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Submission + - Networked Gadgets Waste 400 Terawatt-Hours of Energy Every Year

necro81 writes: IEEE Spectrum reports: "Your Xbox wastes a lot of energy—energy that could power the entire United Kingdom. Well, it's not just your Xbox, but your Xbox and my printer and your friend's television and 14 billion other networked electronic devices around the world....

"The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released a new report on just how much power all those networked devices use...[t]he results are amazing: network-enabled devices in homes and offices around the world consumed 616 terawatt-hours in 2013, and 65 percent of that (400 TWh) could have been saved simply by using technology that exists today."

It's a problem of design: even though it's technologically straightforward to design products for better energy consumption, with little incremental cost, there's no incentive for a designer to do so. It's not their electricity going to waste, after all.

Submission + - Towards a 50% Efficient Solar Cell

necro81 writes: IEEE Spectrum magazine has a feature article describing DARPA-funded work towards developing a solar cell that's 50% efficient, for a finished module that's 40% efficient — suitable for charging a soldier's gadgets in the field. Conventional silicon and thin-film PV tech can hit cell efficiencies of upwards of 20%, with finished modules hovering in the teens. Triple-junction cells can top 40%, but are expensive to produce and not practical in most applications. Current work by the Very High Efficiency Solar Cell program uses optics (dichroic films) to concentrate incoming sunlight by 20-200x, and split it into constituent spectra, which fall on many small solar cells of different chemistries, each tuned to maximize the conversion of different wavelengths.

Submission + - New Air Conditioner Process cuts energy use 50-90% (nrel.gov) 2

necro81 writes: The U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory has announced that it has developed a new method for air conditioning that reduces energy use by 50-90%. The DEVap system cools air using evaporative cooling, which is not new, but combines the process with a liquid dessicant for pulling the water vapor out of the cooled air stream. The liquid dessicant, a very strong aqueous solution of lithium chloride or sodium chloride, is separated from the air stream by a permeable hydrophobic membrane. Heat is later used to evaporate water vapor back out — heat that can come from a variety of sources such as solar or natural gas. The dessicants are, compared to typical refrigerants like HCFCs, relatively safe for the environment.
Google

Submission + - Google Applies to become Energy Marketer

necro81 writes: Google consumes massive amounts of electrical energy to power its data centers across the country and world. Now it has created a subsidiary, Google Energy LLC, and applied (pdf) to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to become a utility-scale energy trader. Google's stated aim is to be able to purchase renewable energy directly from producers at bulk rates, pursuing its goal of becoming carbon neutral. It is likely that Google Energy would also permit Google's own renewable energy projects to sell their energy at more favorable rates. Google reportedly does not have plans to actively become an energy broker, a la Enron.

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