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Archive for March, 2013

Making Hydrogen From Artificial Photosynthesis

Is it really possible to produce hydrogen faster, cleaner, and more cheaply than from fossil fuels or electricity? Commercial hydrogen production is made from natural gas, but people have been experimenting with electrolysis cells for decades. Electrolysis is very lossy (around 40% efficiency), and using <20% efficient solar panels makes that even worse. Scientists are working on artificial photosynthesis cells that convert sunlight into hydrogen at much higher efficiencies than solar electric electrolysis.

We know it’s possible with semiconducting materials like the ones used in solar panels, but a different set of materials like platinum and silicon, to actually take those materials, and instead of covering them with electrical wires, we immerse the material in water. And adding sunlight, one can split that water and produce hydrogen gas and oxygen gas directly. You would collect the hydrogen, and then could use it later in a fuel cell. Or you could convert it into a liquid fuel, or use it for other things. You would then get the oxygen back from the air at the point of combustion of the hydrogen or the other fuel you made. We know this already works.


Trojan Battery Introduces Single-Point Watering System For Its Flooded Batteries

SANTA FE SPRINGS, Calif., March 20, 2013 — Trojan Battery Co., the world’s leading manufacturer of deep-cycle batteries, has launched a single-point battery watering system for its line of flooded batteries for renewable energy and backup power applications. The new watering system makes maintenance of Trojan’s deep-cycle flooded batteries faster, easier and safer.

Trojan’s single-point watering kit is designed to take the guess work and mess out of properly watering flooded batteries. The flexible tube routing allows the watering system to work with various battery bank sizes and configurations. It also features an automatic valve shut-off to control the electrolyte level within each cell which prevents overwatering. In addition, the kit enables users to fill their deep-cycle batteries without having to remove the vent covers, an important safety feature which reduces the chance for contact with the battery’s electrolyte.

“Proper maintenance and periodic watering are important factors in maximizing the performance and life of Trojan deep-cycle, flooded batteries,” said Bryan Godber, senior vice president for renewable energy at Trojan Battery. “With Trojan’s new single-point watering kit, precise battery watering is made easy and can fill a set of batteries in 30 seconds, saving valuable time and money.”

The single-point watering kit comes in three configurations to fit 12V, 24V and 48V battery models. The kits are designed for single string installations with Trojan Premium, Industrial and Signature lines of flooded batteries. For systems with multiple strings in parallel, additional kits can be added at the required system voltage.

About Trojan Battery Company
Trojan Battery Company is the world’s leading manufacturer of deep-cycle batteries, offering a complete portfolio of technologically-advanced deep-cycle flooded, AGM and gel batteries that provide maximum long-lasting performance to meet the requirements of today’s advancing renewable energy systems. Trojan Battery Company, founded in 1925, is ISO 9001:2008 certified with U.S.-based operations in California and Georgia. For more information, visit


70% Efficient Solar Panels?


Even the best silicon panels collect only about 20% of available solar radiation and they require additional devices to convert the energy to usable electricity. A new technique using nano-sized antenna arrays could theoretically harvest more than 70% of the energy in sunlight, but the technology required to build and test them has been lacking. These nano-antennas, called “rectennas” because they can both absorb solar radiation and rectify the radiation waveform to generate direct current, must operate at the frequency of visible light and be fabricated with the core set of electrodes just 1 or 2 nm apart.

A novel fabrication process called selective area atomic layer deposition (ALD) developed at the University of Connecticut offers a potential solution to this challenge. In a rectenna device, one of the two interior electrodes must have a sharp tip, similar to the point of a triangle. Using ALD the tip of the rectenna can be coated with layers of individual copper atoms until a gap of about 1.5 nm is achieved. The best that could be done with previous lithographic fabrication techniques was a separation about ten times the required value.

The gap size is critical because it forms an ultra-fast tunnel junction between the rectenna’s two electrodes, enabling maximum current transfer. The nano-sized gap gives energized electrons on the rectenna just enough time to tunnel to the opposite electrode before the potential reverses. The triangular tip of the rectenna makes it hard for the electrons to reverse direction, thus capturing the energy and rectifying it to direct current.

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Have Wood Will Travel – Complete Plans for the Keith Gasifier

waynekeithWayne Keith has built 5 trucks that run on wood. Each model is slightly more improved than the last. This V8 truck is the 5th generation. It has a series of vacuum gauges that provide information on performance of each part of the gasifier. This truck gets about 1 mile per pound of wood. Wayne has written his entire gasification experience into this book! Complete plans for the Keith gasifier include photos, diagrams, and detailed explanations of every step of the way.

Wayne Keith has spent a lot of time learning how woodgas works. He can answer all your questions and give detailed advice. We have a detailed video tutorial and some written material supporting it. Wayne documented his latest build in depth with video footage, and we’ve posted instructional videos from start to finish. You can follow along with Wayne, from selecting the materials all the way through firing up the truck the first time. Lots of folks have started building, some have completed trucks already. They are actively discussing their projects on the Premium-only Builders’ Discussion forum. Here you can see what folks like you have done and ask questions about the Keith gasifier. There’s also the Ask Wayne and Beta forums. Plus, all premium members get Wayne’s book FREE!


The Economic Impact of Living Green

Touro University Worldwide Takes a Look at How Living Greener Can Save Money and the Planet

Touro University Worldwide (TUW) recently announced the establishment of its newest program, a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management (BSBA). In honor of this announcement and with International Earth Day coming in April, we thought it was only fitting to discuss a topic that’s on everyone’s mind: how “living green” can impact your finances. Below are some suggestions that we put together on how you can reduce your carbon footprint and credit card bills.

· Turning down the Amount on Your Electricity Bills: With tuition fees and household bills, most online students are looking to save money any way they can. Something as simple as unplugging your appliances when you leave your residence can save cash. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average U.S. household spends about $1,900 a year on energy costs and 5% to 10% of this residential electricity comes from devices that are plugged in 24 hours a day.

· Recycling to Start Your Cash Flow Cycle: Recycling can be tough. We’ve all been tempted to throw our glass bottle in the trash bag when the blue recycle bin is only ten steps further. But trust us; the ten extra steps are worth it. There are many places where you can participate in “pay-as-you-throw” programs which will give you money back for each bottle. Some charities also accept bottles as donations which is a great way to give back to your community. If that isn’t motivation enough, recycling also has a huge impact on our economy. According to Recycling Revolution, “recycling creates 1.1 million U.S. jobs, $236 billion in gross annual sales and $37 billion in annual payrolls.”

· Washing Away Your Laundry Bills: Laundry can be expensive, especially if you live in a an apartment where you are paying for each individual wash and dry. By washing your clothes with cold water, you are saving money and the earth. According to World Watch Institute, “as much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water.” Hanging your clothes to dry will also save money and energy.

· Burning Away Calories and Car Bills: One of the great advantages of an online university is that you are saving money on travel cost, which in turn reduces carbon monoxide emissions. World Watch Institute recommends that you bike or walk to a place of study or work whenever possible. This is a great way to get your exercise, reduce car-costs even more, and save the planet. Several studies have shown that exercise also improves your ability to study and retain information, which is important for your college career.

The Bachelor of Science in Business Administration & Management degree provides students an opportunity to complete an undergraduate degree while advancing their career in the most efficient way. So this month, take the initiative to kick start your education and live greener!

Interested students should visit or call 888-586-5193 to learn how they can apply today.


The Off Grid DIY Wood Splitter

Growing up in a wood burning family, and having depended on wood stoves for heat and cooking myself as an adult, I’m always on the lookout for something to make the task of splitting wood safer, and easier. Some of you may remember a few years back when my glove got caught on a piece of wood, and pulled my hand into the gasoline driven hydraulic splitter. I still can’t use that finger.

When I came across this home built special, it intrigued me. The machine does most of the work, but the operator is in total control, with no fuel, no noise (except the wood cracking), and pretty low budget, both on funds, and labor. Enjoy!