Sun

‘Runaway greenhouse’ easier to trigger on Earth than thought, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: July 28, 2013   View Article

It’s plausible that conditions on Earth could get so hot and steamy that the oceans entirely evaporate and render the planet inhospitable to life, according to new calculations that suggest this so-called runaway greenhouse is easier to initiate than previously believed.

“We could go into the runaway greenhouse today if we could get the planet hot enough to get enough water vapor into the atmosphere,” Colin Goldblatt, a professor of Earth system evolution at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, and lead author of the study, told NBC News.

The reality, though, he said, is that burning all the planet’s fossil fuels such as oil and coal is “very unlikely” to trigger the uncontrollable warming.

Sunlight forecasts to benefit electric utilities and … NASCAR

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 21, 2013   View Article

Race car drivers are likely to benefit from a newly-launched $4.1 million U.S. government-funded program to improve 36-hour forecasts of incoming energy from the sun.

Cloud cover impacts racetrack temperature, which in turn affects how well tires grip the pavement, researchers working on the program explained.

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.

Sunflowers inspire improved solar power plant

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 11, 2012   View Article

The well-tuned geometry of the florets on the face of the sunflower head has inspired an improved layout for mirrors used to concentrate sunlight and generate electricity, according to new research.

The sunflower-inspired layout could reduce the footprint of concentrating solar power (CSP) plants by about 20 percent, which could be a boon for a technology that’s limited, in part, by its massive land requirements.

CSP plants employ arrays of giant mirrors, each the size of half a tennis court, to beam the sun’s rays up to heat a tube of fluid in the top of a tower. This hot fluid drives steam turbines that generate electricity.

Ant frying tech could make solar cheap

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: November 3, 2011   View Article

Admit it. You fried an ant under a magnifying glass. It’s OK. We did it too. Now scientists are reporting a breakthrough in a similar technology that could bring down the cost of solar power.

About 50 percent of the cost of solar power is due to the materials and manufacturing of solar cells, essentially pieces of silicon that convert sunlight into electricity. By concentrating the sunlight, you can get the same amount of power with fewer cells.

Fill’er up – with hydrogen?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: May 2, 2011   View Article

Scientists have found and tested an abundant and inexpensive catalyst needed to make hydrogen fuel from sunlight and water, a necessary step on the road to the elusive clean, green hydrogen economy.

The new catalyst — molybdenum sulfide— is an alternative to platinum, an expensive and rare catalyst used to convert single ions of hydrogen split off from water into hydrogen gas.

“That’s the very neat thing here, it is quite inexpensive and abundant,” Jens Norskov, a chemical engineer with the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University, told me Monday.

The dream of a hydrogen economy stems from the fact that hydrogen is an energy dense and clean fuel — upon combustion, it releases water. The problem is that most hydrogen is produced from natural gas in a process that releases carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.

Fill’er up – with hydrogen?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: May 2, 2011   View Article

Scientists have found and tested an abundant and inexpensive catalyst needed to make hydrogen fuel from sunlight and water, a necessary step on the road to the elusive clean, green hydrogen economy.

The new catalyst — molybdenum sulfide— is an alternative to platinum, an expensive and rare catalyst used to convert single ions of hydrogen split off from water into hydrogen gas.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach