Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition! I already did.
It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Green Technologies

Today, a sneak peek in three good news for our Green Idea of life. Of course, the first one is more a publicity stunt, but oh, well, the information is important. Obviously car-makers are finally realising that electric cars are the future. And that's a good start.

  1. Nissan Plans Electric Car in U.S. by ’10
  2. Nanotech to make solar panels more efficient
  3. A sprinkle of limestone could help oceans absorb CO2 (a quick note on that article, the preview from New Scientist is rather confusing. I found the original article and it actually gives a method to increase the absorption of atmospheric CO2 while not harming the coral. Read the article for more info, the comment was that it's not very doable because of the scale of the problems)
My over-all comment: Obviously if there is a desire on the market, technologies appear. I'm especially interested in the nanotech development, because I really like the solar energy-it's free, it's clean and it's endless. Besides, isn't it amazing that after all that time, we're still hardly using the solar energy? It is to me!

Nissan Plans Electric Car in U.S. by ’10

Published: May 13, 2008

DETROIT — The Nissan Motor Company plans to sell an electric car in the United States and Japan by 2010, raising the stakes in the race to develop environmentally friendly vehicles.

In an interview Monday, Nissan’s chief executive, Carlos Ghosn said Nissan decided to accelerate development of battery-powered vehicles because of high gasoline prices and environmental concerns, not just because of the need to meet stricter fuel-economy standards.

“What we are seeing is that the shifts coming from the markets are more powerful than what regulators are doing,” he said.

Mr. Ghosn said Nissan envisioned a broad range of electric vehicles, starting with small cars, and adding: “It’s not only about a small city car or a small minivan. It can also be about a small commercial vehicle and a small crossover.”

Other automakers like Mitsubishi Motors and Fuji Heavy Industries are testing versions of electric cars, and General Motors and Toyota are working on battery-powered vehicles that have small gasoline engines for recharging. G.M. plans to start producing the Chevrolet Volt in 2010, while Toyota expects to offer a similar, so-called “plug-in” hybrid around the same time.

But Nissan, which a decade ago was on the brink of bankruptcy, is the first manufacturer to say it will sell mass market, all-electric vehicles worldwide. The zero emissions refers to those from the car’s tailpipe and not those from the production of electricity used to power the car.

Still, Mr. O’Dell said: “Nissan is upping the ante tremendously. They are the first to put it on the line and say we’re going to have an all-electric vehicle for a certain market by a certain date.”

Mr. Ghosn declined to disclose details of the electric products and said initial quantities would be small. “We’re talking about hundreds of vehicles first,” he said.

With customers in emerging markets like China and India clamoring for cars, the industry has a responsibility to invest in the cleanest vehicles possible, he said.

Early this year, Nissan and its French alliance partner, Renault, signed a deal with the California-based Project Better Place to produce electric cars for sale in Israel and Denmark.

Renault will provide the cars and Nissan will supply lithium-ion battery packs. Mr. Ghosn, who also serves as chief executive of Renault, said the Israeli government would encourage sales of electric cars by sharply cutting taxes to levels below those on gasoline-powered vehicles.

But Nissan is being more aggressive about its electric-car efforts. Mr. Ghosn declined to say how much an electric vehicle would cost, but stressed that they would be affordable and comparable with other vehicles in the marketplace.

He said that as many as 10 million of the 69 million vehicles produced each year worldwide could ultimately be electric-powered, with a concentration in urban areas.

Electric cars are typically recharged by plugging the vehicle into an electrical outlet at home or elsewhere overnight. But previous attempts at electric vehicles were hampered by the length of time needed to recharge the battery, and the limited distances the cars could travel on a single charge.source

Nanotech to make solar panels more efficient

15 May 2008

Engineers at the University of California, San Diego have demonstrated that nanoparticles can increase the efficiency with which sunlight can be converted into electricity in thin-film photovoltaics, opening new prospects for solar electricity.

The new solar energy device created by electrical engineers at UC San Diego could boost thin-film solar cell efficiency by increasing the number of photonsexternal (light carriers) that the cells absorb as well as the number of excited electrons it collects.

The UCSD engineers are attempting to break "the theoretical limit of 31% efficiency" for conventional single junction solar cells and reach "45% sunlight-to-electricity conversion efficiencies".

Another of the engineers' breakthroughs is that they managed to grow nanowires directly on metal electrodes, what they say is crucial for mass use of nanowires in photovoltaic devices. They note that this is an important step toward "next-generation photovoltaics that conform to the curved surfaces like rooftops, cars or other supporting structures".

However, Clint Novotny, an engineer on the project, thinks "we are at least a decade away from this becoming a mainstream technology".

It is widely hoped that nanotechnology will lead to novel, more powerful and cost-effective production, conversion, storage and use of energy. It is already affecting technology in batteries as it enables them to store more energy.

The initial findings of the UCSD project were published in February 2008 in Nano Letters Pdf external , an American Chemical Society publication reporting on research results related to the theory and practice of nanosciences. The engineers recently received $885,000 (€573,000) from the US Department of Energy to carry out further research on the subject. source

A sprinkle of limestone could help oceans absorb CO2

14 May 2008
Kate Ravilious
Magazine issue 2656
GRIND it down, pour in a sprinkle here and a dash there, and wait for
results. That's the recipe for helping the oceans to absorb more of
our carbon dioxide emissions: add limestone. It may not only help
reduce global warming but could even reinvigorate ailing coral reefs.

When atmospheric CO2 dissolves in the ocean, it reacts with carbonate
ions in the surface waters to form bicarbonate ions. While this helps
keep the acidity of the ocean constant, it lowers the concentration of
carbonate ions. This makes the rise in atmospheric CO2 bad news for
corals and other organisms which build their exoskeletons by absorbing
carbonate ions along with calcium. Ultimately the oceans could also
become less able to absorb atmospheric CO2, as there are fewer
carbonate ions around to mop up the CO2.

Danny Harvey, a climate scientist at the University of Toronto in
Canada, looked at whether this ... source article

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