Solar power turns over a new leaf

Paul Raven @ 25-11-2008

autumn leafWhat do you get when you combine thin sheets of gold leaf and a protein found in spinach? You get an artificial leaf that can photosynthesise energy from sunlight. It’s not a highly efficient conversion rate yet – way behind the top-of-the-range silicon photovoltaics – but the simplicity of the design means it could become a much cheaper alternative. [image by angelrays]

The RFID and the saguaro

Tom Marcinko @ 08-10-2008

As somebody who used to have a front yard with a saguaro cactus, I understand why people pay up to $1,000 for them. Last year the law caught rustlers trying to steal 17 of these Sonoran Desert natives. So the National Park Service in Tucson, Arizona is planning to imbed chips in the cactuses to track them in case the plants go AWOL.

“We would likely not just go out and implant, but would gather data, GPS the locations, and record heights and widths and measures,” [Saguaro National Park chief ranger Bob] Love said. “We probably wouldn’t implant a plant that was not healthy or a desirable plant for someone to steal.”

Nevada chipped some of its barrel cactuses in 1999 to deter theft and help take inventory.

[Photo: backlitcoyote]

The little house that could

Tomas Martin @ 19-05-2008

The house's heating water tank

Built for just £210,000, Michael and Dorothy Rea’s house on Britain’s northernmost inhabited island is amongst the most efficient in the world. Boosted by the strong winds surrounding the island of Unst, the house has its heating and power, plus an electric car and substantial greenhouse, entirely powered by renewable sources.

The house reminds me a little of the building in Susan Palwick’s ‘Shelter’ with its smart uses of technology. The house takes heat from the air around it and stores it in a water ‘battery’ to heat the home. The greenhouse uses hydroponics and LED lighting to simulate growing seasons, allowing hothouse plants like lemons and peppers to thrive. Is this a sign of how we will live in the future?

[story via the Guardian, Image from the Rea’s website]