Coupled Water Tower/Wind Turbine Controller
Andras Tanczos
Helsinki, Finland


altA jointed water tower/wind turbine controller stores wind energy in the water towers of the drinking water network. At strong winds, the extra electrical energy generated by the wind turbine can be used to pump water into the water tower. When there is no wind, this energy can be released with a hydro-turbine, and the water goes back to the wells. The pump of the water tower and the hydro-turbine are used to control the water level in the reservoir. The electricity from the wind turbine is used for pumping the water or for supplying the electrical grid. The controller can also be installed on existing water towers and water tanks placed on top of buildings.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 8th Sept 2009


Plastic Solar Cells For Electronic Devices

Currently silicon-based solar cells are flooding the market. Industry pundits can foresee a hopeful future for low-cost, flexible solar cells. If we can make solar devices other than silicon based materials then they can be used for all sorts of applications beyond just the traditional solar panels on house rooftops. It will be great if we can have solar cells for portable electronic devices too.

Luping Yu, Professor in Chemistry, and Yongye Liang, a Ph.D. student, both at the University of Chicago, and five co-authors are working to develop a new semiconducting material called PTB1, which converts sunlight into electricity. The University accredited the patent rights to the technology to Solarmer last September. The license covers numerous polymers under development in Yu’s laboratory, confirmed by Matthew Martin. He is a project manager at University of ChicagoTech, the University’s Office of Technology and Intellectual Property. A patent is pending.

Solarmer Energy Inc. is spreading its wings in this direction. They are willing to incorporate technology invented at the University of Chicago. The commercial-grade prototype will be completed at the end of this year. It will be eight square inches with a lifetime of three years. This plastic solar device will have the efficiency of eight percent. This eight percent efficiency will give an edge to the Solarmer Energy Inc. over its competitors. Dina Lozofsky, vice president of IP development and strategic alliances at Solarmer states, “Everyone in the industry is in the 5 percent to 6 percent range.”

The active layer of PTB1 is around 100 nanometers in thickness, and the width is nearly 1,000 atoms. If we want to produce a small amount of the PTB1 material it will take considerable amount of time, and the whole procedure will be multi-step process. But, still the biggest advantage of this technology lies in its simplicity. Several products are being synthesized in other laboratories in the U.S., but the competitive advantage lies in the steps of production too. Other devices need far more extensive engineering work for commercial viability. “We think that our system has potential,” Yu said. “The best system so far reported is 6.5%, but that’s not a single device. That’s two devices.”

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 1st July 2009