Lift a sandbag and light up your home – all for $10 (The Gravity Light)

gravitylightThe user fills a bag with debris – sand, rocks, whatever comes to hand – which is threaded through a proprietary electricity-generating device (see sketch below right). Each hoist of the weight provides 30 minutes of low power LED lighting. A power out socket allows other devices to be charged and GravityLights can be daisy-chained together. In keeping with its Third World target market, it costs just $10.

Kits are going out to Guatemala, the Philippines and Bangladesh to gauge real user feedback. The proposition, Riddiford explained, is: do you want to save a few cents a day in fuel by lifting a weight? If people find that acceptable, then it’s likely to go to the next stage. The economics, Riddiford told us, are compelling. Each hoist saves about 1 cent’s worth of kerosene. Over two years this adds up to a saving of $100 – so the device pays for itself quite rapidly.

Some guinea pigs have baulked at paying the $10 upfront cost – which is understandable in markets where wages are $1 or $2 a day and credit is hard to find. This could be solved by providing the GravityLight under a hire-purchase or loan agreement; a common model in under-developed economies.

Lifting 20lbs of weight up to six feet in the air every few minutes isn’t something everyone would want to do. But in poor parts of the world the standard fuel, kerosene, is a carcinogen that can cause skin damage and breathing problems.

“Cases of accidental poisoning by children are still relatively common,” notes the World Health Organisation.

Read more here: The Register

Google’s Green Energy Brag: $375 Million from Taxpayers (or more)

greenOn September 13, 2013, Google announced that it had signed a contract to buy the entire output of the 239 MW Happy Herford “wind farm” that is being developed by Chermac Energy near Amarillo, Texas. The project is expected to begin operation in late 2014.

Undoubtedly Chermac Energy is pleased to have a 20-year contract (purchased power agreement) for the sale of the electricity that will be produced. The Google deal will provide the developer a guaranteed cash stream that will enable project financing.

Undoubtedly, Google is pleased with all the favorable publicity the company has received for being so environmentally committed even though the wind-generated electricity will not be used in a Google facility. Instead, according to Google, the electricity will be sold in the wholesale market and Google will purchase the electricity it needs from the utilities serving its facilities or a wholesale supplier. Google will “retire” the renewable energy credits (REC) resulting from the deal.

Read more:

Denmark wind subsidies push price of electricity to 300% of US prices

wind“German households now pay the second highest power costs in Europe, as much as 30% more than other Europeans. Only the Danes pay more, and both countries pay roughly 300% more for residential electricity than we Americans do. Slightly more than 12% of Germany’s electricity now comes from wind (7.8%) and solar (4.5%). Biomass provides 7%, and hydro 4%. Since the government plans to increase that renewables proportion to 35% by 2020, and to 80% by 2050, most of that must come from wind and solar because biomass and hydro won’t grow.

Yet despite huge investments, German wind has produced only about one-fifth of its installed capacity. Ironically, since shutting down some of their older nuclear plants in response to the nuclear accident in Japan, they now have to import nuclear power from France and the Czech Republic.”


Read more on Forbes

Bacteria Battery, Converts Glucose to Energy

bacteriaMIT has a competition known as the international Genetically engineered machine competition (iGEM). 10 students from Bielefeld have decided to work towards creating a bio-battery.

The idea is to take bacteria known as Escherichia coli and use it to convert glucose to energy. They started the project in May and have worked on the project in their free time in a laboratory in order to see their idea come to life.

The first test results came back and now they are at a stage of the project that is considered the most important part.

One of the team members by the name of Thorben Meyer went into detail on how the idea cam about. The team members knew that the demand for alternative energy in the world is at a record high. Governments, citizens, and non-profits are all grasping for ways to make their renewable energy dream come true.

The world has jumped the gun on conserving fossil fuels and closing down nuclear power plants and so a race is on to speed up the renewable energy advances in science.

Conventional batteries do not help with cleaning up the environment either and so they decided it would be best to focus on something besides large scale electricity production that pollutes the environment but on household batteries which also pollute and have very harmful things in them.

E coli Ag Res MagMany people dispose of their household batteries in their trash cans which make there way to land fills. These batteries have heavy metals and dangerous inorganic and organic electrolytes that can be released into the environment when they hit the landfills.

The Bio-Battery Represent an Alternative Energy Source

The Bielefel iGEM team has the main goal of creating an environmentally friendly bio-battery that is made up of Microbial fuel cells also known as MFC. This type of battery takes bacteria and transforms it into energy.

The bio-battery works very similar to a conventional battery but has the difference of containing bacteria in the anode area of the battery instead of the conventional electrolytes.

The bacteria breaks down glucose in a metabolic process which produces electrons which get started from the anode and delivered in an external loop to the cathode.

The external circuit becomes one with the battery-powered application such as a light bulb or small motor. This is the process of how a bio-battery can generate electric energy.

There are a great deal of advantages with this type of bio-battery such as simple construction for use in less developed areas of the world. A bio-battery is not dependent on the weather so unlike solar and wind you can have electricity anytime you need it.

As you nourish the battery you get more energy from the battery and it really i as simple as that. The more impressive advantage to the bio-battery is that there is an inexhaustible amount of bacteria  to create an unending supply of energy so long as they are supplied with substrates.

Right now the research in the laboratory is focused on picking the most effcicient type of bacterial organisms and their genetic components for the job.

By considering the combination of differing genes it is possible to optimize the organism Escherichia coli with the end game to generate electricity in the most efficient manner.

The students have been able to report on some beginning successes such as the isolation of various genes that will be used to carry electrons and the creation of the application that will be used to produce the electricity.

They plan to have an optimized bio-battery ready to go for small-scale use created by the time the preliminary round of the iGEM has been decided.

These Students Have Taken This Beyond The Lab

The team has to garner support via corporate sponsors to the tune of 20,000 Euros to take part in the competition so they can afford such things as travel and accommodation expenses.

These students have to make these contest arrangements, laboratory work, etc. all the while continuing their school studies. The main motivational factor for these 10 Molecular Biotechnology and Genome-Based Systems Biology students is simply to see a project through to completion and measure up nicely next to present modern day young scientists.

Beond measuring up the students will have a better idea of what it means to be involved in researching the processes and innovations that are available in the area of synthetic biology which most students will not have the chance to do until out of college.

The students have the full support of Professor Dr. Alfred Pühler, Professor Dr. Erwin Flaschel, Dr. Jörn Kalinowski as well as Dr. Christian Rückert from CeBiTec (Center for Biotechnology) from Bielefeld University

The Battle For The Top Award is Not Over

The iGEM competition is a fiercely fought after competition as it means a lot for those who win it both professionally and in what is accomplished in the process of becoming a winning team of scientists.

The contest is held annually at MIT since 2004 and what started as a course at MIT now is a contest with over 210 teams for year 2013. There is not a single better competition in the area of synthetic biology in all the world and it offers a proving ground for the next scientific geniuses of this era. The European first round takes place in Lyon, France from October 11-13th. From there the European teams will be decided and go on to Boston to take part in the final competition. It will not be out of line if Bielefeld University wins the competition considering they have been in the top 16 teams in the world the last two years in a row.

Atom Thick Solar Panels Around the Corner


Imagine producing solar panels that are lighter than tissue paper and only an atom thick.

Researchers at MIT have developed a way to make solar panels that are robust in many different weather conditions and yet span across just like a regular solar panel but are only 1 atom thick.

The panels are made using nano-materials such as graphene but there is an entire zoo of nano based materials that can be experimented with to create the ideal solar panel at a micro fraction of the cost of traditional solar panels.

The MIT researchers found that these solar panels could be built through a stacking method to produce a thousand times the amount of electricity a typical solar panel could generate.

At this stage its all a 2-D modelling experiment on computers but it is sound science and research on ways to manufacture these panels is under way.

With solar panels that are much less expensive than current panels and 1,000 times more capable I would be all for a government subsidy to get these things out to the public in mass.

The new solar cells generate 1,000 times more power than conventional photovoltaics and they are only 1 nanometer (billionth of a meter) thick.

It’s fifty times thinner than the now bankrupt Solyndra inferior solar cells that were funded by the Obama administration for the purpose of enriching the liberal elite and winning environmentalist votes all at the same time.

When it comes to winning the race on the thinnest solar cell they have done it already because how can you get smaller than an atom?

There are renewable energy projects and subsides that make sense like something like this that offers a real advantage over existing technology and than their are the Solyndra’s and Solar City inferior technology projects that continue to lose tens of millions of dollars a quarter.

Here is to hoping this latest development in solar technology hits the store shelves at lightening pace and moves us into a common sense affordable solution to off-grid solar power.



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