Dec 242013
 

Here is another creation by man that could eventually saved or prolong our life on this great planet.  Obviously we won’t have any issues in our lifetime (minus severe weather) but generations to come are going to have a rough time living on this planet if we continue to use and abuse it as much as we do.  I am no “tree-hugging hippy” as they would say where I come from, but I am a realist.  I realize that nothing in life comes for free and that we have been mining and heating this planet up pretty quickly.  Anyways, the point is that there is a lot that we as humans can do to prevent the situation from getting any worse.  I believe the first step is living as much of a sustainable life as possible.  One of the hardest parts of life to generate on your own is electricity.  This guy from Rawlemon may have just figured out how to make some serious lemonade out of some lemons.  Just watch the video and you will see exactly what I am talking about.  To let you know how serious this new idea for solar is, this guy (Andre Broessel) was a finalist in the World Technology Network Award in 2013.

Dec 052013
 

Back in 2010, BloomEnergy put out a bunch of press releases which started a micro-frenzy about Bloom Boxes.  I was one of the few people who read about them and actually did some research.  The idea is solid and if they are able to produce them on a smaller scale, could change everything.  If everyone were using these, our carbon footprint would be reduced astronomically.  Google, Kellogg, HP, San Jose Sharks, AT&T, Verizon, and so many other large companies have already implemented bloom boxes and generate a significant portion of their electricity with the bloom box.  Check them out in action here:

bloomboxBloom Energy Servers are a pretty innovative piece of technology and I believe that its just a matter of time before they are able to create small scale versions of these for the home.  Basically what I mean is that instead of generating 200kw or whatever it would generate something like 15kw-20kw max.  This would be enough to power a small community of homes off grid I would imagine.  I have seen other companies using fuel cell technology like this but really only one can come close to comparison and that’s Toshiba.  I will go over those on another day, but let’s just say this is the real deal. Some of you might be wondering how this newer technology works and I have found a diagram that kind of helps explain things:

bloomenergyserver

Bloom Box theory was first revealed to us back in 2009 and in 2010 it pretty much hit it’s peak of virality.  60 Minutes even did a segment on them, we will go ahead and post the video for you in case you didn’t see it.  I think this stuff will be available to the public in the next 10 years.  This will make having a cabin in the woods pretty darn easy.  Once they make them small enough for homes, you can literally build a house anywhere without issue.


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Nov 182012
 

I have decided to supply you with a pretty cool set up that has been recreated in animation. This video will show how you can add micro-generation and renewable energy resources to reduce carbon emissions and reduce heating costs to a new or existing build. The short animated video will also give you a brief over view about underfloor heating, solar thermal, photovaltaic and air source and ground source heating. Check out the video and maybe you will get some ideas for the future. This is a fairly unique concept that could save you thousands of dollars in the end (especially if you are planning on living in Alaska at some point).

 

Nov 112012
 

So for the second part of our weekly Micro-Generator Series I have decided to talk about some new technology (at least to me). I was doing some research on wind turbines and when I looked at alternatives I stumbled across this Windbelt technology. With a little research I was actually able to find quite a bit of information (except where to buy one). I will continue looking and hopefully by the end of the article I will have something.  First I will let you check out the video which was the first thing I found:

From that video (which I gotta say kind of blew my mind) I was able to find quite a bit more information. First you can check out the Wikipedia page (not sure if you are into that site or not) located here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windbelt and then from there I figured out that the kid who came up with this technology won some prize (2007 Breakthrough Award) back in 2007 via Popular Mechanics. Still, I am not able to find out how to buy this. He says that it only costs $10 to make but yet I can not find it for sale anywhere. I continue my search to find that he (Shawn Frayne) started a company called Humdinger Wind Energy:

Company Link: http://www.humdingerwind.com
Humdinger Light Up Windcell: http://www.humdingerwind.com/pdf/lightup_windcell.pdf

With a little further research I was able to uncover that this Shawn fellow is now located in the Philippines (Manila to be exact) and he is working on Solar now creating whats called the Solar Pocket Factory. Should be interesting to see what comes of it in the future. If you want to help them out and see what they are all about be sure to check out their KickStarter page in which you can donate anywhere from $10 – $10,000+.

Nov 042012
 

So on top of our Cabin Series I have decided that I would love to showcase as many people who have set up their own personal micro-generation set ups.  Our first set up is featured by Greg Grant and Linda Vigil.  Greg lives in Northwest Montana and has lived the past 10 years of his life in a house that only cost $2500.  If you know anything about Montana, its that its cold in the winter.  Having spent an entire year there myself, I understand just how cold it can get.  He really gives you a good idea as to how easy it is to live off the grid on your own.  He had some help from people but for the most part set everything up himself.

I hope you have enjoyed this series so far. We will be adding more in the weeks to come. Expect to see one part per week in the future.

Mar 232012
 

Students from Cornell University (you know this has to be good if it’s from those Big Red Bears) have figured out how to generate electricity from the vibration of wind passing next to lightweight pads.  So we have all see Wind-Turbines and understand how they work.  The blades cut through the wind and spin around generating electricity that can be stored and kept for a while.   Vibro-wind is nothing like that.  Even the slightest breeze will cause the pads to vibrate and by using a piezoelectric (or lots of smaller ones) transducer which is made out of ceramic/polymer and it emits electrons when stressed.  Here is a video that shows exactly how it works for the most part.  They will not tell you the secret goopy stuff they put on one side of the ceramic plate, but it will give you enough idea to start trying your own.  

You can see one in action in this video.  Its pretty amazing how this works.  I am interested in seeing how this ends up in the next few years.  I think this is going to be the cheapest alternative to living off the grid.  With this, I believe that most everyone will be able to micro-generate their own electricity.  Plus, on top of everything else, this is perfect for a cabin in the middle of nowhere. 

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Some of the ultra conservatives out there believe that wind-generation leads to major problems with birds, bats, and other sensitive habitats.  Most of the people who live near these huge wind-turbines have complained about the noise that is attributed to the huge towers and also vibrations.  It almost feels like an earthquake at times.  Francis Moon of Cornell University (Professor of Mechanical Engineering) has created a panel of 25 lightweight pads that oscillate at the slightest breeze.  The pads are then attached to piezoelectric material that will produce electricity from the vibrations off the pads.  Professor Moon has been working tirelessly working with a team of undergraduates to create a working prototype called “Vibro-Wind.”  You see examples of these in the videos and pictures.