Solar Shingles

picture: Ben West
picture: Ben West

When thinking about the solar power the first thing that comes to mind may be, solar panels, but that was the wave of the past. The new thing in solar energy is solar shingles. Solar Shingles look just like regular asphalt shingles but have the ability to produce solar electricity.

The solar shingles come in many different shapes and sizes. When searching for solar shingles you will notice that they come in many different patterns as well. They resemble the conventional shingles that you would find on roofs, but have a semi-rigid pattern covering, are thicker, and contain silicon solar cells that produce the energy.
With the technology in the industry evolving, they have also developed solar shingles that are thinner and even have the flexibility as your standard asphalt shingle, but are more expensive at this time. Each shingle is able to produce 100 watts of DC rated power.

  Solar shingles use the photovoltaic models to trap sunlight and convert that power into electricity. The shingle does produce direct current (DC) power and typically, houses and buildings are using alternating current (AC.). To take advantage of the solar power from the shingles an inverter is installed at the site and converts the power from DC to AC. Homes with the solar shingles installed will look a little different, the shingles will have a purple-blue, purplish, or deep black color. Often homeowners will choose the solar shingle over the panels because they blend in with the roof rather than having panels attached.

  The technology used for solar shingles is also the same technology that is utilized in solar panels. The sun is the source of the power and is used to create electricity. The shingles are made up with photovoltaic cells. The cells are made with a material known as a semiconductor. This material is a dense matter that conducts between an insulator and most metals. This process is completed with adding an impurity or the heat from the sunlight. The light is captured in the silicon semiconductor and energy is created. The energy is then captured in the photovoltaic cells and creates the current known as the alternating current (AC.) This alternating current (AC) then be converted into direct current (DC) and the process is complete. Solar energy is becoming more and more readily used and thought about when building and restoring home or buildings. The technology has evolved over the years and the awareness of the use of resources on our planet has made the industry very progressive. The shingles are also easy to install because they are attached right to the roof and do not need to be attached to the rafters as the standard panels do. (more…)

Renewable Energy from garbage and sewage

renewable sewage energy

  The technology of using raw sewage and garbage to create energy is not a new concept, but the concept is catching on more and more.  Many are practicing sustainable living to make sure that we are becoming more eco-friendly as time goes on.  Many companies and technologies are evolving to help us in this cycle of life.  Recent discoveries and advances had proven that we can turn our wastes and trash into energy rather than dumping it into a landfill to decompose over hundreds of years.

  In the past around the turn of the 20th century, we used the gas captured from rotting sewage to light the night streets of streetlamps.  With technology ever evolving there now is the know-how that has updated this process.  The process of collecting not only gas from garbage but also from raw sewage.  We are the world that has an appetite for energy.  As this appetite for power grows so does our technology.  In turn, we are able to create new forms of producing eco-friendly energy.   The device that can turn these materials into energy is known as a microbial fuel cell.  The device works much like a hydrogen fuel cell making energy, but this device takes the process and uses wastewater as known as raw sewage and waste.  The bacteria that eats raw sewage creates a gas that can be captured and turned into energy.  There is also an added bonus to this process, helps purify the water.  This is a win-win situation for mother earth and the creatures that habit it.

  Students at a university have created a small version of this microbial fuel cells that is smaller than a can of frozen juice.  This device is able to create enough energy to power a small device like a fan.  The goal of the project is to create larger versions that would be able to create enough biofuel to operate a car on.  Of course, the microbial fuel cell would have to be much larger, but it is a start.  it is estimated that if you had 10,000 people treat their raw sewage with this process that it would create enough energy to power 1,500 homes.  That is roughly 230 million watts of energy.  The added benefit of this process is that the method that is completed at a treatment plant would actually also create enough power to be self-efficient.  Meaning the power plant would be able to power its self.  This would be an added benefit for countries in third world areas where electricity is often not found readily available.  All the power plants need is pumps to push oxygen through the raw sewage water.

  This process also has an added bonus.  The method on how the fuel is created in the microbial fuel cell allows for the collection of the methane gas that the bacteria puts off during the process.  The methane is able then to be collected in a turbine and is burned off.  This allows the cell to actually make the energy directly without having to use combustion.  This technology and process are in the early stages, but could make a huge impact on creating “cleaner” energy sources and also create power in parts of the world where we have not in the past.  The technology that is being development in the area of power creation is making great strides.

  The process of using raw sewage and garbage to produced energy and power is not only a great way to produce the resources needed to benefit us, but is also money saving, creates better water treatment processes, and even promote energy sustainability.  Many industries are working towards more and more processes like this.

  The power industry is ever evolving and this has created the awareness around the world for more and more companies to become “green.”  This includes the awareness to make companies think about their determinations to preserve our natural resources and also to protect our planet.  In many areas of the world, there are awards created to recognize these efforts.  These areas of help promote and protect our outdoor recreation areas, help protect our land, promote sustainability and innovation, and encourage water conservation.

  garbage recyclingWhen you think of ‘green’  companies, a flooring company is not the first thing to come to mind.  A flooring company out of Sandy Springs, GA was able to win an award for the process that they were able to create that allows them to be one of the first flooring companies to have no waste from the manufacturing process to end up in a landfill.  The employees of this company were able to reuse and recycle the carpet scraps.  What they were not able to reuse and recycle was sent to a facility in Alabama that is able to take waste and turn it into energy. (more…)