Friday, November 30, 2012

Ultra-Efficient Car From Audi With 282 MPG

Source: Clean Technica

Audi is developing an ultra-efficient car with gas mileage of 282 miles per gallon (mpg), or about 120 km per litre. Imagine that Toyota Prius is around 60 to 70 mpg.

Audi revealed they are working on a project known as “1.0-litre car” that will seat four people and deliver up to 282 mpg. The car will be based of Audi A1 platform. The “1.0-litre car” will be both affordable and practical, using some kind of hybrid system most likely in conjunction with a small diesel engine.

Price Trend of German Solar Photovoltaic Installation

Up to 300 solar power system operators have taken part in a monthly poll to study the grid-connected photovoltaic system cost in Germany. The prices are net prices (Euro/kWp) for turnkey solar systems up to 100 kW. PV cost has dropped more than 60% from €4,110 in Jan. 2009 to €1,600 in Oct. 2012.

In ringgit, it is about RM6,400 per kW to install PV system in Germany. Currently, we are looking at around RM12,000 per kWp in Malaysia, which is double than Germany. It will be even more expensive in Sabah (East Malaysia). Hopefully with the implementation of SEDA, the solar installation in Malaysia would quickly come down.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Preserve Food Without Refrigerator

A project named "save food from the refrigerator" by Jihyun Ryou teaches you how to keep your produce fresh without storing them in the refrigerator. According to Ryou,

"This project is about traditional oral knowledge which has been accumulated from experience and transmitted by mouth to mouth. Particularly focusing on the food preservation, it looks at a feasible way of bringing that knowledge into everyday life".

Few tips from the project:

(1) Apple emits a lot of ethylene gas that will speed up the ripening process of fruits and vegetable. So, don't store your apple together with other produce.

(2) Apple is bad to store with other produce but when combined with potato it prevents potato from sprouting. Also, make sure to store potato in dark.

(3) Keeping vegetables vertically makes them fresh for a longer time. Ryou used a sand container to keep the vegetables upright. Also, the sand helps to maintain the freshness of the vegetables by retaining the humidity.

(4) We tend to think zucchini, aubergine, cucumber, etc. as vegetables. But they are biologically fruits. Store them above a water tray will keep them fresh longer.

For more info visit: 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Traffic Related Pollution Links To Child Autism

A new study conducted by Heather E. Volk, PhD, MPH, of University of Southern California, indicated that exposure to traffic-related air pollution during pregnancy and first-year of the child's life may associated with an increased risk of child autism.

The study compared 279 autistic children with 245 regular children. At the time the study started, the children were ages 2 to 5 years. Volk used the mothers' address to estimate exposure to pollution during each trimester of pregnancy and during the child's first year of life. They used information from the USA Environmental Protective Agency and performed traffic modeling to figure out amount of traffic-related pollution at each location. They also looked at exposure to particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide. Children who lived in the place with the highest estimated levels of traffic pollution were 3 times more likely to have autism than those living in the lowest pollution area.

Volk says her study suggests, but does not confirm, that air pollution may play a role in whether a child develops autism.

I guess now we have another reason to reduce traffic pollution, like off the car engine if not running for more than 30 seconds.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What Is Photovoltaic?

What does photovoltaic mean? The word of photovoltaic is a combination of two Greek words:

Photo = Light
Voltaic = Electricity

Photovoltaic (PV) energy is a technology to directly convert light energy into electrical energy. When light with suitable energy strikes the PV material, electrons (negatively charged) and holes (positively charged) are formed within the material. When connected to an external conducting path, the circuit is complete, thus providing useful electrical energy for powering up an electric load.

Currently, mono-crystalline silicon and poly-crystalline silicon occupy 80% to 90% of the PV market.

Nomenclature of photovoltaic

(1) Cell: Basic unit forming PV module.

(2) Module: A series of PV cells and commonly called "panel".

(3) String: A series connection of PV modules.

(4) Array: A combination of PV strings.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

First Skyscraper With Built-In Wind Turbines

The 148 meters, 43 storey, Strata SE1 (also known as The Razor by the local) located in the London, UK, is the world first skyscraper to incorporate wind turbines as part of its building architecture. The three nine-meter wind turbines use a 5-blade design instead of 3-blade to cut down noise and will produce total of 19 kW of power. With 40 mph of wind-speed expected at the top of Strata SE1 every year the turbines could generate 50 MWh of energy, which is equivalent to 8% of the building annual electricity consumption.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

World's Most Energy-Efficient TV

Super-Efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment (SEAD) Initiative first Global Efficiency Medal competition has recognized Samsung and LG for making the world most energy-efficient TVs. They have produced TVs which are 33% to 44% more energy-efficient than their competitors. The award contains 3 categories, including small, medium and large size TVs.

The program is meant to promote the production of more efficient technology, to spur innovation and encourage consumer to use better efficiency appliances.

The winners in the 3 categories are:

(1) Small-size TV (less than 29 inches): Samsung UN26EH4000F, with 22-watt consumption.

(2) Medium-size TV (29 to less than 42 inches): Samsung UE40EH5000W and UN40EH5000F, both with 44-watt consumption.

(3) Large-size TVs (42 inches and above): LG 47LM670S, with 43-watt consumption.

The LG's 47LM670S 47 inches TV also won the Global Emerging Technology category which is 59% more efficient than its peer.

For more info please visit SuperEfficient.Org.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Apple's New "Spaceship" Headquarters

Apples' new 4-story headquarter will be built on a 176 acres land in Cupertino, California, and shaped like a round "spaceship". It was designed by Foster & Partners, and first presented by Steve Jobs to the Cupertino City Council back in 2011, few months before he passed away. The estimated building cost is US$500 million.

  • 2.8 million square feet of space
  • Accommodate 14,200 employees
  • 1,000 seat auditorium
  • Gym
  • 300,000 square feet of R&D facilities
  • 10,500 parking spots
The original opening of the building was set to 2015. Due to a small delay in the council's development plan approval, now we are looking at around mid-2016.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Which Part Of Malaysia Is Best For Solar Energy?

Malaysia is located in an average region when come to solar installation. Even though it is situated very near to the equator, high percentage of cloudy and rainy day has blocked sunlight to reach the ground. Below picture shows the global solar radiation map. Clearly can see that Malaysia is just having an average amount of solar radiationy.
Image source: World Resources Institute

Even within Malaysia, the amount of solar energy received varies from place to place. The variation can range up to 25%.

So, where is the best location for solar installation in Malaysia?

The answer is "northern part of Malaysia"! According to the data published by Photovoltaic Monitoring Centre of Universiti Teknology MARA, the best location is Kudat which receives 1979.9 kWh/m2 of solar energy annually.

If we install 1 kW of solar system each in Kuala Lumpur and Kudat, the system in Kudat will receive about 25% more of energy than the one in Kuala Lumpur. This means Kudat will have a shorter system payback time than Kuala Lumpur.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Preservatives Keep Snack Fresh After 36 Years

Hostess Brands Inc., the famous US snack maker of Twinkies, has filed for bankruptcy after 82 years of operation. This action also resurfaced a 36-year-old lecture-room experiment happened in George Stevens Academy.

Back in 1976, science professor Roger Bennatti was lecturing about the prevalence of chemical preservatives in processed foods. One of the students offered a leftover Twinkie to carry out an in-class experiment impromptu. Professor Bennatti then left the Twinkie on top of an intercom box and questioned how long could the preservatives kept the snack fresh.

It was still unresolved when professor Bennatti retired in 2005. The world's oldest Twinkie was looked just about as good as new. He then put the Twinkie in a glass box and presented to the Dean of the academy.

My question is "Would you put such a processed snack into your stomach?".

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How Much Does UK Spend To Process Its Nuclear Waste?

UK's Department of Energy & Climate Change has budgeted £2.5 billion (~RM12.2 billion) for 2012/2013 fiscal year to handle the "nuclear legacy", including nuclear waste management and nuclear plant decommissioning.

Even with this high figure, UK's National Audit Office has brought up the question of whether cost estimates for decommissioning future nuclear power plants may have been underestimated.

Below picture shows the estimated and actual cost of UK's Sellafield project of nuclear legacy. It clearly shows that planning could never catch up with reality when dealing with nuclear power.
In March 2012, our Malaysia government said that while our natural oil reserves would last until 2021, we would continue investigating alternative energy sources, including nuclear power.

During 2010 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., USA, Our Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin said that Malaysia had been preparing for the time when it might turn to nuclear energy, including training in-country experts and making sure to follow through on the various obligations.

I hope that when we plan for nuclear power plant our smart leaders would have considered everything from head to toe when saying nuclear plan is cheaper than other source of energy, and won't fall into the same planning mistake like UK when dealing with nuclear legacy.

Source: How Much Does Nuclear Waste Processing Cost The UK? by Nicholas Brown

Who Is The Greenest Electronics Makers?

Greenpeace has just published its 18th annual Guide to Greener Electronics, ranking 16 leading global companies in the market for mobile devices, PCs and TVs, based on their commitment and progress in three environmental criteria: Energy and Climate, Greener Products, and Sustainable Operations.

Indian tech giant Wipro has hiked up into the top spot in the ranking with its ambitious commitments to cutting carbon emissions and sourcing energy from renewable sources. Last year champion HP has dropped to second. Below table shows you the ranking of top 16 electronics giants and also their 2011 ranking.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Super Kids that Will Save The World From Adults

I was reading an article about super kids. Their imagination, creativity and bold action really amazed me. The average age of those kids were around 12 years old, with the youngest one was only 6. I will list out few to intrigue your curiosity.

(1) A 14-year-old turned his grandfather's '72 VW Beetle into an electric car.

(2) A 16-year-old identified two strains of bacteria that work together to decompose plastic bags.

(3) A 14-year-old school drop-out self-educated African boy designed and built windmill to generate electricity.

(4) A 12-year-old developed a solar cell that is 500 times more efficient than the one we have now.

(5) A 13-year-old Kenyan boy used broken LED flashlights to create a lighting system that tricks lions into thinking humans are patrolling the area to protect his family's livestock.

What were we doing when we were their age????

Replacing Old Fluorescent Tube With Energy-Efficient T5 Retrofit

What is T5? 
T5 is the fluorescent light tube that is 5/8 of an inch in diameter, comparing to the commonly used T8 fluorescent tube that is one inch in diameter. T5 is an increasingly popular development in fluorescent lighting. The "T" in lamp nomenclature represents the shape of the lamp-tubular. The number following the "T" represents the diameter of the lamp in eighths of an inch.
Advantages of T5.
  1. Lower power consumption. T5 consumes 28 watts, whereas T8 tube typically consumes 40 watts to 46 watts ( tube = 36 watts, ballast = 4 watts to 10 watts).
  2. Longer lifespan. T5 rated 20,000 hours and T8 only rated 8,000 hours.
  3. High power factor > 0.95. T8 has power factor of < 0.50.
  4. Lower mercury content, only 1/3 of the conventional T8.
  5. Instant starting and no flickering.
  6. Quiet operation without any humming noise.
  7. Cooler temperature, reducing load on air conditioning system.
  8. Lower light output degradation over time.
T5 retrofit.

T5 retrofit is designed to directly plug into the existing T8 fixture, without the need of any re-work. This makes T5 retrofit an ideal replacement of existing T8. The retrofitting procedure is as follows.

   (1) Remove T8 tube.         (2) Remove starter.          (3) Install T5 retrofit.             (4) Done.


In Sabah, T8 fluorescent tubes are still widely used in residential and commercial buildings. Lets assume replacing 100,000 pieces of T8 with T5 retrofit that running 12 hours daily, every year we could save,
  1. Save about 6,000 MWh of electricity.
  2. Save about RM2 millions of electricity bill.
  3. Reduce about 4,100 tons of carbon dioxide.
Operating 24 hours a day, the retrofit could pay back itself in less than a year with the saved electricity bill.
There are a lot of T5 products in the market. Some of them claimed to only consumed 22 watts or even 20 watts, and much cheaper price. But most likely they are sacrificing the output performance with only able to produce less than 2,000 lumens at the given wattage. A good 4 feet T5 fluorescent tube should be able to produce more than 2,500 lumens of light at 28 watts or less.
When shopping for T5 or T5 retrofit, please be caution and always good to shop around and compare.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

You Have Never Experienced A Colder-Than-Average Month If You Are 27 Or Younger

The surface temperature of global land and ocean are making record high again this year. According to NOAA:

"The average combined global land and ocean surface temperature for October 2012 tied with 2008 as the fifth warmest October on record, at 0.63°C (1.13°F) above the 20th century average of 14.0°C (57.1°F). Records began in 1880." 

"The globally-averaged land surface temperature for October 2012 was the eighth warmest October on record, at 0.92°C (1.66°F) above average. The globally-averaged ocean surface temperature tied with 2004 as the fourth warmest October on record, at 0.52°C (0.94°F) above average." 

"The average combined global land and ocean surface temperature for January–October 2012 was the eighth warmest such period on record, at 0.58°C (1.04°F) above the 20th century average."

Philip Bump emphasized that if you are 27 years old or younger, then you have never lived through a month that was colder than the average.

The year 2012 marks a remarkably dry year for USA. The great drought is expected to cut USA's GDP by 0.5% to 1%. Using 2011 GDP number, this translates into US$75.5 to US$150.9 billion, which is equivalent to 27% to 54% of Malaysia 2011 GDP. WOW!

I guess this is a record that we won't be proud of. So, what can we do to help?

Friday, November 16, 2012

History Of Solar Panel

In 1839, French physicist Edmond Becquerel first discovered the photovoltaic effect while experimenting with an electrolytic cell made up of two metal electrodes. In 1883, American inventor Charles Fritts developed the very first solar panel using thin layer of selenium on gold with efficiency less than 1%.

Modern day silicon solar cell that dominates today solar panel market was invented in 1954 by Bell Laboratories, USA. Then it was called the "solar battery".  G.L. Pearson, C.S. Fuller, and D.M. Chapin created the first solar panel using several strips of silicon. This very first silicon solar panel merely had 6% of efficiency. Below pictures show the first silicon solar panel from Bell Lab.
I couldn't find the power output of this panel. Looking at the size of the panel and knowing it had 6% of efficiency, I guess the output was less than 5 watts.

For more info visit

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Shrink-Wrap A Cucumber Is Actually Good For The Environment

All the while I was thinking when we shrink-wrapped a cucumber we were generating more plastic waste and creating more environmental hazard. Actually I was wrong! Shrink-wrap actually has a net gain for the environment.

According to the book Why Shrink-Wrap a Cucumber: A Complete Guide to Environmental Packaging an unwrapped cucumber loses 3.5% of its weight after just three days of sitting out While a shrink-wrapped cucumber will only lose 1.5% of its weight over 2 weeks.

In U.K., one third of all food is simply thrown away. We often let the food rotted before we remember to take it out of the fridge for dinner. Shrink-wrapped a cucumber actually prevents food waste; reduces the use of fertilizer, water, and pesticides for growing more cucumbers to replace wasted ones; reduces fossil fuels used to transport them; and reduces methane gas production while throwing away.

In conclusion, even we use more plastic when shrink-wrapping a cucumber, considering the whole-cycle from cucumber growing, transporting, wasting and ending in landfill, the practice actually produces a net gain for the environment.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Global Carbon Emissions Set New Record High in 2011

International Energy Agency has reported early this year that the global CO2 emission rose 3.2% in 2011. This is higher than the number from Germany's renewable energy institute of 2.5%. Either figure has set a new record high of CO2 emission.

From the German's report:
  • Global CO2 emission was 34 billion tonnes in 2011, 50% higher than the global emissions in 1990.
  • China ranked #1 with 8.9 billion tonnes, or 6.6 tonnes per person, an increase of 0.6 billion tonnes. The per person emission is similar to those of low-emitting nations within the European Union.
  • United States ranked #2 with 6 billion tonnes, or 19 tonnes per person.
  • India ranked #3, followed by Russia, Japan, and Germany.