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Mechanical Engineering. 2006;128(12):24-27. doi:10.1115/1.2006-DEC-1.
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This article elaborates ways of harnessing the power of the ocean. Engineers have attempted, with varying success, to tap ocean energy as it occurs in waves, tides, marine currents, thermal gradients, and differences in salinity. Among these forms, significant opportunities and benefits have been identified in the area of wave-energy extraction. As a form of harvestable energy, waves have advantages not simply over other forms of ocean power, but also over more conventional renewable energy sources, such as the wind and the sun. Wave energy also offers much higher energy densities, enabling devices to extract more power from a smaller volume at consequent lower costs. The Oregon State University (OSU) wave energy team is developing several novel direct-drive prototypes, including buoys that incorporate permanent magnet linear generators, permanent magnet rack-and-pinion generators, and contactless force transmission generators. The OSU researchers are also interested in small-scale wave-energy generators, which could be integrated into boat anchor systems to power a variety of small craft electronic devices.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2006;128(12):28-31. doi:10.1115/1.2006-DEC-2.
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The University of Connecticut is focusing on cogeneration, also called combined heat and power. It is the production of more than one useful form of energy—both heat and electric power—from a single energy source, such as the burning of natural gas or some other fuel. The cogeneration plant has been designed to blend seamlessly into the campus landscape. Cogeneration uses one measure of gas twice—first for generating electricity, then to produce steam. A financial study done by consultants during the plant's planning phase shows definite savings over the long run, especially since the cost of electricity can be expected to vary with the cost of natural gas in New England.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2006;128(12):32-34. doi:10.1115/1.2006-DEC-3.
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Electronics have grown much hotter over the past decade, making cooling a top priority in data centers. APC, better known for backup power supplies, supplies cold air from rack-size towers mounted along each row. It then monitors server temperatures, adjusting each individual air conditioner tower to achieve optimal cooling. Such localized cooling is efficient, such that users can boost server rack power to 18 kW—nearly nine times the average found by Uptime. IBM believes even the largest, most sophisticated data center managers need help with cooling. Like APC, it encloses its racks with a roof, but unlike APC it uses a cold rather than hot center aisle and exhausts the heated air into the data center. IBM also removes heat with a water-cooled heat exchanger attached to the back of a rack. In addition, IBM provides power management software that enables IT managers to adjust power and heat output. This ensures that power managers can power down based on workload, or move workload to environments that are not effectively using the power and cooling capacity that they have.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2006;128(12):36-37. doi:10.1115/1.2006-DEC-4.
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This article focuses on different ideas of generating power and reuse of waste heat. According to data from Global Energy Decisions, a consultant group based in Boulder, CO, USA, only about 35 percent of the 114 gigawatts of new electrical generating capacity already planned to come on line by 2010 is coal fired. Some other ideas ranging from redesigning factories to reusing waste heat to modeling a restructured electrical grid on the Arpanet, along with the first strike-proof network of defense-related computers, which was the precursor to the Internet, have been discussed in the article. The Electranet can give homeowners’ and business owners’ accurate and powerful tools to precisely measure how much energy they are using where and when, and identify opportunities for eliminating unnecessary costs and wasteful usage patterns.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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