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Archive for the ‘sustainability’ category

Apr 18, 2018

China fights big smog with big air purifier

Posted by in categories: environmental, sustainability

China has a found a novel way to tackle its massive air pollution problem: Putting up a giant air purifier the size of an industrial smokestack in the middle of a smog-plagued city.

Instead of pumping out billows of black smoke like the chimneys rising from factories in the northern province of Shaanxi, the 60-meter (197-foot) tall structure on the outskirts of the regional capital Xian blasts .

Standing between high-rises, the device is capable of cleaning between five million and 18 million cubic meters of air each day, depending on the weather, season, and level of pollution, according to a report by the Chinese website Thecover.cn.

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Apr 17, 2018

What Will the Automated City of the Future Look Like?

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, drones, food, health, robotics/AI, sustainability

Many large cities (Seoul, Tokyo, Shenzhen, Singapore, Dubai, London, San Francisco) serve as test beds for autonomous vehicle trials in a competitive race to develop “self-driving” cars. Automated ports and warehouses are also increasingly automated and robotized. Testing of delivery robots and drones is gathering pace beyond the warehouse gates. Automated control systems are monitoring, regulating and optimizing traffic flows. Automated vertical farms are innovating production of food in “non-agricultural” urban areas around the world. New mobile health technologies carry promise of healthcare “beyond the hospital.” Social robots in many guises – from police officers to restaurant waiters – are appearing in urban public and commercial spaces.


Tokyo, Singapore and Dubai are becoming prototype ‘robot cities,’ as governments start to see automation as the key to urban living.

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Apr 16, 2018

Psst! A whispering gallery for light boosts solar cells

Posted by in categories: nanotechnology, solar power, sustainability

Trapping light with an optical version of a whispering gallery, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a nanoscale coating for solar cells that enables them to absorb about 20 percent more sunlight than uncoated devices. The coating, applied with a technique that could be incorporated into manufacturing, opens a new path for developing low-cost, high-efficiency solar cells with abundant, renewable and environmentally friendly materials.

The consists of thousands of tiny glass beads, only about one-hundredth the width of a human hair. When sunlight hits the coating, the waves are steered around the nanoscale bead, similar to the way sound waves travel around a curved wall such as the dome in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. At such curved structures, known as acoustic whispering galleries, a person standing near one part of the wall easily hears a faint sound originating at any other part of the wall.

Whispering galleries for light were developed about a decade ago, but researchers have only recently explored their use in solar-cell coatings. In the experimental set up devised by a team including Dongheon Ha of NIST and the University of Maryland’s NanoCenter, the light captured by the nanoresonator coating eventually leaks out and is absorbed by an underlying solar cell made of gallium arsenide.

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Apr 13, 2018

Using an algorithm to reduce energy bills—rain or shine

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

Researchers proposed implementing the residential energy scheduling algorithm by training three action dependent heuristic dynamic programming (ADHDP) networks, each one based on a weather type of sunny, partly cloudy, or cloudy. ADHDP networks are considered ‘smart,’ as their response can change based on different conditions.

“In the future, we expect to have various types of supplies to every household including the grid, windmills, and biogenerators. The issues here are the varying nature of these power sources, which do not generate electricity at a stable rate,” said Derong Liu, a professor with the School of Automation at the Guangdong University of Technology in China and an author on the paper. “For example, power generated from windmills and solar panels depends on the weather, and they vary a lot compared to the more stable power supplied by the grid. In order to improve these power sources, we need much smarter algorithms in managing/scheduling them.”

The details were published on the January 10th issue of IEEE/CAA Journal of Automatica Sinica, a joint bimonthly publication of the IEEE and the Chinese Association of Automation.

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Apr 12, 2018

World’s first electrified road for charging vehicles opens in Sweden

Posted by in categories: energy, sustainability, transportation

Stretch of road outside Stockholm transfers energy from two tracks of rail in the road, recharging the batteries of electric cars and trucks.

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Apr 10, 2018

The ESA Just Discovered a Second Magnetic Field Surrounding Our Planet

Posted by in categories: mapping, satellites, sustainability

A trio of satellites studying our planet’s magnetic field have shown details of the steady swell of a magnetic field produced by the ocean’s tides.

Four years of data collected by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Swarm mission have contributed to the mapping of this ‘other’ magnetic field, one that could help us build better models around global warming.

Physicist Nils Olsen from the Technical University of Denmark presented the surprising results at this year’s European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna, explaining how his team of researchers managed to detail such a faint signature.

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Apr 10, 2018

This imaging sensor is powered by sunlight

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability

A simultaneous imaging and energy harvesting sensor is in the news. Samuel Moore at IEEE Spectrum informed readers that a team of four from University of Michigan published their paper describing what they achieved. They built a prototype sensor, and what it does—-think of a future camera that just about watches you non-stop—is described in the journal, IEEE Electron Device Letters.

The article is titled “Simultaneous Imaging and Energy Harvesting in CMOS Image Sensor Pixels.” The four authors are from University of Michigan: Sung-Yun Park, Kyuseok Lee, Hyunsoo Song and Euisik Yoon.

Their technology “puts the equivalent of a solar cell under each pixel,” said IEEE Spectrum.

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Apr 10, 2018

Harnessing ‘Rashba spin-Seebeck effect’ phenomenon will enable commercial devices to turn waste heat into electricity

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

Mechanical engineers at the University of California, Riverside, have reported success in using inexpensive materials to produce thermoelectric devices that transform low-level waste heat into electricity.

Their advance could enable a wide variety of commercial applications. For example, integrating thermoelectric generating devices into computer chips could enable the they produce to provide a power source. Waste heat from automobile engines could run a car’s electronics and provide cooling. Photovoltaic solar cells could be made more efficient by harnessing the heat from sunlight striking them to generate more electricity.

Also, using the same basic technology, economical thermoelectric refrigerators could be produced that would be more energy efficient and with fewer moving parts than refrigerators that use compressors and coolant. Current thermoelectric refrigerators are expensive and relatively inefficient. In essence, they operate in reverse of , with an electric current applied to generate a temperature gradient that could be used in cooling.

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Apr 9, 2018

The ‘new’ battery that may be vital for a zero carbon future

Posted by in categories: energy, sustainability

Researchers have made a potentially vital breakthrough in the search for renewable energy storage.

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Apr 8, 2018

Counting down the 10 most important robots in history

Posted by in categories: food, habitats, robotics/AI, sustainability

From research labs to factories, farms, and even our own homes, robots are everywhere these days. But which are the most important robots ever built? We decided to welcome our new robot overlords with just such a list. Read on to discover which robots we owe a debt of a gratitude for their part in turning science fiction into, well, science.

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