WOW-POW = World Of Wonderful POWer: June 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

Scientists have discovered a remarkable, unexpected and cheap way to store hydrogen fuel– using carbonized chicken feather fibers.

The problem of storing hydrogen as fuel has traditionally been a perplexing and expensive dilemma. For instance, a car with a 20-gallon hydrogen storage tank made from carbon nanotubes or metal hydrides– two of the best ideas so far– would add $5.5 million or $30k respectively to the price of that vehicle. A storage tank made from carbonized chicken feathers, however, would only mark up the cost a measly $200. The green bio-material would also help solve the problem of how to dispose of the 2.7 billion kilograms of chicken feathers generated each year by commercial poultry operations.

Enter scientists at the University of Delaware, who while researching the potential of keratin derived from chicken feathers to improve the performance of microcircuits, unexpectedly discovered that by heating the keratin fibers they could strengthen its structure enough to compare to the strength of nanotubes. In other words, the hydrogen storage capacity of the strengthened keratin was essentially equivalent to that of carbon nanotubes, but using nothing more than chicken feathers as raw material. In addition to hydrogen storage, the new method could turn chicken feather fibers into a number of other eco-products like hurricane resistant roofing, lightweight car parts, as well as the aforementioned bio-based computer circuit boards. Furthermore, utilizing this technology would be recycling at its best. Previously, there has been no major use for all the feathers leftover from chickens in the poultry industry.
More at Clean Technica

Behind The Wheel Of The AIRpod

The MDI AIRpod is a concept vehicle designed to run solely on compressed air as means of transportation, though no production models had been released. As the AIRpod nears actual production, MDI has begun inviting journalists to take a whirl in a prototype model. The first thing you might notice is that the AIRpod doesn’t much appear to look like a car. You enter through the front of the pod via a hatch that opens up-and-over the vehicle. As I mentioned earlier, you steer with a joystick rather than steering. The concept originally also used the joystick for propulsion, but the system proved awkward so instead there are small pedals for acceleration and stopping. Though there is seating for four full-sized adults, three of them have to enter through a rear hatch and sit on a rear-facing bench seat. You also probably noticed that instead of the typical four-wheel layout, the AIRpod is set up more like a tricycle. Everything is designed to conserve weight, and the AIRpod manages to tip the scales at just 485 pounds. The MDI makes a whooping 6 horsepower and 11 ft-lbs of torque. With one person in the AIRpod, the top speed hovers somewhere around 30 mph (production cars should go as fast as 50 mph, according to MDI) and also has a range of between 90 and 125 miles.
Much More at Gas 2.0

Biofuels could clean up Chernobyl 'badlands'

CONTAMINATED lands, blighted by fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, could be cleaned up in a clever way: by growing biofuels. Belarus, the country affected by much of the fallout, is planning to use the crops to suck up the radioactive strontium and caesium and make the soil fit to grow food again within decades rather than hundreds of years. A 40,000 square kilometre area of south-east Belarus is so stuffed with radioactive isotopes that rained down from the nearby Chernobyl nuclear power station in 1986 that it won't be fit for growing food for hundreds of years, as the isotopes won't have decayed sufficiently. But this week a team of Irish biofuels technologists is in the capital, Minsk, hoping to do a deal with state agencies to buy radioactive sugar beet and other crops grown on the contaminated land to make biofuels for sale across Europe. The company, Greenfield Project Management, insists no radioactive material will get into the biofuel as only ethanol is distilled out. "In distillation, only the most volatile compounds rise up the tube. Everything else is left behind," says Basil Miller of Greenfield. The heavy radioactive residues will be burned in a power station, producing a concentrated "radioactive ash". This can be disposed of at existing treatment works for nuclear waste, he says.
More at New Scientist

Why A Low-Calorie Diet Extends Lifespans: Critical Enzyme Pair Identified

Put Down That Doughnut and READ THIS! Experiment after experiment confirms that a diet on the brink of starvation expands lifespan in mice and many other species. But the molecular mechanism that links nutrition and survival is still poorly understood. Now, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have identified a pivotal role for two enzymes that work together to determine the health benefits of diet restriction. When lacking one enzyme or the other, roundworms kept on a severely calorie-restricted diet no longer live past their normal lifespan, they report in the June 24, 2009, advance online edition of the journal Nature. "The only other known factor regulating longevity in response to diet restriction operates at the very end of the signaling cascade," said Howard Hughes Medical Investigator and senior author Andrew Dillin, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory. "These two enzymes are further up the ladder, bringing us closer to the receptor that receives the signal for throwing the switch to promote a healthy lifespan." Identifying the receptor may allow researchers to design drugs that mimic the signal and could lead to new treatments for age-related diseases. This could enable us to reap the health benefits of calorie restriction without adhering to extreme diets in which the satisfying feel of a full stomach is strictly off limits.

More at Science Daily

Solar Rivalry Heats Up Over Tandem-type Panels at PV Japan Trade Show

A tandem-type panel consists of different kinds of solar cells and can convert light in a wider wavelength range to electricity. The exhibited tandem-type panels were composed of amorphous silicon and microcrystalline silicon and expected to be used for industrial photovoltaic systems. A number of "tandem-type" amorphous silicon thin film solar panels were exhibited at PV Japan 2009, an exhibition of photovoltaic technologies that is running from June 24 to 26, 2009, at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture, Japan.
AMAT showed off a tandem-type thin film solar panel using an 8.5-generation, 5.7m2 glass plate. Ulvac announced the "CIM-1400," plasma CVD equipment for tandem-type solar panels as the existing production line for thin-film solar cells enables the line to manufacture tandem-type panels. Oerlikon Solar announced a tandem-type panel with a conversion efficiency of 11%. And finally, Sharp, displayed a tandem-type thin film solar panel that is 1,409 x1,009mm in size. It features a module conversion efficiency of 9% and a power generation capacity of 128W.
Much More at Tech-On

Algae Farm Aims to Turn Carbon Dioxide Into Fuel

Dow Chemical and Algenol Biofuels, a start-up company, are set to announce Monday that they will build a demonstration plant that, if successful, would use algae to turn carbon dioxide into ethanol as a vehicle fuel or an ingredient in plastics. Because algae does not require any farmland or much space, many energy companies are trying to use it to make commercial quantities ofhydrocarbons for fuel and chemicals. But harvesting the hydrocarbons has proved difficult so far. The ethanol would be sold as fuel, the companies said, but Dow’s long-term interest is in using it as an ingredient for plastics, replacing natural gas. The process also produces oxygen, which could be used to burn coal in a power plant cleanly, said Paul Woods, chief executive of Algenol, which is based in Bonita Springs, Fla. The exhaust from such a plant would be mostly carbon dioxide, which could be reused to make more algae.
Much More at the New York Times

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Yuneec Chinese Electric Airplane Info & First Flight has a nice video on a new electric experimental being developed in China for the US market. "Yuneec Chinese Electric Airplane 54 hp two seat aircraft undergoing first flight and flight tests, summer 2009. video by Glenn Pew for AVweb"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

DigiCube MIDPhone-50 @ Computex 2009

DigiCube's MID based on Z500 series Atom CPU (1.1 or 1.6GHz / US15W) looks and feels surprising similar to the Sharp D4 we played with last year...
except the 420g MIDPhone-50 has 3.5G (voice ready)...

On the downside the 1800mAh battery is expected to be only good for 1 - 2 hrs, and no option at the moment for a larger battery.

A Docking station was shown in photos giving extra USB / LAN / LCD connections and battery charge stand features (again all quite similar to the D4 :)

JKKmobile will have a nice video online soon...

Mio Litepad N890 @ Computex Taipei 2009

NEW from Mio : Litepad N890:

GPS receiver (MioMaps for nav.), 3.5G Broadband, 25mm thick, 880g with 3 cell battery, Rotation sensor, Splash and shock roof.

1GB RAM/8-32GB SSD/1.6GHz Atom/WiFi/Bluetooth.

Video here

Smartbooks running Snapdragon @ Computex '09

Qualcomm announced vendors ASUS, Acer, Compal, Samsung, LG, Toshiba and Wistronwill be produceing devices using Snapdragon.

Several of whom will produce Smartbooks - with real all day battery and near zero heat output these machines could change shake up the market.

click the link to see a short interview.