Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Dotting the Ions

In order to move away from the fossil fuel economy of today

to the solar hydrogen economy of tomorrow,

before the specter of Peak Oil rises its head above

the waters of sorrow,

Humankind needs these few things.

We need really good wind turbines,

that produce electrical energy at 3 cents/kWh or better.

We've got that.

We need really good green building techniques and materials.

We've got that.

And we need nano based power paints and other solar strategies

that will give us cost effective solar electric energy.

We've almost got that.

Not so long ago, I wrote a story about Power Paints

and the work at the University of Toronto.

Well now, the national solar labs have discoved them too.

Quantum Dot Materials Can Reduce Heat, Boost Electrical Output
Nanotechwire.com
5/29/2005

"Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have shown that nanotechnology may greatly increase the amount of electricity produced by solar cells.

In a paper published in a May issue of the American Chemical Society's Nano Letters journal, an NREL team found that tiny "nanocrystals," also known as "quantum dots," produce as many as three electrons from one high energy photon of sunlight. When today's photovoltaic solar cells absorb a photon of sunlight, the energy gets converted to at most one electron, and the rest is lost as heat.

The research demonstrates the potential for solar, or photovoltaic, cells that reduce wasteful heat and maximize the amount of the sun's energy that is converted to electricity—a key step toward making solar energy more cost-competitive with conventional power sources.

The findings are further confirmation of pioneering work by Nozik, who in 2000 predicted that quantum dots could increase the efficiency of solar cells, through a process now termed "multiple exciton generation," or "MEG".

"We have shown that solar cells based on quantum dots theoretically could convert more than 65 percent of the sun's energy into electricity, approximately doubling the efficiency of solar cells," Nozik said. The best cells today convert about 33 percent of the sun's energy into electricity. "

So, why the national renewable energy lab is discovering nanodots these many months after the University of Toronto announced their work is probably worthy of some good conspiracy theory gossip. Maybe it's pride, maybe it's funding, but in any event, it's good to know that the word on the technology is definitely out.

What is particularly enteresting is that you can now buy your very own quantum dots today at American Dye right here.

Already Evident technology is employing the technology with Konarka.


Finally,

We need a really good transportation appliance that uses electric fuel.

We don't have that yet.

We need a new kind of approach that puts the electric motor in the wheel itself, so that the plug in hybrid or all electric car with range extender generator is designed from the ground up to be an electric fuel transportation appliance. And, we need affordable high density batteries.

Then this came in from Clean Edge today.

Mitsubishi Motors to Focus on
Next-Generation Lithium-Ion Batteries and In-Wheel Motors
Clean Edge News
May 16, 2005

"Mitsubishi Motors has chosen to center its development of next- generation electric vehicle technology on in-wheel motors and on lithium-ion batteries that the company has been working on for several years.

Currently working on a test vehicle that utilizes these technologies, which it has dubbed the Mitsubishi In-wheel motor Electric Vehicle (MIEV) concept, the company also envisages their application to hybrid electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles.The in-wheel motor makes it possible to regulate drive torque and braking force independently at each wheel without the need for any transmission, drive shaft or other complex mechanical components.

The fact that the drive system is housed inside the wheel itself offers significantly greater design freedom and also makes it easier to locate such space-consuming components as the battery system, fuel cell stacks and hydrogen tanks used in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.

According to the company, lithium-ion battery technology offers superior specific energy, specific power, and life over other types of rechargeable batteries and as such is expected to contribute to higher top speeds, extended cruising ranges and to greater weight reductions in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles."

Now all we need is a boiler that burns hydrogen and oxygen that is made from our surplus power from the sun during the day and our surpluses from the wind at night. If the reaction is submerged on the inside of the boiler, 100% of the energy can be used to create the steam to drive existing turbines. The waste heat on the back side of the turbine can be sent back to the electrolyzer to boost the efficiency of that 70% efficient process.

Put all of these together and you have most of the pieces of the technological puzzle you need to move forward today to mitigate the effects of climate change, peak oil, and the resource wars that our leaders seem so eager to continue.

We don't need nuclear and we don't need clean coal.

We have the technology.

Do we have the intent?


Earthfamily Principles

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

then why do so many say we need nuclear? and for that matter clean coal?

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Catalina said...

AND WE NEED each of us that can manage it, or budget for it (middle class and affluent), to begin incorporating these technologies into our lifestyles, regardless of whether they are presently the most cost efficient choice. That way we move toward Decentralization and disarm some of those most dangerous of power structures. This is the BEST way of NOT voting for the President and all his little men. If every house has at least a little solar, then overall, that is ONE LESS POWER PLANT. My Dad always said to me, "You vote with your dollars." So what are we waiting for?

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe the NREL work is an improvment on the technology through the the MEG stimulation work. the efficiencies sited here (65%) are higher than the 35%efficiencies in the work at Toronto. It does sound similiar though.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remain amazed at the breath and depth of this blog. MS

1:09 PM  
Blogger OZ said...

Cat is right in spirit but wrong in overall strategic design and implementation. See my strength through exhustion piece.

Price is a proxy for the all important energy in /energy out ratio. In order to move to a solar hydrogen world, we must have a technology that returns many times the energy that was invested in its manufacture over it's lifetime. Certainly, the number must be greater than one and hopefully closer to 10.

That said, it is important to incent these products now, but not to the point that we prejudice the move to newer more advanced technologies.

Conserving energy with smart design defers the need for power plants as good as any strategy.

There is also one more caveat.

If the solar panel is offsetting new power lines and the installation of new transformers, the energy in/ energy out equation is tilted significantly and existing P V tech clearly becomes a wise choice.

Thanks Cat for your comments, have you got those panels on yet?

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Catalina said...

The building will have solar radiant floor heating, rainwater and gray water collection and down the road when I can afford it, an array. Sooner if I can find some used panels.

I see your point that marketability is critical to successful implementation for many reasons but I want to make two points that I believe remain outside of that.
1. Decentralization of the production of energy, agriculture, communications, whatever... not in entirety but as a balance to large scale industries, strengthens local economies, local communities, and real (as opposed to fake) democracy. Ex. the rebirth of the small organic family farm. Folks wait in line to pay twice as much for locally grown, organic vegetables. Seed genetic diversity is better off for it, as is the land. Agribusiness is trying to soften its use of chemicals to compete for some of this busines. They are by no means, going out of business. However with a diversity of small to large scale production, not all the cards are in the hands of multi-national fascist corporations.

2. We, myself of course included, North Americans, are the narcissistic resource parasites of the planet. "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" but substitute Planet for country. Our generation born of 60's-70's righteousness, have raised kids who are out of the nest, borderline college educated by now and perhaps it is time to saddle up those old high horses and go for a ride. This time, using our financial resources, our knowledge and our conscience that have hopefully been refined by the years and gifted to us, just for having been born in the right place at the right time. In other words, each of us can surely work a little more effectively at having a lesser footprint on this earth. There are so many ways.

Giddy Up OZ!

10:43 PM  

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