Monthly Archives: June 2011
Scientists at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology have made a discovery that could lead to laptops powered by typing. The researchers succeeded is showing that piezoelectric thin films have the capacity to turn mechanical pressure into a measurable amount of electricity. It has been known since the 1880s that certain crystals are able to to convert mechanical energy into electric power. These piezoelectric materials have found a variety of uses from sonar to electric cigarette lighters. Lead co-author of the research, Dr. Madhu Bhaskaran, said that "The power of piezoelectrics could be integrated into running shoes to charge mobile … Continue Reading
A new catalyst, developed at the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, could represent a substantial milestone on the way to cheap, durable, light and environmentally friendly fuel cells. Currently, the best fuel cells are powered by hydrogen. The biggest obstacle to the wide use of hydrogen fuel cells is the difficulty of storing the hydrogen. An alternative is direct formic acid fuel cells. These convert formic acid and oxygen into carbon dioxide and water to produce energy. The formic acid oxiation occurs at the anode on a catalyst layer. The reactions occur at … Continue Reading
Researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed a new alloy that is able to convert heat directly into electricity. The alloy, created by combining nickel, cobalt, manganese and tin at the atomic level, is a multiferroic materials. These matertials have unique elastic, magnetic and electric properties. When heated, this particlular alloy suddenly changes from non-magnetic to strongly magnetic. In lab tests, the material was able to absorb heat from the environment, become magnetic and produce electricity in an attached coil. Professor Richard James, who led the research team, said that "This research is very promising because it presents an … Continue Reading
The world’s first solar power plant. to supply utility-scale "baseload" power has been launched near Seville in Spain. The 10 megawatt solar thermal Gemasolar plant has the capacity to store energy for up to 15 hours in molten salt batteries, enabling it to provide enough power for about 25,000 households for.24-hours a day.
Japanese authorities are using a blue liquid that hardens into a gel that is then peeled off surfaces, taking microscopic particles of contaminants, including radioactive pollutants, with it to clean up the contamination caused by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The "blue goo", or DeconGel, was discovered by accident in 2009 at the Hawaiian venture capital and technology incubator firm, Skai Ventures. A researcher spilled a bit of solution from an experiment onto the floor. When it was cleaned up the next morning, the solution came off the floor taking everything foreign with it. Since then, the substance has been been … Continue Reading
In what has been described as the biggest battery breakthrough ever, researchers at MIT have come up with a radical new design which could provide a lightweight and inexpensive alternative to existing batteries for electric vehicles and the power grid. The new technology uses an innovative architecture called a semi-solid flow cell, in which the battery’s positive and negative electrodes are made of particles suspended in a liquid electrolyte. These two different suspensions are then pumped through systems separated by a filter. This separates the two functions of the battery -storing energy until it is needed and discharging that energy … Continue Reading
Researchers at the Imperial College London are working towards developing car bodies which can act as capacitors. To help cut weight and increase driving distances, engineers are developing car frames and bodies made of carbon fibre-reinforced composite materials that can be half the weight of steel but provide superior strength and rigidity. By lacing the resin that binds the carbon fibres in the composite with lithium ions; the fibres can serve as conductive electrodes for charge-holding capacitors. The dual-function materials could make electric and hybrid vehicles lighter while simultaneously storing extra electricity.
Following the success of Paris’ bicycle sharing programme, Velib, the city is to get an electric vehicle sharing programme, Autolib. It is eventually hoped to have 4,000 electric vehicles allowing one-way trips between charging stations all over the city, beginning in December. Production of the first 700 Autolib cars has already started in the Italian city of Turin. The bubble-shaped blue cars will be about the size of a Mini and it have a range of 250 km. They will be powered by lithium polymer metal batteries produced by Bollore and will take about four hours to fully charge.
Engineers at Oregon State University have reported that they have achieved a major step toward addressing the waste as heat of much of the energy produced by cars, factories and power plants. The new systems should be able to use much of that waste heat either in cooling or the production of electricity. Currently, more than half of the heat generated by industrial activities is wasted. The internal combustion engines of automobiles are even worse – generally operating at about 25-40% efficiency. The new system, called a "thermally activated cooling system", gains much of its efficiency improvement by using extraordinarily … Continue Reading