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Aug 5, 2020

Liquid Air Energy Storage: A Power Grid Battery Using Regular Old Ambient Air

Posted by in categories: energy, sustainability

When you think of renewable energy, what comes to mind? We’d venture to guess that wind and solar are probably near the top of the list. And yes, wind and solar are great as long as the winds are favorable and the sun is shining. But what about all those short and bleak winter days? Rainy days? Night time?

Unfavorable conditions mean that storage is an important part of any viable solution that uses renewable energy. Either the energy itself has to be stored, or else the means to produce the energy on demand must be stored.

One possible answer has been right under our noses all along — air. Regular old ambient air can be cooled and compressed into a liquid, stored in tanks, and then reheated to its gaseous state to do work.

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Aug 5, 2020

Matchbox-sized Motor Yields 500,000 RPM

Posted by in categories: electronics, energy

Circa 2006


Aiming to create a miniature motor capable of 1 million revolutions per minute, electronics researchers at ETH Life in Zurich are half-way to their goal.

The gas turbine-powered device produces force equivalent to 100 watts and is 95 percent fuel efficient, and gets 10 hours of operation out of the tank.

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Aug 4, 2020

More than 1.4 million power outages in N.J. from Isaias. Restoration could take days, officials say

Posted by in categories: business, energy

More than 1.4 million homes and businesses across New Jersey lost power as of Tuesday afternoon as powerful winds and heavy rains from Tropical Storm Isaias battered the Garden State.

That’s more than 25% of the utility customers in the state and half of JCP&L’s 1.1 million customers in the dark, according to outage maps provided by the three major utility companies in New Jersey.

Aug 4, 2020

Miniature Telescope Demonstration Focuses on Sharpening View of Distant Objects in Space

Posted by in categories: energy, satellites

A recently deployed DARPA CubeSat seeks to demonstrate technology that could improve imaging of distant objects in space and allow powerful space telescopes to fit into small satellites. DARPA’s Deformable Mirror (DeMi) CubeSat deployed from the International Space Station July 13, beginning the technology demonstration of a miniature space telescope with a small deformable mirror called a microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) mirror.

DeMi made first contact about a week following launch, demonstrating the expected power from its solar arrays, as well as correct spacecraft pointing and stable temperatures. The team will focus on payload checkout over the coming days.

Deformable mirrors can adjust the shape of their reflective surfaces to correct for the effects of temperature and mechanical changes on a space telescope, improving image quality. The experiment will measure how well a MEMS deformable mirror performs in space, from the rocket launch through its time in orbit experiencing the thermal and radiation environment.

Aug 3, 2020

Researchers advance fuel cell technology

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, chemistry, energy, nanotechnology, sustainability, transportation

Washington State University researchers have made a key advance in solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) that could make the highly energy-efficient and low-polluting technology a more viable alternative to gasoline combustion engines for powering cars.

Led by Ph.D. graduate Qusay Bkour and Professor Su Ha in the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, the researchers have developed a unique and inexpensive nanoparticle catalyst that allows the to convert logistic liquid fuels such as gasoline to electricity without stalling out during the electrochemical process. The research, featured in the journal, Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, could result in highly efficient gasoline-powered cars that produce low carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming.

“People are very concerned about energy, the environment, and global warming,” said Bkour. “I’m very excited because we can have a solution to the energy problem that also reduces the emissions that cause global warming.”

Aug 3, 2020

NZ to trial world-first commercial long range, wireless power transmission

Posted by in categories: business, energy

A New Zealand-based startup has developed a method of safely and wirelessly transmitting electric power across long distances without the use of copper wire, and is working on implementing it with the country’s second-largest power distributor.

The dream of wireless power transmission is far from new; everyone’s favorite electrical genius Nikola Tesla once proved he could power light bulbs from more than two miles away with a 140-foot Tesla coil in the 1890s – never mind that in doing so he burned out the dynamo at the local powerplant and plunged the entire town of Colorado Springs into blackout.

Tesla’s dream was to place enormous towers all over the world that could transmit power wirelessly to any point on the globe, powering homes, businesses, industries and even giant electric ships on the ocean. Investor J.P. Morgan famously killed the idea with a single question: “where can I put the meter?”

Aug 3, 2020

A residential vanadium flow battery

Posted by in categories: energy, finance

Munich-based residential vanadium redox flow battery start-up VoltStorage has secured another $7 million from investors including the Bayern Kapital subsidiary of the development bank of Bavaria; family investment house Korys; the EU-backed EIT Innoenergy, New Jersey-based venture capital fund and seed investor SOSV and Zurich power company Energie 360.

The firm claims its flow battery system can complete more than 10,000 charge cycles without any effect on capacity and says its electrolyte is a recyclable, non-flammable vanadium solution. VoltStorage’s modular unit reportedly offers a continuous power rating of 1.5 kW and nominal energy of 6.2 kWh. The unit comes with a ten-year warranty.

More than 20 flow battery chemistries, including zinc-bromine, zinc-iron, zinc-cerium and magnesium-vanadium have been studied with vanadium redox the closest to wide commercialization. Vanadium, the dominant cost in the electrolyte, is a metal mined in Russia, China and South Africa although there are reserves in the U.S. and Canada. It is used predominantly as a steel additive. Flow battery manufacturers include Washington-based UET, Montana’s Vizn, California-based Primus, Japan’s Sumitomo, Anglo-Canadian Invinity Energy Systems – formed after the recent merger of California’s Avalon and U.K.-based redT – and Form Energy.

Aug 2, 2020

Is the Jeep Wrangler 4xe EV Here Just to Keep You Away From the Ford Bronco?

Posted by in categories: energy, transportation

Jeep is known for its capable and impressive SUVs with the Wrangler being its most-popular off-roader, hands down. But today’s SUVs need to be more capable than ever as more and more brands move to fuel efficiency and electrified powertrains. With the highly-anticipated Ford Bronco set to steal customers away from the reigning Wrangler king, Jeep isn’t going to allow that to happen. Enter, the newly electrified Wrangler.

Jeep recently teased a new addition to the Wrangler lineup by way of an electrified powertrain. According to MotorTrend, FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) shared at its 2020 annual shareholder meeting earlier in the year that Jeep was on track to launch a hybrid powertrain project for its off-roading SUVs, starting with the Wrangler.

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Aug 1, 2020

Non-cuttable material created through local resonance and strain rate effects

Posted by in categories: energy, materials

We have created a new architected material, which is both highly deformable and ultra‐resistant to dynamic point loads. The bio-inspired metallic cellular structure (with an internal grid of large ceramic segments) is non-cuttable by an angle grinder and a power drill, and it has only 15% steel density. Our architecture derives its extreme hardness from the local resonance between the embedded ceramics in a flexible cellular matrix and the attacking tool, which produces high-frequency vibrations at the interface. The incomplete consolidation of the ceramic grains during the manufacturing also promoted fragmentation of the ceramic spheres into micron-size particulate matter, which provided an abrasive interface with increasing resistance at higher loading rates. The contrast between the ceramic segments and cellular material was also effective against a waterjet cutter because the convex geometry of the ceramic spheres widened the waterjet and reduced its velocity by two orders of magnitude. Shifting the design paradigm from static resistance to dynamic interactions between the material phases and the applied load could inspire novel, metamorphic materials with pre-programmed mechanisms across different length scales.

Jul 30, 2020

Astrophysicists observe long-theorized quantum phenomena

Posted by in categories: energy, quantum physics, space

At the heart of every white dwarf star—the dense stellar object that remains after a star has burned away its fuel reserve of gases as it nears the end of its life cycle—lies a quantum conundrum: as white dwarfs add mass, they shrink in size, until they become so small and tightly compacted that they cannot sustain themselves, collapsing into a neutron star.

This puzzling relationship between a white dwarf’s mass and size, called the mass-radius relation, was first theorized by Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar in the 1930s. Now, a team of Johns Hopkins astrophysicists has developed a method to observe the phenomenon itself using collected by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and a recent dataset released by the Gaia Space Observatory. The combined datasets provided more than 3,000 white dwarfs for the team to study.

A report of their findings, led by Hopkins senior Vedant Chandra, is now in press in Astrophysical Journal and available online on arXiv.

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