Monthly Archives: May 2011
A research team led by Dr Amy Prieto has developed a new type of lithium-ion battery that features a 3-D interior structure. The new battery is able to recharge in just a few minutes, can be discharged over twice as many times as traditional lithium-ion batteries and is thinner and lighter than existing lithium batteries. Conventional lithium-ion batteries consist of electrodes stacked in thin layers. The new battery uses copper antimonide nano-wires arranged into a tightly-packed 3-D structure similar to bristles on a hair brush. The nano-wires have more surface area and can store twice as many lithium ions. They … Continue Reading
Katru Eco-Energy has developed a new kind of wind turbine which it claims can capture the winds from all directions on top of big buildings without having to be repositioned or pointed. The Implux achieves this by means of horizontal turbine blades that sit on top of a vertical axis and are turned by wind that is pushed up through a "fluid dynamic gate.". The IMPLUX relies on a central chamber that has been specially designed to capture wind as it comes from any direction and then to propel it upwards towards the turbine, accelerating it, without allowing any of … Continue Reading
Scientists at the Technische Universitaet in Munich have been able to increase the efficiency of wind turbines by adapting a technology called torque vectoring, used in some four-wheel drive vehicles. In current wind turbines, the rotational speed of the turbine changes depending on the force of the wind. Therefore the freqency of the current produced by the generator that is connected to the rotor varies and must be rectified to the correct frequency (usually 50 or 60 hertz) before it can be fed into the grid.
Today’s best magnets use rare-earth metals, whose supply is becoming unreliable even as demand grows. The strongest magnets rely on an alloy of the rare-earth metal neodymium with iron and boron. Magnet makers sometimes add other rare-earth metals, including dysprosium and terbium, to these magnets to improve their properties. Researchers are now seeking to make magnets from nanocomposite materials, made up of nanoparticles of the metals that are found in today’s magnetic alloys. These composites have, for example, neodymium-based nanoparticles mixed with iron-based nanoparticles. These nanostructured regions in the magnet interact in a way that leads to greater magnetic properties … Continue Reading
African Renewable Energies, a small London–based firm, aims to help poor communities in developing countries earn money and generate electricity from the innumerable rubbish tips around African cities. The idea is to cover landfill sites with thinfilm solar phovololtaic cells printed on to the flexible membranes used to cap landfills. Landfills in Africa are often open dumps without leachate or gas recovery systems. Many are located in ecologically or hydrologically sensitive areas and are operated with below-standard sanitary practices. The solar landfill covers are based upon the use of a single membrane as an integrated and cost-effective solution designed to … Continue Reading
Protei is a fleet of pollution collecting sailing drones which use existing technologies in an innovative, low-cost open-source oil collecting devices that semi-autonomously sails upwind, intercepting oil sheens which are going downwind. The design of protei is intended to be hurricane-ready, self-righting, inflatable, unbreakable, cheap and easy to manufacture for immediate response. The machine currently being developed is for collecting spilled oil at sea but other versions may be designed in the future for other purposes, such as Protei for the North Pacific plastic garbage patch, heavy metals in coastal areas or toxic substances in urban waterways.
Researchers at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Oklahoma have reported a genetic discovery that allows individual plants to produce more biomass. This means that biofuel crops could have higher yields without increasing their agricultural footprint. Dr Huanzhong Wang has discovered a gene that controls the production of lignin within the stems of arabidopsis and medicago truncatula, plants that are commonly used in genetic studies. Lignin is a compound that adds strength to plant cell walls, which gives stems their rigidity. When the gene was removed, there was a marked increase in the production of lignin and other biomass throughout … Continue Reading
Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center has developed a new manufacturing process developed that is claimed to increase the energy a lithium-ion battery can store by 40%. The technology is similar to that of printed solar cells. In lithium-ion batteries, the electrodes serve as either anodes or cathodes – which makes the battery rechargeable. With current technology, about half of the battery is polymers and foils which cannot hold a charge. On top of that, using bigger electrodes decreases the rate at which lithium ions are absorbed which decreases the battery’s performance.
Realizing that the appropriate, low-cost tools for affordable, sustainable farming and settlement didn’t exist, Marcin Jakubowski decided to build them. The idea was to create an easily repairable, modular and scalable set of tools providing everything you need to build, or rebuild, civilization. The result was a group called Open Source Ecolody, and an open source hardware initiative called The Global Village Construction Kit".
In 2007, the IPCC projected a maximum sea level rise of 59 centimetres by 2100. The IPCC acknowledged that this was likely to be an under-estimate because understanding of the processes happening on ice sheets was inadequate to enable reliable estimates to be made. A team of researchers led by Eric Rignot from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has now reported that ice loss from Antarctica and Greenland has accelerated over the last 20 years and the increase in sea levels will, indeed, be significantly higher than the 2007 estimate.