Tag Archive: energy


By collecting rainwater, students of the Technological University of Mexico (UNITEC) were able to generate electricity using a microturbine and supplying the vital liquid to homes in a poor community in Iztapalapa, in Mexico City.

This system is similar to that used in dams, which uses rainwater to rotate a microturbine and generate electricity. Currently, it is only possible to recharge portable 12 volt batteries, whose energy is sufficient to power LED lamps but not to provide power to the entire house.

The system called “Pluvia” collects rain from the roof of the house, where the surface must be adapted so the water will flow into a gutter, if unable to modify the ceiling, sheets to simulate a slope are added, routing fluid in one direction, said Omar Enrique Leyva Coca , who developed the project with Romel Brown and Gustavo Rivero Velázquez .

 

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Move over, copper wires. The next generation of electricity cables may well be made from lettuce, based on the innovation of a U.K. researcher. The advance could pave the way to biological computers and bio-robots of the future.

Computer scientist Andrew Adamatzky of the University of West England did a series of tests with four-day-old lettuce seedlings. To create bio-wires, he bridged two electrodes made from conductive aluminum foil with a seedling that was placed onto the electrodes in drops of distilled water.

Next, he applied electrical potential between electrodes ranging from 2 to 12 volts, and calculated the seedling’s so-called potential transfer function that shows output potential as a fraction of input potential — the amount of energy produced relative to energy put in.

He found that resistance of the seedling repetitively changed with time, or oscillated. He determined that, roughly, the output potential was 1.5-2 V less than the input potential, “so by applying 12 V potential we get 10 V output potential,” he said.

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Micro-Algae Factories Could Be A Food And Energy Source For The Home

We’re used to keeping certain types of plants in our homes, and research is increasingly finding some very concrete health benefits to simply keeping a pretty, healthy plant around. But these days, a plant’s got to earn its keep in more ways than one. Innovative systems like the AquaFarm remind us of the interdependency of all life while maintaining themselves and even providing food. Now a new set of interior architecture components could bring a new type of productive plant into the household while literally integrating them into the home. The WaterLilly ‘smart creatures,’ photo-bio reactive household elements conceived in 2012 by Italian designer Cesare Griffa, exploit new discoveries about the potential of algae for food, light and energy while looking great in a living room.

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The WaterLilly ‘family’ is designed to be interactive, reacting to human activity as well as to other members of the system that are nearby. They love social activity and keep you notified on their chemical activities like carbon-fixing, making for a great party plant. Since the conditions for growing algae are very precise and will require different adjustments depending upon the precise conditions in one’s home, multiple WaterLillies will also communicate with each other and alter their activity according to the environment, creating, Griffa says, “the conditions for a connective intelligence based on open knowledge sharing.” They will still require some feeding, however, in the form of light, mineral salts, and carbon dioxide. The algae are ”timid organisms who do not disdain company,” he told Wired UK.

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Physicists say energy can be teleported 'without a limit of distance'

Energy could be moved over long distances by quantum teleportation, according to calculations done by a team of physicists in Japan. While energy teleportation is not a new concept, it had been thought that the amount of energy that could be sent dropped rapidly beyond short distances. The new proposal removes this shortcoming, allowing energy to be transferred much farther. The team believes that the theory could be verified in a semiconductor device and that similar energy teleportation could have occurred in the early universe.

Quantum teleportation is a remarkable idea that was first proposed by IBM’s Charles Bennett and colleagues in 1992. It involves two parties, usually called Alice and Bob, who “teleport” a quantum state between each other. The scheme allows Alice to send information about an unknown quantum state to Bob, who is then able to construct a perfect copy of that state. To do so, the pair exchange classical information while sharing particles that are entangled quantum mechanically with each other. Physicists have since been able to teleport atomic states over distances of several metres and photon states over distances greater than 100 km.

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Scientists from the University of Lyon have discovered a new way to split hydrogen gas from water, using rocks. The method promises a new green energy source, providing copious hydrogen from a simple mixture of rock and water.

It speeds up a chemical reaction that takes geological timescales in nature. In the reaction, the mineral olivine strips one oxygen and hydrogen atom from an H2O molecule to form a mineral called serpentine, releasing the spare hydrogen atom. The results were discussed at this week’s meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, and have been published in the journal American Mineralogist.

The researchers heated olivine minerals in water to a couple of hundred degrees Celsius, and added a little bit of ruby (aluminium oxide) to the mix to provide a source of aluminium atoms. The whole mix was placed into a miniature pressure cooker, formed of two diamonds, that squeezed the mixture to 2,000 atmospheres pressure. The transparent diamonds allowed the scientists to watch the reaction take place.

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Thorium Concept Car

There are now over one billion cars traveling roads around the world directly and indirectly costing trillions of dollars in material resources, time and noxious emissions. Imagine all these cars running cleanly for 100 years on just 8 grams of fuel each.

Laser Power Systems (LPS) from Connecticut, USA, is developing a new method of automotive propulsion with one of the most dense materials known in nature: thorium. Because thorium is so dense it has the potential to produce tremendous amounts of heat. The company has been experimenting with small bits of thorium, creating a laser that heats water, produces steam and powers a mini turbine.

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CU-Boulder team develops new water splitting technique that could produce hydrogen fuel

A University of Colorado Boulder team has developed a radically new technique that uses the power of sunlight to efficiently split water into its components of hydrogen and oxygen, paving the way for the broad use of hydrogen as a clean, green fuel.

The CU-Boulder team has devised a solar-thermal system in which sunlight could be concentrated by a vast array of mirrors onto a single point atop a central tower up to several hundred feet tall. The tower would gather heat generated by the mirror system to roughly 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,350 Celsius), then deliver it into a reactor containing chemical compounds known as metal oxides, said CU-Boulder Professor Alan Weimer, research group leader.

As a metal oxide compound heats up, it releases oxygen atoms, changing its material composition and causing the newly formed compound to seek out new oxygen atoms, said Weimer. The team showed that the addition of steam to the system—which could be produced by boiling water in the reactor with the concentrated sunlight beamed to the tower—would cause oxygen from the water molecules to adhere to the surface of the metal oxide, freeing up hydrogen molecules for collection as hydrogen gas.

“We have designed something here that is very different from other methods and frankly something that nobody thought was possible before,” said Weimer of the chemical and biological engineering department. “Splitting water with sunlight is the Holy Grail of a sustainable hydrogen economy.”

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A new discovery by researchers at the ICFO has revealed that graphene is even more efficient at converting light into electricity than previously known. Graphene is capable of converting a single photon of light into multiple electrons able to drive electric current. The discovery is an important one for next-generation solar cells, as well as other light-detecting and light-harvesting technologies.

A paradigm shift in the materials industry is likely within the near-future as a variety of unique materials replaces those that we commonly use today, such as plastics. Among these new materials, graphene stands out. The single-atom-thick sheet of pure carbon has an enormous number of potential applications across a variety of fields. Its potential use in high-efficiency, flexible, and transparent solar cells is among the potential applications. Some of the other most discussed applications include: foldable batteries/cellphones/computers, extremely thin computers/displays, desalination and water purification technology, fuel distillation, integrated circuits, single-molecule gas sensors, etc.

“In most materials, one absorbed photon generates one electron, but in the case of graphene, we have seen that one absorbed photon is able to produce many excited electrons, and therefore generate larger electrical signals,” says Frank Koppens, group leader at ICFO.

This ability makes graphene extremely appealing for any technology that requires the conversion of light into electricity, particularly because it allows the development of light detectors with improved efficiency, and should lead to solar cells that are able to capture light energy from all of the solar spectrum with lower loss.

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The (SUPER) Supercapacitor

What if you could charge your phone, tablet, or laptop in 30 seconds and have it work all day long? That’s the promise presented in a short film titled The Super Supercapacitor that profiles the work of UCLA inorganic chemistry professor Ric Kaner, whose research focused on conductive polymers and next generation materials.

Chemists at the University of California, Davis, have engineered blue-green algae to grow chemical precursors for fuels and plastics — the first step in replacing fossil fuels as raw materials for the chemical industry.

“Most chemical feedstocks come from petroleum and natural gas, and we need other sources,” said Shota Atsumi, assistant professor of chemistry at UC Davis and lead author on the study published Jan. 7 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The U.S. Department of Energy has set a goal of obtaining a quarter of industrial chemicals from biological processes by 2025.

Biological reactions are good at forming carbon-carbon bonds, using carbon dioxide as a raw material for reactions powered by sunlight. It’s called photosynthesis, and cyanobacteria, also known as “blue-green algae,” have been doing it for more than 3 billion years.

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A virus that creates electricity

A virus called simply M13 has the power (literally) to change the world. A team of scientists at the Berkeley Lab have genetically engineered M13 viruses to emit enough electricity to power a small LED screen. M13 poses no threat to humans — it can only infect bacteria — but it could one day serve humanity by powering your laptop, or even your city.

The secret of M13 lies in something called the “piezoelectric effect,” which happens when certain materials like crystals (or viruses) emit a small amount of power when squeezed. M13 exhibits this effect, and also has the handy ability to organize itself into tidy, invisible sheets of film. Imagine painting a layer of this film onto the casing for your laptop. Every time you tap the keyboard, these viruses convert the pressure from your fingers into electricity that constantly powers up your battery. Any kind of motion can power up M13, so you could conceivably power your house by jumping up and down on a virus-coated floor, or power your iPod by jiggling it in your pocket.

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Image credit: M Hawkeye, NanoPhotonics, Cambridge

Even empty gaps have a colour. Now scientists have shown that quantum jumps of electrons can change the colour of gaps between nano-sized balls of gold. The new results, published today in the journal Nature, set a fundamental quantum limit on how tightly light can be trapped.

The team from the Universities of Cambridge, the Basque Country and Paris have combined tour de force experiments with advanced theories to show how light interacts with matter at nanometre sizes. The work shows how they can literally see quantum mechanics in action in air at room temperature.

Because electrons in a metal move easily, shining light onto a tiny crack pushes electric charges onto and off each crack face in turn, at optical frequencies. The oscillating charge across the gap produces a ‘plasmonic’ colour for the ghostly region in-between, but only when the gap is small enough.

Team leader Professor Jeremy Baumberg from the University of Cambridge Cavendish Laboratory suggests we think of this like the tension building between a flirtatious couple staring into each other’s eyes. As their faces get closer the tension mounts, and only a kiss discharges this energy.

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André Broessel has constructed an enormous glass ball lens filled with water capable of harnessing power from the sun and even the moon, and converting it into usable energy. Broessel proposes that the spheres could be embedded in buildings allowing for natural light to stream through while capturing valuable energy.

A Glass Sphere Solar Energy Generator Capable of Converting Sun and Moonlight into Usable Power sun solar power moon light glass

A Glass Sphere Solar Energy Generator Capable of Converting Sun and Moonlight into Usable Power sun solar power moon light glass

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An energy-hungry Earth is in need of transformational and sustainable energy solutions, experts say.

For decades, researchers have been appraising the use of power-beaming solar-power satellites. But the projected cost, complexity and energy economics of the notion seemingly short-circuited the idea.

Now, a unique new approach has entered the scene, dubbed SPS-ALPHA, short for Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large PHased Array. Leader of the concept is John Mankins of Artemis Innovation Management Solutions of Santa Maria, Calif.

The NIAC is under the wing of NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist, which is providing a technology and innovation focus for the space agency.

Last August, Artemis Innovation Management Solutions was selected for a NASA NIAC award to dive into the details of what Mankins labels “the first practical solar-power satellite concept.”

The project will be an energetic one-year study of the design. Mankins is drawing upon a 25-year career at NASA and Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, doing work that ranged from flight projects and space mission operations to systems-level innovation and advanced technology research.

Along with reviewing the conceptual feasibility of the SPS-ALPHA, the team will carry out select proof-of-concept technology experiments.

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Scientists inspired by a camel’s nostrils are set to achieve the impossible and grow a man-made forest in the desert.

The £3.3 million giant open-air greenhouse in Qatar will bring plant life to one of the most inhospitable spots on earth and it is all thanks to the humped mammal’s nose.

Using a trick of nature the Sahara Forest Project will use surface water and cold water pumped up from 200 metres below the sand to feed trees, vegetables and algae.

Source: Daily Mail

Squid can save energy by flying rather than swimming, according to calculations based on high-speed photography.

Squid of many species have been seen to ‘fly’ using the same jet-propulsion mechanisms that they use to swim: squirting water out of their mantles so that they rocket out of the sea and glide through the air. Until now, most researchers have thought that such flight was a way to avoid predators, but Ronald O’Dor, a marine biologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, has calculated that propelling themselves through the air may actually be an efficient way for squid to travel long distances.

The creatures are rarely seen flying, so some researchers argue that the mode of travel is not widespread in migration, but over years of study O’Dor has gathered hints that the behaviour is more common than was thought. Since the 1970s, he has been keeping Northern shortfin squid, Illex illecebrosus, in a 15-metre indoor pool. At first, his research team would often find dead squid around the pool in the morning, the creatures having jumped out of the water over night. “It was clear that if two or three died every night we were going to run out of animals fairly quickly,” says O’Dor. The team ultimately lowered the water level to keep the squid in.

Further evidence came from Julia Stewart, a marine biologist at Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University in Pacific Grove, California, who uses tagging to track Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas). Her recent work found that they travelled faster than anyone had seen before. “The question this raised in my mind was, ‘Maybe they really are flying?’” says O’Dor.

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Call it a two-for-one special in renewable energy. A new concept for marine solar cells could harness energy from both the sun and the waves at the same time.

“They work on many different levels. They can be scaled up to as big a project as you want it to be,” said British designer, Phil Pauley.

The idea came to him during a brief brainstorming session, he said. Usually his eponymous firm, located near London, develops interactive 3D models and visualizations for clients that include Deutsche Bank, Hamptons International, and Eurostar.

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His design calls for floating dome-shaped solar cells to be linked together in web-like patterns. Wave energy will be captured as the buoyant floats bob up and down in the water, Pauley said. Waves will also act like mirrors to bounce sunlight back on the floating cells and increase solar capture by 20 percent, he estimated. The type of photovoltaics that would cover the domes hasn’t been specified yet.

“The wave force will be moving the domes up and down, which in turn will be moving the bars that connect the cell, which will be creating energy 24-7,” Pauley said. The plan is for that energy to then go into storage units until it’s needed.

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