And here are just a few:
A IBM Research group is developing a High Concentration PhotoVoltaic Thermal (HCPVT) system. that will both generate considerably more electrical power and be more resistant to damage via overheating. In addition to converting 80% of the radiation collected & producing 25kW of electricity, it includes a water cooling system that is used to keep the dish cool enough to operate optimally, and the water in this cooling system can be filtered for drinking water or simply reused. There have been no announcements regarding mass production but IBM acknowledges that this system would have a production cost 3x LOWER than similar systems! And there’s the added bonus of safe drinking water for potentially remote yet solar-friendly locations!
Qatar’s Sahara Forest Project is paving the way for sustainable system feedbacks by using the waste products of on scheme to power another. By focusing on abundant local resources (seawater, sand and sunlight) the project aims to produce food, fresh water & clean energy. How? Seawater from the Persian Gulf is pumped in and used to maintain proper temperature & humidity levels in the greenhouses & also to grow the algae used for biofuel production with any residual seawater being used in a process that produces animal feed. Some seawater is also transformed into drinking water via solar-powered desalination! While this project is incredibly promising it is also quite costly, however it will provide valuable lessons that will shape the way that many inhospitable areas can cope and develop sustainably in the wake of Climate Change… possibly, hopefully, for the better.
Research into low- cost lithium sulfur batteries are now moving towards developments that could offer 4x the energy storage of lithium-ion batteries (YAY!!). Sulfur based batteries are safer as they are more stable than lithium ion batteries and thus less prone to accidental fires…. in addition sulfur is WIDELY abundant as it is a waste product of many industrial practices--which also means it is CHEAP!! More energy, (that's safer & easier to produce) AND it's cheap!? SCORE! This is fantastic, especially since few are willing to part with their mp3 players, cameras, Remote controls and, more importantly, your cell phones!
IN OTHER ECO-NEWS: Apple has recently hired Lisa Jackson (Former EPA Chief) to be its new Vice President for Environmental Initiatives. Time will tell if her edition will lead the way in technological companies greening their companies and practices or if it is simple a PR move.
*For those of you particularly into environmentally savvy technological advances, trends and research I suggest going to EcoGeek where you can find these stories and MANY more.