Bastian Schaefer is the Cabin and Cargo Innovation Manager at Airbus Operations — and leads a group of far-thinking engineers who are building out a concept plane. Previously at Airbus, he worked on the development of A380 stairs and components for in-flight entertainment. Between 2006 and 2011 Bastian worked at Bertrand Ingenieurbüro GmbH working on projects with C&D Zodiac Development A350XWB Lavatories, AT Kearney and EADS Technology Watch Consulting. He considers himself a mechanical engineer and has a special interest in cars.
Researchers at Stanford have developed the thinnest, most efficient solar cell yet. The wafer is dotted with trillions of round particles of gold, nanodots about 14 nanometers thick. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter.
More info >> http://tinyurl.com/mp7xe84“Achieving complete absorption of visible light with a minimal amount of material is highly desirable for many applications, including solar energy conversion to fuel and electricity. Our results show that it is possible for an extremely thin layer of material to absorb almost 100 percent of incident light of a specific wavelength.””�
— Stacey Bent, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford and co-author of the study
More info >> http://news.stanford.edu/news/2013/july/thinnest-light-absorber-071813.html
Image credit: EARTH-The Operators’ Manual
“The important thing is to not stop questioning.”
— Albert Einstein
By Katie Valentine on Jul 18, 2013 at 3:23 pm
(Credit: AP/Ajit Solanki)
American farmers aren’t usually seen as champions of climate causes — in fact, they’re often known for their climate change skepticism. But farmers across the country have begun standing up for clean energy mandates in their states because they see them as an opportunity for profit in an increasingly uncertain industry.
This year, at least 14 of the 29 states with renewable energy mandates, which require utility companies to purchase a certain amount of their energy from renewable sources, have considered bills to weaken or repeal the requirements, none of which have passed. That’s due in part to farmers, who have teamed up with environmentalists and other pro-green energy groups to push legislators to keep the mandates. Their voices, along with the voices of some local businesses and the prospect of new clean energy jobs, have made it difficult for local lawmakers to repeal the standards.
“It’s hard to be conservative when it affects your district,” Rep. Mike Hager, the majority whip in the North Carolina House, told the Wall Street Journal.
Farmers’ reasons for supporting the mandates are profit-based: some want to ensure they still have a healthy market for leasing their land to solar and wind companies, and others want to continue to harvest their animals’ waste as fuel. With the help of anaerobic digesters, hog farmers can capture the methane from pig waste and turn it into fuel, which they can use to power their equipment or sell to utility companies. North Carolina’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard requires utilities in the state to purchase .2 percent of their fuel from hog waste by 2018 and 900,000 MWh from poultry waste by 2015 — requirements chicken and hog farmers don’t want to lose.
But regardless of their reasons, supporting renewable energy mandates, and thus ensuring that states uphold that portion of climate mitigation, makes sense for farmers, who are increasingly threatened by the effects of climate change. The 2012 U.S. drought hit the farming industry hard, with ranchers forced to sell their cattle herds and corn, wheat and soybean farmers suffering serious crop losses. Many farmers aren’t doing much better this summer: in the Midwest, the drought that began last year has ended with torrential rains, which, according to the New York Times, have “drowned corn and soybean plants, stunted their growth or prevented them from being planted at all.” Extreme drought and wildfires in New Mexico have helped cut the state’s cattle herd by more than half since 2008, and nowthreaten traditional, small-scale ranching most of all.
The farmers’ choice to take sides with the renewable energy industry is also another example of the surprising alliances being formed in the fight for clean energy. Earlier this month, members of the Atlanta Tea Party worked with clean energy advocates to help pass a solar requirement for Georgia Power, the state’s utility provider. The Tea Partiers — which have historically been dismissive of climate change — saw the requirement not as an example of undue government regulation but as an expansion of consumer choice. The Georgia Public Service Commission passed the solar requirement last week.
You might be interested a team of Dutch students designed a family car that produces more solar energy than it uses. It feeds the rest back into the grid!
SHARE this image if you want to see young engineers build cars that don’t need Arctic oil.
Iowa City Press-Citizen: UI Teams Up with NASA to Better Predict Precipitation Via Satellites
A large crane drops the NASA Polarimetric antenna into place in Eastern Iowa near Waterloo for the Iowa Flood Studies campaign, which started May 1 and finishes Saturday. / Aneta Goska / Iowa Flood Center
By Tara Bannow
Iowa City Press-Citizen
NASA’s experts have been working with UI’s Iowa Flood Center since May 1 to collect ground data across Iowa — chosen for its tendency to flood — that ultimately will be paired with satellite data collected through NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) in an effort to take flood forecasting to a new level.
The researchers are measuring a number of characteristics in Iowa, such as the proportion of rainfall that does and does not infiltrate the ground — a factor determined by land use and soil properties — as well as the ability of river networks to determine the timing and extent of flooding, Witold Krajewski, director of the Iowa Flood Center, said in a video conference Tuesday afternoon at UI.
Iowa was a natural host for the so-called Iowa Flood Studies campaign, which wraps up Saturday, because of the amount of flooding the state has experienced over the years, Krajewski said. In 2008, flooding cost the state close to $10 billion and at the time ranked as the fifth costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, he said.
Since the flood center was established in 2009, it has improved water monitoring by developing a complex online mapping system that shows where flooding will occur in Iowa communities if the water reaches certain levels.
“Even now, as we’re in the middle of this campaign, we’ve got flooding over the last month across Iowa, including in Iowa City, where I’m speaking from,” Krajewski said. “Still, the rivers and streams are running high, which makes for a good case for a scientific study, but I wish the flooding would stop. We’ve had enough.”
NASA plans to launch its network of international satellites in February 2014. The satellites will provide rain and snow observations from space every three hours, data that NASA’s current technology provides only twice daily, said Walt Petersen, a NASA scientist currently working on the Iowa Flood Studies campaign from a base in the city of Traer just south of Waterloo.
The idea is to more accurately measure precipitation and predict flooding so that decision-makers can better prepare, Petersen said. Although they cause considerable damage in Iowa, floods have the largest impact on underdeveloped countries, he said.
“Tens of thousands of people annually lose their lives to flooding, the majority of that in the developing world,” Petersen said.
A major reason is because many areas don’t have the ability to provide warning to residents, something GPM is expected to help with, he said.
NASA is using advanced precipitation radar technology stretching roughly from Waterloo to Iowa City that scans the atmosphere and retrieves the size, shape and distribution of raindrops and rainclouds. Researchers also have installed a network of rain gauges in river basins across Iowa that will provide reference points for the radar. Once all of the information can be contrasted against data collected from space, it will provide the clearest predictions yet, Petersen said.
“It’s a local study with global applications,” he said.
Iowa has provided a range of weather for NASA’s researchers, Petersen said. When scientists first arrived to sample rain, they found themselves in the midst of a historic snowstorm, which was a great opportunity for data collection, he said.
When NASA began contemplating whether to host the project in Iowa, the state was experiencing a severe drought, Krajewski said. By contrast, scientists have seen very few days without rain in the past five or six weeks, he said.
“This has been an extremely busy campaign,” Krajewski said.