With concern about energy costs and environmental sustainability now widespread, people are less likely to snicker when others talk about “green living”. Whether the intent is to reduce their ecological footprint or to seek greater value for money, more and more people are harnessing the power of renewable energy sources at home.
Solar, water, and wind power are well-known forms of clean energy but aren’t necessarily easy to use in one’s humble abode. A prohibitively high installation cost is the typical reason such options are swept under the proverbial rug.
Geothermal energy, which comes from heat stored beneath Earth’s surface, is another form of clean energy. It can be tapped by homeowners through the use of a geothermal heat pump—a system often referred to by its trademarked name, GeoExchange.
GeoExchange systems use the ground as a source of heat for a building. They were developed more than 50 years ago, but recent innovations have made the technology more efficient. While these systems require an initial investment of thousands of dollars, they can lead to significantly lower monthly energy bills compared with conventional electric or natural-gas heating.
Purdue University researchers are developing technology that will turn the heat from vehicle exhaust into electricity. Collaborating with GM, the researchers are developing thermoelectric generators (TEGs) that will take that heat and use it to run vehicle electrical systems and reduce fuel use.
One of the challenges that the Perdue reasearchers face is finding materials that can withstand the heat of exhaust gases. According to Xianfan Xu, a Purdue professor of mechanical engineering and electrical and computer engineering, the gases inside a catalytic converter reach 700 to 1,500 degrees. Those temperatures are too high for current thermoelectric materials.
Here’s a great look at a typical, simple, clever microhydro generator. The Clean Green Stream Machine is made in Oregon and distributed world-wide by Umpqua Survival. The great thing about this video is you can see the scale of a 1500watt max generator. I love the nozzles included. I guess everyone’s installation and weather will vary so the kit has to be as flexible as possible.
I like this Jon “Dr. J” Birk. He’s gives it to us straight.
Solar cells are a great way to make watts. The problem has always been their size. Most solar cells have 20 percent efficiency. This means they require a lot of surface area to convert enough sun to make useable amounts of watts.
Spectrolab, a subsidiary of Boeing, has decided to mass produce a technology that raises the bar to 39.2%! They’ve used these on approximately 60 percent of all satellites floating today.
“Given the new cells’ close similarity to our existing production cells, we believe that our current C3MJ customers will be able to easily upgrade for more efficiency,” said Russ Jones, Spectrolab director of CPV Business Development.
Start looking for these showing up in your local suppliers as early as 2011.
This is a great look at a complete but somewhat experimental solar powered and wind powered home. He gives great tips on what wire to stay away from, typical charge controllers, grid tie invertors, safety mechanisms and other standard practices commonly used when generating your own watts.