Friday, September 26, 2008

MIT Energy Prize

Sun-tracking device wins student prize - MIT News: A team of three students who designed a system that could allow solar power panels to track the sun without motors or control systems won top honors Thursday -- and a check for $10,000 -- in the finals of a competition aimed at developing innovative energy technologies. ... The winning team, called Heliotrope, chose to imitate the way plants track the sun across the sky, by using the difference in temperature between shaded and sunny areas to change the properties of the material supporting solar photovoltaic cells. The system, once built, is completely passive, requiring no power source or electronics to control the movement. ... The second-place winner was a team that worked on a way to make inexpensive coatings for windows that would block infrared light, thus allowing daylight through while blocking the sun's heat to reduce the need for air conditioning. Third place went for simple wind generators that could be placed alongside a road to produce electricity from the movement of passing cars. And the fourth prize went to a simple attachment for a bicycle that could allow it to generate electricity to charge batteries, such as those used in the One Laptop Per Child computers.