Griffith Hack Clean & Sustainable Technologies

North Carolina research workers show how water based ‘artificial leaf’ generates electricity by Griffith Hack
October 5, 2010, 8:17 am
Filed under: Feature

Did you know that a North Carolina State University staff has demonstrated that water gel-based solar devices (called: “artificial leaves”) can act like solar cells to make electricity?

The study has been released on-line inside the Journal of Materials Chemistry by Doctor. Orlin Velev, an Invista Professor associated with Chemical and Bio-molecular Engineering.

The findings prove the idea for making solar cells that more closely imitate nature. They also have the possibility to be cheaper and more environmentally friendly than the existing standard silicon based solar cells.

The bendable products are composed of water-based gel infused using light-sensitive molecules (like plant chlorophyll) coupled with electrodes coated by carbon materials, such as carbon nanotubes or graphite.

Graphene is the basic structural element of a number of carbon allotropes including graphite, carbon nanotubes and fullerenes. Graphene is a one-atom thick planar sheet of carbon atoms that are largely packed in a honeycomb crystal lattice. The title comes from graphite ene; graphite itself consists of a lot of graphene sheets piled together.

The light-sensitive molecules get “excited” by the sun’s rays to create electricity, similar to plant molecules that get excited to synthesize sugar in order to grow.

Dr. Velev says that the research team hopes to “learn how to copy the materials through which nature harnesses solar power.” Although man made light-sensitive molecules can be used, Velev says naturally produced products, like chlorophyll, are also very easily integrated in these products because of their particular water-gel matrix.

Velev even imagines a future where homes could be covered with soft sheets of similar electrical power-generating man-made-leaf pv cells. The concept of biochemically inspired ‘soft’ products for generating electricity may in the future offer an alternative for the present-day solid-state technologies.

About the Author: Colleen J. Mcguire creates for the, her personal hobby blog site focused on recommendations to help property owners to spend a smaller amount energy with solar power.

Reference: Aqueous soft matter based pv devices. Journal of Materials Chemistry, 2011; DOI:

Solar air conditioner for Hawaii by Justin Blows
October 5, 2010, 7:59 am
Filed under: Feature

Here is a report on a solar thermal air conditioning system being built in Hawaii.

Solar thermal heating and cooling has great potential but has not been capitalized in the way solar PV has, for example.

Justin Blows

Oz finanace machine will swing behind renewables by Justin Blows
October 3, 2010, 8:49 am
Filed under: Feature

This article discusses how finance, globally, favours  ‘clean’ over ‘dirty’ projects.  This financial tidal wave is approaching Australia’s shore.

Now, large lenders in the US ask if financing a  ‘dirty’ project  may damage their reputation.  Bank of America and JPMorgan both stopped lending to coal giant Massey Energy and Wells Fargo announced that finance for mountaintop removal was limited and declining.

This is a stong  ‘shadow’ carbon price, making the financing of new coal projects – fossil fuel projects –  expensive.  The result should be that clean and sustainable projects attract more finance. 

Renewable energy - perhaps money does grow on trees?

It shows how increased stakeholder pressure is forcing change to clean and sustainable practices and technologies.  See my earlier post on how the supermarkets and other retailers are also reacting to stakeholder pressure and forcing the greenification of their supply chains.

There are hints that Australian banks are very sensitive to the publics’ enviromental concearns.  The ‘big four’ banks refused to fund the Gunn’s pulp mill in the Tamar Valley, Tasmania. 

Australian banks are primed to do the same in the energy space.  72 % of Australians think future energy needs should be met through renewable energy – wind, solar – and also energy efficiency.  This divergence of consumer expectation from reality exposes the banks to reputation – and consequently financial – risk.  I expect a change to Australian bank behaviour  – and it can not come too soon.

This should have a real impact on the value of intellectual property for clean and sustainable technologies – patents and trade marks in particular.  Patent and trade marks are personal property and can be bought and sold just like any other property.   Thus, a value can be asigned to them based on what the market is prepared to pay.  Increased funding of clean projects makes these IP assests more valuable.  A strong portfolio of clean IP assets adds value to a company and can bring in licencing revenue if used smartly.

All of this spells trouble for the coal industry.  Just a year ago the coal industry was looking very strong.  But every week I hear another story of how support of all kinds for coal is vaporising – much faster than what I thought possible.  

Things are looking up for clean and sustainable IP.

Justin Blows

Supermarkets drive sustainable innovation by Justin Blows
October 1, 2010, 8:10 am
Filed under: Feature

According to this report, supermarkets, some of our biggest companies, are driving clean and sustainable technology innovation, forcing change on their supply chains. Plenty of opportunity here for entrepreneurs looking for a new project!

Justin Blows

European Patent Office releases cleanip report by Justin Blows
October 1, 2010, 8:03 am
Filed under: Feature

According to this report, six countries – Japan, USA, Germany, Korea, France and the UK – are the source of almost 80% of all innovations developed worldwide in the field of clean energy technologies (CETs). This is one of the key findings of a patent-based study on the emergence and distribution of these technologies across the globe jointly conducted by the European Patent Office (EPO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD).

The study shows clearly that the surge of patenting activity in CETs coincided with the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, providing a strong indication that political decisions can be important in creating a framework to stimulate the development of technologies which are considered to be crucial to the efforts to address climate change. The statistical analysis of the data shows that patenting rates in the selected CETs have increased roughly 20% per year since then, outpacing the traditional energy sources of fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

The report also mentions that China is rapidly gaining ground in the number of cleanip patent filings. I suspect, however, that many of these patents originating from China have a relatively low patent quality, as discussed in this post on solar patent quality.

Justin Blows

Green ICT – report released by Justin Blows
September 30, 2010, 8:35 am
Filed under: Feature

According to this report, The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), has released a whitepaper titled ICT’s Role in the Low Carbon Economy.

The report apparently states adoption of Green ICT will generate plenty of money and Jobs for Australia, and also reduce carbon emissions.

Justin Blows

Most company’s still slow in cutting carbon by Justin Blows
September 30, 2010, 8:31 am
Filed under: Feature

According to this report, more than 80pc of top global companies are not achieving significant carbon emissions reductions, recent research has revealed.

Justin Blows