To start the New Year off, we certainly have a turn of events.
Fifteen years ago, I was fired from my government job for proposing a Conference on Future Energy (COFE) in 1999
at the US State Dept. and then the US Commerce Dept. (where I worked)
because COFE featured one cold fusion speaker, which was too
controversial at the time. However, now in the 21st century,
with the skeptical inquirers Drs. Park and Kurtz incapacitated, there
is no longer an overt suppression of cold fusion advancement.
Instead, NASA is opening their doors to a presentation on cold fusion (LENR) on Feb. 25, 2014!
In fact, the whole 6-day virtual 2014 Seedling Seminar,
sponsored by the NASA Aeronautics Research Institute, looks
to be very forward thinking.
Talk about forward thinking, we have a blockbuster for the #1
story. Everyone knew it could be done but apparently there was never
enough incentive to make it happen, especially when gas was cheap.
Now for the first time ever, consumers can demand that car makers
give them over 200 miles per gallon or they will go buy a Volkswagen!
To be precise, Volkswagen has achieved 261 mpg with the new XL1. What
I am excited about as well is the speculation of what happens when
everyone starts driving such cars thus producing a 90% less demand
for oil. This is a revolution worth pushing for and we at IRI hope
the environmental groups will promote this as much as possible, as
soon as Volkswagen puts the XL1 on the road and the safety standards
Our Story #2 is a trendsetter that I predict will attract more
and more similar inventions as energy harvesting becomes mainstream
with piezoelectric generators and people on the move start generating
their own electricity on the go. Rather than the old style of magnets
and coils, these new piezo actuators are lightweight and durable.
Story #3 continues our institute's emphasis on the emerging
science of quantum vacuum energy, also related to zero point energy.
This month a group in Germany's University at Mainz are taking
advantage of out of thermal equilibrium quantum coherence and
"squeezed states". As explained in my book, Zero Point
Energy, the Fuel of the Future, these scientists predict twice the
Carnot Limit for such engines, which seems on the surface to violate
thermodynamics. This is the latest quantum coherence development
which follows on the footsteps of several other similar techniques to
increase work performance from quantum systems.
Is the concept of a vertical forest an energy saver? Of course
it is as seen in Story #4. Instead of using 50,000 square meters
horizontally, the new Milan Inhabitat, being completed in 2014, has a
small footprint and lots of floors. What also is very attractive for
future energy is the integrated PV panels for providing electrical
power, besides the 11,000 groundcover plants, 450 trees, and 5,000
shrubs to provide lots of oxygen for the cohabitating humans. Very
Story #5 shows another way to integrate photovoltaics with a
thin sheet of dyed plastic used to capture and concentrate sunlight.
Developed by the University of Illinois, these flexible solar panels
could also start a revolution by providing electricity to devices
previously incompatible with stiff panels.
Valone, PhD, PE.
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1) The Most Efficient Car Ever: Volkswagen XL1
Drive more than 500 miles on two gallons of fuel
For years, automakers have worked to push fuel economy
beyond 100 miles per gallon. Reaching that mark typically meant three
things: cutting weight, maximizing aerodynamics, and improving
powertrain efficiency. In 1999, Volkswagen engineers got close with
the Lupo 3L, a three-cylinder coupe that could go 78.4 miles on one
gallon of diesel. Not satisfied, VW tasked star engineer Ulrich
Hackenberg, whose résumé includes work at Bentley and Bugatti, with
breaking the 100mpg barrier. Hackenberg's team crushed that goal-and
then some. In tests, their new XL1 got a mind-bending 261 mpg.
The team designed nearly every part of the XL1 from
scratch. To trim weight and add strength, they replaced some steel
components, such as the chassis, with carbon-fiber ones. To
reduce drag, they removed side-view mirrors and sculpted the body
into a smooth, low-riding shape. With the car lighter and slipperier,
the 830cc, two-cylinder diesel engine and the 20kW electric motor can
propel the XL1 well over 500 miles on a single 2.6-gallon tank
VW is producing a limited run of 250 XL1s for sale in
Europe. U.S. safety regulations make importing the car tricky, but
Hackenberg says that Americans may see the XL1's efficient engine in
Fuel economy: 261
diesel, 27 electric
Top speed: 99
This article originally appeared in the January 2014
issue of Popular Science.
2) Battery in
A Box Backpack
02 January 2014 by MacGregor
Campbell, New Scientist, http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22129504.400-collapsing-backpack-charges-gadgets-as-you-walk.html
WEARABLE computers are on their
way and soon you'll be able to power them yourself. A
new type of nano-generator converts
movement from walking into electricity to keep your gadgets going.
Wearable generators often use
electromagnetic induction, which is efficient but requires bulky,
heavy magnets. Smaller, lighter piezoelectric
generators use ceramic crystal to convert pressure
into voltage, but they are expensive and a lot less efficient.
Now Zhong Lin Wang and
colleagues at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, have
captured the electricity generated from bringing two differently
charged surfaces into contact, then separating them. This is called
the triboelectric effect, the same process that causes static
To use triboelectric
nano-generators (TENGs) to create a power-generating backpack, the
team coated one side of plastic cards with aluminium film filled with
nano-scale pores. The other side had copper film that had an array of
polymer nanowires on its surface. They then arranged the cards in a
rhombus, like a collapsible cardboard box (see diagram).
Every step you take makes the box collapse in
on itself so the two sides of the cards come into contact. Nanowires
and pores interlock, increasing the contact area and,
correspondingly, the amount of charge that builds up. After each
collapse, a spring makes the sides jump back into shape, separating
the cards and creating a potential difference that drives current
through a circuit. The TENGs are about 50 per cent efficient,
comparing well to piezoelectric systems, which struggle to get beyond
8 per cent.
In tests the 2 kilogram backpack generated over
1 watt of power during walking, enough to run 40 LEDs simultaneously
(ACS Nano, doi.org/qhz).
generators based on electromagnetic induction produce
5 to 20 watts, but weigh 10 times as much.
A separate experiment used the same method to
charge a lithium-ion battery (ACS Nano, doi.org/qhzqhx).
Wang envisions TENGs built directly into sensors, phones and wearable
computers. His team recently built a stand-alone generator capable of
powering a smartphone.
This article appeared in print
under the headline "Battery-in-a-box backpack charges gadgets on
Quantum Squeezed State Twice Max Carnot Efficiency
January 22, 2014, Physical Review Letters
Ed. Note: Squeezed states have
a history of exhibiting overunity energy output. See my book, Zero Point Energy:
Fuel of the Future by Valone. This is just the
latest tip of the quantum iceberg.
Engine Beyond the Carnot Limit
J. Roßnagel, O.
Abah, F. Schmidt-Kaler, K. Singer, and E. Lutz, Phys. Rev.
Lett. 112, 030602 (2014)
22, 2014, http://physics.aps.org/synopsis-for/10.1103/PhysRevLett.112.030602
thermodynamics developed in an era when the typical engine weighed
over a ton. Now, researchers study engines small enough that quantum
effects can be considered and well-known limits may no longer apply.
In a paper in Physical Review Letters, physicists
envision a nanoengine that takes advantage of "squeezed"
states whose noise is concentrated in one parameter and reduced in
another. The authors find that the efficiency of this device could be
at least a factor of 2 higher than the classical
The Carnot limit
gives the maximum efficiency (work output divided by heat input) for
a heat engine driven by the temperature difference between two
thermal reservoirs. However, this limit does not apply to reservoirs
that are engineered to be out of thermal equilibrium. Recent
theoretical work has shown that engines coupled to reservoirs
exhibiting quantum correlations or coherence can surpass the Carnot
from the University at Mainz, Germany, and his colleagues have
imagined a new nanoengine design where squeezing puts the system out
of equilibrium. A squeezed state has a nonuniform distribution of
noise. For example, an oscillator might have less noise in its
amplitude but more noise in its phase. The researchers investigated
an engine consisting of a single trapped ion, whose state is
characterized by its oscillation around the trap axis. The reservoirs
in this case are two laser fields tuned to add or remove oscillation
energy from the ion. When the higher-temperature reservoir is
squeezed, more energy is added to the ion, allowing it to produce
more work. In their calculations, the researchers adjusted the
engine's parameters for maximum power and found that squeezing can
raise the efficiency to 20% for a realistic
trapped ion system. - Michael Schirber
NASA Langley Research Center
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4) Vertical Forest Near
Completion in Milan
by Liz Eve,
01/18/14, Inhabitat, http://inhabitat.com/newly-released-photos-show-the-bosco-verticale-vertical-forest-nearing-completion-in-milan/ filed
under:Architecture, gallery, green roof, Sustainable Building, Vertical Garden
At first glance it looked too fantastical to be real,
but now the completion date for the world's first vertical forest is
drawing near. Located in Milan, Bosco Verticale is Boeri Studio's answer to the question
of how to make cities greener while supporting an ever denser urban
population. Since Inhabitat first reported on the project in
2011, it has captured the imagination of many across the globe,
all eager to see how the benefits of downtown city living
can be enhanced within a vertical forest environment. Inhabitat spoke
to Boeri Studio this January for an update and some photos of the
building's progress. Keep reading to get the latest.
photographs start to show the appearance of the finished residential
tower blocks now that most of the scaffolding has been dismantled.
Most of the 100 different species of trees and shrubs are
in place, surrounding the external cladding. You can begin to imagine
relaxing high up above the city amongst the dappled sunlight breaking
through the leaves, breathing the fresh air, filtered by
the forest microclimate, deep into your lungs. Completion
is expected by late spring/early summer 2014 and an application for LEED Gold certification has been
flat land, each building has the capacity to hold, in
amount of trees, shrubs and ground cover plants, an area equal to
10.000 sqm of forest. This includes 480 large and
medium size trees, 250 small size trees, 11,000 groundcover plants
and 5,000 shrubs. Greywater recycling will water
the vegetation and integrated photovoltaic panels will provide
terms of population, each tower supports the
equivalent population of an area of single family dwellings of nearly
50,000 sqm. The smallest apartment is 65 sqm and includes a small
woodland terrace. The largest apartment is around 450 sqm with a
terrace of around 80 sqm.
architects are looking forward to the next phase when the engineers,
builders, masons, lawyers and electricians finish their work and
residents begin new lives within the project. Every plant has been
chosen by botanists to thrive in it's particular orientation and
microclimate within the structure. Moreover, a specialized maintenance
company will keep the vertical forest in good health in the
years to come. Dolce Vita Homes have worked in
collaboration with Coima Image to design the
interior specifications of the apartments. Residenze Porta Nuova have begun marketing the apartments and you can have a peek at the brochures
reforestation could become a buzz word as future developments utilize
this innovative concept to simultaneously increase biodiversity and provide
inspirational city dwellings.
Read more: New Photos Show 'Bosco Verticale' Vertical
Forest Nearing Completion in Milan | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design
Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building
back to table of contents
Plastic Doubles Solar Cell Power
Why It Matters
solar: A prototype flexible solar panel uses yellow plastic to
capture and concentrate sunlight.
thin sheet of dyed plastic could cut the cost of solar power,
particularly for applications that require solar cells to be highly
efficient and flexible.
at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are using the
plastic to gather sunlight and concentrate it onto a solar cell made
of gallium arsenide in an experimental setup. Doing so doubled the
power output of the cells.
far, the researchers have shown that the approach works with a single
solar cell, but they plan to make larger sheets of plastic dotted
with arrays of many tiny solar cells. The approach could either let a
smaller solar panel produce more electricity, or make a panel cheaper
by reducing the amount of photovoltaic material needed.
lower cost compared to what you would have to do to get the same
efficiency by completely coating the surface with active solar
material," says John Rogers, professor of materials
science and engineering and chemistry at the University of Illinois.
The work was presented at the Materials Research Society conference in
Boston this week.
light hits the plastic sheet, a specially selected dye absorbs it.
The dye is luminescent-meaning that after it absorbs light, it
reëmits it. But the light it emits is largely confined inside the
plastic sheet. So it bounces along inside the plastic until it
reaches a solar cell, much in the same way light is guided along
inside a fiber optic cable. The dye absorbs only part of the solar
spectrum. So to further boost power output, the researchers added a
reflective material that directs some of the light that the dye
doesn't absorb to the solar cell.
approach could be compatible with another innovation from the same
group of researchers-a technique for making flexible and stretchable
solar cells that can conform to irregular surfaces (see "Making Stretchable Electronics").
solar panels could find new uses. The military, for example, is
interested in laminating solar cells to soldiers' helmets to power
their electronic gear. Bendable cells could also conform to the wings
and fuselage of small drones to charge on-board batteries and extend
their flight times. And the technology might even be used for cases
that recharge tablets and other portable electronics.
are other ways to concentrate sunlight and direct and reduce the
amount of solar cell material needed. Rogers's group has founded a
company, Semprius, that can concentrate sunlight 1,600 times,
compared to just 10 times for the dyed plastic sheet (see "Ultra-Efficient Solar"). But the
concentrators used to do this are bulky and require a tracking system
to keep them pointed at the sun as it moves through the sky. Such
systems might lead to low-cost solar power for the grid, but they're
impractical for solar helmets or tablets. In contrast, the dye-coated
plastic is thin and lightweight and can absorb light coming from
different angles, making tracking unnecessary.
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