Tag Archives: infrastructure

Finally, A Solar Panel That You Can Actually See Through!

Solar power technology has been advancing rapidly in recent years. The rapidly decreasing cost and increasing efficiency of solar power has set off a solar revolution worldwide.

Germany, which is currently using solar to produce 50% of its total energy, has led the charge, along with the rest of Europe.

Other countries, like India, have made the expansion of solar infrastructure a primary focus.

The growth of solar power in the last 15 years. Click to enlarge

Now, there’s a new advancement which could end up being the tipping point in the solar revolution: a totally transparent solar concentrator.

The “transparent luminescent solar concentrator” can be placed over windows to gather solar power while still allowing people to actually see through the window.

The concentrator, which was designed by a team of researchers from Michigan State University, can also be used on cell phones or pretty much anything with a clear surface.

Other people have tried to design transparent solar concentrators before, but the materials they used were inefficient (in terms of energy  production) and created some pretty obvious tints on the window.

“No one wants to sit behind colored glass… It makes for a very colorful environment, like working in a disco. We take an approach where we actually make the luminescent active layer itself transparent,”

said Robert Lunt, an engineering professor at MSU who led the research.

A close up of the solar concentrator (Photo: Yimu Zhao)
A close up of the solar concentrator (Photo: Yimu Zhao)

This new solar concentrator uses tiny organic molecules that were specifically designed by Lunt and his team to absorb wavelengths of light that are invisible to the naked eye.

“We can tune these materials to pick up just the ultraviolet and the near infrared wavelengths that then ‘glow’ at another wavelength in the infrared,”

said Lunt while explaining the process. This infrared light is then directed to the edges of the concentrator, where tiny strips of photovoltaic cells convert it into electricity.

Since the molecules used to capture the energy are specifically designed to not absorb or emit light within the visible spectrum, the concentrator appears to be almost completely transparent to the naked eye.

The electromagnetic spectrum. Click to enlarge

The technology is innovative, functional and versatile. Lunt believes it could ultimately become a huge part of our lives:

“It can be used on tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader. Ultimately we want to make solar harvesting surfaces that you do not even know are there.”

Read the original story from Science Daily here.

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How A Thunderstorm Shapes Air Traffic Around the World’s Busiest Airport (GIF)

If you have ever traveled within the United States, chances are that you have probably had a connection that takes you through Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport.

The airport has been the busiest in the world since 2005, and currently averages more than 250,000 passengers per day.

Though it may seem strange that Atlanta is the center of air traffic in America, the airport is actually within a 2-hour flight of 80% of the U.S. population, making it an ideal travel hub.

Airport connections to and from Hartfield-Jackson. Click to enlarge (Courtesy of Airtimes Blog)

Atlanta’s airport handles nearly 2,500 arrivals and departures every day. That’s over 100 flights per hour, with peak hours sometimes coming closer to 200.

The airport also has the tallest air traffic tower in all of North America, which comes in handy when a major storm system rolls through.

When this happens, air traffic controllers have to scramble to re-route planes around the worst weather while still keeping the air traffic flowing through Hartsfield-Jackson.

Check it out in the gif below (not sure if it’s only showing arrivals or if all departures were delayed until after the storm passed):

Worldwide, there are upwards of 90,000 flights every day. There are between 8,000 and 13,000 commercial aircrafts in the air at all times.

So as long as we’re on the subject of awesome air traffic gifs, check out this awesome one from the Institute of Applied Information Technology (InIT) at Zurich University of Applied Sciences. It shows air traffic worldwide (based off data from 2008):

Stats about Hartsfield-Jackson come from the airport’s official website here.

Watch A 5,078-Foot-Long Bridge Get Destroyed In Seconds (Video)

A 54-year-old bridge was demolished in Cleveland this past weekend.

The bridge originally opened in 1959. It spanned 8 lanes, and at 166 feet it was the widest bridge in Ohio at the time. The bridge connected downtown Cleveland with the Cuyahoga River Valley.

The video below shows a slow motion destruction of the 128-foot-tall 5,078-foot-long structure (it begins about 30 seconds in).

The Ohio Department of Transportation demolished the bridge to replace it with two new structures.

Check out a concept image of the replacement I-90 Innerbelt Bridge below:

concept for replacement bridge

Credits: YahooNews

What In the World Are “Solar FREAKIN’ Roadways” and Why Do They Have People So Excited? (Video)

Engineering couple Julie and Scott Brusaw invented “Solar Freakin’ Roadways” in 2006, and have been helping lead the Solar Roadway campaign since.

Check out the Solar Freakin’ Roadway’s video below and see what these futuristic roadways look like and how they work.

Solar Freakin’ Roadway’s hexagon-shaped solar panels can be used not only to collect solar power, but also to light highways and even melt snow and ice. What’s more, the Brusaws claim that their solar roadways have the potential to cut greenhouse gases by up to 75%!

As the designers point out in the video, these solar panels are not just for roads and highways- they can also be used for parking lots, playgrounds, and pretty much anywhere there’s asphalt. Imagine a world where these were everywhere: we’d be producing huge amounts of clean energy and frankly, it’d look pretty sweet!

These solar panels are rapidly gaining attention and leading a movement encouraging the use of Solar Roadways in hopes of making our planet a healthier place to live.

To learn more and/or help fund the project check out Solar Roadways Indiegogo page here.