søndag 24. april 2011

Development accelerates for Electric Vehicles

The Danish magazine "Engineer" recently announced that charging an Electric Vehicle (EV) could take only five minutes in close future. A new production method makes it possible to manufacture battery electrodes that recharges several hundred times faster than today. This makes EVs a competitive alternative to today´s refilling of gas or diesel. Development is definitely in fast progress!

Researchers in Illinois, USA, recently published an article in Nature Nanotechnology. They have discovered a new manufacturing process that allows recharging 400-1000 times faster than today. 90 % full batteries would thereby take two minutes. If this technology is integrated in the commercial market, the competitiveness of the EVs have reached a new level.

I think the battle of vehicles run by hydrogen vs electricity will stand or fall on the capacity of the batteries, how quick they can recharge and the availability of raw material. I´m looking forward to seeing the progress over the next few years!

Both the Electric Vehicles I have tried are brilliant in their respective ways. Buddy (up left) is a Norwegain Electric Urban Vehicle (EUV), meaning it´s compact, energy efficient and very practical for use in cities. Tesla Roadster (right) is an EV suitable for long distance driving as well, with a range up to 340 kilometers. It originates from California, USA. The esthetic sports car is one of the world´s fastest accelerating cars, going from 0-100 km/h in 3,7 seconds. A little like sitting in a jet airplane....

Read more about the development in Nature Nanotechnology here. If you want to go deeper, you can read the story behind some central researchers here.

tirsdag 19. april 2011

Solar energy power plants

Solar energy is one of the most promising renewable resources available. The potential is enormous, exceeding any other energy resource by far, including fossil fuels. The challenge is finding a way to utilize the energy to a greater extent; today, the efficiency is only 20- 25 % of the potential. I think nano technology will contribute for new and better ways to utilize the energy from photons. Both through dust- repelling films to cover the mirrors or solar panels, and more advanced technology changes within the materials.

For quick development, it´s evident that investments in solar energy is necessary: both within research, technology test sites, production and power plants. Several countries are doing a great job to make progress. Among them are Spain and Germany, having done a great job when it comes to governmental strategies for increasing solar energy utilization. For instance the project on the image; the world´s second largest photovoltaic solar power plant. It is situated
in a former military base in Germany and was completed in 2009.

With a price tag exceeding 180 million dollars, the need of governmental subsidies are self-explanatory. However, the enormous advantages more than pay back the investments: clean energy meets the electricity needs of 10,000 households annually. The ecological footprint is low, and doesn´t increase over the decades of energy production.

Read more about the power plant here.

torsdag 14. april 2011

If anyone would like to visit Norway this summer, I can give you some "get started" advice. First of all: I recommend you to come! Whether you are Norwegian or a foreigner, Norway is a great place for summer holidays. Our country is known for spectacular nature, and the possibilities for eco- traveling are getting better every year.

Traveling in Norway is expensive, but not too bad if you plan ahead. Therefore, I´ll make this post now so you can plan towards the summer!

I recommend you to visit Visitnorway´s website here to start navigating. I think the best part is a recently launched navigation tool called "Green Travel". Here you can find all needed information for traveling, accommodation and relevant environmentally certified companies. Visit the Green Travel gate here!

There are many places to go, but among the most memorable experiences I´ve had is the Pulpit Rock. If you get the chance, I recommend you to go! It is located not too far from Stavanger in the Western part of Norway. To the left you can see me from last summer, peaking over the edge at the fjord, which lies six hundred meters further down... Whoa.

tirsdag 12. april 2011

Spiderman inspires

I wanted to write about the French climber Alain Robert, aka Spiderman. As a part of the Education Without Borders conference, he climbed the world´s tallest building Burj Khalifa for the Guinness World Record! He climbed during the opening ceremony of EWB, so that we could follow his way towards the top from our seats. When nighttime came, we could barely glimpse the tiny figure as he started closing in on the top, 828 meter above the ground. He completed the climb in windy conditions using only six hours, when the limit was set to nine.

His climb towards the top was a great inspiration. Not just the fact that he decided to go for it in the first place. It´s a typical example of setting goals everyone else find amusing because it´s got to be impossible, right? Not to mention dangerous! I admire the way he shrugs off skepticism, plans well, trusts his capabilities and reaches the target. Up left is a photo from the President´s Palace in Abu Dhabi. I was lucky enough to meet Spiderman in person during the gala dinner!

In my eyes, the climbing works as a symbol of what human beings are capable of doing. It shows that through ambitious goals, hard work, experience and never giving up, you can follow your dreams and make it happen. The principles from so many of the great presenters during the conference also went through these stages on their way towards humanitarian projects, establishing companies based on sustainability and renewable energy technologies or spreading solar energy- based lamps across Africa.

I´m aware of the stages you have to go through, the work you have to put into it and the
passion that needs to lie behind the project. The effort might seem too much to handle sometimes, but the rewards you get in the end are so much worth it! I got an impression of what Spiderman saw at midnight after completing his climb from the viewing point of the Burj Khalifa. But imagine the feeling of sitting at the 828th meter, at the very top of the world after having climbed all the way? Or the knowledge that your work has led to a better life for humans around you. That sustainability is within reach because of projects you lead, or new inventions you come up with.

I know for a fact that outstanding people all over the globe are working on global challenges every second as I write. That is maybe the greatest inspiration of all; the knowledge that we can solve problems together. We all have different qualities, so my vision is that everyone can use their strengths for positive change.

søndag 3. april 2011

Education Without Borders

For the past week I have attended the international student conference Education Without Borders (EWB) in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
I never imagined it was possible to meet so many extraordinary people at once! The level of social and technical competence was awe- striking. Both students, organizers and presenters made a deep impression, giving me knowledge I will remember for the rest of my life.

I had an uncountable number of valuable conversations, both one by one and in groups with up to ten different nationalities. The great diversity added a dimension to the discussions I have never experienced before! With different historical, religious and cultural backgrounds, we all had a different approach to problems. We discussed the immense comprehension of the global problems we are facing, from poverty to pollution and climate change. In the end, we actually found some unbelievably creative solutions! The challenge now is to take a new step, and make these solutions become reality. So, as we leared during EWB: bless naivety and make it happen!

The students I met are hard workers, intelligent, ambitious, talkative and genuinely interested in making change for a better world. It´s been fantastic to meet so many openminded people with similar interests! I have made new friends from all over the world. 131 nations were represented at the conference, and out of 1000 students I managed to talk with maybe 300. We are already friends on Facebook, where we will keep in touch so that change becomes reality! It´s a great privilege to have access to technology that allows us to stay in touch with people accross continents so easily.

I would like to thank Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, the Higher Colleges of Technology and the organizers for hosting this outstanding event. Reaching out a hand to the world and bringing so many brilliant minds together from accross the globe is a fantastic initiative that can change the lives of thousands. It will definitely lead to innovative solutions to global challenges, just like targeted. I believe events like EWB can strengthen understanding and tolerence between nations and build bridges between religions. It inspires to working harder, reaching higher and pushing limits. But most of all, EWB has opened my eyes for the true value of comprehensive international communication and cooperation accross borders. I strongly recommend students worldwide to apply for EWB 2013, so you can experience the same!