Tuesday, April 30, 2013

New LED Streetlight System With Improved Efficiency And Lower Light Pollution

International team of researchers from Mexico and Taiwan has come out with a new LED streetlight system which would greatly reduce light pollution and improve efficiency. The system is set up so that the high-efficiency LEDs only shine where they are needed.

With regards to the new lamp design, here are more details:

“[It's] based on a novel three-part lighting fixture. The first part contains a cluster of LEDs, each of which is fitted with a special lens, called a Total Internal Reflection (TIR) lens, that focuses the light so the rays are parallel to one another instead of intersecting — a process called collimation. These lens-covered LEDs are mounted inside a reflecting cavity, which ‘recycles’ the light and ensures that as much of it as possible is used to illuminate the target. Finally, as the light leaves the lamp it passes through a diffuser or filter that cuts down on unwanted glare. The combination of collimation and filtering also allows researchers to control the beam’s shape: the present design yields a rectangular light pattern ideally suited for street lighting.”

The performance of the system was quantified by the researchers using optical utilization factor (OUF) — a number that “describes the relationship between the flow rate of light at the target and the flow rate of light coming directly out of the LEDs.” The higher the OUF is, the better the performance. This new LED streetlight showed an OUF of 51% to 81%, a potentially huge improvement over other recent “excellent” designs, that achieved 45%.

In conventional streetlights, as high as a “20% of their total energy is directed horizontally or upward into the sky.” And even in the best LED streetlights, this number is still as high as 10%. But in the new design, only 2% of the streetlight's total energy is wasted as light pollution.

A general LED streetlight could reduce power consumption by 40% to 60%. The new LED streetlight could give additional 10% to 50% of energy-saving. Prototype of the design is expected within the next 3 to 6 months, according to the researchers. Installations of the new street lamp may begin as early as 2014.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Displaying Chinese Characters In Windows XP

Last week I bought a Chinese handwriting input pad, by UnisCom 紫光电子, to use in my old Windows XP laptop. Even though I already had the "Control Panel -> Regional and Language Options -> Languages -> Install files for East Asia languages" option checked, when launching the Chinese Handwriting software, it was still unable to display the Chinese characters properly in the software. I also installed the "谷歌拼音输入法2.0" but same problem.

Finally, I found a fix in Microsoft. It is called Microsoft AppLocale Utility.

According to Microsoft:
"AppLocale (or Application Locale) is a temporary solution to these limitations caused by non-Unicode applications running on the Unicode (UTF-16) based Windows XP. AppLocale detects the language of the legacy application and simulates a corresponding system locale for code-page to/from Unicode conversions."


(2) Install AppLocale.

(3) Launch AppLocale and browse to the application you want AppLocale to simulate.

(4) Select desired language.

(4) Check "Create a shortcut to always run this application with AppLocale".

Now, launch the application from the AppLocale newly created shortcut and you will have a perfect Chinese characters.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Green Roof

A green roof, or living roof, is a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with certain types of vegetation. Green roofs have many advantages and can be installed with relative ease.

Advantages of green roof:
  • Reduce heating or cooling
  • Reduce stormwater run off
  • Natural habitat creation
  • Filter pollutants and carbon dioxide out of the air which helps lower disease rates such as asthma
  • Filter pollutants and heavy metals out of rainwater
  • Help to insulate a building for sound; the soil helps to block lower frequencies and the plants block higher frequencies
  • Increase agricultural space
  • Moderate water temperature and act as natural filters for any of the water that happens to run off

Installing a Green Roof
(1) Install waterproof membrane on the roof to protect it from water damage. They come in many different varieties, from asphalt to liquid membranes.

(2) Add insulation to protect the roof from roots attempting to grow around and through it, causing costly damage. Two good choices to use are concrete or cellular glass.

(3) Add drainage layer. This layer should be made of pumice, gravel, and similar materials. Drainage layers are necessary to send excess water to the roof’s gutter system.

(4) Place filter fabric over the drainage layer for keeping the growing medium in place. This filter needs to be porous so that water can drain properly. Polyester and polypropylene are good material to use.

(5) Place growing medium. This should be a mixture of sand, crushed clay, topsoil, and humus. The depth of the soil mixture should be about 3 inches or more.

Additional step:
(6) With the proper soil ready, now you can install a drip irrigation system. Drip irrigation will save you a lot of hassle by giving the proper amount of water to the roots as needed. Fertilizer can also be given to plants by drip irrigation.

(7) Finally, add plants. The type of plants placed on your roof should be able to tolerate sun, wind, and frost or heat exposure. Avoid placing small trees on the roof; they need too much soil depth and are too heavy for the roof.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Which American Organizations Use The Most Green Power

U.S.A. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the updated list of the top 50 organizations in the US that get their electricity from green power, based on the annual green power usage in kWh. Using green power helps reduce the environmental impacts of electricity use and supports the development of new renewable generation capacity nationwide.

Below table shows the top 10 organizations. Some organizations have archived more than 100% because they purchased more green power than they consumed.

Source: http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/toplists/top50.htm

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Air Pollution Kills Six Millions Annually, More than AIDS And Malaria Combined

April 9, 2013, U.N. announced that the health impact from air pollution has been underestimated  and a shift to cleaner energy could easily halve the toll by 2030.

According to a 2012 WHO study found that 3.5 million people die early annually from indoor air pollution and 3.3 million from outdoor air pollution. Toxic particles shorten lives by causing diseases such as pneumonia and cancer. Most victims from indoor pollution, caused by wood fires and primitive stoves in developing nations, were women and children.

By comparison, U.N. reports show there were about 1.7 million AIDS-related deaths in 2011 and malaria killed about 660,000 people in 2010.

Besides life, air pollution also has a massive financial toll. In 2009, it has caused between 102 and 169 billion euros for European Union. According to European Environment Agency:
50% of the total damage cost occurs as a result of emissions from just 2 % of the approximately 10,000 facilities that reported data for releases to air.
3/4 of the total damage costs are caused by the emissions 6 % of the total number.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The World's Most Energy-Efficient LED Lamp From Philips

On April 11, 2013, Philips announced a new innovation in LED lighting, creating the world's most energy-efficient LED lamp suitable for general lighting applications. Philips researchers developed a tube lighting (TL) that produces a record 200 lumens per watt of high-quality white light. This prototype TLED lamp is twice as efficient as predecessor lamps, basically halving the energy used. Below table shows the performance of various lighting technologies.
With lighting accounting for more than 19% of the world's total electricity consumption, this innovation promises to drive massive energy and cost savings across the globe. The 200lm/W TLED lamp is expected to hit the market in 2015 for office and industry applications before ultimately being used in the home.

Significant energy and cost savings
The TLED lamps are intended to replace fluorescent tube lighting used in office and industry, which currently account for more than half of the world's total lighting. Conversion to the twice-as-efficient 200lm/W TLED lamps will generate significant energy and cost savings.

In the US alone, by switching to TLED, every year it could reduce around 100 terawatt-hours of energy (equivalent to 50 medium sized power plants), save more than US$12 billion and preventing around 60 million metric tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.

Source: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases-test/philips-creates-the-worlds-most-energy-efficient-warm-white-led-lamp-202534551.html

Friday, April 12, 2013

Malaysia Newly Released 20MW Solar Photovoltaic Quota Taken Up Within An Hour

Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) Malaysia released 20 MW of solar PV quota for non-individuals under the 500kW category on 2nd April 2013 at 12.00pm and the quota was taken up within the first hour of the release. This fast take up rate of solar PV quota took place against the backdrop of the recent increase of degression rate from 8% to 20%, for installed capacity greater than 24 kW. There were altogether 137 solar PV applications submitted via the e-FiT online system by the end of the hour.
SEDA had made an early analysis that 99.45% of the solar PV capacities submitted in the e-FiT online system were larger than 24 kW which had the higher degression rate. Thus, SEDA believed that the new 20% degression rate for solar PV projects larger than 24 kW is still commercially viable.
SEDA advised those who are successful in obtaining the quota to ensure their solar PV system will achieve FiT Commencement Date by 31st December 2013 to ensure they enjoy the feed in tariff rate for this year. Those who are unable to commission their system before 1st January 2014 will have their rates degressed by another 20%.

SEDA has also received a directive from the Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water (KeTTHA) that effective 1st January 2014, until 31st December 2017, the degression rate for individual solar PV will be reduced to 0%. Currently, the degression rate for solar PV for individuals is set to 8%. With this the Ministry hopes for greater public participation in the Solar Home Rooftops Programme. The Government anticipates with more engagement in solar PV by home owners will result in a greater willingness from the public to contribute to the renewable energy (RE) fund.
Hopefully that SEDA, Sabah government and SESB could reach an agreement of the 1% levy soon that we Sabahan could participate in the FiT program.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Peel-And-Stick Thin Film Solar Cells

Hanyang University, South Korea, and Standford University, U.S.A., have successfully developed a  peel-and-stick Si thin film solar cells (TFSCs). The Si wafer is clean and reusable. Moreover, as the peeled-off TFSCs from the Si wafer are thin, light-weight, and flexible, it can be attached onto any form or shape of surface like a sticker.

Professor Dong Rip Kim of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Hanyang University, said, "This method makes possible the overcoming of hardships related to working with traditional solar cells, namely the lack of handling, high manufacturing cost, and limited flexibility while maintaining performance."

One of the main aims of this research was to bring down the price of solar cells. Another was to make solar cells that were not so rigid and heavy, which brings vulnerabilities and demands a lot of concentration in handling. Such limitations have certainly influenced wider application and use, even though solar cells are considered essential to advance renewable energy causes and tackle global warming.

Unlike with standard Si wafers or glass substrates, the researchers use the same fabrication method for these peel-and-stick solar cells but add a metal layer between the fabricated a-Si:H TFSCs and the underlying Si/SiO2 wafer. Importantly, Kim and his colleagues made the light-weight flexible solar cells without modifying any existing fabrication processes, and their performance was maintained even after the transfer. Kim states that their novel technology is not limited to the solar cells only. Numerous other appliances like flexible displays can adopt his method.

Prof. Kim will continue focusing on creating highly efficient, but low costing energy conversion devices with nanotechnology. Moreover, his future research will focus on applying his method in other types of solar cells and in other applications.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Xenon Lighing - Another Environmentally-Friendly Light Bulb

Nowadays, when we talked about energy-saving lighting usually we referred to CFLs or LEDs. We might have overlooked another potential lighting technology - xenon! While not usually on the tip of our tongues when it comes to energy efficiency, xenon can be a very environmentally-friendly option in certain cases.

What is Xenon Lighting?
The xenon light is a kind of incandescent light bulb. It has the familiar tungsten filament within its glass envelope that fills with xenon gas, which glows when electricity flows through it.

How Long To Xenon Lamps Last?
Xenon light last an average of 10,000 hours – 10 times longer than regular incandescent lights, and 5 times longer than halogen light bulbs. This is because the xenon gas slows down the tungsten filament degradation making it lasts longer than regular incandescent bulbs.

How Efficient Are Xenon Lamps?
The xenon gas also allows the lamp to generate more light using less energy. When excited by electricity, the gas itself glows bright white. This makes it easier for the light to achieve its lumen output. On average, xenon light bulbs are about 33% more efficient than regular incandescent light bulbs.

Where Can You Use Xenon?
 Xenon lights are commonly found in homes and businesses, used for task lighting, accent lighting, cove lighting, and under cabinet lighting. They’re also a common source for car headlights.

How You Can Go Green with Xenon Light Bulbs

1. When Using a Dimmer…
A dimmer switch is one of the most environmentally-friendly lighting accessories you can invest in and xenon light bulbs are compatible with standard dimmers, but there are many CFLs and LEDs that aren’t dimmable at all.

If you dim a light bulb by 10%, you will save 10% of the energy and double the light bulb lifespan. If you dim by 50%, you will save 40% of the energy and increase the light bulb lifespan by 20-fold.

2. In Unstable Environments…
If your area is prone to voltage fluctuations, xenon lighting is also one of the greener choices, especially when compared with fluorescent lights. Xenon lights are very tolerant of unstable voltages, which results in a longer rated life. However, voltage spikes can shorten the rated life of a fluorescent, sometimes dramatically.

3. When Recycling…
Xenon light bulbs are much easier to dispose of especially compared to CFLs as CFLs contain mercury that require special treatment. Xenon light bulbs don’t contain any mercury, so they’re much easier to recycle. If one breaks in your home or building, you won’t have to worry about exposing yourself to harmful toxins, or introducing them into the atmosphere.

Managing Sabah’s Rich Biodiversity Through SaBC

Jungles in Sabah are classified as tropical rainforests and host a diverse array of plant and animal species. Sabah government is strengthening the management, conservation, protection and regulations of its rich biological resources through the establishment of the Sabah Biodiversity Enactment (SBE) 2000.

SBE shall be the guiding framework for Sabah Biodiversity Council (SBC) and Sabah Biodiversity Centre (SaBC) as government strategies in enhancing the governance of the biodiversity in the State. SaBC’s core activities include development of holistic and prudent biodiversity management strategy and sustainable optimum utilization in Sabah.

According to SaBC director, Dr Abdul Fatah Amir:

SaBC will promote education and knowledge of the biodiversity in Sabah as well as traditional knowledge and benefit-sharing of the biological resources.

SaBC will also be promoting the identification of new natural and biotechnological products derived from biodiversity and biological resources of the state.

SaBC had developed a platform to integrate information on state biodiversity. The state-funded project will cost RM1.9 million. This database system is to provide an integrating platform to store, integrate, presort, retrieve, share, access, analyze, infer, discover and report many heterogeneous across diverse domain aspects and voluminous biodiversity collection data from different key agencies.

Through SaBC and UMS, Sabah has started a two-year (2013-2014) project to explore the state’s biodiversity for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical potential. SaBC is also collaborating with the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO) to establish the national Traditional Knowledge Digital Library to,

- protect the indigenous people’s traditional knowledge (TK) associated with biological resources in Malaysia.

- use the resource of MyIPO patent examiners as a referral point in carrying out advanced prior art search and examination on non-patentable literature that deals with TK.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

28,000 Rivers In China Have Disappeared

Last Thursday I blogged about 55% of the rivers and streams in U.S. were in poor conditions. Those rivers were tested with high level of mercury and bacteria, lower oxygen level due to increasing nitrogen and phosphorus concentration, etc. Now, China is also having water issue that more than half of its nation's rivers are missing.

All the while China claimed to have 50,000 rivers, with catchment area more than 100 square kilometers, across the nation. Recent survey showed that more than half of them have disappeared. 800,000 surveyors spent 3 years throughout the China to do the first ever national census of water. The official study said that only 22,909 rivers were left, as of the end of 2011.

Part of the reason causing the "loss" was that previous estimates were wrong. Due to limited technology in the past, the previous figures were estimated using incomplete topographical maps dating back to the 1950s. But that doesn't explain everything. Climate change, soil loss, and water loss are also to blame, according to Huang He, the deputy director of the group in charge of the census. Deforestation and inefficient agricultural irrigation techniques are no doubt also big contributors to the problem.

The study revealed that China had over 93,000 reservoirs, but warned it had a limited ability to regulate and control water resources due to their small water capacities.

China regularly battles deadly floods and downpours which affect millions each year. More than 66% of the population and 90% of all cities are located in regions threatened by floods.

Since 1949, China's water usage has increased more than fivefold due to its rapid economic development and growing population. The nation needs a serious rethink of how it protects its natural resources.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mushrooms Could Be Used To Curb Greenhouse Gases

A new study called Roots and Associated Fungi Drive Long-Term Carbon Sequestration in Boreal Forests has suggested that mushrooms might be a key to natural carbon sequestration. Mushrooms are capable of removing large amounts of carbon dioxide from the air and safely storing it in forests – even after the trees die.

Northern hemisphere forests are a critical component of nature’s ability to remove carbon because they cover 11% of the Earth’s surface across Europe, Asia, and North America, and they contain 16% of all carbon sequestered worldwide. In the study, scientists examined how carbon sequestration occurs in northern boreal forests at 30 sites across Sweden. They theorized that Mycorrhizal fungi, a common type of root-based mushroom, is responsible for converting or sequestering a majority of all carbon pulled out of the atmosphere by trees in the northern hemisphere.

All the while we believe that most carbon pulled out of the air by trees winds up being stored in dead needles, leaves, and moss. But during the study, the scientists discovered between 47% - 70% of all sequestered carbon was being delivered to the tree roots as sugars and “eaten” by the Mycorrhizal fungi, which then expels waste residue into the soil.

Thus, a majority of carbon deposits are found at deeper levels in the soil instead of at or close to the forest floor. In addition, the researchers noted that many fungi act as decomposers and create a net release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere – but Mycorrhizal is a notable exception.


Mushrooms A Complete Climate Solution?

This new finding could change the way we look at forests as carbon sinks in a warming world, because if most carbon sequestration occurs in soil instead of decomposing as dead plant matter on the surface, the overall net impact of higher temperatures and invasive pests killing trees may be lower than anticipated.

By itself, Mycorrhizal would be strong evidence of the fungal ability to fight climate change, but to truly appreciate the mighty mushroom we’ve also got to consider the contributions of the ancient Agaricomycetes, or white rot fungus.

So as a whole, fungi have not only stopped coal formation but are now helping deal with mankind’s addiction to fossil fuels.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

55% of USA's Rivers & Streams Are in Poor Condition

Last month U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the results of the first comprehensive survey looking at the health of approximately 2,000 river and streams across U.S. done between 2008 and 2009. They found that only 21% of the rivers and streams were deemed to be in good health, 23% were in fair condition and remaining 55% were in poor condition.

According to the Office of Water Acting Assistant Administrator Nancy Stoner:

“The health of our Nation’s rivers, lakes, bays and coastal waters depends on the vast network of streams where they begin, and this new science shows that America’s streams and rivers are under significant pressure,”

“We must continue to invest in protecting and restoring our nation’s streams and rivers as they are vital sources of our drinking water, provide many recreational opportunities, and play a critical role in the economy.”

Findings of the assessment include:

- Nitrogen and phosphorus, known as nutrient pollution, are at excessive levels.
27% of the nation’s rivers and streams have excessive levels of nitrogen, and 40% have high levels of phosphorus. High level of nitrogen and phosphorus will promote the growth of algae that harms water quality, food resources and habitats, and decreases the oxygen that fish and other aquatic life need to survive.

- Rivers and streams are at an increased risk due to decreased vegetation cover and increased human disturbance. These conditions can cause streams and rivers to be more vulnerable to flooding, erosion, and pollution. Vegetation along rivers and streams slows the flow of rainwater so it does not erode stream banks, removes pollutants carried by rainwater and helps maintain water temperatures that support healthy streams for aquatic life. Approximately 24% of the rivers and streams monitored were rated poor due to the loss of healthy vegetative cover.

- 9% of rivers have high level of bacteria making it unsafe for swimming and other recreations.

More than 13,000 miles of rivers have fish with mercury levels that may be unsafe for human consumption that may harm unborn baby or young child's nervous system.