In May 2006, Alameda County’s Santa Rita Jail brought on-line an exciting hybrid energy generation system that includes solar arrays, fuel cell stacks, and co-generation; all functioning in tandem. Covered in an Energy and Power Management article entitled “Santa Rita’s Fuel Cell Adds Reliability to Solar Installation”, this hybrid energy system provides grid-beating electrical conversion efficiency (49%), low pollutant emissions, and redundancy against grid failures and brownouts.
The twin centerpieces of the Santa Rita Jail instillation are a 1.2 MW photovoltaic array from PowerLight and a 1 MW Direct Fuel Cell® from Fuel Cell Energy. Being a carbonate fuel cell, this power plant runs hot enough to enable internal reformation; so, natural gas can be used as fuel, instead of hydrogen. Overall, this system saves Alameda County (which is in California) over $266,000 per year in electricity costs alone, not to mention offset heating costs and waived air quality permitting requirements.
There is currently much discussion around the term "platform," which may be preceded by the adjectives "mobile," "wearable," "medical," "healthcare," etc. However, regardless of the platform being discussed, they usually have one key aspect in common: They tend to be wireless. So, why is this one aspect so fairly universal? The answer is convenience.
Everyone has a MEMS story. For most of us it’s probably the airbag that saved our lives or the life of a loved one. Perhaps it’s the tire pressure sensor that alerted us about deflation before we were stranded alone on a dark muddy road.
Bioimimicry is not merely a helpful design tool -- it also encourages designers to think not only about how to solve design problems by imitating nature, but how to make the products, materials, and systems they design more ecologically sound and nature-friendly.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.