A PhD engineer’s solar energy project contribute to powering the Robben Island


Today Robben Island is a major tourist attraction, a reminder of what South African leaders went through to secure our freedom. While its past is fraught, there is potential to change the future of the landmark into one of pride rather than shame.

Dom Wills is leading the way with a solar power farm on the island that has taken it off South Africa’s energy grid and turned the world heritage site green.

“It’s no news that South Africa’s electricity supply has been under pressure for a while and that big changes will be required going forward,” Wills says. With a PhD in Wind Generator Design from Stellenbosch University, the engineer has dedicated his work to investigating sustainable energy resources.

He co-founded SOLA Future Energy in 2013 with the goal of developing solar power throughout Africa. Previously, Robben Island relied solely on diesel generators which placed financial strain on the economy. Wills and the SOLA team installed panels which convert solar energy into electricity and contribute to powering the island.

The solar plant is estimated to save up to R5 million per year, which will soon outweigh the cost of installation. Conservation of local birdlife has also been taken into consideration, as the panels are protected by bird-proof wires, while penguin-proof fences ensure that none of our local endangered species are harmed.

As South Africa’s population grows and more power is needed to enable development, a focus on clean energy isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity. “We need to protect our resources and invest in the future of our country,” Wills says.

While the Robben Island project is his most recent, it is one Wills hopes to duplicate. “Now that the project has proven successful, we can start rallying these types of projects throughout the country,” he says.

In the meantime, the energy-generating farm is driving the move toward sustainable solutions, and changing the way we think about Robben Island.




While the best things in life are free, the second-best things in life are still great deals.

The iLife A4s (MSRP $249) is our second-best affordable robot vacuum, beat only by the popular Eufy RoboVac 11.

We tested the iLife in our robot vacuum obstacle course, and we think it’s a fantastic choice for anyone who wants to try out a robot vacuum without spending too much.

It’s usually sale for around $199—less than the Eufy’s everyday price of $219, but more than the Eufy’s lowest sale price. Sometimes the A4s drops below $190, and that’s when it’s a truly great deal. The A4s also gets rave user reviews from those who already own it

At a glance

• Picked up 12.9 grams of dirt per run—more than some popular iRobot models
• Took a long time to clean—over two hours for our obstacle course
• No virtual walls or barriers to control where it cleans
• HEPA-style filter
• Battery-saving mode and option to schedule cleaning

What to expect

Where more expensive robot vacuums map out a precise cleaning route, the iLife takes a long time to bounce its way around a room. Luckily, the iLife is exceedingly light at just 4.9 pounds. Our impact sensors never recorded a bump powerful enough to scuff furniture or knock anything over.

On average, the A4s picked up 12.9 grams of dirt per cycle—a very high amount. Compare that to the $800 iRobot 980, which only picked up 8.5 grams. The difference is that the iRobot took only 15 minutes to clean, while the iLife spent over two hours knocking about the same space before it automatically returned to its charging dock.

In its quest for dirt, the A4s jammed its brushes into every nook and cranny of our test lab. Its three-inch height is shorter than most other models, so it fits under low shelves and coffee tables, and beneath kitchen cabinets. However, the iLife had issues going overthings, like a throw rug.

Like all robot vacuums, the iLife A4s is meant for maintenance. That means it’s more suited to keeping floors clean than cleaning dirty floors. While its cleaning is impressive compared to other robot vacuums, it still pales in comparison to a full-sized vacuum. The only you’re going to make headway is to run the everyday. However, it’s easy to schedule the iLife to run automatically via the included remote.

What’s not included are virtual walls or any kind of barrier that keeps the A4s from wandering off into another room or knocking over the dog dish. For that, you’d have to upgrade to the iLife A6. There is no way, other than shutting a door, to keep the A4s in a given area.

The $199 iLife A4s is a great mix of performance and affordability. We especially recommend it if it drops below $179, or if the Eufy RoboVac 11 isn’t on one of its frequent sales.

Compared to models that cost twice as much, you’re only sacrificing extras like virtual walls, and quick cleaning cycles. But if you’ve always wanted to try a robot vacuum, or if you have one room that always gets dirty, you’re going to get the most out of this robot vacuum.

Also see: iRobot Roomba 980 review



Works with all the gasoline engines in 12V 
The RAVPOWER CAR JUMP STARTER 1000A can kick start all gasoline and diesel engines up to 7L with a 12V battery up to 20 times with only one charge. This brings most cars back to life and is the safest and easiest way possible to jump start a car.

Extra-Safe With built-In Intelligent Protector
New, the cables of the smart clamps can be replaced, while that was not possible for previous models. This allows for extra protection against short circuit, low voltage, deep discharge and false polarity. Additionally the car jumper comes with a built-in protection to prevent fire on the clamps which can cause melting and explosion.

Massive 14000mah Capacity with Micro Input 
Three charging options: car charger, wall charger or any power bank. With the included DC5V/2.1A AC charger, it can be fully recharged within 5.5 hours. Due to the 14000mAh capacity it is able to charge your iPhone 7 up to 5 times, the iPad mini 1.5 times and your Nexus phone 3 times.

Quick Charge 3.0 + iSmart Technology 
Charge up to 3 devices simultaneously thanks to the 3 USB ports. The Quick Charge 3.0 port allows for a 75% faster charging speed, while the 2 iSmart ports support max charging current of up to 2.4A each.

How to Use 
When connected with your car battery, press the Boost Button. If the LED turns green, the battery is restored and can be started normally. If the LED is red, make sure the polarities are connected correctly and that the remaining battery of the car jumper is at least 20%. The battery level indicator informs you of the remaining battery.

What’s in the Box
• 1x RAVPower Car Jump Starter (RP-PB063)
• 1x Wall Charger with DC5V/2.1A
• 1x Jumper Cable
• 1x User Guide
• 1x USB Charging Cable (Short)
• 1x USB Charging Cable (Long)

Cyborg bacteria outperform plants when turning sunlight into useful compounds


Photosynthesis provides energy for the vast majority of life on Earth. But chlorophyll, the green pigment that plants use to harvest sunlight, is relatively inefficient. To enable humans to capture more of the sun’s energy than natural photosynthesis can, scientists have taught bacteria to cover themselves in tiny, highly efficient solar panels (FOR EXAMPLE: SUNJACK 14W PORTABLE SOLAR CHARGER ) to produce useful compounds.

The researchers are presenting their work today at the 254th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

“Rather than rely on inefficient chlorophyll to harvest sunlight, I’ve taught bacteria how to grow and cover their bodies with tiny semiconductor nanocrystals,” says Kelsey K. Sakimoto, Ph.D., who carried out the research in the lab of Peidong Yang, Ph.D. “These nanocrystals are much more efficient than chlorophyll and can be grown at a fraction of the cost of manufactured solar panels.”

Humans increasingly are looking to find alternatives to fossil fuels as sources of energy and feedstocks for chemical production. Many scientists have worked to create artificial photosynthetic systems to generate renewable energy and simple organic chemicals using sunlight. Progress has been made, but the systems are not efficient enough for commercial production of fuels and feedstocks.

Research in Yang’s lab at the University of California, Berkeley, where Sakimoto earned his Ph.D., focuses on harnessing inorganic semiconductors that can capture sunlight to organisms such as bacteria that can then use the energy to produce useful chemicals from carbon dioxide and water. “The thrust of research in my lab is to essentially ‘supercharge’ nonphotosynthetic bacteria by providing them energy in the form of electrons from inorganic semiconductors, like cadmium sulfide, that are efficient light absorbers,” Yang says. “We are now looking for more benign light absorbers than cadmium sulfide to provide bacteria with energy from light.”

Sakimoto worked with a naturally occurring, nonphotosynthetic bacterium, Moorella thermoacetica, which, as part of its normal respiration, produces acetic acid from carbon dioxide (CO2). Acetic acid is a versatile chemical that can be readily upgraded to a number of fuels, polymers, pharmaceuticals and commodity chemicals through complementary, genetically engineered bacteria.

When Sakimoto fed cadmium and the amino acid cysteine, which contains a sulfur atom, to the bacteria, they synthesized cadmium sulfide (CdS) nanoparticles, which function as solar panels on their surfaces. The hybrid organism, M. thermoacetica-CdS, produces acetic acid from CO2, water and light. “Once covered with these tiny solar panels, the bacteria can synthesize food, fuels and plastics, all using solar energy,” Sakimoto says. “These bacteria outperform natural photosynthesis.”

The bacteria operate at an efficiency of more than 80 percent, and the process is self-replicating and self-regenerating, making this a zero-waste technology. “Synthetic biology and the ability to expand the product scope of CO2 reduction will be crucial to poising this technology as a replacement, or one of many replacements, for the petrochemical industry,” Sakimoto says.

So, do the inorganic-biological hybrids have commercial potential? “I sure hope so!” he says. “Many current systems in artificial photosynthesis require solid electrodes, which is a huge cost. Our algal biofuels are much more attractive, as the whole CO2-to-chemical apparatus is self-contained and only requires a big vat out in the sun.” But he points out that the system still requires some tweaking to tune both the semiconductor and the bacteria. He also suggests that it is possible that the hybrid bacteria he created may have some naturally occurring analog. “A future direction, if this phenomenon exists in nature, would be to bioprospect for these organisms and put them to use,” he says.

Plug-and-Play Solar Generator for Backup Power


Two Idaho entities, one a university, the other a private company, have joined forces to design a portable, 5-kW solar generator with the goal of powering everything in a typical home from the lights to the refrigerator to the clothes dryer.

It all started when a University of Idaho (UI) researcher and an executive from Inergy Solar met at a 2015 workshop conducted by the Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM). State-funded IGEM’s reason for being is to connect Idaho energy entrepreneurs with university faculty studying related topics in order to encourage private-public partnerships. The ultimate goal: enhancing the role universities play in helping businesses in the state grow and creating more economic opportunities.

Inergy, a marketer of portable solar generators, is a familiar name to outdoor enthusiasts and those who just want some time off the grid. The company makes a small, lightweight, 1-kW Kodiak generator system. According to CEO Sean Luangrath, customers have encouraged the company to step up the energy capacity for a system that would power an entire home without sacrificing the small size (9”x14”x9”) and portability (20 pounds). The more powerful generator planned will have five times the capacity of the smaller product, and the goal is to keep it under 100 pounds.

When Luangrath met Herb Hess, UI professor in the College of Engineering, he immediately recognized that Hess’s program had the exact expertise and resources he had been looking for. (That same year Hess became a partner in a $1.6-million grant from the Office of Naval Research to develop a 250-kW inverter incorporating advanced materials. The thinking is those same materials, mainly gallium nitride, might be used in conjunction with Inergy’s “compact” technology and be able to reduce the weight and dimensions of a larger inverter.)

Soon after that first meeting, the project was awarded a one-year, $178,000 grant from the IGEM program to develop a 5,000-W inverter using gallium nitride instead of silicon. “A gallium nitride unit is significantly smaller and somewhat more efficient so doesn’t generate as much heat which means we can keep the rest of the device smaller too,” Hess says.

In addition to working with the new semiconductor material, which has been called “the next silicon,” this project’s research will include a focus on network cybersecurity protection. Because of this, Hess recruited to the team Gregory Donohue, a professor of computer engineering, to serve as a link between Inergy Solar and UI’s Center for Secure and Dependable Systems, a unit that conducts research in cyber security. He will also oversee the design of a system to allow Inergy Solar’s generators to connect to an existing power grid, or to other neighboring systems.

Donohoe says the model for the future of alternative energy must incorporate the distribution of energy, either locally or back into the central grid. But that connection opens up the opportunity for hackers to disrupt or damage the system. “The old model of central power transmission and distribution just doesn’t scale very well to solar,” he adds.

Although the biggest challenge may be the size and weight of the inverter, which turns DC power from the sun into the AC power used by most home appliances, that’s not the only challenge.

“Another is how to deal with the heat, which is going to be significantly greater for a larger piece of equipment than the smaller model,” Hess says. “As with any electronic gear, there is a certain amount of waste heat generated that has to be taken out of the electronics.”

Hess foresees the new system to be, as with the smaller version, plug and play. “The idea is that the homeowner comes home with this under his or her arm, sets it down, and lays down some solar panels outside,” he says. The generator itself can be placed inside, with the most likely spot near the home’s circuit breaker panel ( for example: RENOGY 250 WATT SOLAR PANEL  )to be plugged in and then there would be wires going outside to the solar panel.

“We’d like to put the control of it online for access from wherever someone might have access to the internet,” says Hess.

If connected to the main grid or to a local area network, there would have to be a broker, very likely the power company, and a switchable, electrical network that connects the houses and the utility as well as a communications network to negotiate buying and selling or trading of power. While a logical communication medium is the Internet, that again puts the system at risk to hackers. Then the question is, says Donohoe, “How do we make it accessible and easy to use yet remain secure from hackers?”

The generator system that Hess and his team have begun designing will also have storage capability since he doesn’t expect many people will go off the grid entirely. “Most people looking to do their own energy still like reliability, which has been the hallmark of the North American power system for the past 80 years,” he says. “They will likely rely on the power company to provide energy storage when they can’t generate their own.”

Natural Supplements-Are The Treatment For All Conditions

Organic Supplements

Supplements that are called natural routinely have a higher information of minerals and vitamins, which is why they’re getting thus well-received. Dangerous alloys, including mercury, direct, and metal, are observed in significantly small amounts set alongside the no-natural nutritional vitamin supplements.

Numerous herbal medicines are greatest for that health of these who consider them-and work-in numerous methods to assist particular health problems and conditions. As the natural and organic complement tablets are usually the ones that are consumed, it may be definitely better to make use of the fluid selection since these are easier for that body to digest.

Not everybody will need to make use of a supplement to be able to remain healthy; nevertheless there are numerous conditions where in actuality organic supplements, nutrients, and herbs works for their optimum degree. Those people who are operating towards muscle building will discover they need the natural products to be able to create your body within the littlest period of time.

Whenever various conditions occur, natural products may be used properly. Most of the herbs and nutrients included inside the health supplements can perhaps work to alleviate again vexation, complications, along with a quantity of additional distressing medical conditions. This really is particularly true once the discomfort exists due to a shortage of the specific nutritional within the physique. Those people who are hypersensitive to a lot of of the artificial elements that are often contained in no-natural products will discover the natural choice to be always a excellent answer to get the necessary supplements to get a vibrant existence.

The fluid supplements-are usually the ones that are recommended with a physician because they are the absolute most focused. These natural supplements-are usually employed for particular problems, therefore talking to a health care provider that utilizes naturopathic techniques could possibly be the easiest way to find the products which are required for the healthier lifestyle.

Greenville jewelry store robbed


REENVILLE, NC (WNCT) – The Greenville Police Department is investigating a break-in at Robinson Jewelers.

According to a police report, just before 1:30 a.m. on Friday, officers responded to 608 E. Arlington Blvd. The front door of Robinson Jewelers was smashed open and used Pulsar Watches were reportedly stolen.

At this time, police are not releasing any information regarding the suspect. If you have any information on this crime, please contact GPD or Crime Stoppers.