Posts belonging to Category Inventions Edison Would Love



Edison Recognizes the Top Ten Solar States

It wasn’t so long ago folks were interested in getting more solar-electricity generated and used in actual applications. Today, there isn’t a state that does not have goals in place for this energy resource, or renewable portfolio standards that specify how and when solar generated electricity will be implemented. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, here below are the top ten states in early 2018 showing their rank, the amount of solar electricity generating capacity installed ( in MW-megawatts) and the number of homes “solarized”. Edison was very interested in solar energy way back in 1910. He would be smiling now.

Edison Recognizes the Top Ten Solar States

Experience tells us the sun does not shine consistently across the U.S. as the map shown below indicates. It can vary quite a bit across a state, even across a small state like NJ where it is 13% more sunny in the southern half of the state. Not all states can be as sunny as the southwestern states. Dealing with those differences is what solar engineering is all about. Not so much sun as you would like basically means you need more solar panels to meet your needs-so solar system size is the answer and a consequent increase in installation costs to accomplish this. Smart engineering and energy conservation combined can make solar work in most areas.

Edison Recognizes the Top Ten Solar States

Solar panels come in handy module sizes that can be plugged together to get the job done. How many you need for say your own home depends upon the electric load you have, the amount of sunshine available at your site, time of day you want to serve the load while the sun is available, and back-up power availability either through the local utility or via your own battery storage.

Panels can be installed directly on home roofs, adjacent garages and even incorporated into ground-mounted arrangements. Various tax credits are available to help defray installation costs, so jump in and learn about this exciting option for your home. Make Edison proud!

Thomas Edison said … “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left.”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

Share

Edison Smiles at Vertical Farming

The idea of farming is being re-imagined, no longer a horizontal area of land, but a vertical affair instead, stretching up into the air. Could this be a way to introduce farming into the urban environment and put people back in touch with where their food originates?

Vertical plant growth can be through hydroponics [where roots are immersed in a pool of water and nutrients], or aeroponics [where roots are misted with water and nutrients]. Artificial lighting is used to provide the “solar” input. But no soil is needed.

A look at the benefits of controlled growth vertical farms:

  • Year-round production
  • No need for pesticides
  • Weatherproof against harsh weather/temperatures
  • Water conservation-may be up to 70% savings in use
  • Less spoilage
  • Food sold locally in urban areas requires little transportation costs/emissions
  • Requires less space than traditional horizontal farms
  • Urban farms can make use of old abandoned factory buildings
  • Creates local jobs and industries for expanded tax base.

Some downsides:

  • Not all crops can be grown this way- would still need to use traditional farming
  • Artificial lighting can be energy intensive, leading to energy emissions, and higher food costs.

Are we likely to see a massive shift to vertical farming? It’s probably too early to know for sure, but some interesting trends are happening. Consider, at Sky Greens in Singapore, one ton of greens is produced each day using vertical farm techniques.

Sky Greens is a single-story vertical farm.

Sky Greens is a single-story vertical farm.

Give it a look at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X8E7MmeYL4.

Newark, NJ, based Aerofarms operates several farms. Its global headquarters hosts a 70,000 square foot vertical farm, [the largest in the world] capable of harvesting 2 million pounds of produce every year. Check it out at http://www.businessinsider.com/photos-of-aerofarms-the-worlds-largest-vertical-farm-in-newark-2016-2.

A rendering of Aerofarms' new facility, the world's largest vertical farm—built on an old manufacturing site.

A rendering of Aerofarms’ new facility, the world’s largest vertical farm—built on an old manufacturing site.

Even though vertically grown leafy vegetables are a bit more expensive, consumers like the freshness and locally grown nature of it all. Costs are not prohibitive and likely to improve with time and technological advances. Keeping those artificial lighting energy costs down is a challenge that needs to be addressed.

In his later years, Edison was growing large crops of special plant varieties in Florida in an attempt to find a substitute for natural rubber. If successful, he would have established large farms in Georgia and Florida dedicated to growing the plants. Certainly, farming technology would have interested him.

Thomas Edison said, “I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and try to invent it.”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

Share

Edison Admires New Water-Battery Technology

Think about an energy storage device that can store intermittent solar and wind energy in the form of hydrogen gas…..a kind of manganese-hydrogen battery. This water-based battery is under prototype development at Stanford University, and if successfully scaled up, can be recycled 10,000 times for use directly on the utility grid.

Postdoctoral scholar Wei Chen holds a prototype of Stanford’s water-based battery.

Postdoctoral scholar Wei Chen holds a prototype of Stanford’s water-based battery.

Manganese sulfate, a cheap, abundant industrial salt that is used to make dry cell batteries, fertilizers, paper and other products is the secret sauce in this technology; allowing hydrogen to be formed and stored and converted back to electricity later.

The Stanford team, working under US Department of Energy funding, estimates that over the expected lifetime of the energy storage system (10 years), it would cost a penny to store enough electricity to power a 100 watt lightbulb for twelve hours.

According to DOE estimates, about 70 percent of U.S. electricity is generated by coal or natural gas plants, which account for 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. Shifting to wind and solar generation is one way to reduce those emissions but it creates new challenges involving the variability of power supply.

The Stanford team is now performing some heavy duty engineering to meet demanding grid-scale performance criteria. The palm-size prototype uses platinum as a catalyst to spur crucial chemical reactions. This material is expensive, so the team is concerned with cheaper ways to make the manganese sulfate and water combination charge and discharge correctly.

Editor’s Deep Dive

Thomas Edison said, “The world owes nothing to any man, but every man owes something to the world.”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

Share