All-electric cars may be worse for environment

The key is where the source of the electricity all-electric cars. If it comes from coal, the electric cars produce 3.6 times more soot and smog deaths than gas, because of the pollution made in generating the electricity, according to the study that is published in PNAS. They also are significantly worse at heat-trapping carbon dioxide that worsens global warming, it found.

The study examines environmental costs for cars’ entire lifecycle, including where power comes from and the environmental effects of building batteries.

“Unfortunately, when a wire is connected to an electric vehicle at one end and a coal-fired power plant at the other end, the environmental consequences are worse than driving a normal gasoline-powered car,” said Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science, who wasn’t part of the study but praised it.

But if the power supply comes from natural gas, the all-electric car produces half as many air pollution health problems as gas-powered cars do. And if the power comes from wind, water or wave energy, it produces about one-quarter of the air pollution deaths.

Hybrids and diesel engines are cleaner than gas, causing fewer air pollution deaths and spewing less heat-trapping gas.

But ethanol isn’t, with 80 percent more air pollution mortality, according to the study.

“If we’re using ethanol for environmental benefits, for air quality and climate change, we’re going down the wrong path,” Hill said.

via All-electric cars may be worse for environment.

UNSW’s solar cell achieves 40% efficiency :: ElectronicsOnline

“This is the highest efficiency ever reported for sunlight conversion into electricity,” UNSW Scientia Professor and Director of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP) Professor Martin Green said.

“We used commercial solar cells, but in a new way, so these efficiency improvements are readily accessible to the solar industry,” added Dr Mark Keevers, the UNSW solar scientist who managed the project.

“The new results are based on the use of focused sunlight and are particularly relevant to photovoltaic power towers being developed in Australia,” Professor Green said.

via UNSW’s solar cell achieves 40% efficiency :: ElectronicsOnline.

Squirrel cuts off power to part of Silicon Valley

A power outage that left part of Silicon Valley in the dark early Saturday was caused by a squirrel, an electric company spokesperson told The San Francisco Chronicle. Nearly 2,000 customers in Cupertino were without power for about two hours. Power was restored around 8:30 a.m., said the paper on its website.

via Squirrel cuts off power to part of Silicon Valley.

The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy – IEEE Spectrum

The Phoebus cartel engineered a shorter-lived lightbulb and gave birth to planned obsolescence. Phoebus expended considerable technical effort into engineering a shorter-lived lightbulb.

How exactly did the cartel pull off this engineering feat? It wasn’t just a matter of making an inferior or sloppy product; anybody could have done that. But to create one that reliably failed after an agreed-upon 1,000 hours took some doing over a number of years. The household lightbulb in 1924 was already technologically sophisticated: The light yield was considerable; the burning time was easily 2,500 hours or more. By striving for something less, the cartel would systematically reverse decades of progress.

via The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy – IEEE Spectrum.

World data transfer record back in Danish hands – Technical University of Denmark

… proving that it is possible to transfer fully 43 terabits per second with just a single laser in the transmitter. This is an appreciable improvement on the German team’s previous record of 26 terabits per second.

via World data transfer record back in Danish hands – Technical University of Denmark.

NHTSA closes Tesla (EV) fire inquiry as Model S gets new battery shield

Tesla said today it has started building the Model S with a titanium underbody shield to prevent battery fires like the two that occurred in the United States last year when Model S drivers struck road debris.

via NHTSA closes Tesla fire inquiry as Model S gets new battery shield.

Man trapped naked in washing machine … olive oil rescue

A Victorian man who became wedged naked in his washing machine during a prank says his freeing by rescue workers with the use of olive oil was “like a birthing”.

via Man who became trapped naked in washing machine says olive oil rescue was ‘like a birth’ – ABC News Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Low-cost, high-energy batteries powered by rhubarb

Flow batteries, a type of rechargeable fuel cell using chemical compounds dissolved in liquids, have seen some of the biggest advances …

The (new) research holds the promise of sharply reduced costs, with … the family of molecules used – known as quinones – were sourced from crude oil, the material could as easily have been sourced from rhubarb or most other green plants, Professor Aziz said.

Unlike lithium, for instance, there is little chance the batteries will ignite. “Our molecules are deliberately dissolved in water, so they don’t catch fire,” he said.

The work, funded by the US government, is likely to result in a three-year extension to develop a commercial technology. The aim is to produce a battery capable of storing 24 kilowatt-hours of energy – the equivalent output of a typical roof-top solar photovoltaic array over 8 hours – before scaling up to much larger units.

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