New storage cell for solar energy storage, nighttime conversion

All-Vanadium Photoelectrochemical Storage Cell’s

Article:  Science Daily

  1. In-use Technology

Reversible Electron Storage using All-Vanadium Photoelectrochemical Storage Cell’s (PECs) which allows developers to attain higher storage capacity in smaller units. The technology is designed for release of the stored electrons under dark conditions which continues solar energy storage, thus allowing for unintermittent storage around the clock.

  1. Sustainability Problem

Researchers have been making progress on scalable storage for solar energy, but one problem that persists is how to store and use energy from the sun even when it’s dark. Colossal solar energy conversion and storage studies using PECs have been undertaken in the past four decades; and now researchers at the University of Texas (UT) at Arlington have found a way to solve this issue with an all-vanadium photo-electrochemical flow cell that can store solar energy on a large scale, even at night. The innovation is an advancement over the most common solar energy systems that rely on using sunlight immediately as a power source. The ability to store solar energy and use it as a renewable alternative provides a sustainable solution to the problem of energy shortage with the capability of harnessing inexhaustible energy from the sun.

  1. Technology Stakeholders

The UT Arlington Research Team (developers of the technology), DOE, Utilities, Developers, PV Consumers/Manufacturers

  1. Process of Technology Implementation

The effort is a product of the 2013 National Science Foundation $400,000 Faculty Early Career Development grant and after multiple test and studies, the preliminary results proved the feasibility of this approach to store/release solar energy, even under dark conditions and showed that hydrogen tungsten bronze was responsible for the storage and release of photogenerated electrons from the semiconductor. The results also indicated an important synergy between electron storage and the all-vanadium electrolytes, which potentially offers great reversibility, high-capacity electron storage, and significant improvement in the photocurrent. Researchers are currently working on a larger prototype of the system to test how well it scales.

New Indoor Air Quality Devices

New Devices for Indoor Air Quality May Provide a Catalyst for Residential Efficiency

(1)  As we look increasingly to our homes as havens from a stressful world, the issue of indoor air quality has never been more critical. Technology companies are incorporating sound building science principles to offer real solutions to our specific needs. A few devices that may provide a catalyst for residential efficiency are:

  • Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm
  • Birdi
  • Netatmo Weather Station
  • CubeSensor
  • Alima
  • Withings Home

Detailed information about all of the products listed above can be found by clicking on this link: 6 Smart Interior Air Quality Monitors

(2)   Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a term referring to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. IAQ can be affected by gases (including carbon monoxide, radon, volatile organic compounds), particulates, microbial contaminants (mold, bacteria), or any mass or energy stressor that can induce adverse health conditions. According to health experts, these indoor pollutants can manifest themselves in symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, nasal congestion, headaches, tiredness, dizziness, and difficulty breathing. Additionally:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that indoor air pollutant levels may be two to five times higher than the pollutant levels outdoors.
  • Indoor air pollution is one of the top environmental concerns in the country.
  • Americans spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors.
  • Indoor air pollutants such as tobacco smoke, pollen, mold, dust and animal dander can create asthmatic and allergic reactions.

With new IAQ measurement tools, consumers are able to monitor the air quality in their homes and make the necessary changes to improve their quality of life.

(3)   EPA, Consumers, Homeowners, Building owners, Tenants, Everyone!

(4)   By applying and understanding measuring strategies, all of the costs and risks associated with poor IAQ can be transformed into benefits and opportunities. IAQ, either in new construction, renovation or in remediation, can translate to greater occupant health and safety, greater productivity, and decreased maintenance costs and liability. The processes to implement these strategies include:

  • Identifying and eliminating common contaminants,
  • Practicing source control,
  • Making wise choices of materials,
  • Following preventative strategies during construction and post-occupancy,
  • Providing good ventilation

Lastly, substantial energy savings can often be achieved by making IAQ upgrades. Upgrades also boost the value of on-site generation where applicable.

IBM Research Unveils Silicon Photonics Chip


(1) Modern wireless technology, whether it be cellular or Wi-Fi, allows a consumer with a smartphone, tablet or laptop to perform multiple useful tasks remotely: from controlling appliances to home security, climate control and lighting. Scientists at IBM have already began to develop systems that will analyze enormous amounts of data, store information in the cloud, and think more like a brain as opposed to like a standard computer.   The systems are being developed using silicon photonics that include:

  • Photonics- includes generation, emission, transmission, amplification, light detection and many more components
  • Silicon- a chemical element that can act as a semiconductor and in appearance has a crystalline, reflective with bluish-tinged faces
  • An Optical Medium- material through which electromagnetic waves propagate (in other words, a form of transmission)

(2) Many electronic manufacturers are actively researching silicon photonics to provide faster data transfer both between and within microchips by using optical interconnects. However, optical interconnect technology requires using pre-packaged transceivers that are larger and expensive which can limit their large-scale use. IBM and a few other parties instead proposed an integration scheme in which “the silicon photonic chips are treated similarly to ordinary silicon processor chips and are directly attached to the processor package without pre-assembling them into standard transceiver housings. This improves the performance and power efficiency of the optical interconnects while reducing the cost of assembly” according to the OFC report.

Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director of IBM Research said that “just as fiber optics revolutionized the telecommunications industry by speeding up the flow of data — bringing enormous benefits to consumers — we’re excited about the potential of replacing electric signals with pulses of light. This technology is designed to make future computing systems faster and more energy efficient, while enabling customers to capture insights from Big Data in real time.”

(3) Media, Technology and Telecommunication sectors, Entrepreneurs, Consumers

(4) Research has demonstrated what may be an important step toward commercializing this next generation of computing technology. They established a method to integrate silicon photonic chips with the processor in the same package, avoiding the need for transceiver assemblies.

This new technique has been presented at this year’s OFC Conference and Exposition and should lower the cost, increase the performance and size of future data centers, super computers and cloud systems while making them more energy efficient.

Sustainable Food Carts in NYC


Article Link:

1)      The conversion of sunlight into electricity using solar photovoltaic (PV) technology has been gradually evolving since the first solar cell was produced in the 1950’s. There are various concepts that deliver relatively high-efficiency solar modules for the market, and as the cost-per-watt of a solar panel is dropping, the evolution in photovoltaic technology is also progressing.

Compressed natural gas (CNG) is a readily available alternative gasoline that is made by compressing natural gas to less than 1% of its volume at standard atmospheric pressure. CNG is produced both worldwide and domestically at relatively low cost and is cleaner burning than gasoline or diesel fuel.

Combine these innovations with battery storage, electric grid connection capability, a food cart and hungry customers and you have yourself the MRV100 food cart designed by MOVE Systems.

2)      Also known as “The City That Never Sleeps,” New York City is known for its many Broadway theatres, electric billboards, skyscrapers, shopping, and restaurants to name a few. In New York City, and many other areas around the world, there is a growing concern about the increase of harmful greenhouse gases (GHG). GHG are gases that trap heat in the atmosphere and accompany Global Warming Potentials as well as public health hazards.

NYC has approximately 5,000 licensed food carts that provide a wide variety of food to residents and tourists every day. The issue is not the food (in most cases), it’s the portable electric generators powered by gasoline or diesel fuels to meet the energy demands of the cart. Generally speaking, these generators produce large quantities of health-threatening GHG emissions such as nitrous oxides (NOx) carbon monoxide and particulate matter.

Compared to conventional food carts, the MRV100 can significantly improve environmental and public health impacts associated with the mobile food industry in NYC and other parts of the world.

3)      Stakeholders: Vendors, Customers, Cart Owners, Sponsors, Advertisers, Local Utility, DEP, EPA

4)      The pilot program will launch this summer and 100 of the first carts will be funded by MOVE and reserved for disabled veterans according to the report. Additionally, 400 carts will be awarded to vendors that sign up for this sponsored pilot program. GPS monitoring stations will be placed in each cart to ensure business is running smoothly, and not running away.

Targeted Demand Management Solutions: Hybrid Electric Buildings


Advanced Microgrid Solutions Raises $8.8M for Hybrid Electric Buildings

Article Link:

  1. Southern California Edison (SCE) is taking a novel approach with technology-agnostic company Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS).  AMS will equip buildings with battery technology and advanced energy management systems, which will be aggregated as a fleet and then used to shift load during peak times or provide ancillary services on the grid. Each installation is controlled by the utility. AMS will own and operate storage on behalf of utilities, while building owners benefit from lower demand charges and a cost-free upgrade to its energy profile.
  2. The California Public Utilities Commission had ordered SCE to fill about one-third of its megawatts with “preferred resources” (which essentially is anything but fossil fuel) to help replace the shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant, as well as several once-through water-cooled natural gas-fired power plants set to close in the coming years. The simple solution would be to build new gas-fired power plants; however there are air-quality constraints that make this challenging. This technology would provide buildings with the opportunity to store and manage their own electricity with zero-emissions while providing grid support to utilities.
  3. Stakeholders include: Local Regulatory Agencies; Local Energy Utilities; Commercial and Industrial Business Owners; Third Party Vendors (Contractors, Consultants, Electricians etc.)
  4. The first steps are to submit a Request for Information (RFI) to the local utility, and identify targeted buildings where electric utilities need grid support; after which AMS analyzes energy usage, rate structure, and technologies available to maximize utility programs efforts to:
  • Reduce Energy Waste
  • Lower Energy Costs
  • Increase Revenue from Demand Response Programs

According to the article, “The first 10-megawatt hybrid-electric building project will be in Irvine, Calif. and is expected to be completed late in 2016.”