Thursday, April 24, 2014

7 Ways To Protect Your Eyes

(1) Dim the lights:
You want your computer screen to be the brightest thing in the room. You want your office space to have as few ‘bright spots’ and as indirect shining on you as possible.

(2) Reduce glare:
Glare usually means there is one spot on your screen that is particularly bright. Your eyes will have trouble adjusting to the brightness of the glare with the rest of the screen which can result in discomfort.

(3) Minimize blue light exposure:
All electronic devices emit blue light and you should definitely avoid exposing yourself to blue light at least 2-3 hours before bed, as it disrupts your circadian rhythm. You can try programs like flux which adapts the color of your computer screen to the time of day.

(4) Follow the 20-20-20 rule:
Look away from your computer or screen every 20 minutes and focus on a distant object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

(5) Make your workspace eye friendly:
Most of us have our desks setup completely wrong. Rule-of-thumb is that your eyes should level with the top of the screen. Try this website to help you figure out how to optimize your workstation to protect your eyes.

(6) Take vitamin-A:
Retinal is processed vitamin A, and retinal is essential to the process your rhodopsin (also known as visual purple, a biological pigment in our eye's photoreceptor cells of the retina that is responsible for the first events in the perception of light) goes through when you perceive light. The average human needs between 700-900 micrograms or 5,000 International Units (IU) of vitamin A every day.

Sweet potatoes, carrots, leafy greens all have high levels of vitamin A in them, so get to noshing.

(7) Listen to what your eyes try to tell your:
If your eyes feel tired then they are tired! Don’t try to write off eye fatigue as something else because like most health issues, this one isn’t likely to get better when ignored.

If you feel eye strain or headaches, take a break. Try blinking slowly for ten times to re-wet your eyes. You can also trace a figure-8 pattern with your eyeballs, and cup or palm your hands over eyes. The idea is to give your eyes some variation which can provide you with some relief.


Monday, April 21, 2014

92% Of U.S.A. Q1 2014 New Electricity Capacity Is From Renewable Energy Sources

According to the latest Energy Infrastructure Update, 92% of U.S.A. new electricity generation capacity, between January and March 2014, came from renewable energy sources. Below graph shows the breakdown of each source of energy, in unit of MW.

No new coal, nuclear, and oil generation capacity were added.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Portable Wind Turbine Charger That Fits In Our Backpack

When we talk about wind power, usually we refer to those gigantic, tall, wind turbines that are few stories in height, with blade-span of few ten of meters. Soon this will not be the case.

Skajaquoda, a research team based in Minnesota, U.S.A., has come out with a portable wind turbine, called Trinity, that will charge any USB device like your smart phone or tablet and folds together into a 12" cylinder. It measured about 23" when operating and weighted about 1.8 kg. Below shows the device.

Trinity has a 15W generator and a built in 15,000 mAh battery. When it is folded, you can view it as a 12" long cylindrical battery bank. You can either charge the battery using the build-in wind turbine or with a 5V USB wall-plug.

Skajaquoda has turned to Kickstarter to raise US$50,000 to complete the prototype and start the manufacturing process. At US$249 you will receive the first of the Trinity devices and be expected to receive it by January 2015.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Collecting Just The Urine For Nutrient Recycling

Today sewage system when we flush it will mix everything with potable water and then send them to treatment plants for energy-intensive and expensive treatment to break down organic wastes, separate out biosolids, kill pathogens, and release the water into rivers or aquifers. In this system we have missed out a great opportunity to collect the valuable urine before it is mixed with poop and flushed away.

According to Alex Wilson when most people think of creating fertilizer from animal or human waste, we think mostly about manure. But there are actually far more nutrients contains in urine than in the poop. In human waste, 88% of nitrogen and 66% of phosphorous contain in urine. Therefore, it makes more sense, less energy and cheaper of course, to collect the urine even before it mixes with the poop and flush water.

Urine is far more easier to deal with. Simply storing urine for a while in a sealed container is enough to kill bacteria, due to the high alkalinity and ammonia from the urine. So no expensive and energy-intensive treatment is ready needed to process urine.

Plants need phosphorus, and we are running out of the it. Some predicts that phosphorus production will peak by 2030 and then decline. Without recycling urine to recover the phosphorus soon we will run out of it and will create a tremendous negative impact to the ecosystem.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Use Gravity And Train To Solve Energy Storage Problem For Renewable Energy

One of the biggest challenges for solar and wind powers has been 24/7 non-stop of supply. The grid needs to be powering even when the sun has set and wind has stopped. To solve this energy storage needs to be installed. High-tech solutions like Li-Ion battery, compressed air storage, melted salt, etc, have been proposed. Now, a California based company, Advanced Rail Energy Storage (ARES), comes out with a energy storage solution using old technology - gravity and heavy train.

The idea is simple! When solar farms or windmills are producing excess power, then it will be used to push a train loaded with heavy weight up the hill. When power is needed again, like in the night or hot sunny day when demand is high, the train will be rolling down the hill, by gravity, and regenerating power back to the grid. The charge/discharge efficiency can now reach 80%.

Battery poses great environmental issues when disposing. Re-pumping water back to dam, a commonly used storage method by utility company, with excess power also is expensive and wasteful, and building dams also cause environmental damage. ARES's solution is clean and produces no harm to the environment even at the end of its life.Also, railway can easily last for 40 years.

The other advantage of ARES's technology is scalable, up to gigawatt storage.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Biodegradable Battery That Could Dissolve Inside Our Body

Researchers have been working to come out with biodegradable electronics that dissolve harmlessly after a certain period. The main application would be in medical implants. Currently, implant needs to be surgically removed after it is done or when it needs a new battery. Rather than surgery, a biodegradable battery couples with biodegradable implant device will simply melt away once they are done.

Of course, we are not there yet. But the pieces of the puzzle are slowly falling into place. Recently, researchers revealed a working battery that is made entirely of bio-compatible materials that dissolve in water after about 3 weeks.

The battery is quite small. A 1 square cm cell is able to generate 2.4mAh of current. The anodes are made of magnesium foil and the cathodes of iron, molybdenum or tungsten. The electrolyte (like the acid-water inside our car battery) between the two electrodes is a phosphate-buffered saline solution. All of this is packaged in a biodegradable polymer called polyanhydride.

Once dissolved, the battery releases less than 9 milligrams of magnesium which researchers believe it is unlikely to cause problems in the body.

Right now the lab versions of these batteries can maintain voltage for about a day, and the researchers are working on improving power-density to make the batteries even smaller.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Air Pollution Causing 7 Million Premature Deaths Annually

World Health Organization (WHO) reported that in 2012 about 7 million people (1 in 8 of total global deaths) died of air pollution exposure, making it the world's largest single environmental health risk.

The report broke down the cause of death into "indoor" and "outdoor pollutions. Below shows the summary of the report:

Outdoor air pollution-caused deaths:
  • 40% – ischaemic heart disease
  • 40% – stroke
  • 11% – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • 6% - lung cancer
  • 3% – acute lower respiratory infections in children
  • caused 2.9 million deaths
  • 2.6 million deaths from South-East Asia and Western Pacific Region
Indoor air pollution-caused deaths:
  • 34% - stroke
  • 26% - ischaemic heart disease
  • 22% - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • 12% - acute lower respiratory infections in children
  • 6% - lung cancer
  •  caused 4.3 million death
  • 3.3 million deaths from South-East Asia and Western Pacific Region