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.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
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.