Breakthrough in water based energy storage

[Daniel Nocera], working with the MIT Energy Initiative, has come up with a method to easily and cheaply store energy generated from solar electricity with water. The method uses two catalysts of non-toxic and abundant metals to separate the water into both oxygen and hydrogen. These gases are then stored, and later recombined in a fuel cell to generate power. The process was inspired by photosynthesis, and helps to make sources such as solar power viable around the clock. Current storage technologies are both expensive and inefficient, so technologies like solar are only useful when the source is available. This will allow homes to cheaply and easily store power generated through solar and other technologies. While this is only part of the solution towards the current energy problem, it could go a long way towards decreasing our use of non-renewable sources. When combined with other new breakthroughs in the field, you can easily imagine more homes coming off the grid. Check out the short video after the break.

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Solar powered lawnmower

Our post about what it takes to convert your home to solar power probably put you in a green mood, but if you want to start with something smaller, check out this guide on how to add a solar panel to your lawnmower.

You will need a battery-powered lawnmower for this, as well as a 12-volt solar charger with a car lighter jack. This easy hack mainly involves a small amount of work with the wiring; the car lighter jack must be removed from the solar panel so that the wires can be attached to the batteries. Yeah, that’s it. We’d love to see a more elegant solution since the way it is now you have switch the wiring from parallel to series everytime you want to mow.

For a more complete lawnmower hack, check out this remote control lawnmower.

What it takes to go solar

ExtremeTech has posted an article detailing the process of adding solar power to a house. The author included some interesting detail about his personal power consumption, and details about the process of selecting his contractor too. The total cost of the installation came to about $36,000 after state and federal rebates for going solar.

It’s not a homebrew setup, but it’s good to see an article detailing all that is involved. We’ll take you through the tech side of it after the break.

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LED sensor solar tracker

More of my EV kick coming through. A solar tracker is used rotate a solar panel to get optimum energy from the sun. This one uses LEDs as the light sensor and mosfets to drive the output to rotate on a single axis. He even reduced the duty cycle on the fets so no heatsink is needed. Mounting in a peanut butter jar keeps the circuit dry and allows the sun to shine through. (The designer sells these, but has circuits up on the site)