyst that can generate oxygen from a glass of water by splitting water molecules. The reaction frees hydrogen ions to make hydrogen gas. The catalyst, which is easy and cheap to make, could be used to generate vast amounts of hydrogen using sunlight to power the reactions. The hydrogen can then be burned or run through a fuel cell to generate electricity whenever it’s needed, including when the sun isn’t shining.

Solar power is ultimately limited by the fact that the solar cells only produce their peak output for a few hours each day. The proposed solution of using sunlight to split water, storing solar energy in the form of hydrogen, hasn’t been practical because the reaction required too much energy, and suitable catalysts were too expensive or used extremely rare materials. Nocera’s catalyst clears the way for cheap and abundant water-splitting technologies.

July 31, 2008

Dye-based solar improving

In more solar news today, this PhysOrg.com article outlines improvements in dye-based solar cells. This technology is highly efficient, highly stable and doesn’t use volatile chemicals.

From the link:

The group, including researchers from the Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, was studying a new type of solar cell that is being widely researched across the globe, one made of bendy, low-cost, lightweight organic materials rather than rigid, pricey, and often heavy inorganic materials.

“We have uncovered new findings on old solar-cell materials and created high-performance cells,” said Peng Wang, a researcher in the Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry and the study’s corresponding scientist, to PhysOrg.com.

The type of organic solar cell Wang and his colleagues improved contains three key parts. The first two components are a semiconductor, such as silicon, and an electrolytic liquid—a conducting solution commonly formed by dissolving a salt in a solvent liquid, such as water. The semiconductor and electrolyte work in tandem to split the closely-bound electron-hole pairs produced when sunlight hits the cell, called excitons (holes are positively charged electron vacancies).

The third component is the source of these photo-induced charge carriers, a photosensitive dye that gives the solar cells their name: “dye-sensitized,” with the most common dye being iodide. In addition, a nanomaterial is also often used to hold the dye molecules in place like a scaffold.

Thin-film solar continues growth

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:31 pm

From KurzweilAI.net, thin-film solar cells are a very promising technology in making solar more affordable and feasible. According to the linked article this tech looks to continue its strong growth.

Thin films: ready for their close-up?
Nature News, July 30 2008

New thin-film solar cells may enable solar-cell technology to maintain its 50% annual growth during the past five years.

Candidate materials to replace today’s amorphous silicon include cadmium telluride, CIGS (copper indium gallium diselenide), and dyes painted onto the surface of nanometer-size particles of titanium dioxide.

In sunny climates, the technology is expected to lead to “grid parity” — electricity generated by photovoltaics as cheaply as it is sold by utilities — within four years or so.

Read Original Article>>

July 3, 2008

Solar moratorium news, nanowire memory and tiny, tiny computer chips

From KurzweilAI.net — the US government comes to its senses on the solar moratorium, breakthroughs in nanowire memory, and computer chips heading toward smaller than 10 nanometers.

U.S. Lifts Moratorium on New Solar Projects
New York Times, July 3, 2008

Under increasing public pressure over its decision to temporarily halt all new solar development on public land, the Bureau of Land Management said Wednesday that it was lifting the freeze, barely a month after it was put into effect.

See also: Citing Need for Assessments, U.S. Freezes Solar Energy Projects

Read Original Article>>


New Nanowire-Based Memory Could Beef Up Information Storage
PhysOrg.com, July 2, 2008

University of Pennsylvania researchers have created a type of nanowire-based information storage device that is capable of storing three bit values rather than the usual two.

This ability could lead to a new generation of high-capacity information storage for electronic devices.

The phase changes are achieved by subjecting the nanowires to pulsed electric fields. This process heats the nanowires, altering the core and shell structure from crystalline (ordered) to amorphous (disordered). These two states correspond to two different electrical resistances.

The third value corresponds to the case where the core is amorphous while the shell is crystalline (or visa versa), resulting in an intermediate resistance.

Creating information storage from nanowires can be done via “bottom-up” approaches, using the natural tendency of tiny structures to self-assemble into larger structures, so they may be able to break free of the limitations faced by traditional “top-down” methods, such as patterning a circuit onto a silicon wafer by depositing a nanowire thin film.

Read Original Article>>


Intel’s Gelsinger Sees Clear Path To 10nm Chips
ChannelWeb, June 30, 2008

Intel sees a “clear way” to manufacturing chips under 10 nanometers, according to Pat Gelsinger, VP of Intel’s Digital Enterprise Group.

The next die shrink milestone will be the 32nm process, set to kick off next year, followed by 14nm a few years after that and then sub-10nm, he said.

Read Original Article>>

June 30, 2008

The US can’t change administrations fast enough

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:10 pm

This is just one more bit of governing overreach from the failed Bush 43 regime.

Two excerpts from the link:

Faced with a surge in the number of proposed solar power plants, the federal government has placed a moratorium on new solar projects on public land until it studies their environmental impact, which is expected to take about two years.

The Bureau of Land Management says an extensive environmental study is needed to determine how large solar plants might affect millions of acres it oversees in six Western states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.

But the decision to freeze new solar proposals temporarily, reached late last month, has caused widespread concern in the alternative-energy industry, as fledgling solar companies must wait to see if they can realize their hopes of harnessing power from swaths of sun-baked public land, just as the demand for viable alternative energy is accelerating.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” said Holly Gordon, vice president for legislative and regulatory affairs for Ausra, a solar thermal energy company in Palo Alto, Calif. “The Bureau of Land Management land has some of the best solar resources in the world. This could completely stunt the growth of the industry.”


While proponents of solar energy agree on the need for a sweeping environmental study, many believe that the freeze is unwarranted. Some, like Ms. Gordon, whose company has two pending proposals for solar plants on public land, say small solar energy businesses could suffer if they are forced to turn to more expensive private land for development.

The industry is already concerned over the fate of federal solar investment tax credits, which are set to expire at the end of the year unless Congress renews them. The moratorium, combined with an end to tax credits, would deal a double blow to an industry that, solar advocates say, has experienced significant growth without major environmental problems.

“The problem is that this is a very young industry, and the majority of us that are involved are young, struggling, hungry companies,” said Lee Wallach of Solel, a solar power company based in California that has filed numerous applications to build on public land and was considering filing more in the next two years. “This is a setback.”

June 23, 2008

A couple of solar breaktroughs

From KurzweilAI.net — MIT students create a low-cost, low-tech solar dish, and carbon nanotubes may lower the cost and improve the performance of solar cells.

MIT team plays with fire to create cheap energy
Christian Science Monitor, June 18, 2008

A simple new low-cost solar dish developed by MIT students produces steam heat for less than the cost of heat from oil or natural gas, according to the MIT team.

The steam heat can be used cost effectively for manufacturing, food pasteurization, and heating buildings.
Read Original Article>>


Perfecting a solar cell by adding imperfections
PhysOrg.com, June 16, 2008

New research at Santa Fe Institute, Michigan State University, and Columbia University shows that a film of carbon nanotubes may be able to replace two of the layers normally used in a solar cell, with improved performance at lower cost.

Exposing the carbon nanotubes to ozone made the carbon nanotubes better catalysts, with more than a ten-fold improvement, and replaced expensive platinum. And making them longer improved both conductivity and transparency.

The carbonnanotube films might also be used in fuel cells and batteries.

Read Original Article>>

May 7, 2008

Display nanowires, ultramicroelectrodes, more affordable solar news

From KurzweilAI.net — Upright copper nanowires may be key to better flat panel displays, single-walled carbon nanotubes form ultramicroelectrodes, more news on solar electricity that rivals fossil fuels in cost.

Nanowires for Displays
Technology Review, May 6, 2008

Researchers at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign have developed a simple process to grow upright copper nanowires on different surfaces.

The nanowire arrays could find use in field-emission displays, a new type of display technology that promises to provide brighter, more vivid pictures than existing flat-panel displays.

Read Original Article>>

Nanotube production leaps from sooty mess in test tube to ready formed chemical microsensors
PhysOrg.com, May 6, 2008

University of Warwick chemists have produced single-walled carbon nanotubes that instantly form ultramicroelecrodes that could be used to create biocompatible, ultrasensitive sensors with high signal-to-noise ratios and fast response times.

The research team is exploring how these ultramicroelecrodes could be used to measure levels of neurotransmitters and catalysis in fuel cells.

Read Original Article>>

Focusing on Solar’s Cost
Technology Review, May 7, 2008

Solar startup Sunrgi says that it will soon be able to produce electricity from the sun at costs that are competitive with fossil-fuel generation.

The company has created a concentrated photovoltaic system that uses a lens to focus sunlight up to 2,000 times sun concentration onto tiny solar cells that can convert 37.5 percent of the sun’s energy into electricity. Stronger concentrations of sunlight allow engineers to use much smaller solar cells, making it more economical to use higher-efficiency–but higher-cost–cells.

Read Original Article>>

May 1, 2008

Cheaper solar, “erasable” printer paper and medical imaging simplification

Nice group from KurzweilAI.net today. News that solar is coming down in price, “erasable” printer paper, and a simplification for sending medical imaging data.

A Price Drop for Solar Panels
Technology Review, May 1, 2008

A shortage of the silicon used in solar panels is almost over, industry analysts predict. This could lead to a sharp drop in prices over the next couple of years, making solar electricity comparable to power from the grid.

Added silicon production capacity is now starting to begin operations. While only 15,000 tons of silicon were available for use in solar cells in 2005, by 2010, this number could grow to 123,000 tons. And that will allow existing and planned production of solar panels to ramp up, increasing supply and reducing prices.

Prices for solar panels could drop by as much as 50 percent from 2006 to 2010. In areas that get a lot of sun, that will translate to solar electricity costs of about 10 cents per kilowatt hour, matching the average price of electricity in the United States.

Read Original Article>>


Xerox touts erasable paper, smart documents
Computerworld, April 29, 2008

Xerox has developed paper that can be reused after printed text automatically deletes itself from the paper’s surface within 24 hours.

A single piece of paper can be reused up to 100 times for black and white printing. The paper contains specially coded molecules that create a print after being exposed to ultraviolet light emitted from a thin bar in a printer. The molecule readjusts itself within 24 hours to its original form to delete the print, or heat can readjust the molecule instantly.

Xerox scientists also demonstrated technologies to make documents more intelligent by providing a deeper meaning to text and images. This is done by cross-referencing similar data and images mined off the Internet and incorporating other sources like e-mail messages and corporate networks.

Read Original Article>>


Cellphones used for medical imaging?
ZDNET, April 30, 2008

University of California at Berkeley researchers have developed a technique for transmitting medical images via cellphones.

The cell phone, hooked up to the data acquisition device(breast tomoography sensor, xray or MRI machine, etc.), would transmit the raw data to a central server, where the information would be used to create an image. The server would then relay a highly compressed image back to the cell phone, where the doctor could view it on the cell phone screen.

The system makes medical imaging much cheaper and more accessible to the poor because the apparatus at the patient site is greatly simplified, and there is no need for personnel highly trained in imaging processing.


Read Original Article>>

March 28, 2008

Nano, solar and other KurzweilAI.net news

Different format today for the KurzweilAI.net newsletter highlights. There is so much good stuff I’m dropping bits directly from the newsletter. Today features solar, stretchy silicon, quantum computing news, self assembly, electricity producing nanotubes, and a possible successor to silicon — graphene.

Do follow the links.

From the newsletter:

More-Powerful Solar Cells
Technology Review Mar. 27, 2008
An MIT researcher has found a way
to improve the efficiency of
multicrystalline silicon solar cells
by 27 percent without raising costs,
making them as efficient as the more
expensive single-crystal cells. The
first cells incorporating the new
technology are predicted to cost
$1.65 per watt, compared to $2.10
per watt today….

Stretchy circuits promise elastic
NewScientist.com news service Mar. 27, 2008
University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign researchers have
made stretchable and flexible
silicon and plastic integrated
circuits that are just one
crystal–1.5 microns–thick. The
circuits are designed so that the
plastic, not the silicon, absorbs
most of the stress when the chips
are bent. Until now, integrated
circuits have been limited by…

Silicon chips for optical quantum
KurzweilAI.net Mar. 28, 2008
Bristol University researchers have
demonstrated the world’s smallest
optical controlled NOT gate–the
building block of a quantum
computer–fabricated from silica
wave-guides on a silicon chip. The
team generated pairs of photons,
each encoding a quantum bit or qubit
of information. They coupled these
photons into and out of the…

Nanomaterial turns radiation
directly into electricity
NewScientist.com news service Mar. 27, 2008
Two researchers–a former Los
Alamos National Laboratory engineer
and an Alabama A&M University
researcher–have developed highly
efficient nanotube-based tile
materials that can convert
radiation, not heat, from nuclear
materials into electricity. The
tiles are made of carbon nanotubes
packed with gold and surrounded by
lithium hydride….

Self-Assembled Materials Form Mini
Stem Cell Lab
KurzweilAI.net Mar. 28, 2008
Northwestern University researchers
have built self-assembling thin-film
sacs able to hold human stem cells
for four weeks in culture, keeping
the cells separated while allowing
proteins to cross the membrane. This
new mode of self-assembly from a mix
of peptide amphiphiles and
biopolymers also can produce thin
films whose size and shape can be…

Is Graphene the New Silicon?
KurzweilAI.net Mar. 28, 2008
University of Maryland physicists
have found that graphene conducts
electricity at room temperature with
less intrinsic resistance than any
other known material. Graphene, a
new material that combines aspects
of semiconductors and metals, is one
of the materials being considered as
a potential replacement for silicon
for future computing. The…

March 10, 2008

Solar power paint

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:52 pm

If this is in the ballpark of practical application, sign me up.

From KurzweilAI.net:

Solar-power paint lets you generate as you decorate
New Scientist news service, Mar. 7, 2008

A consortium led by Swansea University, UK, is developing solar-power paint could allow roofs and walls of buildings to generate electricity.

The paint will be based on dye-sensitised solar cells. While less efficient than conventional cells, dye-based cells do not require expensive silicon and can be quickly applied as a liquid paste.
Read Original Article>>

March 5, 2008

Lots of cool science and tech …

… from today’s KurzweilAI.net newsletter. The first two are bits about solar energy — the first on even “greener” solar panels, and the second on inkjet printing organic solar cells.

The third story is on cancer and embryonic stem cells. I look forward to the day the US government no longer bans federal funding of this research. I’m all for private research, but the fact is medical research in the US is pretty much handled through the NIH.

Here’s all three:

Greener Green Energy: Today’s solar cells give more than they take
Science News, March 1, 2008Solar power produces, per unit of energy, only about one-tenth as much carbondioxide and other harmful emissions (during manufacturing) as does conventional power generation, a new study by Brookhaven National Laboratory scientists shows.

These improvements in efficiency mean that today’s solar panels can “pay back” in only 1 to 3 years the energy needed to make them, the study concludes.

Improvements in manufacturing efficiency could reduce emissions from solar power by another 50 percent within 5 to 7 years, the researchers say.
Read Original Article>>

Konarka Announces First-Ever Demonstration of Inkjet Printed Solar Cells
nanowerk, Mar. 3, 2008Konarka Technologies has announced the company conducted the first-ever demonstration of manufacturing organic solar cells by efficient inkjet printing.

Read Original Article>>

Cancers inhibited by embryonic stem cell protein
NewScientist.com news service, March 4, 2008Northwestern University researchers have discovered that a protein, Lefty, produced by human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) can inhibit the growth and spread of breast cancer and malignant melanoma.

Similarities between stem cells and tumors–both are self-renewing and have the capacity to give rise to different cells types–previously led the researchers to find the protein Nodal, which facilitates cell growth, and suggested that stem cells must have a way to control Nodal.

The Northwestern researchers found that was Lefty. When aggressive tumor cells were exposed to the chemical environment of hESCs, which contained Lefty, their Nodal production fell sharply, and the tumor cells became less invasive and even started to die.
Read Original Article>>

« Newer Posts