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Super Soaker inventor looking to double solar efficiency


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Did you know the inventor of the Super Soaker, Lonnie Johnson, is a nuclear engineer with more than 100 patents in his green-lined pockets? Really, you didn't? Well, now that you're all caught up with Basic Gadgetology 101, we'll fill you in what he's been up to lately. Johnson has developed a new solar technology called the Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Conversion System (JTEC for the acronym-inclined), which is "like a conventional heat engine." A closed box system takes heat as an input, creates pressure from heat differential, which generates electricity by forcing ions through a micron-thick ceramic membrane. The big news: this system purports to be as efficient as 60%, versus the 30% efficiency achieved through normal photovoltaic panels. While Johnson's invention may prove itself to be a game changer in the quest for cheap and renewable electricity, we don't think it'll be nearly as fun as using pressurized air to blast water at your pals. Now, maybe if he made a solar-powered water cannon ...

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