This week at Treehugger: The 'huggers shine a light on a Do-It-Yourself wind-up charger for your iPod; a college student also goes the DIY route, converting his dorm into a solar power station; maybe he could also power up the Canadian built, electric-assist Volta bicycle; or we should leave that to the very curious electricity producing XsunX windows? And just for fun, they dress up with a pair of LED cufflinks.
Ross Nizle is a college student at the University of Vermont. He has decided to harness the free (well, maybe not the panels, but the light is) and plentiful energy of the sun to power his Apple Powerbook G4, iPod, cell phone, and Palm Pilot. After doing some research and planning, he put together his solar project. His biggest challenge was not the solar system itself but where he had to make it work: A college dorm room. He couldn't make any structural modifications to the building, had no power tools (or tools, for that matter) and knew he would have to move the system to a new room every few months. His website documents the adventure and the ending is a happy one. So much so that he's even offering to charge other students' gizmos with his clean energy.
Another DIY project that involves renewable energy, but this time you have to burn some calories to get the power flowing. The people have Geek Technique describe in great detail how to turn a windup LED flashlight into a iPod charger. They warn that there's a lot of cranking involved to charge the batteries, but it is still a cool project.
The Volta 7-speed with power-assist is a city bike made in Canada by Mikado. In these times of high oil prices, more and more people are looking for alternative ways to get around. This probably explains why Ford killed its biggest SUV and the explosion in bike sales (last year, more bikes than cars were sold in the US for the first time since the early 1970s). The Volta is the perfect commuter: The electric motor has a range of 45 kilometers (38 miles) on a flat surface, it has mudguards and fender to keep you from arriving to work all grimy, and the saddle is said to be comfortable and has springs.
In a future where clean ways to produce electricity will become more popular, and where decentralized production (because of the lower energy density of renewables) is common, glass that can produce electricity will probably become ubiquitous. The Californian company XsunX has introduced "Power Glass", a technology that allows glass to produce electricity at half the efficiency of traditional solar panels, but at one quarter of the cost. That could yield more power per dollar, and make it easier to tap into solar power since you wouldn't have the problem of finding a spot where to put solar panels.
For the gadget-lover who needs to have a piece shiny of technology in everything we have these LED cufflinks. Although they are not paricularly "green" in themselves, they are sure to make you stand out in a crowd of suit & ties, and when people ask you about them, you can spread the LED gospel ("Much more efficient than conventional light bulbs, and even compact fluorescents! They are the future!").