The storage system, looking something like a refrigerator with the Tesla logo emblazoned on it, contains hundreds of the same lithium ion batteries that go into Tesla’s Model S sedan. “If you go to the end of the manufacturing line at the Tesla factory where they put the battery pack on, you will see these storage systems being assembled,” says Peter Rive, SolarCity’s co-founder and chief technology officer. SolarCity now sells the industrial version alongside a smaller, wall-mounted system that’s been installed in about 500 homes so far. The commercial unit has been in beta tests for months and is selling in limited quantities so far.
WATER injected at high pressure into rock deep underground during the process of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, often returns to the surface as brine, having picked up a lot of salt on its journey. It is also contaminated with chemicals from the fracking process itself. So a cheap and effective way of separating the salt and other chemicals from the water would be welcome. General Electric (GE), an American engineering conglomerate, is now putting one through its paces.
The system in question, developed by a firm called Memsys Clearwater, which is based in Germany and Singapore, is called vacuum multi-effect membrane distillation. It combines the two established ways of desalinating water: distillation and membrane separation. Already used to produce drinking water from seawater, it has not previously been applied to cleaning up water used in fracking. But recent trials of the system at a gas-fracking plant in Texas have been encouraging.
seriously…China’s Kandi Technologies has developed a gigantic version stocked with cars, delivered on-demand as part of an electric vehicle sharing program.
Located in the city of Hangzhou, in the east of the country, the first of the buildings have already opened for business, where citizens can take advantage of a Zipcar-style sharing system. Participants in the scheme receive a card linked to their account, and by visiting one of the facilities and swiping the card, the machines inside each building then automatically deliver one of Kandi’s electric cars to the ground floor. For around CNY 20, users can borrow the vehicle for an hour. Kandi hopes to have 50 of the facilities opened by March this year, with 750 garages — equal to 100,000 cars — planned in total for Hangzhou.
Like other troubled Japanese electronics giants, Panasonic is trying to get its own house in order. Consumer electronics like those that were once made at Fujisawa provided the foundation for Japan’s postwar economic miracle. But in recent years, South Korea and Silicon Valley have moved to the fore in technological innovation and marketing, while China has taken the lead in manufacturing.
So Panasonic is trying to reinvent itself as a provider of less visible but more profitable industrial technologies. It is focusing on two areas: homes and automobiles, where it supplies battery cells to makers of electric cars, like Tesla Motors.
Panasonic is not the first Japanese electronics giant to back away from the consumer business, but the transformation — if it succeeds — would be particularly striking. Others, like Toshiba, Hitachi and NEC, were just going back to their roots as providers of industrial equipment like power turbines, mining tools or telecommunications gear. Panasonic, founded by Konosuke Matsushita in 1918, started as a maker of consumer lighting fixtures.
USA Today on technology to improve auto fuel efficiency
“Perhaps the most obvious place to look for efficiency gains is under the hood. That's why Honda, Chrysler, and GM offer engines that shut off cylinders when not in use. At highway speeds, a V8 can turn into a four-cylinder to conserve fuel, but on the on-ramp the whole engine will come to life.
Going a step further, a number of automakers offer engines that shut off entirely when the car isn't moving. Known as Auto Start-Stop, the technology keeps engines from wasting fuel while idling at stoplights. Ford estimates that its Auto Start-Stop feature can boost fuel economy by four to 10%.
There's even efficiency to be gained when slowing for those stoplights. The latest Mazda 6 offers an optional regenerative braking system called i-ELOOP (in graph). It recovers energy from braking that otherwise would've been wasted as heat, and stores it to power other vehicle functions.”
In its inaugural round, more than 475 organizations from 80 countries applied to the USAID sponsored Powering Agriculture Grand Challenge. 12 winners were announced including one from Uganda below. It should result in reducing milk wastage caused today by inadequate refrigeration
“To address the problem associated with limited electricity access and its implication on cold storage in the dairy industry, UGARF has developed a refrigeration unit powered on biogas. The biogas is produced through the collection of cow manure – a resource that is of ample supply to dairy farmers. In capturing the biogas, UGARF’s clean energy solution regenerates zeolite plates which retain their capacity to capture water vapor from evaporative milk chilling process. The milk is chilled in stainless steel, aluminum containers. Through this project, UGARF and Smallholder Fortunes will refine the design of the refrigeration unit and pilot-test the system with farmers in rural Uganda. The team will then work with local manufacturers to secure financing and bring production of the refrigeration systems to commercial scale. “
Just one year after Sandy turned out the lights on 8.5 million Americans, there's been a proliferation of generators, fuel cells, solar panels paired with batteries, and combined heat and power technologies. These varying microgrids aim to make the main grid more "resilient" — energy's 2013 buzzword.
"Sandy was a game changer," says Tom Leyden, CEO of Solar Grid Storage (in graph below), a company that develops battery systems to store solar power, which fluctuates throughout the day. He says the massive storm — along with lower solar prices, better batteries and rising climate change concerns — has amplified the need for storing renewable energy that is starting to transform the utility industry.
On my trip to NYC this week I used Toyota Highlander and Ford Escape Hybrid(in photo below) taxis. The city is phasing them out for the Nissan NV200 that I wrote about here
But one taxi driver I talked to is in no hurry to make the switch. His 2009 Escape has racked up 400,000 miles (I had to triple check he did not say 40,000). His colleague and he drive it 22 hours a day. He gets it serviced every 2 weeks and inspected every 4 months.
He had a GPS unit and a smartphone going. The TV was playing non stop and and the credit card reader must get used countless times a day as more passengers use credit cards.
All in all I was in awe of the 34 square miles called Manhattan which allow for stress testing such an unbelievably productive vehicle.