Paper-Thin Batteries To Juice Self-Powered OLEDs

General Electric has teamed with an Israeli battery developer to make thin organic LED panels that require no external power source

OLED-Lit Tent :  GE
Organig LEDs hold large promise for efficient, thin and flexible lighting elements (as well as razor-thin TVs), but low-tech power sources continue to constrain more creative uses of the lights. After all, what good is a shirt of woven LEDs if you need to lug around 10 C batteries to power it? Thankfully, GE is teaming up with the makers of printable, paper-thin battery to create self-powered OLEDs with the battery integrated into the thin light element itself.

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Nine European Nations Vow to Create Supergrid for Sharing Offshore Wind Power

The Copenhagen announcement would allow nine European countries to share a common renewable energy source

Offshore wind power may soon cross national boundaries more easily than ever, based on news from the Copenhagen climate summit. Nine European nations announced plans for a "supergrid" in the North Sea that would allow them to connect Irish wind farms to continental Europe, or vice versa.

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MIT Redesigns Natural Gas Power Plant For Near-Zero Carbon Emissions

New technology produces energy from fuel without burning it

With the conference in Copenhagen swiftly approaching, and the Senate analog to the Waxman-Markey "American Clean Energy and Security Act" struggling towards the floor, little doubt remains that fossil fuel-burning power plants will soon face either fines for, or mandatory reduction of, carbon emissions. Luckily, a team at MIT has devised a power plant set up that generates power from fossil fuels, but does so with almost none of the carbon emissions.

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Obscure Gear: What the heck is a Variac?

And why do I own three?

A Variac looks like a sci-fi laboratory prop. For some reason, I have three of them in my shop, and yes, one is just a book end. But they do have a useful purpose.

Variac is a generic trade name for a variable autotransformer. If that doesn't help explain much, let's look at what a regular transformer is, and how they relate to a collection of vintage arcade games.

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The Dissection: A Home Electric Meter

A peek inside the simple gears and complicated math that make up one of the coolest devices in your house

You remember calculus, right? In a time before mechanized computing was performed by computers, complex (or sometimes just clever) machines were used to automate calculations. One example that has always impressed and fascinated me is the wheel-and-disk integrator, a simple machine capable of solving the calculus equations you labored over in high school without breaking a sweat. While this concept was used most impressively in Vannevar Bush's differential analyzer, an analog computer built in 1931, the chances are good that you've seen one in a more mundane application around your house: the power meter. Click on the photo gallery to see inside one and how it works, and follow the jump for more in-depth electro-geekery.

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General Electric Chooses Hawaiian Resort as Test Site for Smart Grid

The most fossil-dependent state in the U.S. will become a testing ground for energy-saving technologies

A Maui resort community is slated for a new smart grid, courtesy of General Electric. The power grid will cut back energy costs by automatically turning off household appliances when electricity prices soar, and aims for the 2012 goal of reducing peak electricity consumption by 15 percent.

The community of Wailea will see new power meters in homes that help monitor electricity usage among different appliances, according to AP. Part of the project also involves upgrading utility computers so that they can better integrate renewable energy from more unpredictable sources such as solar and wind.

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Man Ray Meets Mr. Wizard in Sugimoto's "Lightning Fields" Photos

Hiroshi Sugimoto is one of the most interesting photographers working today--his meditative sea- and landscapes, done with long exposures on large-format black and white film, present nature in a austerity that borders on abstraction. Now he's taken his look at the natural world one step further by enlisting the help of a 40,000 volt Van de Graaff generator to apply voltage directly to the film, capturing electricity's wild patterns in the process.

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Harnessing Lightning Bolts to Build Artificial Organs

Lightning-carved channels in plastic form scaffolding for tiny blood vessels

Lightning bolts may not bring Frankenstein to life, but their blood vessel-like patterns could form the foundation for artificial organs. That would rely on a known lab trick that imprints electricity patterns inside plastic blocks.

It's known that driving a nail into one end of an electrically charged block results in an electric discharge running throughout the plastic. PopSci previously examined this process of trapping lightning, so to speak.

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Tap Into The Grid With Hohm, Microsoft's Home Power Management Tool

Using one of the most clever names in tech history, Microsoft has announced Hohm (which telescopes home into ohm), a new Web-based service for keeping an eye on your smart grid. The beta for the service goes live next week; users can sign up to access the service at microsoft-hohm.com.

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The Plan to Build the Next Electric Grid

Even if we tap every renewable power source available, it won't mean a thing without a final, crucial step: reinventing the grid

The Next Grid:  Nick Kaloterakis and Kevin Hand (See an annotated version of the next grid)
The American electric grid is an engineering marvel, arguably the single largest and most complex machine in the world. It's also 40 years old and so rickety that power interruptions and blackouts cost the economy some $150 billion a year. The idea of building a connected "smart" grid that can route power intelligently is beyond daunting, no matter how much stimulus money gets thrown at it. But if we want to cut carbon, we have no choice. Today's grid simply cannot handle a large-scale rollout of the clean-energy sources outlined in this series.

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Node Outlet, Where Have You Been?

A wall socket concept for multiple power plugs makes so much sense, looks great

The other day we told you about upgrading your power sockets into “smart” plugs, but how about updating the actual design of the socket? Node, a concept design for futuristic wall units might replace not just normal sockets, but also the need for surge protectors. Included in the promotional photos are hinged plugs, allowing for the maximization of space. I can’t wait to see the version of this for 3-pronged plugs or any number of foreign plug configurations.

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"Smart" Power Grids May Be Rife With Dumb Security Bugs

New technology that controls our electrical grids is hackable without proper security measures, one expert shows

New “smart” electricity meters, beginning to be rolled out across the country, may be rife with bugs that could pose security risks. The new meters create a smart communication network between the user and the local power plant. The software that powers some of the smart meters, however, is coming under fire from security experts for its lack of adequate protections against malicious hacks.

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Smart Networked Powerplugs Save Energy, Prevent Fires

Safeplugs are cheap and would go a long way toward saving money, energy and lives. So why aren't we all using them?

If a plug and socket could communicate, what would they say? Would they discuss how much energy is needed to power a device? Would they tell each other when there’s a risk of an overload? Would they prevent themselves from being used improperly? At John La Grou’s recently released TED presentation, he explains the benefits of his big idea: an ingeniously simple way of getting a plug and socket to talk to each other.

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Apple Juice

Charge your gadgets with a piece of fruit and some pocket change

Arthur C. Clarke wrote that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," but he was wrong. It's easy to tell the difference -- technology works. For example, "remote-viewing" mentalists claim they can see events far away, yet they fail every test. In fact, remote viewing is simple: It’s called TV.

Another example that recently circulated online was a fake video of someone charging his iPhone by jamming the end of a USB cable into an onion. How do I know it was fake? First, you need contacts made of two different metals, and second, you can't get enough voltage out of a single vegetable. What makes the ruse so disappointing is that it is possible to charge an iPhone this way, if you do it right.

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Vatican Building Europe's Largest Solar Plant

The Vatican is going green, but not with envy or jealousy, of course...

What? The Earth revolves around the sun? Preposterous. By the way, I want you to give up all technology for Lent. Oh, and pay no attention to the workers installing our $US660 million solar plant.

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