In another shining example of using what you have for power generation, a Netherlands train station is using a revolving door to produce electricity. The Natuurcafe La Port in the train station expects the coming and going of patrons to provide 4,600 kWh a year. So, while the coffee powers the customers, the customers are powering the coffee shop.
The door uses a generator that harvests the kinetic energy produced when the door spins and a supercapacitor to store the energy. The energy is used to power the cafe's LED lights. When the lights use up the stored energy from the door, the station's main energy supply takes over. For the curious, the station has a display that shows the amount of energy generated as customers walk in and out.
While 4,600 kWh is a small amount compared to a train station's total energy needs, it's great to see a large building harvesting renewable energy from as many sources as possible. These types of kinetic energy generators could go a long way if they're consistently implemented in both new buildings and renovation projects.
A new ad being run by a coalition of environmental groups is pointing out the dirty truth of clean coal...it doesn't exist.
The coal industry's exciting advertisements (see below) that claim that we've made coal into a clean source of power have gone unquestioned (except by folks like me) until now. The coal industry ad below actually showed a 3D rendering of a zero-emissions coal plant that had already been scrapped because of skyrocketing costs. Frankly, it's about time we called them out.
Of course, it's sparked off a gigantic controversy in which the coal industry is pretending like somehow they're the underdog, going up against these megalithic environmental groups. Who do you think has more money, organizations funded out of charity, or companies funded by creating half of the electricity in America. Hmmmm.
A representative of the coal industry started swinging blindly at the ad, attempting to hit every base in the aresenal agains the environment. In this article at the Charleston Daily Mail, he says that these insane liberals are just looking down their noses at the south, points out that they all ride in private jets all the time anyway, wonders whether we want America powered by Saudi oil, blames environmentalists for the deterioration of the economy, calls global warming a myth, and then caps it all off by saying that he's not at all upset about it, "Would we be upset if Osama Bin Laden was critical of us?"
The truest thing he says is that we're criticizing them without providing any alternatives. And, frankly, there aren't any alternatives today that can eliminate our dependence on coal. But that doesn't change the fact that the coal industry is calling itself clean while all of their proposed technologies are farther from reality than renewables like solar or wind.
There are several gigawatts of solar and wind online throughout the world. There are zero gigawatts of clean coal online. It's not clean...and while I support any efforts to make it clean, whether it's using the carbon to create useful materials, burying it underground, or using algae to turn it into biofuel, they're going to have to actually demonstrate the technology before they start pretending like coal is clean.
Just when you thought that engineers have run out of ideas for harvesting power from mundane human activity, a scientist from Texas A&M invents a piezoelectric material that can turn sound waves into electricity. His idea? Stick it in a cell phone.
Piezoelectric materials generate an electric voltage when subjected to some sort of mechanical stress. When you read about harvesting energy from footsteps or dancing, for example, piezoelectrics are involved. Whatâ€™s novel about this application is that it exploits nanoscale piezoelectric properties. When such a material is precisely between 20 and 23 nanometers thick, it can capture 100% more energy.
Such a size makes this material perfect to stick into a cell phone. The sound waves emitted by the phone (as well as, presumably, those emitted by its owner) exert stress on the material, which in turn generates electricity. Obviously, energy canâ€™t be generated from nowhere. But if it can simply be absorbed from the environment, you could have â€“ for all intents and purposes â€“ a self-charging device.
The town of Santa Coloma de Gramanet near Barcelona in Spain wants to do its part in fighting global warming. But the densely packed town - 124,000 people crammed into 1.5 square miles - doesn't have enough land to dedicate tracts exclusively to the wind farms or solar panels that could help ease residents' dependency on fossil fuel.
So the city council found the space required to install 462 solar panels in an unlikely spot. In the absence of flat expanses of land in the town, local politicians decided to use the local graveyard. The southward facing panels rest on top of the cemetery's mausoleums, where 57,000 people are buried. The $900,000 project, three years in the making, will reduce 62 tons of CO2 each year and provide enough alternative energy to power 60 homes for a year each.
City councillor Antoni Fogue told the Associated Press that it took a while for residents to warm up to the idea. â€œLet's say we heard things like, 'they're crazy. Who do they think they are? What a lack of respect!' "Fogue said in an interview. But residents who were opposed have since learned that the solar panels don't change the look of the cemetery.
The director of the cemetery said the solar panel installation is compatible with respect for the dead and their families. Generating clean energy, said Esteve Serret, was the â€œbest tributeâ€ the town could pay its ancestors.
Kokuyo, a Tokyo-based company, wants to improve worker efficiency and cut down on corporate carbon emissions so it has come up with the idea of moving its employees outside. The century-old company which started out manufacturing Japanese-style bookkeeping ledgers in 1905 has set up a rooftop garden office with trees, a man made pond to cool intense summer days and movable solar panels to block direct sunlight on its workers. Electrical outlets and wireless have been installed on the roof.
It's not the only innovation the company has for its plans to reduce its corporate carbon footprint by 56 tons annually. Kokuyo's Tokyo headquarters underwent a complete renovation recently and divided up its office space layout so some areas can stay dark when not in use. That knocked power consumption down by 28 per cent. The company has also set up panels on its floors near the entrance to store power when people walk over them.
Having workers outside could lessen the company's carbon emissions by more than five tons a year. Company president Akihiro Kuroda thinks that the move will not only be good for the environment but also motivate workers. â€œWorkers can work more efficiently in a natural environment,â€ he says. â€œI hope it will lead to changes in employees' mentality.â€
The 140 employees are expected to spend one thirdâ€”or about 90 days a yearâ€”of their work time in the garden office. On rainy days, workers can go inside but even in the winter, employees will be encouraged to work in the garden office with blankets to keep them warm.