Tunisian Startup 3D prints solar-powered bionic hands

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A Tunisian startup is developing a 3D-printed bionic hand, hoping the affordable and solar-powered prosthetic will help amputees and other disabled people across Africa.

Unlike traditional devices, the artificial hand can be customised for children and youths, who otherwise require an expensive series of resized models as they grow up.

The company Cure Bionics also has plans to develop a video game-like virtual reality system that helps youngsters learn how to use the artificial hand through physical therapy.

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Tesla expanding into solar microgrids and virtual power plants

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Elon Musk says he expects Tesla’s energy business will one day be equal to or exceed its automotive business. That day may be some time in the future but the company is clearly expanding its solar and battery operations rapidly, both for grid scale and residential applications.

Last week, Michael Snyder, Tesla’s director of engineering and construction for energy projects posted on Linked In, “If you like solving problems at the nexus of power systems interactions, protection coordination, system and product level controls, and DERs (Powerpacks, Megapacks, solar, and generators), check out the link below for a microgrid-focused product engineer. We have 120+ operational microgrids around the world with high impact to a variety of communities/customers. This is a unique and rewarding role.” That post was followed by a link to apply for a position with Tesla Energy.

According to E&E News, a microgrid is a cluster of energy generators — whether diesel or solar or wind powered — that serves nearby users such as a building or a campus. That cluster “islands” and keeps the lights on even if the regular grid around it blacks out, something that is happening more frequently because of severe storms, wildfires and floods associated with a warming climate. “If you look at the performance of the U.S. grid, it just gets worse and worse and worse,” says Peter Asmus, who studies microgrids as a research director at Guidehouse Insights.

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New solar-powered truck bed cover captures the sun

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Solar power integration for pickup trucks just became more innovative.

 Worksport™, the manufacturer of tonneau covers and accessories for trucks, has debuted TerraVis™, a platform for versatile and cost-effective pickup truck solar power. The system combines the tonneau covers with a solar generation and energy storage system.

Solar panels built into the cover will collect the sun’s rays and store energy in multiple battery banks. The stored energy can be used to provide power to an electric motor or removed and used remotely.

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Nikola Tesla’s vision of wireless power transmission is alive with Kiwi startup Emrod

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Its technology is supposed to be cheaper, safer, and more eco-friendly than wired power

History lesson: In 1890, Nikola Tesla caused a total blackout in the town of Colorado Springs using a 140-foot Tesla coil. Creating a citywide power outage was not his goal. He wanted to power a light bulb that was more than two miles away without using wires. Much to the dismay and anger of residents and the power plant, whose dynamo was burned out, the experiment was claimed to be a success, a claim that later proved to be debatable.

Now more than 100 years later, an energy startup called Emrod wants to bring Tesla’s dream of wireless power transmission to life. The New Zealand company has partnered with one of the country’s primary power distributors to build a wireless electricity infrastructure that it believes can deliver power more efficiently than traditional methods.

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In a world-first, Australian University builds its own solar farm to offset 100% of its electricity use

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LIMITING GLOBAL WARMING to well below 2℃ this century requires carbon emissions to reach net-zero by around 2050. Australian households have done much to support the transition via rooftop solar investments. Now it’s time for organizations to take a more serious role.

The University of Queensland’s efforts to reduce its electricity emissions provides one blueprint. Last week UQ opened a 64-megawatt solar farm at Warwick in the state’s southeast. It’s the first major university in the world to offset 100% of its electricity use with renewable power produced from its own assets. In fact, UQ will generate more renewable electricity than it uses.

The Warwick Solar farm shows businesses and other organizations that the renewables transition is doable, and makes economic sense.

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This 100% electric pod inspired by James Bond is the worlds first floating eco-hotel suite!

Half the year is over and we haven’t been able to catch a break. To keep my hopes up, I continue to make a travel bucket list, and right now all I want to do is go off-the-grid regardless of the place. And there is nothing more perfect for that than Anthénea which is the world’s first autonomous and eco-friendly floating suite equipped with high-end facilities. This modern pod will literally wash all those worries away and you can continue being an eco-conscious traveler!

Anthénea is a UFO-shaped water suite made in France by veteran designers, engineers, and naval architects, whose vision was to create a nomadic vessel for eco-conscious tourists. It was a project born from the dreams of Jean-Michel Ducancelle, a naval architect, who was inspired by James Bond’s floating pod in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ (1977). The 50 sqm pod has three living spaces – a living area, a sleeping zone, and a lounge area that features a 360° solarium on its roof for 12 people. All interior elements are entirely made from sustainable materials. Anthénea adapts to a wide temperature range (-30°C to +40°C) and its stabilizing ballasting keeps the seasickness at bay! Coastlines are often overburdened with tourism and Anthénea offers an ecological way to lighten that load while promoting sustainable travel which is our ultimate future.

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New solar panels suck water from air to cool themselves down

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Intense summer sun can spike temperatures of solar panels, causing their electrical production to plummet.

Like humans, solar panels don’t work well when overheated. Now, researchers have found a way to make them “sweat”—allowing them to cool themselves and increase their power output.

It’s “a simple, elegant, and effective [way] to retrofit existing solar cell panels for an instant efficiency boost,” says Liangbing Hu, a materials scientist at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Today, more than 600 gigawatts of solar power capacity exists worldwide, providing 3% of global electricity demand. That capacity is expected to increase fivefold over the next decade. Most use silicon to convert sunlight to electricity. But typical silicon cells convert only 20% of the Sun’s energy that hits them into current. Much of the rest turns into heat, which can warm the panels by as much as 40°C. And with every degree of temperature above 25°C, the efficiency of the panel drops. In a field where engineers struggle for every 0.1% boost in power conversion efficiency, even a 1% gain would be an economic boon, says Jun Zhou, a materials scientist at Huazhong University of Science and Technology.

Decades ago, researchers showed that cooling solar panels with water can provide that benefit. Today, some companies even sell water-cooled systems. But those setups require abundant available water and storage tanks, pipes, and pumps. That’s of little use in arid regions and in developing countries with little infrastructure.

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New research explains how solar panels could soon be generating power at night

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As beneficial as current solar panel technology has been in our quest to switch to renewable energy, such panels can’t generate electricity at night. Now, new research suggests it could be possible to design panels that can operate around the clock.

Under optimum conditions, at night these specially designed photovoltaic cells could generate a quarter of the energy they produce during the day, according to the new study.

To achieve this, we’d need to incorporate thermoradiative cells – devices that generate energy thanks to radiative cooling, where infrared or heat radiation leaves the cell and produces a small amount of energy in the process.

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The smart cell turning solar energy into hydrogen

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What could be better than a solar cell that captures most of the visible light spectrum to generate energy? A cell that can capture the whole visible light spectrum and turn the energy into hydrogen. The cell is actually a molecule, and it is a busy molecule: it not only harnesses 50 percent more solar energy than existing solar cells, but it also turns this energy into hydrogen.

“The whole idea is that we can use photons from the sun and transform it into hydrogen. To put it simply, we are saving the energy from sunlight and storing it into chemical bonds so it can be used at a later time,” explains the lead researcher in the team that developed the molecule, chemistry professor Claudia Turro from the Ohio State University.

“What makes it work is that the system is able to put the molecule into an excited state, where it absorbs the photon and is able to store two electrons to make hydrogen,” Turro added. “This storing of two electrons in a single molecule derived from two photons, and using them together to make hydrogen, is unprecedented.”

The molecule is a form of rhodium—an inert metal and member of the platinum group—and because it can both collect solar energy and then act as a catalyst to turn it into hydrogen, it makes for a much more efficient fuel production system than existing alternatives, at least with respect to energy loss during the process of conversion of solar energy into hydrogen.

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This customized RV with solar-panel body does not need fuel, electricity to run; ever

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Named as the Iveco Daily Electric, the RV that can take you anywhere – completely for free.

Cleaner vehicles with minimum emissions make up for a new segment that is currently the most hotly contested around the world. This is not only because of the emission norms of major countries that have compelled manufacturers to do so, but also due to the industry’s trajectory that has encouraged them to be the early bird. A rat race for electrification.

On one hand, there are manufacturers who are spending huge chunks of their revenue in creating eco-friendly offerings and on the other hand, you have Dethleffs’ completely solar RV. You heard right, completely solar. While major auto giants around the world are scrambling for a piece of the pie that is electrification, Dethleffs harnessed solar energy to create an offering that is completely independent of any fuel.

Named as the Iveco Daily Electric, the RV that can take you anywhere – completely for free. The extensive use of solar panels on the RV’s body can produce up to 3,000 watts of energy without a charging point in sight.

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Our pathetically slow shift to clean energy, in five charts

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We’d better pick up the pace in the 2020s.

By most measures that matter, clean energy had a stellar decade.

The cost of large wind and solar farms dropped by 70% and nearly 90%, respectively. Meanwhile, renewable-power plants around the world are producing four times more electricity than they did 10 years ago.

Similarly, electric vehicles were barely a blip at the outset of the 2010s. But automakers were on track to sell 1.8 million EVs this year, as range increased, prices fell, and companies introduced a variety of models.

But the swift growth in these small sectors still hasn’t added up to major changes in the massive global energy system, or reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions. So far, cleaner technologies have mostly met rising energy demands, not cut deeply into existing fossil-fuel infrastructure, as the charts that follow make clear.

That’s a problem. Cutting emissions rapidly enough to combat the increasing threats of climate change will require complete overhauls of our power plants, factories, and vehicle fleets, all within a few decades.

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New battery tech can keep your smartphone charged for five continuous days

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The new high-capacity lithium-sulfur batteries can pave way for cheaper electric cars and solar grids.

Researchers have developed a new solution that is capable of powering smartphones for five continuous days or electric cars to run over 1,000 km without needing to refuel.

The new battery solution does away with the traditional lithium-ion combination in modern batteries that power devices such as smartwatches, smartphones, and even pacemakers. Instead, researchers used lithium-sulfur batteries to achieve ultra-high capacity.

Researchers at Australia-based Monash University said the team could re-configure the design of sulfur cathodes using the existing materials in standard lithium-ion batteries. The reconfiguration helped researchers achieve higher stress levels without registering any drop in overall capacity or performance.

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