Category: Emerging Technology

February 2, 2012 • Emerging Technology, Energy Efficiency, Green Buildings, Sustainability

Here comes $4 billion in energy efficiency projects

by Jackie Cobb

Recently, President Obama announced a $4 billion effort to improve the energy efficiency of both government and private-sector buildings here in the U.S. The investment of $4 billion, to be spent on energy-efficiency projects over the next two years, intends to “save billions in energy costs, promote energy independence and, according to independent estimates, create tens of thousands of jobs in the hard-hit construction sector.” continue

December 20, 2011 • Emerging Technology, Energy Generation, Energy Innovation, Perspectives

One field of heliostats to rule them all…

by Allie Heiniger

Archimedes was not joking around.

Once upon a time in second century Greece, there lived a man named Archimedes who invented all sorts of crazy smart things. One of those things was a heat-ray weapon that was supposedly used to destroy enemy Roman ships. Although the details are not perfectly clear, historians say that Archimedes had 60 soldiers hold up bronze-coated shields aimed at the same small spot on each ship, igniting it within 10 minutes. Pretty impressive stuff for a guy whose last nerd words were supposedly, “Do not disturb my circles.” continue

November 4, 2011 • Emerging Technology

Developing countries, part I

by Ann Barczak

It’s that time of year again.  The weather is turning colder, football is in full swing, and the kids are back in a school routine. Once school starts in our house each fall, the crazy begins. No matter how much preparation goes in the night before, mornings are chaos. There is fighting, moodiness, confusion, yelling… . Breakfast is every man for himself and resembles a scene from Lord of the Flies. The dogs circle the kitchen, desperately hoping that the baby is just sleepy enough to drop his waffle on the floor. A child screams, “Where’s my belt?” Well, it’s right where it should be of course – looped around the bathroom door by one brother to keep another trapped inside. continue

November 2, 2011 • Current Events, Emerging Technology, Energy Innovation

A “sticky” note on tar sands

by Allie Heiniger

Tar sands (also known as oil sands) has become a topic of conversation in the energy procurement world these days. Despite its recent popularity, most people don’t understand what it is, how it is used and its awesome history. continue

October 11, 2011 • Current Events, Emerging Technology, Energy Innovation, Sustainability

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8….. Light!

by Hannah Miller

The Fibonacci Spiral

Someone recently said the words “Fibonacci” and “solar panels” to me, and my ears immediately pricked up. I’ve always been intrigued by the Fibonacci sequence and my first thought was of the PBS show Square One and its segment, MathNet, where I first learned about it.

But this decade’s reference to Fibonacci isn’t fiction. A seventh grader from New York named Aidan recently won the 2011 Young Naturalist Award from the American Museum of Natural History for his work identifying how the Fibonacci sequence can help increase electricity output of solar panels. continue

August 12, 2011 • Electricity, Emerging Technology, Energy Efficiency, Energy Innovation, Perspectives, Sustainability

Charge it up! Battery power of the future

by AmyHiggs

When I was but a wee tot, I really, really wanted a pink, battery-powered Barbie car. I coveted. Oh, yes. My parents, however, had sense enough not to shell out $400 for a piece of plastic that zipped along at 0.2 miles an hour and that I likely would have plowed into the family dog as soon as I took the wheel. I had to settle for a “manual” toy car that I powered myself through a hole in the floorboard — a la “The Flintstones.” I probably got going faster in that thing than I would have in the Barbie-mobile. I definitely got more exercise!

I hadn’t thought about those childhood toys in years, until I listened to an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air back in June. The host talked to the senior editor for Popular Science magazine, Seth Fletcher, about his new book, “Bottled Lightning: Superbatteries, Electric Cars and the New Lithium Economy.” Fletcher believes that “advanced lithium batteries could hold the key to an environmentally sustainable, oil-independent future.” Read more here. continue

August 10, 2011 • Electricity, Emerging Technology, Perspectives

On the road with eco plastics

by Sarah McKee

Jeff Bridges as "The Dude"

My car (a ’99 Honda Accord with 175,000+ miles) has been paid off for several months now and with all the new entries in the market, I’m officially shopping for a new car.   (The Dude, Jeff Bridges, is quite convincing about the new Hyndai Sonata.)  Fellow WaterCooler blogger, Eric Bickel is also making me see fuel economy in a whole new way.  Now, the question is, do I go hybrid and put into practice a personal sustainability strategy? continue

June 20, 2011 • Emerging Technology, Energy Generation, Energy Innovation, Perspectives

The power of the ocean

by Sara Hoefkens

Those of you who read one of my previous blog posts (“About Sailing and Energy Management”) will remember my adoration for ocean sailing. With all these years and miles of sailing, my respect and love for the ocean has grown very strong. That’s why I could not let the month pass by without remembering the annual “World Oceans Day,” celebrated on June 8.

World Oceans Day (WOD) is an opportunity every year to honor the ocean, celebrate the products the ocean provides and appreciate its own intrinsic value. WOD was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2008, and since then it has been coordinated internationally by The Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network with greater success each year in participation and building awareness of how our lives depend on the ocean. It’s actually amazing to consider, but the ocean helps generate most of the oxygen we breathe, feeds us, regulates our climate, cleans the water we drink, offers us a pharmacopoeia of potential medicines and last but not least, forms an inexhaustible source of renewable energy! continue

May 25, 2011 • Emerging Technology, Energy Innovation, Green Buildings

SEEing is believing: Utility shows off recent innovations

by Emily Tewell

Everyone has different learning styles; some people are very hands-on, including me. For instance, the in-store displays where someone is showing you how “this cleaning agent will be the last one you ever have to buy,” always have crowds of people swarming around. There are people who just want to hear their message, but many want to try it first-hand for themselves. What better way to put yourself out there? When it comes to having a product that you want to introduce to a broad spectrum of customers, so they not only hear about your offerings but experience them first hand, making customers active participants seems like the best idea. According to an article in the marketing magazine BtoB, this is exactly what Southern California Edison realized when they were looking for ways to show off their energy efficiency projects. continue

May 16, 2011 • Emerging Technology, Energy's Lighter Side, Natural Gas, Perspectives

Old man embraces new fuel technology

by Chad Holder

Get off my lawn!

Another birthday and a drawer full of v-neck undershirts signal I’m ready to embrace my inner “old man.” These days I spend a lot of time complaining and talking about the way things were “back in my day,” back before gasoline was $4.07 a gallon. One day last week unleaded gas shot up 37 cents a gallon. Summit Energy commodity analyst, Matt Smith, attributed the meteoric rise to “flooding on the Mississippi, which is impacting both production and transportation of the fuel.” Matt’s right, of course, but the grumpy old man in me would rather blame it on “kids these days” or Communism. continue

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