Energy

Sewage to help Microsoft serve up web pages

Publication: NBC News   Date: November 20, 2012   View Article

Microbes feasting on raw sewage at a wastewater treatment plant will soon help power the cloud, thanks to a Microsoft project that will use biogas generated by the little bugs to run a data center.

Data centers are typically massive banks of servers that keep the Internet humming along nicely. They handle the flow of digital information when you order a song on iTunes, check your Facebook, send an instant message, or post on Twitter, for example.

Solar trucks provide electricity in Sandy’s wake

Publication: NBC News   Date: November 16, 2012   View Article

In the Sandy-ravaged Rockaway Beach neighborhood of New York, a 10-year-old truck outfitted with 256-square feet of solar panels is a working example of how cities can prepare for superstorms of the future.

The truck, Rolling Sunlight, is one of several mobile solar generators deployed in the region as part of the Solar Sandy coalition of solar companies and nonprofits that have banded together to provide residents and relief workers with electricity.

African girls’ pee-powered generator raises questions

Publication: NBC News   Date: November 8, 2012   View Article

A urine-powered generator presented by a group of school-age girls at an innovation fair in Africa is generating buzz as a world-changing breakthrough, but a reality-check with the expert who invented the contraption at the heart of the technology might flush those expectations down the drain.

The contraption in question is an electrolytic cell that converts urea — the main compound in urine besides water — into nitrogen, water and hydrogen.

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.

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.

Dragster sets speed record with cheesy biofuel

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 26, 2012   View Article

A dragster powered by biofuel brewed from cheese-making waste has set a blistering land-speed record for a one liter, two cylinder engine of 64.4 miles per hour.

“That, in that class, is fast,” Lance Seefeldt, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Utah State University, told NBC News on Tuesday.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach