Tech_Watch                Gallia_Labs



Dean Kamen’s Vapor Compression Distiller Water Purifier

Dean Kamen’s vapor compression distiller, first shown to the world on the Colbert Report, “is designed to supply a village with 1,000 liters/day of clean water…you can use any water source — ocean, puddle, chemical waste site, hexavalent chrome, arsenic, poison, 50 gallon drum of urine…The are no filters to replace, no charcoal, no anything disposable (just distillation) (— Wired) … For the last 10 years, Kamen has been working on machines to purify water and generate electricity on a small scale for the billions of people in the world who don’t have access to clean water or electricity. For about two years, he tested the two systems–both about the size of a large outdoor air-conditioning unit–in Bangladesh, and they were successful…The water purification system does not use membranes, filters, or other traditional techniques, but rather relies on electricity to run a vapor compression distiller that can treat very dirty water. The electricity generation system runs a high-pressure Stirling engine. In the Bangladesh test, it was fueled by the methane from decomposing cow dung”. (— CNet) …The device provides energy as well as purifies dirty water without filters. Kamen said this device can help wipe out 80% of human disease by providing clean water”. (– Hubpages).  The units are being produced in Bangladesh for under $1000.


“The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough?”
Electricity generator utilizes novel fuel cell originally designed for NASA Manned Mission to Mars

The Bloom Box was shown for the first time on CBS 60 Minutes. Their transcript reads “The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough? First Customers [starting with Google] Say Energy Machine Works And Saves Money…In the world of energy, the Holy Grail is a power source that’s inexpensive and clean, with no emissions. Well over 100 start-ups in Silicon Valley are working on it…One of them is Bloom Energy. Their invention? A little power plant-in-a-box they want to put literally in your backyard…You’ll generate your own electricity with the box and it’ll be wireless. The idea is to one day replace the big power plants and transmission line grid, the way the laptop moved in on the desktop and cell phones supplanted landlines”.

In the interview “Bloom Energy’s K.R. Sridhar, [held] up fuel cells that are key components of the so-called “Bloom box…Looking at one of the boxes, Sridhar told correspondent Lesley Stahl it could power an average U.S. home. ‘The way we make it is in two blocks…[a single box powers] a European home. The two put together is a U.S. home, he explained…’and [they’ll] power..four to six homes in [India],’ Sridhar replied…’It is real. It works,’ he [added]…He says he knows it works because he originally invented a similar device for NASA. He really is a rocket scientist. This invention, working on Mars, would have allowed the NASA administrator to pick up a phone and say, ‘Mr. President, we know how to produce oxygen on Mars,’ Sridhar told Stahl. ‘So this was going to produce oxygen so people could actually live on Mars?’ she asked. ‘Absolutely,’ Sridhar replied. When NASA scrapped that Mars mission, Sridhar had an idea: he reversed his Mars machine. Instead of it making oxygen, he pumped oxygen in. He invented a new kind of fuel cell, which is like a very skinny battery that always runs. Sridhar feeds oxygen to it on one side, and fuel on the other. The two combine within the cell to create a chemical reaction that produces electricity. There’s no need for burning or combustion, and no need for power lines from an outside source. In October 2001 he managed to get a meeting with John Doerr from the big Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins…I like to say that the new energy technologies could be the largest economic opportunity of the 21st century,’ Doerr explained. He told Stahl it was the firm’s first clean energy investment…Sridhar has been hyper-secretive…Given the stealthiness, [CBS was] surprised when Sridhar showed [them] – for the very first time – how he makes the ‘secret sauce’ of his fuel cell on the cheap. He said he bakes sand and cuts it into little squares that are turned into a ceramic. Then he coats it with green and black ‘inks’ that he developed. Sridhar told Stahl there is a secret formula. ‘And you take that and you apply that. You paint that on either side of this white ceramic to get a green layer and a black layer. And…that’s it.’ Sridhar told Stahl the finished product, a skinny fuel cell, would generate power. One disk powers one light bulb; the taller the stack of disks, the more power it generates. In between each disk there’s a metal plate, but instead of platinum, Sridhar uses a cheap metal alloy. The stacks are the heart of the Bloom box: put 64 of them together and you get something big enough to power a Starbucks. Sridhar offered to give Stahl a sneak peek inside the Bloom box. ‘All those modules that we saw go into this big box. Fuel goes in, air goes in, out comes electricity’, he explained.

Asked if Bloom box is intended to get rid of the grid, John Doerr told Stahl, ‘The Bloom box is intended to replace the grid…for its customers. It’s cheaper than the grid, it’s cleaner than the grid. ‘Now, won’t the utility companies see this as a threat and try to crush Bloom?’ Stahl asked. ‘No, I think the utility companies will see this as a solution,’ Doerr said. ‘All they need to do is buy Bloom boxes, put them in the substation for the neighborhood and sell that electricity and operate.’They’ll buy these boxes?’ Stahl asked. ‘They buy nuclear power plants. They buy gas turbines from General Electric,’ he pointed out. To make power, you’d still need fuel…’Our system can use fossil fuels like natural gas. Our system can use renewable fuels like landfill gas, bio-gas,’ Sridhar told Stahl. ‘We can use solar.’…he already has customers. Over 20 large, well-known companies have quietly bought and are testing Bloom boxes in California. Like FedEx. We …at their hub in Oakland…installed their boxes, each one costing $700-800,000…’We have FedEx, we have Walmart,’ Sridhar explained. He told Stahl the first customer was Google. Four units have been powering a Google data center for two years. They use natural gas, but half as much as would be required for a traditional power plant…Another company that has bought and is testing the Bloom box…is eBay. Its boxes are on the lawn in the middle of its campus in San Jose…John Donahoe, eBay’s CEO, says its five boxes were installed over a year ago and have already saved the company $200,000 in electricity costs. ‘It’s been very successful thus far. They’ve done what they said they would do,’ he told Stahl…eBay’s boxes run on bio-gas made from landfill waste, so they’re carbon neutral. Donahoe took us up to the roof to show off the company’s more than 3,000 solar panels. But they generate a lot less electricity than the boxes on the lawn. ‘So this, on five buildings, acres and acres and acres,’ Stahl remarked. ‘Yes. The footprint for Bloom is much more efficient,’ Donahoe said. ‘When you average it over seven days a week, 24 hours a day, the Bloom box puts out five times as much power that we can actually use.'” ( — CBS 60 Minutes)



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                                           LEGO Mindstorms NXT robot computer

LEGO Mindstorms NXT Robot Family

LEGO Mindstorms NXT Software

LEGO Mindstorms NXT Programmable Robotics Kit
Build & Program Humanoids, Animals & Unique Robotic Mechanisms

With LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT “you can build and program robots that do what you want! With the contents in the set you get everything you need to build and program your very own intelligent LEGO robot, and make it perform loads of different operations…The robot can be fitted, for example, with sensors which control motors and react to light, sound, touch, etc…The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT robotics toolkit comes with building instructions for 4 main models ranging in building complexity, going from the Quick Start model that you can assemble and program in 30 minutes, to the ultimate Humanoid – all models are designed for easy battery change…6 building and programming challenges are included on the software CD, complete with step-by-step building instructions and programming guide for all models…The NXT is the intelligent micro-computer LEGO brick that can be programmed to take inputs from sensors and activate the servo motors…How do you program your robots?…NXT-G is an intuitive, [object-oriented] icon-based drag-and-drop programming language designed for an easy introduction to programming for new users and experienced users…By choosing program blocks that work with the motors and make the sensors react to inputs, you simply build up your program block by block, and you can create programs that range from simple to complex…LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT is the second generation of robotics products from The LEGO Group, which launched the first generation…in 1998 with the LEGO MINDSTORMS Robotic Invention System…LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT was launched in 2006…introducing entry-level robotics to children from age 10 and up, with state-of-the-art hardware and easy-to-use programming software…In just 30 minutes young robot creators can build and program their first working robot…LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 combines the unlimited versatility of the LEGO building system with an intelligent microcomputer brick and intuitive drag-and-drop programming software…LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT software [is] powered by LabView [Virtual Instruments (VI) creation system] from National Instruments…[LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT also supports Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio (OverviewWikipedia]”. — LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT > What is in the Box

“The LEGO Mindstorms systems originated from collaborative efforts with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, under project development headed by Seymour Papert (artificial intelligence pioneer & inventor of the Logo programming language) & Nicholas Negroponte (Founder/Chairman Emeritus, MIT Media Lab; Founder, One Laptop per Child Association (OLPC)). Mindstorms robots were very popular at our San Francisco Robotics Society of America (SFRSA) annual Robot Games at the Exploratorium Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception. Those games have since evolved into RoboGames, “the worlds largest robot competition”, which features a Lego Open & Lego Challenge. Mindstorms robots are also the main event at Dean Kamen’s (inventor of the Segway) annual robot challenge, the FIRST LEGO League“. — Villa Alumni Cliff Thompson ’67, Webmaster, San Francisco Robotics Society of America (SFRSA)

LEGO Mindstorms NXT: A Brief Introduction & Tutorial Part 1
LEGO Mindstorms NXT: A Brief Introduction & Tutorial Part 2

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