Archive for October, 2012

Solar tech converts sunlight at record-breaking rate

Publication: NBC News   Date: October 31, 2012   View Article

An out-of-the-lab solar-power system has successfully shown it can convert more than a third of the sun’s direct sunlight into electricity, a new record for a technology that focuses sunlight akin to the way school kids burn leaves and ants under magnifying glasses.

The record of 33.5 percent efficiency was announced Tuesday by Amonix, a manufacturer of concentrator photovoltaic  (CPV) solar power systems. The achievement was confirmed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and breaks the previous record of 30.5 percent, also held by Amonix.

Smarter electric grids could help us weather stormy future

Publication: NBC News   Date: October 30, 2012   View Article

As of Tuesday morning, Sandy was blamed for power outages affecting more than 8 million people. Although of little help to people in the dark today, so-called smart-grid technologies being installed around the country will make the electric grid more resilient to future storms, according to an industry expert.

One caveat: “It is economically unfeasible to storm-proof your system, and by storm-proof I mean resilient to anything that could happen,” Dean Oskvig, president of engineering consulting firm Black & Veatch’s global energy business, told NBC News Tuesday.

High-school girls invent a life-preserver T-shirt for toddlers

Publication: NBC News   Date: October 17, 2012   View Article

An all-girl team of high school students has invented a comfy and cozy T-shirt equipped with a mechanism that automatically inflates it into a life preserver when it gets soaking wet.

Called the Watawescue, the T-shirt is intended for children age 2 to 4 to wear while they are playing near a swimming pool.

Robo-cops may fight crime in the future – but it’s not what you think

Publication: NBC News   Date: October 2, 2012   View Article

A robot with a badge may soon patrol city streets, write parking tickets and Taser criminals, but don’t worry: these robo-cops will have the smarts, eyes and ears of trained police officers at the controls.

“This will be operated remotely by another person. The robot is not going to go and randomly shoot and make the mistake of hitting the wrong person,” Nagarajan Prabakar, a computer scientist at Florida International University, told NBC News on Tuesday.

Navy aims to turn seawater into jet fuel

Publication: NBC News   Date: October 1, 2012   View Article

The U.S. Navy may need to look no further than the water around its ships to produce jet fuel, according to a program underway at its research laboratory.

The technology would free the Navy from the logistical and economic challenges of refueling ships underway.

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