India and Green .. Bangalore

[tweetmeme] Recently I stumbled upon a map created by Green2Tech which highlights the best Green Tech startups, and incidentally the only company worthwhile mentioning on the entire eastern hemisphere is a startup in Bangalore, India. Again, India, whoo hoo. More information about the company and its relevance after the map below :

Reva, the Indian electric car company, with its namesake vehicle, was the startup from Bangalore that was mentioned in the list. I am as intrigued as you are about this. If you haven’t heard of Reva, you’re about to. The Bangalore-based company’s cars are getting popular in congested urban areas (like Delhi and London), and are gaining traction in island destinations (like Cyprus), where vehicles with shorter ranges and low environmental impact are particularly attractive.

With the governments of Italy, Japan and the UK offering strong incentives for buyers of EVs (the US is catching up, and Reva is testing that market as we speak), Reva is looking to the future. It’s researching lithium-ion and lithium polymer batteries to extend range and increase performance. And its cost is relatively low — $9,000 for a range up to 80 kilometers (about 50 miles) per battery charge, according to the New York Times.

Reva got its start in 1994 as a joint venture between the Maini Group India and California-based AEV LLC, and after an extensive R&D period, its first commercial vehicle went to market in India in 2001. More recently, Draper Fisher Jurveston invested in the fledgling brand, and led a $20 million round of financing for the company in 2006. It’s about time the Indian electric car company, which has one of the best-selling electric vehicles in the world, opted for a few higher-end, better-performance options.

….Reva is launching a lithium-ion-battery-powered electric vehicle for the European market, along with a fast-charging station that can charge the lithium-ion battery 90 percent in one hour. According to a press release, Reva’s lithium-ion electric vehicle will be available for pre-order starting this coming February, with deliveries starting in May in Norway, the UK, France, Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Belgium and Ireland.

Another feather in the cap of Bangalore, will be better known the real “green” garden city of India.

Nokia charging phone with thin air …

[tweetmeme] We all have had Nokia Phones at some time, and we always have loved them for their robust nature along with their ease of use. A lot of people mention that with the new technologies in the world, Nokia has sort of lost its relevance. I think on the other hand Nokia is looking at different markets than the giant that it has become, iPhone and the Phone that aspires to be the Giant, the Motorola Droid, or the Google Nexus One.

As long as technology is moving on, so is the need for more juice in the batteries of the phones. More requirement for the power means that there will be more advancements required in batteries; or charging for the batteries. What if you dont really have to charge them at all, I mean physically. Ofcourse there are ways, like kinetic energy transformation, solar energy etc. But here’s another concept; Like Nokia I have always been wondering about how much energy is in the air all around us, I am not talking about the energy of people; but more to do with energy of wireless radio systems. Be it FM transmitting radio, GSM signals, Wi-Fi Signals or terrestrial radio systems. What if we could tap into that power to enable mobile phones to pick up the charging of the batteries from there. Completely wireless, and completely practical.

I guess what needs to be worked out is how long it will take to tap this power and how long can you charge the phone with this. Well Nokia is at it again, their innovation well not really aimed at high end phones but mostly innovation like these. Nokia Research center is working on a solution that will help the cause of wireless charging.

Nokia

A new prototype charging system from the company is able to power itself on nothing more than ambient radiowaves – the weak TV, radio and mobile phone signals that permanently surround us. The power harvested is small but it is almost enough to power a mobile in standby mode indefinitely without ever needing to plug it into the mains, according to one of the researchers who developed the device at the Nokia Research Centre in Cambridge, UK. The concept is being worked upon by different fronts, old crystal radio sets and more recently modern radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, increasingly used in shipping and as antitheft devices, are powered purely by radiowaves.

The difference with Nokia’s prototype is that instead of harvesting tiny amounts of power (a few microwatts) from dedicated transmitters, Nokia claims it is able to scavenge relatively large amounts of power — around a thousand times as much — from signals coming from miles away. Individually the energy available in each of these signals is miniscule. But by harvesting radiowaves across a wide range of frequencies it all adds up. Such wireless transfer of energy was first demonstrated by Nikola Tesla in 1893, who was so taken with the idea he attempted to build an intercontinental transmission tower to send power wirelessly across the Atlantic. Nokia’s device is somewhat less ambitious and is made possible thanks to a wide-band antenna and two very simple circuits. The antenna and the receiver circuit are designed to pick up a wide range of frequencies — from 500 megahertz to 10 gigahertz — and convert the electromagnetic waves into an electrical current, while the second circuit is designed to feed this current to the battery to recharge it.

Wireless charging is not intended as a sole energy source, but rather to be used in conjunction with other energy harvesting technologies, such as handset casings embedded with solar cell materials. According to Technology Review magazine, the phone could be on the market in three to five years.

In the meantime, there are other companies who are working on similar concepts  for charging devices wirelessly using the ambient radio waves. At CES 2010, RCA introduced something even better that’s going to be available way sooner: a dongle that tops up your mobile device’s battery via WiFi signals. Notice I didn’t say that it only tops up your cell phone battery; according to RCA reps, this little fella will work with just about all of your mobile devices.

The attachment is efficient enough that it actually provides a noticeable boost to your battery, and given enough time it will charge it to the max. Other similar gizmos have provided only a weak top-up charge at best, so this is a huge improvement. And what’s even better is that the device will be available for around $40 in the summer of 2010. Soon, as long as you’re in an urban environment or around a WiFi router, worrying about your phone’s charge will be the last thing on your mind.

The future applications of the technology are exciting as well. In 2011, RCA expects to release batteries with the WiFi charging capability built right in. There’s no word yet on how much those will cost, but does it matter? The prospect of never having to plug your phone in again will probably be enough to have them flying off of the shelves. Video Included.

Via source and source

Bloom Box another Indian Invention set to change the world

By saying its an Indian invention is going to sensationalize the whole story. I would like to clarify however that, the Inventor of the device is an Indian who used to work at NASA, K R Sridhar. Can the name be more Indian ? lol. However  last week he had a public launch of this invention the “Bloom Box”, which can produce (hold your breath) Clean Energy. I did mention in an earlier post that the tech with the most growth expected is Power Generation. And its no surprise that I am getting to see more development on that front.

Whats the big deal you ask ? Especially since you can find a lot of information these days on ‘Eco Tech” websites. Well A brick sized device in the corner of your house can generate enough energy to run your house. Yes, you read that right, and whats its main ingredient ? Sand. You know that a technology has the most potential when you can boast of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Colin Powell and the heads of Google and Walmart at its launch. Even more unlikely, the firm in question makes what some may regard as a less than sexy clean energy device.

According to Sridhar, a single cell can produce about 25W, enough for a low-energy lightbulb, and a stack of cells the size of a brick will power an average home. A single Bloom box, a unit the size of a chest freezer and which contains several stacks of fuel cells, will produce 100KW, enough for 100 homes. The box consists of a stack of ceramic disks coated with green and black “inks.” The disks are separated by cheap metal alloy plates. Methane (or other hydrocarbons) and oxygen are fed in, the whole thing is heated up to 1,000 degrees Celsius, and electricity comes out. Bloom estimates that a box filled with 64 ceramic disks can produce enough juice to power a Starbucks.

So Here is what makes this technology so exciting :

  • The Bloom Energy Server is made out of fuel cells, or electrochemical cells. A single fuel cell consists of an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte stuck between the two. As fuel flows in through the anode side and an oxidant comes in over the cathode, a reaction is triggered that causes electrons to move into the fuel cell’s circuit, producing electricity.
  • The Bloom Energy Server isn’t actually a server–that’s just a PR buzzword. In actuality, it’s a distributed power generator. Each “server” produces 100 kW of power, consists of thousands of fuel cells, costs between $700,000 and $800,000, and pays for itself in three to 5 years based on an energy cost of 8 to 9 cents per kW hour.
  • There are many different types of fuel cells. Some of the more popular ones include methanol fuel cells, hydrogen fuel cells, and zinc-air batteries. The Bloom Energy Server consists of solid oxide fuel cells, which are attractive because they can be made out of low-cost materials with high energy efficiencies.
  • The cells can run on a variety of fuels, including traditional fuel, natural gas, biomass gas, landfill gas, and ethanol.
  • Until now, technical challenges have stopped solid oxide fuel cells from being commercialized, but the company’s cells (“sand” baked into ceramic squares that are coated with green and black inks) supposedly have overcome most of the issues. Bloom’s Web site has a great animation showing how solid oxide fuel cells work.

Bloom Energy

  • One of the biggest problems with solid oxide fuel cells is their temperature requirement–the ceramic squares only become active at extremely high temperatures (up to 1800 F). That means Bloom’s cells will have to prove that they can remain durable under the stress–already, the company has had to come out to replace cells at eBay’s installation, which has been running for just 7 months. In general, Bloom expects that its fuel cell stacks will have to be switched out twice during the device’s 10 year lifespan.
  • Bloom’s device generates electricity at 50% to 55% conversion efficiency. In comparison, solar generally produces power at between 10% to 15% efficiency. But unlike solar panels, the Bloom Energy Server produces CO2 as a byproduct. According to the Energy Collective, “CO2 emissions when running on natural gas would be just under 0.8 pounds/kWh, which compares favorably to electricity from central station coal-fired plants (2 lbs/kWh) or natural gas plants (roughly 1.3 lbs/kWh) and the national average for on-grid electricity (around 1.3-1.5 lbs/kWh).” If the box runs on landfill gas or biogas, it produces net zero carbon emissions.
  • Eventually, Bloom hopes that a scaled-down version device can be used in homes. A residential Bloom Box would produce 1 kW of power and cost approximately $3,000. But that probably won’t happen for at least 10 years.