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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Inflection point: High efficiency PV

Looks like the knights of the round table are getting closer to the holy grail all the time. Concenterator PV (covered by this blog in the past) technology has hit a magical number of 40 % efficiency of conversion at the point of incidance. From the US DOE site
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Alexander Karsner today announced that with DOE funding, a concentrator solar cell produced by Boeing-Spectrolab has recently achieved a world-record conversion efficiency of 40.7 percent, establishing a new milestone in sunlight-to-electricity performance. This breakthrough may lead to systems with an installation cost of only $3 per watt, producing electricity at a cost of 8-10 cents per kilowatt/hour, making solar electricity a more cost-competitive and integral part of our nation’s energy mix.

“Reaching this milestone heralds a great achievement for the Department of Energy and for solar energy engineering worldwide,” Assistant Secretary Karsner said. “We are eager to see this accomplishment translate into the marketplace as soon as possible, which has the potential to help reduce our nation’s reliance on imported oil and increase our energy security.”

Attaining a 40 percent efficient concentrating solar cell means having another technology pathway for producing cost-effective solar electricity. Almost all of today’s solar cell modules do not concentrate sunlight but use only what the sun produces naturally, what researchers call “one sun insolation,” which achieves an efficiency of 12 to 18 percent. However, by using an optical concentrator, sunlight intensity can be increased, squeezing more electricity out of a single solar cell.

The 40.7 percent cell was developed using a unique structure called a multi-junction solar cell. This type of cell achieves a higher efficiency by capturing more of the solar spectrum. In a multi-junction cell, individual cells are made of layers, where each layer captures part of the sunlight passing through the cell. This allows the cell to get more energy from the sun’s light.

For the past two decades researchers have tried to break the “40 percent efficient” barrier on solar cell devices. In the early 1980s, DOE began researching what are known as “multi-junction gallium arsenide-based solar cell devices,” multi-layered solar cells which converted about 16 percent of the sun’s available energy into electricity. In 1994, DOE’s National Renewable Energy laboratory broke the 30 percent barrier, which attracted interest from the space industry. Most satellites today use these multi-junction cells.

Reaching 40 percent efficiency helps further President Bush’s Solar America Initiative (SAI) goals, which aims to win nationwide acceptance of clean solar energy technologies by 2015. By then, it is intended that America will have enough solar energy systems installed to provide power to one to two million homes, at a cost of 5 to 10 cents per kilowatt/hour. The SAI is also key component of President Bush’s Advanced Energy Initiative, which provides a 22 percent increase in research and development funding at DOE and seeks to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil by changing the way we power our cars, homes and businesses.

For more information, visit the Solar America Initiative website at:

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Hydrogen economy to be based on human blood

Nice title huh ? The Imperial collage of London (guess only imperialists have access to enough blood for such systems) has a new technique where a complex molecule based on human blood serum can be used to hydrolyze water into hydrogen and oxygen. From the article :
Scientists have combined two molecules that occur naturally in blood to engineer a molecular complex that uses solar energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. This molecular complex can use energy from the sun to create hydrogen gas, providing an alternative to electrolysis, the method typically used to split water into its constituent parts. The breakthrough may pave the way for the development of novel ways of creating hydrogen gas for use as fuel in the future.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Blast from the past: Milton Friedman on corporate responsibility

The recently demised Milton Friedman had the following to say about the social responsibilities of corporates.
If this statement is not pure rhetoric, it must mean that he is to act in some way that is not in the interest of his employers. For example, that he is to refrain from increasing the price of the product in order to contribute to the social objective of preventing inflation, even though a price increase would be in the best interests of the corporation. Or that he is to make expenditures on reducing pollution beyond the amount that is in the best interests of the corporation or that is required by law in order to contribute to the social objective of improving the environment. Or that, at the expense of corporate profits, he is to hire 'hardcore' unemployed instead of better-qualified available workmen to contribute to the social objective of reducing poverty.
In each of these cases, the corporate executive would be spending someone else's money for a general social interest. Insofar as his actions in accord with his 'social responsibility' reduce returns to stockholders, he is spending their money. Insofar as his actions raise the price to customers, he is spending the customers' money. Insofar as his actions lower the wages of some employees, he is spending their money." Friedman argued that such actions in effect turned executives into public employees or civil servants, levying "taxes" (in the form of corporate money allocated to social causes) and making "expenditures" -- a part of "the socialist view that political mechanisms, not market mechanisms, are the appropriate way to determine the allocation of scarce resources to alternative uses."

The difficulty of exercising 'social responsibility' illustrates, of course, the great virtue of private competitive enterprise -- it forces people to be responsible for their own actions and makes it difficult for them to 'exploit' other people for either selfish or unselfish purposes. They can do good -- but only at their own expense."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nichia hits 138 lm/W

Nichia has developed LEDs with indium tin oxide contacts that can deliver an efficacy of 138 lm/W and an output of 402 lumens at 2A.

Japanese LED chip manufacturer Nichia has produced a small white-emitting LED chip that has an efficacy of 138 lm/W at 20 mA, and a larger device that delivers 92 lm/W at 350 mA.
The small chip, which measures 240x420 ┬Ám, has a color temperature of 5450K, a wall plug efficiency of 41.7%, and a forward voltage of 3.11 V at 20 mA.
The 1x1 mm chip has a slightly lower color temperature and efficacy, but can deliver 106 lumens at 350 mA and 402 lumens at 2 A, which is equivalent to the total flux of a 30 W incandescent lamp.
Both of the MOCVD-grown devices produce white light by exciting a yellow YAG phosphor with 450 nm emission from an InGaN/GaN LED. The high efficacy of the chips results from improvements in external quantum efficiency, according to Nichia's researchers.
The LEDs do not use a conventional translucent Ni/Al p-contact that has a transmittance of only 40%, but instead employ an indium tin oxide electrode with a transmittance of 95%.
Extraction efficiency is also boosted by growth on a sapphire substrate patterned with convex hexagons, which scatter more of the light emitted from the active layer.
Nichia's results compare favorably with those of Cree, which reported a white LED chip delivering 131 lm/W at 20 mA this summer. Nichia's results were obtained using pulsed operation (200 Hz repition rate, and a duty cycle of 1 %). Cree provided no details of its mode of operation.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Viscount Monckton of Brenchley debunked

More action from the flat earthers. A recent monograph by Christopher Monkton, an aristo who apparently dabbles in Atmospheric physics, questioned the current model of climate change and went on to cast aspersions on it. George Monbiot shows why it is that much crap. From the article :
The author of this "research article" is Christopher Monckton, otherwise known as Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. He has a degree in classics and a diploma in journalism and, as far as I can tell, no further qualifications. But he is confident enough to maintain that - by contrast to all those charlatans and amateurs who wrote the reports produced by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - he is publishing "the truth".

The warming effects of carbon dioxide, Lord Monckton claims, have been exaggerated, distorted and made up altogether. One example of the outrageous fraud the UN body has committed is the elimination from its temperature graphs of the "medieval warm period", which, he claims, was "real, global and up to 3C warmer than now". He runs two graphs side by side, one of which shows the temperature record over the past 1,000 years as rendered by the UN panel, and the other purporting to show real temperatures over the same period.

The world was so hot 600 years ago, he maintains, that "there was little ice at the North Pole: a Chinese naval squadron sailed right round the Arctic in 1421 and found none". By contrast the planet is currently much cooler than climate scientists predicted. In 1988, for example, the world's most celebrated climatologist, James Hansen of Nasa, "told the US Congress that temperature would rise 0.3C by the end of the century (it rose 0.1C), and that sea level would rise several feet (no, one inch)".

Most importantly, "the UN repealed a fundamental physical law", doubling the size of the constant (lambda) in the Stefan-Boltzmann equation. By assigning the wrong value to lambda, the UN's panel has exaggerated the sensitivity of the climate to extra carbon dioxide. Monckton's analysis looks impressive. It is nonsense from start to finish.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Education in India: The importance of first principles

One of the key factors that allow humans to 'progress' as a society is the power to comprehend abstractions and build on them. The flip side of this ability is the way we treat abstractions as fundamental axioms rather than the derived entities that they are. Take for example the simple act cooking your food. Where does the LPG actually come from and how does it get to you. To cut a long story short most of the LPG that we use in India is shipped from Qatar or S.Arabia via LPG tanker ships that are off-loaded at a convenient Gas terminal on the west coast of India, is either piped or shipped via road to the filling terminal and is then bottled in your ubiquitous cylinder and shipped by road (mostly) to your friendly neighborhood dealer. How many people are aware of this ? How many people know the true cost of this ?
When I hear comfortably off Indians (they are still the only ones who use gas) bitch and rant about how the cost is shooting up and what the government should do (basically give it to them free) I stop to wonder if they would do this had they looked beyond the 'cylinder' abstraction. I think not. Whatever else the shortcomings of the Indian middle class, they can be trusted to read a sentence and comprehend its broad meaning.
So how do we keep abstractions and yet rise above them ? IMHO this is a process that should be 'the' education system in this country. People can think in abstractions once they master the first principles at tender years. Unfortunately our vedic mafia that controlled the education system (such as it was) with the able assistance of Macaulay's imperial education mandate have managed to distort and even destroy the underpinnings of a rational education system.
Ask yourself what is in the Roti that you are eating. Have a look at the list (not exhausive) below and give yourself a point for every thing you got right.

1. LNG from Saudi. (which also gave us the Al Quida)
2. Hybrid dwarf wheat germplasm from Mexico (which also gave us Parthenium and Lantana)
3. Gas cracker technology from Europe (which gave us many things :)
4. Chloripyrophos and friends from Ambani bai (well you can fill in the other things that you got)
5. Nitrogenous fertilizers from Fertilizers India
6. Water from the glaciers in the Himalayas diverted by eco-system destroying canal networks(if grown in punjab or harayna)
7. Diesel from IOC for all agri operations and transport (the crude is from the gulf again)
8. Electric power from Raichur thermal plan to mill the damn thing.(the coal is probably from bihar or jarkhand if not imported from australia)
9. Polyethylene to pack it from god knows who.

This is the eco-footprint of your Roti. Don't you think your kids will be better off if they know this rather than think of agriculture as that nice, clean, eco-friendly(ecological not economic) occupation that magically gives you 'chakki fresh', 'mothers formula', 'extra fiber' (packed and distributed 'home style') atta. Especially when this magic atta was grown using the stuff mentioned above (most of which are toxic, cause global pollution and leave residues in food that allows your son to grow boobs or worse a tail) and packaged and marketed by global criminals like Cargill and Monsanto ?

David Cromwell: Eating the planet

zmag has a good writeup on the ecologically unsustainable practices that are a result of the current idealogically dominant economic system. Good read.

Clean Green Chinese Millionaires

Worldwatch reports that a numner of chinese energy players are now turing clean and green as a way to wealth. From the article
The Hurun Report, a luxury business magazine known for its annual surveys of China’s wealthiest citizens, recently released its 2006 China Energy Rich List, which ranks the wealth generated from the nation’s booming energy sector. Shi Zhengrong, a solar energy tycoon, tops the list with a personal wealth of US$1.95 billion, followed by Jia Tingliang and Wang Suolan with the coal company Shanxi Datuhe Coke & Chemicals, with US$525 million.

While entrepreneurs from traditional energy industries such as coal mining, oil and gas distribution, and power generation still dominate the energy “rich list” (occupying more than half of the fifty spots), the share of wealthy Chinese representing the “clean energy” sector—which includes solar and wind power, batteries, bioenergy, incineration power generation, and thermal energy—has increased to 14, up from only 4 last year. Rupert Hoogewerf, CEO of the Hurun Report, concedes that “valuing the wealth of China’s Rich is as much an art as it is a science,” but believes the list offers a useful glimpse into the dynamics of China’s energy market and illustrates how private companies struggle to share the energy pie with their state-owned counterparts.

According to Shanghai Security Daily, the 2006 list reflects two main trends: the ongoing restructuring of China’s traditional coal mining industry, and the rapid entry of private companies into the clean energy field. The coal industry restructuring, which is being overseen by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), is intended to accelerate technological modernization and improve the industry’s ability to meet projected growth in demand—as well as protect the environment and improve industrial safety, according to Xinhua News. Under new policies, several large private coal companies have been able to merge, renovate, and regroup smaller mines, enter the overseas market with their competitive costs, and switch to deep coal refining. These activities have contributed to the emergence of several new tycoons.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

ZnO the future of Lighting ?

ZnO is being touted as a viable alternative to GaN as the building block for Light Emitting Diodes. The prognosis appears promising with a startup MOXtronics having developed the first successful ZnO Arsenic doped LED's. The exciting part is that Zno shows great potential as a medium to produce full spectrum light as opposed to GaN devices that are phosphor activated. From what is clearly a PR note sent to
The attractiveness of zinc oxide (ZnO) LEDs stems from the potential for phosphor-free spectral coverage from the deep ultraviolet (UV) to the red, coupled with a quantum efficiency that could approach 90% and a compatibility with high-yield low-cost volume production. One day these LEDs could even outperform their GaN-based cousins (which offer a narrower spectral range) thanks to three key characteristics – superior material quality, an effective dopant and the availability of better alloys.
ZnO also promises very high quantum efficiencies, and UV detectors based on this material have produced external quantum efficiencies (EQE) of 90%, three times that of equivalent GaN-based detectors. The physical processes associated with detection suggest that similarly high efficiency values should be possible for the conversion of electrical carriers to photons. So it is plausible that ZnO LEDs will have an EQE upper limit that is three times higher than that of GaN-based devices.
latest UV LEDs have a typical wall-plug efficiency of 0.1%, which would equate to an efficacy of 0.6 lm/W if the emission were in the visible spectrum. Although the efficiency is far lower than that of GaN LEDs, we are making rapid progress by addressing the various phenomena that degrade device performance. If progress continues at the same rate we will produce LEDs with a 1% wall-plug efficiency within one year, 1–5% within two years and about 10% or more within three years.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Give the jedi his hat

Jerome Taylor takes the mighty Aussies apart. Bowlers win matches. Kudos to Taylor for the rare feat of a one day hatrick.

What after human extinction ?

All species have a finite life span (as the universe itself) and it appears that we are close to ours. (at least in terms of how the biosphere is). This article from the New scientist seems to indicate that all traces of our immortal civilizations will vanish in a short span of (geological) time. Brings to mind the tagline a friend of mine uses "Earth has been around for 6 billion years. It needs no saving. Save your self". Yes santosh, seems that you are right....

Limiting factors: Lunar Exploration - 2

This blog previously examined the stated NASA goal to setup a martian settelment with a waystation on the moon for Water. It now appears that there is none to be had.This complicates things for NASA (and other space agencies) counting on the avaialbility of extra-terrestrial water sources to move out into the solar system. From the news release:
Hopes that the Moon's South Pole has a vast hoard of ice that could be used to establish a lunar colony are sadly unfounded, a new study says.

In 1994, radar echoes sent back in an experiment involving a United States orbiter called Clementine appeared to show that a treasure trove of frozen water lay below the dust in craters near the lunar South Pole that were permanently shaded from the Sun.

If so, such a find would be an invaluable boost to colonisation, as the ice could be used to provide water as well as hydrogen as fuel. Nasa is looking closely at the South Pole as a potential site for the United States' return mission to the Moon, scheduled to take place by 2020.

But a paper published in the British science journal Nature on Thursday by a US team says the Clementine data most probably was misinterpreted.

Donald Campbell of Washington's Smithsonian Institution and colleagues collected radar images of the Moon's South Pole to a resolution of 20m, looking especially at Shackleton crater, which had generated most interest.

The team found that a particular radar signature called the circular polarisation ratio - which in the Clementine experiment was taken to indicate thick deposits of ice - could also be created by echoes from the rough terrain and walls of impact craters.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Grow your home
Popular Science has this article on the homes of the future. Basically the house is living and grows around you. Rather romantic and cool. From the article:
f solar power and recycled building materials just aren’t green enough for you, the brains behind the Fab Tree Hab might have the perfect pad. Architects Mitchell Joachim and Javier Arbona, along with environmental engineer Lara Greden, have designed a house that will grow from a few seedlings into a two-story, water-recycling, energy-efficient abode. The Fab Tree Hab, a mix of ancient and ultramodern technology, isn’t merely environmentally friendly. It is the environment.

Instead of building a home out of green materials, the trio figured, why not construct a living, breathing house? “Something that’s alive and thriving,” Joachim says. They hope to plant the first house within five years, but for now, they’re working with Israeli arboriculture firm Plantware, testing techniques for growing the lattice-like weave of vines and roots that will form the walls.

Despite its odd exterior, the house will look normal on the inside. The walls, packed with clay and plastered over, will keep out the rain, and modern technology will be welcome. Yet there are still a few practical kinks to work out. Joachim wonders, for example, how a planning board will react to a house that constantly expands.

Each house will take at least five years to grow, depending on the climate, but Joachim envisions the structures being grown and tended to on a farm. Customers could pick a finished tree habitat and then have it transported to and replanted on a lot within 100 miles. Here, a look inside and out at what’s sure to be the greenest house on the block.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Google shows the way

Google has plans to setup a 1.6 MW solar power plant to take care of part of its needs in California. this is an excellent trend and google show the very eco un-friendly electronics and IT crowd how it is done. From Reuters:
Google Inc. (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research) plans a solar-powered electricity system at its Silicon Valley headquarters that will rank as the largest U.S. solar-powered corporate office complex, the company said on Wednesday.

The Web search leader said it is set to begin building a rooftop solar-powered generation system at its Mountain View, California, headquarters capable of generating 1.6 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power 1,000 California homes.

"This is the largest customer-owned solar electric system at a corporate site," said Noah Kaye, director of public affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association, an industry group based in Washington, D.C.

A Google executive said the company will rely on solar power to supply nearly a third of the electricity consumed by office workers at its roughly one-million-square-foot headquarters. This does not include power consumed by data centers that power many of Google's Web services worldwide, he said.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The return of the Jedi

Bowlers win matches.

Save the trees

Sony has this neat eBook reader that looks cool and may help cut paper usage. Well, I still want a dead tree book, but this could be the wave of the future...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The attack of the radioactive mutant gastropods

We reap what we sow. Spain reports that radioactive snails are crawling around an area where the US lost some thermo-neculear devices several decades ago. From Reuters:
MADRID (Reuters) - The discovery of radioactive snails at a site in southeastern Spain where three U.S. hydrogen bombs fell by accident 40 years ago may trigger a new joint U.S.-Spanish clean-up operation, officials said on Wednesday.

The hydrogen bombs fell near the fishing village of Palomares in 1966 after a mid-air collision between a bomber and a refuelling craft, in which seven of 11 crewmen died.

Hundreds of tons of soil were removed from the Palomares area and shipped to the United States after high explosive igniters on two bombs detonated on impact, spreading plutonium dust-bearing clouds across nearby fields.

Spanish authorities say the appearance of higher than normal levels of radiation in snails and other creatures shows there may be dangerous levels of plutonium and uranium below ground, and a further clean up could be necessary.

"We have to study the dirt, we have to look underground," said Juan Antonio Rubio, director general of Spain's energy research agency CIEMAT, which is carrying out an investigation with the U.S. Department of Energy.

"We don't know what's down there."

The U.S. and Spain have agreed to share the cost of the initial investigation, which is set to begin in November.

The governments have yet to agree on who would pay for a clean up, according to a U.S. embassy spokesman in Spain.

Spain's government has bought a 25 acre area near Palomares where the bombs fell.

Since 1966, the United States has helped pay for Palomares residents to be checked for signs of radiation poisoning. Spain says there is today no danger from surface radiation.

But it still advises local children not to work in fields at the explosion site, nor eat their snails -- which are a local delicacy.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Planet enters 'ecological debt'

The BBC reports that Rising consumption of natural resources means that humans began "eating the planet" on 9 October, a study suggests.The date symbolised the day of the year when people's demands exceeded the Earth's ability to supply resources and absorb the demands placed upon it.

Welcome to the brave new world. When your grandkids are rooting around 21st century rubbish dumps for food they will thank you for all the SUV rides...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Low humidity water engine

An interesting product to extract water out of the atmosphere for potable applications is being used by the US Army to cut water costs. The machine is not a electrically driven compressor design that needs high humidity to work, rather, a new salt based technology using hydrophilic properties has been adopted. More on this at Wired.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Carbon Sequestration Project Database

Greenbiz reports :
WRI and the Climate, Energy and Pollution program strive to protect the global climate system from further harm due to emissions of greenhouse gases and help humanity and the natural world adapt to unavoidable climate change. Its research on carbon sequestration is one way of moving toward this goal. This database includes descriptive and contact information about carbon sequestration projects worldwide. It also provides information on the projects' efforts toward providing and evaluating non-carbon benefits. The criteria selected to categorize such impacts were drawn from the nine international processes utilizing criteria and indicators for assessing forest extent, health, management, and other socio-economic benefits. In addition, to the extent possible, CEP has made available indicators, guidelines and other measurement tools used to evaluate these impacts. This database does not attempt to evaluate the sustainability of individual projects; rather, it provides initial information to users for further study.
The database can be accessed at the World Resource Institute

Dell to recycle its old PC's

Good trend. Long overdue. What about the millions of assembled PC's that we run. I have several myself and even with linux some of these are dying...

Clean up your act !

Solvent Substitution for Surface Cleaning

The University of Massachusetts Lowell has put up a great database that allows industries to make simple but significant changes in the industrial solvents that are used in manufacturing. This is vital for countries like India and China given the impact of our growing manufacturing. The freely available database is acceesible here

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Vignettes: Indian Monsoon

Digging our own grave

NY Times reports:
If groundwater can be thought of as a nation's savings account for dry, desperate drought years, then India, which has more than its share of them, is rapidly exhausting its reserve. That situation is true in a growing number of states.

Indian surveyors have divided the country into 5,723 geographic blocks. More than 1,000 are considered either overexploited, meaning more water is drawn on average than is replenished by rain, or critical, meaning they are dangerously close to it.

Twenty years ago, according to the Central Groundwater Board, only 250 blocks fell into those categories.

"We have come to the worst already," was the verdict of A. Sekhar, who until recently was an adviser on water to the Planning Commission of India. At this rate, he projected, the number of areas at risk is most likely to double in the next dozen years.

Across India, where most people still live off the land, the chief source of irrigation is groundwater, at least for those who can afford to pump it.

Here in Jaipur District, a normally parched area west of New Delhi known for its regal palaces, farmers depend on groundwater almost exclusively. Across Rajasthan State, where Jaipur is located, up to 80 percent of the groundwater blocks are in danger of running out.

But even fertile, rain-drenched pockets of the country are not immune.

Consider, for instance, that in Punjab, India's northern breadbasket state, 79 percent of groundwater blocks are classified as overexploited or critical; in neighboring Haryana, 59 percent; and in southern tropical Tamil Nadu, 46 percent.

The crisis has been exacerbated by good intentions gone awry and poor planning by state governments, which are responsible for regulating water.

Indian law has virtually no restrictions on who can pump groundwater, how much and for what purpose. Anyone, it seems, can - and does - extract water as long as it is under his or her patch of land. That could apply to homeowner, farmer or industry.

Electric pumps have accelerated the problem, enabling farmers and others to squeeze out far more groundwater than they had been able to draw by hand for hundreds of years.

The spread of free or vastly discounted electricity has not helped, either. A favorite boon of politicians courting the rural vote, the low rates have encouraged farmers, especially those with large landholdings, to pump out groundwater with abandon.

"We forgot that water is a costly item," lamented K. P. Singh, regional director of the Central Groundwater Board, in his office in the city of Jaipur. "Our feeling about proper, judicious use of water vanished."

Without Renewable Power, U.S. Army Could Fail in Iraq

Worldwatch reports:
In a July 25 memo to the Pentagon, U.S. Marine Corps Major General Richard Zilmer made a “Priority 1” request for solar—and wind-powered generators to help with the fight in Iraq. “Without this solution, personnel loss rates are likely to continue at their current rate,” Zilmer writes. “Continued casualty accumulation exhibits [the] potential to jeopardize mission success.”

The “thermal signature” of diesel-powered generators currently in use can enable enemies to detect U.S. outposts, experts say. And missions to supply the generators with JP-8, the standard battlefield fuel, are vulnerable to ambush. Without “a self-sustainable energy solution,” Zilmer notes, the U.S. Army will “continue to accrue preventable… serious and grave casualties.”

Although Zilmer’s memo shows a growing focus on incorporating renewable energy sources into combat operations, it is not the first time the U.S. military has embraced the benefits of renewables. A 2004 study conducted for the Army reported that using solar panels to recharge equipment batteries was a better option than having soldiers carry disposable batteries into combat. Pentagon research from June 2005 illustrates the costs and benefits of using solar power to reduce fuel use. And four wind turbines currently supply roughly 25 percent of electricity needs at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Bowlers rule but chokers croak

The folding of the top and middle orders in pursuit of a small score shows one why Australia are the champions and our much feted and admired indian batting lineup are chokers. Lets not mince words and stick to the path of wisdom by calling a spade a spade. Australian coaches dont help, boot camps in military camps dont help, balls help. However the technique to grow them apparently is not part of the training program. The bowlers did a fantastic job that the batting did not support. I take consolation in the fact that the bowling is shaping up. Afterall we all know that bowlers win matches and batsmen get the endorsments and laugh all the way to the bank...

Read why here. How decent but useless.
Failures are more important than success if one can learn from it.

Kudos to Australia for their celebration of human spirit.

Thermocline energy for indoor climate control

Worldwatch has this article on a chinese project to use the temprature gradient across ocean thermoclines to generate usable climate control. A useful technique that can save millions of dollars in power that is used for airconditioners. Airconditioners consume a lot of power that can be saved.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What global warming ?

While the nero's of our age emulate their famed predecessor in denying global warming etc, time is running out for us. For the first time in recorded history there is a direct sea route from northern europe to the northpole itself. Sea ice is rapidly melting. From the article
European scientists voiced shock as they showed pictures which showed Arctic ice cover had disappeared so much last month that a ship could sail unhindered from Europe's most northerly outpost to the North Pole itself.

The satellite images were acquired from August 23 to 25 by instruments aboard Envisat and EOS Aqua, two satellites operated by the European Space Agency (ESA).

Perennial sea ice -- thick ice that is normally present year-round and is not affected by the Arctic summer -- had disappeared over an area bigger than the British Isles, ESA said.

Vast patches of ice-free sea stretched north of Svalbard, an archipelago lying midway between Norway and the North Ple, and extended deep into the Russian Arctic, all the way to the North Pole, the agency said in a press release.

"This situation is unlike anything observed in previous record low-ice seasons," said Mark Drinkwater of ESA's Oceans/Ice Unit.

"It is highly imaginable that a ship could have passed from Spitzbergen or Northern Siberia through what is normally pack ice to reach the North Pole without difficulty."

Spitzbergen is one of the Svalbard islands, which are Norwegian.

Drinkwater added: "If this anomaly continues, the Northeast Passage, or 'Northern Sea Route' between Europe and Asia will be open over longer intervals of time, and it is conceivable we might see attempts at sailing around the world directly across the summer Arctic Ocean within the next 10 to 20 years."

The images are for late summer. In the last weeks, what was open water has begun to freeze, as the autumn air temperatures over the Arctic begin to fall, ESA said.

Regular satellite monitoring over the last 25 years shows that the northern polar ice cover has shrunk and thinned as global temperatures have risen.

But this year's images are unprecedented, and fierce storms that fragmented and scattered already thin pack ice may be to blame, the scientists believe.

The images were released less than a week after a paper, published in the US journal Science, found that year-round sea ice in the Arctic shrank by one seventh between 2004 and 2005.

Loss of sea ice does not affect global sea levels. Ice that floats in the water displaces its own volume.

However ice that is on land, as an icesheet, glacier or permanent snowcap, adds to sea level when it melts and runs off.

Retreating ice cover also creates a vicious circle, adding to the warming caused by greenhouse gases -- carbon emissions, mainly from fossil fuels, that trap the Sun's heat.

Ice, being white, reflects the Sun's rays. Less ice therefore means the sea warms, which in turn accelerates the shrinkage.

The shrinkage of the Arctic icecap is viewed with alarm by scientists, as it appears to perturb important ocean currents elsewhere, notably the Gulf Stream, which gives western Europe its balmy climate.

It also threaten animals such as polar bears and seals that depend on ice.

There are geopolitical implications, too, as Canada, Russia and the United States jockey to claim rights over transpolar passages that open up within their newly ice-free waters.

Bowlers rule

More fireworks are in the cards with some kangaroo to fry yet. Always good to see a cricketing wicket that seperates that men from the boys. The batting of Tendulkar was a tutorial on batting on bowling wickets and Lara was as skilful as ever. All credit to the pace attack and the turbanator.
More match coverage here and here.

eWaste: Responsible LCD disposal has an article on the need and advantages in recycling LCD panels. From the Article
A project to extract the materials from redundant liquid crystal displays is expected not only to make safe these materials, it will also recycle millions of dollars worth of valuable chemicals.

Scientists at the University of York are to play a key role in new research aimed at recycling discarded liquid crystal displays.

Some 40 million LCD television sets were sold worldwide in 2005 with expected sales likely to exceed 100 million by 2009. But the chemicals they contain are potentially hazardous and technological advances are so rapid that society is already discarding millions of LCD screens each year.

Lepomis macrochirus as a bio sensor for toxins

The use of biological agents to aid in many tasks that are currently done electronically is a progressive move for many reasons. One good example is the use of Bluegills (a kind of native north american sunfish) to keep track of toxins in drinking water. From the article
A type of fish so common that practically every American kid who ever dropped a fishing line and a bobber into a pond has probably caught one is being enlisted in the fight against terrorism.

San Francisco, New York, Washington and other big cities are using bluegills -- also known as sunfish or bream -- as a sort of canary in a coal mine to safeguard their drinking water.

Small numbers of the fish are kept in tanks constantly replenished with water from the municipal supply, and sensors in each tank work around the clock to register changes in the breathing, heartbeat and swimming patterns of the bluegills that occur in the presence of toxins.

A similar strategy is adopted in some Indian industrial units (especially metal smelters etc) where the Pollution control board requires the effluent to be discharged through a pond where carp are reared as a bio indicator of the effluent quality.

Infosociety : Trends in patents

Real Geek has this perspective on the trends in software patents. From the article
US Patent and Trademark Office made a new record for the number of software patents awarded in a single year. The agency has issued 893 new patents yesterday, pushing the total to 30,232 in this year.
Software patents are considered a growing problem for the high-tech industry. In a highly publicised court battle, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion was forced to pay $612.5m to settle a dispute with patent holding company NTP.

The patent at the centre of the battle is likely to be invalidated in the future because of prior art, which essentially means that somebody invented the technology before the patent filer.

The threat from software patents primarily affects small software vendors and open source projects.

California sues auto makers over emissions

Reuters 11:30 AM Sep, 20, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO -- California filed a global warming lawsuit on Wednesday against Ford Motor, General Motors, Toyota and three other automakers, charging that greenhouse gases from their vehicles have cost the state millions of dollars.

State Attorney General Bill Lockyer said the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Northern California was the first of its kind to seek to hold manufacturers liable for the damages caused by their vehicles' emissions.

The lawsuit also names Chrysler Motors, the U.S. arm of Germany's DaimlerChrysler, and the North American units of Japan's Honda and Nissan.

The lawsuit charges that vehicle emissions have contributed significantly to global warming and harmed the resources, infrastructure and environmental health of the most populous state in the United States.

Read more here and here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Engine on a chip

MIT researchers are putting a tiny gas-turbine engine inside a silicon chip about the size of a quarter. The resulting device could run 10 times longer than a battery of the same weight can, powering laptops, cell phones, radios and other electronic devices.

It could also dramatically lighten the load for people who can't connect to a power grid, including soldiers who now must carry many pounds of batteries for a three-day mission -- all at a reasonable price.

The researchers say that in the long term, mass-production could bring the per-unit cost of power from microengines close to that for power from today's large gas-turbine power plants.

Read more here.

Renewables Becoming Cost-Competitive With Fossil Fuels in the U.S.

Worldwatch reports
Many of the new technologies that harness renewables are, or soon will be, economically competitive with fossil fuels. Dynamic growth rates are driving down costs and spurring rapid advances in technologies. Since 2000, global wind energy generation has more than tripled; solar cell production has risen six-fold; production of fuel ethanol from crops have more than doubled; and biodiesel production has expanded nearly four-fold. Annual global investment in "new" renewable energy has risen almost six-fold since 1995, with cumulative investment over this period nearly $180 billion.

The full pdf of the report is freely downloadable here.

Monday, September 18, 2006

State of the Planet: The Economist goes green

The increasing number of articles about alternate energy and non conventional energy utilization in the mainstream economic press are a welcome phenomenon. The frequency of such articles is going up and clearly this is an indication that the cost of conventional power has crossed that line, where alternatives are incresingly attractive, economically. The article is quite detailed though a kind of a solar energy technology 101. Guess the investor community needs a new bubble to invest in. Read more here.

Landlubbers to cross Atlantic in Solar catamaran

A Swiss group is planning to cross the atlantic using a solar powered craft. From the very teutonic sounding blurb on the site..
""SUN21" is a 14-meter-long catamaran powered exclusively by solar energy. In the fall of 2006, the ship will undertake the first motorized crossing of the Atlantic without using a drop of gasoline. This new world record will demonstrate the great potential of the solar technique for ocean navigation."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

borohydride breakthrough

has this story on better hydrogen fuel cell technology. From the article
Chemist Don Gervasio and colleague Sonja Tasic, both at Arizona State University in the US, set out to develop a fuel cell that would generate more electricity for its weight than the best batteries, and would also work at room temperature.

Gervasio's solution was to use the alkaline compound borohydride. A 30% solution of borohydride in water actually contains one-third more hydrogen than the same volume of liquid hydrogen.

"The difference is that the borohydride is at room temperature, and it's stable, non-toxic and cost-effective," Gervasio says.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Patents : New patents in the LED space

LED Magazine has some new patents in the LED applications area in this article. Most as application patents go are quite obvious, however we are not going to see any genuine innovations till the process is improved.

Myanmar: Gas & Geopolitics

Myanmar is a rather mysterious place given the political scenario and history. has this fine analysis of what the Gas reserves are likely to do to Sino-Indian conflicts. The salient aspects from the review.
The illegitimate and oppressive nature of the current Burmese regime has been a key concern in European and American policymaking on Burma, and has also represented a problem for Burma's fellow member-states in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Several of the ASEAN countries, as well as India and China, have sought to downplay or even ignore this problem so as not to undermine their national interests in maintaining close relations with the Burmese power-holders.

The energy-security concerns of Thailand, India and China are key factors in the relations of all three countries with Burma. In principle, India and China have pledged to cooperate in the field of energy security in order to avoid costly rivalries. In practice, however, commentators expect that the two oil-importing giants will find it more or less impossible to avoid such rivalries. In relation to Burma, this seems difficult indeed. The immediate issue is competition between India and China over gas from Shwe, a newly discovered gas field off the coast of Arakan. An underlying Indian concern is China's naval presence and intelligence-monitoring both in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, where the Indian navy has been used to operating without interference, and in the Strait of Malacca.

For fear of losing influence with the Burmese regime, both India and Thailand have chosen a 'pragmatic' approach to the country's State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), whereas China tends to support Burma's rulers whenever they come under external pressure to undertake reforms. All three of Burma's neighbours are set to maintain a strong strategic interest in Burma, but the importance of Burma to the Chinese security agenda deserves particular attention. China relies on its bases on Burmese territory to monitor the Indian Ocean and the entrance to the Strait of Malacca, a waterway of crucial importance for the provision of oil and other necessities to China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. The strategic importance of the Malacca Strait has become even greater over the last decade, with China's growing dependence on imported oil. About 80% of all oil supplies to China are currently shipped by tankers through the Malacca Strait. Military planners in China fear an embargo in the event of war or an acute crisis in their relationship with the United States. Chinese assistance to port development in Burma is linked closely to China's objective to reduce its dependence on tanker transports through the Malacca Strait and South China Sea. The current Sino-Indian rivalry over Burmese natural gas from the Shwe field may give rise to further competition to assist the Burmese regime in building deep-sea ports and maritime facilities, as well as connecting infrastructure such as roads and airstrips, and of course gas pipelines. Calls by the Burmese pro-democracy movement for a tightening of the current EU and US sanctions regimes are premised on the assumption that it would be difficult for the Burmese military regime to remain in power without foreign trade and investments. That may be so, but the likelihood that Burma could be economically isolated is currently growing ever more remote. Burma's single most valuable export commodity is natural gas, which is becoming increasingly important to Burma's neighbours and key trading partners. Thailand has already invested heavily in Burmese natural gas and is currently entering into new energy deals with the Burmese regime. China plays a key role as a trading partner. Its trade with Burma reached $1.2 billion in 2005, of a total Burma trade of $5 billion. [2] China will further consolidate its economic ties with Burma with the building of two new pipelines through the country, one for oil and the other for gas. India is set to become a third major partner to the Burmese regime if its new gas pipeline plans are realized. Considering the vital significance of Burmese natural gas, both as a major source of revenue for the military regime and as an important aspect of the current energy security strategies of the neighbouring states, the present report takes a comprehensive look at the geopolitics of Burmese gas. It describes the history of oil and gas exploitation in Burma, the political context and the main stakeholders involved, with a focus on the emerging rivalry between India and China over Burmese gas. In conclusion, the report outlines some basic policy implications of the analysis, suggesting issues to consider in a much-needed re-examination of how to 'constructively engage' the Burmese junta.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Global warming, it now seems, is for real : Really

The Economist reports that Global warming has become real enough for even the most die hard nay sayers to deny. Guess dying of global warming can be bad for business :)

Chlorophyll Nanoswitch

ATHENS, Ohio – Nanoscientists have transformed a molecule of chlorophyll-a from spinach into a complex biological switch that has possible future applications for green energy, technology and medicine.

The study offers the first detailed image of chloropyhll-a – the main ingredient in the photosynthesis process – and shows how scientists can use new technology to manipulate the configuration of the spinach molecule in four different arrangements, report Ohio University physicists Saw-Wai Hla and Violeta Iancu in today's early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The scientists used a scanning tunneling microscope to image chlorophyll-a and then injected it with a single electron to manipulate the molecule into four positions, ranging from straight to curved, at varying speeds. (View a movie here.) Though the Ohio University team and others have created two-step molecule switches using scanning tunneling microscope manipulation in the past, the new experiment yields a more complex multi-step switch on the largest organic molecule to date.

The work has immediate implications for basic science research, as the configuration of molecules and proteins impacts biological functions. The study also suggests a novel route for creating nanoscale logic circuits or mechanical switches for future medical, computer technology or green energy applications, said Hla, an associate professor of physics.

Plasma Arc Gassifiers : Future of solid waste disposal ?

USATODAY has a story on plasma incinerator technology for Solid waste disposal and co-generation of power from garbage gassification.The 100,000-square-foot plant, slated to be operational in two years, is expected to vaporize 3,000 tons of garbage a day. County officials estimate their entire landfill — 4.3 million tons of trash collected since 1978 — will be gone in 18 years.

No byproduct will go unused, according to Geoplasma, the Atlanta-based company building and paying for the plant.

Synthetic, combustible gas produced in the process will be used to run turbines to create about 120 megawatts of electricity that will be sold back to the grid. The facility will operate on about a third of the power it generates, free from outside electricity.

About 80,000 pounds of steam per day will be sold to a neighboring Tropicana Products Inc. facility to power the juice plant's turbines.

Sludge from the county's wastewater treatment plant will be vaporized, and a material created from melted organic matter — up to 600 tons a day — will be hardened into slag, and sold for use in road and construction projects.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mark Ginsberg speaks

Rediff has an interview with Mark Ginsberg, Member, US energy efficiency boadd. Ginsberg points out that more than 20 % of india's pwer goes to just 4 appliances ! An excerpt from the interview below.

"It really is as simple as that. It's not rocket science. You want to produce more electricity from renewable resources, and reduce your waste in what you do use, so that it goes further.

For example, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California did some research on India's energy situation, and they found that four energy consuming products alone use about 22 per cent of the electricity produced in India: refrigerators, motors, window A/Cs, distribution transformers.

We know that there are high efficiency motors, we know that there are better efficiencies in the other products as well. The analysis that the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory did said that nationwide, you can save 2.5 per cent of all the electricity with just those four products.

If you save 2.5 per cent, it would save a huge sum of money for consumers. We estimate that at $5.5 billion, which could go to better purposes. But also think about 2.5 per cent less electricity used.

Your outages will be less, your productivity would go up, businesses would not be as interrupted, and because electricity is fairly heavily subsidized in India, you'd be able to put that 2.5 per cent into more productive economic development issues.

So, with just four products, you get 2.5 per cent, imagine if your energy efficiency in lighting and buildings and appliances, all the things that use energy, so that we can really reduce consumption. "

We are working on the lighting part so stay tuned !

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Turning useless into useful

Two years ago, Eli Reich was a mechanical engineer consultant for a Seattle wind energy company when his messenger bag was stolen. The environmentally conscious Reich, who rode his bike to work every day, decided that instead of buying a new one, he would simply fashion another bag out of used bicycle-tire inner tubes that were lying around his house.Soon compliments on his sturdy black handmade messenger bag turned into requests. "That was the catalyst," says Reich, who obtained a business license, gave up his day job, and quickly launched Alchemy Goods in the basement of his apartment building. The company's motto: "Turning useless into useful."Reich's Alchemy Goods grew quickly. At the outset, he worked solo, making about 5 to 10 bags a month. Now there are three employees. "In our first year, we probably made about 125 bags," he says, "since last year we've probably made another 1,000."

Read More at the companies website

Friday, August 18, 2006

Taiwan develops production-ready auto/motorcycle LED headlamp

A Taiwan research alliance consisting of local auto and motorcycle makers, automotive electronics companies, auto-lamp suppliers, and research institutes have jointly developed an LED headlamp for cars and motorcycles, according to article on the China Economic News Service website.
The LED headlamp has passed brightness tests and is expected to be commercialized soon by local OEMs and aftermarket parts suppliers.
This is an important step ahead as automotive mainstream usage of LED lighting is expected to boost volumes and indirectly reduce the entry cost of other forms of LED lighting. It is interesting to note that most of the innovations in the LED space are coming from East Asia.

Nanoscale grooves improve light extraction from GaAs-based LEDs

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have made GaAs-based LEDs more than seven times brighter by etching nanoscale grooves in a surrounding cavity to guide scattered light in one direction.

The novel nanostructure, which may have applications in areas such as in biomedical imaging where LED brightness is crucial, is described in the July 17 issue of Applied Physics Letters.

LEDs typically emit only about two percent of the light in the desired direction: perpendicular to the diode surface. Far more light is internally reflected and stays within the LED, because of the extreme mismatch in refraction between air and the semiconductor.

The NIST nanostructured cavity boosts useful LED emission to about 41 percent, and may be cheaper and more effective for some applications than conventional post-processing LED shaping and packaging methods that attempt to redirect light.

The NIST team fabricated their own infrared LEDs consisting of gallium arsenide (GaAs) packed with quantum dots of assorted sizes made of indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs). Quantum dots are nanoscale semiconductor particles that efficiently emit light at a color determined by the exact size of the particle.

The LEDs were backed with an alumina mirror to reflect light towards the top surface. The periphery of each LED was turned into a cavity etched with circular grooves, in which the light reflects and interferes with itself in an optimal geometry.

The researchers experimented with different numbers and dimensions of grooves. The brightest output was attained with 10 grooves, each about 240 nanometers (nm) wide and 150 nm deep, and spaced 40 nm apart. The team spent several years developing the design principles and perfecting the manufacturing technique. The principles of the method are transferable to other LED materials and emission wavelengths, as well as other processing techniques, such as commercial photolithography, according to lead author Mark Su.

KSLD unveils LED lighting skin for Qatar tower

The Sports City Tower, a 1000 ft (300 m) structure being built in the Gulf state of Qatar, will be covered in a state-of-the-art lighting skin composed of around 4000 individually addressable LED elements.The concept is to provide an icon for the Sports City complex with lighting that can adopt the character of specific events, starting with the Asian Games. The principal element is a state-of-the-art lighting skin composed of individually addressable LED units. A combined lighting and media controller allows an infinite variety of colors, patterns and simple graphics to be played across the skin.For added variety the structural core of the tower will also be illuminated by color-change fittings that create a distinctly different architectural representation of the tower. Shaw says that the choice of light source for the structural core is still being decided, and depends largely on cost.

Trumpf iLEd surgical light offer color-change benefits

An LED-based surgical light allows surgeons to change the color temperature according to the type of procedure.

Trumpf Medical Systems has received FDA approval to proceed to market in the US with its iLED surgical light. The Trumpf iLED uses 184 white and colored LEDs to provide 160,000 lux of virtually shadow-free illumination, while the absence of forward heating due to IR radiation enhances the comfort of the surgical team.

The combination of LEDs allows the surgical team to change color temperature, which offers huge advantages for studying human tissue. At 3,500 K, skin and light tissue parts reflect less and the contrast remains intact. Colder light colors (up to 5,000 K), however, were preferred in tests for deeper lying body areas and for longer surgeries.

"Because of its adjustable color temperature, iLED offers excellent contrast representation," explained Professor Friedrich Hennig, Head Surgeon of the Department for Emergency Medicine at the University Clinic in Erlangen, Germany. Regardless of whether surgeons are operating on tissue in which the blood flow is heavy or light, they can make the contrast more visible by changing the color temperature.

Artistic LED installations demonstrate power of intelligent light

The use of LED's in Lighting has increased rapidly and the biggest gain seems to be from the magic that architects can work using LED's for smart Lighting.On the top-floor observation deck of the Rockefeller Center in New York, a unique, interactive space has been created with the use of intelligent LED lighting supplied by Color Kinetics. Cameras track individual visitors as they move within the space, and signal the LED fixtures to create a series of individual colors and patterns.

Conceptualized by Electroland of Los Angeles, the Target Interactive Breezeway has intelligently controlled LED light fixtures on all its surfaces. Each pixel in the "intelligent skin" is composed of four iColor Cove MX units, tightly grouped. These groupings are located in all available wall and ceiling surfaces, behind translucent glass and backlit by white LED strips. Approximately 1,300 units are employed in total.

China's Energy Intensity Climbs Despite Targets

Policymakers Under Pressure to Boost Energy Savings
Worldwatch reports
n the first half of 2006, China’s energy intensity (the amount of energy required for every dollar produced in the economy) climbed 0.8 percent above the corresponding period last year, the country’s Security Times reportedon August 2. During this period, China’s energy consumption grew faster than its economic growth of 10.9 percent, casting huge challenges to the nation’s stated goal of a 4-percent decrease in energy intensity by the end of this year.

A recent National Energy Intensity Report issued jointly by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the National Energy Office, and the National Statistics Bureau reveals that during the first half of the year, energy use per unit of value-added mounted in several industrial sectors, with coal use jumping 5.5 percent, petroleum and chemical use 8.7 percent, and electricity generation 0.8 percent. In contrast, sectors such as steel, building materials, and textiles showed moderate declines in energy use of 1.2 percent, 4.5 percent, and 5.5 percent, respectively, said Security Times.

Insiders contend that continued rapid investment in high-energy sectors like construction is a key hurdle to achieving China’s year-end energy-savings goal. China Energy News reported that during the first half of 2006, highly energy consumptive items such as steel, metals, chemicals, and building materials accounted for more than 70 percent of China’s industrial energy use, while contributing only 20 percent to the industrial value-added. Electricity, coal, and petroleum consumption all increased at rates that overtook GDP growth, with total power generation jumping 12 percent, coal production 12.8 percent, and oil consumption more than 16 percent, according to Xinhua News Agency.

China’s large-scale investment in energy consumptive sectors in recent years has generated tremendous production capacity. Continued enthusiasm for such activity is driven largely by local officials’ desire for outstanding growth rates, Zhou Dadi, the director of the NDRC, told Xinhua News. Yet domestic economists warn that such breakneck growth is unsustainable, as surplus capacity continues to expand in highly energy consumptive sectors such as steel and metal.

The Chinese government’s goal is to reduce the energy intensity of the economy by 4 percent by the end of this year and 20 percent by 2010. But the Paris-based International Energy Agency has noted that to stick to these targets, China will need to embark on major new investments aimed at reversing current energy usage trends.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Feature series : Green energy

A nice 3 part series on transportation fuel using vegetable based oils here.

European FP7 funds innovation in LED technology sector

More goodies for the taking. Read more here.

IP-Secure Lighting Alliance

LEDs Magazine has an article on an industry alliance that will help small LED manufacturers get around the mire of patents strewn across their path. While Cree and Osram can cross licese patent portfolios, the very broad patents in the GaN space has constrained innovation by smaller players.
A new LED industry alliance has been formed to bring together LED industry suppliers who are able to certify that their products do not infringe on other companies' intellectual property. The intention appears to be to help these suppliers compete with other companies that have a strong IP position and which are currently the preferred suppliers for system-level customers.

The clumsily-named Intellectual Property Secure Lighting Alliance (we think "IP-Secure Lighting Alliance" reads better), or IPSLA, is a network of solid-state lighting component suppliers who believe that respecting IP is essential to accelerating the adoption of solid-state lighting.

Members are required to certify that qualified patent attorneys have reviewed their products and processes, with reference to existing IP, and found them to be non-infringing at all levels (for more details, see "Progress and procedures", below).

Whether such certification will actually protect member companies from legal challenges by other patent holders remains to be seen. However, membership of IPSLA is likely to provide customers with a higher level of confidence that their supplier will not become embroiled in patent lawsuits and injunctions that could interrupt lines of supply.

Companies that develop LED-based modules and fixtures currently tend to choose from a limited set of "IP-friendly" sources for LED chips, phosphors and packaged devices. Otherwise, these companies risk exposing themselves to the consequences of using potentially infringing products.

The IPSLA was formed by BridgeLux (formerly eLite Optoelectronics), a supplier of power LED chips, and Intematix, a supplier of LED phosphors. The companies say that conformance to IPSLA’s guiding standards will enable emerging companies, working on innovative LED packaging and module integration, to more rapidly penetrate high-volume lighting market segments worldwide.

"LED chip packagers are coming to understand that there are IP-secure and patent-protected merchant alternatives for such things as phosphors and power LED chips," said Intematix VP of Engineering and co-founder, Yi Qun Li. "This alliance is a means to both provide security and open up additional supplier opportunities to the module integrators."

The current cross connections on the patent front can be accessed here.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Bacterial heavy metal cleanup

PNNL reports that
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that uranium contaminates more than 2,500 billion liters of groundwater nationwide; over the past decade, the agency has support research into the ability of naturally-occurring microbes that can halt the uranium’s underground migration to prevent it from reaching streams used by plants, animals and people.

Assembling a battery of evidence, scientists have for the first time placed the bacterial enzymes responsible for converting uranium to uraninite at the scene of the slime, or “extracellular polymeric substance” (EPS), according to a study led by the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in today’s advance online edition of PLoS Biology.

“Shewanella really puts a lot of stuff outside the cell,” said PNNL chief scientist Jim Fredrickson, the study’s senior author. “It’s very tactile compared with pathogens, which go into hiding to evade detection by the immune system.”

Another oddity is Shewanella’s ability to “breathe,” or reduce, metals the way we human beings do oxygen. When oxygen is unavailable, Shewanella can pass excess energy during respiration in the form of electrons to metal and alter the metal’s chemistry in the bargain—for instance, turning soluble uranium into solid, insoluble uraninite (uranium dioxide).

Fredrickson, PNNL staff scientist/lead author Matthew Marshall and colleagues wondered whether uranium-reducing components in that stuff outside the cell, the EPS, might help Shewanella seek out and lock up heavy metals.

To pose that question, which remains open, they first had to prove that the same metal-reducing enzymes—proteins called c-type cytochromes—associated with uraninite formation in the outer membrane could also be found outside the cell in the EPS.

This they did through a variety of experiments that included creating mutant strains unable to make outer-membrane cytochrome, or OMC, leading to an excess of uraninite particles forming only inside the cell, in the periplasm – the region between the microbe’s cell and outer membrane. In nonmutants, on the other hand, OMC and uraninite were found mainly outside the cell in association with the EPS.

Collaborators from Argonne National Laboratory applied X-ray fluorescence microscopy at the Advanced Photon Source to show that iron, which is also found in OMC, was in the uraninite-EPS complex. Combining high-resolution microscopy and OMC-specific antibodies, the researchers repeatedly found the metal-reducing proteins in the uraninite-EPS complexes.

The authors noted that the OMC-containing EPS may be involved in the transfer of electrons outside the cell or is possibly a way the microbes shed the uraninite particles.

“Regardless,” Fredrickson said, “the sticky EPS may behave like glue and bind the uranium particles to soil, further impeding its migration in the environment.”

The many effects of the energy squeeze

Very Strange Issues has a report on how gas guzzler SUV owners are burning their cars to get our of insurance payments. Apparently there are groups of professional arsonists who can torch your high EMI car for you at about $300! Society always tries to treat the symptoms (insurance fraud in this case) rather than fix the root cause which is non sustainable consumption.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Off to chennai we go

We have been invited to put up a dynamic display and make a presentation on the techno-commercial aspects of using WLED's in offgrid applications at Anna University @ chennai. The dept of crystal growth is sponsoring an international symposium on the same topic. Will update on the proceedings....

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

This is a write only blog

A funny thing this morning. My Blog ( would not come up on my broswer. Appears that for some reason the Dept of telecommunication decided to block off the whole of So since the editing interface is at, i can write to the blog but not read it. Way to go GOI. India is the only country where we can pass right to information acts and block public blogs simultaneously. The most condemnable behavior displayed most casually by our still imperialist babudom...

Catch the action at Bloggers Against Censorship

Monday, July 17, 2006

Alternative Energy Polls

The BBC has poll results across 19 countries that seem to indicate a groundswell of support for Alternate Energy. Will the powers that be give some credance to vox populi ?

In depth : Fueling your lifestyle

Mathew Vea has this in depth article on the nuts and bolts of automotive data capture. Even a Jeep Wrangler can be made more efficient.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Cow power

Central Vermont Public Service customers who want to support renewable energy and Vermont dairy farms have a new energy choice – CVPS Cow Power™. The Vermont Public Service Board has approved CVPS Cow Power™, which is intended to help promote development and reliance on renewable energy in Vermont by creating a market for energy generated by burning methane from cow manure.

By enrolling in CVPS Cow Power™, customers will help support Vermont dairy farms that develop generators that run on methane from cow manure, renewable generation in the region, or incentives to farmers to get into the business. Read more here.

Friday, July 07, 2006

End of cheap oil : Dr Vandana Shiva's Commentary

Dr.Vandana has this down to earth perspective on oil, climate change and sustainability. An excerpt below.
"The fossil fuel economy is based on two illusions - one, that we can keep up our oil addiction, and two, that substituting renewable energy with fossil fuel has only benefits, no costs. Climate change is very high cost of an economy based on oil. We are starting to eat oil and drink oil. Oil is at the heart of industrial food production and processing, and long distance food transport. The wheat, India is importing is not just bringing weeds, pests and pesticides. It is also carrying thousands of "food miles". Imagine a Tsunami or cyclone if our food supplies become dependent on wheat from U.S and Australia. And imagine the cost of wheat as oil prices rise, and wheat embodies more oil than nutrition.

We are also drinking oil, not water. When Coca Cola and Pepsi pump 1.5 to 2 million a day to fill their soft drink and water bottles, and transport them to the remotest part of India, water embodies oil both in its extraction and transport. It is increasingly impossible to find clean water in our wells and springs. But Aqua Fina and Kinley has reached every village, selling water which has become oil, packaged in a plastic bottle made from oil. "

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Energy: Geopolitical shifts

The Frontline has a piece on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization which has been described by a western academic as "OPEC with the bomb". The imporance of India's low key presence as an observer country can be interpreted as either making up for the current shift towards the US with its Asian partners or as a fifth column for US interests. Given the fact that the Petroleum minister Deora attended instead of Head of state Dr.Singh, the latter sounds plausible. Especially as Deora is seen to be close to US interests. However it could be a bit of both as India has stated its intent in joining this grouping. Being part of the SCO with Russia and China is very important for India's energy security and the importance of this cannot be overstated. It must be remembered that Deora is a new hand at the ministry who was brought in to appease (my opinion) the US as Mani shankar iyer did the unthinkable by actually cutting a strategic deal with the chinese to cooperate instead of compete on equity oil. It is my concidered opinion that Dr.Singh had to lose Mani to show that India is serious about the Nuclear deal. The joint agreement is now a dead letter. While the US can scare India or for that matter anyone else away from equity oil, china is a different kettle of fish when it comes to intimidation.

The prize at stake here is the central asian oil reserve that is being eyed by both the SCO (including observers :) and the US as the strategic reserve of the 21st century. Iran and Pakistan (also observer nations) are lobbying hard to get into this grouping. With Iran in the fold this could be the biggest emerging cartel and have major ramifications on how central asian oil will be exploited and for whose benefit.

If Iran, Pakistan and India join this grouping (as they should) the SCO will provide the foundation for an Asian Energy Framework, that will compete head on with the west for oil reserves. With Venezuela and the South American block already showing interest in selling equity oil to India and China, a Mercosur-SCO + IPI block will change the energy map of the world. Watch this space for lots of action.

Some more voices on the same issue.

Very Strange issues
Informed Dissent

Boeing 787 Dreamliner deploys LED lighting

LED's Magazine reports that "Aircraft such as the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner represent a significant opportunity to replace traditional light sources with LED lighting systems. These offer longer lifetimes, reduced maintenance downtime and lower power consumption, as well as benefits to passengers.
Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner passenger aircraft, expected to enter service in 2008, features many examples of LED lighting systems throughout its interior as well as for exterior position and anti-collision lighting.
For example, Boeing has selected Goodrich to supply a white LED-based lighting system for the 787’s flight deck, while Germany's Diehl Luftfahrt Elektronik (DLE) is supplying color-changing LED-based lighting systems for the main cabin.

A spokesperson for Boeing told LEDs Magazine that the 787 utilizes LEDs in many systems throughout the airplane, but there are certain major areas where LEDs are significantly contributing to the value of the aircraft.

Air pollution : Better Anthropophagus evolution

Rampant use of insectecides, air pollution and pot holders have apparently selected a new emerging sub species of mosquito in Athens the capital of Greece and the cradle of western civilization.

Yahoo reports that "Cramped housing conditions and air pollution in Athens have given rise to a "super breed" of mosquito that is larger, faster and more adept at locating human prey, a Greek daily has reported.

Athens-based mosquitoes can detect humans at a distance of 25-30 metres (yards) and also distinguish colours, unlike their colour-blind counterparts elsewhere in the country that only smell blood at 15-20 metres, Ta Nea daily reported.

The "super mosquitoes" of the Greek capital also beat their wings up to 500 times a second -- compared to 350 beats for other variations -- and are larger by 0.3 microgrammes on average, the paper said, citing a study conducted by Aristotelio University in the northern city of Salonika.

According to the study, the mosquitoes of Athens have adapted to deal with air pollution and insect repellents, and overpopulation in the Greek capital of over four million has provided them with a healthy food supply.

"Mosquitoes can lay their eggs even inside the trays placed beneath thousands of balcony flowerpots," Athens University professor of zoology Anastassios Legakis told the daily.

The end of formula 1 ?

Recent reports suggest that FIA made M$ the sole supplier of ECU's and related electronics. Expect to see sleek F1's sieze up mid race and drivers getting off to do a ctrl-alt-del. However as all the teams are inflicted with the same gizmo the playing field is sort of levelled. The term firewall in the automotive context will now take a new meaning :-)

Monday, July 03, 2006

Dravid's India win away test series

India recorded their first away series win after the 1986 victory in England (not counting the ones in the subcontinent and distractions like winning in Zimbabwe). The high priests of India's only national religion have won the 4 match series against the West Indies 1-0. This was a wierd tour as far as the pitch conditions go. It is noteworthy on how much West indian cricket has slowed down since the day of Marshall and Roberts. Kumble lived up to his title of 'Deadly Assasin' and Sreesanth has shown great prominse this tour. As ever bowlers who can take 20 wickets in a match take home the cup ! Jai Hind!

Philips, Novaled Announce White OLED Record

Royal Philips Electronics and Novaled recently announced the achievement of a record combination for efficiency and lifetime of high-brightness OLEDs (organic light-emitting diodes.)

Philips Lighting, Philips Research and Novaled collaborated on the research effort that produced the breakthrough.

The new record for a white OLED's power efficiency was 32 lm/W with color coordinates of 0.47/0.45 and a CRI of 88 at a brightness of 1,000 cd per meter-squared.

That same device structure shows a lifetime of more than 20,000 hours, which is promising for future commercialization of the OLED technology for lighting applications.

The efficiency of the device was measured with an integrating sphere using only the forward emission cone of the OLED device, without attaching any lens or any other volume type luminaire to the OLED device. This is the only method to reliably predict power efficiency values for large area lighting tiles.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

IEA Publication: Light's Labour lost

The International Energy Agency has a new publication on policy for energy efficient lighting. this is a good step forward as the entire lighting pie is analyzed and solutions including use of HB LED's for lighting is concidered and projected. Some extracts below.
When William Shakepeare wrote Love’s Labour’s Lost he would have used light from tallow candles at a cost (today) of £12,000 per million-lumen hours. The same amount of light from electric lamps now costs only £2! But today’s low-cost illumination still has a dark side. Globally, lighting consumes more electricity than is produced by either hydro or nuclear power and results in CO2 emissions equivalent to two thirds of the world’s cars.

A standard incandescent lamp may be much more efficient than a tallow candle, but it is far less efficient than a high-pressure sodium lamp. Were inefficient light sources to be replaced by the equivalent efficient ones, global lighting energy demand would be up to 40% less at a lower overall cost. Larger savings still could be realised through the intelligent use of controls, lighting levels and daylight.

But achieving efficient lighting is not just a question of technology; it requires policies to transform current practice. This book documents the broad range of policy measures to stimulate efficient lighting that have already been implemented around the world and suggests new ways these could be strengthened to prevent light’s labour’s from being lost.