Higher and Higher: 40.7% Efficient Solar

Could photovoltaics hit 50% efficiency? Spectrolab in Sylmar, CA is
gunning for it with a record high 40.7% conversion rate from their
latest solar cell. Spectrolab’s solar panels are similar to those from Soliant Energy, concentrating light onto solar cells using mirrors and lenses. However, Spectrolab goes beyond the typical
silicon based solar cell: theirs have three layers of semiconductors, each
capturing different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.

this idea is not completely new – layered solar cells are used in space
already – in the past these layers could only be made using a limited
number of semiconductor materials. Now, Spectrolab has developed the
use of "metamorphic" materials, allowing them to explore new structural
possibilities and ramp up the efficiency of their cells.

…device designers have until recently employed only a limited repertoire of semiconductors, such as germanium and gallium arsenide, which form similar crystal structures. Metamorphic materials provide flexibility by throwing off this structural constraint, employing a wide range of materials, including those with mismatched structures. "The parameter space you can explore using mismatch opens up a whole world of possibilities," says NREL principal scientist Sarah Kurtz.

the use of metamorphic materials is new, there still is a lot of
potential left. Let’s hope we see those results soon, so that we can
all enjoy more energy and smaller solar panels.

via Technology Review

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Volkswagen announced Phaeton prices earlier

Pricing and specifications of the revised Phaeton luxury saloon has already been announced by Volkswagen ahead of its launch on September this year. The revisions made on the Phaeton include an updated interior and exterior styling, a new engine that follows the Euro V emissions legislation, making it the first Volkswagen engine to follow such and is a 3.0L V6 TDI. This engine also prides itself of its more power than the outgoing unit.

This new engine uses common rail technology, with an utmost power output of 233 PS, which is eight more PS than its predecessor. This 3.0L V6 TDI engine also produces a torque measurable of up to 450Nm, 0-62 miles per hour in an approximate time of 8.4 seconds, and has a top speed of 146mph. But it still returns a 29.4 miles per gallon on the combined cycle. The 80 percent reduction in particulates (compared with the Euro IV) is one of the requirements of the Euro V emission and is not scheduled to come out until 2009, has already been achieved by this new Volkswagen engine.

Two other engines complete the Phaeton line up – the 4.2L V8 335 PS and the 6.0L W12 450 PS. All the models are equipped with the standard 4MOTION four-wheel drive and the long wheelbase, which gives 12cm additional rear legroom, are also available. The only thing offered with the standard wheelbase is the 3.0L V6 TDI engine.

There are certain subtle style changes on the Phaeton’s exterior and these are the re-profiled bonnet, newly-designed headlights complete with automatic driving lights, body coloured bumpers with chrome trim,cherry red rear light clusters, hazard lights which illuminate automatically in extreme braking situations for added safety, and chrome air inlets. There is an option however, to upgrade into the cornering bi-Xenon lights with LED daytime running lights. This innovation upgrade is already a standard on the W12.

Phaeton also now features a modified center console switchgear for enhanced ease of use in its cabin, and a new DVD navigation system. Again, as an option, the current telephone preparation is replaced by Voice Activated Mobile Phone Preparation. This already includes a Blueetooth Interface with hands-free operation and the control unit integrated into the “infotainment” system. This costs £825.00.

The prices for this revised Volkswagen Phaeton starts at £37,995* RRP OTR. This will arrive in UK in September this year and will be available to order now from Volkswagen retailers.

Volkswagen named best-full line corporation again

Strategic Vision has named Volkswagen of America, Inc. the best-full line manufacturer for the second consecutive year. Along with that, the Volkswagen Rabbit was also rated the top vehicle in its class in the yearly Strategic Vision Total Quality Index (TQI), which has the task of measuring the new vehicle owner satisfaction.

Alexander Edwards, President of Strategic Vision said, “On top of strong quality, the Volkswagen Rabbit hits a strong emotional chord with its buyers. Overall, Volkswagen vehicles have proven to be of high-quality and owners are passionate about the brand and their vehicles.”

In the small multi-function segment, Rabbit has ranked top above many various competitors, all of which had something to offer. Executive Vice President of Volkswagen of America, Adrian Hallmark said, “Volkswagen has continued to do well in the Strategic Vision Total Quality Awards. It reiterates that our vehicles are well crafted and fun to drive and that our owners are some of the most passionate drivers in the market.”

Hallmark also said, “Our continuing commitment to building high-quality vehicles is evident in important quality surveys, like Strategic Vision; it is Volkswagen’s objective to continue to improve our quality and receive scores among the top tier.”

The Strategic Vision Total Quality Index observes all aspects of the ownership experience – from buying and owning to driving the car. It associates the satisfaction of customers with complete ownership experience, owner reported delight, future purchase intent, perception of quality, and emotional attachment to the vehicle.

Reader’s Rides: Luis’ 2006 A3 2.0T

Compiled by: AudiWorld Staff This A3 represents a well-done set of modifications which works with the vehicle’s already appealing design rather than trying to overwhelm it. No real performance modifications have been added (yet), but the …

Facts About Audi’s Seventh Le Mans Victory

Many interesting facts and figures concerning Audi’s 2007 win June 17, 2007 Quotes After the Race at Le Mans Team officials and drivers weigh in on the race Audi Stays in the Victory Lane at Le Mans Seventh success for Audi in endurance …

Facts About Audi’s Seventh Le Mans Victory

INGOLSTADT, Germany – Audi prevailed with TDI power for the second year in succession at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. For Audi, it was the seventh win from nine starts in the French long-distance classic. At the same time, Audi presented the …

Volkswagen R32 Sales Already Hit 1/5 of Total Units to be Sold

Volkswagen of America announced that it has already sold almost 1,000 units of its motor-sports inspired 250-horsepower 2008 Volkswagen R32 hatchback. That number of units sold already comprises one-fifth of the allotment of the 5,000 R32s that are bound for the US., noted Volkswagen. And the exciting part is that the Volkswagen R32 hasn’t even arrived in showrooms, and it won’t be for a few more months.

The pre-sale of nearly 1,000 units of the 5,000 coveted cars was the result of an exclusive pre-sale offer to current-model GTI and R32 owners, Volkswagen said. The news is that the R32 will have an MSRP of $32,990 upon arriving it showrooms.

Volkswagen also slipped some details about the launch of their R32 models in US. The car, as usual, will be available in metallic blue, which is its signature color. It will also be in tornado red and come 2008, two new colors will be added, which is candy white and united gray. The launching of Volkswagen’s new model was actually a bit delayed as when they announced the US launch of the R32 during the 2007 Chicago Auto Show, they said it would be on August. However, when asked now about the R32’s launching, they’d just say that it would be on fall.

It could be noted that shortly after the market debut of the 2004 RS, it sold out. The R32 has a 3.2L V6 engine that can deliver 250 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. And Volkswagen is proud to announce that it could accelerate from zero to 60 in 6.4 seconds.

Fed-Ex Laptop Bag

Really, why should I spend tons of money on a laptop bag that has likely been shipped from china, when I could create a low-impact, high-strength, water-proof laptop bag out of shipping materials already arriving on my front doorstep?

Instructables has an awesome tutorial on how to turn three laptop bags a little bit of felt into an awesome, camouflaged, protective case for your laptop. You will, however, need a sewing machine…or just lots of time to sew by hand. So the project is a bit out of reach for me. But I’d almost pay for one of these things. It looks surprisingly cool. Just don’t get it confused with the rest of your shipping.

via LifeHacker and Instructables

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New Shape-Shifting Personal Wind Turbine

Ben Storan just won first prize in BSI’s 2007 Sustainability awards for his design for a shape-shifting, vertical axis personal wind turbine.

The device works very much like the Quiet Revolution wind turbines. The design is less efficient than Quiet Revolution turbines, but much more efficient than other turbines marketed toward homeowners. Plus, this new way of building turbines has other advantages as well.

First, the simplicity of Storan’s design will bring down the costs significantly from other similar personal turbines. Though, were still looking at a fairly expensive energy appliance.

Second, Storan’s turbine can change shape, much like an umbrella, so that it produces the maximum amount of electricity at a wide range of wind speeds and can also be folded up, much like an umbrella, during extremely strong winds. Other turbines have to be locked in place, or even taken down during severe storms.

Beyond Ben’s £3,000 award, we can hope that he’ll begin marketing and selling the design for big bucks in the near future.

Via TreeHugger and BSI

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Loopwing Personal Wind Turbine
Big Ideas in Small Wind