September 17, 2014

High Design Solves Solar Power Problem

by @ 5:51 pm. Filed under Green Energy, High Design, Solar

Scrobby: The autonomous solar panel-scrubbing robot

Scrobby is an autonomous robot prototype designed to keep domestic solar panels clean and ...

Scrobby is an autonomous robot prototype designed to keep domestic solar panels clean and clear

 

By Colin Jeffrey

SolidarityEconomy.net via gizmag.org

Sept 16, 2014 - Solar panels need regular cleaning to ensure they are working at their optimum efficiency, and spraying them with the hose from the ground or relying on a heavy downpour won't necessarily get the job done. Like the windows on your house, they need to be scrubbed and polished for maximum effect. Enter Scrobby, a solar-powered, autonomous robot prototype designed to keep domestic solar panels clean and clear.

Designed to wash and scrub solar panels positioned at angles of up to 75 degrees, just one Scrobby is purported to be able to clean a solar array measuring up to 10 x 20 m (32.5 x 65 ft) – and this is only because its wire tether will only stretch that far.

The wire tether, however, is only for safety so that Scrobby has no chance of falling off the roof and destroying itself or, worse, hitting some unsuspecting passer-by on the head. Scrobby actually takes user commands from an app contained on a smartphone or tablet and also sends details of its schedule to the same app via Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity.

(more...)

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September 16, 2014

Vermont’s Largest City Now Using 100% Renewable Energy Sources

by @ 7:28 am. Filed under Green Energy, Solar, Urban Problems, Wind Power

by Jen Hayden

SolidarityEconomy.net via DailyKOS

This is awesome:

    Vermont’s largest city has a new success to add to its list of socially conscious achievements: 100 percent of its electricity now comes from renewable sources such as wind, water and biomass.

    With little fanfare, the Burlington Electric Department crossed the threshold this month with the purchase of the 7.4-megawatt Winooski 1 hydroelectric project on the Winooski River at the city’s edge.

The system isn't without a few hitches, like occasionally buying power from other areas, but they often generate more than they need and sell to other areas, so the two offset each other.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic ocean, Germany is going all-in on renewable energy:

    Of all the developed nations, few have pushed harder than Germany to find a solution to global warming. And towering symbols of that drive are appearing in the middle of the North Sea.

    They are wind turbines, standing as far as 60 miles from the mainland, stretching as high as 60-story buildings and costing up to $30 million apiece. On some of these giant machines, a single blade roughly equals the wingspan of the largest airliner in the sky, the Airbus A380. By year’s end, scores of new turbines will be sending low-emission electricity to German cities hundreds of miles to the south.

    It will be another milestone in Germany’s costly attempt to remake its electricity system, an ambitious project that has already produced striking results: Germans will soon be getting 30 percent of their power from renewable energy sources. Many smaller countries are beating that, but Germany is by far the largest industrial power to reach that level in the modern era. It is more than twice the percentage in the United States.

Come on, America! It's time to get on the ball and tap into our renewable energy power—from sea to shining sea.



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September 13, 2014

Migrant Farmworkers Find Paths Out of Poverty Through Incubator Farms

Incubator farms help seasonal workers start their own businesses, where they get better pay and the support of a community.

Octavio Garcia and his brothers now manage their own 6.5 acres leased from ALBA. Photo by Nancy Porto / ALBA.

by Lisa Gale Garrigues

SolidarityEconomy.net via Yes! Magazine

Nine years ago Octavio Garcia was a seasonal laborer, spending long days bent over another man’s field in California’s Central Valley, picking strawberries for $6.25 an hour. Today the 24-year-old is manager of his own 6.5 acres, growing strawberries, tomatoes, garlic, and other produce on land leased to him by ALBA, the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association in Salinas, Calif.

ALBA is one of a growing number of “incubator farms” across the United States dedicated to training the next generation of farmers. According to NIFTI, the National Incubator Farm Training Initiative at Tufts University, there are currently 111 new or planned incubator projects in 38 states—up from 45 projects at the start of 2012.

More than half the 5,700 aspiring farmers they serve are refugees and immigrants who will help fill an important demographic gap as current farmers age out of the profession. The average farmer, according to USDA Census of Agriculture statistics, is now over 57 years old.

Originally from Michoacán, Mexico, Garcia heard about ALBA from a fellow migrant worker. He went to an introductory talk and decided to take the five-year training. “My earnings are not huge,” he says, “because I am still investing most of what I make back into the farm. But they are more than $6.25 an hour. And what I really like is being my own boss, the freedom to do what I want when I want.” Garcia looks forward to buying his own land with help from California FarmLink, a nonprofit organization that offers loans and matching funds to beginning farmers.

There are currently 111 new or planned incubator projects in 38 states.

Chris Brown, executive director of ALBA, believes the program is a good model for ending poverty among seasonal farmworkers. For farmworkers, he says, “It’s very difficult to break out of poverty. We’re trying to help them pursue their own business.”

(more...)

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September 9, 2014

Replacing Capitalism: Alperovitz and Harvey Start the Dicussion

by @ 4:45 pm. Filed under Capitalism, Socialism, Solidarity Economy


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September 4, 2014

The Future of Robot Labor Is the Future of Capitalism—and Its Pending Replacement

By Jordan Pearson

Motherboard

September 1, 2014  - You’ve seen the headlines by now: The robots are coming, and they’re going to take our jobs. The future really doesn’t look so great for the average, human working stiff, since 47 percent of the world’s jobs are set to be automated in the next two decades, according to a recent and much-publicised University of Oxford study.

Some see these developments in apocalyptic terms, with robot workers creating a new underclass of jobless humans, while others see it in a more hopeful light, claiming robots may instead lead us to a future where work isn’t necessary. But fretting over which jobs will be lost and which will be preserved doesn’t do much good.

The thing is, robots entering the workplace isn’t even really about robots. The coming age of robot workers chiefly reflects a tension that’s been around since the first common lands were enclosed by landowners who declared them private property: that between labour and the owners of capital. The future of labour in the robot age has everything to do with capitalism.

 

The best way to understand how this all works and where it will go is to refer to the writings of the person who understood capitalism best—Karl Marx. In particular, to a little-known journal fragment published in his manuscript The Grundrisse called “The Fragment on Machines.”

Whether you love him, hate him, or just avoid him completely, Marx dedicated his life to understanding how capitalism works. He was obsessed with it. In “The Fragment,” Marx grappled with what a fully automated capitalist society might mean for the worker in the future.

According to Marx, automation that displaces workers in favour of machines that can produce more goods in less time is part and parcel of how capitalism operates. By developing fixed capital (machines), bosses can do away with much of the variable capital (workers) that saps their bottom line with pesky things like wages and short work days. He writes:

The increase of the productive force of labour and the greatest possible negation of necessary labour is the necessary tendency of capital, as we have seen. The transformation of the means of labour into machinery is the realization of this tendency.

Seen through this lens, robot workers are the rational end point of automation as it develops in a capitalist economy. The question of what happens to workers displaced by automation is an especially interesting line of inquiry because it points to a serious contradiction in capitalism, according to Marx:

Capital itself is the moving contradiction, [in] that it presses to reduce labour time to a minimum, while it posits labour time, on the other side, as sole measure and source of wealth.

In Marxist theory, capitalists create profit by extracting what’s called surplus value from workers—paying them less than what their time is worth and gaining the difference as profit after the commodity has been sold at market price, arrived at by metrics abstracted from the act of labour itself. So what happens when humans aren’t the ones working anymore? Curiously, Marx finds himself among the contemporary robotic utopianists in this regard.

(more...)

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September 3, 2014

3-Way Energy-Transport Merger to a Clean and Green Solar Future

by @ 10:17 am. Filed under Green Energy, Green Industry, High Design, Solar

The convergence of solar PV, storage batteries, and electric vehicles to revolutionize industries

Price History of Silicon PV Cells $/watt

By HoundDogFollow for SciTech

SolidarityEconomy.net via Daily KOS

Sept 2, 2914 - Peter Diamandis of Forbes calls up his friends Ray Kurzweil and Elon Musk to bring us some astonishing visions of the future of the solar photovoltaic, solar storage, and electric vehicle industries and how they are converging, which he reports in Solar Energy Revolution: A Massive Opportunity. Their view and the remarkable background data he presents overshadow his "Six D's" analysis which seems somewhat trite compared to his blockbuster opening paragraphs.  Here are the best parts.

My friend Ray Kurzweil projects the U.S. will meet 100 percent of its electrical energy needs from solar in 20 years. Elon Musk is a bit more conservative, pegging it at 50 percent in that timeframe. While the growth of solar may seem slow to some, it’s fair to say it’s in the midst of its “deceptive phase,” on the road to disruption. For example, a 30 percent increase in solar energy production per year, means 1 percent today grows to 1.3 percent in 3 years. It also means that in 20 years (7 doublings), we’ll see a 128-fold increase. Either way, if Ray and Elon are even close, there is a trillion dollars up for grabs (as well as the future of our planet), and the future is bright. Let’s take a closer look at the converging technologies driving this future… The cost of solar panels is dropping exponentially. The first and most important technological change is the falling cost per watt of silicon photovoltaic cells over the past few decades. Check out the plummeting cost from $76 in 1977, to less than $0.36 today.

attribution: None Specified

The International Energy Agency predicts that we will produce 662 GigaWatts of solar energy by 2035 following a $1.3 trillion investment in this area, but frankly this estimate is “highly conservative.” The second technology at play is satellite-Earth imaging, which enables companies like solar City to make rapid and accurate decisions on solar panel installations. These days, an installer can check out your rooftop on Google Earth and determine in minutes if you are a good candidate. Super-simple. Energy Storage Mechanisms Are Improving Rapidly The third key technology transforming our energy economy is battery storage. The ability to take solar energy captured during the day, and time-shift it into the night. Here to the change has been very significant, with a 50%+ reduction over the past four years, and an additional 50%+ reduction by 2020.

Elon Musk's Telsa Gigafactory is planning on producing 35 Gigawatts worth of battery power by 2020 in one factory.

Diamandis also reports that Tesla's Gigafactory is going to support the production of 500,000 electric vehicles per year.

He predicts these three major price trends are going to come together to enable everyone to produce and store their own power for equal to or less than buying power from utilities by 2025.

(more...)

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August 30, 2014

‘Low Road’ Capital Tries to Fetter High Design and Muni-Socialism

by @ 10:29 am. Tags:
Filed under Economic Democracy, High Design, Technology

Chattanooga's Gig: how one city's super-fast internet is driving a tech boom

The city is one of the only places on Earth with internet as fast as 1 gigabit per second – about 50 times faster than the US average. Despite Big Cable’s attempt to block the Gig’s expansion plans, money keeps flowing into Chattanooga

By Dominic Rushe in Chattanooga
SolidarityEconomy.net via theguardian.com

Aug 30, 2014 - Loveman’s department store on Market Street in Chattanooga closed its doors in 1993 after almost a century in business, another victim of a nationwide decline in downtowns that hollowed out so many US towns. Now the opulent building is buzzing again, this time with tech entrepreneurs taking advantage of the fastest internet in the western hemisphere.

Financed by the cash raised from the sale of logistics group Access America, a group of thirty-something local entrepreneurs have set up Lamp Post, an incubator for a new generation of tech companies, in the building. A dozen startups are currently working out of the glitzy downtown office.

“We’re not Silicon Valley. No one will ever replicate that,” says Allan Davis, one of Lamp Post’s partners. “But we don’t need to be and not everyone wants that. The expense, the hassle. You don’t need to be there to create great technology. You can do it here.”

He’s not alone in thinking so. Lamp Post is one of several tech incubators in this mid-sized Tennessee city. Money is flowing in. Chattanooga has gone from close to zero venture capital in 2009 to more than five organized funds with investable capital over $50m in 2014 – not bad for a city of 171,000 people.

The city’s go-getting mayor Andy Berke, a Democrat tipped for higher office, is currently reviewing plans for a city center tech zone specifically designed to meet the needs of its new workforce.

In large part the success is being driven by The Gig. Thanks to an ambitious roll-out by the city’s municipally owned electricity company, EPB, Chattanooga is one of the only places on Earth with internet at speeds as fast as 1 gigabit per second – about 50 times faster than the US average.

The tech buildup comes after more than a decade of reconstruction in Chattanooga that has regenerated the city with a world-class aquarium, 12 miles of river walks along the Tennessee River, an arts district built around the Hunter Museum of American Arts, high-end restaurants and outdoor activities.

(more...)

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August 25, 2014

High Design: Small Homes for Incomes of 15K or Less

by @ 12:34 pm. Filed under High Design, High Road Economics, Urban Problems

This Genius Project Would Create Tiny Homes For People Making Less Than $15,000 A Year

By Robbie Couch   
SolidarityEconomy.net via Huffington Post

Aug 22, 2014 - Another American city is embracing the idea of small homes that'll make a big difference.

The city of Portland, Oregon, is nearing approval of construction for tiny home communities on public land in order to house homeless and low-income residents, the Oregonian reported. Josh Alpert, the city's director of strategic initiatives under Mayor Charlie Hales, said it's not so much a question of if, but rather, when the homes will be built in partnership with Multnomah County, according to the news source. The city will ask various public branches in the area -- including Portland Public Schools -- to provide surplus land for the homes.

"Before people can get back on their feet and take advantage of job training and drug and alcohol counseling, they need a place to live," Multnomah County Chairwoman Deborah Kafoury said Wednesday, according to the Oregonian. "This helps accomplish that."

Creating tiny home communities has proven to be a successful strategy for other cities around the country combating homelessness. Similar projects in Wisconsin, Texas and New York have put permanent roofs over heads in recent years, Reuters reported, allowing residents to focus more on moving forward in other areas of their lives.

"It's exciting. I've never owned my own house,” Betty Ybarra, a formerly homeless woman who'd lived in a tent in Madison, Wisconsin, told NBC 15 News last December.

(more...)

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August 21, 2014

High Design: Meet Baxter, a New Kind of Industrial Robot

by @ 10:03 am. Filed under Cybernation, High Design
A smarter, safer new industrial robot could bring automation to new areas of manual work and help many U.S. manufacturers regain a competitive edge.

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August 18, 2014

Why Can’t the United States Build a High-Speed Rail System?

Image

The problem isn't geography, demographics, or money—it's federal will.

By Yonah Freemark

SolidarityEconomy.net via CityLab.com

Aug 13, 2014 - Virtually every wealthy nation in the world has invested in a high-speed rail network—with the striking exception of the United States. From Japan to France, even from Turkey to Russia, trains travel through the country at speeds of 150 miles per hour or above, linking city centers and providing a desirable alternative to both air and automobile travel. Meanwhile, outside Amtrak's 28 miles of 150-m.p.h. track in rural Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the American rail network is largely limited to speeds of 110 m.p.h. or less. There are few reasons to think the situation will change much in the coming decades.

So why has the United States failed to fund and construct high-speed rail?

The problem is not political process. Most of the countries that have built high-speed rail are democratic, and have submitted the projects to citizen review; others, like Germany and Russia, have federated governments similar to ours that divide general decision-making between levels of authority.

Nor is it geography. The British and French completed a 31-mile tunnel under the British Channel 20 years ago, while many American cities are located in flat regions with few physical construction obstacles.

Nor is it the characteristics of our urban areas. While U.S. cities are less dense than those of many other countries, the Northeast is denser, more transit reliant, and more populated than most areas served by high-speed rail abroad. Nor still is it money. Though the United States invests less in infrastructure than other developed countries do, America nevertheless remains an immensely wealthy nation perfectly capable of spending on new rail links if desired.

What's missing is a federal commitment to a well-funded national rail plan.

(more...)

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August 12, 2014

Low-Road vs. High-Road: The Carbon Burners Blocking Solar Energy

by @ 9:32 am. Filed under Green Energy, High Road Economics, Solar

installing-rooftop-solar-panels-shutterstock

No solar, please — we’re Florida

By Heather Smith

SolidarityEconomy.net via Grist

At the beginning of this year, I made a short list of predictions about what the future held for environmental activism in 2014. I was right about a few of them —  divestment has gone mainstream, environmental organizing has shifted from big infrastructure like Keystone to regional infrastructure like power plants and coal terminals. But there’s one huge thing that I missed: solar.

So far, this has been a precedent-setting year for how solar power is going to play out in this country. The technological breakthroughs in storage and affordablity began a few years ago – but this year is all about figuring out how to fit this new technology into the hairball of regulations that surround American utilities.

Examples have ranged from the laid-back and sensible (the state of Washington developing streamlined statewide rules for solar, which lowered the cost of installation by up to $2,500 in some communities) to  the litigious (a long-standing court case in Iowa was resolved in favor of solar power, possibly setting a precedent for the rest of the midwest).

(more...)

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August 6, 2014

The Emerging ‘Clean and Green’ Majority

People want smarter energy choices

By Lesley Hunter

SolidarityEconomy.net via The Hill

Aug 5, 2014 - If you think backing renewable energy might be a good idea for the U.S. economy, then you’re not alone—not by a long shot.

A slew of studies have emerged recently, painting a clear picture of public opinion on renewable energy. Though the positive findings from both the public and business leaders are not surprising to many, the broader conclusions tell a great deal about the growing prominence of the clean energy economy: renewable energy deployment in the U.S. is now drawing overwhelming support.

Let’s take a quick look at the latest numbers:

A poll recently conducted by Stanford University and USA Today found that 91 percent of U.S. adults say it’s a “good idea” to generate electricity from sunlight, and 84 percent say the same for generating power from wind. A much smaller number—only 21 percent—say producing electricity from coal is a “good idea.” And in the same study, a majority— 55 percent —back the EPA plans to cut carbon pollution by proposing limits to greenhouses gases emitted by power plants.

National polling firm, Gallup, released research earlier this year that discovered 67 percent of Americans favor spending more government money on developing renewable energy technologies. Echoing these findings, a July survey conducted by the University of Michigan found 60 percent in support of a cost-effective carbon tax. An impressive 51 percent of Republicans lent their voice to the majority, if such a proposal used its funding for renewable power programs.

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August 5, 2014

A High Design Boost for Electric Cars and the Highways

by @ 9:53 am. Filed under Green Energy, Green Industry, High Design

Batteries for EVs like this Tesla Model S could be getting cheaper and more plentiful, onc...

Batteries for EVs like this Tesla Model S could be getting cheaper and more plentiful, once the Gigafactory is in full swing

Tesla and Panasonic sign agreement on battery-making Gigafactory

By Ben Coxworth

SolidarityEconomy.net via Gizmag

August 1, 2014 - If electric vehicles are to ultimately become as popular as Tesla hopes they will, then a whole lot of cost-effective batteries are going to be needed. That's why earlier this year, the automaker proposed a "Gigafactory" where it could crank out huge quantities of batteries. By making so many, it could drive down the price per battery via economy of scale. Yesterday, the company announced that it and Panasonic had signed an agreement to build that factory.

As mentioned in our previous article, Tesla plans for the Gigafactory to produce 500,000 batteries per year by 2020, with expected battery cell output of 35 GWh/yr and battery pack output of 50 GWh/yr. Current global battery output, from a variety of manufacturers, sits at just under 35 GWh/yr.

According to yesterday's announcement, "Tesla will prepare, provide and manage the land, buildings and utilities [while] Panasonic will manufacture and supply cylindrical lithium-ion cells and invest in the associated equipment, machinery, and other manufacturing tools based on their mutual approval."

The factory will be be located somewhere in the US and managed by Tesla, with Panasonic occupying about half of the manufacturing space and taking the role of principal partner. Although the cells will be made by Panasonic, Tesla will be incorporating them into battery modules and packs that it will be assembling.

(more...)

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July 23, 2014

Jobs: Fighting for the Future in a Crisis-Ridden Present

5 Reasons It’s Time for the 4-Day Work Week

By Lynn Stuart Parramore

SolidarityEconomy.net via alternet

July 21, 2014 |   Psst: Working less is the key to success.

Want to make employees happier and more productive? Give them a four-day work week.

The concept was introduced in the 1950s by American labor union leader Walter Reuther, but it’s taken a long time for the country to come around to his way of thinking.

There are signs that things are changing. Treehouse, an online education company, has a four-day work-week policy, and CEO Ryan Carlson has never looked back, saying it increases both output and morale. Other forward-thinking companies, like Slingshot SEO, are jumping on board.

Several states have been experimenting with having public employees come in four days a week, a trend which made headlines in the Washington Post [3] when the Virginia legislature let state employees take Fridays off in 2010.

The corporate world is warming up to the idea. Google co-founder Larry Page advocates flexibility and says the idea that everyone needs to work frantically is "just not true." Interestingly, polls show that 70 per cent of millionaires think the four-day work-week is a “valid idea.” Recently, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim actually called for a three-day work-week.

Let’s take a look at why a shorter work-week is a good idea whose time has come.

1. Makes workers more productive.

A lot of people automatically think that reducing the work-week to four days will crash productivity. But there’s evidence that this is far from true. American Online and Salary.com found in a survey that the average worker wastes about two hours every eight-hour workday, doing stuff like making personal calls or surfing the web. If given the choice, most of these employees would gladly drop those behaviors in exchange for a four-day work-week.

Experiments with shortening the work-week have yielded positive results on the productivity front. When the state of Utah put public workers on a four-day schedule in the wake of the recession, worker productivity increased, along with customer satisfaction. In an op-ed for the New York Times, Jason Fried, who runs the software company 37signals, reports that his employees do better work during their four-day weeks. As he puts it,

“When there’s less time to work, you waste less time. When you have a compressed workweek, you tend to focus on what’s important. Constraining time encourages quality time.”

2. Good for the environment.

One day less at work means reduced electricity use and less time spent driving. Fewer commuters during the traditional rush hours makes travel quicker for everybody, which means less time spent idling in traffic and churning out less greenhouse gases and other pollutants.

According to a report [4] from the Centre for Economic and Policy Research, a global shift to shorter working hours could reduce carbon emissions enough to halve additional expected global warming between now and 2100.

3. Makes employees happier.

Let’s be honest. Being on a treadmill where all you do is work, eat and sleep, is a crappy way to live. That’s why the four-day work-week is good for morale and worker happiness. Spending more time with family and friends, pursuing hobbies and interests outside of work, and engaging with the community are all things that boost well-being and keep employees, sane, focused and committed to their jobs.

Ryan Carlson of Treehouse says he finds his workers “invigorated and excited” when they come in after a three-day weekend. He also finds that it’s easier both to recruit and retain workers with a four-day work-week policy, because their lives are more balanced and they feel much happier.

4. Creates a healthier workforce.

For many Americans, going to see a doctor involves sneaking off in the middle of the workday, because there's no time outside of work to do it. Ironically, they probably need the doctor more because they spend so much time in the office.

John Ashton, a prominent physician in the U.K., has called for a switch to the four-day work-week [5] to reduce stress. Citing what he calls a “maldistribution of work” that is damaging people’s health, Ashton notes that problems like high-blood pressure and addiction could be improved by going to the four-day work-week.

Many of the health problems Americans face, like obesity, joint pain, sleep problems, and heart-related illnesses, are linked to too many hours spent sitting in chairs. Healthier workers means fewer sick days and a workforce that feels better and more energized.

5. Brings America into the 21st century.

The U.S. is out of step with the rest of the world when it comes to work. Our culture promotes overwork, which is why we rank 11th out of 33 [6] developed countries in how many hours we work each week.

We work longer hours than the Germans, Canadians, Dutch and Swedes, and yet somehow those countries manage to be highly productive. In the Netherlands, four-day work-weeks are pretty much the rule. Even the tiny African country of Gambia has public workers clocking in Monday through Thursday.

It’s high time Americans figured out what much of the world already knows: the shorter work-week is the wave of the future.



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July 22, 2014

Green High Design: More Steam for Less Solar

by @ 9:40 am. Filed under Green Energy, High Design, Solar

Sponge-like structure generates steam using lowest concentration of solar energy yet

A composite of graphite flakes and carbon foam is claimed to convert 85 percent of solar e...

A composite of graphite flakes and carbon foam is claimed to convert 85 percent of solar energy into steam

Image Gallery (2 images)

By Colin Jeffrey

SolidarityEconomy.net via Gizmag

July 22, 2014 - Researchers working at MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering claim to have produced a sponge-like substance that helps convert water to steam using sunlight one-hundredth as bright as that required by conventional steam-producing solar generators. A composite of graphite flakes layered on a bed of carbon foam, the new material is reported to convert as much as 85 percent of received solar energy into steam.

In practice, the scientists say that the graphite flakes and carbon foam composite that they've created forms a porous insulating material structure that floats on water. After a number of experiments, the scientists found that the best method to maximize heat retention properties in the top layer was to exfoliate (expand a material by heating so that it increases in volume and lowers in density) graphite by cooking it in a microwave, causing it to bubble and swell. The outcome is an exceedingly permeable top layer able to maximize absorption and retention of solar energy.

The bottom layer is fashioned from carbon foam containing hundreds of tiny pockets of air that keeps the material floating on the surface of the water, while also providing insulation that prevents heat escaping to the water underneath it. Most importantly for the generation of steam, the foam is also riddled with tiny pores that allow water – through capillary action from applied heat – to make its way up through the material.

(more...)

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