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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

To Boldly Go…

A few days ago, Voyager 2 did what Voyager 1 did a few years ago: to boldly go where no Man has gone before! If ever there was a moment to quote Star Trek, this is it.

Click here to see NASA’s video about this event

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Meteorologically speaking, the autumn of 2018 is over, and winter is coming ;-)

Our solar panels are very happy with the three past months, since these months generated more electricity than ever before during this period of the year. Since the efficiency of photovoltaic panels diminishes slowly with the passing of time, the only conclusion must be that there was more sunlight to catch than any other autumn in the last 9 years. The year as a whole wil also be above average, that is already clear now – even when December isn’t supposed to add big numbers to the current total.

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Sustainability Is Hard

Speaking of sustainable energy: as is well-known, toy company Lego has already broken its ties with oil company Shell a few years ago. Now Lego is experimenting with ways to produce its famous bricks from non-petroleum-based oil. The first parts are for sale now: the trees in its Vestas Wind Turbine are produced from sugar cane.

The wind turbine itself looks impressive enough on paper/screen, and having a set that’s about 1 meter high will certainly be impressive in real life as well. It is, however, too bad that this wind turbine requires electricity to run, and is not capable of producing electricity when positioned in the wind…

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The weather of the past week was not very sunny in Belgium: lots of clouds and grey skies, a bit of rain, and even a few rather cold nights and days. All in all, however, the month of October gave us lots of sunshine. So much sunshine, in fact, that it turns out to be the sunniest October in 8 years! At least that what our solar panels tell us, and if we may correlate “hours of sunshine” with “solar energy production” ;-)

That also means that our panels have already produced more than 2 MWh this year, and there are still two (dark) months to go. All in all, 2018 will be a good year in terms of solar energy. The current situation of the nuclear electricity production facilities in Belgium isn’t too reassuring: only one of the seven reactors is currently online – you can see the vapour from its cooling tower in the picture below. Too bad we still do not have a good large-scale way to store solar electricity for use in the winter…

Looking into the direction of the
nuclear electricity production facilities of Doel (B)…

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Last week, our Audi A3 was summoned to its first mandatory technical inspection. Since it is a CNG-powered car, I had to bring a supplementary document, attesting that the CNG installation is as it should be – and that required an extra inspection by the manufacturer (one of its dealers, actually). Four years is still young, for a modern car at least, so all I had to do was take the day off and wait a couple of hours in order to get the document. Not really a fun afternoon, but so be it.

The interesting part was that I was offered a look a the CNG tanks, which are normally hidden from sight since they’re under the trunk. Here’s what they look like from below:

Next inspection of the CNG parts will be in 2022.

The mandatory inspection of the rest of the car went well, too. Do you notice the location of the exhaust, which is not where most cars have it? Well, the inspectors trying to measure the exhaust gases had a lot of trouble finding it!

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After a hot summer came a relatively sunny September – at least, the sun did better than average as far as our solar panels are concerned. We ended up with with 104% of the average of the previous eight year. As far as I’m concerned, that may be the case for the coming months as well – but that’s not something we decide, right?

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Yes, a Bugatti Chiron with just 5.3 hp does exist. It weighs about 1500 kg and is made (almost) exclusively from… Lego™ Technic – including the power train, consisting of 2304 little electric motors from the Technic line. The fact that it can actually be driven is quite impressive…

But I wonder: buying all those bricks is going to be very expensive, should you want to try and build one yourself. How about 3D-printing them?

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