Living Sustainably

Aquaponics | Rain Harvesting | Composting | Other Green Products

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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DIY Solar Bottle Lights

So here’s the scenario. From Brazil, to the Philippines (in any direction), we have very poor people around the world who cannot afford, or do not have access to, electric lights. They live in crowded, dark conditions, and need light. You have some very bright, enterprising locals who have an idea, or heard about an idea, and know a good thing when they see it. They are now in business bringing light where it didn’t exist, or was very expensive to provide. A soda bottle, water, and a bit of bleach can provide an equivalent amount of light as a 50 watt light bulb.


Eco Friendly Showers

We recently obtained a new shower head. Now I know it’s hard to get excited about a shower head, but when you find a good one, a good shower is the only way to start the day. This particular unit saves on water (save more by showering with a friend), yet still provides a wonderful water soaking experience. Good flow, good pressure, and very invigorating. It has 5 water settings, and is direction adjustable.

  • 5 Different Spray Patterns
  • 4″ Spray Head with Extra Wide Coverage
  • Anti-Clog Nozzles
  • Solid Brass Fittings

Read more about the Monarch Maximum Flow Eco-Friendly Showerhead at


Green Trust changes caretakers

My term is up, I’ve been recalled. It’s with sadness that I leave upstate NY, as work has pulled me in a different direction. The good news is that Green Trust is being left in capable hands. I’ll introduce the new caretaker and researcher next week, so stay tuned.

Another sad note. This evening, amidst a great fireworks show out the tailpipe, the veggiegen groaned to a stop. The high temperature paint burned off the exhaust manifold near the #2 cylinder. I’m guessing, without disassembly, that we lost an exhaust valve. Not to worry, a rebuild kit will be ordered, and the veggiegen will breath again!