Monday, November 10, 2008

ECO CLIPS

Tree Hugger - This is why Shawn-Yu Lin of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute thinks he can change the solar power game: "To get maximum efficiency when converting solar power into electricity, you want a solar panel that can absorb nearly every single photon of light, regardless of the sun's position in the sky. Our new antireflective coating makes this possible." Lin says that he's gotten around the problem of solar panels absorbing only part of the light which hits them by develop a seven-layer coating which allows the panel to absorb 96.21% of the sunlight that falls on it. This compares to untreated panels which may only be able to use about two-thirds of the light hitting them. What's more, because this coating allows the panel to do this with all angles of light hitting it, it could eliminate the practice used by some solar arrays of using mechanical trackers to follow the sun throughout the day.

Guardian, UK - Nuclear power plants smaller than a garden shed and able to power 20,000 homes will be on sale within five years, say scientists at Los Alamos, the US government laboratory which developed the first atomic bomb. The miniature reactors will be factory-sealed, contain no weapons-grade material, have no moving parts and will be nearly impossible to steal because they will be encased in concrete and buried underground. The US government has licensed the technology to Hyperion, a New Mexico-based company which said last week that it has taken its first firm orders and plans to start mass production within five years. 'Our goal is to generate electricity for 10 cents a watt anywhere in the world,' said John Deal, chief executive of Hyperion. 'They will cost approximately $25m each. For a community with 10,000 households, that is a very affordable $250 per home.'. . . 'You could never have a Chernobyl-type event - there are no moving parts,' said Deal. 'You would need nation-state resources in order to enrich our uranium. Temperature-wise it's too hot to handle. It would be like stealing a barbecue with your bare hands.'



Tree Hugger - Late last month, the Australian Solar Sailor company announced they'd signed a deal with China's biggest shipping line, COSCO, to fit some of their jumbo jet sized solar-powered sails to a tanker and bulk carrier. The 30 meter long sails, festooned in photovoltaic panels are expected to catch enough wind to reduce fuel costs by between 20% and 40%, whilst those PV cells will provide the ships with 5% of their electricity. A computer automatically angles the sails for maximum wind and solar efficiency, and if all goes to plan the sails will have recovered their initial cost within four years.

Renee Schoof, McClatchy Newspapers - In the next few weeks, the Bush administration is expected to relax environmental-protection rules on power plants near national parks, uranium mining near the Grand Canyon and more mountaintop-removal coal mining in Appalachia. The administration is widely expected to try to get some of the rules into final form by the week before Thanksgiving because, in some cases, there's a 60-day delay before new regulations take effect. And once the rules are in place, undoing them generally would be a more time-consuming job for the next Congress and administration. The regulations already have had periods of public comment, and no further comments are being taken. The administration has proposed the rules and final approval is considered likely.