Friday, 4 September 2015

The Solar Sunflower: Harnessing the power of 5,000 suns

High on a hill was a lonely sunflower. Not a normal sunflower, mind you; that would hardly be very notable. This sunflower is a solar sunflower that combines both photovoltaic solar power and concentrated solar thermal power in one neat, aesthetic package that has a massive total efficiency of around 80 percent.

The Solar Sunflower, a Swiss invention developed by Airlight Energy, Dsolar (a subsidiary of Airlight), and IBM Research in Zurich, uses something called HCPVT to generate electricity and hot water from solar power. HCPVT is a clumsy acronym that stands for "highly efficient concentrated photovoltaic/thermal." In short, it has reflectors that concentrate the sun—"to about 5,000 suns," Gianluca Ambrosetti, Airlight's head of research told me—and then some highly efficient photovoltaic cells that are capable of converting that concentrated solar energy into electricity, without melting in the process. Airlight/Dsolar are behind the Sunflower's reflectors and superstructure, and the photovoltaics are provided by IBM.

The two constituent technologies of the Solar Sunflower—concentrated solar thermal power and photovoltaic solar power—are both very well known and understood at this point, and not at all exciting. What's special about the Sunflower, however, is that it combines both of the technologies together in a novel fashion to attain much higher total efficiency. Bear with me, as this will take a little bit of explaining.

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 » see original post http://arstechnica.com/science/2015/08/the-solar-sunflower-harnessing-the-power-of-5000-suns/

Bionics in aeronautics – Venus Flytrap used as a model for new flap design

Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) are researching a morphing wing

The post Bionics in aeronautics – Venus Flytrap used as a model for new flap design has been published on Technology Org.

 
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Remarkable High Speed Photos of Birds Catching Fish by Salah Baazizi

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Double-crested Cormorant working on its catch, Bolsa Chica (CA)

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Elegant Tern, Double Crested Cormorant and a fish.

Photographer Salah Baazizi has an amazing knack for photographing birds up close and personal as they pluck fish from the waters around Bolsa Chica in southern California. The split-second shots of terns, herons, and cormorants give the illusion Baazizi is sitting just inches away, practically sticking a camera down their beaks, but in reality he uses a 400mm super telephoto lens and positions himself at great distances. This is only the smallest fraction of the hobbyist photographer’s wildlife photos, you can explore hundreds of additional shots over on Flickr.

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Elegant Tern, Bolsa Chica (CA)

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Great Blue Heron working on its catch, Bolsa Chica (CA)

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Elegant tern losing its fish, Bolsa Chica (CA)

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Forster’s Tern doing the contortionist, Irvine (CA)

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Great Blue Heron working on its catch, Bolsa Chica (CA)

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Elegant Tern, Bolsa Chica (CA)

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Elegant Tern, Bolsa Chica (CA)

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Elegant Tern displaying its acrobatic aerial skills after a fish escaped from its beak.

 
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New report: Solyndra executives lied to DOE officials to get loans

In a few short years, Solyndra went from a promising US-based manufacturer of high-tech solar panels to a bankrupt political football. The company received substantial loans from the Department of Energy during the financial stimulus that followed Obama's election. But shortly afterwards, the company went bankrupt amidst allegations that political pressure had played a role in ensuring that it received these loans.

Now, the DOE's inspector general has weighed in with a report describing its investigation into Solyndra's loans. The report suggests that, while political pressure may have made matters worse, lies by the company's executives were central to the loan failures.

The DOE's loan guarantees program is meant to foster riskier domestic energy programs (such as nuclear power plants) that would have difficulty securing financing otherwise. While they're expected to fail on occasion, the DOE is expected to do due diligence and put its money toward viable companies.

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 » see original post http://arstechnica.com/science/2015/08/new-report-solyndra-executives-lied-to-doe-officials-to-get-loans/

EverBlock: Customize your Space With Oversized Modular Lego Bricks

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Giant LEGOs for adults? Heck. Yes. EverBlock is a modular building system of giant plastic blocks that can be used to build anything from furniture, walls, shelving, bars, and even entire rooms. Obsessed with LEGO bricks as a child, EverBlock founder Arnon Rosan realized there might be a demand for a functional full-scale building system for personal and industrial purposes.

The bricks are available in three brick types that come in 15 different colors, and the good news is this isn’t just a concept, they’re available for purchase now. For interior designers or the spatially indecisive, this seems like a pretty great way to customize your space. (via Wired)

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