Category: power sources

June 7, 2011 • Current Events, Electricity

A change in the African landscape

by Hannah Miller

With election season nigh upon us, it’s pretty common to open up the news and see a handful of issues that only get pulled out a few times a year. Suddenly, they are dusted off and take center stage in the public debate. Financial concerns, moral and legal issues, and of course energy debates will be a part of this year’s election coverage – and it’s not hard to understand why. Small changes in any of these arenas can bring about big change in public life. continue

April 4, 2011 • Current Events, Energy Generation, Sustainability

33% By 2020

by Brandon Dickerson

Several years ago, I was having what I considered to be a friendly conversation with a stranger about cap and trade legislation. Apparently, my self-monitor was slightly off that morning, because when I made a light-hearted joke, I was quickly put into my place and told how serious the issue was. I kindly apologized and exited the conversation as quickly as possible. However, I began thinking about the public perception and fear that comes with renewable legislation at the state and federal level. continue

November 4, 2010 • Emerging Technology

Size matters not.

by Dominic Barbato

“Size matters not…look at me. Judge me by my size, do you?”

For all you Star Wars fans out there (and for those of you who are not, shame on you!), Yoda’s wise words seem to fit this blog entry nicely. Recently, I read an article in the June 2010 issue of FastCompany titled “Supertiny Power Plants”, which highlighted some potential uses for piezoelectric materials.

Pizza, what?! I know, right? I was lost too, but the it’s pretty simple really. “Piezo” is a Greek word meaning to press or squeeze. Simply stated, piezeoelectric materials are able to generate an electric current in response to an applied mechanical strain (such as pressing or squeezing). You may remember from your high school physics class that electromagnetic induction (i.e., the production of a voltage) occurs when conductive material moves within a magnetic field. The generation turbines at a power plant apply this principle on a grand scale by rapidly spinning very large coils of wire inside even larger magnets. The rotation of the wire within the magnetic field creates an electric current which is then transferred over power lines for use at your home. continue

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