Maybe the Mayan’s are Right.

I’m not a dooms day believer. I don’t think the Mayan’s have it right and the world is coming to an end in 2012, when the Mayan calendar comes to a close, but I have to say based on the environmental disasters of the last 12 months it really makes you wonder if as a species we are trying to kill ourselves.

First we have BP’s Gulf Oil disaster which was probably far worse than we have been led to believe. Now we have the nuclear meltdown in Japan which is going to a hell of a lot worse than any of us can imagine. As I write this, both Gizmodo and ABC News are reporting that radioactive plutonium has been found outside reactor number 3 in contaminated soil, and 3 large steam tunnels are on the verge of over flowing and spilling large amounts of highly toxic radioactive water into the ocean which is a mere 180 feet away.

You would think that by this point in time, we would have found a way to produce clean non toxic renewable energy sources. I mean think about it, in 1969 we landed a man on the moon with a computer that has about the same horsepower as a Texas Instruments Scientific Calculator does. What is happening is just stupid, and based on greed. It’s all about big energy making more money at the expense of the world and people around them. The only thing is, if they kill off the environment and the people, they kill off their profit source. You think they would wake up, smell the coffee and innovate. Imagine if all the oil companies invested billions in researching new clean energy sources, instead of places to drill for oil, or ways to get it out of the ground. If they had spent the last 30 or 40 years doing that, maybe we could have avoided the Exxon Valdez, The Gulf Spill, and the countless other oil related disasters that never made the evening news.

The same thing is applicable to the nuclear industry. There hasn’t been a whole lot of innovation when it comes to that industry over the last 30 years either. Actually, there might have been and I am just unaware of what has been taking place. The reactor in Japan is an older style reactor, built with last years technology, and obviously not designed to withstand an earthquake and a tsunami.

So what do we do, especially since renewable energy sources like wind and solar only work at full efficiency when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing.

Highview Power Storage might have a solution to help get us one step closer to a clean, renewable energy sources, thanks to their CryoEnergy System also known as CES.

CES takes excess energy that is generated by another source and uses it to run refrigeration units which super cool air to a temperature of -196C (-320.8F), at which point the air liquefies. The liquid air, which is known as cryogen, is then stored in insulated tanks, and at times of peak energy demand, when the output of existing energy sources can’t meet the demands of our power grid, the liquid air in a controlled release is used to generate energy.

Being able to solve the storage problem will be a huge leap forward for emission free power on a global scale.  The way Highveiw’s CryoEnergy Storage system works is by storing and releasing the liquid air, as air is released the liquid boils, regasifies and expands by up to 700% when heated above -196C, This means that even at  room temperature you can superheat it. At this point mega-high-pressured gas is then used to spin turbines which generate electric power.

So what is the by-product of the CES system? Cold Air. And what about the efficieny of the CES system? When the liquid air, the cryogen is exposed to ambient air temperatures, it returns about 50% of the energy used to create it. When the amount of stored liquid air is increased, the intensity of the regasification increases exponentially resulting in up to 70% efficiency. The CES process is perfect for facilities that generate large volumes of waste heat, which could boost the overall efficiency of CES. In additional, the by-product from CES could be used in practical applications like refrigeration, air conditioning, or even the production of more liquid air which increases the efficiency of the whole process.

It’s not a perfect solution, but it sure as hell beats what we have going on now.

Sony’s New HomeShare System.

One of the things I really like about Sony products is they get industrial design. The stuff they make pretty much always looks great. One of the things that has annoyed me about them in the past, is they tend to be fairly closed about their technology, and arrogant about its superiority (think memory stick for their cameras, and Mini Disc Walkman). When they do wake up and realize they need to make products that work with other technologies (think iPod) the results are a solid compliment to any given product.

With CES in full swing, Sony unveiled a new iPod/iPhone stereo system that could rival the Sonos systems that have been around for a number of years. The new SA-NS300 and NS-400 systems are really nice looking units that use wireless network speakers designed to broadcast tunes from a variety of sources such as DLNA-enabled PCs or BRAVIA internet music services found on Sony’s latest Blu-ray players. And while Sony has put their product first, they have also embraced Apple’s new Air Sharing so that iPhones and iPods can join in when placed in HomeShare compatible NAS-SV20i and NAC-SV10i docks.

iPod/iPhone dock

Like any number of Sony products, these go far enough beyond the capabilities of a standard remote, so Sony is also introducing the HomeShare-friendly touch screen RMN-U1 Wi-Fi universal remote. The remote allows you to send music through out the networked HomeShare system, and serves up things like Album art, Lyrics, Liner notes etc. Unfortunately, the remote is bought separately and will set you back an additional 300 bucks.

HomeShare Remote.

From the sound of the press release, it looks as though Sony has set this up to zone your network so you can send media to every room or specific rooms, which is a definite plus. The system uses standard 802.11b/g WiFi so it should be compatible with any wireless network you have in your home.

The Subwoofer. Why is there a button called "Party" on this?

The best part of this is the price point. Sony says that this will be available in March for $200.00 to $300.00. Better than Sonos or many of the competing products on the market today. And since it is Sony, you can bet the build quality is going to be solid, and the software is going to be well thought out.

This March I am going to have to head to a Sony Style store and check these out in person.

Wireless Speakers