Archive for the ‘solar power’ category: Page 11

Jun 15, 2023

Stratoplanes: The aircraft that will fly at the edge of space

Posted by in categories: solar power, space travel, sustainability

It is June 2022, and a flying machine that looks like a cross between a prehistoric beast and a spaceship is about to take off. Named the Zephyr S, it has long spindly wings the length of an airliner’s. Together with its small, thin body and head, these make it resemble a pterodactyl. Its shimmering tinfoil-like solar panels and lightweight skeletal frame are more like something you’d see on a craft meant for space.

Its mission for the US Army is a secret, but clearly on its manufacturer’s mind is the desire to shatter a few records, particularly that for the longest flight duration for any type of airplane, which has stood for 63 years. In 1959 two men flew a four-seat Cessna light aircraft for 64 days, 22 hours and 19 minutes, refuelling in-flight from a truck.

British aviation pioneer Chris Kelleher designed the first Zephyr in 2002. His vision was of an uncrewed aircraft capable of “eternal flight” in the stratosphere. He foresaw that solar power and lightweight materials would lead to aircraft capable of staying aloft for months, or even years. The Zephyr S is the first production model.

Continue reading “Stratoplanes: The aircraft that will fly at the edge of space” »

Jun 13, 2023

Photographer Captures ISS Crossing the Sun During Astronaut Spacewalk

Posted by in categories: cosmology, solar power, sustainability

An astrophotographer captured the ISS crossing the Sun as two astronauts were conducting a spacewalk to install solar panels.

Jun 13, 2023

First ever beaming of orbital solar power

Posted by in categories: business, satellites, solar power, sustainability

The transition to renewable energy, critical for the world’s future, is limited today by energy storage and transmission challenges. Beaming solar power from space is an elegant solution that […] promises a remarkable payoff for humanity: a world powered by uninterruptible renewable energy.

The California Institute of Technology reports the first successful beaming of solar energy from space down to a receiver on the ground, via the MAPLE instrument on its SSPD-1 spacecraft.

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Jun 13, 2023

New material transforms light, creating new possibilities for sensors

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, nanotechnology, solar power

A group of scientists and engineers that includes researchers from The University of Texas at Austin have created a new class of materials that can absorb low energy light and transform it into higher energy light. The new material is composed of ultra-small silicon nanoparticles and organic molecules closely related to ones utilized in OLED TVs. This new composite efficiently moves electrons between its organic and inorganic components, with applications for more efficient solar panels, more accurate medical imaging and better night vision goggles.

The material is described in a new paper in Nature Chemistry.

“This process gives us a whole new way of designing materials,” said Sean Roberts, an associate professor of chemistry at UT Austin. “It allows us to take two extremely different substances, silicon and , and bond them strongly enough to create not just a mixture, but an entirely new hybrid material with properties that are completely distinct from each of the two components.”

Jun 9, 2023

No A/C? No problem, if buildings copy networked tunnels of termite mounds

Posted by in categories: climatology, solar power, sustainability

The mounds that certain species of termites build above their nests have long been considered to be a kind of built-in natural climate control—an approach that has intrigued architects and engineers keen to design greener, more energy-efficient buildings mimicking those principles. There have been decades of research devoted to modeling just how these mounds function. A new paper published in the journal Frontiers in Materials offers new evidence favoring an integrated-system model in which the mound, the nest, and its tunnels function together much like a lung.

Perhaps the most famous example of the influence of termite mounds in architecture is the Eastgate Building in Harare, Zimbabwe. It is the country’s largest commercial and shopping complex, and yet it uses less than 10 percent of the energy consumed by a conventional building of its size because there is no central air conditioning and only a minimal heating system. Architect Mick Pearce famously based his design in the 1990s on the cooling and heating principles used in the region’s termite mounds, which serve as fungus farms for the termites. Fungus is their primary food source.

Conditions have to be just right for the fungus to flourish. So the termites must maintain a constant temperature of 87° F in an environment where the outdoor temperatures range from 35° F at night to 104° F during the day. Biologists have long suggested that they do this by constructing a series of heating and cooling vents throughout their mounds, which can be opened and closed during the day to keep the temperature inside constant. The Eastgate Building relies on a similar system of well-placed vents and solar panels.

Jun 9, 2023

Solar panel breakthrough paves way for ‘utility-scale’ space farms

Posted by in categories: food, satellites, solar power, sustainability

The ability to produce more electricity per weight compared to traditional silicon solar cells makes them highly suitable for sending into space to harvest the Sun’s energy, according to the researchers.

“High specific power is actually one of the greatest goals of any space-based light harvesting or energy harvesting technology,” said Deep Jariwala from the University of Pennsylvania.

“This is not just important for satellites or space stations, but also if you want real utility-scale solar power in space. The number of [silicon] solar cells you would have to ship up is so large that no space vehicles currently can take those kinds of materials up there in an economically viable way.”

Jun 7, 2023

New Satellite Successfully Beams Power From Space

Posted by in categories: computing, satellites, solar power, sustainability

Solar power is the fastest-growing form of renewable energy and currently accounts for 3.6% of global electricity production today. This makes it the third largest source of the renewable energy market, followed by hydroelectric power and wind. These three methods are expected to grow exponentially in the coming decades, reaching 40% by 2035 and 45% by 2050. Altogether, renewables are expected to account for 90% of the energy market by mid-century, with solar accounting for roughly half. However, several technical challenges and issues need to be overcome for this transition to occur.

The main limiting factor for solar power is intermittency, meaning it can only collect power when sufficient sunlight is available. To address this, scientists have spent decades researching space-based solar power (SBSP), where satellites in orbit would collect power 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without interruption. To develop the technology, researchers with the Space Solar Power Project (SSPP) at Caltech recently completed the first successful wireless power transfer using the Microwave Array for Power-transfer Low-orbit Experiment (MAPLE).

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Jun 7, 2023

Revolutionary 3D Printing Technology a “Game Changer” for Discovering and Manufacturing New Materials

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, computing, nanotechnology, solar power, sustainability

A novel 3D printing method called high-throughput combinatorial printing (HTCP) has been created that significantly accelerates the discovery and production of new materials.

The process involves mixing multiple aerosolized nanomaterial inks during printing, which allows for fine control over the printed materials’ architecture and local compositions. This method produces materials with gradient compositions and properties and can be applied to a wide range of substances including metals, semiconductors.

Semiconductors are a type of material that has electrical conductivity between that of a conductor (such as copper) and an insulator (such as rubber). Semiconductors are used in a wide range of electronic devices, including transistors, diodes, solar cells, and integrated circuits. The electrical conductivity of a semiconductor can be controlled by adding impurities to the material through a process called doping. Silicon is the most widely used material for semiconductor devices, but other materials such as gallium arsenide and indium phosphide are also used in certain applications.

Jun 4, 2023

Scientists Successfully Transmit Space-Based Solar Power to Earth for the First Time

Posted by in categories: solar power, space, sustainability

Caltech’s recent breakthrough has moved us closer to achieving the transformative potential of space-based solar power.

Jun 4, 2023

Perovskite Sensor Array Emulates Human Retina For Panchromatic Imaging

Posted by in categories: biological, information science, life extension, robotics/AI, solar power, sustainability

The mammalian retina is a complex system consisting out of cones (for color) and rods (for peripheral monochrome) that provide the raw image data which is then processed into successive layers of neurons before this preprocessed data is sent via the optical nerve to the brain’s visual cortex. In order to emulate this system as closely as possible, researchers at Penn State University have created a system that uses perovskite (methylammonium lead bromide, MAPbX3) RGB photodetectors and a neuromorphic processing algorithm that performs similar processing as the biological retina.

Panchromatic imaging is defined as being ‘sensitive to light of all colors in the visible spectrum’, which in imaging means enhancing the monochromatic (e.g. RGB) channels using panchromatic (intensity, not frequency) data. For the retina this means that the incoming light is not merely used to determine the separate colors, but also the intensity, which is what underlies the wide dynamic range of the Mark I eyeball. In this experiment, layers of these MAPbX3 (X being Cl, Br, I or combination thereof) perovskites formed stacked RGB sensors.

The output of these sensor layers was then processed in a pretrained convolutional neural network, to generate the final, panchromatic image which could then be used for a wide range of purposes. Some applications noted by the researchers include new types of digital cameras, as well as artificial retinas, limited mostly by how well the perovskite layers scale in resolution, and their longevity, which is a long-standing issue with perovskites. Another possibility raised is that of powering at least part of the system using the energy collected by the perovskite layers, akin to proposed perovskite-based solar panels.

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