Vertical-axis wind-turbines experiment with wind power output

For decades, the trend across the wind industry has been to make wind turbines larger and larger—because it has improved efficiency and helped lower costs.

John Dabiri, a professor of aeronautical and bioengineering at Caltech, has a heretical idea. He thinks the way to lower the cost of wind power is to use small vertical-axis wind turbines, while using computer models to optimize their arrangement in a wind farm so that each turbine boosts the power output of its neighbors.

Dabiri has demonstrated the basic idea at a 24-turbine test plot in southern California….The first 10 turbines will be installed this year, and the goal is to eventually install 50 to 70 turbines…Dabiri is also installing turbines at an existing wind farm in Palm Springs, California, using his models to generate power by putting up new turbines between existing ones.

Ordinarily, as wind passes around and through a wind turbine, it produces turbulence that buffets downstream turbines, reducing their power output and increasing wear and tear. Dabiri says that vertical-axis turbines produce a wake that can be beneficial to other turbines, if they’re positioned correctly…

Dabiri’s wind turbines are 10 meters tall and generate three to five kilowatts, unlike the 100-meter-tall, multi-megawatt machines in conventional wind farms. He says the smaller ones are easier to manufacture and could cost less than conventional ones if produced on a large scale. He also says maintenance costs could be less because the generator sits on the ground, rather than at the top of a 100-meter tower, and thus is easier to access…

The approach, however, faces some challenges. Vertical-axis wind turbines aren’t as efficient as conventional ones—half of the time the blades are actually moving against the wind, rather than generating the lift needed spin a generator. As the blades alternatively catch the wind and then move against it, they create wear and tear on the structure, says Fort Felker, director of the National Wind Technology Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Dabiri, and researchers such as Alexander Smits at Princeton University, say they are working on improved turbine designs to address some of these issues…

Felker thinks that Dabiri’s approach might prove fitting for small, isolated places…where simpler construction and maintenance might be important. “But if you’re trying to transform the overall energy economy,” he says, “you’ve got to go big.”

What I’m always looking for is technology which might enable transformation of individual homes into self-sufficiency. For that reason, this is a project I’ll be keeping my eyes on. Sooner or later, wind or solar, I intend to afford getting off the grid.

2012 Federal Spending: Where your income taxes went

Click to enlarge

As the expanded graphic notes, you won’t see Medicare and Social Security as part of this budget. They are paid directly from the funds collected as payroll taxes.

Which explains the gross hypocrisy of everyone from President Obama to every lying Republican and Blue Dog Democrat in the Congressional cesspool. They contribute nothing to the federal deficit. These two insurance programs are paid for directly and need only to be managed intelligently and fairly to continue as chartered. SSA, Social Security being the best example.

Currently capped around $110K, all that is needed is to stop stroking those with incomes greater than that amount and continue the same payroll tax per pay period they’ve been paying all along – and the fund is solvent into the 22nd Century.

Medicare costs are handicapped by scumbags in Congress who have so far forbidden negotiations [1] identical to those used by the Pentagon for fixed prices a la the US Military and [2] perfectly adequate profit margins like those used for export sales – bringing US prices for medical commodities down to those charged next door in Mexico and Canada.

We’ll go into the lies about “defense” spending some other time.

Once again, thanks to Barry Ritholtz

Folk remedy stops bedbugs in their tracks

Generations of Eastern European housewives doing battle against bedbugs spread bean leaves around the floor of an infested room at night. In the morning, the leaves would be covered with bedbugs that had somehow been trapped there. The leaves, and the pests, were collected and burned — by the pound, in extreme infestations.

Now a group of American scientists is studying this bedbug-leaf interaction, with an eye to replicating nature’s Roach Motel.

A study published Wednesday in The Journal of the Royal Society Interface details the scientists’ quest, including their discovery of how the bugs get hooked on the leaves, how the scientists have tried to recreate these hooks synthetically and how their artificial hooks have proved to be less successful than the biological ones.

At first glance, the whole notion seems far-fetched, said Catherine Loudon, a biologist at the University of California, Irvine, who specializes in bedbug locomotion.

“If someone had suggested to me that impaling insects with little tiny hooks would be a valid form of pest control, I wouldn’t have given it credence,” she said in an interview. “You can think of lots of reasons why it wouldn’t work. That’s why it’s so amazing…”

This folk remedy from the Balkans was never entirely forgotten. A German entomologist wrote about it in 1927, a scientist at the United States Department of Agriculture mentioned it in a paper in 1943, and it can be found in Web searches about bedbugs and bean plants.

But the commercial availability of pesticides like DDT in the 1940s temporarily halted the legions of biting bugs. As their pesticide-resistant descendants began to multiply from Manhattan to Moscow, though, changing everything from leases to liability laws, the hunt for a solution was on…

…As Dr. Loudon said, “It would be our greatest hope that ultimately this could develop into something that could help with this horrible problem.”

Quick, someone go find the dude who invented Velcro!

Dubai coppers the latest to add Lamborghini chase car

Dubai Police has added a Lamborghini Aventador to its fleet, the force announced on its Twitter feed.

On Wednesday, the official DubaiPoliceHQ feed posted a photo of its latest purchase driving outside Dubai Mall, the world’s biggest shopping centre, and said: “Dubai Police patrols, now at your service.”

The Lamborghini Aventador, named after a bull, is capable of speeds of up to 349km/h and has a price tag of around $400,000…

The Italian-made Lamborghini Aventador will be mostly dispatched to tourist areas to show – in the words of deputy police director General Khamis Matter al-Muzaina – “how classy Dubai is”…

The car is reported to be the crown jewel of a wider upgrade in Dubai police wheels.

The force is also adding some American Camaros cars.

How cool is this?

Uruguay becomes 3rd American nation to legalise gay marriage

Uruguayan lawmakers voted on Wednesday to legalise gay marriage, making the South American country the third in the Americas to do so.

Supporters of the law, who had filled the public seats in the Senate, erupted in celebration when the results were announced. The bill received the backing of 71 members of the 92-seat chamber…

The “marriage equality project,” as it is called, was already approved by ample majorities in both of Uruguay’s legislative houses, but senators had made some changes requiring a final vote by the deputies.

President Jose Mujica’s ruling Broad Front majority, which backed the law, is expected to put it into effect within 10 days…

The vote makes Uruguay the third country in the Americas, after Canada and Argentina, to eliminate laws making marriage, adoption and other family rights exclusive to heterosexuals. In all, 11 other nations around the world have already taken this step.

Whereas some other countries have carved out new territory for gay and lesbian couples without affecting heterosexual marrieds, Uruguay is creating a single set of rules for all people, gay or straight. Instead of the words “husband and wife” in marriage contracts, it refers to the gender-neutral “contracting parties.”

All couples will get to decide which parent’s surname comes first when they have children. All couples can adopt, or undergo in-vitro fertilization procedures.

It also updates divorce laws in Uruguay, which in 1912 gave women only the right to unilaterally renounce their wedding vows as a sort of equaliser to male power. Now either spouse will be able to unilaterally request a divorce and get one.

People danced in the streets.

There was a time in my life when living in the United States meant you participated in the formation of progress for all the nations in this hemisphere. Not any more, man.