Solar-thermal plant In Arizona

I’ll be the first one to say it, someone is going to complain about the reflection of the collectors. I would assume that things like this are taken into account but you can never tell in this litigious world.

Abengoa Solar Inc., a Spanish technology company that has several smaller solar-thermal projects in Spain, North Africa and the United States, will build and run the Solana Generating Station. Solana will use 2,700 "troughs" of mirrors lined up across former alfalfa farmland, focusing sunlight on tubes in the middle of the troughs. The tubes will be filled with a petroleum-based chemical that will heat up to 735 degrees, and transfer their heat to water, making steam and spinning turbines in two 140-megawatt generators. The petroleum liquid is reused in the tubes, not burned. The plant also will use molten salt to store heat and continue generating electricity for as long as six hours after the sun sets. That’s key in Arizona, where residents use the most electricity between 5 and 6 p.m., when the sun is low in the sky and common solar panels struggle to generate electricity.

[via lonelocust]
$1 billion solar-thermal plant near Gila Bend to supply APS customers 

New Holographic Display Technology

Advances in display technology are simply amazing. I hope to see holographic display units so common place that they are used in cheap kids toys like and LCD would be used today.

The new material is comprised of photorefractive polymers. These chemicals have photoelectric properties that make them well-suited to storing the optical interference patterns used to produce holograms. When a photorefractive polymer is exposed to a pattern of bright and dark areas, electrons are released from the areas exposed to high-intensity light and migrate to areas that are darker. Once in place, the electron-rich areas diffract light differently from the electron-poor ones, allowing the original interference pattern to be reproduced when the material is exposed to light

Holodeck 0.1: the durable, rewritable holographic display

Superhuman Vision from Contact lenses

My friend Greg sent this to me today. I’ll be first in line when these come out!

Building the lenses was a challenge because materials that are safe for use in the body, such as the flexible organic materials used in contact lenses, are delicate. Manufacturing electrical circuits, however, involves inorganic materials, scorching temperatures and toxic chemicals. Researchers built the circuits from layers of metal only a few nanometers thick, about one thousandth the width of a human hair, and constructed light-emitting diodes one third of a millimeter across. They then sprinkled the grayish powder of electrical components onto a sheet of flexible plastic. The shape of each tiny component dictates which piece it can attach to, a microfabrication technique known as self-assembly. Capillary forces – the same type of forces that make water move up a plant’s roots, and that cause the edge of a glass of water to curve upward – pull the pieces into position.

Contact lenses with circuits, lights a possible platform for superhuman vision

Plastic as Strong as Steel

Plastic as strong as steelNow if this material can be made clear… Oh wait, it is. If it can be made crystal clear and has good refractive qualities it would make for some dandy scratch proof glasses.

A new composite plastic built layer by layer has been created by engineers at the University of Michigan. This plastic is as strong as steel. It has been built the same way as mother-of-pearl, and shows similar strength. Interestingly, this 300-layer plastic has been built with ‘strong’ nanosheets of clay and a ‘fragile’ polymer called polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), commonly used in paints and glue, which acts as ‘Velcro’ to envelop the nanoparticles. This new plastic could soon be used to design light but strong armors for soldiers or police officers. The researchers also think this material could be used in biomedical sensors and unmanned aircraft.

A plastic as solid as steel

Atomic Rocket – Mini-Mag Orion

Mini-Mag OrionOh cool, Mars in six months? Nice…

Andrews Space & Technology (AS&T) introduced an innovative propulsion system that could significantly shorten round trips from Earth to Mars (from two years to only six months!) and enable our spaceships to reach Jupiter after one year of space traveling. The system, which may dramatically affect interplanetary space travel is called the Miniature Magnetic Orion (Mini-Mag Orion for short), and is an optimization of the 1958 Orion interplanetary propulsion concept.

[via slashdot ]
Mini-Mag Orion Will Reach for the Stars

Google Sponsors Lunar X PRIZE

Google sponsors Lunar X Prize to create a space race for a new generation
Ripped from the headlines of today…

The X PRIZE Foundation and Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) today announced the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a robotic race to the Moon to win a remarkable $30 million prize purse. Private companies from around the world will compete to land a privately funded robotic rover on the Moon that is capable of completing several mission objectives, including roaming the lunar surface for at least 500 meters and sending video, images and data back to the Earth.

Well this is just cool, a $30 million dollar (US) prize may not sound like all that much when your talking about going to the moon but the money isn’t what is at stake here. Charles Lindbergh didn’t set out to win the Orteig prize (Started in 1919 by a wealthy hotel owner, it offered $25,000 for the first allied aviator(s) to fly non-stop from New York NY to Paris France vice-versa) just for the cash. I’m sure the money was part of the incentive, but the achievement of winning was it’s own reward. When Lindbergh finished his 30 plus hour flight his accomplishment ushered in a new age for aviation. I can see
No one has eve said that space travel is easy. It may possibly be the single hardest task to accomplish in the world. It’s full of risks, high costs, the potential for catastrophic disaster is high. But the long term rewards are fantastic. The knowledge gained by undertaking such a task could benefit mankind for years to come. If your one of those people that think that thing like the exploration of space and a contest to get robots to the moon is just a waste of time and money I’d like you to give a long hard look at what your reading this on. If it’s a computer, and I bet I’m right, then you yourself have already reaped the rewards of technology that was pioneered for space exploration. No matter how you slice it, setting a mark and offering people a chance to excel breeds innovation and advancements that the entire world benefits from.

[via CNN Money]

Google Sponsors Lunar X PRIZE to Create a Space Race for a New Generation