Green up: Personal power, 'vehicles of change,' smashing trash
February 01, 2009
Here are the latest in green application areas where embedded electronics and software are making a difference in energy and resource usage.
For personal power generation, Tremont Electric offers the nPower
Personal Energy Generator (PEG) shown in Figure 1. I saw this device firsthand
at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, and itís pretty cool. The
PEG is designed to produce power naturally from motion generated by walking,
jogging, biking, or other activities. Itís engineered to produce 4 W of power
by capitalizing on a resonant frequency associated with natural human motion,
and it starts as soon as you begin moving with the device. It doesnít store
power, but instead charges a wide range of consumer electronic devices over a
USB connector at the same rate those devices would charge using a wall charger.
Iíve been waiting to see innovation in alternative energy
vehicles from someone other than the usual suspects. XP Vehicles has a concept that might
just change our idea of what a car is. Start with the dashboard – instead
of a huge chunk of plastoelectromechanics, the model has a preinflated
see-through airbag, and the customizable instrument panel is projected through
it. More electronics oversee safety and propulsion, including electronics in the
body panels and both hydrogen-powered fuel cells and a removable power pack.
Depending on the outcome of the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loans under evaluation by the U.S. Department of Energy, we might see vehicles like these soon (see Figure 2).
How about a smarter trash receptacle? BigBelly Solar (www.bigbellysolar.com) has an idea
thatís simple – take a trash compactor generating 1,200 lbs. of force
outside and power it with a good size solar panel on the top driving the
electronics. Youíll see these at Fenway Park in Boston and the Alamo in San
Antonio among other places. But wait, thereís more Ö besides increasing
capacity by up to 5x over uncompacted containers, these containers have a
wireless system that can request emptying or service. This saves labor and fuel
costs by reducing driversí collection trips to empty or less-than-full
receptacles. BigBelly Solar has an idea thats simple ñ take a trash compactor generating 1,200 lbs. of force outside and power it with a good size solar panel on the top driving the electronics (see Figure 3).