Carbon-negative energy, a reality at last — and cheap, too

Since its founding five years ago, the company has been doubling its revenues every year and now does $5 million in sales. One reason for that growth is that dense biomass is everywhere. Think about America’s heartland, where corn grows as far as the eye can see. Or California’s Central Valley, where walnuts are a major crop. All those cobs and shells can now be used as the basis for cheap energy. Similarly, startups are generating electricity with the machines in Liberia, and Italian farmers are buying them because that country offers lucrative incentives to produce renewable power. To an Italian farmer, Price said, a PowerPallet is “an ATM machine.”

via Carbon-negative energy, a reality at last — and cheap, too | Cutting Edge – CNET News.

But the PowerPallets are still relatively simple, at least as far as their users are concerned. For one, thing Price explained, much of the machine is made with plumbing fixtures that are the same everywhere in the world. That means they’re easy to repair.

The ICSI Certificate Notary

Much of the Internet’s end-to-end security relies on the SSL protocol, along with its underlying X.509 certificate infrastructure. However, the system remains quite brittle due to its liberal delegation of signing authority: a single compromised certification authority undermines trust globally. The ICSI Notary helps clients to identify malicious certificates by providing a third-party perspective on what they should expect to receive from a server. While similar in spirit to existing efforts, such as Convergence and the EFF’s SSL observatory, our notary collects certificates passively from live upstream traffic at multiple independent Internet sites, aggregating them into a central database in near-realtime.

via The ICSI Certificate Notary.

WIDESPREAD SOLAR: Berkeley lab develops technology to make photovoltaics out of any semiconductor

“It’s time we put bad materials to good use,” says physicist Alex Zettl, who led the research along with colleague Feng Wang. “Our technology allows us to sidestep the difficulty in chemically tailoring many earth abundant, non-toxic semiconductors and instead tailor these materials simply by applying an electric field.”

via WIDESPREAD SOLAR: Berkeley lab develops technology to make photovoltaics out of any semiconductor.

This new technology is called “screening-engineered field-effect photovoltaics,” or SFPV, because it utilizes the electric field effect, a well understood phenomenon by which the concentration of charge-carriers in a semiconductor is altered by the application of an electric field. With the SFPV technology, a carefully designed partially screening top electrode lets the gate electric field sufficiently penetrate the electrode and more uniformly modulate the semiconductor carrier concentration and type to induce a p-n junction. This enables the creation of high quality p-n junctions in semiconductors that are difficult if not impossible to dope by conventional chemical methods.