‘Shade Balls’ Roll their Way into the Spotlight

by Samantha Englert

This past summer you may have noted that social media has been flooded with pictures and videos of black balls blanketing several California reservoirs, somewhat reminiscent of a massive playground pit filled with black plastic balls. You were probably wondering, what exactly am I looking at? These floating objects have been referred to in the news as bird balls, conservation balls, reservoir balls and floating ball blankets, yet the biologist from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power who developed this technology named them “Shade Balls.” So what are these Shade Balls? Continue reading

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

Semitrex launch promises to increase power supply energy efficiency, eliminate phantom load

by Trevor Smith

Laguna Beach-based technology startup Semitrex launched in February 2015, highlighting new power supply technology which aims to dramatically increase energy efficiency. (Energy Industry Today 2015). Semitrex’s innovation revolves around replacing the complex, multi-part power supply used in devices that require AC/DC conversion, including everything from televisions to washers and dryers, with microchips embedded with power supply circuits. The power supplies that can be replaced by the chips, aptly named Power Supply System on a Chip, currently require more than 50 discrete components from 14 different manufacturers (Semitrex 2015). By streamlining this process, Semitrex was able to fully redesign the way these power supplies work, creating a new chip that promises to increase energy efficiency and all but eliminate the phantom load ‘always-on’ devices drain from the grid. Continue reading