Monday, April 27, 2009

Saving Energy at Data Centers

Data centers perform computing functions vital to the U.S. economy, yet they require large amounts of energy to operate. To support the growing demand for processing power throughout the nation, data centers are using ever more compact and energy-intensive servers—even as the total number and size of data centers continues to increase. This is creating a serious burden on the U.S. electric grid.

DOE and its partners are working with data centers to deploy energy management best practices and conduct supporting targeted research and development. Building on the Save Energy Now energy assessment model, DOE can help companies benchmark data center energy use and identify opportunities to reduce energy by 25% or more. DOE will work with data center equipment suppliers, end users, and DOE's National Laboratories to explore joint industry R&D opportunities.

A coordinated program of focused R&D and operating practice improvements in computer data centers will produce large energy savings, reduce the load on the electric grid, and enhance data center reliability. Benefits of energy efficiency improvements in data centers include:

  • Limit growth in electricity demand and carbon emissions
  • Protect critical data and computing functions
  • Increase regional electricity reliability
  • Postpone the need to build new electricity generation capacity

Friday, April 17, 2009

New energy standards for household appliances

Fridges, freezers, televisions and washing machines are to have minimum energy standards and energy labels following an EU ruling.

Minimum standards will ensure that only energy efficient products are sold in Europe. Mandatory labelling will help consumers choose the most energy efficient products for their homes, which will help reduce their energy bills.

Circulators – the small pumps used on central heating systems –will also have new minimum energy standards applied.

Together these measures will reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the UK by around 2 million tonnes per annum. They will also deliver a net benefit to the UK economy of around £150 million per annum, mostly in the form of reduced householders’ annual energy bills.

This is the first time that minimum energy efficiency standards and labelling have been set for televisions. Labelling has appeared on fridges, freezers and washing machines for ten years but has not been updated in that time. The new scheme will mean that the current A category will be added to by the addition of new classes on top of A such as A-20% (20% more efficient than the current A standard), A-40% (40% more efficient than the current A standard) or A-60% (60% more efficient than the current A standard).

Lord Hunt, Defra Minister for Sustainability said:

“I’m delighted that the EU has joined together to save consumers money and help save significant amounts of energy and carbon dioxide emissions by introducing these minimum standards.

“It is disappointing though that we could not agree to update the labelling system that we know consumers understand and have confidence in. We now have a job to do in working constructively with consumers, retailers and manufacturers to ensure that consumers are able to easily identify the most energy efficient appliances available.”

Friday, April 10, 2009


We live in the extended atmosphere of an active star. While sunlight enables and sustains life, the Sun's variability produces streams of high energy particles and radiation that can harm life or alter its evolution.

Under the protective shield of a magnetic field and atmosphere, the Earth is an island in the Universe where life has developed and flourished. The origins and fate of life on Earth are intimately connected to the way the Earth responds to the Sun's variations.

Understanding the Sun, Heliosphere, and Planetary Environments as a single connected system is the goal of the Science Mission Directorate's Heliophysics Research Program. In addition to solar processes, our domain of study includes the interaction of solar plasma and radiation with Earth, the other planets, and the Galaxy. By analyzing the connections between the Sun, solar wind, planetary space environments, and our place in the Galaxy, we are uncovering the fundamental physical processes that occur throughout the Universe. Understanding the connections between the Sun and its planets will allow us to predict the impacts of solar variability on humans, technological systems, and even the presence of life itself.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


Although sound waves had been recorded by the mid 1800s, the first device to both record and reproduce sound was invented by Thomas Edison in 1877. He called his cylindrical sound-recording machine a "phonograph." This early talking machine played records made of tinfoil, upon which grooves of varying depth were cut. The sound was poor and each recording could only be played once. In 1886, an improved recording device called a "graphophone" was developed. Grooves cut on a wax-coated paper cylinder produced better sound. Although reproductive quality was improved, every cylinder had to be recorded individually. In 1887, German immigrant Emile Berliner invented a recording system called the “gramophone” which produced quality recordings that could also be used repeatedly and from which many copies of the original recording could be made. He founded the Gramophone Company to mass produce his sound discs and the machine that played them. He persuaded popular artists like Enrico Caruso to record music using his system. As his official trademark, he adopted Francis Barraud's painting of "His Master's Voice" picturing the dog Nipper. Berliner eventually sold his gramophone patent rights to the Victor Talking Machine Company, which later became RCA Victor Recording Company. Although many improvements were made to the recorded disc, by the 1990s most recording companies stopped producing records in favor of cassette tapes and compact discs.