In September, I came across an article at PSFK.com about wearable solar panel vests. It seems that “boda bodas,” cyclists that help transport people along the borders of African countries to various immigration offices, are particular targets for this vest – but any outdoor worker could benefit. It’s been invented by Kenyan Dominic Wanjihia.
This vest is a flexible solar panel that harnesses the sun for various things, such as phone recharging (for the boda boda operator so clients can always reach him or for clients while in transit) and lighting (an emergency light while on the road at night or at home to help save on power bills). Of course, since he’s wearing the vest, his investment won’t get stolen.
At the other end of the spectrum comes news from CarTechBlog.com. While electric cars garner a lot of interest in the West, recharging times don’t hold a lot of appeal. (They can run in excess of a few hours.) The Fraunhofer Institute in Germany is improving something called a “redox flow battery.” It uses two electronic fluids; the exchange of protons though a membrane creates electricity.
Okay, I’d admit the technical part is way over my head. But what sounds great is that when you need a “recharge,” you’d go to a station where they would pump out the “discharged” fluid and fill your car with new “charged” fluid – in a matter of minutes. Still not cool enough? Well, the plan is that they could recharge used fluids on-site using solar cells or wind turbines. No more oil tankers. I have no idea of the downsides of this new battery and it doesn’t address how to recycle the used batteries, but it sounds like this could be an exciting step forward!