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Sent:                               Tuesday, January 28, 2014 7:40 PM


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 January 2014




    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 are tweaked. 


   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 inspiring architecture. 


    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.




Thomas Valone, PhD, PE.
























1) The Most Efficient Car Ever: Volkswagen XL1

   Popular Science  



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 of fuel. 



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 future VWs.

Volkswagen XL1

Fuel economy: 261 mpg

Weight: 1,753 pounds

Horsepower: 47 diesel, 27 electric 

Top speed: 99 mph


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,


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 electricity shocks.

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 Existing backpack 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 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 the go"




3) Quantum Squeezed State Twice Max Carnot Efficiency 

 Published 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.



Nanoscale Heat Engine Beyond the Carnot Limit

J. Roßnagel, O. Abah, F. Schmidt-Kaler, K. Singer, and E. Lutz, Phys. Rev. Lett. 112, 030602 (2014)

Published January 22, 2014,


Classical 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 higher than the classical Carnot limit.


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 bound.

Johannes Roßnagel 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


Sent in by:

Dr. Joseph M. Zawodny

NASA Langley Research Center


Hampton, VA 23681-2199



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4) Vertical Forest Near Completion in Milan


by Liz Eve, 01/18/14, Inhabitat, filed under:Architecturegallerygreen roofSustainable BuildingVertical 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.


New 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 submitted. 


On 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 power.


In 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.


The 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 already.


Metropolitan 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 



5) Colored Plastic  Doubles Solar Cell Power

Why It Matters 



Luminescent solar: A prototype flexible solar panel uses yellow plastic to capture and concentrate sunlight.

A 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.


Researchers 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.


So 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.


"It's 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.


As 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.


The 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").


Flexible 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.


There 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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