Monday, April 14, 2008

Saving energy the creative way

German researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute have created a prototype for the world’s first-ever solar powered cell phone. While full-fledged solar panels are still quite large and expensive, the researchers have integrated smaller, high-efficiency cells into the phones which, they claim, offers a module efficiency rate of 20%. In other words, the phone will stay steadily charged as long as it gets roughly 2 hours of sunlight per day. Failing that, the phone can still be charged via conventional methods.

With all the excitement surrounding the worldwide push to “go green”, there have been some fascinating innovations that make it easy and even fun to save energy. Thanks to their creativity, we are entering an age where saving energy is almost as convenient as wasting it. Here are 12 green inventions that are helping us make this a cleaner planet.

With summer right around the corner, homeowners nationwide are dreading the huge spike in electricity bills that air conditioning season will cause. It is a pain virtually all homeowners know. Fortunately, one innovative company has stepped forward with a solution: Ice Energy, with their “Ice Bear” installation. The Ice Bear integrates with your air conditioner, freezing water overnight when the temperatures are lower and the electricity is (in most places) cheaper. During the day, the ice cools the air conditioner’s refrigerant instead of using fresh electricity to do it. The end result: roughly 30% energy savings when the AC is in use.

Everyone agrees that it’s far safer to ride a bike at night with a safety light that identifies you to motorists. The only problem is the dozens and potentially hundreds of batteries those lights will consume over a lifetime of riding. Luckily, a company called Duck has created a bicycle light that draws its power from the wind resistance you generate! As you pedal furiously into the sunset, the wind spins tiny blades that deliver electricity to a bright LED light via a hidden copper coil. A small, rechargeable lithium ion battery kicks in if and when you aren’t actively pedaling anywhere.

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