EcoModo – The Best of Treehugger

EcoModo – The Best of Treehugger:
treehugger-gizmodo-week67.jpgThis week at TreeHugger: We found the Magnetically-Levitated Axial Flux Alternator with Programmable Variable Coil Resistance, Vertical Axis Wind Turbine, a residential power generator that goes on your roof (and looks good, too). They are beginning to open the kimono at EESTor, who boldly claims that its system, a kind of battery-ultracapacitor hybrid based on barium-titanate powders, will dramatically outperform the best contemporary lithium-ion batteries in just about every category. We find a home-brewed portable solar kit that’ll power up a laptop or iPod for a couple of hours at a time thanks to a folding solar panel and a couple wires. Lastly, we look to the back of a beetle for a new source of white light.
We get excited about new technologies, and it’s easy to jump the gun, so it is great to find a product that is new, different and actually available. It’s the “Magnetically-Levitated Axial Flux Alternator with Programmable Variable Coil Resistance, Vertical Axis Wind Turbine“, and it has just come on the market. Unlike normal turbines, it doesn’t mind a little turbulence, works well in developed areas, and gets an extra kick from something called “the roof effect.” The center hub floats on a magnet, and the coils that generate the power are at the outer ring, with magnets at the tips of the blades flying over them at high speed. Whoa.

EESTor is stepping out with some big claims about their new battery technology. The company boldly claims that its system, a kind of battery-ultracapacitor hybrid based on barium-titanate powders, will dramatically outperform the best lithium-ion batteries on the market in terms of energy density, price, charge time, and safety. Pound for pound, it will also pack 10 times the punch of lead-acid batteries at half the cost and without the need for toxic materials or chemicals. Showcasing humility along with techno-brilliance, Richard Weir, EEStor’s cofounder and chief executive, says he would prefer to keep a low profile and let the results of his company’s innovation speak for themselves.

Who says solar can’t power laptops? According to this, a homemade solar kit, costing about $180 total, will keep a MacBook humming for a couple of hours with the help of a few bright sunny rays. It also helps to pull the plug on bluetooth and crank down the screen brightness a big, but we think there’s something to be said for blogging from the park while getting a tan, so it might just be worth it.

Lastly, take a closer look at the Cyphochilus beetle, whose scales might just inspire the next MacBook coating. They emit a brilliant white light without the benefit of dyes, but how? The beetle’s body is covered with long flat scales just 5 micrometers thick. The scales are unique in that they are composed of highly randomized 3D structures, which are sized and spaced precisely in order to maximize the scattering of light, thus creating white light. According to Dr. Pete Vukusic, of the University of Exeter’s School of Physics, “In the future, the paper we write on, the colour of our teeth and even the efficiency of the rapidly emerging new generation of white light sources will be significantly improved if technology can take and apply the design ideas we learn from this beetle.” Who knew bugs could be so beneficial?

TreeHugger’s EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.

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