Sony will be soon exhibiting its cordless speaker system and cell phone chargers that are powered by its direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC), where the fuel methanol is located within a transparent tank. A lithium ion secondary battery is used to compensate for low outputs of tiny DMFCs, enabling mobile devices to handle steep current peaks without any detrimental effect. The cell phone chargers rely on USB connectivity to keep your precious handsets juiced up .
NTT Energy and Environment Systems Laboratories developed a circuit module that enables the charge of a lead storage battery with a single photovoltaic cell. The circuit module consists of a boost circuit with a DC-DC converter and an IC equipped with the "MPPT (maximum power point tracking)" function. The boost circuit can increase the typical voltage of a single photovoltaic cell, about 0.5V, up to 15V.
Peter Russo and Brendan Wypich of Stanford University developed the SmartSwitch, a light control with tactile feedback that helps you "see" how much energy is already being used, whenever you try to flick the switch. If the total energy consumption in the house is low, the SmartSwitch is easy to flip. But if the consumption is higher, the SmartSwitch is physically harder to flip, thanks to a brake pad within the mechanism. The idea is that people will use this tactile feedback to decide if they really really need that light on or not.
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