Monday, December 20, 2010

Solar-Powered Cargo Pants Provide Green Energy on the Go

Solar powered accessories are on the rise, but clothing that can harvest energy from the sun isn’t something we see too often. A practical piece from their newly launched GO Collection, the Go Urban cargo pant by Silvr Lining includes a pair of built-in photovoltaic panels able to give you all the juice you need to keep your portable electronics jumping throughout the day. Composed of animal-friendly Ultrasuede, this casual and comfy cargo is lightweight, water-resistant, stain-repellent, and tough as nails. We think this could be a great piece for hitting the snowy and sunny slopes this winter!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Netherlands unveils the first public hydrogen fuel station

Europe is truly embracing hydrogen refueling stations — first we saw Italy install solar-powered pumps, then Germany announced plans for a hydrogen fuel network that will be finished by 2015. The latest nation to jump on the bandwagon is the Netherlands, which recently unveiled the first public hydrogen fueling station in the country. The first pump is installed in Arnhem and it is reportedly one of the first stations to be installed along Europe’s Hydrogen Highway.

The hydrogen station includes a small-scale plant that produces hydrogen, which is stored in compressed form. The hydrogen fuel is then fed through a special hose into hydrogen vehicles – just like a standard gas pump. As it is the first hydrogen facility in the country, it has a limited capacity and will mainly serve local vehicles that have been converted to hydrogen.

There is currently one major drawback for hydrogen cars and that is the huge tanks that they have, which often take up all of the trunk space or back seats of the cars. It is hoped that hydrogen car makers such as Daimler, BMW, GM, Ford, Toyota and Honda will be able to remedy this and make a smaller, more convenient hydrogen vehicle that the public will embrace. With the construction of the European Hydrogen Highway now underway, this is bound to be the first of many hydrogen pumping stations that will pop up on the continent.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Solar powered computer tablet designed for developing countries

Sure, the iPad is cool but is it solar-powered? The I-Slate is! Developed through a partnership of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Houston’s Rice University and the Villages for Development and Learning Foundation (ViDAL), an NGO in India, the I-Slate is a cheap, solar-powered computer tablet that has been designed to help children in developing countries have access to computer technologies.

As part of the I-Slate’s test period, an electronic version of the tablet was given to millions of Indian school children to try out and play with. If the trials go successfully, the tablets will be installed with solar panels in the frame (like calculators) so they can be fully sustainable. Many of the children have never used a computer, but early reports state that they have taken to the I-Slate like fishes to water.

The I-Slate has already gained acclaim; last year, it was selected by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) as one of seven technologies that “will have world-changing implications on the way humans interact with machines, the world and each other.”

“Children in Indian village schools are just like their peers anywhere in the world: eager to learn, tech savvy, and willing to try new pedagogical tools that engage their creative minds,”said Rajeswari Pingali, ViDAL president. “The I-slate can help bring the marvels of ICT into thousands of rural schools and contribute to an improved learning experience.”

Rice undergraduate Lauren Pemberton said the trial had already yielded results. “They immediately picked up on the technology,” she said. “They clearly didn’t like some of the things we expected to work really well, like the button placement, but they loved the scratch-pad application which was added at the last minute.”

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

More solar panels installed at Audi HQ in Ingolstadt

Back in December 2009, German manufacturer Audi announced it will be installing 11,600 square meters (124,861 square feet) of solar panels at its headquarters in Ingolstadt, in an attempt to make the facilities there less dependent on external energy sources.

Now, one year later, the car maker announced that it will be expanding the use of the electricity generated by the solar panels to charge the batteries of the electric e-tron models. In addition, an extra 7,500 square meter area will be covered with photovoltaic panels.

“This concept shows that Audi is tackling the topic of electromobility systematically,” said Peter Kossler, Audi Ingolstadt plant manager.

“The photovoltaic installation uses innovative thin-layer modules that satisfy the most stringent environmental protection, efficiency and flexibility standards. We aim to set the standards in every area.”

The new solar panels will be installed by Green City Energy, the same company which handled the job for the car maker last year. The 1,000 MWh of electricity by the current system will be enriched with the 460 MWh coming from the expansion.

Currently, the panels have begun feeding electricity directly in Audi’s electric network. The power is used for charging stations for electric cars for now, but other production facilities will be powered this way soon.

In October this year, Audi announced a similar endeavour for the Neckarsulm center. The panels here, 10,700 modules, can reach 1,900 megawatt hours, fed into the public grid of the utility EnBW. The Neckarsulm facility is currently undergoing major upgrades, with the carmaker already announcing the beginning of the second phase of construction at the site.