Tag Archives: power grid

A Few Reasons Why Tomorrow Might Be A Bit of a Strange Day…

Tomorrow will not be your ordinary Friday. For starters, tomorrow is the 13th, making tomorrow a Friday the 13th.

There will also be a full moon in the sky when the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. tomorrow morning. The last time that happened? October 13, 2000. The next time it will happen? August 13, 2049.

I’m not one for superstitions, but there is one thing I haven’t mentioned yet. Our sun has been shooting off powerful solar flares the last few days, including this one captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory early Tuesday morning:

Three recent solar X-flares emitted by the Sun. Click to enlarge (Courtesy of NASA/SDO)

Solar flares are brief, high-radiation eruptions that happen on the surface of the Sun. The three flares emitted in the past two days (pictured above) have been X-flares, the most powerful classification of solar flare. X-flares emit radiation at virtually every wavelength, from radio waves, to the light we can see, to x-rays and gamma rays.

Because of all of the different electromagnetic waves that the flares emit, they can disrupt communications here on Earth. In fact, the flare in the video above caused a temporary radio blackout here on Earth, according to Space.com.

The electromagnetic spectrum. Click to enlarge

Did I mention CMEs? CME stands for coronal mass ejection. This occurs when a powerful solar flare emits a plasma burst along with the radiation. A plasma burst can cause polar geomagnetic storms which are capable of severely disrupting communications and satellite systems, including GPS.

Along with having the potential to cause low levels of radiation poisoning in humans, a strong CME would also create surges in electrical wires, destroying transformers and leaving millions without power.

Despite the scary stuff, CME’s are pretty fascinating. These plasma burst clouds actually compresses Earth’s own magnetic field, which is what causes so many of the potential issues.

Artist depiction of how a CME plasma burst interacts with Earth’s magnetoshpere (Courtesy of NASA)

At first, officials at the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center didn’t think that the flare in the video above had emitted a CME, only to find later that it had actually produced two of them.

They are expected to give Earth a glancing blow when they reach Earth orbit…tomorrow, Friday the 13th.

India’s New Leader Has A Bold Plan: Using Solar Power to Bring Electricity to Every Home By 2019

After 2 moths and more than half a billion votes, India’s marathon of a presidential election ended last Friday, with historic results. The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), India’s opposition party for the past 10 years, won a landslide victory.

Not only did the party win a clear majority in the lower house of parliament (the first time a non-Congress party has done so since India won its independence in 1947), but their candidate for prime minister, Norendra Modi, came out on top as well.

New Indian President Narendra Modi (Photo: Forbes)

Before being elected prime minister earlier this month, Modi was the chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat.

In 2009, Modi pioneered the country’s first large-scale solar power project in Gujarat, including the construction of Asia’s largest solar power plant. India also recently began constructing what will be by far biggest solar power plant in the world.

Asia’s largest solar installation, located in Gujarat

His administration plans to use Modi’s work in Gujarat as a blueprint for expanding solar power across the nation.

“We look upon solar as having the potential to completely transform the way we look at the energy space,”

says Narendra Taneja, an official from the energy division of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party. The plan is to enable every single Indian home to power at least one light by 2019. As of right now, about 400 million of India’s 1.2 billion residents lack access to electricity.

Modi visiting one of the solar installments in Gujarat

Expanding solar power and the clean energy sector is a major priority for the new government for a number of reasons. Firstly, it will help India avoid some of the pollution problems that China is currently dealing with as the country’s industries develop and modernize. Also, it will create new jobs and supply electricity to millions of scattered Indian households that can’t be connected to the power grid because of their remote locations.

Taneja says that if the project is completely successful, solar power could provide each home with enough energy to run two light bulbs, a solar cooker and a television set.

Check out the original article from Bloomberg here. Read more about India’s recent historic elections from the Asia Foundation here.

Wait… Toyota’s New Electric Fuel Cell Car Can Power My House, Too??

On Monday in Las Vegas, all of the biggest and baddest new cars took center stage at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. But one car in particular has really caught people’s attention.

At the show, Toyota unveiled a new fuel cell car called the FCV-R  that looked…well, sort of like a Prius. However, this car can do something that no other Prius (or any other car, for that matter) could ever even dream to do: power your house.

The interior isn’t too shabby either

Engineer’s are currently working on designing an adapter cable to connect the car to the home’s power grid, but according to Toyota, the vehicle will be able to power your house for about a week when fully fueled. Toyota hopes this special feature will prove invaluable in times of emergency when power goes out.

If you’re wondering, hydrogen fuel cells work by combining hydrogen gas (H2) stored in the car’s “fuel” tank with oxygen gas (O2) from the air. The chemical reaction that combines these two gases to form water (H2O) releases electrical energy, which is then used to power the car (or the house, I guess). Water is the only by-product, which makes this form of energy extremely clean.

Ok this thing has got a seriously luxurious interior

Toyota plans to start selling the car in the United States next year. Here’s Bob Carter, Toyota’s VP of Automotive Operations here in the United States:

“Fuel cell electric vehicles will be in our future sooner than many people believe, and in much greater numbers than anyone expected.”

Read more from the L.A. Times here.

New Organic Battery Is Renewable and 95% Cheaper Than Conventional Batteries

When you think of a battery, you typically think of something metal. No surprise there, as metals are excellent conductors of electricity.

But there are other things that conduct electricity well. A team of researchers from Harvard used a class of particularly conductive organic compounds known as quinones to create an electrochemical battery that may revolutionize the industry.

The batteries consist of quinones dissolved in a container of water, making a solution which is quite conducive to conducting electricity and storing energy.

Lead project researcher Michael J. Aziz
Lead project researcher Michael J. Aziz

The Harvard battery performed just as well as the leading commercial battery, despite the fact it only cost about $27 per kilowatt-hour of storage capacity, compared to around $700 for conventional batteries.

The major reason for this drastic difference in price is that quinones are naturally abundant. In their battery, the team used a quinone compound which is almost identical to one found naturally in rhubarbs.

Read the full story here.