Volvo: Solar Charging Technology Rockstar

volvo-solar

Volvo are stealing a march on their competitors with their stunning new solar charging canopy. The charging station, known as the ‘Pure Tension ‘Pavillion’ has been developed for use with the Volvo V60, the first ever diesel plug-in hybrid.

What is a solar charging canopy?

A charging canopy consists of photovoltaic panels which can be angled to face the sun to collect the maximum amount of solar energy with which to charge a car battery. Charging canopies have been around for a few years now and in some countries, such as Sweden, there are fixed canopies which act as public charging stations for electric cars.

Although charging canopies are fairly costly to buy initially, they have the potential to pay for themselves because they allow electric car owners to tap into a totally free source of power. They can also be portable so can be set up to charge your car while you are at work and are also ideal for taking on holiday.

Volvo solar canopy

What’s special about Volvo’s Pure Tension Pavillion charging canopy?

Volvo’s take on the charging canopy has produced not only an effective and practical piece of equipment, it has also resulted in a beautiful example of design and engineering excellence.

The Pure Tension Pavillion was the winning entrant in a contest launched by Volvo and The Plan (a renowned architecture magazine) to develop a rapidly-deployable, sleek canopy that would both showcase the V60 and fit in with its high-efficiency reputation. The contest, known as ‘Switch To Pure Volvo’ received entries from around the world and was one by SDA (Synthesis Design and Architecture), an LA-based architecture company.

The canopy resembles a flower, such as an orchid, which cleverly assembles around the car and is tensioned equally in all directions, making it extremely stable.

It is made of HDPE mesh fabric combined with integrated photovoltaic panels which are tensioned on carbon fibre rods. It can be folded into a small canvas bag and kept in the boot of your car to be taken out and erected wherever and whenever a charge is needed. It can be fully assembled in a matter of minutes.

The charging cable is cleverly concealed within the canopy’s fabric and the extremely light canopy can recharge the Volvo V60′s battery in approximately 12 hours although this will vary with the amount of sunlight available.

Although the take up of electric cars has been generally fairly slow across the globe, as their price falls and their range increases, we can expect them to become more and more popular. Charging canopies will never be the only charging solution needed with electric cars but they will be an important part of a suite of charging solutions. The beauty of charging canopies is that they go wherever the car goes rather than the car having to search out a charging point. Because the canopy is so easy to put up, it is worth erecting for even a partial battery charge of 2-3 hours. You may also want to erect it just to show off.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Manhole Covers: The Answer to Electric Cars in NYC?

tmnt-manhole-cover

Big news out of the Big Apple this week: HEVO, a New York-based green energy company announced plans to introduce a new means of electric car charging into the NYC cityscape. Their delivery system involves a series of wireless charging stations that are so well integrated into the city’s layout that you can easily mistake them for manhole covers.

According to HEVO’s website, this innovative approach to the rapidly increasing demand for sustainable energy sources, these wireless power stations will provide safer, more efficient power, as well as greater accessibility to power for residential and commercial users.

The Current Way of Charging/Practice

Presently, there are two charging methods set in place, one each for commercial and personal use: alternating current (AC) systems for personal vehicles, and magna-charge (induction) systems for commercial vehicles.

  • AC Systems: Most household charging stations deliver a 120-volt charge to the car’s battery by means of a normal electrical outlet. And while this is a very convenient method, it unfortunately takes a great deal of time to charge the battery. This is due largely to the system’s self-regulation feature, which keeps it from delivering too much energy at once and melting the car’s battery.
  • Induction Systems: Using an inductive paddle, this system connects the car to a 240-volt charging station mounted to the wall. One major advantage to this system is the lack of exposed electrical contacts, i.e. very little risk of electrical shock. It’s also quicker than traditional household charging, however, it is not the most efficient charging method and often results in energy loss.

HEVO’s Big Idea

HEVO’s wireless “manhole” stations employ a resonance charging system that not only provides a fast and sufficient supply of power, but it also prevents against energy loss. Resonance charging is based on the idea that when two independent energy coils (one from the charger, and one from the device being charged) resonate on the same frequency, power can be transferred more easily and efficiently. According to Wired, HEVO’s new system is classed as a Level 2 charging station, an ideal energy port for smaller electric vehicles. The system is composed of three main parts:

  • The Station: The main power station, which is designed to look like a manhole cover, can be easily bolted to the street or embedded into the pavement. This device takes up less space and can be replicated throughout the city without backing up traffic.
  • The Receiver: This simple attachment connects the power station to the vehicle’s battery and allows the two coils to resonate at the same frequency.
  • The App: Perhaps the most innovative feature of the HEVO system, the HEVO smartphone app helps the user line up his or her vehicle with the charging station, and also monitors the charging process. This app also allows the user to pay wirelessly.

Future Applications

After the new system’s successful implementation, the people at HEVO also plan to create additional systems for commercial and even military use:

  • Commercial Fleets: One of the biggest complaints in the commercial shipping industry is the inefficiency associated with keeping the gas tank full. HEVO hopes to fix that problem by installing larger commercial-grade charging stations (called “Green Loading Zones”) at company loading/unloading docks, or other predetermined stops along delivery routes. They are already in preliminary talks with Walgreens, City Harvest, and PepsiCo.
  • Military Convoys: In a warzone, the crucial seconds spent keeping a military vehicle properly fueled can sometimes be the difference between life and death. HEVO’s solution not only limits the need for petroleum-based fuel, but also decreases military shipping costs on fuel. It provides a hands-free system that allows soldiers to focus on more important matters.

While HEVO’s system is not yet available to the public, hopes are high. Many personal vehicles do not yet operate on a resonance charging system, and tapping into the NYC power grid can be a long and involved process. However, if you live in a big city, don’t be surprised if you start noticing a few more manhole covers dotting the streets in the next couple of years.


Connor Adkins is a mechanic and loves working on classic cars. He also occasionally writes for a Honda Dealership in Los Angeles. Connor helps people stay healthy and fit, and enjoys spending time with his wife and three children.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

In Focus: Toyota’s Green Initiative

toyota-green

Just because recent studies indicate most hybrid and electric car owners are well into middle age doesn’t mean the younger demographic shouldn’t be well educated on what they have to offer, especially as more and more of them hit roads.

That, at least, seems to be Toyota’s mindset, as the hybrid pioneers announced they are providing a one-year lease of a Toyota Prius or Prius Plug-In vehicle to 22 select Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) and Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) schools.

But that’s not even the most interesting part of the initiative, part of the company’s larger Green Initiative. The schools that will be receiving the cars are all Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Participating institutions will have their students and alumni educated on the benefits of adopting a sustainable lifestyle.

Toyota expects school staff will drive the hybrids for campus-related administrative and facilities use. The cars should arrive at the schools by early 2014.

“As the Toyota Green Initiative begins its fourth year, we wanted to provide historically black institutions with a product that would help improve campus environment and promote sustainability,” Jim Colon, Vice President of Toyota Product Communications for Toyota Motor Sales, told reporters. “With low emissions and improved fuel economy, we are proud to provide these HBCUs with one of the Prius family of vehicles for the 2013-2014 school year.”

As the program hits various campuses in the new year, Toyota will be setting up on-site displays and activities, including the Green Gallery, a display feature that illustrates environmental tips and facts and chronicles green history within the African American community. There will also be a Power Hour competition, where students can generate power on stationary bikes for prizes, Prius and Highland Hybrid displays and charging stations for personal electronics like phones and tablets.

A collection of environmental experts, known as the TGI Coalition, will also be present at certain stops to speak on sustainability within the African American community and will provide students with relevant reasons and ways to go green. Coalition members include environmental advocates Earthseed, SMB Essentials CEO Lake Louise, actor Lance Gross, Black and Green author Jamal Ali, actress Tatyana Ali, 2012 TGI Campus Contest winner Corban Bell and 2010 TGI Campus Contest Winner Stephen Graddick.

Not a part of the campuses TGI will be visiting? Toyota has set up an interactive web page which provides easy ways to live green and save green, eco-conscious articles, videos, community activities, volunteer opportunities and more.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

In Focus: Creating Sustainable Buildings

sustainable-building

Over the years, changes in environment have fueled the need to find better ways of sustaining our lifestyle. This statement could be read a couple different ways depending on a person’s thoughts on the subject. Many people would read this as the need to find higher paying jobs in order to support their current needs/wants in life. Others may read it as moving and chasing trends. What it really means is that people are finally conscious of the footprints they leave on the planet and are trying to find better ways, more efficient ways to live their current lifestyle, and save the planet at the same time.

Building Sites

One of the most important things in creating sustainable buildings is finding the best sites. That doesn’t necessarily mean finding an empty space that isn’t being used and doesn’t need to be cleared of trees. It means looking at all the options and seeing what will really be functional and save in the long run. Is there a building that can be refurbished for your needs? If yes, can it be done using sustainable materials, or is the current structure too flawed? Perhaps it would be better to demolish, but reuse some of the materials. In any case, the building must support the local environment. It shouldn’t disrupt the vegetation or change much of landscape.

Materials

The choice of materials in sustainable buildings is pretty simple: non-toxic, recycled if possible, or sustainably produced with little energy. It’s easy to pick up a product that says “recycled” but it takes some research to find out exactly what the process was. If it took more energy and power to recycle the material, then the sustainability isn’t necessarily paying off. Look for products that will last and work in conjunction with the environment. Using refurbished materials, such as cabinets from a demolished building, can add character and save both money and building material. Solar energy is a great, but if the building is in a location that doesn’t get much sun, adding the panels doesn’t make much sense. Some buildings may call for a specific outer covering to help protect it from the elements, while others can survive with lower maintenance.

High Efficiency

Creating a green building doesn’t make much sense if the energy system works against the idea. Depending on the locations, there are many different ways to use the environment for more efficient energy. As mentioned before, solar energy can be very helpful in locations that have a lot of sun. This doesn’t just apply to southern states; northern locations that have lots of sunlight can reap the benefits, too. Southern-facing homes with lots of windows bring in lots of light throughout the day and can collect the power for times when the sun isn’t out. Using Energy Star appliances throughout the building can also conserve power, as well as adding programmable thermostats that can be set and left to change automatically at specific times.

Green Buildings

There are a few key elements to remember when creating sustainable buildings. The standards change regularly, but to qualify a building must have: healthy indoor living space, clean air circulation, efficient energy use, sustainable site development, water conservation efforts, and construction using efficient materials. All of these factors work together to make a building green and to support a lifestyle focused on protecting the environment.

The world and the environment continue to change, and we are responsible for taking care of it as much as we can. We created problems, and we must solve them. Building sustainable homes and businesses that will work in conjunction with their surroundings is just the beginning, but it’s a good start.


William Stevens is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to technology. In this article, he describes the move to create sustainable buildings and aims to encourage further study with a OU Civil Engineering Masters Degree.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Self Driving Cars: Not That Close to Reality

kitt

Perhaps one day in the future autonomous cars will be a regular part of our roads, but according to engineers and IT experts at the ITS World Congress in Tokyo last week, that day is not today.

In the latest car craze, ones that can drive themselves have been all the rage, with purported advantages like more safety and using less fuel amongst the top reasons why engineers continue to try and make a model that could be viable on city streets. Nissan, for example, has created an experimental, autonomous version of its electric Leaf vehicle, equipping it with multiple radar lasers, sensors and cameras that are meant to monitor the car’s surroundings and plot its course.

However, this one prototype exemplifies the major challenges autonomous cars face. CEO of Continental Japan, Christoph Hagedorn, told Automotive News the biggest concern is that, “millions of different driving situations are faced (and) there are so many driving scenarios, it will probably require years of validation” before the cars can safely be put onto roadways.

Because autonomous technologies rely on Wi-Fi networks to control them as they navigate down a street, it creates the largest list of unknowns. There needs to be a constant, massive data stream of 1 gigabyte-per-minute monitoring of all aspects of the vehicle, keeping it at speed, in its lane, and any number of other variables that are in direct correlation to the safety of other drivers and pedestrians.

Nissan self-driving car

So essentially, whether or not autonomous cars ever arrive on roads is no longer an issue for the automotive industry, but for the IT world. When an experimental autonomous Mitsubishi Outlander was doing a driving demonstration, the sensors on the vehicle failed to warn the person in the driver’s seat about unaware pedestrians or motorcycles in its blind spot.

Beyond those problems, in order for the vehicles to know about construction work underway, traffic jams, emergency vehicles, etc., there would have to be sensors and radios put up all over the world so that data could be fed into the cars. Japan already has a comparable system in place, and South Korea is planning to develop one.

But, for cities like New York, with more than 13,000 intersections that would need to be dotted, autonomous vehicles may just not be feasible.

“Do the math,” John Tipaldo, director of systems engineering at the New York City Department of Transportation, told reporters. “It means I’ve got to find a lot of money, which I don’t have. All areas have the same issue. We’re not at the forefront of this, because of the economics.”

As it stands now, even as operators of autonomous vehicles push ahead with plans, it looks to be a deadline well past 2020 that driver-less cars will be hitting the road.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

In Focus: Hybrid Taxis

hybrid-taxi-instagram

Hybrid cars are enjoying immense popularity right now among consumers. People have started to embrace the concept of having a dual-powered vehicle as they can enjoy the best of both worlds. The fears associated with reliability have largely been dispelled thanks to the performance of the hybrid models. Even taxi operators who are known for being conservative and picky are adding hybrids to their fleets. This vote of confidence bolsters the image of these green cars as dependable workhorses, making believers out of skeptics and signaling a bright future for this segment.

Cities Onboard

The role of local governments in this taxi revolution cannot be dismissed. They were instrumental in convincing operators to try hybrids back when nearly everyone doubted that they could perform at a high level. Cabs are often driven in shifts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The old Crown Victoria models are already proven to withstand the demands of the road so they dominated most fleets at the turn of the millennium. Yet the cities of San Francisco, New York, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, and others persevered. They offered licensing discounts, subsidies, and other perks for both operators and drivers.

Eventually, they were able to convince a handful to test out hybrid cabs. In 2005, for instance, the city of San Francisco welcomed its first 15 yellow-clad Ford Escapes. The program became so successful that now over half of the city’s taxi fleet is composed of hybrids. The pioneer cars were retired in 2009 after logging over 300,000 miles on the road as mandated by law. Note, however, that they are still in good condition and that retirement was done purely for legal compliance. New York, a city with a vibrant taxi culture, achieved remarkable success with its own program as well with operators voluntarily adding hybrids once they saw how good they can be for business.

Fuel Economy

Local economic woes and trouble in the Middle East have made fuel prices soar to unprecedented levels. People are searching for more secure alternatives that would enable them to save on operating costs. Hybrid cars offer fantastic fuel economy compared to their traditional counterparts. The Crown Victorias can only manage to squeeze out 12 miles for every gallon while Ford Escape Hybrid, despite its size, can get about 36 miles for the same amount of gas. The savings can really add up to the tune of thousands of dollars over a year, most of which goes to the drivers.

Efficient Braking

In conventional cars with combustion engines, stepping on the brakes generate friction that helps to slow things down. This produces a lot of heat and wears out the braking pads very quickly. The braking system of hybrids differs in design in that pressing on the brake pedal sends a signal to the electric motor to slow the car down and recharge the batteries. In stop-and-go traffic, the brake pads are not required. They are engaged only when the car stops to a halt at the end of the cycle.

Lower Emissions

Hybrids are perfect for inner city driving where narrow streets, traffic lights, and local laws limit cruising speeds. When the cars are moving at a rate of less than 25 miles per hour, they can run entirely off of the battery, which translates into vastly reduced emissions. This offers quite a relief for the environment since cabs are driven ten times more than the average car. Some of the most progressive cities around the world are targeting a 30% reduction in vehicle emissions a decade or two from now and the use of hybrid taxis is an integral part of the plan.


William Stevens is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to technology. In this article, he describes the push towards hybrid taxis in major cities and aims to encourage further study through online engineering classes at NJIT.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

In Focus: Green Motoring

volkswagen-frame-bw

Within the automotive industry it is common practice for vehicle manufacturers to terminate production of car parts after what is usually a ten year period from the point at which that model ceases being produced.  So even car owners preferring to keep their car for more than a decade will find obstacles in their way if they buy new but fail to ensure they can repair their vehicle long term.

However, the increasing popularity of vintage and classic cars means that there is now an established market for vintage or out of production spares and parts.  In the UK companies like British Parts UK, VW Heritage, Mini Spares and Rimmer Brothers to name a few, have spotted this opportunity and are providing parts and service for owners of these well designed and reliable car models which stand the test of time.

David Ward is the managing director of VWHeritage.  They are a Sussex based company who source, make and sell genuine and repro VW classic parts for out of production vehicles.  I recently spoke to David about our current waste crisis. He is conscious of the issues associated with the automotive industry, and is keen to support drivers who want to keep their cherished cars for life:

“The current business model makes sense for vehicle manufacturers, who by law have to produce parts for ten years of the car being offered for sale, but this encourages people to buy a new car when the parts supply runs out. Classic and vintage VWs were built to last, having survived 30+ years, and VW Campervans and Beetles have become iconic because so many people have fond memories of them. People want to keep hold of them and we want to help them to do that.”

But isn’t a green or hybrid car the greenest option?

One would assume that a hybrid or electric vehicle would produce the lowest carbon emissions, but a number of recent studies demonstrate that the manufacturing stage of all vehicles, including and sometimes particularly green or electric, makes up a considerable proportion of their total emissions. Many studies now suggest that repairing and keeping the same car for decades is greener than buying a new, green car.

According to the Environmental Transport Agency the tank-to-wheel fuel consumption is only one part of the picture:

“Petroleum and fuel transport and production consume energy, as well as car manufacturing and scrapping and the maintenance and infrastructure. The total energy consumption of car use is on average 54.7% higher than the tank-to-wheel energy consumption alone.”

 

No black and white conclusions

It’s a complex area however, and often dependent on car make, age, how much a person drives, and, in the case of electric vehicles, what their fuel source is.   Notwithstanding the fact that the manufacture of all cars, no matter whether they are green or not, has a huge environmental impact, an electric vehicle, during its life on the road, will produce radically lower emissions, but only if the charging source is renewable. Electric vehicles may well be the carbon zero option for the future, but the manufacturing technology, the infrastructure, and the alternative energy  needed currently require more development. As Lindsay Wilson, writing for The Energy Collective explains:

“Electric cars are relatively new at a commercial scale and are dealing with issues of cost, range and charging speed. Each of which will be helped by improving batteries. Despite this they offer enormous hope for reducing carbon emissions, improving local air quality and limiting noise pollution.”

Measured motoring

It’s worth considering that a driver with a very high weekly mileage could certainly lower their emissions by trading a big, thirsty and polluting older car for a fuel-efficient new one.

However, for the motorist whose mileage is average to low,  the research seems to suggest that by keeping and caring for the same vehicle for as long as possible, and keeping mileage as low as possible, you are committing to what is currently the most sustainable way to drive.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Virginia Green Lights Tesla Dealership

tesla-showroom

Some of the most interesting things that make Tesla Motors different from all other car manufacturers are their unusual business model and the way they sell their cars. The American car market imposes strict rules regarding car sales, requiring that manufacturers sell vehicles through franchised car dealerships, instead of direct sales. But, Tesla have chosen to skip dealerships and try and sell their cars directly to consumers. This is prohibited in over 40 states, which means their options are quite limited. However, since car sales are regulated on a state level, there are a couple of states that allow direct auto sales. That’s the case with New York, Florida, and Massachusetts, among other states, where Tesla Motors have their own dealerships. They have been trying to convince other states to change the existing laws and allow direct car sales, and they announced earlier this week that they have received an approval by the state of Virginia to start operating their own dealership there.

Tesla Motors has been negotiating with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association, and have finally been allowed to apply for a dealership license in this state. The state’s DMV had previously denied Tesla’s request to operate a dealership in Virginia, but now, it has decided to make certain concessions and compromises and allow the electric car maker to open its own store. Now, Tesla have to apply for a license at the Virginia Motor Vehicle Dealer Board, which is the state auto dealers regulatory agency. Along with a store, Tesla plans to open a service facility nearby.

This way, Tesla becomes a part of a very significant exception in a highly-regulated market that only allows cars to be sold through authorized dealers. That is why it’s a huge surprise that the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association has agreed to such an exception. Car dealers have been opposing this idea ever since Tesla introduced their sales model, because  they believe it would hurt their business a lot. Other car makers are not too excited about the idea, either, since they believe it gives Tesla an unfair advantage.

Opening a retail store in Virginia is a huge thing for Tesla, since it will be close to the nation’s capital, where a lot of potential customers for their cars live. Tesla sells luxury electric vehicles that are targeted towards the high-end demographic, so the area around Washington, D.C., might be perfect for the company to boost its sales.

Elon Musk, the chairman and CEO of Tesla Motors, has been advocating a radical change to the existing practice of selling cars through dealers, as he believes that they are not interested in selling electric cars, as they would have to put much more effort into explaining the benefits of electric cars to customers, which they consider to be just a waste of time. That’s why Musk thinks that his company can sell much more cars if they were allowed to operate their own stores, where they would employ people who understand how electric vehicles work and would be able to educate consumers on why such a vehicle is good for them.


Jordan Perch is an automotive fanatic and “green cars” specialist. He is a writer for DMV.com, which is a collaborative community designed to help ease the stress and annoyance of “dealing with the DMV”.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

In Focus: Green Exercise Machines

green-exercise-machines

Last time, we discussed the different ways consumers can embrace Green Fitness. Now let’s take it a step further by going a bit deeper into our comparison of Green Fitness equipment.  The first type of equipment we’ll look at are outdoor gyms that aren’t hooked up to an electrical source.

This type of machine definitely provides a way to get fresh air and requires nothing of the environment other than the space to hold this type of equipment.  This is a great choice if you live in a region that isn’t prone to large amounts of rain or snow, and if you’re able to exercise outdoors during daylight hours. For those who live in northern climates where weather and limited daylight hours provide challenges to exercising outdoors during many months of the year, it’s probably not the best option. I would classify this as a zero-impact machine.

Another zero-impact option that can be used indoors is self-generating cardio equipment. These ellipticals, bikes and other cardio equipment such as cross trainers use a small amount of electricity generated by the exerciser to power the display. Most of these require you to begin pedaling first to charge up the battery before you can program your workout, but a few offer a battery backup that allows you to program your workout before you even begin exercising. Either way, these are a great way to get a green workout indoors.

But what if you’re interested in making a positive impact during your workout? The next type of equipment I’ll discuss are retrofitted exercise bikes that convert the energy from exercisers into electricity.  For those interested in giving back to the environment, not just having zero-impact, this is a solid option.    One downside to this option is that it requires a gym owner to have a customized retrofit done on existing equipment. This can be costly and will usually void the equipment’s warranty, not to mention it doesn’t always provide the best user experience.  It is much easier to start from the foundation of the equipment instead of trying to integrate equipment and technology from more than one manufacturer.

In light of that, there is another option for exercisers and gym owners to consider: exercise bikes and ellipticals engineered with the intent of generating electricity from exercise.  These machines have been specially designed with an inverter that is able to harness the energy created through exercise and convert it into electricity. They are often more efficient than retrofitted machines because they were designed from the ground up with the intent to generate electricity. And your equipment will maintain its original warranty, protecting your investment over time.

These are just a few options for exercisers and gym owners to consider.  Depending on your situation, you may go with a zero-impact machine or a machine that gives back, or some combination of the two.  For those that are interested in the giving back element, I would encourage you to start from the ground up when it comes to your equipment and not attempt to do it on existing equipment.  There will likely be more work and cost involved in retrofitting than moving older equipment out and replacing it with a green system that was engineered to give back.

No matter your choice, if you are moving towards Green Fitness, you are moving in the right direction.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Lithium Batteries: How Green Are They?

lithium-ion-battery-600x400

Electric cars have really taken off in the last two years or so and it’s understandably the case. Fossil fuelled autos may have become increasingly efficient in the last half decade or so, but in short they still fill the world with nasty exhaust emissions and in addition, they’re also eating up the world’s oil.

New sources of fuel for cars, such as batteries, offer an alternative and are becoming increasingly efficient and practical as the other option. Of course, the most commonly utilised battery technology in this arena is lithium batteries and it’s commonly utilised in electric cars and also hybrids. The most notable thing about these batteries is that they are lighter than older sorts and also can hold charges for far longer periods of time.

Components

Lithium batteries don’t completely come from scientist’s labs; their components also come from the earth – so how green are they?

Well, unlike a lot of other technological innovations throughout humanity, acquiring lithium doesn’t require us to completely destroy the earth. There’s no strip mining or dynamite involved, fortunately. Most of the lithium on earth is located in South America, particularly in the Andes Mountains. There are smaller amounts available in China and the USA, some of this is mined from rock in the old fashioned manner.

Where’s it Found?

However, lithium is generally found in underground ponds. This is extracted through a liquid pump. The liquid is simply pumped out of the ground and then the remainder is left to dry in the sun. What’s left is known as lithium carbonate, this is then processed and lithium remains. In fact, lithium creation is quite a clean and clear process and most of the damage with lithium batteries is caused through copper and aluminium extraction.

Fossil fuels are added to the mix when the lithium is transferred via train, plane or automobile to wherever the battery plant is. Currently, few or none of these methods are battery powered.

Lithium batteries are assembled at the plant and then the battery is placed in the vehicle for use. This vehicle will of course have no emissions if it’s a purely electric vehicle.  In fact, as you may already know but probably don’t think about- there is no exhaust on an electric car.

Charge Holding

Generally, lithium batteries are capable of holding up to 80 per cent of a charge, even after years of use. A lot more than alternatives, we can tell you this for certain from our experience at alpha-batteries.  This may not be ideal for a car, however many lithium batteries are retired for use in wind farms, where they can be used for power storage for a grid.

Finally, when the lithium battery can’t hold a reasonable charge at all it will be taken apart and then the useful bits of it reused. Tesla for example will recycle the fluids used for cooling, as well as the wires and batteries. All the remaining metals and parts are recycled and separated into metals for other uses.

Currently, there are few recycling plants for lithium batteries, simply because the batteries are only really coming to market and so there is no need to recycle them yet. However, expect to see more plants as time comes.

Cormac Reynolds is a writer and a journalist who loves green power and also autos. He’s written for a number of sites in this field before.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Renewables vs. Oil and Gas Industry

oil-and-gas-industry

The oil and gas industry is at the very heart of the global energy market and these two industries supply energy used by the majority of society. As populations grow and living standards increase across the globe so does the demand for energy. Due to the position the oil and gas industry finds itself in the global energy supply chain it faces significant sustainable challenges.

Three key areas have been cited as of being of particular importance. Better cooperation with policymakers and those who regulate the industry is required to develop national energy plans. There needs to be a drive to increase operational energy efficiency and finally more investigation into new renewable fuels and energy generation.

The current position of the industry

The oil and gas industry is an a position where it can evaluate – over long periods of time – the investments and development activities within the industry and to use its expertise to help assist governments in developing new or improving existing energy plans. The industry can become an important partner and help national government work towards creating more effective energy strategies.

Facing the challenge

A strong commitment to developing new technologies to meet with energy demand and the challenges of sustainability must be at the forefront of the industry. Heavy research and development of technologies designed to improve the effectiveness of operations and advancing renewable technologies must be a priority if the industry is to meet the challenge of sustainability.

Future improvement and innovation

While the industry is making measures to face the sustainable challenge there’s more that can be done to improve the way the industry operates.

More renewable energy sources should be used and there should be more of a focus on energy efficiency throughout the entire supply chain. Those in the gas industry should work to reduce the flaring of gas from operations and to identify ways to reuse captured gas on site or to supply the local community with energy. Reducing waste is one particular area where improvements need to be made together with creating a better process with more optimised efficiency and logistics across the supply chain.

Conclusion

If the oil and gas industry is to meet the challenge of being more sustainable then it must become leaders and take on the role of innovators who create solutions and drive investment in sustainable energy. With the correct levels of coordination and action the industry can improve the energy efficiency of business operations, increase the use of renewable energy, and develop more sustainable products and services.


Swinton Technology is a leading global supplier of oil and gas flow metering computer control system solutions and services.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Green Business Development: New Technologies

green-business-developmentThe green movement has made everyone realize just how much damage we’re doing to the environment. This wake-up call has spurred people on to find new solutions to old problems. These solutions reflect our awakened consciousness to issues like efficiency and sustainability. Individuals are doing their part and now companies are also starting to join the effort. The government has provided ample incentives to lead the way but it is the development of compelling technologies that truly made it happen. Businesses can use these technologies to enhance their capability while at the same time earning the loyalty of their green-conscious customers.

HVAC: Controlling the Office Environment for the Environment

The office needs to maintain a certain range of temperatures for the benefit of the employees and equipment. If it’s too hot or too hold, the people will become irritable and unable to work properly. The equipment will experience frequent failures and total breakdowns. Temperature control can be achieved with heating and cooling systems that are activated depending on the need. While these provide an invaluable service to the business, they are also notorious for consuming an incredible amount of energy. Companies should look into upgrading their older systems for more efficient models. The costs will be easily offset by energy savings which translates into substantial drops in utility bills.

Lights: A Little Bit of Vigilance Pays Big Dividends

Ample illumination is vital in achieving high productivity. It enables the employees to get things done more quickly with fewer errors. Eyestrain is minimized so people can work longer at peak focus. It also prevents accidents that could lead to potentially costly suits. However, lighting fixtures are often taken for granted in offices. A whole area could be lit at 100% capacity even when there are only one or two people left working. The staff should be trained to do their part in turning off excess lights wherever they may find them. The board, on the other hand, should consider the replacement of aging light bulbs with modern options such as LEDs which are widely known for their efficiency.

Data Centers: Upgrade and Outsource

IT departments usually maintain data centers of varying sizes that operate on a 24-hour basis. These are vital to company operations as they house important files and databases. Downtimes have to be avoided at all cost as they may lead to business paralysis. This means using the most reliable equipment and maintaining good conditions inside the centers. Temperatures have to be lowered sufficiently to prevent overheating. Servers should be periodically replaced by new ones for better performance and increased power efficiency. Modern servers are also designed to reduce heat generation. Another thing that companies can do is to outsource some of their data center needs to third party providers. This would allow them to focus on core tasks and free up resources for more pressing needs.

Cars: Go for Hybrids and Electrics

When providing vehicles for employees, companies may want to choose hybrid cars or fully electric versions. The pertinent technologies have evolved tremendously in just a few short years. Battery life, in particular, has been extended to a great degree. Motorists can expect each charge to last for more miles than one typically drives in a day. Charging itself is easier and faster with full capacity being reached in a reasonable period. Hybrid cars are particularly appealing as they can switch between gas and battery power as needed. A lot of traditional manufacturers are producing hybrid models so there are plenty to choose from. Fully electric cars, meanwhile, are the most environment-friendly and some models have been widely praised for their performance.


Joshua Turner is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to business. In this article, he describes new technologies for green business development and aims to encourage further study with an Online MBA from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Let’s Squash Some Solar Myths

fdf57a074c559ef4e6c9f763b6f6e644-550x335

With the shadow of the potential consequences of climate change failing to dissipate, couple with soaring energy prices in recent years, the need to identify a better way of producing our power is as pressing as ever.

Solar PV technology is already being utilised by many homes and businesses across the UK however it has still not convinced everyone. Read on as SolarTech busts the top 6 myths that surround solar panels.

 

Myth #1: It’s too expensive.

The Reality:  Although buying a solar PV system can be pricey, there are a number of government backed schemes that are designed to ease the burden on households.

The recently launched Green Deal gives families the chance to install solar panels in their homes through a loan that is paid back from the savings made on energy bills – essentially making them free – while the Feed-in Tariff (Fit) incentive scheme means that a well designed solar panel system can pay for itself in around seven years.

 

Myth #2: They don’t work in cloudy and cold climates.

The Reality: Energy producing technology that relies on sunlight sounds as though it might struggle somewhat in the UK, however it is the radiation from the sun rather than temperature that allows for photovoltaic generation.

Although it is true that they work better in the sunniest regions they still work effectively in cloudy conditions so there is no reason UK residents can’t enjoy the benefits of solar panels.

 

Myth #3: Solar panels are hard to maintain.

The Reality: With no moving parts solar panels in fact require hardly any maintenance at all while the most fragile element of the system, the inverter, lasts for around ten years.

The only thing you do need to ensure is that they stay free of dust, but as long as you live in a rainy climate such as the UK, they should stay clean.

 

Myth #4: The efficiency of solar panels is still too low.

The Reality: Solar panel technology is improving year-on-year, so although this may have been true when the systems first came on the market, today solar PV is an effective way of generating your domestic energy.

 

Myth #5: Solar panels won’t last 20 years.

The Reality: The standard accepted lifespan of solar panels is between 20 and 25 years, so it is possible that some would need to replaced slightly earlier, however there are some installations that were first constructed in the 1970s that are still in operation today.

 

Myth #6: Solar panels are unattractive.

The Reality: Of course this comes down to peoples’ own personal preferences somewhat, but modern solar panels don’t have to look unsightly, appearing more like sky lights when they are fitted flush to the roof.

Their sleek and contemporary styling will actually look right at home on many properties, so the aesthetics really shouldn’t be an issue for many.

 

There will always be doubts over energy efficiency technology in terms of whether it produces enough energy to make it worthwhile, but it is important that when making a purchasing decision that we avoid paying heed to the myths and instead concentrate on the reality.


This guest blog was written by John Rooney on behalf of SolarTech – specialist installers of solar panels  and other energy efficiency technology.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Green Technology At The New One World Trade Center

world-trade-center-2

Sustainable architecture, also commonly referred to as green building technology, is one of the key considerations in the construction of modern high-rise buildings. This is because of the urgent need to protect the environment from possible adverse effects of sourcing for the vast quantities of materials required for the erection of such structures. Sustainable architecture also helps reduce the dependency on depleting resources for the provision of energy required by a large number of people concentrated in a relatively small space.

One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center is a 104 story super tall skyscraper located in the Lower Manhattan area of New York City and is the main building of the new World Trade Center complex. Designed by David Childs of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the ground breaking for the building took place in 2004 and should open its doors for occupation in late 2013. The building features an extensive range of green technologies both in its construction and in some of its functional features.

Recycled Materials

Although the structure is brand new, almost 75% of the building is “old,” specifically with reference to the building materials used. The intensive reuse of postindustrial materials in everything from its ceiling tiles to gypsum boards means that the structure is a product of recycling. According to the tower’s builders, Tishman Construction, this building method not only eases stress on resources, but also reduces the onsite environmental footprint.

Green Concrete Instead of Cement

Another groundbreaking innovation that makes the One World Trade Center particularly friendly to the environment is the minimal amount of cement used in its construction. A material known as “Green Concrete” forms most of the building’s thick, reinforced walls. The concrete used is a result of environmentally responsible production methods that save over 30,000 gallons of water and eight million kWh of electricity. Its use also means that the building’s construction has also resulted in greatly reduced carbon emissions.

Fuel Cell Technology

One World Center boasts one of the world’s largest fuel cell installations, which are among the cleanest sources of energy available today. The PureCell system by ClearEdge Power is a phosphoric acid fuel cell that lowers energy costs and reduces emissions. In addition, the manufacturer claims that it offers 95 % efficiency, has 10-year cell stack durability as well as a product life of 20 years. This massive installation uses natural gas in a combustion-free process, utilizing exhaust heat for cooling and heating, creating usable energy from potential waste.

Water Conservation and Rain Collection

One of the most outstanding ways that the One World Trade Center uses green technologies is its water collection, distribution and conservation system. While the roof area of the tower is comparative limited compared to other types of buildings, New York City receives over 60 inches of rainfall annually, resulting in the potential for considerable rainwater reserves. The collected rainwater runs within its cooling, fire-suppression systems and the waterfalls to commemorate the victims of the 9/11 attacks. There is extensive landscaping at the site as well, irrigated by the collected and recycled water.

Daylighting

The building’s designers have incorporated an impressive energy saving feature known as “daylighting.” The system works through dimmers that automatically sense bright sunlight coming in on sunny days and lower the intensity of interior lights, reducing power consumption. The dimmers have been strategically located in all spaces that are within 15 feet of the building’s ultra-clear glass windows.

Overall, the designers and builders of One World Trade Center have managed the enviable feat: creating a sustainable structure that is both functional and modern, while honoring the memory of the destroyed towers. For this reason, the building will receive a LEED Gold Certification upon completion. This award recognizes the innovations that make it one of the most environmentally friendly buildings of its size worldwide.

 


William Stevens is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to technology. In this article, he describes a few of the green components of the new One World Trade Center and aims to encourage further study with a online civil engineering degree, click here to find out more.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal