Daily TIPs: Wind Bubble, Stronger Steel, Climate Cooperation, & More
Is There a Wind Bubble Coming?
Wind power is booming, with capacity last year growing by 45 percent and wind power companies being bought and sold. The Atlantic displays an interesting map showing where the wind and the windmills are, but worries that the current optimism in the wind market may turn sour. It cites two problems: the poor capacity of transmission lines to carry the electricity from the sparsely inhabited, windy areas where it’s generated to the big cities that need it, and the variability in supply caused by changes in the weather.
Cable Might See Problems from White Space Devices
There’s an ongoing debate about whether the Federal Communications Commission should allow devices to use the empty parts of the broadcast spectrum between television channels, the so-called “white space.” Such mobile, wireless devices are supposed to scan for local broadcasts and tune to frequencies that won’t interfere with those broadcasts, but now the National Cable and Telecommunications Association is warning the devices may cause local interference with cable channels, the Washington Post reports. The concern is the devices won’t notice the signals coming in over coaxial cables, and pick frequencies that will knock out a person’s cable service.
Study of 9/11 May Bring Stronger Steel
No scientific advance could make up for the tragedy of the Twin Towers’ fall seven years ago, but some small good may come out of the disaster in the form of better steel for future skyscrapers. Sergei Dudarev of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority studied the steel in the towers and concluded that impurities in the metal caused the steel’s magnetic field to change at high temperatures, causing the steel to become soft, says the BBC. Dudarev hopes a better understanding of the process can lead to steel that maintains its structure at high temperatures, which could be used in the future to build hoped-for fusion reactors that would run extremely hot.
Carbon Molecule Could Lead to Advanced Electronics
A chemistry professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute has built a new type of carbon molecule that could lead to advances in computing and provide a new type of organic semiconductor with valuable properties. Harry Dorn built a buckyball, an arrangement of 80 carbon atoms, and filled it with the rare earth metal yttrium, which gave it unusual electronic properties, according to Daily Tech. The material might be used to build quantum computers, which would be far faster and more complex than today’s machines, or provide a new type of flexible computer chip.
Cities Cooperate to Fight Climate Change
San Francisco and its neighbors, Oakland and San Jose, are working together to develop a regional climate change compact. The agreement, not yet done, will include pledges to use more renewable energy and generate more “green” jobs, reports the San Jose Mercury News.
Company Gives Old Turbines a Second Wind
A startup in Plymouth, MA, hopes to provide affordable wind power to medium-sized projects by refurbishing old turbine blades for reuse. The Boston Globe says that most wind turbine companies are building equipment for large-scale projects, leaving farms, small businesses, and schools that would like to use wind power with nowhere to go. Aeronautica Windpower repairs old equipment and is able to provide it to these smaller projects much faster than they could otherwise get it.