News, Renewable Energy

One in five Australian homes use solar energy

A typical Australian home powered by rooftop solar panels. Image: AdelaideNow

Amazingly, 19 percent of all Australian households have solar panels or solar water heaters installed, according to  the Australian Bureau of Statistic (ABS). The statistic is even more astonishing when you consider only three years ago five percent of the households had rooftop solar panels. A land of sunshine Of the 19 per cent, 14 per cent of these households…

Chemistry, News, Renewable Energy

New process turns CO2 into alcohol using enzymes

alcohol to CO2

We’ve previously told you how our ancestors’ adaptation to metabolizing alcohol which first happened some 10 million years ago may have been essential to their survival. There’s more to it though. The same enzyme that metabolizes alcohol, dehydrogenase (ADH4), may be eventually used to transform CO2 into alcohol, which could be later used as a fuel, according to a paper…

News, Renewable Energy

Researchers convert sunlight to electricity with record 40% efficiency using commercial solar cells

The 40% efficiency milestone is the latest in a long line of achievements by UNSW solar researchers spanning four decades - Martin Green. Image credits: UNSFW.

Australian solar researchers have converted over 40 percent of solar light’s energy into electricity, the highest efficiency ever reported by any team for this kind of system. The key for the design is a custom filter which captures sunlight that is normally wasted by commercial solar cells on tower. “This is the highest efficiency ever reported for sunlight conversion into electricity,”…

Design, Renewable Energy

New Silent Wind Tree Turbines Make Energy Production Beautiful

Wind-tree-urban-537x402

Among the more common arguments against wind turbines you usually have noise and ugliness. Personally, I really don’t find wind turbines ugly and studies have found that generally wind turbines are very quiet but hey – this is the general perception. For these reasons, French engineers have spent three years developing beautiful and quiet urban versions of wind turbines – the results…

Chemistry, News, Physics, Renewable Energy

Graphene membrane allows mobile Fuel Cells to harvest Hydrogen straight from Air

In simple terms, graphene, is a thin layer of pure carbon; it is a single, tightly packed layer of carbon atoms that are bonded together in a hexagonal honeycomb lattice. Image: Wikimedia

A team of UK researchers led by none other but  Nobel Laureate Andre Geim – one of persons involved in graphene‘s discovery in 2004 – has shown that the wondrous two dimensional material graphene can used as a proton exchange membrane in fuel cells. The find took everybody by surprise since no one expected graphene could allow protons to pass through…

News, Physics, Renewable Energy

A new way to harvest solar energy using metal nanoparticles and plasmon resonance

An ultra-sensitive needle measures the voltage that is generated while the nanospheres are illuminated. Credit: AMOLF/Tremani - Figure: Artist impression of the plasmo-electric effect. - See more at: http://www.caltech.edu/news/new-technique-could-harvest-more-suns-energy-44923#sthash.IukitP4G.dpuf

Solar cell technology has improved dramatically over the past couple of year, yet it will be a long time before multi-junction cells – then kind that can reach efficiency well over 40% – will become affordable to small home owners or even large scale installation. New methods are always explored, however, each with its own angle to harnessing solar energy, benefits…

News, Renewable Energy

Solar cells etched with Blu-ray bit patterns absorb 21.8% more energy

solar cell blu-ray

Apart from both being shiny, it’s hard to see any connection between a Blu-ray disk and a solar panel. Northwestern University researchers thought outside the box, however, and used the disk’s tiny stamped grooves and pits to make molds for solar panels. Because of the resulting structure’s geometry, the solar cells were able to absorb 21.8% more light. Overall, the…

News, Renewable Energy

Solar and Wind Energy becoming cheaper than conventional fuels

wind energy

It’s the main argument against renewable energy – sure, they’re environmentally friendly, they’re sustainable, they have very little emissions… but they’re expensive. But while that is already no longer true in many parts of the world, it may also not be true in America – where solar and wind energy are starting to overcome conventional fuels in terms of price. The…

News, Renewable Energy

Scotland Produced Enough Wind Energy To Power Every Home In October

Scotland aims to get 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Wind energy will play a key role in this. Image via Daily Mail.

It may be gloomy, windy and rainy, but the Scottish weather may have its upsides too. in October, Scotland generated enough power from wind to power up every single home in Scotland and a bit more. “Wind turbines alone generated an estimated 982,842MWh of electricity, enough to power 3,045,000 homes in the UK – equivalent to 126% of the electricity…

Chemistry, Green Living, News, Renewable Energy

Jet Fuel and Enzymes power Fuel Cell for the First Time

800px-Boeing_Fuel_Cell_Demonstrator_AB1

Researchers at University of Utah have demonstrated for the first time a working biological fuel cell that uses enzymes to convert jet fuel into electricity; all at room temperature. Fuel cells are much cleaner and efficient at producing energy than internal combustion engines – theoretically, fuel cells can be up to four times more efficient since the energy conversion is electrochemical…