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China’s thin-film solar pioneer, Hanergy Holding Group, recently launched four full solar-powered electric vehicles that could change the way people think about EVs. Drawing all the power they need directly from the sun, the new EVs won’t need charging posts or worries about "distance per charge" specs. And they don’t look like waffles on wheels. So, yes, "zero charging" has finally been achieved for medium- to short-distance trips, filling the vacuum for full thin-film solar power vehicles on a commercial scale. Say Hello to the “Hanergy Solar R” The new sports EV goes by the name of "Hanergy Solar R” and it combines all the best of today’s solar tech: thin-film solar cells, light weight and high conversion efficiency.  The flexible and highly efficient thin-film solar cells and module allow these EVs to leverage the full potential of solar energy as a primary source of propulsion. The vehicles employ a number of precise control and managing systems, including a photoelectric conversion system, an energy storage system and an intelligent control system. Helping the Solar R go the distance without stopping… Read more

It’s mid summer and a lot o f companies are joining the solar powered bandwagon, offering an inventive slew of new gadgets that use sunlight as a power source (or at least partial power source). While they won’t save you thousands of dollars over their lifetime like solar roofing panels, they do move the ball toward solar use and fossil fuel independence. Here’s what solar diehards can invest in to make them feel good about embracing solar energy this summer.  Sunflower Phone Charger The Sunflower solar phone charger will finally put an end to those frequent battery changes and “low batt” warnings on your iPhone, Android or smartphone. According to PewResearch 66% of Americans own a smartphone. Charging these devices consumes billions of watt-hours annually. So the new solar charges not only save grid electricity but trips to the store for more batteries. Solar Powered Lawnmower You knew someone would invent one. The world’s first solar powered lawnmower. And it’s even robotic, so you can sit in your lawnchair sipping your umbrella drink while cutting your grass. Husqvarna robotic lawn… Read more

Throughout the world, ferryboats, houseboats and cruise boats have been a major polluter of backwaters that make up networks of lakes, rivers and canals. Many such boats emit offensive quantities of carbon dioxide, generate noise, and pose health hazards to people who reside on the shores they pass. These petro/diesel vessels also affect the natural ecology of lakes and waterways, even to the point of harming fish and fish catches. In Kerala, India, the State Water Transport Department has created a solution to the problem—Solar Powered Boats. Pioneering a Fleet of 51 Solar-Powered Boats Built through a joint venture between French company, AltEn and Indian firm, Navgathi, the 75-seat solar-powered ferry will serve the 2.5-km-long Vaikkom-Thavanakkadavu route in Vembanad Lake in Kottayam district. The new boat is propelled by two electric motors, which are powered by a 20kWp solar module array that charge the lithium battery packs.  Running at a maximum cruising speed of 7.5 knots, the 20-meter long, 7-meter wide boat can sail continuously for 6 1/2 hours on a sunny day. Better still, the new ferry is silent… Read more

During summer months, and especially in Sunbelt states, America eats up gigawatts of electricity to power residential air conditioners. This has, until now, come at the environment’s expense of burning tons of coal to keep us cool. Understandably, there’s a growing movement among conscientious Americans to get off the grid—either partially or entirely. Among the chief culprits is the energy guzzling AC unit. The time has come for AC units to be designed that include high conversion efficiency photovoltaic units to power them. Initially such units would work for smaller single-story homes or apartments. Truckers Had the Right Idea Truckers are a notoriously independent and inventive lot, eschewing high priced gadgets for simple, practical solutions. Driving for days across scorching summer highways in sunbelt states seemed to be the mother of invention in this case. And that invention was the highly efficient air conditioner developed by companies like Kingtec Technologies.  These direct current air conditioners, designed for the trucking and RV market have since morphed into a home or apartment unit that uses the same basic design principles. Anatomy of… Read more

Surgical sites are the leading cause of infection to patients in many 3rd world healthcare facilities. Nearly one-third of patients become infected, a rate nine times higher than patients in developed countries. The problem stems from medical instruments contaminated with microorganisms that have not been adequately cleaned and sterilized. Sterile processing procedures reduce the likelihood that microorganisms can transfer from patient to patient or to healthcare workers via contaminated instruments. As is many times the case, solar power offers a solution. Addressing a Need Modern healthcare facilities have the advantage of equipment, layout, infrastructure, protocols, and training to minimize infection risk. The physical layout separates decontamination from sterilization and storage of sterilized instruments. In addition, HVAC systems minimize airborne contamination. All this equipment and infrastructure are burdened with high upfront and operating costs, as well as steep energy requirements. For example, a steam sterilizer used in a small hospital consumes 0.78kw of power. This forces many healthcare facilities in developing countries to employ other sterile processing systems. Instead of electric powered washers, instruments are typically decontaminated by hand using bleach… Read more