Archive for the ‘energy’ category: Page 204

Sep 21, 2015

‘Cool-Burning’ Space Flames Could Make Greener Cars

Posted by in categories: energy, space, transportation

Astronauts typically try to avoid starting fires in space, but new research on the behavior of flames in orbit could have benefits closer to home. In fact, this fiery research could lead to more-efficient car engines that contribute less pollution to the environment, according to a new study.

A series of experiments aboard the orbiting complex is investigating “cool-burning” flames in space — a type of fire that burns at lower temperatures than ordinary flames on Earth. Blazes on this planet typically burn at between 2,240 degrees and 3,140 degrees Fahrenheit (1,225 degrees and 1,725 degrees Celsius). Cooler flames produced in microgravity burn at temperatures of between 440 degrees and 980 degrees Fahrenheit (227 degrees and 527 degrees Celsius).

In the space station experiments, researchers ignited droplets of heptane fuel. These types of fires are possible on Earth, but they are typically short-lived, flickering out almost immediately, the researchers said. In microgravity, though, the flames burned for several minutes. [7 Everyday Things that Happen Strangely In Space].

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Sep 21, 2015

Laser ‘Lightning rods’ channel electricity through thin air

Posted by in category: energy

By zapping the air with a pair of powerful laser bursts, researchers at the University of Arizona have created highly focused pathways that can channel electricity through the atmosphere.

The new technique can potentially direct an electrical discharge up to 10 meters (33 feet) away or more, shattering previous distance records for transmitting through . It also raises the intriguing possibility of one day channeling lightning with laser power.

Described in a paper published in The Optical Society’s new open-access journal Optica, the current system may have near-term, lifesaving applications in areas such as the remote detonation of land mines, the researchers speculate. The laser system could easily pinpoint an active land mine and then carry an electric pulse strong enough to safely discharge harmful explosives from afar.

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Sep 21, 2015

Kickstarter campaign bringing magnetic charging to iPhone

Posted by in categories: energy, mobile phones

If you’ve got an iPhone, there is a good chance you also have a MacBook. The MagSafe charger on Apple’s laptop offerings is easy to use, leading some to want an iPhone with the same functionality. A recently funded Kickstarter is attempting to bring it to us, and even slaps in a battery pack for good measure.

The draw for Cabin is twofold: the magnetic charging, and the battery pack. The battery pack slips onto the rear of the device, much like we see with the Case+ lineup from Logitech. Aluminum, Cabin is relying on your sensitivity to style for the battery pack. At 2200mAh, it’ll charge you up more than once, too.

The magnetic charging is a bit more adapter than anything else. By taking a lightning connector and working a pinned magnetic charger on the end, we get simple, easy, and (hopefully) effective charging. What you won’t be able to do is use your MacBook charger. Cabin includes a Lightning adapter and dock (if you spend a touch more), though.

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Sep 21, 2015

Here’s why your phone and laptop batteries degrade so fast

Posted by in categories: energy, mobile phones, transportation

Researchers in the US have identified the two main culprits in rechargeable battery degradation, which could lead to longer-lasting phone, laptop and electric car batteries.

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Sep 21, 2015

BMW and Mercedes team on wireless car charging

Posted by in categories: energy, transportation

BMW and Mercedes-Benz are teaming up on wireless car charging, pushing a super-efficient way of refueling EVs like the BMW i8 and the Mercedes S500 Plug-In Hybrid simply by parking over a certain spot on your driveway. The system, which the two German marques hope to get accepted as the de-facto standard for wireless car recharging, promises a cut in charge times without the hassle of having to regularly plug in: BMW says the batteries in its i8 supercar, for instance, can be topped up in under two hours.

As with other such systems we’ve seen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW use a pair of coils to transmit power wirelessly. A primary coil is mounted in a floor plate, and connects with a secondary coil in the vehicle floor: an alternating magnetic field is created by the former and tracked by the latter.

However, the new system uses a circular coil which the two companies claim makes for a more productive magnetic field, with more than 90-percent efficiency. The charging rate is initially 3.6 kW, but could be ramped up to as much as 7 kW, in preparation for the next generation of higher-powered EV drivetrains car firms envisage.

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Sep 21, 2015

Sand-based batteries could soon power your mobile phone

Posted by in categories: energy, materials, mobile phones

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside in the US have developed lithium-ion batteries that substitute graphite with silicon extracted from sand and last three times longer than current products.

The negative side of lithium-ion batteries, or anode, is made with graphite, and scientists have been trying to find a substitute material that could make batteries last longer. One of the options is silicon, which can store up to 10 times more energy than current materials, but it’s expensive and hard to produce in large quantities.

But then a very simple but brilliant option revealed itself to graduate student Zachary Favors. As Gizmag reports, Favors was relaxing after surfing when he noticed something quite special: sand. Sand is made of quartz, or silicon dioxide, and other materials, so Favors thought he could extract the silicon and use it to make batteries.

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Sep 20, 2015

For more innovative ideas, visit our website at

Posted by in categories: energy, engineering


The Engineering Buddies Team

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Sep 18, 2015

Tesla’s Powerwall home battery is coming to Australia in 2015

Posted by in categories: business, energy, transportation

The Powerwall, a rechargeable lithium ion home battery from the makers of the Tesla Model S car, will be on sale in Australia by the end of the year.

Powerwall will be available in Australia in late 2015 through a variety of Tesla Energy partners who are yet to be announced, Business Insider reported.

See also: All hail Apple’s new iOS 9 font, San Francisco.

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Sep 14, 2015

World’s first all-electric propulsion satellite goes on line

Posted by in categories: energy, space travel

Boeing has announced that the first satellite with all-electric propulsion is now fully operational. Launched last March, the ABS-3A 702SP (small platform) satellite was formally handed over to its owner, Bermuda-based telecommunications company ABS, on August 31. It will provide communications services to the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

ABS-3A launched on March 1 atop a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX’s Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida along with EUTELSAT 115 West B. The geosynchronous comsat’s key technology is its Xenon Ion Propulsion System (XIPS). Previously, hybrid systems that use a mix of chemical and ion propellants have been sent into orbit, but this is the first time a satellite has been deployed with an all-electric drive.

Boeing says that the technology is based on 210,000 hours of ion propulsion flight experience and is 10 times more efficient than liquid-fueled rockets. Four 25-cm (9.8-in) thrusters using xenon as a propellant allow the 702SP satellite to maintain stationkeeping while using only 5 kg (11 lb) of fuel per year. This is a great saving because the satellite needs less fuel and smaller thrusters, which reduces launch costs.

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Sep 13, 2015

3D Printed Solar Cells Could Provide 1.3 Billion People with Electricity

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

Solar power has been gaining more and more popularity worldwide since the efficiency of solar panels has significantly increased during the recent years, along with the dramatic decrease in the costs. However, its popularity is not only due its affordability to a wider audience but also to the growing awareness about the benefits of clean sources of energy. Yet, the costs of transportation and production often make it extremely difficult to implement solar technology in developing countries. Printed solar cells could offer a solution to this problem.

Thanks to the advances in printed solar cell technology during the past few years, its energy efficiency has increased from 3% to 20%.

Its success is due to its cost-effectiveness and simplicity. A 10×10 cm solar cell film is enough to generate as much as 10–50 watts per square meter,” said Scott Watkins from the Korean company Kyung-In Synthetic.

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