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Archive for the 'Energy' Category

A Night in the Sun

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on December 7th, 2009

When I woke up this morning, it was nine degrees below zero, Celsius.  It’s solidly overcast here, and what’s more, this time of year the sun doesn’t get much more than 20 degrees above the horizon — in the middle of an all-too-short day. My house has a footprint of about 200 square meters.  At [...]

It’s 0067 AA

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on December 2nd, 2009

(Atomic Age, that is.) From the University of Chicago Library site: On December 2, 1942, scientists at the University of Chicago produced the world’s first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction in a nuclear pile constructed in a squash court beneath the West Stands of Stagg Field, the University’s athletic stadium. This experiment, crucial to the control [...]

Nano PVs: cheaper or better?

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on November 17th, 2009

Over at Nanoclast, Dexter Johnson writes: It seems when nanotech is applied to photovoltaics it can either boost their efficiency to new heights or it can cheapen their manufacturing process. But it never seems to provide a solution to both of these. It’s always a tradeoff: increased efficiency but difficult manufacturing processes or a cheaper [...]

Technology Review: Self-Cleaning, Super-Absorbant Solar Cells

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on November 14th, 2009

Technology Review: Self-Cleaning, Super-Absorbant Solar Cells. Amorphous-silicon solar cells patterned with nanoscale domes absorb more light–and shed water and dust.  

Solar cells with nanocrystal ink reach 18 percent efficiency

Posted by Christine Peterson on September 21st, 2009

Josh Hall, on his way to catch a plane, sends us this news from Technology Review’s Katherine Bourzac: A California company is using silicon ink patterned on top of silicon wafers to boost the efficiency of solar cells. The Sunnyvale, CA, firm Innovalight says that the inkjet process is a cheaper route to more-efficient solar power. [...]

Flying Cars: how close are we?

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on August 24th, 2009

Previous in series: VTOL So, how close are we to flying cars? For specificity, let’s pick a technological bar to hurdle that answers most of the objections to the concept we’ve seen as comments on the previous posts: It should be relatively high-powered compared to current light craft. It should be STOVL for safety and [...]

The Fuel of the Future

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on June 5th, 2009

What will your car run on in 2020 or 2030? What form of energy storage and transmission will allow intermittent energy sources, such as wind and solar, to be a viable input to the economy? There’s a good chance, of course, that cars will still run on gasoline — its demise has been predicted early [...]

Darker = Brighter?

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on June 2nd, 2009

Here’s a University of Rochester press release from 2006: Scientists at the University of Rochester have created a way to change the properties of almost any metal to render it, literally, black. The process, using an incredibly intense burst of laser light, holds the promise of making everything from fuel cells to a space telescope’s [...]

Negative resistance

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on May 21st, 2009

If you connect a 12-volt battery to a 4-ohm lamp, 3 amps of current will flow through the circuit by Ohm’s Law, V=IR. Power = VI = 36 watts will be dissipated by the lamp. If you add a 2-ohm resistor in series with the lamp, the resistances add to 6 ohms, the current is [...]

Solar progress

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on May 19th, 2009

Two new items that are follow-ons to the Moore’s Law for Energy thread: A story at Technology Review about new electronics that improve the usable power from existing solar panels by 5-25%. The advance is new smarter electronics that allows for an inverter for each panel instead of one big one for the whole system. [...]

More on Limits to Growth

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on May 11th, 2009

There was a gratifyingly large response to last Friday’s post Acolytes of neo-Malthusian Apocalypticism. Several of the commenters seemed to think I was trying to refute the LtG model, but that would require a whole book instead of one blog post. I consider LtG to have been demolished in detail by people with a lot [...]

Acolytes of neo-Malthusian Apocalypticism

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on May 8th, 2009

When I was in college 35 years ago, there was a major fad of neo-Malthusian doom-mongering, led by the “Limits to Growth” book and movement. A retreat was organized from the college, and some concerned, environmentally conscious professors and students, myself included, went off for a concentrated seminar in which we educated each other about [...]

Ink-jet wires for solar cells

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on May 8th, 2009

Another step along the Moore’s Law-like trend line for solar power: Ink-Jet Printing for Cheaper Solar Cells at Technology Review. (see also Nanoscale Inkjet Printing)

Cool energy

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on May 8th, 2009

In this post I pointed out that in the foreseeable future, nanotech devices are likely to be energy-starved. Chris Peterson asks in a comment whether there would be a problem from the heat dissipation from this energy use. The analysis is worth a post of its own, so here goes: About 100 thousand terawatts of [...]

A Moore’s Law for energy?

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on May 1st, 2009

Earlier this week I was at the premiere of Transcendent Man, a biographical overview of Ray Kurzweil’s views on the coming Singularity. Kurzweil’s main argument is that the power of the exponential in technology is major, systemic, and underappreciated. The specific item of interest in this post is Kurzweil’s claim, repeated in the movie, that [...]

Nanotechnology builds battery on a virus framework

Posted by Jim Lewis on April 17th, 2009

MIT scientists have demonstrated the usefulness of biological frameworks for combining distinct functional elements to make a device.

Does seasteading need nanotech?

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on April 14th, 2009

I recently heard a talk by Patri Friedman about seasteading. Seasteading means “homesteading the sea,” or at least building floating cities and establishing permanent residences there, and ultimately alternative polities in hopes of enabling beneficial economic competition in the field of governance. Before saying more, let me point out that I am generally in agreement [...]

More energy

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on April 2nd, 2009

The power density is large compared to that of macroscale motors: >1e15 W/m^3. For comparison, Earth intercepts ~1e17 watts of solar radiation. (Cooling constraints presumably preclude the steady-state operation of a cubic meter of these devices at this power density.) Nanosystems p. 339 It is difficult, even for someone who has been working with these [...]

“Cold fusion” redux?

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on March 24th, 2009

20 years ago, in the wake of the cold fusion excitement-turned-debacle, I noticed an interesting fact. The people doing the experiments were divided into two classes: The electrochemists who believed that fusion was happening were doing their experiments in plastic tubs and glassware, whereas the physicists who believed that no fusion was really happening were [...]

Videos from Convergence08 Unconference available

Posted by Jim Lewis on March 20th, 2009

Jeriaska has made available videos of presentations from Convergence08, held on November 15-16, 2008 in Mountain View, California, to examine the convergence of NBIC (Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno) technologies. Among those of special interest to Nanodot readers: Mapping a Cone of Uncertainty, Paul Saffo Convergence: Artificial Intelligence Panel, Peter Norvig, Steve Omohundro, Ben Goertzel, Barney Pell Convergence: Synthetic [...]