Batteries Out of Plants? On the Horizon

The ubiquitous little –and not so little– battery on which much of our world depends could be getting a very nifty heart transplant if researchers at Rice are to be believed.

 …researchers at Rice University say they have found a way to replace a costly metallic component in lithium-ion batteries with material from a common plant.

Many of today’s lithium-ion batteries incorporate cobalt, which has to be mined and then altered at high temperature. But Rice researchers say they can accomplish the same function using a dye extracted from a plant.




You could probably grow madder at home as easily as marijuana, but it’s not going to be so easy to make the dye and fabricate the little charge-storage unit.  Even so, what a great turn of events it would be to cut back on cobalt mining and extraction.

Honda Hybrid Ready

This reads like a press release from Honda Corp, but what the heck. Replacing the world wide automotive stock with hybrids would be a major step in reducing CO2 emissions and Toyota with its Prius isn’t going to get us there alone, even as it adds a plugin hybrid. If you’ve been considering a hybrid and haven’t been able to crack the Prius price nut, this might be worth looking at. The Ford Fusion hybrid appears not to be ready until 2010 (which might mean the fall of 2009). Other contenders appearing in force at the Detroit Auto show.

Of course, Detroit continues it’s bull-headed stupidity by awarding Hyundai the Car of the Year award for a luxury V-8

Solar Car Circles the Globe

Just in time for the December Poznan Climate Conference, Swiss inventor, Louis Palmer completed his round-the-world solar powered trip.

Palmer, a teacher on leave from his job, spent 17 months driving his own creation — a fully solar-powered car built with the help of Swiss scientists — through 38 countries. The two-seater travels up to 55 mph (90 kph) and covers 185 miles (300 kilometers) on a fully charged battery.

“This is the first time in history that a solar-powered car has traveled all the way around the world without using a single drop of petrol,” he said, adding that he lost only two days to breakdowns.

Ocean Currents Can Power the World


“A revolutionary device that can harness energy from slow-moving rivers and ocean currents could provide enough power for the entire world, scientists claim.

The system, conceived by scientists at the University of Michigan, is called Vivace, or “vortex-induced vibrations for aquatic clean energy”.

Michael Bernitsas, a professor of naval architecture at the university, said it was based on the changes in water speed that are caused when a current flows past an obstruction. Eddies or vortices, formed in the water flow, can move objects up and down or left and right.

The new device, which has been inspired by the way fish swim, consists of a system of cylinders positioned horizontal to the water flow and attached to springs.

As water flows past, the cylinder creates vortices, which push and pull the cylinder up and down. The mechanical energy in the vibrations is then converted into electricity.”