Archive for the ‘innovation’ Category

Nikola Tesla in the lab with a few million volts of electricity overhead.
[image credit: Wikipedia]


Sounds interesting, but of course experiments don’t always go according to plan – as Tesla well knew.
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A New Zealand-based startup has developed a method of safely and wirelessly transmitting electric power across long distances without the use of copper wire, and is working on implementing it with the country’s second-largest power distributor, reports New Atlas.

The dream of wireless power transmission is far from new; everyone’s favorite electrical genius Nikola Tesla once proved he could power light bulbs from more than two miles away with a 140-foot Tesla coil in the 1890s – never mind that in doing so he burned out the dynamo at the local powerplant and plunged the entire town of Colorado Springs into blackout.

Tesla’s dream was to place enormous towers all over the world that could transmit power wirelessly to any point on the globe, powering homes, businesses, industries and even giant electric ships on the ocean.

Investor J.P. Morgan famously killed the idea with a single question: “where can I put the meter?”

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VW ID.3 [image credit: Alexander Migl @ Wikipedia]


The car is about the same size as VW’s Golf model but weighs 200 kilograms more due to the battery, which has an 8 year guarantee. What is guaranteed is not clear. List prices for most versions are well in excess of 30,000 euros, but subsidies are on offer. Don’t all rush at once…
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Volkswagen ID.3 latest news

Even before the Volkswagen ID.3 goes on sale, it has managed to pick up an award – from carwow!

The ID.3 collected the Most Wanted award at the 2019 carwow Car of the Year awards, says Green Car Congress.

This award is given to the brand that has the most-read news story here on carwow – and the ID.3 scooped that accolade by some margin.

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Windy Standard wind farm, Scotland [credit: RWE.com]


H/T Chaeremon

We’re supposed to believe that spending £25 million is going to somehow make UK power supplies cheaper. No explanation of where the energy for the flywheel is going to come from. Maybe more trees will have to be burnt, as wind can’t be relied on? Don’t even think about a catastrophic failure of the flywheel itself.

A giant flywheel in the north-east of Scotland could soon help prevent power outages across Britain by mimicking the effect of a power plant but without using fossil fuels, reports FR24News.

The pioneering project near Keith in Moray, which would cost around £25 million, will not produce electricity or produce carbon emissions – but it could help keep the lights on by stabilizing the grid’s electrical frequency.

Norwegian energy company Statkraft hopes that starting next winter, the new flywheel, designed by a division of General Electric, will be able to mimic the rotating turbines of a traditional power plant, which have helped balance the network frequency at around 50 hertz for decades.

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Well, there’s your problem. The climate alarmists need tech toys that don’t exist, and insist that ‘clean’ energy can change the weather.
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Without a major acceleration in clean energy innovation, countries and companies worldwide will be unable to fulfil their pledges to bring their carbon emissions down to net-zero in the coming decades, said the IEA in a new report.

The report assesses the ways in which clean energy innovation can be significantly accelerated to achieve net-zero emissions while enhancing energy security in a timeframe compatible with international climate and sustainable energy goals, says Trade Arabia.

The Special Report on Clean Energy Innovation is the first publication in the IEA’s revamped Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP) series and includes a comprehensive new tool analysing the market readiness of more than 400 clean energy technologies.

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This article ‘in association with the European Commission’ in effect tells us they are running out of ideas on how to progress their obsession with reducing the quantity of the minor trace gas carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere. They forget the main player by far in ‘greenhouse gases’ is known to be water vapour, so focus on CO2 is next to pointless anyway, even if current climate theory was credible.
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The Commission is launching today the first call for proposals under the Innovation Fund, one of the world’s largest programmes for the demonstration of innovative low-carbon technologies, financed by revenues from the auction of emission allowances from the EU’s Emissions Trading System.

The Innovation Fund will finance breakthrough technologies for renewable energy, energy-intensive industries, energy storage, and carbon capture, use and storage, reports The European Sting.

It will provide a boost to the green recovery by creating local future-proof jobs, paving the way to climate neutrality and reinforcing European technological leadership on a global scale.

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This is from a press release via Green Car Congress. The maker ‘estimates that its technology would be able to achieve a carbon emissions reduction of 25% for this vessel’.
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Norsepower Oy Ltd., the leading global provider of auxiliary wind propulsion systems, and SEA-CARGO, leading logistics provider in the North Sea market, announced an agreement to install two of Norsepower’s largest Rotor Sails (earlier post) on board the SC Connector, a sidedoor Ro-Ro.

The agreement aso marks the installation of the world’s first tiltable Rotor Sail, showcasing the innovative design adaptations that can be made for individual vessel requirements.

The SC Connector, a 12,251 gross tonne (GT) Ro-Ro cargo vessel operates in the North Sea, which allows for some of the most favorable wind conditions for Rotor Sails.

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Austria’s Pyramidenkogel: ‘at a height of 100 metres it is the tallest wooden observation tower in the world’ says Wikipedia [image credit: Rollroboter @ Wikipedia]


Another case of jumping on the climate bandwagon to promote a product? The term used is ‘mass timber’, or engineered wood. Sweden has already built the first wooden wind turbine tower, made of modular laminated wood.
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Architects and engineers are working on ways to swap steel and glass for strong, sustainable wood-based materials, says Discover Magazine.

When the empire state building was completed in 1931, the 102-story skyscraper ranked as the tallest in the world, a beacon of American progress as well as a lightning rod for Midtown Manhattan.

And the material that made it possible was steel — or so people believed until 2015, when Canadian architect Michael Green showed that an identical structure could be fabricated out of timber.

Green was not proposing replacing the 20th-century icon. His plans are far more radical. Green wants the global construction industry to replace steel and concrete with high-tech plywood.

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The focus here is on heavy duty engines. Of course they have to claim that carbon dioxide, vital to plants and vegetation, is a ‘pollutant’ but this is from the crazy side of today’s climate-obsessed world.
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Southwest Research Institute engineers have developed the next generation of clean diesel engine technology to reduce hazardous nitrogen oxides (NOx) and carbon dioxide emissions while minimizing fuel consumption, says Green Car Congress.

Working with regulatory agencies, vehicle manufacturers and suppliers, SwRI combined engine modifications with integrated aftertreatment technology and control strategies to reach near-zero emissions levels (0.02 g/hp-hr NOx emissions).

SwRI developed the technology for the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The work is described in a pair of SAE Technical Papers.

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Promotional video:

Regardless of questionable greenhouse climate theories, who wouldn’t want lower fuel consumption rates for their vehicle? ‘Up to 30%’ better economy is mentioned.
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A technology developed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory could pave the way for increased fuel economy and lower greenhouse gas emissions as part of an octane-on-demand fuel-delivery system, reports Phys.org.

Designed to work with a car’s existing fuel, the onboard separation technology is the first to use chemistry—not a physical membrane—to separate ethanol-blended gasoline into high- and low-octane fuel components.

An octane-on-demand system can then meter out the appropriate fuel mixture to the engine depending on the power required: lower octane for idling, higher octane for accelerating.

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Coal mine shaft and winding tower [image credit: Andy Dingley @ Wikipedia]


Like pumped hydro or any gravity-based system it uses more power than it stores. Euan Mearns and Roger Andrews did an interesting analysis on this idea in 2018, comparing it to batteries and hydro. One issue is finding enough suitable disused mine shafts that aren’t flooded. At least heavy weights don’t degrade over time, unlike batteries.
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The pilot project aims to demonstrate the firm’s technology, which works by using excess electricity to lift 12,000 tonnes of weights in a deep shaft and releasing them at a later time to generate energy, says Energy Live News.

The trial aims to assess the response speed of energy generation once the weights are released.

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Assessing integrated solar roofs for EVs

Posted: May 15, 2020 by oldbrew in innovation, Travel
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Lightyear One prototype


A novel range extender, or just another way to make costly EVs even more expensive? Insurance costs could be eye-watering too.

High-tech mobility innovator Lightyear and Royal DSM will jointly scale the commercialization of Lightyear’s unique solar-powered roof for the electric vehicle market, reports Green Car Congress.

With this solution, both companies aim to accelerate the global adoption of a broad range of Electric Vehicles (EVs).

Specifically, the partnership aims to integrate solar-powered roofs in a variety of electric vehicles, including cars, vans and buses, thus enabling users to charge their vehicle directly with clean energy.

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Great Barrier Reef, Australia [image credit: BBC]


Research continues, but what other ‘futuristic’ climate-related plans might they want to conjure up if this trial is deemed a success?
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An ambitious “cloud brightening” experiment has been carried out over Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in an early-stage trial that scientists hope could become a futuristic way to protect coral from global warming, says Phys.org.

In an attempt to cool waters around the reef by making clouds reflect more sunlight, researchers said they used a boat-mounted fan similar to a snow cannon to shoot salt crystals into the air.

Results from the trial were “really, really encouraging”, the project’s lead scientist Daniel Harrison from Southern Cross University said on Friday.

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Hydrogen-powered bus


Interesting, but as ever, cost and practicality questions have to be considered. Hydrogen has to be produced in an industrial process before it can be stored in large volumes. On the other hand, we’re told fuel cells could operate at ‘much safer pressures’ with this method.
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A research team led by Northwestern University has designed and synthesized new materials with ultrahigh porosity and surface area for the storage of hydrogen and methane for fuel cell-powered vehicles, reports Phys.org.

These gases are attractive clean energy alternatives to carbon dioxide-producing fossil fuels.

The designer materials, a type of a metal-organic framework (MOF), can store significantly more hydrogen and methane than conventional adsorbent materials at much safer pressures and at much lower costs.

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An end to this?


The researchers also imagine devices that would wirelessly power implants in a patient’s body without any surgery to change batteries.

Any device that sends out a Wi-Fi signal also emits terahertz waves —electromagnetic waves with a frequency somewhere between microwaves and infrared light, says Technology.org.

These high-frequency radiation waves, known as “T-rays,” are also produced by almost anything that registers a temperature, including our own bodies and the inanimate objects around us.

Terahertz waves are pervasive in our daily lives, and if harnessed, their concentrated power could potentially serve as an alternate energy source. Imagine, for instance, a cellphone add-on that passively soaks up ambient T-rays and uses their energy to charge your phone.

However, to date, terahertz waves are wasted energy, as there has been no practical way to capture and convert them into any usable form.

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EC Power’s All-Climate Battery


This type of battery, adopted by BMW among others, will be used in runabout vehicles at the next Winter Olympics in Beijing. Its self-heating feature means it can perform well in sub-zero conditions, unlike most Li-ion batteries. One report says it’s ‘only 1.5 percent heavier and costs 0.04 percent more than a conventional lithium-ion battery’.

A lithium-ion battery that is safe, has high power and can last for 1 million miles has been developed by a team in Penn State’s Battery and Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Center, reports TechXplore.

Electric vehicle batteries typically require a tradeoff between safety and energy density. If the battery has high energy and power density, which is required for uphill driving or merging on the freeway, then there is a chance the battery can catch fire or explode in the wrong conditions.

But materials that have low energy/power density, and therefore high safety, tend to have poor performance. There is no material that satisfies both. For that reason, battery engineers opt for performance over safety.

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‘Truths’ is an acronym* but it helps with the publicity. The satellite ‘will be sensitive to light in the visible and near-infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum’.
[*Traceable Radiometry Underpinning Terrestrial- and Helio- Studies]

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The UK is going to lead a space mission to get an absolute measurement of the light reflected off Earth’s surface, reports BBC Science.

The information will be used to calibrate the observations of other satellites, allowing their data to be compared more easily.

Called Truths, the new spacecraft was approved for development by European Space Agency member states in November.

Proponents of the mission expect its data to help reduce the uncertainty in projections of future climate change.

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Tesla Model 3 [image credit: Vauxford @ Wikipedia]


Of course he could have removed the heavy battery pack altogether and replaced it with an equivalent car engine, in theory at least. But he didn’t, so on with the report…

An engineer from Austria has recreated an even cheaper Model 3 by converting Tesla’s flagship electric vehicle into a hybrid by adding a two-cylinder gasoline engine and “downgrading” the battery pack, reports OilPrice.com.

Frank Obrist from Lustenau, Austria, founder of engineering company OBRIST Powertrain, wants to make EVs more affordable.

OBRIST Powertrain claims that the hybrid Tesla would have twice the range compared to the fully electric vehicle as designed and manufactured by Tesla.

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Solar power complex in California [USA.Gov – BLM – BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT]


This public statement looks long on ambition but short on realistic and/or affordable possibilities. They openly admit that existing ‘green’ tech won’t cut the mustard on its own, as everyone knew – or should have known – all along. In other words their legislated targets can’t be met, as things stand. The same problems will exist everywhere else that tries to enforce similar energy policies in pursuit of a ‘carbon-free’ mirage.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has released a solicitation (GFO-19-305) to fund innovative, non-Li-ion energy storage research projects, including green electrolytic hydrogen systems, reports Green Car Congress.

The Commission notes that the state’s statutory requirements (SB-350, SB-100) for low-GHG electricity cannot be met with currently fielded technologies alone, because those technologies do not have the energy density, daily cycle capability, longevity, safety, and price to be viable for the diverse set of applications that will be needed in the State.

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Small modular reactor [credit: ANS Nuclear Cafe]


The battle to make nuclear power more practical and affordable steps up a gear.

NuScale Power’s small modular reactor (SMR) design has cleared the latest stage of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)’s review process, reports New Civil Engineer.

The reactor is the world’s first SMR to undergo design certification review by the NRC, after passing phase 4 of the review process. It is on track for approval by September 2020.

SMR supporters see the reactors as a safer, more affordable nuclear power option.

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Solar train – OK for millionaires?

Posted: December 1, 2019 by oldbrew in innovation, Travel
Tags: ,

A bit of fun for tourists, but an electric bus would have been a lot cheaper.