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Sunflower-Inspired Solar Panels Track Sun Without Motors

Sunflower-Inspired Solar Panels Track Sun Without Motors | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it
A new solar tracker maximizes the sunlight solar panels can capture, without using additional electricity to do so.

 

The system depends on a new material Jiang's team developed, which combines a rubbery material, called liquid crystalline elastomer, with tiny carbon fibers. The fibers are able to absorb a wide range of light, including light waves in the visible and infrared spectrums.

 

When sunlight falls on the carbon fibers, they heat up. The difference in temperature between the hot carbon fibers and the cooler outside air causes the liquid crystalline elastomer to shrink. When the sun moves on, the material cools and expands again to its original size.

 

Jiang stood hexagonal solar panels on top of an array of six columns made of his new sun-activated material. Whenever sunlight hit one of the columns, it shrank, tilting the panel on top toward the sun. Compared with solar panels that don't move, the sun-facing panels harvest 10 percent more energy, Jiang's team found.

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New cool ways to do things, clever uses of new - and sometimes old - technology
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ELFE - the world's first free energy flashlight

When the ADGEX team of scientists started looking into the world of energy management, they were struck by a crazy thought. Why do we need to keep making billions of toxic batteries when there is an endless supply of energy being emitted from the earths magnetic fields; from solar radiation; and from environmental and industrial electromagnetic noise?


If only someone could work out how to use this massive supply of energy to power our small devices. Guess what? Our scientists worked it out!


ELFE is a world first, in a line of products, that uses a processor we call ‘The Adgex Accumulator‘. Via the use of the ‘Adgex Accumlator’ ELFE taps into the earth’s energy supplies and converts that power into usable energy. -


See more at: http://trade.adgex.com.au/elfe#sthash.W4VReJww.dpuf

Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

A flashlight that doesn't need a change of batteries or a re-charge. Takes energy from the electromagnetic fields present in our environment... 

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The telescope gets its first major upgrade in centuries (w/ video 4min)

The telescope gets its first major upgrade in centuries (w/ video 4min) | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it

Lockheed Martin is working on new technology that promises to drastically reduce the size of telescopes needed to see a long distance 


Like an eye, the telescope collects light, and that light is then reflected to form an image. If you want to use one to see a really long way - into the depths of space, say - you'll need a really big one. 


“We can only scale the size and weight of telescopes so much before it becomes impractical to launch them into orbit and beyond...” 


Lockheed Martin's new system SPIDER, (or 'Segmented Planar Imaging Detector for Electro-optical Reconnaissance') does away with the large lenses or mirrors found in traditional  telescopes and replaces them with hundreds or thousands of tiny lenses. 


Dr Duncan says: "SPIDER could offer the ability to do things we simply can't do today. It could offer a lot of commercial, terrestrial and defence applications as well. Anywhere there's an optical imaging system there's the potential to take advantage of this technology."



Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

Space telescopes is the first application for this tech but there will be many special imaging applications that find their way out into the world...

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Return of incandescent light bulbs as MIT makes them more efficient than LEDs

Return of incandescent light bulbs as MIT makes them more efficient than LEDs | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it

Researchers at MIT have shown that by surrounding the filament with a special crystal structure they can bounce back the energy which is usually lost in heat, while still allowing the light through... 


 

The Energy Saving Trust calculates that typical living room usage of a 60-watt incandescent lightbulb over a year would cost £7.64. Using an equivalent energy efficient fluorescent or ‘CFL’ lightbulb would cost £1.53 per year, while an LED would cost just £1.27. 


But if the new bulbs live up to expectations they would cost under 50p a year to run and even improve health. 


Previously researchers have warned that the blue light emitted by modern bulbs could be stopping people from getting to sleep at night and campaigners have expressed concerns about the dangerous chemicals they contain.



Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

It looks like our lighting technology needs more work. The energy saving and LED lamps aren't ideal. Here's a possible future comeback of the incandescent bulb.

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Single-catalyst water splitter from Stanford produces clean-burning hydrogen 24/7

Single-catalyst water splitter from Stanford produces clean-burning hydrogen 24/7 | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it

Stanford scientists have developed a cheap and efficient way to extract clean-burning hydrogen fuel from water 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 


"We have developed a low-voltage, single-catalyst water splitter that continuously generates hydrogen and oxygen for more than 200 hours, an exciting world-record performance," said study co-author Yi Cui, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford. 


"Our water splitter is unique because we only use one catalyst, nickel-iron oxide, for both electrodes," said graduate student Haotian Wang, lead author of the study. "This bi-functional catalyst can split water continuously for more than a week with a steady input of just 1.5 volts of electricity. That's an unprecedented water-splitting efficiency of 82 percent at room temperature."


Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

Hydrogen as fuel - it seems we will be able to produce it as needed. All that's required is some water and a battery to supply low electric current...

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World’s 15 Biggest Ships Create More Pollution Than All The Cars In The World

World’s 15 Biggest Ships Create More Pollution Than All The Cars In The World | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it

World's 15 Biggest Ships Create More Pollution Than All The Cars In The World - 


Says James Corbett, professor of marine policy at the University of Delaware: “Ship pollution affects the health of communities in coastal and inland regions around the world, yet pollution from ships remains one of the least regulated parts of our global transportation system.” It sounds serious, but how bad could it be?


Staggeringly, if a report by the UK’s Guardian newspaper is to be believed. According to their story, just one of the world’s largest container ships can emit about as much pollution as 50 million cars. Further, the 15 largest ships in the world emit as much nitrogen oxide and sulphur oxide as the world’s 760 million cars. 


The problem isn’t necessarily with the ships’ 109,000-horsepower engines that endlessly spin away 24 hours a day, 280 days a year. In fact, these powerplants are some of the most fuel efficient units in the world. The real issue lies with the heavy fuel oil the ships run on and the almost complete lack of regulations applied to the giant exhaust stacks of these container ships.


Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

It seems that this would be one of the first things to change, if we were serious about cutting pollution...

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Never Needs to Be Charged? - The Orbo oPhone

Never Needs to Be Charged? - The Orbo oPhone | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it

mobile phone that NEVER needs to be charged?  Now that really WOULD be a revolution – and believe it or not apparently such a phone exists. 


Last night this image was posted on social media by Steorn CEO Shaun McCarthy. This new device which has yet to be launched is called the oPhone (Orbo Phone), as it contains the Orbo powerpack inside which is alleged to continually replenish the battery without the need to connect it to mains power. 


The Orbo powerpack inside is not powered by any conventional means such as solar or by capturing kinetic energy, nor does it harvest energy from radio frequencies but is based on Steorn’s patented technology which has been developed over the last twelve years. The technology is thought by many to be able to harness the zeropoint energy field (evidenced by the casimir effect). 


The zero-point energy field contains enough energy in one cubic centimeter of space to boil away all of Earth’s oceans.

Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

Irish company Steorn has been working on this technology for more than a decade, and now they are coming out with a phone that doesn't need charging.


If this turns out to be stable, more and more devices will be built that don't need re-charging...

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A New Microscope Can See Inside Moving Cells In Real Time, and There Are Videos

A New Microscope Can See Inside Moving Cells In Real Time, and There Are Videos | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it

Erik Betzig just won a Nobel Prize for his new microscope—his follow up is even better.


In their new work, the team describes a method of shooting light in from the side in two-dimensional sheets—a tactic Betzig calls lattice light-sheet microscopy—which allows basically any cell function to be directly imaged in living cells, in real time, without damaging the cells nearly as much as his old method. 


What does this mean? Well, it means that we can now watch, in incredible resolution and in three dimensions, nerve cells forming synapses in the brain; cells undergoing mitosis; the formation of an embryo after sperm fertilizes an egg; and even internal cell functions such as protein translation, mitochondrial movements, and muscle flexes.

Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

Yes - non-invasive light-based microscopy to observe living tissue while it lives...

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Glowforge - The 3D Laser Printer - YouTube

Glowforge has launched a new desktop laser. It's easier to use, more flexible, and more affordable than traditional 3D printers and CNC laser cutter/engravers.

Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

Make it yourself ... with a printer

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New Technology Uses Solar Cells As Power Source & Li-Fi Data Node

New Technology Uses Solar Cells As Power Source & Li-Fi Data Node | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it

“What if we could use existing technologies to provide Internet access to the more than 4 billion people living in places where the infrastructure can’t support it? Using off-the-shelf LEDs and solar cells, Harald Haas and his team have pioneered a new technology that transmits data using light, and it may just be the key to bridging the digital divide.”


This prototype setup, with the solar cells providing both the electricity and acting as broadband receivers, could be a huge boon to people in those areas where building the necessary infrastructure, both energy- and communications-wise, to support internet and data communications access isn’t going to happen anytime in the near future.

Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

I see a whole new local networking technology developing here. Solar cells are available just about everywhere and so are strong led flashlights that can bridge the distance between the users of a local network and the internet feed...

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Sepp Hasslberger's curator insight, November 11, 2015 11:27 AM

I see a whole new local networking technology developing here. Solar cells are available just about everywhere and so are strong led flashlights that can bridge the distance between the users of a local network and the internet feed...

Keepamericaheard Maria Catania's curator insight, December 1, 2015 12:32 PM

 How #solar is changing the commute through technology globally...

#techcrunch

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Siemens Motor - Electric Aircraft Engine Design Leads the Way to Electric Flight.

Siemens Motor - Electric Aircraft Engine Design Leads the Way to Electric Flight. | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it

A revolutionary new design by Siemens has been able to achieve an amazing weight to performance ration of 5kW/Kg. The compact motor which weighs in at only 50 kg has an incredible output of about 348hp (260kW) with just 2500RPM. This is no small feat.


The output power of this incredibly light motor is almost five times more than any other motor in its weight category. That means that a single motor can lift an aircraft with a 2 ton takeoff weight into the air.


Furthermore, the high rotational speed of 2500 RPM that means that the propeller can be connected to the motor directly without the need for use of transmission.

Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

After hybrid cars ... hybrid airplanes!

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Affordable 'hypercam' reveals hidden details invisible to the naked eye

Affordable 'hypercam' reveals hidden details invisible to the naked eye | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it
Peering into a grocery store bin, it's hard to tell if a peach or tomato or avocado is starting to go bad underneath its skin.

But an affordable camera technology being developed by the University of Washington and Microsoft Research might enable consumers of the future to tell which piece of fruit is perfectly ripe or what's rotting in the fridge.

The team of computer science and electrical engineers developed HyperCam, a lower-cost hyperspectral camera that uses both visible and invisible near-infrared light to "see" beneath surfaces and capture unseen details. This type of camera is typically used in industrial applications and can cost between several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars.

In a paper presented at the UbiComp 2015 conference, the team detailed a hardware solution that costs roughly $800, or potentially as little as $50 to add to a mobile phone camera. They also developed intelligent software that easily finds "hidden" differences between what the hyperspectral camera captures and what can be seen with the naked eye.

When HyperCam captured images of a person's hand, for instance, they revealed detailed vein and skin texture patterns that are unique to that individual. That can aid in everything from gesture recognition to biometrics to distinguishing between two different people playing the same video game.

As a preliminary investigation of HyperCam's utility as a biometric tool, in a test of 25 different users, the system was able differentiate between hand images of users with 99 percent accuracy.

In another test, the team also took hyperspectral images of 10 different fruits, from strawberries to mangoes to avocados, over the course of a week. The HyperCam images predicted the relative ripeness of the fruits with 94 percent accuracy, compared with only 62 percent for a typical camera.

"It's not there yet, but the way this hardware was built you can probably imagine putting it in a mobile phone," said Shwetak Patel, Washington Research Foundation Endowed Professor of Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical Engineering at the UW.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

A camera that is sensitive to both the visible light and the near infrared part of the spectrum...

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SageRave of Get Custom Content's curator insight, October 19, 2015 5:51 PM

Remember those x-ray eyeglasses advertised in old comic books? 

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Solu - A new breed of computing

Solu - A new breed of computing | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it

Solu will change the way you think about computing. It is the first new desktop paradigm for 30 years, and is made in Finland. 


Solu's unique human-machine interface rethinks the way people use computers. Drawing inspiration from the way the human brain works, the zoomable interface allows you to organize projects and documents with natural gestures. You no longer open applications and then files, but simply zoom in on the documents you wish to work on, navigating within organic spaces.


When the Solu device is connected to an external screen, its own screen becomes a smart touchpad, with controls that can be used directly.


"Solu is the first computer-as-a-service in the world. For a fixed monthly fee, you, as a Solu user, get all the storage and apps you need, without any annoying in-app purchases or advertisements. As an added benefit, we are providing talented developers with the opportunity to make a living out of their great apps by sharing a portion of the monthly fee with them."

Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

It is too early to say if this will indeed catch on and become a generally used way to organise your data and tap into the internet... The team is working and asking for some early time backup through a kickstarter campaign.

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Breakthrough optical rectenna turns light directly into usable electricity

Breakthrough optical rectenna turns light directly into usable electricity | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it

Researchers at Georgia Tech have developed the most efficient optical rectenna yet, capable of converting light directly into DC current with no need for cooling.


Light may be the most abundant resource on Earth and now it can be used to create electricity. The world’s first optical rectenna, part antenna and part rectifier diode, was developed by researchers at Georgia Tech to capture light and turn it directly into DC current. Wildly simplifying the generation of electricity, this crafty little device could really become a game changer in the field of renewable energy.

The rectenna converts light directly to DC current, without the need for cooling, and could also be used to create electricity from waste heat. The device is composed of tiny carbon nanotubes and rectifiers that capture light, which doesn’t have to be from the sun.

Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

Good possibilities for solar cells - different technology and potentially much more efficient than what we have today.

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France to Pave 1,000 Km of Solar Road, Providing 5 Million With Power

France to Pave 1,000 Km of Solar Road, Providing 5 Million With Power | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it
The French government has unveiled plans to pave 1,000 Kilometres (621 Miles) of the country’s roads with solar panels over the next five years, which will ultimately supply power to millions of people.
Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

After the Dutch made a solar bike path a year or two ago, the French now say they'd like to pave a thousand kilometres of road to supply power to the grid...

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Apple testing Ultra-Fast Li-Fi Wireless Technology for Future iPhones

Apple testing Ultra-Fast Li-Fi Wireless Technology for Future iPhones | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it
Apple to make future iPhones compatible with a cutting-edge technology that has the capability to transmit data at 100 times the speed of WiFi, suggests the code found within the iOS firmware. 

Apple may ship future iPhones with Li-Fi capabilities, a new technology that may end up replacing the widely-used Wi-Fi in the future technology. 

Beginning with iOS 9.1 update, the operating system's source code makes mention of "LiFiCapability" alongside declarations to other hardware and software capabilities, hinting that Apple may be experimenting with ways to integrate Li-Fi technology with future iPhones models.
Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

LiFi - or data transmission by light is both faster and less damaging to living organisms than WiFi, which uses microwave frequencies.

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Orbo Cells Followup - Solid State Energy Generating Cells for phones and device charging

http://www.orbo.com

https://www.facebook.com/thebatteryisdead/


This is a Video on the Orbo trickle-charging system, which explains how this is not a battery but a stand-alone solid state energy generation device. The video is commented by Stefan Hartmann of overunity.com

Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

To my knowledge this is the first available solid state energy generation system that is being produced and is available for purchase... a bit pricey yet but the technology is revolutionary.

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Making 3-D imaging a thousand times better

Making 3-D imaging a thousand times better | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it

MIT researchers have shown that by exploiting the polarization of light — the physical phenomenon behind polarized sunglasses and most 3-D movie systems — they can increase the resolution of conventional 3-D imaging devices as much as 1,000 times. 


The technique could lead to high-quality 3-D cameras built into cellphones, and perhaps to the ability to snap a photo of an object and then use a 3-D printer to produce a replica.

Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

Doing more with less ... what used to be expensive equipment can be much simpler ... part of a phone camera.

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Laser-Induced Graphene Looks to Displace Batteries With Supercapacitors

Laser-Induced Graphene Looks to Displace Batteries With Supercapacitors | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it

Almost exactly a year ago, we first got word that researchers at Rice University had developed a method for producing graphene that features a computer-controlled laser. They dubbed the result laser-induced graphene (LIG). 


The key attribute of LIG is how comparatively easy it is to produce as opposed to graphene made via chemical vapor deposition. For LIG, all that is needed is a commercial polyimide plastic sheet and a computer-controlled laser. The Rice researchers discovered that the laser would burn everything on the polyimide except the carbon from the top layer. What remains is a form of graphene.


You can see a description and demonstration of the process in the video ... 


http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/materials/laserinduced-graphene-looks-to-diplace-batteries-with-supercapacitors

Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

Batteries are out - well not quite yet - but super capacitors are coming.

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Bruce Fellowes's curator insight, December 9, 2015 3:46 AM

A new development with one of my favourite materials, Graphene!

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Scientists harvest energy AND internet from the same solar panel using only light

Scientists harvest energy AND internet from the same solar panel using only light | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it

It's called Li-Fi and it may bring internet to half the world


Professor Harold Haas and his team have essentially unlocked what is known as "Li-Fi," or Light Fidelity and are using simple LED light sources to power their internet and deliver the information in one packet.  


“The potential expansion to the internet is massive and my aspiration is that this broadband solar panel receiver technology for Li-Fi will help solve the challenges of the digital divide throughout the world," Haas says.

Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

What's good about this is that it will decrease the load of microwave energy we absorb from the ever expanding network of WiFi routers and perhaps in time the mobile phones as well. 

And here's another article with some more data...

http://www.sciencealert.com/li-fi-tested-in-the-real-world-for-the-first-time-is-100-times-faster-than-wi-fi

 

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Lishui K Springford's curator insight, December 9, 2015 5:52 PM

Oh what a glorious time we live in!

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Tunesia: Bird-friendly Bladeless Wind Turbine Mimics Nature

Huge wind turbines with rotating blades are producing electricity around the world, but the spinning blades are deadly to birds and bats.

So from Tunisia comes yet another innovative design: a bladeless wind machine that will not kill flying creatures, yet is even more efficient than the traditional turbine.

Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

Another idea for how to make efficient use of wind for generating electricity ...

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Research team invents efficient shockwave-based process for desalination of water

Research team invents efficient shockwave-based process for desalination of water | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it

As the availability of clean, potable water becomes an increasingly urgent issue in many parts of the world, researchers are searching for new ways to treat salty, brackish or contaminated water to make it usable. Now a team at MIT has come up with an innovative approach that, unlike most traditional desalination systems, does not separate ions or water molecules with filters, which can become clogged, or boiling, which consumes great amounts of energy. 


Instead, the system uses an electrically driven shockwave within a stream of flowing water, which pushes salty water to one side of the flow and fresh water to the other, allowing easy separation of the two streams.


This approach is "a fundamentally new and different separation system," Bazant says. And unlike most other approaches to desalination or water purification, he adds, this one performs a "membraneless separation" of ions and particles.



Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-11-team-efficient-shockwave-based-desalination.html#jCp

Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

A new, less complicated method of purifying water of salt and contaminants... could become very useful.

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The KTM ION is the Electric Motorcycle of the Future

The KTM ION is the Electric Motorcycle of the Future | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it

It’s built around the company’s newly designed electric engine. Each electric bike has a modern and unique frame that’s fixed without any suspension.


The bike, which was designed by Daniel Brunsteiner, has an impressively thick rear tire that gives it an aggressive motorcycle look. It’s unlike any other design we’ve seen before. It features a 260V battery, bullhorn handlebars, flexible spokes and a leather saddle seat.

Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

A futuristic electric motorbike... it doesn't have any suspension but has flexible spokes in the wheels.

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Honda just unveiled its new hydrogen-powered car

Honda just unveiled its new hydrogen-powered car | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it

Just when everyone’s getting all excited about electric cars usurping their fossil fuel-guzzling counterparts, Honda has announced that its hydrogen-powered cars will go on sale in Japan as early as March 2016, with launches in Europe and the US to follow. 


The five-seated sedan, called the FCV Clarity, can travel 700 km (434 miles) on a single charge.


It’s been priced at 7.66 million yen, or US$62,807, which puts it just in the affordability range for the average consumer, the Japanese automaker saying it expects to sell far more than the 72 units it sold of its previous-generation model, the FCX Clarity.


"We want this car to be the trigger for the 'hydrogen society'," Honda operating officer, Toshihiro Mibe, told Reuters at the Tokyo Motor Show in Japan this week.

Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

Who knows - hydrogen as a fuel might catch on... 

"Honda is now developing a personal-use Smart Hydrogen Station, which is designed to be installed at home so you don’t have to go looking for a re-up."

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Steorn Orbo - Preparations Underway for Orbo Release

Steorn Orbo - Preparations Underway for Orbo Release | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it

It’s now just 19 days until Steorn conduct the first in a series of FREE Live Webinars designed to introduce the public to Orbo.


During the webinars the technology will be demonstrated, the various components will be explained and questions from the public will be answered by Steorn.


There is the possibility that it may be offered for sale at some point...

Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

Something to watch - the planned release of a tiny energy converter that allows to charge small electronic devices... should become available soon. 

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Beautiful Power Plant Will Use Ocean Tides to Power 155K Homes

Beautiful Power Plant Will Use Ocean Tides to Power 155K Homes | Cool Future Technologies | Scoop.it

A planned power plant in Wales may look like the Guggenheim Museum but its benefits will outweigh the beauty: it will use the rise and fall of ocean tides to generate enough renewable electricity to power 155,000 homes for 120 years. 


When completed, the structure will produce electricity enough to displace more than a quarter million barrels of oil each year— while leaving virtually no carbon footprint. 


Power plants have been generating electricity using the tides since 1966, but the Swansea project is the first to employ a radically new method of harnessing the natural forces. The secret lies in its nearly six-mile-long barrier wall that will enclose a huge amount of water in an artificial “tidal lagoon”.

Sepp Hasslberger's insight:

Tidal power is a huge energetic resource that we are hardly using so far. Here is a UK project that promises to get serious about power from the sea. 

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