ORNL Creates Low Cost Energy Sensors

by Mariah Valerie Barber

Oak Ridge National Library, the largest US Department of Energy science research laboratory has created new low-cost wireless sensor technology that can be used to monitor the energy consumed by commercial buildings (Ornl.gov). Currently, buildings consume 40% of all energy being consumed in the United States. Most commercial buildings poorly monitor and control their energy consumption. For example, systems in commercial buildings such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and electricity often are under controlled and unmonitored. These new sensors have the potential to reduce the energy consumption of buildings by 20-30% (Physics.org). Continue reading

Clean Current Utilizes Marine Tidal Turbines to Produce Renewable Energy

by Mariah Valerie Barber

Clean Current Power Systems Incorporated is a private company based in British Columbia that focuses on hydrokinetic power generation. Specializing in marine energy engineering, Clean Current was the first company to use a tidal turbine or marine turbine energy. Clean Current’s tidal turbine utilizes the same basic framework used by the standard river in-stream turbine, only the company has incorporated bi-directional technology that allows the turbine to change directions automatically depending on the movement and direction of the tides. Clean Current’s tidal turbines are predicted to last up to 25 years and are able to be placed in marine areas from 7 to 25 meters in depth. Continue reading

Coolerado’s Air Conditioners Save Energy With HMX Technology

by Mariah Valerie Barber

During the 2015 AHR Expo that took place January 26-28, 2015, Coolerado received the “AHR Expo Innovation Award,” for their new innovative air-cooling technology. Coolerado, an energy company based in Denver, Colorado, has created air conditioners that use a tenth of the energy used by the most commonly used air conditioners or 90% less energy used by the regular air conditioners. Coolerado utilizes its patented heat and mass exchanger (HMX) and fresh air to create cool air, rather than the chemical refrigerants, compressors, and recycled air used by traditional air conditioners. By using fresh air and HMX technology Coolerado both reduces the amount of energy being used and provides the user of its products with cleaner, healthier air (Coolerado.com). Continue reading

Solazyme Agal Biofuel Production in the United States

by Mariah Valerie Barber

In early February 2014, in Galva, Iowa at the American Natural Products (ANP) facility and in Clinton, Iowa, at the Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), Solazyme, Inc., began its commercial production of algal biofuel and oil. Solazyme, a San Francisco based firm utilizes microalgae, which it refers to as “the world’s original oil producer,” in order to produce biofuel (Solazyme.com). Solazyme creates oil from microalgae by a process of industrial fermentation, during which the microalgae is not fed with solar energy, but with sugar, which results in the production oil. Using industrial fermentation speeds up the natural chemical processes, which algae undergo. Once the microalgae produce the oil, the oil is extracted and made ready for commercial use. Even before the facilities in Iowa opened, Solazyme has had facilities in both Peoria and Orindiúva, Brazil. Peoria has the capacity to manufacture 2,000 metric tons of oil per year whereas the new facilities now are each able to produce 100,000 metric tons of oil per year (Clean Technica.com). Solayzme, which claims to be the first oil producer, has potential to drastically transform the oil industry and its reliance on fossil fuels. Continue reading

BrightSource’s Ivanpah CPS Bird Fatalities Controversy

by Mariah Valerie Barber

In February 2014, nearly a year ago, BrightSource Energy, Inc.’s Ivanpah concentrating social power (CSP) plant officially opened in Southern California’s Mojave Desert, after four years of construction. The Ivanpah power plant uses heliostat, software controlled mirror technology to concentrate the sun’s solar rays and direct them to a water tower. The concentrated sunlight is then reflected onto boilers that create steam which is used to generate power by utilizing a turbine (http://www.brightsourceenergy.com/how-it-works#.VMgGAHDF8lQ). Ivanpah is currently the world’s largest concentrated solar plant, occupying around five square miles, with 173,500 large “garage-door” sized heliostat mirrors directed to central power towers. BrightSource developed Ivanpah and is now partially owned by Google and NRG Energy. Currently Ivanpah is working towards reaching its full energy producing capacity. Once Ivanpah is operating at full capacity it will be able to generate 140,000 homes annually. Continue reading