Shocker: lemon-powered batteries can't power an electric supercar

Even what's billed as the world's largest lemon battery can only generate enough juice to charge a small battery cell, so Mark Rober tries a few other fun power generators with a bunch of young scientists-to-be. Read the rest

Watch a very detailed overview of the latest innovations for power in space

Improved super-thin solar panels and nuclear fission are all in development to handle the massive logistical problems of meeting power needs in space. Fraser Cain takes viewers through the newest developments, including NASA's new Kilopower Reactor. Read the rest

Gwyneth Paltrow on Harvey Weinstein in 1998: "He will coerce you"

In plain sight, for decades! Though Weinstein's targets were women rather than children, the way power and silence worked for him reminds me of UK entertainer Jimmy Savile, who occupied a similarly dark-yet-obvious position in the firmament of leering celebrity sociopaths. The way everyone knew. The way people would blurt it out in inferences, uncomfortable jokes, and off-kilter quips. The way Letterman fawns ("Thank God for Harvey") when he realizes he just got too close ("I'm fed up with Harvey's behavior"). These interactions now make Paltrow and Letterman, like Seth McFarlane, targets for criticism. But I'm not sure it's fair because it's not as if anyone else was saying anything, and fear was presumably why they didn't say more. Read the rest

Good deal on AC wall outlets with dual USB charging ports

Amazon is running a good deal on theseAC wall outlets with dual USB charging ports. It has 4.8-amp charging across the USB ports, which is plenty to charge most device. The regular price is $23, but you can get it for $17 with the promo code OPZ757GL. You will probably also need a wallplate like this one. Read the rest

Review: Anker's PowerHouse is a beefy brickful of electrons

Anker's PowerHouse is the beefiest portable battery I've owned, with 120,000mAh coming though four USB ports, 110V AC and 12v DC. At $500 and weighing in at 9 pounds, though, it's also an big expensive box with a thin range of practical uses, aimed sharply at people willing to pay high premium for a user-friendly appliance that replaces buckets of lead and bagfuls of power bricks.

Anker pitches it as a general-purpose multi-device charger, or for keeping a specific power-hungry appliance online for a day at a time. CPAP machines, PA systems and mini-fridges are among bullet-list examples. It can run a 15V lamp for almost a week, Anker claims, and reader-reviewers have found many interesting street uses.

The downside is that it's way too heavy and bulky for any kind of casual portable use, and it's a gadget, not a tool. You won't be servicing it (as you might a similarly-priced generator), and the 18-month warranty is unnervingly suggestive of a lifespan under regular use.

But the upside is that whatever needs you bring to it, it can likely handle them.

For example, I found it useful as a tripod weight, keeping energy-hungry video cameras (such as the Blackmagic Cinema Camera) continuosly charged in the wilds of Pittsburgh.

It also kept an all-in-one workstation on its feet during a blackout. These are great if you're working somewhere with intermittent power, where a noisy generator is out of the question.

It took about 6-8 hours to charge from empty. It came with a five-inch power brick of its own, a 10m cord, and a USB cable. Read the rest

Candle-powered phone charger

The Stower Candle Charger, in addition to being a basic emergency stove, powers USB gadgets with fire: put a fuel canister under it and it'll transmute heatrons into juicetrons as described in the Codex Ifritanimus. One canister will charge a smartphone twice; actual wax candles will presumably not stretch so far.

When power outages hit, staying connected to family, friends, and emergency services is critical. But how to keep charged? - Batteries store power - they don't make it - We love solar, but it doesn't work at night or indoors - Hand cranks produce minimal power. 10 hours cranking to charge a phone? That's tough. We want a reliable solution, and the Candle Charger is the first indoor generator designed to charge smartphones and keep them charged.

Read the rest

Greenpeace NZ delivers a solar power petition -- with a song

The government of Hawke's Bay, New Zealand imposing an energy-company-backed tax on people who put solar panels on their homes. Greenpeace's petition in support of sustainable, renewable power was delivered with a catchy, angry song by Tiki Taane. Read the rest

Anker's PowerHouse is the biggest "portable" power pack yet

We're huge fans of portable power gadgets, but this one isn't going in my pocket to help me keep my phone topped up after lunch. Anker's Powerhouse is the size and weight of a concrete construction brick, and at $500 and 120,000mAh, by far their largest power pack yet. It'll charge your laptop 15 times over, power CPAP machines and broadcast video cameras, and double as a bear club should a camping trip go awry. There's multiple USB ports, a 12v car socket and mains power.

Jeff Beck already got one and quite likes it.

I'm very impressed with this device. It is extremely well-built, functions just as advertised, and is quite good-looking on top of all that. It worked to recharge every phone and tablet I threw at it, in addition to a lot of the smaller electronic items in my home. While the USB ports are not QC compatible, they still delivered a fairly quick charge to my wife's Sony Z3. Besides, if I wanted a faster charge I only needed to plug in a QC car charger into the 12V outlet and I'd be in business.

I had a lot of fun trying the Powerhouse out with a variety of household electronics. It did just fine powering a small stereo, my bedside lamp, and even my 50 inch Sony TV. Higher voltage appliances, like our toaster and blender, or my wife's blow dryer (she was hoping to be able to use it while camping) were too much for the little guy.

Read the rest

Giant underwater plug

This humongous power-plug is a MacArtney Wet Mate Connector that allows undersea cables for floating windmills to be connected below the water's surface. Read the rest

Utility companies go to war against solar

Utility companies across America are fighting solar, imposing high fees on homeowners who install their own solar panels to feed back into the grid. This one was predictable from a long, long way out -- energy companies being that special horror-burrito made from a core of hot, chewy greed wrapped in a fluffy blanket of regulatory protection, fixed in their belief that they have the right to profit from all power used, whether or not their supply it.

Bruce Sterling once proposed that Americans should be encouraged to drive much larger trucks, big enough to house monster fuel-cells that are kept supplied with hydrogen by decentralized windmill and solar installations -- when they are receiving more power than is immediately needed, they use the surplus to electrolyze water and store the hydrogen in any handy nearby monster-trucks' cells. When the wind isn't blowing or the sun isn't shining, you just plug your house into your enormous American-Dream-mobile -- no need for a two-way grid.

This solution wasn't just great because it aligned the core American value of driving really large cars with environmental protection, but also because it was less vulnerable to sabotage from hydrocarbon-addicted energy companies. Read the rest

Graphene supercapacitors could make batteries obsolete

A battery can hold a lot of energy, but it takes a long time to charge it. A capacitor can be charged very quickly, but doesn't hold a comparable amount of energy.

A graphene supercharger is the best of both: it takes just seconds to charge, yet stores a lot of energy. Imagine being able to charge your spent laptop or phone battery in 30 seconds, and your electric car in a few minutes. Also, unlike batteries, Graphene supercapacitors are non-toxic.

The Nobel Prize was awarded to the inventors of Graphene in 2010. Wikipedia defines Graphene as a "substance composed of pure carbon, with atoms arranged in a regular hexagonal pattern similar to graphite, but in a one-atom thick sheet. It is very light, with a 1-square-meter sheet weighing only 0.77 milligrams."

(via Tony Moore at the Boing Boing G+ community) Read the rest

Can Sandy victims sue power companies for extended outages?

Short version: yes, but it's not easy. "To win, New York ratepayers have to show that their power company was not just slow or inefficient. Instead, Kreppein said, under a 1985 New York Court of Appeals ruling called Strauss v. Belle Realty, electric company customers must establish that the utility was grossly negligent — that its conduct was way outside the bounds of reasonableness." Alison Frankel at Reuters. Read the rest

Japan: record high radiation levels found in Fukushima fish, more than a year after nuclear accident

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) in Japan said Tuesday its monitoring efforts have recorded record high radiation levels in local seafood: 25,800 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium in fish sampled within a 20-kilometer range of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The photo shows fish caught Aug. 1, 2012 within 20 kilometers of the crippled nuclear power plant. The findings indicate that radioactive contamination remains at unsafe levels in the area's food supply more than a year after the nuclear crisis.

From Kyodo News:

The level of cesium found in greenling is 258 times that deemed safe for consumption by the Japanese government, suggesting that radioactive contamination remains serious more than a year after the nuclear crisis.

Fishing in the sea off Fukushima Prefecture is voluntarily restricted except for trial fishing of certain octopuses.

CNN has more. Read the rest

Must-listen radio: "Nuclear Power After Fukushima," documentary from BURN: An Energy Journal

Veteran radio journalist and master storyteller Alex Chadwick (who's also a personal friend—he's taught me so much about journalism over the years) hosts a must-listen radio documentary premiering this weekend on public radio stations throughout the US.

BURN: An Energy Journal is a four-hour, four-part broadcast and digital documentary series exploring "the most pressing energy issues of our times."

Part One of the series, titled "Particles: Nuclear Power After Fukushima," coincides with March 11, the first anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. I've listened in entirety, and followed along as the BURN team researched and produced over the past few months, and I can tell you this is truly powerful work. The show also includes PBS Newshour reporter Miles O'Brien, reporting from inside the Fukushima exclusion zone on his recent trip there.

Carve out some time and listen to it on-air, or listen online at this link.

Snip from description:

Included in the riveting premiere episode is an exclusive, first-time-ever interview with an American who was on-site at the Daiichi nuclear plant when the earthquake and tsunami struck. Carl Pillitteri, a maintenance supervisor and one of 40 Americans in Fukushima on that fateful day, describes his terrifying ordeal as he desperately attempted to lead his men to safety through the enormous, shuddering turbine buildings in total darkness.

Below, a video excerpt from Alex's interview with Pillitteri.

More about the radio series follows. Read the rest

Inside Japan's Nuclear Meltdown, one year later: Frontline doc airs tonight on PBS

Airing tonight on PBS Frontline (check your local listings, or watch it online!), a documentary film that provides the definitive inside account of what really happened, moment to moment, during the Fukushima disaster. "Inside Japan's Nuclear Meltdown" features exclusive interviews for the first time with Japan's prime minster and the top executives at TEPCO.

Tomorrow, Frontline is hosting a chat with the film's producer/director, Dan Edge, and Boing Boing science editor Maggie Koerth-Baker will be participating.

There's a terrific interview with Edge on the public radio program Fresh Air.

 

Truth and consequences: FRONTLINE's brilliant documentary on ... Inside the Fukushima exclusion zone: the photography of Satoru ... After nuclear disaster, a harsh winter for Fukushima's abandoned ... Safecast draws on power of the crowd to map Japan's radiation ... Earthquake Prediction: Could We Ever Forecast the Next Big One ... What's the fallout for pets abandoned in Japan's Fukushima hot ... Firsthand from Fukushima: Xeni on The Madeleine Brand Show ... Hacking geigers: Safecast crowdsources radiation data in Japan ... Read the rest