We had a great Conference on Future
Energy (COFE8) a few weeks ago in
Albuquerque NM and will have a short report on it in next month's
FE eNews, when the DVDs are also being released. In the meantime,
DVDs from the concurrent ExtraOrdinary Technology Conference are
already available. This month I took advantage of an Amazon
offer to create an Author Page which is
now live. All of my books, their customer reviews, some authored
reports, and one interview, are all in one place for the first
time! Even the announcement of my presentation at the World Energy
Engineering Conference (WEEC) on September
22is listed. If you are in the DC area, here is a link to a FREE
pass for the WEEC Expo, which
is a huge exhibition and the best part of the show, in my
For those concerned about
climate change with the rise of temperature (hottest year on
record), bigger forest fires and extreme weather events, there is
hope with our Story #1 published in Science. To be privileged to
announce the energy breakthrough everyone thought was impossible
is a great honor. But yes folks, a bionic leaf now
exceeds chlorophyll in efficiency with a "true artificial
photosynthesis system." Harvard University must be
proud to know that the new solar system can be used
to generate usable fuels and actually make "any
carbon-based molecule" like a bio-plastic for example, with
10 percent efficiency, which is ten times better than nature. It
also can "self-heal". Take a look at the video and
related article links below. Truly a breakthrough .
But what about our waste
products? Our Story #2 addresses that difficult subject with two
new trademarked processes, BioVolt™ and
EcoVolt, each of which produce ELECTRICITY from
waste using proprietary strains of Geobacter and another microbe
to "liberate electrons as they respire." Leveraging
newly-discovered, energy-generating biological processes, BioVolt
treats wastewater with zero electrical input from the grid for
aeration. These constitute "microbial fuel cells" and
we have added three of the most valuable links below in Related
Stories to show how New Scientist has reported on this subject,
as well as give students a chance to build their own microbial
fuel cell with video instructions. Cambrian
Innovation.com expects their BioVolt system, developed with
the US Army, to revolutionize waste water processing by reducing
energy and water use. On June 7, 2016, the Army announced its
test of Cambrian's advanced
BioVolt system for off-grid applications
For the bioenergetics
fans, our Story #3 is great and a follow-up to a detailed slide
presentation at COFE7 by Mike Weiner, an Advisory Board Member of
IRI, on Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT) to heal
traumatic brain injury and even Alzheimer's. With an excellent
breadth of research results, Mike's new book, The Light: How Low Level
Light Therapy (LLLT) healed my Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and
the Struggle to Deliver this Remedy to those with Alzheimer's
Disease, is an amazing achievement as well as a wonderful
resource for a number of effective new bioenergetic light
therapies. It even examines blood irradiation with UV light
combined with red and green wavelengths, which has shown to have
a number of well-established benefits for the skin. Published by
CreateSpace, an Amazon company, it is a full-color easy-to-read
masterpiece well worth the affordable $19.95 price tag. Order online
Story #4 is an exciting reprint
from MIT's Technology Review which summarizes the new cheaper
lithium-ion batteries by "24M", a company founded by an
MIT professor of materials science. Fortunately, the company is
already in production and seeks to scale up its size in the next
two years to compete with fossil-fuel burning vehicles.
Of course, we could not resist
following that with Story #5 that promotes the new Study which
shows that 87% of our travel needs are already covered
by the range of electric vehicles presently on the road! A
related article also states that our "range anxiety"
over electric cars is overblown. When an average electric car can
get 150 miles per charge, the Trancik Lab Study proved that most
of our driving needs can be met by electric vehicles, especially
with 10,000 charging stations nationwide.
Story #6 promotes our sister
nonprofit organization, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) which always
has great environmental and energy solutions available to
industry and municipalities. www.rmi.org is
the place to go for the future efficiency ideas related to energy
use. RMI just released a new report, "An Integrative
Business Model for Net Zero Energy Districts," which shows
that rather than being capital intensive, Net Zero Energy
Districts can be a "significant value driver." Their
example is a 180-acre development in a midsize US city, with a
four step process for its achievement with on-site renewable
energy and a local electric grid, which IRI also promotes for
sustainability and survivability reasons.
Our Best Selling nano
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1) Bionic Leaf Turns Sunlight
Into Liquid Fuel
By Peter Ruell, Harvard Gazette
New system surpasses efficiency of photosynthesis
"This is a true artificial photosynthesis
system," Daniel Nocera said of the Patterson Rockwood
Professor of Energy at Harvard University. "Before, people
were using artificial photosynthesis for water-splitting, but
this is a true A-to-Z system, and we've gone well over the
efficiency of photosynthesis in nature."
While the study shows the system can be used to
generate usable fuels, its potential doesn't end there, said
Silver, who is also a founding core member of the Wyss
Institute at Harvard University.
"The beauty of biology is it's the world's
greatest chemist - biology can do chemistry we can't do
easily," she said. "In principle, we have a platform
that can make any downstream carbon-based molecule. So this has
the potential to be incredibly versatile."
Dubbed "bionic leaf 2.0," the new system
builds on previous work by Nocera, Silver, and others, which -
though it was capable of using solar energy to make isopropanol -
faced a number of challenges. Chief among those, Nocera said, was
the fact that the catalyst used to produce hydrogen - a
nickel-molybdenum-zinc alloy - also created reactive oxygen
species, molecules that attacked and destroyed the bacteria's
DNA. To avoid that, researchers were forced to run the system at
abnormally high voltages, resulting in reduced efficiency.
"For this paper, we designed a new
cobalt-phosphorous alloy catalyst, which we showed does not make
reactive oxygen species," Nocera said. "That allowed us
to lower the voltage, and that led to a dramatic increase in
The system can now convert solar energy to biomass
with 10 percent efficiency, Nocera said, far above the 1 percent
seen in the fastest-growing plants.
In addition to increasing the efficiency, Nocera and
colleagues were able to expand the portfolio of the system to
include isobutanol and isopentanol. Researchers also used the
system to create PHB, a bio-plastic precursor, a process first
demonstrated by Professor Anthony Sinskey of MIT.
The new catalyst also came with another advantage -
its chemical design allows it to "self-heal," meaning
it wouldn't leach material into solution."This is the genius
of Dan," Silver said. "These catalysts are totally
Though there may yet be room for additional
increases in efficiency, Nocera said the system is already effective
enough to consider possible commercial applications, but within a
different model for technology translation.
"It's an important discovery - it says we can
do better than photosynthesis," Nocera said. "But I
also want to bring this technology to the developing world as
Working in conjunction with the First 100 Watts
program at Harvard, which helped fund the research, Nocera
hopes to continue developing the technology and its applications
in nations like India with the help of their scientists.
In many ways, Nocera said, the new system marks the
fulfillment of the promise of his "artificial leaf,"
which used solar power to split water and make hydrogen fuel.
"If you think about it, photosynthesis is
amazing," he said. "It takes sunlight, water, and air -
and then look at a tree. That's exactly what we did, but we do it
significantly better, because we turn all that energy into a
Published Article in Science
Amazing Artificial Leaves
2) Microbes Generate
Electricity While Cleaning Water
waste water treatment plant using microbes has just passed its
biggest test, bringing household-level water recycling a step
THEY'RE miraculous in their own
way, even if they don't quite turn water into wine. Personal
water treatment plants could soon be recycling our waste
water and producing energy on the side.
Last month, Boston-based
Cambrian Innovation began field tests of what's known as
a microbial fuel cell at the Naval Surface Warfare
Center in Maryland. Called BioVolt, in one day it can convert
2250 litres of sewage into enough clean water for at least 15
people. Not only that, it generates the electricity to power
itself - plus a bit left over.
This is a big deal, as
conventional treatment plants guzzle energy - typically consuming
1.5 kilowatt-hours for every kilogram of pollutants removed. In
the US, this amounts to a whopping 3 per cent of the total energy
demand. If the plants could be self-powered, recycling our own
waste water could become as commonplace as putting a solar panel on
Existing treatment plants use
bacteria to metabolise the organic material in waste water.
"There's lots of food for them, so they reproduce
fast," says Cambrian chief technology officer Justin Buck.
At the end of the process, the microbes can make up a third by
weight of the leftovers to be disposed of. Before being put in
landfill, this "microbe cake" itself needs to be
heat-sterilised and chemically treated, which uses a lot of
Microbial fuel cells have long
been touted as the way forward. The idea is that the biochemistry
involved in metabolising the contaminants can yield electricity
to help power the process. But fuel cells of this kind have been
very difficult to scale up outside the lab.
BioVolt uses strains
of Geobacter and another microbe called Shewanella
oneidensis to process the sludge. Its proprietary mix of
organisms has one key advantage - the bacteria liberate some
electrons as they respire, effectively turning the whole set-up
into a battery. This has the added benefit of slowing bacterial
growth, so that at the end of the process you have electricity
and no microbe cake.
A number of teams are working
on their own versions of these cells. Orianna Bretschger at the
J. Craig Venter Institute in San Diego, California, is testing
hers at a farm run by the San Pasqual High School in nearby
Escondido, using it to process about 630 litres of pig waste per
Bretschger is in the early
stages of building a larger pilot system, to be commissioned in
Tijuana, Mexico, later this year. "I think that we will
still be on track for commercialisation in the next three to five
years," she says.
Her system goes a step beyond
BioVolt and traditional plants in that it can rid water of
pharmaceuticals - synthetic oestrogens, for example. Bretschger
is now looking at ways to add pain relief drugs to the list.
Cambrian CEO Matt Silver sees a
future in which different kinds of microbial fuel cells treat
different kinds of waste, perhaps recovering useful by-products.
Another of the firm's designs, EcoVolt, generates methane as it
cleans up waste water produced by a Californian brewery. It has
also cut the brewery's energy use by 15 per cent and its water
use by 40 per cent.
Cambrian hopes BioVolt will
scale up to processing more than 20,000 litres per day. Microbial
fuel cells, Silver thinks, will do for renewable water what
solar and wind did for renewable energy.
Modified Bacteria Could get
Electricity from Sewage
Meet the organisms that live on
Instructables - DIY Student
Project - Generate Electricity from Wastewater - Uses
lactobacillus (yogurt) and includes step by step instructions
3) Breakthrough Light Therapy
for Traumatic Brain Injury, Alzheimer's and Anti-Aging Aesthetics
By Molly Langmure, Elle
Magazine July 2016
Click on picture to order
In 2010, on a trip to Vienna, Austria, Mike Weiner
met with technology expert Armin Bernhard, Ph.D. an inventor of
one of the cochlear implants. Dr. Bernhard first alerted Mike
that Alzheimer's and other CNS diseases appeared to be the result
of an energy deficiency, which could be resolved with
non-invasive therapy, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation
(TMS), delivered transcranially and non-invasively (and is
approved for use for depression in the US).
Back in the US, Mike learned of Marvin Berman, Ph.D.'s pioneering
work in Philadelphia, at the Quietmind Foundation, combining
light therapy (LLLT, aka photobiomodulation) in combination with
neurofeedback, for a revolutionary solution, working for
Alzheimer's. Dr. Berman described the energy therapy as a form of
"vitamins, not antibiotics."
Mike then learned of research led by Dallas Hack, MD MPH, heading
neuroscience for the US Army, in traumatic brain injury (TBI )
that led to the discovery that infrared light helped soldiers
dealing with TBI. The NIH was briefed on this solution, working
in humans, as far back as 2009. Mike took it to the Alzheimer's
Association in 2015.
This book provides needed information on where a promising
solution is now hiding in plain sight. Public and media awareness
of this opportunity should very much help move it forward.
The latest IV breakthrough, though, presented last
spring at Monaco's annual Aesthetic & Anti-Aging Medicine
World Conference, sounds positively space age: Wavelengths of
light are shot directly into the blood via an intravenous
catheter outfitted with an optical fiber. The device that does
this, the UVL1500, is already approved in much of Europe to
diminish pain, accelerate wound healing, and reduce inflammation,
and its manufacturer, Florida-based UVLrx Therapeutics, is now
working on getting a similar gadget, the UVL1000, okayed for use
in the U.S.
An FDA-designated institutional review board has
already deemed it a "non-significant risk device,"
which means it's not a serious danger to research subjects, though this
doesn't address its effectiveness. Company officials say they're
working on that now: For example, one small, recently completed
study of 15 patients-conducted by Shreveport, Louisiana, cosmetic
surgeon Daniel Knight, MD-found that by adding a series of
UVL1500 sessions to laser and ultrasound skin-tightening
treatments, subjects achieved the healing and other benefits in
one week that are usually observed after two months.
The light concept actually dates back to the late
1800s, when Danish doctor Niels Ryberg Finsen was awarded the
Nobel Prize for discovering that the bacteria-killing properties
of UV rays could eradicate skin lesions caused by tuberculosis.
(Which is why sanitariums at one point offered
heliotherapy-basically, sunbathing.) In the 1920s, Seattle
physicist Emmett Knott patented an apparatus that treated
infectious blood diseases by extracting blood, irradiating it
with UV light, then reinjecting it into patients. By the 1940s,
even leading medical centers like Georgetown University Hospital
were using ultraviolet blood irradiation, or UBI, for not just
bacterial infections but also autoimmune disorders and viruses,
like pneumonia and hepatitis. Dozens of papers attesting to UBI's
benefits appeared in scientific journals at the time, such as a
1944 study in the Archives of Physical Therapyreporting that
57 of 58 polio patients treated with UBI had fully recovered. But
there were few randomized, placebo-controlled trials, and with
the widespread use of antibiotics and advent of the polio vaccine
in the '50s, the treatment fell out of favor.
This past April, Michael R. Hamblin, PhD, an
associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School,
coauthored a paper titled "Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation: Is
It Time to Remember 'The Cure That Time Forgot'?" in
the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology.
"UBI has a huge effect on the blood," Hamblin says. In
fact, another form of light-wave blood therapy (with the even
wordier name extracorporeal photopheresis, or ECP) has already
been approved by the FDA to treat a type of lymphoma, and it's
been tested on a variety of other conditions: "Several
clinical trials suggest that ECP may be used to treat a broad
spectrum of autoimmune diseases," concluded a team of
pathologists writing in the peer-reviewed
journal Transfusion and Apheresis Science in 2015;
another article in the same publication showed that it helped
prevent rejection in heart transplant patients.
Hamblin says there are only theories about UBI's
healing mechanism, but "clearly the immune system is
involved." For infectious diseases, he adds, "one
possibility is that the light is changing the DNA of viruses or
bacteria so they're better recognized by the immune system."
(He and other UBI enthusiasts, such as Charleston, South
Carolina, pathologist J. Todd Kuenstner, MD, admit that they've
got a ways to go before the medical establishment believes.
"What will change minds is data and large trials,"
What's novel about UVLrx Therapeutics' devices is
that they irradiate blood without removing it from the body;
they're also the first to combine UV light with red and green
wavelengths, which have well-established benefits for the skin:
diminishing acne, boosting circulation, and improving collagen
production. (As for cancer risk, one 30-minute IV light treatment
delivers about the same amount of UVA radiation as one minute in
4) 24M's Batteries Better for
Solar and Wind Power
By Elizabeth Woyke, MIT
The startup's cheaper way to make lithium-ion
batteries could make it cost-effective to store energy from
Lithium-ion batteries power everything from
smartphones to electric vehicles. They're well suited to the job
because they are smaller and lighter, charge faster, and last
longer than other batteries. But they are also complex and thus
costly to make, which has stymied mass adoption of electric
transportation and large-scale energy storage.
Yet-Ming Chiang thinks his startup 24M has the
answer. The key is a semisolid electrode. In a conventional
lithium--ion battery, many thin layers of electrodes are stacked
or rolled together to produce a cell. "Lithium-ion batteries
are the only product I know of besides baklava where you stack so
many thin layers to build up volume," says Chiang, who is a
cofounder and chief scientist at 24M as well as a professor of
materials science at MIT. "Our goal is to make a lithium-ion
battery through the simplest process possible."
Chiang's innovation, which was developed in his
MIT lab, is an electrode formed by mixing powders with a liquid
electrolyte to make a gooey slurry. The design enables 24M to
increase the amount of energy-storing material in a battery and
give it 15 to 25 percent more capacity than conventional
lithium-ion batteries of the same size.
The new design is also faster and cheaper to make.
Typical large factories for making lithium-ion batteries cost
about $100 million to build, in part because specialized machines
are needed to coat, dry, cut, and compress the electrode film.
Since its semisolid electrode doesn't require these steps, 24M
says, its batteries could be produced in one-fifth the time and
in much smaller plants.
If its technology succeeds, 24M could be among the
first companies to reduce the cost of lithium-ion battery cells
to less than $100 per kilowatt-hour, from $200 to $250 today.
That is the point at which electric cars could compete on cost
with internal-combustion vehicles.
To hit that target by 2020, 24M must scale up from
its existing pilot manufacturing line in Cambridge,
Massachusetts, to high-volume fabrication. The company plans to
build a factory in 2017, probably in partnership with a large
industrial company, and launch its first product in early
2018. It hopes utilities will buy its batteries to store
electricity from wind and solar farms and deliver power during
The company is also talking to electric--vehicle
makers, but it considers EVs a secondary focus. It's
understandable that Chiang would tread carefully in that market.
A123 Systems, a battery company he cofounded, filed for
bankruptcy protection in 2012 after spending too much money
building big battery plants to supply carmakers. In contrast,
Chiang says, 24M's manufacturing technologies are designed to be
modular and more efficiently scaled up if necessary.
5) Electric Cars Can Get You
Farther Than You Think
By David Grossman,
Popular Mechanics, August 2016
A new Study shows that 87% of our needs are covered
by electric vehicles
How long does the range on an electric car need to
be for you to drive one? It's a question that Jessika Trancik, an
energy scientist at MIT, and her colleagues at the Trancik Lab
have been studying with great interest. The fear that your EV
will run out of juice before you reach your destination is called
"range anxiety," and according to a new study by
Trancik and her team, it's not something most drivers should be
too worried about.
The Trancik Lab studies "the costs
and environmental impacts of energy technologies to accelerate
their improvement." Range anxiety is a real thing preventing
electric cars from becoming more widespread. The problem is one
of mileage. For now, cars with traditional engines can just go
farther than electric cars can-roughly 350 miles per tank
compared to roughly 150 miles per charge.
Despite these reservations, Trancik and her team
have calculated that "the energy requirements of 87 percent
of vehicle-days could be met by an existing, affordable electric
vehicle." Although driving habits in different cities across
America vary widely, the results suggest that the amount of
driving that could be done in an EV "is markedly similar
across diverse cities, even when per capita gasoline consumption
But even though 87 percent of all driving could be
with an electric vehicle, people don't buy cars to cover just 87
percent of their needs. Compared to 115,000 gas stations,
there areunder 10,000 electrical charging stations in the
United States, and a gas tank can be filled in a matter of
minutes compared to the hours it usually takes to charge an EV
battery. Even if you are not going to take that cross-country
road trip any time soon, it's comforting to know that your
vehicle is capable of making the journey.
Trancik found that on the "highest-energy days,
other vehicle technologies are likely to be needed even as
batteries improve and charging infrastructure expands." In
other words, it's going to be a while before electric cars can
account for all of our driving needs, even if they can already
account for most of them. In the meantime, the best solution
seems to be owning two cars.
Mountain Institute, August 2016
Net zero energy (NZE) buildings-those that are
responsible for the production of as much (or more) clean energy
as they use annually-have been gaining momentum around the
world. And now, there are even net zero energy districts being
contemplated, like Fort Collins's Fort ZED, Arizona
State University, and UC Davis's West Village. However, there
still remains an industry-wide perception that net zero energy is
too expensive, or comes at a much higher incremental cost over
business as usual.
Master developers of NZE districts face the
challenge of driving exceptional energy performance without
deterring prospective parcel developers or incurring exorbitant
development costs themselves. Prospective parcel developers may
fear that stringent performance requirements will require higher
upfront capital costs or that achieving ultra-low energy
buildings will not be cost-effective in the long run, compared to
business as usual. Prospective tenants of NZE developments may
fear that additional construction costs will get passed through
to them in the form of higher rents, or that the ongoing cost of
procuring renewable energy may be higher than conventional energy
But in our newly released Insight Brief, An
Integrative Business Model for Net Zero Energy Districts, RMI
presents an innovative business model for developing net zero
energy or ultra-low energy districts and details how pursuing net
zero energy is not a cost, but rather a significant value driver.
Our innovative business model develops net zero
energy districts in a way that is attractive to the district
developer, parcel developer, and tenants; creates a profitable
business for an integrated energy services provider; and benefits
the local electric grid and neighboring community. It was
developed specifically for a 180-acre development in a midsize
MAKING NET ZERO ENERGY FINANCIALLY ATTRACTIVE
Net zero energy is achieved in four steps: (1)
Identify on-site renewable energy capacity and thus set the
district's energy "budget;" (2) use superefficient
district geothermal heating and cooling; (3) set design standards
to drive load up to 75 percent below code; and (4) iterate
between steps 1 and 3, optimizing based on the net present value
of the life-cycle cost until net zero energy is achieved. These
four steps must be done in a way that makes the project
financially attractive to developers, tenants, and investors.
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