While visiting MIT for graduation, I walked right past a new prototype-scale solar-thermal power plant that a group of students had built in one of the Institute’s outlaying parking lots. Given my recent coverage of the Nevada Solar One power plant (see Nevada Solar One Demonstrates Scalability of Solar Thermal Energy), I could not resist posing for a photo (below).
Fortunately, someone familiar with the project was standing guard to ensure latecomers rushing to park in the lot for gradation did not inadvertently hit the installation. So, I was able to learn a little about the power plant before dashing off to receive my Ph.D.
This solar-thermal plant was specifically designed for use in developing counties and was built using old, recycled automobile parts. The four parabolic mirrors concentrate solar energy on the black-painted pipes that run along the foci of each mirror, heating the fluid inside. In the configuration pictured, the system was set up with a heat exchanger (which I am standing in front of, unfortunately) to deliver hot water. A turbine could also be added to extract energy from the collected heat.
The Dutch are known for their love of bicycling, and they’ve also long been early adopters of green-energy and smart-city technologies. So it seems fitting that a town in which painter Vincent van Gogh once lived has given him a very Dutch-like tribute -- a bike path lit by a special smart paint in the style of the artist's “Starry Night” painting.
For decades, engineers have worked to combat erosion by developing high-strength alloys, composites, and surface coatings. However, in a new paper, a team at Jilin University in China turned to one of the most deadly animals in the world for inspiration -- the yellow fat-backed scorpion.
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