Monday, 30 May 2011

Which is safer, Alternating Current (AC), or Direct Current (DC)?

Alternating Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC) have slightly different effects on the human body, but both are dangerous above a certain voltage. The risk of injury changes according to the frequency of the AC, and it is common for DC to have an AC component (called ripple). Someone with special equipment can measure this, but the effect on a particular person is very difficult to predict as it depends upon a large number of factors. As a consequence you should always avoid contact with high voltage electrical conductors, regardless of the type of electrical current they are carrying.

More detailed technical information on electrical injury is given in the standard BS PD 6519 "Guide to the effects of current on human beings and livestock - Part 1: General aspects.'

Sunday, 29 May 2011

When did you last check the condition and safety of your plugs,

...sockets and flexes?

Damaged plugs, sockets and flexible cables can cause electric shocks,
burns and fires. Follow these simple rules to avoid problems.
• Remove plugs from sockets carefully. Pulling out a plug by the
cable puts a strain on it, and could damage the contact between
the plug and the socket. This could result in the plug overheating,
its wires becoming loose or an electric shock (if the earth wire is
• Check the plug and socket for burn marks, sounds of ‘arcing’
(buzzing or crackling), fuses blowing, circuit-breakers tripping or if
it feels hot.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Electric car grid balancing options limited: study

Technology enabling the UK power grid to control the charging of electric cars could correct only 6 percent of the additional imbalance in supply and demand by 2020 caused by rising use of the cars, a study said on Tuesday.
The technology could also provide a vehicle owner with a modest annual financial return of 50 pounds, National Grid estimated in a report published together with engineering company Ricardo.
Utilities and grid operators fear that the large-scale introduction of electrical cars could cause supply problems when millions of car users charge their vehicles during peak demand hours after returning from work.
With a system in place, the grid operator would be able to interrupt or vary the charging of an electric vehicle according to grid imbalances during peak and off-peak times

The UK government said on Monday that it expected 60 percent of all new cars registered in 2030 to be electric.
Another option considered by the industry is to invest in vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology that also enables transfers from cars back to the grid, known as reverse charging.
The study said vehicle owners with V2G technology could reap annual revenues of 600-8,000 pounds, depending on the vehicle's size.
But it also said that "very significant capital cost and balancing limitations ... would serve to render the fleet scale roll-out of the V2G balancing service uneconomic" if extended to owners of single cars.
V2G operation "may be attractive for owners of captive vehicle fleets such as industrial or local delivery vehicles ... where interface costs might be shared across multiple vehicles or battery packs," the report said.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Electrical dangers around the home

Electricity improves our everyday lives - but only when used correctly.
Don’t create possible dangers by overloading sockets, and never
ignore warning signs like burning smells, sounds of arcing (buzzing or
crackling), fuses blowing or circuit-breakers tripping. Electrical
accidents are most likely to happen when equipment is damaged or
misused. Failure to correct the problem could have devastating
effects. This sounds like common sense, but you would be surprised
how many of us fail to follow basic safety guidelines.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Scientist Willard Boyle Dies

so what! i hear you cry. but you have a lot to thank Willard Boyle for. in fact he helped you create most of the photos and videos you have taken in the last decade or so, because Willard Boyle one of the key inventors of the CCD.

Willard Boyle died on Saturday at the age of 86. Boyle was a Nobel laureate physicist. The invention that earned the prize for him and his colleague George Smith is in everything from bar code scanners to medical endoscopes to the Hubble Space Telescope. It is the CCD, the charge-coupled device. It is the light-sensitive microchip at the heart of digital photography.

RIP Willard, I thank you for your services to humanity

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Do you even know when your electrics were last checked?

Remember – no matter how old your property and its electrical
fittings, they will suffer from wear and tear, and you should get a
registered electrician to check them at least every 10 years, or if you
move into a new property. Do you even know when your electrics
were last checked?

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

How old is your wiring?

Electricity is out of sight, out of mind - usually, cables are
conveniently hidden inside our walls and consumer units (fuse boxes)
are often hidden away in cupboards. So it’s not surprising that we
forget to check our electrical installations for wear and tear.
Faulty and ageing wiring is one of the major causes of electrical fires
in the home. You can avoid these by finding out the age of the wiring
in your home, and by carrying out regular checks on the condition of
your cables, switches, sockets and other accessories.
There are clear signs that can help you tell the age of electrical
equipment in your home. These are:
• cables coated in black rubber (phased out in the 1960s);
• cables coated in lead or fabric (before 1960s);
• a fusebox with a wooden back, cast iron switches, or a haphazard
mixture of fuse boxes (before 1960s);
• older round pin sockets and round light switches, braided flex
hanging from ceiling roses, brown and black switches and sockets
mounted in skirting boards (before 1960s);
• wall-mounted light switches in bathrooms (before 1960s).

not sure??? contact us!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Red wine offers clue to superconductive future

Japanese scientists at a boozy office party stumbled across a discovery they hope will help revolutionise efficient energy transmission one day: red wine makes a metal compound superconductive.
The researchers plan to showcase their surprise findings later this year, the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the phenomenon of superconductivity, the zero-loss flow of electricity through certain materials.
The "eureka" moment came when National Institute for Materials Science researchers found that an iron-based compound became superconductive after being soaked in alcoholic drinks such as beer, wine and sake.
Red wine was the hands-down winner in producing the desired physical effect, although no-one is quite clear yet on how exactly it worked, said researchers at the institute in Tsukuba, east of Tokyo.
The ratio at which compounds became superconductive was seven times higher when dipped in red wine than for ethanol or water. It was four times higher for white wine and three times higher for beer, sake and whisky.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Residual current devices (RCD)

Residual current devices (RCD)
An RCD is a switching device that trips a circuit under certain
conditions, and disconnects the electricity supply.
If your electrical installation includes one or more RCDs, test them
regularly. You can do this by following the instruction label, which
should be near the RCD. The label should read as follows:
‘This installation, or part of it, is protected by a device which
automatically switches off the supply if an earth fault develops.
Test quarterly (every three months) by pressing the button marked
‘T’ or ‘Test’.’
The device should switch off the supply. You
should then switch it back on to restore the
supply. If the device does not switch off the
supply when you press the button, contact an
Testing the button every three months is
important. However, do not hold the test
button for a long period if the device does
not trip. If the RCD does not switch off the
supply when you press the test button, getadvice from a registered electrician.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Circuit breakers

Circuit breakers
Circuit breakers are automatic protection devices fitted in the consumer
unit which switch off a circuit if there is a fault. Circuit breakers are
similar in size to fuseholders, but give more precise protection than
fuses. When they ‘trip’, you can simply reset the switch. However, you
first need to find and correct the fault.

any questions?

Friday, 20 May 2011

Rewirable fuses

FusesRewirable fuses have a piece of special fuse wire running between
two screws. When a fault or overload current flows through the fuse
wire, it will become hot, and melt when the current goes above an
acceptable level. The melted fuse breaks the circuit, disconnecting the
faulty circuit.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Get to know your electrics

Your property will have some of the following
Mains switchThe mains switch allows you to turn off the electricity supply to your
electrical installation. Some electrical installations have more than one
mains switch, for example, if your home is heated by electric storage
heaters, you may have a separate consumer unit (fuse box) for them.
The consumer unit should be easy to get to, so find out where the
mains switch is to turn the electricity off in an emergency.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Electrical Safety Certificates

Though not required by law, an electrical safety certificate is a excellent way to prove due diligence. Law states that you must keep electrical installations in good working order. Typical turnaround is 3-5 days. Book online or call to enquire.

our qualified and experienced engineers will let you know the health of your electrics in a language you will understand.

D A Woolgar

Monday, 16 May 2011

Aragon Open day

We had a great time at Aragons Open Day tab on the left ‘photo gallery’

you could charge mobile phones with your voice

New research in nanotechnology could mean you'll be able to charge your phone with your voice.
Utilising the sounds made when you’re talking on the phone, and background noise, this would be changed into a residual electrical charge. This could also be done while the phone isn’t in use.
At the Institute of Nanotechnology at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, South Korea, Dr Sang-Woo Kim, said: "A number of approaches for scavenging energy from environments have been intensively explored.
"The sound that always exists in our everyday life and environments has been overlooked as a source. This motivated us to realise power generation by turning sound energy from speech, music or noise into electrical power.
"Sound power can be used for various novel applications including cellular phones that can be charged during conversations and sound-insulating walls near highways that generate electricity from the sound of passing vehicles."
He added: "The latter development would have the additional benefit of reducing noise levels near highways by absorbing the sound energy of vehicles."

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Solar panels by numbers

  • 32,372 domestic solar installations so far
  • Total payments made so far: £8 million
  • Payment to domestic consumers: 43.3p per kw/h
  • Installed capacity of 86MW, equivalent to one small coal fired power station.
  • Solar panels only generate at full capacity between 10 and 30% of the time.
Source: Ofgem, Decc, Ernst & Young.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Jaguar to build £700,000 hybrid supercar with Williams

Jaguar has unveiled plans to build a £700,000 ($1.15m) petrol-electric hybrid supercar in the UK.
It will build 250 cars in partnership with Formula 1 team Williams F1.
The C-X75's ultra-light chassis and two electric engines will help it accelerate from nought to 60mph in three seconds.
It will have an all-electric range of 50km and its overall emissions of less than 100g CO2 per kilometre will be one of the lowest in the industry.
The car will have a top speed of more than 200mph, while the hybrid engine will extend the car's range well beyond 50km.
The move is part of a £5bn investment plan, announced by Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) in March at the Geneva motor show, to launch 40 "significant new products" over the next five years.
Production of the C-X75 will create more than 100 highly-skilled jobs in the UK. These will be split between Jaguar and Williams, which is based in Grove in Oxfordshire.
The model will be built from 2013 until 2015, although it has not yet been decided where production will take place.
Jaguars are currently manufactured at Castle Bromwich, near Birmingham, although JLR's headquarters are in Warwickshire.
'Clear business case'
The car offers proof that if they are well-engineered, efficient cars with low CO2 emissions can also deliver high performance.
This points to "a sustainable future, but not a boring future", Mr Forster said.
As such, it marks a shift from the past when manufacturers would build high-performance flagship models to show off their capabilities to buyers of frugal, ordinary versions of the same cars.
The logic that anyone who can build a high-performance car should also be able to build good cars with small engines no longer holds, as there is a growing realisation that it is much more difficult to build a car that combines speed and handling with low fuel consumption.
"There is a clear business case for this exclusive halo model," Jaguar brand director Adrian Hallmark said.
Capabilities and skills
The car is central to the Indian-owned luxury car company JLR's plan to establish itself as a technology-inspired carmaker.
The Jaguar C-X75 on display in Paris The C-X75 was first displayed in Paris in October with an experimental gas-powered jet engine
"It is a showcase of our capabilities and of the hi-tech engineering skills that exist within Jaguar and Williams F1," said Carl-Peter Forster, chief executive of JLR's parent company Tata Motors.
"This is a showcase of what can be done in this country if we all pull together."
The partnership between JLR and Williams F1 is part of the Formula 1 team's plan to extend the number of business areas from which it earns revenue, following hot on the heels of rival McLaren's expansion into, among other things, road car production and GT3 racing.
"In recent years, hybrid technology has been an area of acute development in Formula 1," said Williams F1 chairman Adam Parr, insisting it is only one example of F1 technology that could prove useful in other industries.
Williams F1 is in the process of creating subsidiaries that will sell its technology to companies elsewhere in the motor industry, or even in other industries such as energy, aerospace or health.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Aragon Housing open day Saturday 14th May - 11am to 4pm

Come and see us at Flitwick Leisure centre for Aragon Housing open day Saturday 14th May - 11am to 4pm
we will be available to answer your questions (electrcial or otherwise) and give advice or just a chat
Mini Quiz - win a CD Radio (but if you use it in the garden, make sure its plugged into a RCD :) )
Join the fun!
  • Music
  • Giant Games
  • Stalls
  • BBQ
  • Bouncy Castle
  • Refreshments
  • Karaoke
  • Face Painting
  • Free Swimming
  • Information Market Place
  • + lots more

open day - Flitwick, central beds (UK)

are you busy tomorrow???????????

come and meet us!

we will be at the Aragon / Macintyre Open Day

Flitwick leisure centre
Saturday 14th May
11.00 am - 4.00 pm

join the fun, giant games, stalls, BBQ, music, bouncy castles, free swimming (dont forget your kit!) face painting, karaoke

come and see us. feel free to ask questions

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Is domestic appliance insurance worth it?

Domestic appliance insurance can work out to be much better value than paying for extended warranty cover at the point of sale when you have just bought a new piece of household equipment.
However, before you decide to take out domestic appliance insurance you need to do your research. Like any other type of insurance the cost and scope of the cover varies with different providers.
What is domestic appliance insurance?
Domestic appliance insurance is insurance cover to replace equipment that goes wrong. It is worth considering this type of insurance if you have expensive equipment such as a cooker, dishwasher, washing machine, expensive TV or other type of high-value electrical equipment.
Remember that most of these goods that you purchase will come with a one year guarantee automatically, so if you are going to purchase this type of insurance it makes sense to do so once the standard guarantee ends.
Why extended warranties are a rip-off
Extended warranties purchased in a shop at the time of sale are almost always a complete rip-off. Many warranties sold in this way cost almost as much as the product themselves and you are better off taking the risk and just buying a new product if it goes wrong.
There are a few exceptions. I recently bought a new LCD TV from Richer Sounds and their extended warranties have an excellent reputation because the cost for five years extra cover on most products is set at ten per cent of the purchase cost. If you are offered extended cover at this price on a product you know you will use a lot it could be worth considering the extended warranty rather than purchasing domestic appliance insurance once the original guarantee runs out.
However, in most instances buying appliance insurance from a separate provider will work out to be better value. The price you pay for an extended guarantee has been carefully worked out to ensure that both the retailer and the insurance company make a tidy profit. A report by Consumer Reports from 2003 found that the profit margin is often as high as 70 per cent but that less than ten per cent of products required repairs in the first three years.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Kettles – A cupful is better than a kettle-full.

Only put in the amount of water you need, as over-filling each time wastes energy and money.

Penhallow Hotel owners fined £80k for safety breaches

The owners of a Cornish hotel destroyed by fire have been fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £62,000 costs for failing to meet fire safety standards.
Three Staffordshire people died in the blaze at the Penhallow Hotel in Newquay in August 2007.
In March O&C Holdsworth Ltd admitted failing to provide proper fire detection and alarm systems and failing to make a proper risk assessment.
The company, from Halifax, Yorkshire, was sentenced at Truro Crown Court.
Holidaymakers Joan Harper, 80, Monica Hughes, 86, and her son Peter, 43, died in the blaze, described by firefighters as the worst hotel fire in Britain for 40 years.
Mr Hughes, a teacher from Cheslyn Hay, Staffordshire, jumped from a third-floor window after trying in vain to save his mother.
Ms Harper, of Stoke-on-Trent, was also trapped, while her twin sister Marjorie Brys was one of more than 90 people who escaped the four-storey hotel.
John Hughes, Mrs Hughes' son and Peter's brother, said after the case: "To say I am disappointed with it is an understatement, it is a travesty.
"It should have been at least £500,000 in my estimation. I was hoping that a large fine would have sent a message to the hotel industry at least."
'Systematic failure'
The court heard that the company had been warned by Cornwall Council about inadequate equipment more than a year before the fire.
Failings included the lack of an "L2" alarm system, which features loud fire and smoke alarms in every room.
The council said the fine would send a "very clear message" to hotel owners about the importance of fire safety legislation
Judge Christopher Paul Darlow said the company was not responsible for the fire which an inquest heard was probably the result of arson.
He also said it was impossible to say whether lives would have been saved if safety systems been up to scratch.
But he said there had been a "systemic failure" by the firm to ensure its chain of hotels in southern England had complied with regulations.
"This represents not just a one-off event but a systemic failure of this magnitude to illustrate the magnitude of risks present.
"These matters had been raised in July 2006 but had not been addressed by the time of the fire 13 months later."
O&C described the fire as a "tragedy" and said it had been left "devastated" by what happened.
"Following the fire we immediately initiated a comprehensive review of our health and safety and fire safety procedures at our other hotels and have strengthened the company guidelines and working practices to ensure full compliance."
An inquest into the deaths in 2009 returned open verdicts on all three victims.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Ultracapacitors to Boost the Range of Electric Cars

ultracapacitor technology could make electric cars cheaper and extend their range. The company, based in Mountain View, California, has developed a way to make electrodes that results in ultracapacitors with five to seven times as much storage capacity as conventional ones.
Conventional ultracapacitors, which have the advantage of delivering fast bursts of power and can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times without losing much capacity, are too expensive and store too little energy to replace batteries.

Using a conventional electrolyte, the company has demonstrated energy storage of 20 watt-hours per kilogram, as opposed to roughly five watt-hours for a conventional ultracapacitor. Using a more expensive ionic-liquid electrolyte, it has made ultracapacitors that store 35 watt-hours per kilogram.
Part of the reason battery systems are so expensive and bulky is that the batteries degrade as they're used, especially when exposed to extreme temperatures—so automakers often augment them with cooling and heating systems, and add extra battery cells to offset losses in performance over time. Ultracapacitors could sidestep this problem, because they can be recharged without degrading and can work well in a wide range of temperatures.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

A closer look at wireless charging for electric cars.

Toyota has become the latest big name car manufacturer to announce it is looking into wireless charging for electric cars after entering into a technology collaboration with WiTricity Corporation

However, just what is wireless charging for electric cars all about, and do we really need it?
How does it work?
In most cases, powering an electric car occurs through conductive charging in which there is direct wired contact between the battery and the charger. It is achieved by connecting the car into a power source with plug-in wires.

By contrast, inductive charging uses an electromagnetic field to transfer energy between two objects. Typically there will be an induction coil that creates the field from within the charging station and a second coil in the portable device (in this case, the vehicle itself) which converts it back into electrical current to charge the battery. Some early designs have seen electricity transmitted from the grid to the battery at an efficiency rate of more than 90 per cent.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Shuttle will launch no earlier than May 10

Shuttle Endeavour won't set sail on its final flight before next Tuesday, May 10, at the earliest as Kennedy Space Center teams work to repair an electrical problem that scrubbed last Friday's launch attempt.

NASA had hoped a second attempt might be possible as soon as Sunday, but determined it would take about two more days than originally thought to ready the shuttle for another countdown.

"It became apparent Monday that more time was required," said Allard Beutel, a KSC spokesman.

Friday's launch scrubbed when heaters on a fuel line feeding part of the shuttle's hydraulic power system failed to turn on, a problem that could have led to a fire during flight.

An electronic switch box in the orbiter's engine compartment is believed to be at fault.

The box routes power to nine critical systems, from the auxiliary power units affected last week to the main engines and orbital thrusters.

Kennedy Space Center crews on Monday performed tests on the roughly 50-pound box and related components. They expected to have it removed by this morning and a replacement installed soon.

Extensive system tests will follow, requiring scaffolding and access platforms to be built inside Endeavour's aft compartment.

Before a launch countdown can begin, those platforms must be broken down and a number of other preparations completed, including reloading the orbiter's fuel cell system with propellants.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Scots windfarms paid cash to stop producing energy

Six Scottish windfarms were paid up to £300,000 to stop producing energy, it has emerged.
The turbines, at a range of sites across Scotland, were stopped because the grid network could not absorb all the energy they generated.
Details of the payments emerged following research by the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF).
The REF said energy companies were paid £900,000 to halt the turbines for several hours between 5 and 6 April.
According to the REF research, the payments made cost up to 20 times the value of the electricity that would have been generated if the turbines had kept running.
The largest payment was given to Whitelee windfarm in East Renfrewshire, owned by Scottish Power, which was paid £308,000 in April.
The RWE nPower-owned Farr windfarm, south of Inverness, received £265,000 in the same month.
'Very wasteful'
Hadyardhill in South Ayrshire, which is owned by SSE Renewables, was given £140,000 to stop producing energy, while Blacklaw windfarm in Lanarkshire - also owned by Scottish Power - was given £130,000.
The Millennium windfarm in the Highlands and Beinn Tharsuin, just north of Alness, each received £33,000 and £11,500 respectively.
Dr Lee Moroney, planning director for the REF, which has criticised subsidies to the renewable sector in the past, said: "The variability of wind power poses grid management problems for which there are no cheap solutions.
"Government must rethink the scale and pace of wind power development before the costs of managing it become intolerable and the scale of the waste scandalous."
The National Grid said the network had overloaded because high winds and heavy rain in Scotland overnight on 5 and 6 April produced more wind energy than it could use.
Spokesman Stewart Larque said: "One of our key roles is to balance supply and demand for energy."
He added: "On the evening of the 5th into the 6th of April, the wind in Scotland was high, it was raining heavily, which also created more hydro energy than normal."
Mr Larque said a transmission fault in the system meant the surplus energy could not be transferred to England and so generation had to be cut.
He also confirmed that the National Grid spent £280m balancing supply and demand.
A spokesman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), described the incident as "unusual" and said more electrical storage was needed.
He added: "In future we need greater electrical energy storage facilities and greater interconnection with our EU neighbours so that excess energy supplies can be sold or bought where required."
A Scottish government spokesman said electricity generated by renewables accounted for 27.4% of Scotland's electricity use.
He added: "National Grid is responsible for balancing the supply of electricity from all sources across the grid to match demand and generators will sometimes be required to reduce output as part of that process.
"At the same time, the Scottish and UK governments have been working with the National Grid and others in the industry to strengthen grid capacity and address access constraints."

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Solar Panels – How do they Work?

A few years ago solar panels were an uncommon sight in Britain. Today, they are appearing all over the country as increasing numbers of homeowners discover that improved technology and government incentives are at last making solar energy a practical alternative to carbon-based fuels. In the future, it could well be that a house without solar panels will seem strange!
The first thing to understand about domestic solar panels is that there are two very different types: solar thermal panels and solar photovoltaic panels.
Solar thermal panels
These solar panels are designed to capture the sun's energy and use it for powering a home's hot water system. They contain a heat transfer fluid - usually a non-toxic antifreeze - and when heated by the sun this hot fluid flows from the solar panel to a coiled pipe inside a hot water cylinder. As the water in the cylinder heats up, the heat transfer fluid cools and is pumped back to the solar panel to be heated again.
Solar thermal panels are normally added to an existing hot water system with an automatic switching device that switches on your conventional hot water boiler when the solar panels alone are unable to maintain the required water temperature. This gives you the convenience of hot water whenever you need it but reduced fuel bills as free solar power is being used during daylight hours.
Solar photovoltaic panels
Solar photovoltaic panels (often abbreviated to solar PV panels) generate electricity from the sun's radiation. They contain solar cells, made mostly from silicon, which convert light energy into direct current electricity. This DC electricity must then be fed to an inverter that changes it into alternating current (AC) so it can be used in a domestic electrical system.
Solar PV panels can only generate electricity when light is falling on them, and they cannot store electricity for use at other times. The best solution to this problem for households in England, Scotland and Wales is to join a Feed-in Tariff Scheme. Your home remains connected to the mains electricity supply, and you can draw on this power whenever you need it, but when your PV panels are working, your electrical appliances run on free solar power. The added advantage of this arrangement is that your energy supplier will pay you a fixed tariff for generating some of your own electricity. In addition, if your PV panels generate more electricity during the day than you use, the excess is fed back to the grid and your energy supplier will pay for the amount of electricity you export to them.
Although they work on the same basic principles, there are variations of both types of solar panels on the market. For example, solar thermal panels can be flat plate collectors or evacuated tube collectors, and solar photovoltaic panels can be monocrystalline, polycrystalline, or amorphous according to how the silicon is arranged. Each type has its pros and cons.
To choose which solar panels will be the best for your home you'll need to weigh up several factors including the initial cost of the panels and installation, how much hot water or electricity you use, the size, structure and orientation of your roof, your existing hot water system, your budget, and whether you will be eligible for any incentive schemes.

If you are considering investing in solar panels, call  for professional, unbiased advice

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf Earn Top Marks in First U.S. Crash Tests

In the first independent crash tests of mainstream electric vehicles conducted in the United States, the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf have been named Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

A Chevrolet Volt undergoes side-impact crash testing at the institute’s research center.That is good news for early adopters and bodes well for these vehicles as they fight for broader acceptance in the marketplace.
The Volt, a plug-in hybrid, and the Leaf, a fully electric car, earned the top ratings of good for front, side, rear and rollover protection in the crash tests administered by the Insurance Institute, a nonprofit paid for by the insurance industry. To achieve the Top Safety Pick designation, vehicles must receive a score of good in each of these tests and have electronic stability control as standard equipment or available as an option.
“It is quite a stellar performance for both vehicles,” said Joe Nolan, the institute’s chief administrative officer.
The automakers were confident that their vehicles would test well. “We approached G.M. and Nissan and asked would they support us and help us acquire the vehicles,” Mr. Nolan said. “They were both very supportive, suggesting they were expecting good results.”
Mr. Nolan said that both automakers “bumped customers off the list” to provide the institute with test vehicles, a strong hint “that they were going to be Top Safety Picks,” he said.

The injury measurements, all but one of which were rated good, indicated a low risk of significant injuries in crashes according to the scale of severity employed in the institute’s testing. The Volt earned a slightly lower rating of acceptable for torso, which indicates that rib fractures could result in a comparable real-world crash. Neither the Volt nor the Leaf received a rating of marginal or the lowest rating, poor.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Unique electric car scheme hits Britain's roads

The first domestic solar-powered car as a result of the unique British Gas and Nissan partnership hits Britain’s roads.
The first 100% electric Nissan LEAF, owned by radio DJ Mark Goodier, is running on solar energy after British Gas installed solar panels on his home.
The 12 panels generate enough solar energy to power the car with renewable energy saving EV “evangelist” Goodier, the scheme's first customer, petrol costs and cutting his carbon footprint.
And thanks to the feed-in tariff, a scheme which pays the owners of solar panels for all the renewable electricity they generate, customers will receive around £1,200 a year. The payments are tax free, index-linked and guaranteed for 25 years.
As well as installing solar panels for its customers, British Gas is also the preferred supplier of vehicle charging points for the Nissan LEAF. The deal means that British Gas will supply and install electric car charge points in homes and businesses across the country. Charge points will be installed in domestic garages and driveways, as well as office car parks.
Experts predict that by 2020, electric vehicles could account for approximately ten percent of all cars sold in the UK. This equates to roughly 1.2 million UK households owning an electric vehicle.
With 700,000 homes expected to have solar panels by 2020, there is major potential for those households with both solar panels, electric vehicles and charging points to run their cars for free. The average annual earnings of up to £900 generated by a standard-sized domestic solar panel installation can offset the average annual running costs of a Nissan LEAF.
Mark Goodier said: “I’ve been an electric car evangelist for ten years, but this is the start of something really big – running my car by putting solar panels on my roof is just brilliant.
“One eight hour charge gives me over 100 miles range, and every time I plug in on my driveway, I know that it’s not costing me or the environment anything, as the energy generated by the solar panels covers the cost of the electricity it uses.”
Dean Keeling, Managing Director of British Gas Smart Homes said: “Today, Britons can drive an electric car powered by the sun. By using energy from solar panels on their own home, our customers can cut their petrol costs and their carbon footprint. The home of the future and car of the future is now here. A British Gas home with car charge points, solar panels and smart meters is now a reality.”
Customers will pay from £995 (including VAT) for the installation of a charging point by one of British Gas’ nationwide network of qualified installers, which cuts down the charging time by a third. The deal also includes three years of free British Gas Home Electrical Cover which gives the customer unlimited call outs for all home electrical repairs, including parts and labour.
Prices for solar panels start at around £9,000. As well as providing the home with free renewable electricity, the panels will also provide a yearly income thanks to the Feed-in Tariff.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Diamond center defect helps scientists measure electrical fields

Electrical charges use varied ways to control almost 100 % of all physical, chemical or biological processes. A case in point is deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and the exact distribution of electrons on it. This distribution is critical for the precise transmission of genetic information, and modern electric circuits trigger electric currents up to single electrons.
Experts say that measuring minor electronic fields linked to the charge is no easy task. Enter the Stuttgart team that devised a new sensor consisting of just one single atom. This nitrogen atom is an impurity captured in diamond, they say.
The team points out that the diamond lattice 'fixes' the atom and enables a laser to address the nuclear vacancy center. "The interaction of the atom with the measured field can be determined by the light emitted by the impurity and, therefore, electrical fields can be measured which are just a fracture of the electrical field of an elementary charge in 0.1 um distance," the scientists explain.
Because the sensor is about the size of an atom, scientists can measure electrical fields with the same spatial precision. The sensor-generated optical readout enables it to be placed in any geometry. The process also attains its sensitivity and resolution at room temperature and ambient conditions.
While researchers have succeeded in demonstrating the existence of small magnetic fields, this latest finding of combining both measurement techniques permits the measurement of electrical and magnetic fields in a single place without changing the sensor, the team points out.
Thanks to this latest development, novel applications can and will emerge. Measuring the magnetic moments' distribution of the chemical compounds' nuclei at the same time is an example, they say, adding that the structure of a substance and its chemical reactivity can be measured simultaneously.
"The ability to sensitively detect individual charges under ambient conditions would benefit a wide range of applications across disciplines," the authors write. "However, most current techniques are limited to low-temperature methods such as single-electron transistors, single-electron electrostatic force microscopy and scanning tunnelling microscopy. Here we introduce a quantum-metrology technique demonstrating precision three-dimensional electric-field measurement using a single nitrogen-vacancy defect centre spin in diamond."

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Breakthrough could revolutionize solar power

Researchers at the University of Michigan have made a discovery that promises to revolutionize solar technology forever. Stephen Rand, a professor in the departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Physics and Applied Physics and William Fisher, a doctoral student at applied physics, discovered that light, when it is traveling at a certain intensity through a material that doesn’t conduct electricity, such as glass, can create magnetic fields more than 100.000.000 times stronger than previously thought possible.

Using this new found property, researchers can develop an “optical battery, which could lead to “a new kind of solar cell without semiconductors and without absorption to produce charge separation”, according to Rand.
Rand published his study in the Journal of Applied Physics. Instead of using the classic semiconductor processing, this new technique would rely on “lenses to focus the light and a fiber to guide it,” according to Fisher. “Glass works for both. It’s already made in bulk, and it doesn’t require as much processing. Transparent ceramics might be even better.”
With the efficiency going up significantly and the prices going down, this could finally be the much needed breakthrough the solar power industry has been waiting for so long.