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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Efficiency, efficiency, & more efficiency!

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Saturday, November 4, 2017/Categories: sustainability, art and design, environment, climate change, Archive Pick of the Week

Efficiency is defined as: the ability to accomplish something with the least waste of time and effort or competency in performance to accomplish a job with the minimum in expenditure of time and energy

Being efficient is the name of the game for energy conservation, architectural design, and solar cells. Three new technological developments are showing the way.

1. New batteries: researchers at  MIT's material science laboratory  have developed a new approach to producing lithium-ion batteries that cuts their cost in half
. In association with a Cambridge start-up company  24M  the new process improves the performance of these most widely used type of rechargeable battery while making them easier to recycle. Lithium batteries power everything from cell phones, to electric cars, to energy storage devices. Yet-ming Chiang , MIT's Kyocera Professor of Ceramics, developed the new device that eliminated 80 percent of the non-energy storing materials while increasing the size of the lithium-ion electrode 5X compared to conventional batteries. The new batteries could revolutionize energy storage.

                                          Improved Lithium-ion Battery  (credit: MIT and 24M )

2. Energy producing buildings: cities have heaps of roof-top and vertical landscape space. What if these spaces were employed to generate solar power and any excess electricity was sent into the city's power grid? That's the idea behind  Mapdwell  . Using big-data inspired maps, the company provides decision-making tools enabling communities to transform information into a driver for sustainable practices, energy efficiency, and smarter infrastructure development. Mapdwell has created a series of maps showing a city's solar energy potential including this one of the roof-top solar capacity for New Your City. That is a lot of generating capacity!

                                         NYC Roof-top Solar Potential in gold  (credit: Mapdwell)

3. Market efficiency: in marketplaces anywhere, producers require good pricing information to effectively market their products. This is especially true in developing nations that previously lacked access to information due to limited or non-existent communication tools. The cellular phone changed this but powering the devices,especially in remote areas far from a power grid, was a challenge until efficient solar cells became available. Not only did small solar panels help light darkened homes they also allowed herders to recharge batteries directly in the bush. A program established by the non-profit organization  Green Energy Africa  has allowed Masai women in Kenya to carry re-charging devices on their donkeys allowing the women to recharge their phones as they drive livestock to market.

                   Masai Women and their Solar Donkey "chargers", Kenya  (credit: Green Energy Africa)

Efficiency can be applied on macro or micro scales. It is only limited by the imagination and a willingness to think creatively "outside the box" a bit. Start thinking!



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