Friday, June 21, 2013

Gone in 90 Seconds: Tesla's Battery-Swapping Magic - Businessweek

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Elon Musk: Tesla to demo battery swap technology on Thursday — Tech News and Analysis

Charge Your Phone for Free at One of These Solar-Powered Stations | Gadget Lab |

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Supermaterial That Could Make Plastic Obsolete Is... Mushrooms?

Fungus is, almost universally, not a good thing to have in your walls or personal belongings. And normally, selling certain strains could lead to federal charges. But a company called Ecovative is violating both of those rules, creating packaging and building materials from fungus—and they’re being lauded as visionaries for it.
Ecovative was founded by Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre, who started experimenting with fungus as part of a school project. Today, they employ 60 people and maintain a massive facility in upstate New York, where they farm mycelium, the root-like threads that form the basis for fungus. Mycelium is like a glue: it latches onto whatever it finds around it—usually, low-value organic matter like plant stalks or cotton hulls—to create a super-dense network of threads. Ecovative grows it in dark cartons for three to five days, after which they use extreme heat to stop it from blossoming spores. “Spores come from the fruiting body or mushroom,” explains Ecovative’s Sam Harrington. “Since we don't grow the mycelium for long enough to 'fruit' to form a mushroom, there are never any spores or allergen concerns with our process."
The Supermaterial That Could Make Plastic Obsolete Is... Mushrooms?Expand
Ecovative's process is transformative in two ways. First, there's the unique biological properties of Mycelium, which can grow miles of thread-like roots in days. It's an incredibly speedy organism, which makes it ideal for manufacturing. Then there's the fact that it grows to fit any mold, almost like a dense foam. Ecovative grows everything from finely detailed packaging for laptops, to wide panels of insulation for homes. They're also able to control the density of each product, simply by stopping the growth process sooner or later. Their latest experiment? Growing Mycelium architecture. This month, they unveiled what they call Mushroom Tiny House, a small gabled cabin whose interior walls are packed with Mycelium insulation. “We see a future where Mushroom Materials are found in the bumper of your car, the walls of your home, and inside your desk,” says Harrington.
The biggest challenge with scaling their burgeoning fungus operation is likely the public perception of its products. Organically-grown packaging is usually seen as coup for companies’ marketing teams, but it’s less so for those on the logistics side of things. Still, that’s rapidly changing. This year, Ecovative is partnering with Sealed Air Corporation, the 50-year-old company that invented bubble wrap, to open a factory in Iowa where they'll scale their packaging output. They’re also in talks with several electronics makers to grow Mycelium packaging for laptops and tablets. "We have tested these materials in environmental chambers under extreme conditions as well as several years of shipping packaging and we have not found mold to be an issue at all," says Harrington.
The Supermaterial That Could Make Plastic Obsolete Is... Mushrooms?Expand
Harrington, tellingly, situates Ecovative as the latest in a long line of great American chemical and materials giants. “Dow and Dupont spent the last 100 years turning petroleum and natural gas into all sorts of amazing plastics and materials,” he says. “[But] usually with not so amazing environmental consequences. We aim to be this centuries leader in sustainable materials.” Companies like Dow and Dupont have past hundred years developing chemicals to prevent mold. Now, Ecovative is poised to spend the next hundred years encouraging it.
The Supermaterial That Could Make Plastic Obsolete Is... Mushrooms?
The Supermaterial That Could Make Plastic Obsolete Is... Mushrooms?
The Supermaterial That Could Make Plastic Obsolete Is... Mushrooms?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Massive Energy Skyscraper Proposed On U.S.-Mexico Border

From the Article:

A Maryland energy company is planning to deliver 500 megawatts of power to the electrical grid from a giant hollow tower on the Arizona-Mexico border that would be the second-tallest structure ever built.
The project does seem farfetched, and the company’s stock is trading at a penny a share, down from a high of 32 cents two years ago. But Sharon Williams, the director of development services for the city of San Luis, said the company’s professionalism bespoke a certain seriousness.

Massive Energy Skyscraper Proposed On U.S.-Mexico Border

Your Energy Skyscraper Questions, Answered

Tesla boosting its charging network

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Tesla to introduce new $30,000 compact sedan as EV company expands its charging network

Generating Power from Old Automotive Batteries

By David Greenfield, Director of Content (of Automation industry shows are rarely lacking in cool, new technologies to showcase. And while several intriguing new products were on display in Orlando, Fla., at ABB’s Automation & Power World 2013, one of the displays I found most interesting was at the ABB Energy Storage Module (ESM) booth.

ESM was presenting a community energy storage (CES) system comprised of two enclosures that separately house the ABB ESI-S inverter and five GM Chevy Volt batteries. The batteries, which have been in use in the Volt for 8 to 10 years, are capable of holding only 70 percent of their full charge, thereby making them less viable for automotive use. But that remaining capacity, which can discharge power over the span of several hours, has definite benefits as a stationary storage application.

Scientific Reports: Peel-and-Stick: Fabricating Thin Film Solar Cell on Universal Substrates

Fabrication of thin-film solar cells (TFSCs) on substrates other than Si and glass has been challenging because these nonconventional substrates are not suitable for the current TFSC fabrication processes due to poor surface flatness and low tolerance to high temperature and chemical processing. Here, we report a new peel-and-stick process that circumvents these fabrication challenges by peeling off the fully fabricated TFSCs from the original Si wafer and attaching TFSCs to virtually any substrates regardless of materials, flatness and rigidness. With the peel-and-stick process, we integrated hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) TFSCs on paper, plastics, cell phone and building windows while maintaining the original 7.5% efficiency. The new peel-and-stick process enables further reduction of the cost and weight for TFSCs and endows TFSCs with flexibility and attachability for broader application areas. We believe that the peel-and-stick process can be applied to thin film electronics as well.