Archive for the ‘energy’ category: Page 147

May 27, 2021

Scientists unravel noise-assisted signal amplification in systems with memory

Posted by in categories: energy, media & arts, physics

Signals can be amplified by an optimum amount of noise, but stochastic resonance is a fragile phenomenon. Researchers at AMOLF were the first to investigate the role of memory for this phenomenon in an oil-filled optical microcavity. The effects of slow non-linearity (i.e. memory) on stochastic resonance were never considered before, but these experiments suggest that stochastic resonance becomes robust to variations in the signal frequency when systems have memory. This has implications in many fields of physics and energy technology. In particular, the scientists numerically show that introducing slow nonlinearity in a mechanical oscillator harvesting energy from noise can increase its efficiency tenfold. They have published their findings in Physical Review Letters on May 27th.

It is not easy to concentrate on a difficult task when two people are having a loud discussion right next to you. However, complete silence is often not the best alternative. Whether it is some soft music, remote traffic or the hum of people chatting in the distance, for many people, an optimum amount of noise enables them to concentrate better. “This is the human equivalent of stochastic ,” says AMOLF group leader Said Rodriguez. “In our scientific labs, stochastic resonance happens in nonlinear systems that are bistable. This means that, for a given input, the output can switch between two possible values. When the input is a periodic signal, the response of a non-linear system can be amplified by an optimum amount of noise using the stochastic resonance condition.”

May 25, 2021

Europa May Have Seafloor Volcanoes That Could Spawn Life, Says NASA

Posted by in categories: chemistry, energy, space

Paradoxically, Jupiter’s ice-covered moon of Europa may have seafloor volcanoes capable of generating enough chemical energy and heat to support life, says new paper.

May 25, 2021

Eternally five years away? No, batteries are improving under your nose

Posted by in categories: chemistry, energy, sustainability

Researchers have also long been chasing lithium-air batteries that could realize a huge jump in energy density. And beyond lithium, there are other entirely different chemistries in development out there. At some point, one of them should click for one application or another.

Lithium-ion or not, an explosion of grid-scale battery installations is coming as prices continue to fall. The nascent art of lithium-ion battery recycling is also sure to mature and expand, improving the sustainability of these batteries by recovering and resetting their chemical building blocks.

Adopt cold-fusion-like skepticism of any of these future-looking statements as you please, but today’s batteries aren’t those of 20 or even 10 years ago. The same thing is bound to be true in another 10 years—even if that progress doesn’t come in a single, giant leap with global fanfare.

May 22, 2021

Researchers create new zinc-air pouch cells

Posted by in categories: energy, materials

Zinc-air batteries (ZABs) are among the most promising next-generation battery technologies due to their many advantageous characteristics. Most notably, these batteries have unique half-open structures, a significant theoretical energy density (1086 and 1370 Wh kg−1 when including and excluding oxygen, respectively), flexible electrodes and an inherently aqueous electrolyte. Moreover, in contrast with other materials used in batteries, Zinc (Zn) is less harmful for the environment and more abundant.

Researchers at Hanyang University in South Korea recently designed a new type of zinc-air pouch cell that can outperform other commercially available battery technologies. These pouch cells, presented in a paper published in Nature Energy, use (101)-facet copper phosphosulfide [CPS(101)] as a cathode, anti-freezing chitosan-biocellulosics as super-ionic conductor electrolytes, and patterned Zn as the anode.

“Previous ZABs employing liquid (6 M KOH) electrolytes failed because of the sluggish kinetics for the oxygen reduction and evolution reactions (ORR/OER) and irreversibility of Zn accompanying the parasitic reactions over wide temperatures,” Jung-Ho Lee, one of the researchers who carried out the study, told Tech Xplore. “This feature inspired us to develop solid-state electrolytes, such as functionalized biocellulose, capable of transferring OH- ions effectively without parasitic reactions.”

May 20, 2021

Tiny single-piston hydrogen engine repackages internal combustion

Posted by in categories: energy, engineering, sustainability, transportation

Israel’s Aquarius Engines this week gave the world a first look at the tiny hydrogen engine it hopes can supplant gas engine-generators and hydrogen fuel cells in future electrified vehicles. Weighing just 22 lb (10 kg), the simple engine uses a single moving piston to develop power. Beyond vehicles, Aquarius is developing the engine for use as an off-grid micro-generator.

First created in 2014, Aquarius’ efficient single-piston linear engine has a single central cylinder in which the piston moves between two engine heads. In previous iterations, Aquarius used more conventional fossil fuels to create combustion, but now it’s turning attention to emissions-slashing hydrogen. The company says Austrian engineering firm AVL-Schrick recently completed third-party testing, verifying that a modified version of the engine can operate purely on hydrogen.

“It was always our dream at Aquarius Engines to breathe oxygen into hydrogen technology as the fuel of the future,” explains Aquarius chairman Gal Fridman. “From initial tests, it appears that our hydrogen engine, that doesn’t require costly hydrogen fuel-cells, could be the affordable, green and sustainable answer to the challenges faced by global transport and remote energy production.”

May 20, 2021

Novel concrete battery could let buildings store their own energy

Posted by in categories: energy, sustainability, transportation

One of the more interesting areas of battery research centers on how these devices can not just store energy, but also double as structural components. We’ve seen some impressive examples of this that could be worked into electric vehicles, and now scientists in Sweden have applied this type of thinking to big buildings, demonstrating a novel type of cement-based battery that could see large structures constructed from functional concrete.

The research was carried out at Chalmers University of Technology, where scientists were working on developing more sustainable building materials, with a particular focus on concrete. As the world’s most widely-used material and one that is very energy intensive to produce, we’re seeing a lot of research into how the carbon footprint of concrete could be reduced, and the authors of this new study have come up with an interesting potential solution.

Like regular concrete, it starts with a cement-based mixture, but one spiked with small amounts of short carbon fibers to add conductivity and flexural strength. Also incorporated into the mix are a pair of carbon fiber meshes, one coated in iron to act as the battery’s anode and the other coated in nickel to act as the cathode. As the battery’s two electrodes, these ferry electrons back and forward as the device is charged and discharged.

May 20, 2021

World’s first supercapacitor-hybrid electric motorcycle will get a chance to prove itself

Posted by in categories: energy, sustainability, transportation

Audacious French company Nawa showed off a concept bike in 2019, claiming its supercapacitor-hybrid battery pack could massively boost power and urban range for electric motorcycles. Now, it seems we’ll get a chance to see if the numbers stack up.

We’ve been following Nawa since 2018, when we first spoke to these guys about the potential benefits of using powerful ultracapacitors alongside energy-dense lithium batteries to extend the range and boost the peak power of electric vehicles.

Continue reading “World’s first supercapacitor-hybrid electric motorcycle will get a chance to prove itself” »

May 18, 2021

A Ghostly Solution: Strange Property of the Quantum Realm Enables Efficient Energy Harvesting in Tiny Device

Posted by in categories: energy, quantum physics

Scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder have tapped into a poltergeist-like property of electrons to design devices that can capture excess heat from their environment — and turn it into usable electricity.

The researchers have described their new “optical rectennas” in a paper published today (May 18, 2021) in the journal Nature Communications. These devices, which are too small to see with the naked eye, are roughly 100 times more efficient than similar tools used for energy harvesting. And they achieve that feat through a mysterious process called “resonant tunneling” — in which electrons pass through solid matter without spending any energy.

“They go in like ghosts,” said lead author Amina Belkadi, who recently earned her PhD from the Department of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering (ECEE).

May 14, 2021

Researchers trace path of light in photosynthesis

Posted by in categories: energy, food

Three billion years ago, light first zipped through chlorophyll within tiny reaction centers, the first step plants and photosynthetic bacteria take to convert light into food.

Heliobacteria, a type of bacteria that uses photosynthesis to generate energy, has reaction centers thought to be similar to those of the common ancestors for all photosynthetic organisms. Now, a University of Michigan team has determined the first steps in converting into energy for this bacterium.

“Our study highlights the different ways in which nature has made use of the basic reaction center architecture that emerged over 3 billion years ago,” said lead author and U-M physicist Jennifer Ogilvie. “We want to ultimately understand how energy moves through the system and ends up creating what we call the ‘charge-separated state.’ This state is the battery that drives the engine of photosynthesis.”

May 12, 2021

Gasoline Buying Fever Rages as Pipeline Company Begins Restart

Posted by in category: energy

While drivers scrambled for fuel, Colonial Pipeline said supplies would resume flowing from Texas to the East Coast in the coming days.