Saturday, November 01, 2014Register

The George R. Brown Convention Center

The George R. Brown Convention Center (GRB) Solar Pilot Program, managed by the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) is part of the Solar Houston Initiative (SHI), a Department of Energy (DOE) Solar America Cities (SAC) program. The DOE SAC program is a federal program to accelerate the adoption of solar energy technologies for a cleaner, more secure energy future. Sponsorship and funding for the GRB Solar Pilot Program was provided by the City of Houston, GRB, HARC, Houston Endowment Inc., Standard Renewable Energy (SRE), The American Institute of Architects, Houston Architecture Foundation, BP and CenterPoint Energy.

The system consists of  51.3 kW DC STC crystalline module array  and a 49.0 kW DC STC amorphous thin film array. The crystalline module array consists of 270 BP modules, rated at 190 watt (W) DC STC, located on the I-beam along the south side of the building, mounted on supports painted to match the color of the existing beams. The amorphous silicon (a-Si) thin film array consists of 360 Uni-Solar Photovoltaic (PV) flexible thin film panels, rated at 136 W DC STC, installed on the southern portion of the GRB roof adhered with Green Lock membrane adhesive. Each array is connected to a Satcon Photovoltaic PowerGate Plus 50 kW 480V 3ph 60Hz Nema 3R inverter system (Model # PVS-50-4UL-10 Years). The inverters are connected to the building’s electrical distribution system.   


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Green Building Resource Center

New solar power material converts 90 percent of captured light into heat
A multidisciplinary engineering team developed a new nanoparticle-based material for concentrating solar power plants designed to absorb and convert to heat more than 90 percent of the sunlight it captures. The new material can also withstand temperatures greater than 700 degrees Celsius and survive many years outdoors in spite of exposure to air and humidity.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Acousto-optic tunable filter technology for balloon-borne platforms
A balloon-borne acousto-optic tunable filter hyperspectral imager is ideally suited to address numerous outstanding questions in planetary science. Their spectral agility, narrowband wavelength selection, tolerance to the near-space environment, and spectral coverage would enable investigations not feasible from the ground. Example use cases include synoptic observations of clouds on Venus and the giant planets, studies of molecular emissions from cometary comae, the mapping of surface ices on small bodies, and polarimetry.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Cheaper silicon means cheaper solar cells
Researchers have pioneered a new approach to manufacturing solar cells that requires less silicon and can accommodate silicon with more impurities than is currently the standard. Those changes mean that solar cells can be made much more cheaply than at present.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Researchers patent a nanofluid that improves heat conductivity
Researchers have developed and patented a nanofluid improving thermal conductivity at temperatures up to 400°C without assuming an increase in costs or a remodeling of the infrastructure. This progress has important applications in sectors such as chemical, petrochemical and energy, thus becoming a useful technology in all industrial applications using heat transfer systems such as solar power plants, nuclear power plants, combined-cycle power plants and heating, among other.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Crystallography: Towards controlled dislocations
Scientists have used atomic-resolution Z-contrast imaging and X-ray spectroscopy in a scanning transmission electron microscope to explore dislocations in the binary II-VI semiconductor CdTe, commercially used in thin-film photovoltaics. The results may lead to eventual improvement in the conversion efficiency of CdTe solar cells. These novel insights into atomically resolved chemical structure of dislocations have potential for understanding many more defect-based phenomena.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Balancing renewable energy costs and optimizing energy mix
Increasing reliance on renewable energies is the way to achieve greater carbon dioxide emission sustainability and energy independence. As such energies are yet only available intermittently and energy cannot be stored easily, most countries aim to combine several energy sources. Scientists have now come up with an open source simulation method to calculate the actual cost of relying on a combination of electricity sources.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

2014 Nobel Prize in Physics: Invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes
The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Isamu Akasaki, of Meijo University in Nagoya and Nagoya University, Japan; Hiroshi Amano, of Nagoya University, Japan; and Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, USA "for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources."<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Low-carbon energy future is clean, feasible
A future where electricity comes mostly from low-carbon sources is not only feasible in terms of material demand, but will significantly reduce air pollution, a study says.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Batteries included: A solar cell that stores its own power
Is it a solar cell? Or a rechargeable battery? Actually, the patent-pending device is both: the world’s first solar battery. Scientists have succeeding in combining a battery and a solar cell into one hybrid device.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Blades of grass inspire advance in organic solar cells
Using a bio-mimicking analog of one of nature's most efficient light-harvesting structures, blades of grass, an international research team has taken a major step in developing long-sought polymer architecture to boost power-conversion efficiency of light to electricity for use in electronic devices.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

How to make a 'perfect' solar absorber
Researchers have developed a solar cell that can tap the sun's full radiation spectrum. The material is a two-dimensional metallic dielectric photonic crystal, and has the additional benefits of absorbing sunlight from a wide range of angles and withstanding extremely high temperatures. Perhaps most importantly, the material can also be made cheaply at large scales.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Nitrogen fingerprint in biomolecules could be from early sun
The pattern of nitrogen in biomolecules like proteins, which differ greatly from that seen in other parts of the solar system, could have been generated by the interactions of light from the early sun with nitrogen gas in the nebula, long before Earth formed.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Efficiently harvesting hydrogen fuel from Sun using Earth-abundant materials
Scientists have a new efficient way of producing hydrogen fuel from sunlight and water. By combining a pair of solar cells made with a mineral called perovskite and low cost electrodes, scientists have obtained a 12.3 percent conversion efficiency from solar energy to hydrogen, a record using Earth-abundant materials as opposed to rare metals.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

World's smallest reference material is big plus for nanotechnology
The National Institute of Standards and Technology recently issued Reference Material 8027, the smallest known reference material ever created for validating measurements of these human-made, ultrafine particles between 1 and 100 nanometers -- billionths of a meter -- in size.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

New organic semiconductor material: Organic tin in polymers increases their light absorption
Researchers have integrated organic tin into semiconducting polymers (plastics) for the first time. Semiconducting polymers can be used, for example, for the absorption of sun light in solar cells. By incorporating organic tin into the plastic, light can be absorbed over a wide range of the solar spectrum.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Natural gas usage will have little effect on carbon dioxide emissions, researchers find
Abundant supplies of natural gas will do little to reduce harmful U.S. emissions causing climate change, according to researchers. They found that inexpensive gas boosts electricity consumption and hinders expansion of cleaner energy sources, such as wind and solar.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

New mobile solar unit is designed to save lives when the power goes out
Brooke Ellison draws her own power from will, but the ventilator that keeps her alive requires uninterrupted electricity. Dr. Ellison is allowing scientists to field-test, at her home, the Nextek Power Systems STAR, a mobile solar generator.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Solar cells cheap enough to quickly cover their cost: Could double as semi-transparent blinds for windows
One of the most common complaints about solar power is solar panels are still too expensive to be worth the investment. Many researchers have responded by making solar cells, the tile-like components of solar panels that absorb and transfer energy, more efficient and longer lasting. But even the longest living solar cells that most effectively convert sunlight to energy will not become common if they are prohibitively expensive.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Solar energy-driven process could revolutionize oil sands tailings reclamation
A civil engineering research team has developed a new way to clean oil sands process affected water and reclaim tailings ponds in Alberta's oil sands industry. Using sunlight as a renewable energy source instead of UV lamps, and adding chlorine to the tailings, oil sands process affected water is decontaminated and detoxified -- immediately.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Solar explosions 'inside' a computer: Understanding solar flares to improve predictions
Strong solar flares can bring down communications and power grids on Earth. By demonstrating how these gigantic eruptions are caused, physicists are laying the foundations for future predictions. The shorter the interval between two explosions in the solar atmosphere, the more likely it is that the second flare will be stronger than the first one.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Magnetic fields make the excitons go 'round: New way to improve efficiency of solar cells
A major limitation in the performance of solar cells happens within the photovoltaic material itself: When photons strike the molecules of a solar cell, they transfer their energy, producing quasi-particles called excitons -- an energized state of molecules. That energized state can hop from one molecule to the next until it's transferred to electrons in a wire, which can light up a bulb or turn a motor.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Fracking's environmental impacts scrutinized
Greenhouse gas emissions from the production and use of shale gas would be comparable to conventional natural gas, but the controversial energy source actually fared better than renewables on some environmental impacts, according to new research.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Solar-cell efficiency improved with new polymer devices
New light has been shed on solar power generation using devices made with polymers. Researchers identified a new polymer -- a type of large molecule that forms plastics and other familiar materials -- which improved the efficiency of solar cells. The group also determined the method by which the polymer improved the cells' efficiency. The polymer allowed electrical charges to move more easily throughout the cell, boosting the production of electricity -- a mechanism never before demonstrated in such devices.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Superabsorbing ring could make light work of snaps, be ultimate camera pixel
A quantum effect in which excited atoms team up to emit an enhanced pulse of light can be turned on its head to create 'superabsorbing' systems that could make the 'ultimate camera pixel'.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

A more efficient, lightweight and low-cost organic solar cell: Researchers broke the 'electrode barrier'
For decades, polymer scientists and synthetic chemists working to improve the power conversion efficiency of organic solar cells were hampered by the inherent drawbacks of commonly used metal electrodes, including their instability and susceptibility to oxidation. Now for the first time, researchers have developed a more efficient, easily processable and lightweight solar cell that can use virtually any metal for the electrode, effectively breaking the 'electrode barrier.'<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

X-ray imaging paves way for novel solar cell production
The sharp X-ray vision of DESY's research light source PETRA III paves the way for a new technique to produce cheap, flexible and versatile double solar cells. The method can reliably produce efficient tandem plastic solar cells of many meters in length.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Sun-powered desalination for villages in India
Around the world, there is more salty groundwater than fresh, drinkable groundwater. For example, 60 percent of India is underlain by salty water -- and much of that area is not served by an electric grid that could run conventional reverse-osmosis desalination plants. Sun-powered desalination could deliver clean water for off-grid villages.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Doped graphene nanoribbons with potential
Graphene possesses many outstanding properties: it conducts heat and electricity, it is transparent, harder than diamond and extremely strong. But in order to use it to construct electronic switches, a material must not only be an outstanding conductor, it should also be switchable between ”on” and ”off” states. This requires the presence of a so-called bandgap, which enables semiconductors to be in an insulating state. The problem, however, is that the bandgap in graphene is extremely small. Empa researchers from the ”nanotech@surfaces” laboratory thus developed a method some time ago to synthesize a form of graphene with larger bandgaps by allowing ultra-narrow graphene nanoribbons to ”grow” via molecular self-assembly.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Breakthrough for carbon nanotube solar cells: Twice as efficient as current models
Lighter, more flexible, and cheaper than conventional solar-cell materials, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have long shown promise for photovoltaics. But research stalled when CNTs proved to be inefficient, converting far less sunlight into power than other methods. Scientists have now developed a carbon nanotube solar cell that is twice as efficient as its predecessors.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Wind energy cuts the electricity bill
The promoting of renewable energy is at the heart of the current debate on energy policy. From an economic perspective, the question focuses on determining the cost of the feed-in tariff systems. A new study tackles this question empirically, and concludes that wind energy continues to produce greater savings than what its incentives amount to, while photovoltaic solar technologies are still in the development phase.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Future solar panels: Cheaper, more efficient
Conventional photovoltaic technology uses large, heavy, opaque, dark silicon panels, but this could soon change. Researchers are working on new materials to produce solar panels in order to come up with alternatives to the current panels. What is needed to improve the functioning of cells with a large surface are materials that cost less to produce and offer greater energy efficiency.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Detecting neutrinos, physicists look into the heart of the sun
Using one of the most sensitive neutrino detectors on the planet, physicists have directly detected neutrinos created by the 'keystone' proton-proton fusion process going on at the sun's core for the first time.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Competition for graphene: Researchers demonstrate ultrafast charge transfer in new family of 2-D semiconductors
The first experimental observation of ultrafast charge transfer in photo-excited MX2 materials, the graphene-like two-dimensional semiconductors, has been conducted. Charge transfer time clocked in at under 50 femtoseconds, comparable to the fastest times recorded for organic photovoltaics.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

A semi-artificial leaf faster than 'natural' photosynthesis
Cooperation between chemists and biologists has resulted in a new method for the very efficient integration of photosynthetic proteins in photovoltaics. Their research offers a new immobilization strategy that yields electron transfer rates exceeding for the first time rates observed in natural photosynthesis. This discovery opens the possibility for the construction of semi-artificial leaves functioning as photovoltaic devices with drastically increased performance.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Solar energy that doesn't block the view
Researchers have developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window. It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a flat, clear surface.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Organic photovoltaic cells of the future: Using charge formation efficiency to screen materials for future devices
Organic photovoltaic cells -- a type of solar cell that uses polymeric materials to capture sunlight -- show tremendous promise as energy conversion devices, thanks to key attributes such as flexibility and low-cost production, but have complex power conversion processes. To maneuver around this problem, researchers have developed a method to determine the absolute value of the charge formation efficiency. The secret of their method is the combination of two types of spectroscopy.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Recycling old car batteries into solar cells: Environmental twofer could recycle lead batteries to make solar cells
This could be a classic win-win solution: A system proposed by researchers recycles materials from discarded car batteries -- a potential source of lead pollution -- into new, long-lasting solar panels that provide emissions-free power.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Insights into a new class of semiconducting materials
A new paper describes investigations of the fundamental optical properties of a new class of semiconducting materials known as organic-inorganic 'hybrid' perovskites.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Making eco-friendly 'pre-fab nanoparticles': Versatile, water-soluble nano-modules
Materials chemists, polymer scientists and device physicists have reported on a breakthrough technique for controlling assembly of nanoparticles over multiple length scales that may allow cheaper, ecologically friendly manufacture of organic photovoltaics and other electronic devices.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Simulation models optimize water power
The Columbia River basin in the Pacific Northwest offers great potential for water power; hydroelectric power stations there generate over 20,000 megawatts already. Now a simulation model will help optimize the operation of the extensive dam system.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

LEDs made from 'wonder material' perovskite
Colourful LEDs made from a material known as perovskite could lead to LED displays which are both cheaper and easier to manufacture in future. A hybrid form of perovskite -- the same type of material which has recently been found to make highly efficient solar cells that could one day replace silicon -- has been used to make low-cost, easily manufactured LEDs, potentially opening up a wide range of commercial applications in future, such as flexible color displays.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

New material allows for ultra-thin solar cells
Extremely thin, semi-transparent, flexible solar cells could soon become reality. Scientists have managed to create a semiconductor structure consisting of two ultra-thin layers, which appears to be excellently suited for photovoltaic energy conversion. Several months ago, the team had already produced an ultra-thin layer of the photoactive crystal tungsten diselenide. Now, this semiconductor has successfully been combined with another layer made of molybdenum disulphide, creating a designer-material that may be used in future low-cost solar cells.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Scientists shine bright new light on how living things capture energy from the sun
Scientists may have uncovered a new method of exploiting the power of sunlight by focusing on a naturally occurring combination of lipids that have been strikingly conserved throughout evolution.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Solar energy: Dyes help harvest light
A new dye-sensitized solar cell absorbs a broad range of visible and infrared wavelengths. Dye-sensitized solar cells rely on dyes that absorb light to mobilize a current of electrons and are a promising source of clean energy. Scientists have now developed zinc porphyrin dyes that harvest light in both the visible and near-infrared parts of the spectrum.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Superman's solar-powered feats break a fundamental law of physics
It goes without saying that Superman can accomplish some pretty spectacular feats. But according to students, the Man of Steel actually achieves the impossible--by breaking the fundamental physics law of conservation of energy.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Worldwide water shortage by 2040
Water is used around the world for the production of electricity, but new research results show that there will not be enough water in the world to meet demand by 2040 if the energy and power situation does not improve before then.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Steam energy from the sun: New spongelike structure converts solar energy into steam
A new material structure generates steam by soaking up the sun. The structure -- a layer of graphite flakes and an underlying carbon foam -- is a porous, insulating material structure that floats on water. When sunlight hits the structure's surface, it creates a hotspot in the graphite, drawing water up through the material's pores, where it evaporates as steam. The brighter the light, the more steam is generated.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

How to power California with wind, water and sun
New research outlines the path to a possible future for California in which renewable energy creates a healthier environment, generates jobs and stabilizes energy prices.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Spinach could lead to alternative energy more powerful than Popeye
Spinach gave Popeye super strength, but it also holds the promise of a different power for a group of scientists: the ability to convert sunlight into a clean, efficient alternative fuel. Physicists are using spinach to study the proteins involved in photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert the sun's energy into carbohydrates used to power cellular processes. Artificial photosynthesis could allow for the conversion of solar energy into renewable, environmentally friendly hydrogen-based fuels.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Self-cooling solar cells boost power, last longer
Scientists may have overcome one of the major hurdles in developing high-efficiency, long-lasting solar cells -- keeping them cool, even in the blistering heat of the noonday sun. By adding a specially patterned layer of silica glass to the surface of ordinary solar cells, a team of researchers has found a way to let solar cells cool themselves by shepherding away unwanted thermal radiation.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Cheap, highly efficient solar cells: A new stable and cost-cutting type of perovskite solar cell
Scientists have made a very efficient perovskite solar cell that does not require a hole-conducting layer. The novel photovoltaic achieved energy conversion efficiency of 12.8 percent and was stable for over 1000 hours under full sunlight. The innovation is expected to significantly reduce the cost of these promising solar cells.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Clearing the way for extremely efficient solar cells: First ab initio method for characterizing hot carriers
Researchers have developed the first ab initio method for characterizing the properties of 'hot carriers' in semiconductors. This should help clear a major road block to the development of new, more efficient solar cells.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Deep within spinach leaves, vibrations enhance efficiency of photosynthesis
Biophysics researchers have used short pulses of light to peer into the mechanics of photosynthesis and illuminate the role that molecule vibrations play in the energy conversion process that powers life on our planet.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Solar energy gets a boost: 'Singlet fission' can increase solar cell efficiency by as much as 30 percent
Scientists have reviewed chemists' work on "singlet fission," a process in which a single photon generates a pair of excited states. This conversion process has the potential to boost solar cell efficiency by as much as 30 percent.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Solar cells: Powered by nanoholes
Increasing the cost-effectiveness of photovoltaic devices is critical to making these renewable energy sources competitive with traditional fossil fuels. One possibility is to use hybrid solar cells that combine silicon nanowires with low-cost, photoresponsive polymers. A simple and inexpensive fabrication procedure boosts the light-capturing capabilities of tiny holes carved into silicon wafers.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Orgainic solar modules embedded in glass last longer
Organic solar modules have advantages over silicon solar cells. However, one critical problem is their shorter operating life. Researchers are working on a promising solution: they are using flexible glass as a carrier substrate that better protects the components.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Monitoring neighborhood electricity consumption over 24 hour cycle
With more and more households owning one or even two electric cars requiring charging overnight, how will we manage it without sacrificing our hot morning shower and fresh bread for breakfast? This is the headache now facing the electricity supply companies. But this isn’t their only problem. What use is it to those homeowners, who have installed a modest solar panel system on their roofs, when the sun is heating the pavement in the middle of the day and no one is at home to use the energy?<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Consider water use in climate change policies: Energy efficient technologies can also save water at the same time
There’s more to trying to slow down climate change than just cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Technology, policies or plans that aim to do so should also take environmental factors such as water usage into account. A more integrated approach might make some options considerably more attractive than others, especially when implemented in arid countries such as Australia.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Net-zero energy test house exceeds goal; ends year with energy to spare
The NIST net-zero energy test house in suburban Washington, D.C., not only absorbed winter's best shot, it came out on top, reaching its one-year anniversary on July 1 with enough surplus energy to power an electric car for about 1,440 miles.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

Solar panels light the way from carbon dioxide to fuel
Researchers have devised an efficient method for harnessing sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into a potential alternative fuel known as formic acid. The transformation from carbon dioxide and water to formic acid was powered by a commercial solar panel.<img src="" height="1" width="1"/>

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