Search This Blog

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.