No Oil Drilling Required

The past 10 months have seen Americans driving 78 billion miles less than this time a year ago. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters announced this amazing statistic, based on federal data released in August.
This was the largest ever year-to-year decline, with August’s 15 billion miles, or 5.6 percent less, being the largest decline in a single month.
A map of U.S. driving trends for August 2008
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/travel/tvt/trends/082008.cfm  is a stunning depiction of the drastic changes we Americans have made in our driving habits.

At the same time, ridership of public transit saw a 6.2 percent increase this summer compared to last year.

Perhaps with more Americans driving less and our clamor for more fuel efficient cars, the Big 3 will take notice and buckle down to creating “smarter” cars for the road, instead of clinging to the belief that big oil will continue to be king.

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A Spray-on Solar Cell? Part 2

With solar cells increasingly in demand and volatile gas prices, along with world concerns over global warming, this breakthrough in solar technology shows great potential.
Traditional solar cells are made from silicon, a petroleum-based product. These tiny photovoltaics are created from organic polymers with the same properties as silicon. Its main components are carbon and hydrogen, prolific elements found in nature.

Lead researcher Xiaomei Jang and her University of South Florida team’s findings were published in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy. They showed a 20-cell array of about 1inch is able to generate 7 volts of electricity, roughly half the power needed to run a microscopic sensor for detecting dangerous chemicals and toxins.
Jang’s team is now working to refine the manufacturing process, hoping to increase output to 15 volts. She anticipates this “in a matter of months.”

A Spray-on Solar Cell?

A team from the University of South Florida has succeeded in creating the world’s tiniest solar photovoltaic cell, made of organic material.

Each solar cell is a quarter size of a grain of rice and can be dissolved into a solution that can then be sprayed onto a variety of surfaces – including clothing, cars, homes – as they’re exposed to sunlight.

A special spray gun would need to be designed to control the thickness and size of the spray.

So far, scientists have been able to generate 11 volts of electricity from a small “array” of cells, said Xiaomei Jiang, the lead researcher.