Monthly Archives: June 2011

Samsung introduces first solar-powered laptop

The Russian branch of Samsung has developed the first, commercially available solar-powered laptop, that could offer battery life of up to 14.5 hours. It is said to be initially only available in Russia.

The NC215S netbook incorporates a solar panel into the lid which charges a six-cell battery equipped with PowerPlus technology to provide extended running times. The computer needs 2 hours of sunlight exposure to provide 1 hour of working battery life. The laptop also has an LED backlit display that Samsung says is 50 percent brighter than that of an average notebook, which helps consumers when using the product outdoors. If the battery is fully charged it will reportedly last for a maximum of 14.5 hours. The 10.1-inch 1024 x 600 pixel display is appropriately designed for use in direct sunlight. It has 1GB of memory, and will be powered by a 1.66 GHz Intel Atom N570 dual core processor.

Samsung has previously established interest in solar power. The company launched a mobile phone using the technology in 2009 at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona. Although the ‘Blue Earth’ device did not mark a breakthrough for the technology, it has increasingly also been used by other manufacturers – Fujitsu has also been examining the technology as part of a recent computing design competition.

Maximum performance with minimum emissions of CO2 is the main idea embodied in the NC215S. The Russian release is set for early August, 2011, while other internet sources report that Samsung will also introduce the netbook in the US on July 3, 2011. The estimated retail price has been set for 13,999 Rubels, which is approximately $500 US dollars.

Via: and

Power grid of a whole town on a single chip?

A research team from Switzerland’s EPFL Electronics Lab has come up with a tiny chip that can manage power grid network issues as much as 1000x faster than current available software. The first demonstration of this technology will be done at the forthcoming EPFL Middle East research days (June 22-23).

Our current power grid is vunerable to problems like defective power lines, problems with generators, or risks of power cuts. They can now be handled by the newly developed device. The chip, that is only 44 mm thick, is a thousand times faster than current software running on a conventional computer. Apparently it is so fast that it can, not only manage defects, but also model thousands of failure scenarios and figure out the best solutions before they happen. The research team at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, led by Maher Kayal, says the tiny chip costs just a few dollars to make, but can take in real time information and make subtle changes in energy consumption that can save huge amounts of money and electricity.

École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne

EPFL’s chip could also easily integrate grid-connected renewable energy sources, which are already become increasingly more common nowadays. When renewables are available–which isn’t all the time–the chip can automatically prioritize them. “Apart from the increased speed, a further advantage will be an easier use of renewable energy sources that depend on climatic conditions, and therefore are non-programmable, in comparison with nuclear energy power stations, which require advance planning,” says Maher Kayal of ELab in a statement.

The first unit of this integrated circuit has just been developed and could be deployed on the scale of a town five years from now.


For more info, see: EPFL Middle East

Van Gogh painting goes live at the National Gallery

In London’s Trafalgar Square this past week, a re-creation of Van Gogh’s famous painting, A Wheatfield, With Cypresses (1889), was installed outside the National Gallery. The Gallery is also in the process of reducing its carbon footprint by installing a GE Jenbacher cogeneration heat and power engine. This will meet much of the Gallery’s power and heating needs.

The project is a collaboration between the National Gallery and General Electric and helps the museum to reduce it’s carbon footprint 43 percent by 2015. Situated on hoarding on the western side of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, the painting will be grown throughout the summer and autumn, remaining in place until the end of October 2011. Over 25 sort of flora are used for the “live” painting which will insulates the museum and lower the outside air temperature.

General Electrics will also be donating one of its environmentally friendly Jenbacher cogeneration heat and power engines, which will allow the Gallery to reduce its carbon emissions further. Jenbacher engines have the added function of utilizing waste heat, an innovation that increases overall plant efficiencies by more than 90 percent. The engine will account for 40 percent in energy savings. In April of this year, the National Gallery became the first art institution to switch to exclusively LED lighting.

Via: Earth and Industry

Australian researchers aim to make wind farms less noisy

Researchers from the University of Adelaide’s School of Mechanical Engineering are studying the cause of windturbine noise, to make them quieter and in turn will not bother people living in the surroundings.

The Adelaide scientists, led by research leader Dr. Con Doolan, say wind turbines generate “trailing edge or airfoil noise,” the same kind of noise generated at the edge of aircraft wings. They found that wind turbine noise is very directional. Someone living at the base might not have a problem but 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away, it might be keeping them awake at night. Known as wind turbine syndrome, the noise generated by wind turbines can affect people who are kilometres away, causing complaints including headaches, insomnia, anxiety and dizziness.

Doolan and his team are now developing a computer model to predict the noise output from wind farms so they can accurately and quickly assess the effectiveness of noise-reducing designs and control methods. He explains: “”We know generally what causes that noise – as the turbulent air flows over the sharp edge of the blade it radiates sound much more efficiently, so the noise can be heard at some distance. What we don’t yet understand, however, is exactly how that turbulence and blade edge, or boundary layer, interact and how that makes the noise louder.

“If we can understand this fundamental science, we can then look at ways of controlling the noise, through changing the shape of the rotor blades or using active control devices at the blade edges to disrupt the pattern of turbulence and so reduce the noise.” He adds: “as we move towards more renewable energy sources, we can expect to see more wind farms in the future. That means more people will be exposed to wind farms, so we need to understand why some people are more affected than others. With the right funding we could get some definitive results in two to three years which will help us plan better wind farms in the future.”

via: ABC Science