Startup Green Energy Tech Installs First Small-Wind Concentrators

If you’ve ever walked through a skyscraper-laden city on a windy day, you know how big buildings can intensify the gales, creating wind tunnels that accelerate the gusts so that they blow off hats and flip up skirts. Now a 3-year-old Akron, Ohio-based startup called Green Energy Technologies wants to use that same wind-tunnel effect to generate small-wind power more efficiently.

The company has developed a 60-kilowatt, five-blade turbine that comes with what it calls a shroud, which looks like a sort of shallow metal funnel. The shroud creates a wind-tunnel effect in front of the blades, amplifying the wind velocity by a factor of two — so that a 5 mph wind that enters the shroud reaches 10 mph by the time it hits the blade — allowing the system to harness even low-speed winds and ultimately produce more electricity from them.


Green Energy claims its WindCube, unveiled last month at the Windpower conference in Chicago and intended for commercial and industrial buildings in urban and suburban locations, can generate power from winds as slow as 5 mph. Over the course of a year, Green Energy says the system can generate 100-130 megawatt-hours — about the same as a traditional 100-foot-tall turbine with blades 50-60 feet in diameter — in places with winds that average 12 mph, says Mark Cironi, president and founder of the company. For context, 12 mph is fairly windy, and is the average wind speed in cities such as Boston, Lubbock, Tex., Fargo, North Dakota, Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kan.
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Google’s Under-the-Radar Algae Play Seeks Fresh Funds

nasa-algae-bagsGoogle (s GOOG) has showered funds on solar power, plug-in vehicles, batteries and energy management since getting bitten by the cleantech bug a few years ago. Next-gen biofuels made from algae, which have generated no small amount of interest from other investors, might have been starting to feel left out. But back in 2007, Google provided grants for clean energy projects at NASA Ames, and a scientist named Jonathan Trent snagged one of them for an underwater, largely under-the-radar algae project. According to Cleantech Group, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have invested $250,000 in Trent’s ongoing efforts to develop an algae-based fuel using a decidedly low-tech input: sewage.

Today that project, called “Sustainable Energy for Spaceship Earth,” is ready to leave the lab and venture into pilot-scale demonstrations — if the team can pull in some more cash. Already, Spaceship Earth is first in line for a California Energy Commission grant worth up to $800,000, as Cleantech Group writes, and the team will find out if it’s getting the award in a little less than a month.
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Send Your Videos to Space — and Get a Response!

Have you ever wondered if something or someone else is out there? Wonder no more! A NASA astronaut wants to talk to you from space. Just make a video question of 30 seconds or less and post it to YouTube (s GOOG), then tell commander Mark Polansky about it via his Twitter account. After Polansky launches in June on a space shuttle mission to the International Space Station, he’ll answer questions from space live on NASA Television, which you can watch on the web here.

Polansky announced the social media endeavor today on YouTube:

The Eye in the Sky on Carbon Dioxide

Update: The eye in the sky didn’t quite make it to its lofty perch — after it’s launch this morning the satellite failed to reach orbit.

It’s a bird … it’s a plane … it’s a carbon-spotting satellite from NASA! The U.S. space agency’s first satellite to study atmospheric carbon dioxide is set to launch tomorrow morning, a potential boon for environmental watchdogs, as well as cleantech firms looking to pitch their pollution-cutting wares or sell carbon credits to the biggest emitters of CO2 on the planet.


But if you just can’t wait till the satellite starts beaming its info from space, you can already check out the current data on CO2 across the U.S. through a newly-released map for Google Earth. Researchers at Purdue University put up the map last week, which can show pollution from factories, power plants, roadways, and residential and commercial buildings by state, county or population. The Purdue team is aiming to eventually have emissions data at the street level, and they plan to expand the project, called Project Vulcan, to other countries, starting with Canada and Mexico.
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Turkey Preparation, Space Coffee: NTV Station Today

On the one hand, this video from CollectSpace demonstrating how an astronaut can drink from a cup while in space, is a really cool display of the principles of surface tension and fuel tank design. On the other hand, how much money was spent developing a space cup when juice boxes do the same job anywhere?

And are you planning on cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving this year? Have you got your turkey strategy in place yet? No worries if you haven’t, because today Craig Rubens has collated a slew of turkey preparation ideas from the depths of online video. Check out what makes a great cooking video, and get some ideas for Thursday’s feast, at NewTeeVee Station.

GE & NASA to Test Hybrid Jet Engine

GE Aviation (s GE) and NASA are teaming up to test an “open rotor” jet engine design that puts the fan blades on the outside of the engine, which they say could reduce jet fuel consumption by more than 30 percent. GE and NASA actually designed the engine and developed it into a product — the GE36 — in the 80s, but say they never commercially released it because of falling oil prices.
In the face of high fuel costs this year they have decided to revive the engine design and plan to start wind-tunnel tests in early 2009 at NASA’s Glenn Research Center where the original testing of the GE36 took place. Initial testing of the open rotor design will focus on fan configuration performance and acoustics. GE and NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate are jointly funding the program.
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Wholesale Internet Bandwidth Prices Keep Falling

Sure it’s not like back in the early 2000s, when those crooks from Enron were driving the prices of bandwidth down into the ground, but even today prices on Internet bandwidth continue to fall. If you are a consumer, however, there’s a good chance you’re wondering what I’m talking about — after all, broadband service providers like Comcast and Time Warner are talking about putting the meter on the bandwidth they serve up to residential subscribers.

What I’m talking about is wholesale Internet bandwidth that is sold to Internet services providers (ISPs) and content companies like Yahoo and Google. This is called IP Transit and it is sold at a rate of “per megabit per second per month” and often requires a monthly bandwidth commitment. Cogent Communications, Level 3 Communications, Tata Communications, Global Crossing and AT&T are some of the more well-known IP Transit providers.

Today research firm Telegeography came out with a report that shows the price of wholesale Internet access (IP transit), while varied around the globe, are still in decline. Here are some facts. Read More about Wholesale Internet Bandwidth Prices Keep Falling

Rohati Launches Security Appliance for Compliance

Today, a new data center appliance launches from San Jose, Calif. startup Rohati Systems. The appliance monitors the flow of traffic in the network and uses information gleaned from the data packets to enforce various entitlement and authorization limits for a company, such as allowing only certain employees to access HR data or others to get a hold of financial information.

There are other ways to attack this problem, such as ensuring compliance for each one of hundreds of programs, but Rohati does it more efficiently, and according to CEO Shane Buckley, without adding a lot of lag time. Since this type of compliance is a big deal in a post-Sarbanes-Oxley world, Rohati’s appliance could find a place in the corporate data center, competing against the likes of Securent, Bayshore Networks and Jericho Systems. Read More about Rohati Launches Security Appliance for Compliance

Harvard: How to Predict Business Surprises & Disasters.

shakeltonhaulingr200.jpgWe write often about how the only thing predictable at a startup is — the lack of predictability. Today HBS Working Knowledge has a quartet of essays on how you can anticipate surprises, manage disasters vis a vis your team, and ultimately, learn from failures when they occur. It’s a captivating series, being based on some historic events, and each essay has great instruction on leadership:

* Ernest Shackleton’s failed expedition across Antarctica in 1914 (pictured): How disaster changes leadership goals
* The 1996 ascent of Mount Everest, (chronicled by Jon Krakauer in Into Thin Air: Effective signaling in a crisis — nurturing confidence, dissent and commitment in your organization.
* NASA’s failed Mission to Mars in 1999: Lessons from a failure.

But the fourth essay, Planning for Surprises, has the most relevance for founders. Why focus on reacting to such disasters when you can anticipate or even avoid them?
Harvard writes:

“Predictable surprises [like Enron] happen when leaders had all the data and insight they needed to recognize the potential, even the inevitability, of major problems, but failed to respond with effective preventative action” … Here’s the good news: There are reasons why leaders fail to prevent predictable surprises and there are ways to identify trouble while there is still time to stop it.

A few of these reasons are… Read More about Harvard: How to Predict Business Surprises & Disasters.