Skip to Content


Electricity from Sea, or Waste, Water

Written by , on April 23, 2012

A recent article in the American Chemical Society journal examined the potential for generating electricity from the difference in saltiness between freshwater and seawater. In the process, called “pressure retarded osmosis”, freshwater flows naturally by osmosis through a special membrane to dilute seawater on the other side. The pressure from the flow spins a turbine […]  Read more »

Camp/Third-World Stove Also Provides Electricity

Written by , on February 9, 2012

Biolite has developed a portable camp stove that uses the heat from the fire to also generate electricity for charging batteries. The company has another model under development designed to provide electricity, as well as a clean-burning cooking stove, for developing countries.  Read more »

New Alloy Produces Electricity from Waste Heat

Written by , on June 29, 2011

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed a new alloy that is able to convert heat directly into electricity. The alloy, created by combining nickel, cobalt, manganese and tin at the atomic level, is a multiferroic materials. These matertials have unique elastic, magnetic and electric properties. When heated, this particlular alloy suddenly changes from […]  Read more »

New Chips Aim to Cut Losses in Power Conversion

Written by , on February 24, 2011

Transphorm, a startup company launched by the University of California at Santa Barbara, has got the backing of major investors, including Google and Kleiner Perkins, for technology that could substantially cut power consumption in computers, electric cars, motors and other appliances. Almost all of the appliances that we use run on DC power, but the […]  Read more »

How Much Electricity Does the Internet Really Use?

Written by , on June 22, 2010

The media is fond of quoting claims that the internet will soon be using more power than the airline industry, that it will consume half of all the electricity produced or that two Google searches release as much CO2 as boiling a kettle of water. The Google search myth arose from a Times article in […]  Read more »

Storing Energy as Ice

Written by , on January 28, 2010

Ice Energy, a  Colorado company, has signed a contract with the Southern California Public Power Authority to deploy rooftop units that use electricity at night to make ice. The ice is then used to cool buildings during the day. The system effectively stores electricity made at night when demand and cost is low and uses […]  Read more »

Zero Emisson Electricity from Natural Gas

Written by , on December 23, 2009

A new type of natural-gas electric power plant, which has been proposed by MIT researchers, could provide electricity with zero carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, at costs comparable to or less than conventional natural-gas plants, and even to coal-burning plants. Postdoctoral Associate Thomas Adams and Paul I. Barton, the Lammot du Pont Professor of […]  Read more »

Smart Power Outlets Could Save Lives and Energy

Written by , on June 14, 2009

Inventor and entrepreneur, John La Grou, hasdeveloped a "smart" electrical power outlet, called a Safeplug, containing a  microprocessor. The main reason for the invention was to prevent electrical fires by giving the wall socket sufficient intelligence to detect that an appliance was drawing too much power and shut it off. However, the Safeplug also has […]  Read more »

Smart Grid Will Be Far Bigger Than the Internet

Written by , on May 20, 2009

Cisco Systems Vice President, Marie Hattar, estimates that the "smart grid" could be 100 times, or even 1,000 times, the present size of the Internet. The smart grid is a modernised electricity network which would deliver electricity from suppliers to consumers using digital technology to save energy, reduce cost and increase reliability. Over time, people’s […]  Read more »

“Kill-a-” Idea

Written by , on February 4, 2009

In an idea that could profitably be copied everywhere, the Ottawa Public Library has made 75 Kill-a-Watt meters available for residents to borrow. A Kill-a-Watt meter is a small electronic device that you plug into a power outlet and, when you plug an appliance into it, you get a reading of how much electricity is […]  Read more »