[Video] NY Times Features Electric Car Startups Fisker Karma and Aptera

May 10 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Transportation   Year: General   Rating: 3 Hot

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US Energy Secretary Steven Chu Announces $41 Million for Fuel Cells (Stationary, Micro-Power and Transportation)

April 16 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 4 Hot

stationary fuel cell

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu has announced $41 million to support the 'immediate deployment of nearly 1,000 fuel cell systems for emergency backup power and material handling applications (e.g., forklifts) that have emerged as key early markets in which fuel cells can compete with conventional power technologies.  Additional systems will be used to accelerate the demonstration of stationary fuel cells for combined heat and power in the larger residential and commercial markets.'

The funds will also support micro-power applications being advanced by innovative startups like Jadoo, Plug Power, Nuvera, MTI, PolyFuel, and Delphi Automotive (auxillary power systems for trucks!).

Fuel Cells (Power Stations) vs Batteries (Storage)
Fuel cells convert chemical energy into electricity without having to be 'plugged into' the grid.  As 'refuelable' power generators, they offer some key advantages to a pure energy storage offering of batteries (e.g. Batteries depend on 'grid access', while fuel cells need fuel and serve as a portable/stationary power station.  You just need to add fuel!)

US Energy Visionaries Sense Global Opportunity
The key to advancing fuel cells is to lower the costs of nanostructured catalysts (that release electric charges) and membranes (allow positive ions to pass) used in all applications (e.g. stationary, portable).  It is a materials science strategy based on nanoscale science and engineering. 

While the battery supply chain has long been established, there is a unique opportunity for the US to leap frog into more commercially diverse applications based on fuel cell systems used in everything from distributed power, micro-power, transportation and utility scale power generation.

More posts on Fuel cells at The Energy Roadmap.com

Virus Built Batteries? MIT Advances Bio-Industrial Manufacturing Technique to Assemble Electrodes

April 12 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 4 Hot

MIT Virus BacteriophageMIT's Biomolecular Materials Group has advanced a technique of using 'genetically engineered viruses that first coat themselves with iron phosphate, then grab hold of carbon nanotubes to create a network of highly conductive material.'

This advanced 'bio-industrial' manufacturing process, which uses biological agents to assemble molecules, could help to evolve key energy material components (e.g. cathodes, anodes, membranes) used in batteries, fuel cells, solar cells and organic electronics (e.g. OLEDs). 

Professors Angela Belcher and Michael Strano led the breakthrough bio-engineering work which can now use bacteriophage 'to build both the positively and negatively charged ends of a lithium-ion battery.'   While the prototype was based on a typical 'coin cell battery', the team believes it can be adapted for 'thin film' organic electronic applications.

Energy = Interactions
Energy and Materials Science is about manipulating the assembly and interaction of molecules like carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and metals.

Today we are at the beginning of new eras of nanoscale materials science and bio-industrial processes that are certain to change the cost and efficiency equations within alternative energy and biomaterials.  And we have a lot to learn about molecular assembly from Mother Nature's genetically driven virus/bacteria and plants. After all, the energy released from breaking the carbon-hydrogen bonds of coal (ancient ferns) and oil (ancient diatoms) was originally assembled by biology (with some help from geological pressures!).  So why not tap this bio-industrial potential for building future energy components?

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[Video] GM Segway PUMA Cruising Through Brooklyn & New York City

April 07 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Transportation   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

GM & Segway are hoping to commercialize a new category of smart micro-vehicles for urban environments by 2012 (See previous post).  I love the application of Segway software, but am skeptical of a 'plug in' battery version. 

I'm not sure how many wall sockets are accessible to urban dwellers who don't have garages!  So I love the idea, but think the real potential is the 'access' business model.  Let's keep the PUMA owned and operated by mobility service companies, not urban dwellers themselves!

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GM & Segway Unveil Personal Urban Mobility Vehicle, Demonstrate Disruptive Power of Software & Mobility as Service

April 07 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Transportation   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

GM PUMA BrooklynGeneral Motors and Segway unveiled a new type of small electric motor vehicle with advanced software that could shift how we look at mobility as a service.

In an effort to appeal to digitally connected urban audiences, GM describes Project P.U.M.A. (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility) as a low-cost mobility platform that 'enables design creativity, fashion, fun and social networking.' This protoype model travels up to 35 miles per hour (56 kph), with a range up to 35 miles (56 km) between recharges (though it's not clear how urban residents will access wall sockets!)

'Smart' is the Real Revolution
The greatest opportunities to transform the human mobility experience in the next century are likely to emerge from ‘smarter software’, not cleaner energy systems.  It seems clear that the combustion engine will eventually struggle to keep cost and design competitive against the lowering 'manufacturing footprint' of electric motors powered by the integration of batteries, fuel cells and capacitors.  The real question is: Can human drivers keep up with changes ahead in software of 'smart cars'.

Vehicle-to-Vehicle communication systems that relay alerts and information to drivers to reduce congestion and prevent collisions are already being integrated into luxury vehicles. But within a decade or two we can expect low cost vehicles embedded with sensors and ‘situation awareness’ detection systems that make cars 'smarter' than drivers.

Access and Ownership (and Potential Chaos)
A compelling vision of Personal Urban Vehicles is the emergence of personal 'mobility as service' companies that connect outer hubs with urban destination points (offices, retail, recreation, et al).  In addition to owning personal vehicles, we can imagine paying for 'access' to fleets of vehicles that we don't have to park.  (Of course, adding fleets of small vehicles could mean chaos in urban areas for pedestrians! Not to mention pushback from the Cabbies in New York!)

More Images and Related Posts on The Future of Auto Industry

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UK Researchers Advance Room Temperature Superconductivity Using Carbon 'Buckyballs'

April 05 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 3 Hot

quantum wire carbon nanotubeScientists at the University of Liverpool and Durham University have developed a new carbon nanotube material that might evolve as a room temperature superconductor used to transmit electricity with no resistance or energy loss.

The use of football-shaped 'Carbon 60' fullerene molecules, or 'Bucky Balls', could change how we look at the quantum flow of electricity over long distance transmission lines as well as within medical equipment and 'molecular electronics'.

The idea of carbon-based electron transmission was widely promoted by carbon fullerene co-founder Rick Smalley (d. 2005) more than a decade ago as the 'quantum armchair wire'.  The UK-based research suggests nanostructured carbon materials could evolve as room temperature superconductors.

Shape Matters: Carbon Buckyballs 'Squeezing' Electrons 
Liverpool Professor Matt Rosseinsky explains: "Superconductivity is a phenomenon we are still trying to understand and particularly how it functions at high temperatures. Superconductors have a very complex atomic structure and are full of disorder. We made a material in powder form that was a non-conductor at room temperature and had a much simpler atomic structure, to allow us to control how freely electrons moved and test how we could manipulate the material to super-conduct."

Professor Kosmas Prassides, from Durham University, said: "At room pressure the electrons in the material were too far apart to super-conduct and so we 'squeezed' them together using equipment that increases the pressure inside the structure. We found that the change in the material was instantaneous – altering from a non-conductor to a superconductor. This allowed us to see the exact atomic structure at the point at which superconductivity occurred."

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[Video] Could 3D Projection Systems Transform Urban Landscapes?

February 25 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Culture   Year: General   Rating: 4 Hot

France-based Easy Web develops 3D video projection systems for 'monumental architecture', but could they be developing new cultural expectations for human-city interfaces where everything becomes a template?

via Laughing Squid Youtube

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Dow & Global Solar Continue Push For Distributed Power Generation Around Roof Shingle Solar Cells

February 23 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2011   Rating: 6 Hot

Global SolarThe future where buildings integrate energy generation systems like 'thin film' solar rooftops might be closer than you think.   

Instead of designing expensive, bulky and ugly glass based solar panels, solar start ups are pushing down costs of plastic-substrate based 'thin film' solar cells that resemble today's roof shingles.  The field also includes 'Big Chemistry' players like Dow and DuPont who hope to drop the costs of advanced solar materials.

PV Tech is reporting on the continued push by Dow Chemical to expand mainstream construction use power-generating roof shingles by 2011.  Dow has already committed more than $3 billion towards polysilicon production that will help lower the global costs of solar cells.

One of Dow's key partnerships is with CIGS solar producer Global Solar (Image).  The two companies agreed in 2008 to join the US Department of Energy Solar America Initiative (SAI) project to develop building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) that makes solar energy cost competitive with 'grid' electricity by 2015.

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[Video] Impress Touch Project Hints at Post-PC Era Interfaces

February 22 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Gadgets   Year: General   Rating: 4 Hot

During the next decade we are likely to see commercial products that will start to define the 'Post PC' Era of smart, networked objects that follow a new path of product development.  Users will interact with embedded devices beyond the keyboard and mouse.  We know that OLEDs offer a clear path to flexible, transparent display screens, but what about the combination of sensors and low power chips that make the 'screen' irrelevant for new applications.  If it is hard to imagine commercial Post PC applications for enterprise sectors, what about designs for education and entertainment markets based on visions like Impress project from Sillenet [via Vimeo]

Via TrendHunter

[Video] Google Power Meter translates energy into information flows

February 18 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 9 Hot

One of the great efficiency opportunities for the next century is based on the convergence of information and energy flows. The notion of a 'smart grid' is a more reliable and efficient energy web based on the integration of software, sensors and energy storage. 

There are dozens of 'smart grid' infrastructure startups that service utility companies, as well as more commercial/industrial efforts being pushed by IBM, Johnson Controls, Honeywell, and Cisco.

And for those homes with 'Smart Meters' or Smart Devices, solutions are coming online quickly. Google has now thrown its hat into the ring around the basic idea: 'if you can measure it, you can improve it'.  The Google Power Meter is a software tool integrated into smart meters that helps consumers better understand how they use energy in order to reduce their costs and consumption.  Google is a big name, in an expanding space of 'smart energy' startups, like Sentilla and REGEN, who are trying to build demand in the residential market.

Related Smart Grid posts on The Energy Roadmap.com

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'Make Your Own' Augmented Reality Media Comes to Google Earth

February 18 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Metaverse   Year: General   Rating: 9 Hot

The day when anyone can create a stunning 3D Augmented Reality simulation is getting closer.  Last month, General Electric's innovative AR media campaign to promote its 'Smart Grid' platform helped to push Augmented Reality out into the masses by giving users a chance to try it at home using a printable marker download and webcam.

Now Digital Urban has featured a new Google Earth Plug-in and Printable Marker download developed by InGlobe Technologies.  The company has expanded its Augmented Reality Media software beyond Google Sketchup into the increasingly 'mirror world'-esque Google Earth.   Downloads are available on the company's ARSights

See GE's Smart Grid Augmented Reality Campaign

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[Video] MIT Media Lab Demonstrates the Future of Interactive Toys and Learning with Siftables

February 12 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 4 Hot

MIT Media Lab's David Merrill describes at a near term future where we play with smart objects that integrate OLED displays, sensors, and smarter software that adapts to our actions:

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