[Eric Giler] has a talk available over at TED that discusses and demos delivering electricity without wires. Called WiTricity, these methods were developed by a team at MIT a few years ago who were working off of the concepts of Nicolai Tesla. The facts shared about our current energy delivery system are a bit shocking; we’ve spent over $1 trillion in infrastructure and produce more than 40 billion disposable batteries each year.
The demonstration in the video starts about 6:30 into it. At first we see a flat panel television powered wirelessly from about 6 feet away, then the T-Mobile G1 powered from the same distance. The thought of new TVs coming with WiFi and WiTricity standard would mean just hanging it on the wall with no cords to run. We can also image cellphones that have a battery only for backup purposes when you were not near a transmitter.
The power transfer occurs between two coils that resonate at the same frequency and only that frequency. This remind us a bit of Orson Scott Card’s fantasy communications device from the Ender’s Saga.
Have you ever wondered how they inspect high voltage cables without taking them out of service? Check out this video which offers a glimpse into the life of a professional high voltage cable inspector. There are parts of the job you’d expect—namely perching on the cable like a bird, trying to not fall off—but the part of the job you wouldn’t expect is the suit. This suit is made of 75% Nomex, to prevent it from catching fire, and 25% stainless steel thread, turning the suit into a wearable Faraday cage. Of course, because he’s got a Faraday cage mere millimeters from his skin, the cable inspector spends his workday surrounded by half a million volts. To avoid electric shock, he equalizes the voltage potential between himself and the line before touching the cable.
Depending on your specific phobias, this video might make your job seem really dull… or really really safe.
Silverleaf Medical products has created an electric wound dressing that staves off infection by killing microbes in an open wound and preventing other germs from getting in.
They call it the CMB Antimicrobial Wound Dressing, and it is made of polyester fabric woven with a proprietary material called Prosit. When the bandage is moistened, the Prosit generates a low voltage, killing germs in the wound. One of these bandages can be worn for 3 days at a time, and their clinical trials indicate that they are highly effective in treating infected wounds. Take a look at their brochure (PDF file) for some informative and stomach-turning before and after photos.
Aside from having a very cool name, parasitic power is an innovate way to recapture already spent power. This power can come in the form of wasted heating or cooling of a building for example. Last week the Southern Methodist University activated the first commercial Green Machine from ElectraTherm. The unit recycles residual heat from the building into electricity. So far, the 50kW Green Machine has exceeded expectations. The company also says owners can recoup the units cost after about three years.
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