Cool Eco-Innovations Highlighted at Intel's Research Day

intel eco-innovations photo

Allison Woodruff talks to Intel Labs VP Andrew Chien about how individuals and communities will be able to contributing to help the environment with the new personal mobile device prototype which senses and collects air quality data. Photo via Intel

Last week Intel held a Research Day in Mountain View, California where all the latest projects were on display, including those specifically designed with the environment in mind. Check out some of the ideas that could lead to some exciting advances in green technology.Intel has worked diligently to keep a focus on the environment. Not only do they work to innovate in all areas of computer technology, but they also encourage the next generation of thinkers to get techy, and push the IT industry to green up as well. Part of that eco-focus is shown off in the innovations at Research Day. Here are a few that are especially appealing:

Common Sense: Individuals and Communities Contributing to Help the Environment
The rise of social networking and the ubiquity of mobile devices offer unique opportunities to create new usage models and drive innovative new services. Intel researchers are exploring how mobile devices can be extended to include environmental sensors so that large amounts of data can be collected and shared by everyday users throughout the world. This new data could influence environmental policy and regulations as well as enable significant new scientific and medical research. This demo showcases Intel’s new prototype personal mobile device that everyday users can carry to collect air quality data and a Website that allows users to visualize and discuss environmental data.

Organic Photovoltaics for Low-cost Renewable Energy
Future generation organic photovoltaic (OPV) technology holds the promise of ultra low-cost renewable energy because of its potential for high-speed manufacturing in roll-to-roll printing production. OPV’s are also light-weight, thin, and flexible for ubiquitous use. However, current capabilities are limited to < 1 cm² sizes due to the critical dependence on nanoscale morphology of the organic material. To solve the manufacturability problem, hard templates are introduced into the OPV device structure to scaffold the organic inks. The templates can be produced in high volumes and work well as a mold for the organic ink solutions.

Wireless Resonant Energy Link
The goal of the WREL project is to cut the last cord---the power cord. Building on principles proposed by MIT physicists in 2006, the WREL team recently lit a 60W lightbulb at a range of several feet and very high efficiency---around 70%. So how does it work? A singer can shatter a glass by singing at its natural frequency, at which it absorbs energy efficiently. WREL's efficient energy transfer is based on a similar principle. In the case of WREL, a coil of wire with a natural frequency around 10MHz takes the place of the glass, and a similar coil takes the place of the singer. The next milestone for the WREL project is to build a rectifying circuit that can convert the RF power to DC power---without upsetting the carefully tuned pair of coils. The lightbulb in the existing demonstration is powered by the high frequency (10MHz) signal. To power a laptop or charge a battery, we will need DC power, not a 10MHz AC signal.

Check out more of the eco-innovations from Research Day.

More on Intel's Innovations
Intel Demos RF Energy Harvesting Technology
Intel Shows Wireless Electricity System at IDF
Clean Tech Forum 2009: Intel Looks At Tools for Getting Through Tough Times

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