This is another great idea on how to make solar power cheaper than coal. Instead of expensive solar panels that convert sunlight directly into electricity this company uses inexpensive mirrors. These small mirrors focus the sun’s heat onto the bottom of a Sterling engine. A Sterling engine is a sealed box full of a gas and a piston. The gas expands from the heat and pushes the piston and then cools down on the other side and compresses back again. My favorite part from the article is at the end, “For its part, Stirling Energy points out that its solar dish Stirling equipment has held the world’s efficiency record for converting solar energy into grid-quality electricity since 1984.” Efficiency is the key for future sustainable energy goals that can be used after the oil runs out.
Archive for January, 2008
I think I may trade in the BMW for this car. It comes in two choices of drive train: 1. All electric plug-in and 2. Gasoline electric plug-in series hybrid. In both cases the back wheel is driven only by an electric motor with electricity stored in the main battery. In the first case you can only go as far as the battery will let you which is around 120-150 miles (they say) then you will have to stop by the nearest electrical outlet and plug it in for 2-4 hours for a full charge. In the second case you get a small 2 cylinder gas motor connected to a generator that can refill your battery while you are still driving giving you 300+ miles per gallon. I would choose the second model in order to take it on long trips (it can hold two full-length surf boards in the back) and it doesn’t cost that much more than the first option. Even with the second model you could still go whole entire months without using a drop of gasoline! Just plug it up every night and you’ll never use all the battery during your daily back and forth to work. I am excited about this kind of technology. We should have had cars like this back in the 90’s. Too bad GM had to kill the electric car. Now people have to go and make their own.
I purchaced the IngenuiTEA (pronounced ingenuity) from Thinkgeek.com and now I can enjoy the awesomeness of loose tea. I work with a few people from China so they let me sample some of the better teas that we can’t get here in America. One of my Chinese coworkers just gave me a small, vacuum sealed package of tea to try (Chinese Tea Pack). He said that a box of these tea packs is around $100 US. That’s got to be some good tea. I’ll give it a try later today. I’ll update this post with my review and the actual name of the tea. I’m trying to drink more tea and less Mountain Dew. I’m up to my second cup of tea today and zero Mountain Dews.
Solar power plants have one problem: they can’t make power at night! Until now. Use inexpensive mirrors to focus the sun’s heat on a single tower full of salt. Then pump the liquid hot salt to a water boiler to create steam that turns a turbine that turns a 500 Megawatt generator. Who would have thought salt was the best way to store heat? They will probably find something even better in a few years. For now, we have something that is basically free and non-explosive and non-toxic so that’s good.
My favorite part about the story is not the part where this invention could get us closer to more renewable and cleaner energy. It is the part that mentions the guy who invented the Super Soaker water gun technology is a freaking nuclear engineer! Lonnie Johnson’s invention is called the Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Conversion (JTEC). It is a solid-state, self contained “box” whose only input is heat. The inside apparently works like a fuel cell that cycles hydrogen from the hot side to the cold side. When the hydrogen passes through a special membrane in the middle it gives off electricity and the cycle continues because of the temperature/pressure difference. Make sure to read this article for more detailed information. I would HIGHLY recommend this site since it shows how it works with animation and much greater detail. We need more innovation like this to get us off of our oil addiction BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.
I guess Monica got fed up watching me mimic Max’s moves as he was doing them in class because she bought me a year’s worth of karate classes and all the pads, gear, and uniform required. (Thanks, Monica!) Last night was my second class ever (I go every Tuesday and Thursday) and I already learned how to break someone’s arm at the elbow by bending their arm backwards over my shoulder. That should come in handy any time someone reaches over my shoulder to rob me. I just hope I can remember the moves and such so I don’t stay a white belt the whole time. I already have to write everything down in my smartphone so I don’t forget it. Maybe karate moves are easier to remember. One thing’s for sure, I am getting the exercise I need and I am learning something that I can use to protect my family and I. Oh, and it’s really fun.
This video shows just how small and insignificant we are. Watching this reminded me of the movie Contact and where the main character asks her dad if there are any others like us out there and he says, “If it is just us, it seems like an awful waste of space.” An awful waste of space indeed! Also, when thinking about the movie Contact I also think about the Drake equation which shows just how good of a chance that there is other life out there. The only problem is that it is probably so far away – maybe in another galaxy entirely – that we would have to travel faster than light to explore or communicate in a reasonable amount of time (less than 100,000 years or so). My biggest worry right now is trying to figure out how the human race will survive our sun’s demise. Sure it’s a long long long long long long long time from now, but it will happen. We will need to travel to the nearest earth-like planet orbiting another star entirely. We would have to create a space ship that has a self-sustaining food supply and water recycling. It may take so long to get there, the passengers would go through several hundred generations while on the ship. Imagine growing up and living your entire life on a space ship where you are told stories and shown video and pictures from a “planet” called “Earth” and how you are helping keep the human race alive and are on the way to inhabit a new planet? Would that be awesome? y/n