Category Archives: Global Warming and Climate Change

Semitive announces micro wind turbine designed for low wind and safety

semtive wind turbineSemtive, an Argentinian company with offices in Silicon Valley, have developed a wind turbine, called NEMOI that is optimized to work at low wind speeds.  It is lightweight, and rotates on a vertical axis, which allows it to operate even in a soft breeze. It is safe, even with high-speed winds, and should not be a hazard to birds.  Semitive also claim that it’s virtually noiseless in any wind condition, making it more appropriate than traditional turbines for urban areas where noice is a major impediment to turbine acceptance.

Estimated cost of electricity is $.02 per kWh, making it extremely competitive with other sustainable and carbon based solutions.

Semtive claims that  it requires less than one hour to install and only one tool is needed (we assume it’s a wrench).  With only two sealed bearings, it is highly reliable and promises 40+ years of reliability.

The unit sells for $4695 and is available for preorder. More about Semtive and NEMOI on their website.

Low cost, inflammable battery made from an unlimited resource – Urea

Stanford researchers have come up with a battery that seems to fit all of the requirements for today’s needs:

low cost – it’s made from urea, which is contained in urine and many other easily obtainable sources

inflammable – the materials will not burn, which is a major advantage over lithium ion batteries

quick charge – the battery can charge in under an hour

efficient – The battery has a Coulombic efficiency rating of – 99.7 percent. (Coulombic efficiency is a measurement of how much charge exits the battery per unit of charge that it takes in during charging.)

The battery was developed at Stanford University by a team lead by chemistry Professor Hongjie Dai, who explained, “So essentially, what you have is a battery made with some of the cheapest and most abundant materials you can find on Earth. And it actually has good performance. Who would have thought you could take graphite, aluminum, urea, and actually make a battery that can cycle for a pretty long time?”

 Dai’s team was the first to make a rechargeable aluminum battery, in 2015.  This version is about 100 times cheaper than the 2015 model, with higher efficiency and a charging time of 45 minutes.

The group has licensed the battery patents to AB Systems, so there is a chance of getting the battery into the marketplace sometime soon.  Maybe Elon can make these at his Giga factory!

See more about this here.

New downdraft Solar Wind Energy generator rising in the Arizona desert Wind Tower

Very cool project written up in Conservation Magazine (U of Washington):

Imagine climbing to the top of New York City’s One World Trade Center, and then another 500 feet into the sky, and you’ve got an idea of how big the first solar downdraft tower will be. This new idea for clean power generation uses sunlight—sort of—and wind power—kind of—to generate an astonishing amount of electricity from an astonishingly tall tower. And one such structure will soon rise in the Arizona desert.

“This principle of creating the downdraft is absolutely proven science; there is no mystery about it,” says Ronald Pickett, CEO of Solar Wind Energy Tower. It is actually quite a simple idea, one that uses the sun’s heat without needing its direct rays. Water particles are sprayed from the top of a tall tower to cool the air. The cooler air then drops down through the tower (hot air rises, cool air falls) to its base, where it rushes into tunnels housing wind turbines. Those turbines power generators, and voilà: a massive solar/wind, hybrid energy system that can run all day and night, in the middle of the desert.

And we do mean desert. This system works only in places that are very hot and very dry. “Humidity is our enemy,” Pickett says; only the driest air will yield big-enough differences from the sprayed water vapor to create fast-enough downdrafts to run the turbines. The water will come from whatever source is available in a given location: groundwater or even desalinated seawater.”

More about the project from their site:

Solar Wind Energy offers a bold new approach to the United States and other nations aggressively pursuing energy independence with clean, sustainable energy solutions – one that overcomes the current limitations of known alternative energy sources and can produce up to 1,250 megawatts.

The Company’s hybrid solar-wind downdraft tower technology combines dry air, heated by the solar rays of the sun, with H2O, which acts as a strong catalyst to create a powerful natural downdraft wind. This wind hits turbines within the tower at significant speeds – powering generators to produce massive amounts of electricity. Bold yet brilliant!

New technology help you charge your phone battery in under a minute

StoreDot, a company based out of Tel Aviv, Israel has developed a battery technology that can charge your phone’s battery in under one minute. You can see a video demonstrating this here:

The nanotechnology powering this system was actually discovered through Alzheimer’s research. A particular protein that shortens neurons (causing Alzheimer’s) also showed particularly high capacitance, demonstrating a property called “charge trapping”.

We think this could have massive positive impact on making electric cars more practical, removing the main drawback of batteries over gasoline (charging time).

StoreDot discribes themselves thus:

StoreDot is a company with a ground-breaking technology, based on its discovery of new generation, self-assembled Nanodots of biological origin. Representing elementary biological building blocks, these multifunctional Nanodots are at the core of several patented innovations by StoreDot, and constitute the future nanotechnology and advanced nano-photonic devices, including smartphones, TV’s, energy storage devices and more.

These nano- crystals are uniform in size, 2 nanometers in diameter, and consist of bioorganic peptide molecules. They possess multi-functional intrinsic properties such as: unique fluorescence within the visible region; electrochemical, charge trapping, piezoelectric, nonlinear optical and others.

StoreDot’s novel approach of applying visible fluorescing Nanodots introduces a dramatic improvement in essential components of environmentally-friendly flexible displays. Due to their electrochemical attributes Nanodots are being used for preparing of new generation-batteries and supercapacitors. Bioorganic Nanodots have the potential to enhance current technologies of smartphones and TV displays, batteries, bio-LEDs, and bio-lasers. Furthermore, their biocompatibility presents a unique opportunity to apply them in nanomedicinal technology, drug delivery, food security labeling and more.

Learn more about them at

Good article about Wind Power preconceptions

We’ve been saying for a while that wind needs to get more local – even to the point of putting wind generators on rooftops just like solar installations. Here’s a good article from the energy collective that supports our viewpoint.


Note, it’s really windy out today – but no one I can see anywhere nearby is taking advantage of it to create electricity!


Finally, A True Plug and Play Solar Power Installation for Your Home

If you are a DIYer, now there’s a true “plug and play” solar power generator in the true sense of the word.

plug-and-play-solar has developed turnkey solar systems that allow you to install them on your roof and then simply plug them into the wall socket, and you will be saving electricity costs immediately.  The company claims a payback of the units to be about 7 years.

plug and play solar home installation

More details in this article from clean technica.

Batteries made of Sugar that are 10x more powerful than Lithium Batteries!

Seems too good to be true – batteries that are made of a renewable resource (sugar), are 100% biodegradable, provide 10x the power of Li batteries, and can be swapped, not recharged! But that’s the news today out of Virginia Tech. You can see the full release from Virginia Tech here.

BLACKSBURG, Va., Jan. 22, 2014 – A Virginia Tech research team has developed a battery that runs on sugar and has an unmatched energy density, a development that could replace conventional batteries with ones that are cheaper, refillable, and biodegradable.

The findings from Y.H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor of  biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering, were published yesterday in the journal Nature Communications.

While other sugar batteries have been developed, Zhang said his has an energy density an order of magnitude higher than others, allowing it to run longer before needing to be refueled.

In as soon as three years, Zhang’s new battery could be running some of the cell phones, tablets, video games, and the myriad other electronic gadgets that require power in our energy-hungry world, Zhang said.

“Sugar is a perfect energy storage compound in nature,” Zhang said. “So it’s only logical that we try to harness this natural power in an environmentally friendly way to produce a battery.”

In America alone, billions of toxic batteries are thrown away every year, posing a threat to both the environment and human health, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Zhang’s development could help keep hundreds of thousands of tons of batteries from ending up in landfills.

This is one of Zhang’s many successes in the last year that utilize a series of enzymes mixed together in combinations not found in nature. He has published articles on creating edible starch from non-food plants and developed a new way to extract hydrogen in an economical and environmentally friendly way that can be used to power vehicles.

In this newest development, Zhang and his colleagues constructed a non-natural synthetic enzymatic pathway that strips all charge potentials from the sugar to generate electricity in an enzymatic fuel cell. Then, low-cost biocatalyst enzymes are used as catalysts instead of costly platinum, which is typically used in conventional batteries.

Like all fuel cells, the sugar battery combines fuel — in this case, maltodextrin, a polysaccharide made from partial hydrolysis of starch — with air to generate electricity and water as the main byproducts.

“We are releasing all electron charges stored in the sugar solution slowly step-by-step by using an enzyme cascade,” Zhang said.

Different from hydrogen fuel cells and direct methanol fuel cells, the fuel sugar solution is neither explosive nor flammable and has a higher energy storage density. The enzymes and fuels used to build the device are biodegradable.

The battery is also refillable and sugar can be added to it much like filling a printer cartridge with ink.

Support for the current research comes from the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech and Cell-Free Bioinnovations, a biotech start-up, located in Blacksburg, Va. Additional funding was contributed by the National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research grant to Cell-Free Bioinnovations Inc. Zhiguang Zhu, the first author of this paper, and a 2013 biological systems engineering graduate of Virginia Tech, is the principal investigator for the National Science Foundation grant.