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      February 2010

Dear Subscriber,
 
  This month, we wanted to take a stand on one of the most pressing and controversialissues in energy and the environment. The lead story settles the question by conservatives whether more snow contradicts global warming theories. The answer is simple: WARMER AIR carries MORE MOISTURE. Your help in communicating this message to our political leaders will keep climate change legislation on track. The experts agree: we here in DC will see more severe snow-laden winters for the next few years until global warming warms up the northeast enough to turn them into more severe rain storms in the winter with the world's "thermal forcing" of the atmospheric systems. Read the complete story in NASA climatologist James Hansen's new book, Storms of my Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity (http://www.amazon.com/Storms-My-Grandchildren-Catastrophe-Humanity/dp/1608192008/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266706527&sr=1-1) with an online video. The record snow storms in DC should be a wake up call that we need carbon-free energy sources even sooner than we expected!  
 
On the bright side, as President Jimmy Carter tried to show a quarter-century ago with his study of all the untapped small rivers and streams in America, it has now been rediscovered that hydropower installed in thousands of these natural energy sources can employ a million Americans and generate clean electricity (see #2 story below). For example, a friend of mine in Portland Oregon now lives disconnected from the grid after installing a "microhydroelectric" generator in a nearby stream and covering it completely to meet local ordinances. See
http://homepower.com/home/ Home Power magazine for more do-it-yourself power ideas like this.

   We are also proud to begin presenting some new energy news items from a one year old web publication, Energy Harvesting Journal (http://www.energyharvestingjournal.com). It is a wonderful, cutting-edge outlet for the latest discoveries of energy conversion without burning any fossil fuel. Our #3 story on the smallest energy harvester in existence also uses the thermodynamically forbidden words: "to operate nearly perpetually". Don't tell anyone that you read it first in Future Energy eNews. As everyone knows, perpetual free energy is only a dream, right?  It is exciting to continue this energy harvesting theme with our #4 and #5 stories showing two different ways (piezoelectric and thermoelectric) for converting the body's available energy into electricity. The trend seems to clearly be pointed in the direction of portable power for people on the go and for home and business.

   Join me this week at the Space, Propulsion Energy Sciences International Forum (http://ias-spes.org/SPESIF.html) at Johns Hopkins University in Laurel MD where I will be presenting a paper a Permanent Magnet Spiral Motor for Magnetic Gradient Energy Utilization: Axial Magnetic Field (http://www.ias-spes.org/SPESIF2010/FORUM/Paper%20Abstract/052_Valone%20Abstract.pdf) as part of the Future Energy Sources Workshop.

Toward a better energy future,

 
Thomas Valone, PhD, PE

Editor
IN THIS ISSUE
1) Washington's Snowstorms Due To Climate Change
2) Hydropower Can Employ One Million Americans
3) Millimeter-Scale Energy Harvestor System Developed
4) Harnessing Body Heat To Power Electronics
5) MIT Energy Wearable Stuff
 
 

     

 

 

 
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1) Washington's Snowstorms Due To Climate Change

By Bill McKibben   Sunday, February 14, 2010, Washington Post
 
2010 STORM, CAPITAL VIEWS
Capitol Building covered with 3 feet of snow.

This isn't a good old-fashioned winter for the District of Columbia, not unless you're remembering the last ice age. And it doesn't disprove global warming, despite Sen. Jim De Mint's cheerful tweet: "It's going to keep snowing until Al Gore cries 'uncle.' "
 
Instead, the weird and disruptive weather patterns around the world are pretty much exactly what you'd expect as the planet warms. Here's how it works: In most places, winter is clearly growing shorter and less intense. We can tell, because Arctic sea ice is melting, because the glaciers on Greenland are shrinking and because a thousand other signals send the same message.

But rising temperature is only one effect of climate change. Probably more crucially, warmer air holds more water vapor than cold air does. The increased evaporation from land and sea leads to more drought but also to more precipitation, since what goes up eventually comes down. The numbers aren't trivial -- global warming has added 4 percent more moisture to the atmosphere since 1970. That means that the number of "extreme events" such as downpours and floods has grown steadily; the most intense storms have increased by 20 percent across the United States in the past century.

So here's the thing: Despite global warming, it still gets cold enough to snow in the middle of winter. It even gets cold enough to snow in Texas and Georgia, as it did late last week. And the chances of what are technically called "big honking dumps" have increased. As Jeff Masters, the widely read weather blogger, pointed out last week, a record snowstorm requires a record amount of moisture in the air. "It is quite possible that the dice have been loaded in favor of more intense Nor'easters for the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, thanks to the higher levels of moisture present in the air due to warmer global temperatures," he wrote.
The climatalogical climate is only part of the equation. The political climate counts, too -- and there's no question that it's harder to make legislative progress when Sen. James Inhofe's grandchildren are building an igloo next to the Capitol with a big sign that says "Al Gore's New Home." The timing here is particularly tough, for the snowstorms come against the backdrop of renewed attacks on the pillars of climate science -- charges that hacked e-mails show some researchers to be venal or that key scientists have financial ties to energy industries.

Looked at dispassionately, those political attacks essentially buttress the consensus around global warming. If that much money and attention can be aimed at the data and all anyone can find is a few mistakes and a collection of nasty e-mails, it's a pretty good sign that the science is sound (though not as good a sign as the melting Arctic). The British newspaper the Guardian just concluded a huge series on the "Climategate" e-mails with the words: "The world is still warming. Humanity is still to blame. And we still, urgently, need to do something about it."

Looked at dispassionately, the round of snowmageddons crisscrossing the mid-Atlantic carries the same message. But it's hard to be dispassionate when you're wondering, six hours of shoveling later, if there's a good chiropractor in the neighborhood and what kind of dogsled you might need to reach her.
It's almost like a test, centered on ground zero for climate-change legislation. Can you sit in a snowstorm and imagine a warming world? If you're a senator, can you come back to work and pass a bill that blunts the pace of climate change? If the answer is no, then we're really in a world of trouble.

Bill McKibben is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College and the co-founder of 350.org. He is the author of "The End of Nature" and the forthcoming "Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet."

 
References
"Harsh Winter a Sign of Disruptive Climate Change, Report Says"
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2010/02/12/ST2010021202631.html
By Juliet Eilperin and David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 28, 2010
 
This winter's extreme weather -- with heavy snowfall in some places and unusually low temperatures -- is in fact a sign of how climate change disrupts long-standing patterns, according to a new report by the National Wildlife Federation: 
 
Oddball Winter Weather: Global Warming's Wake-Up Call for the Northern Unites States 
National Climatic Data Center
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/ussc/USSCAppController?action=snowfall_returnp&state=18&station=BALTIMORE%20WB%20AIRPORT&coopid=180465

 
2) Hydropower Can Employ 1 Million Americans By 2025
   
Environment and Energy Studies Institute, Press Release, Feb. 12, 2010

A recent report finds that the United States has the potential to create up to 700,000 American jobs by installing 60,000 Megawatts (MW) of clean, reliable hydropower by 2025. Currently, the U.S. hydropower industry supplies seven percent of our electricity and employs 200,000-300,000 people in project development and deployment, manufacturing, operations, and maintenance. With an accelerated expansion of the industry, hydropower could employ up to one million Americans by 2025.
 
Prepared by Navigant Consulting for the National Hydropower Association, the report compares two scenarios: business-as-usual (BAU), in which renewable resources generate 10 percent of U.S. electricity, and an accelerated case with a federal Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) of 25 percent by 2025. More than 400,000 MW of untapped hydropower resources exist in the United States - including existing dams with no hydropower facilities, hydropower dams with opportunities for efficiency improvements, sites conducive to pumped storage systems, and river and ocean sites appropriate for newer hydrokinetic technologies. Under BAU, the report projects the addition of 23,000 MW of capacity, or seven percent of total untapped hydropower potential, and the creation of 230,000 direct and indirect jobs. A 25 percent RES would boost installation to 60,000 MW, or 15 percent of untapped potential, and create 700,000 cumulative direct and indirect jobs.

Click http://files.eesi.org/nha_jobs_summary_092009.pdf to download the executive summary of Job Creation Opportunities in Hydropower.
Click
http://files.eesi.org/nha_jobs_092009.pdf to download the full report Job Creation Opportunities in Hydropower.
Click
http://hydro.org/Jobs_Study09.php for more information on hydropower jobs from the National Hydropower
Association.
 
hydropower_map.pdf
 
 
3) Millimeter-Scale, Energy-Harvesting Sensor System Developed
  
 
A 9-cubic millimeter solar-powered sensor system developed at the University of Michigan is the smallest that can harvest energy from its surroundings to operate nearly perpetually. The U-M system's processor, solar cells, and battery are all contained in its tiny frame, which measures 2.5 by 3.5 by 1 millimeters. It is 1,000 times smaller than comparable commercial  counterparts.
 
The system could enable new biomedical implants as well as home-, building- and bridge-monitoring devices. It could vastly improve the efficiency and cost of current environmental sensor networks designed to detect movement or track air and water quality. With an industry-standard ARM Cortex-M3 processor, the system contains the lowest-powered commercial-class microcontroller. It uses about 2,000 times less power in sleep mode than its most energy-efficient counterpart on the market today.
 
The engineers say successful use of an ARM processor- the industry's most popular 32-bit processor architecture-is an important step toward commercial adoption of this technology. "Our system can run nearly perpetually if periodically exposed to reasonable lighting conditions, even indoors," said David Blaauw, an electrical and computer engineering professor. "Its only limiting factor is battery wear-out, but the battery would last many years." "The ARM Cortex-M3 processor has been widely adopted throughout the microcontroller industry for its low-power, energy efficient features such as deep sleep mode and Wake-Up Interrupt Controller, which enables the core to be placed in ultra-low leakage mode, returning to fully active mode almost instantaneously," said Eric Schorn, vice president, marketing, processor division, ARM. "This implementation of the processor exploits all of those features to the maximum to achieve an ultra-low-power operation."
 
The sensor spends most of its time in sleep mode, waking briefly every few minutes to take measurements. Its total average power consumption is less than 1 nanowatt. A nanowatt is one-billionth of a watt. The developers say the key innovation is their method for managing power. The processor only needs about half of a volt to operate, but its low-voltage, thin-film Cymbet battery puts out close to 4 volts. The voltage, which is essentially the pressure of the electric current, must be reduced for the system to function most efficiently.
 
"If we used traditional methods, the voltage conversion process would have  consumed many times more power than the processor itself uses," said Dennis Sylvester, an associate professor in electrical and computer engineering. One way the U-M engineers made the voltage conversion more efficient is by slowing the power management unit's clock when the processor's load is light. "We skip beats if we determine the voltage is sufficiently stable," Sylvester said.
The designers are working with doctors on potential medical applications. The system could enable less-invasive ways to monitor pressure changes in the eyes, brain, and in tumors in patients with glaucoma, head trauma, or cancer. In the body, the sensor could conceivably harvest energy from movement or heat, rather than light, the engineers say. The inventors are working to commercialize the technology through a company led by Scott Hanson, a research fellow in the Department of Electrical Engineering and  Computer Science.
 
electronic heat source
Source and image: University of Michigan
 

For more read :
http://www.idtechex.com/research/reports/energy_harvesting_and_storage_for_e
lectronic_devices_2009_2019_000217.asp" target=_blankEnergy Harvesting and Storage for Electronic Devices 2009-2019 and attend Energy Harvesting & Storage Europe and Wireless Sensor Networks & RTLS Summit 2010
<
http://www.idtechex.com/energyharvestingandstorageeurope10/en/>
http://www.idtechex.com/energyharvestingandstorageeurope10/en/
 
 
 
4) Researchers Harness Body Heat To Power Electronics
 By Darren Quick   22:39 February 17, 2010 PST
 http://www.gizmag.com/heat-powered-electronics/14241/
 
Efforts to capture energy from the human body usually focus on harnessing the kinetic energy of the body's movement. However the human body is also generating energy in the form of heat that could also be used to run low power electronic devices. New energy-scavenging systems under development at MIT could generate electricity just from differences in temperature between the body (or other warm object) and the surrounding air.
 
 bodyheat

The idea of harnessing heat energy from the body isn't new, but the unique aspect of the new devices is their ability to harness differences of just one or two degrees, producing tiny (about 100 microwatts) but nevertheless useful amounts of electricity. While it won't be enough to recharge your mobile phone, it should be enough to power low power devices, such as biomedical monitoring systems or sensors in remote and inaccessible locations.

The researchers, MIT Prof. Anantha Chandrakasan and alumnus Yogesh Ramadass PhD '09, point out that as a result of research over the last decade, the power consumption of various electronic sensors, processors and communications devices has been greatly reduced, making it feasible to power such devices from very low-power energy harvesting systems such as their wearable thermoelectric system.
 
The key to the new technology is a control circuit that optimizes the match between the energy output from the thermoelectric material (which generates power from temperature differences) and the storage system connected to it, in this case a storage capacitor.
 
Such a system, for example, could enable 24-hour-a-day monitoring of heart rate, blood sugar or other biomedical data, through a simple device worn on an arm or a leg and powered just by the body's temperature which, except on a 37 degree C (98.6-degree F) summer day, would almost always be different from the surrounding air). It could also be used to monitor the warm exhaust gases in the flues of a chemical plant, or air quality in the ducts of a heating and ventilation system.
 
The present experimental versions of the device require a metal heat-sink worn on an arm or leg, exposed to the ambient air. "There's work to be done on miniaturizing the whole system," Ramadass says. This might be accomplished by combining and simplifying the electronics and by improving airflow over the heat sink.

The MIT researchers presented their findings at the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) held recently in San Francisco.

 

  

5) MIT Energy Wearable Stuff
 
Nicolas Mokhoff, EE Times, 2/16/2010,
http://www.eetimes.com/news/latest/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=222900513 

MANHASSET, NY - New energy-scavenging systems being developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could forgo replacing batteries in electronic devices that need to work for long periods of time.
Biomedical monitoring systems worn by a patient, monitors for machinery or industrial installations in remote or inaccessible situations are just two such applications. Monitoring warm exhaust gases in the flues of a chemical plant, or air quality in the ducts of a heating and ventilation system are two more applications.

According to MIT researchers power for sensors in such applications could be provided just from differences in temperature between the body (or other warm object) and the surrounding air, eliminating or reducing the need for a battery.

The MIT devices are able to harness differences of just one or two degrees, producing about 100 microwatts but nevertheless usable amounts of electric power.

Harvesting ambient vibration energy through piezoelectric means can potentially supply 10 to100's of microWatts of available power. Existing piezoelectric harvesters are limited by their interface circuits.

MIT researchers developed a control circuit that optimizes the match between the energy output from the thermoelectric material that generates power from temperature differences and a storage capacitor.

They designed a bias-flip rectifier circuit that can improve by greater than 4X the power extraction capability from piezoelectric harvesters over conventional full-bridge rectifiers and voltage doublers. The experimental chip was all implemented in a 0.35 micron CMOS process.

Yogesh Ramadass, MIT 2009 PhD graduate, said that because power consumption of various electronic sensors, processors and communications devices has been greatly reduced, such devices can be powered by wearable energy harvesting thermoelectric systems.

MIT researchers developed a control circuit that optimizes the match between the energy output from the thermoelectric material that generates power from temperature differences and a storage capacitor.

Such a system, for example, could enable 24-hour-a-day monitoring of heart rate, blood sugar or other biomedical data, through a simple device worn on an arm or a leg and powered just by the body's temperature, which would almost always be different from the surrounding air.

"There's work to be done on miniaturizing the whole system," Ramadass said. Combining and simplifying the electronics and improving airflow over the heat sink are two avenues being pursued.

MIT professor Anantha Chandrakasan, ISSCC 2010 general chairman, and alumnus Yogesh Ramadass PhD '09 presented their findings at ISSCC (a solid-state circuits conference).
(His 16-page IEEE paper on "An Efficient Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting Interface Circuit Using a Bias-Flip Rectifier and Shared Inductor" is available for free online in PDF
 - FE eNews Ed. Note)
 
 
 
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