Researchers at the University of Wisconsin in Madison has demonstrated the viability of a design for solar panels that can simultaneously generate electricity from sunlight and store the energy captured. As well as generating electricity in the usual way, the panels would also store electrons on zinc oxide nanowires coated with polyvinylidene fluoride polymer. The polyvinylidene fluoride polymer has a high dielectric constant, which releases the stored energy through the nanowires when the solar cell stops harvesting energy. Energy would be stored during sunny days and released at night or on cloudy days. The design was developed by Professor Hongrui … Continue Reading
Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have demonstrated a new technique to remove and store atmospheric carbon dioxide while generating carbon-negative hydrogen and producing alkalinity, which could be used to offset ocean acidification. The team has demonstrated that, when saline water is electrolysed to produce hydrogen fuel and other gases, the acidity produced will accelerate silicate mineral dissolution. The resulting electrolyte solution has a significantly elevated hydroxide concentration that strongly absorbs and retains atmospheric CO2. The process produces alkaline carbonates and bicarbonates which the researchers suggest could be used to mitigate ongoing ocean acidification. Lead author of … Continue Reading
A new website, Harvestmap (Oogstkaart in Dutch) at http://www.oogstkaart.nl is an online marketplace for industrial-scale redundant and second hand materials. Harvestmap/Oogstkaart allows companies or individuals to list their supply of materials, components or even buildings to potential users. All materials, ranging from small quantities to continuous flows of industrial leftovers are represented. Participation allows you to list your own supply, find available resources and provide tips to the community of users. Oogstkaart, which is currently in beta, began in the Netherlands and has recently extended to the UK where material from the 2012 Olympic Park are listed.
98.8% of the coffee biomass is wasted in the process of making a cup of coffee. One group in the Netherlands is determined to make use of the waste. GRO Holland is recycling coffee grounds as a growth substrate for mushrooms. Waste grounds are collected from a network of cafes, mixed with oyster mushroom spores, packed into perforated plastic bags and hung in a humid warehouse. The mushrooms are harvested and sold back to the cafes. The waste substrate goes to nearby tulip farmers to reuse as mulch. The organisation is now working on designs for a new visitor centre … Continue Reading
The U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is conducting a feasibility study into a unique energy storage method combining geothermal heat and underground compressed air energy storage. When power is abundant, compressed air energy storage plants use it to power a large air compressor which pushes pressurized air into an underground geologic storage structure. When power demand is high, the stored air is released back up to the surface where it is heated and rushes through turbines to generate electricity. There are two existing compressed air energy storage plants. One is in Alabama, the other is in Germany. … Continue Reading
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, working with colleagues in Japan, Finland and Germany, have found a way to turn cement into a metal semiconductor that could potentially be used to make computer chips, thin film electronics and protective coatings. The team of scientists melted mayenite, a component of alumina cement, at temperatures of 2,000°C using carbon dioxide laser beam heating. The molten meyenite was contained in a levitator to keep the hot liquid from touching any container surfaces and forming crystals. This let the liquid cool into glassy state that can trap electrons in the way … Continue Reading
In thin-film solar cells, which are made up of layered films, some of the sunlight is effectively lost at every film-to-film interface because of a phenomenon called "thin-film interference". Thin-film interference is what causes oil slicks on water to take on a rainbow-coloured appearance. Some light is reflected off the surface of the oil; some passes through the oil surface but is reflected back up through the oil film by the surface of the underlying water. Because the two sources of reflected light have different optical qualities, they interfere with one another causing the rainbow effect. The same thing can … Continue Reading
Most modern processes to extract gold from ore or scap use a highly toxic combination of cyanide salts. Researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago have stumbled upon a way of extracting the gold that uses cornstarch instead of cyanide. The process is cheap and does not involve any substances which are ecologically harmful or dangerous. The team, led by Professor Sir Fraser Stoddart, discovered the method by accident when trying to make three-dimensional nano-cubes out of gold and starch, aiming to use them as storage containers for gases and other small molecules. But they found that, instead of forming cubes, … Continue Reading
UK based 40South Limited is to install a 150 kilowatt wave power module outside Livorno Port in Tuscany. The device uses two connected buoyant sections that sit one above the other at different depths. The lower section is moored to the seabed. The arms that connect them move inside each other like pistons, generating power as they move. The whole structure sits below the sea surface and automatically adjusts its vertical position in the water depending on conditions – sinking deeper during large, potentially damaging storms. This also helps the device produce consistent levels of power.
Rearchers at Australia's CSIRO have built a gigantic printer that spits out solar cells at a rate of about ten metres a minute. The printer system uses existing technology to embed polymer solar cells (also known as organic solar cells) in thin sheets of plastic. The A3-sized panels are created by laying a liquid photovoltaic ink onto the thin, flexible plastic. According to the researchers, the technology is so simple that it could soon mean everyone has the ability to print their own solar panels at home. Project co-ordinator and University of Melbourne researcher, Dr David Jones, said that “We’re … Continue Reading