Archive for the ‘sustainability’ category: Page 386

Jan 10, 2017

2D materials enhance a 3D world

Posted by in categories: particle physics, solar power, sustainability

In the past decade, two-dimensional, 2D, materials have captured the fascination of a steadily increasing number of scientists. These materials, whose defining feature is having a thickness of only one to very few atoms, can be made of a variety of different elements or combinations thereof. Scientists’ enchantment with 2D materials began with Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov’s Nobel Prize winning experiment: creating a 2D material using a lump of graphite and common adhesive tape. This ingeniously simple experiment yielded an incredible material: graphene. This ultra-light material is roughly 200 times stronger than steel and is a superb conductor. Once scientists discovered that graphene had more impressive properties than its bulk component graphite, they decided to investigate other 2D materials to see if this was a universal property.

Christopher Petoukhoff, a Rutgers University graduate student working in the Femtosecond Spectroscopy Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), studies a 2D material, made of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2). His research focuses on the 2D material’s optoelectronic applications, or how the material can detect and absorb light. Optoelectronics are ubiquitous in today’s world, from the photodetectors in automatic doors and hand dryers, to solar cells, to LED lights, but as anyone who has stood in front of an automatic sink desperately waving their hands around to get it to work will tell you, there is plenty of room for improvement. The 2D MoS2 is particularly interesting for use in photodetectors because of its capability of absorbing the same amount of light as 50nm of the currently used silicon-based technologies, while being 70 times thinner.

Petoukhoff, under the supervision of Professor Keshav Dani, seeks to improve optoelectronic devices by adding a 2D layer of MoS2 to an organic semiconductor, which has similar absorption strengths as MoS2. The theory behind using both materials is that the interaction between the MoS2 layer and the organic semiconductor should lead to efficient charge transfer. Petoukhoff’s research, published in ACS Nano, demonstrates for the first time that charge transfer between these two layers occurs at an ultra-fast timescale, on the order of less than 100 femtoseconds, or one tenth of one millionth of one millionth of a second.

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Jan 10, 2017

Scotland smashed two wind power records in December

Posted by in category: sustainability

Wind turbines in Scotland generated power equivalent to all its electricity needs for four straight days, between December 23 and 26, new analysis from WWF Scotland has shown.

Furthermore, on December 24, 74,042 megawatt hours of electricity generated from wind power was sent to the National Grid, a record.

With electricity demand on Christmas Eve 56,089 megawatt hours, WWF Scotland noted that wind turbines generated the “equivalent of 132 percent of Scotland’s total electricity needs that day.” The environmental group’s figures come from analysis of data provided by WeatherEnergy.

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Jan 9, 2017

Nano Ganesh: How mobile phone tech helped 400,000 Maharashtra farmers water plants remotely

Posted by in categories: food, mobile phones, sustainability

If SANTOSH Ostwal and his wife, Rajashree Otswal, were to calculate the number of electricity units saved or the amount of water conserved in terms of money, thanks to their invention, it would be enough to set up a small power plant or building a small dam. The end to a farmer’s daily drudgery and sleepless nights, though, is hard to convert into currency. But then money is something the Ostwal couple have not seen much of in their long journey of taking technology to the farms.

Much before information and communication technology (ICT) for agriculture and rural development became buzzwords and ‘e’ got hyphenated to everything, the Ostwals, both engineers, ventured into wireless irrigation and mobile-to-mobile (M2M) communication systems for agriculture. A remotely controlled pump using the mobile phone and combing it with some clever electronics was the innovation that has made the lives of farmers easier.

The Ostwals’ invention has impacted the lives of four lakh farmers with 50,000 installations in the last 12 years. A smart and affordable device, Nano Ganesh, saves farmers from making treacherous trips in pitch dark to their farms at midnight to access their water pumps and operate them, a daily reality, especially with erratic power supply. When the tired farmer fails to go out and switch off the water pump, there’s wastage of water and electricity. In addition, the excess water damages the soil and crop, hurting them further. If that is not enough, there is the theft of water pumps and cables to be dealt with. These are the problems that the couple set to solve.

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Jan 8, 2017

The Message of Thomas Friedman’s New Book: It’s Going to Be O.K

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, education, law, sustainability

Friedman argues that man is actually a fairly adaptable creature. The problem is that our capacity to adapt is being outpaced by a “supernova,” built from three ever faster things: technology, the market and climate change.

Man has sped up his own response times. It now takes us only 10–15 years to get used to the sort of technological changes that we used to absorb in a couple of generations; but what good is that when technology becomes obsolete every five to seven years? The supernova is making a joke of both patent law and education. Governments, companies and individuals are all struggling to keep up.

Friedman’s main cause for optimism is based on a trip back to St. Louis Park, the Minneapolis suburb where he grew up. This is perhaps the most elegiac, memorable part of the book — a piece of sustained reportage that ranks alongside “From Beirut to Jerusalem,” Friedman’s masterly first book about the Middle East. He points out that the same communal virtues that made Minnesota work when he was young have survived — and are still useful. But somehow, the passages that lingered with this reader were the ones about the good old days that have disappeared — when baseball used to be a sport that everybody could afford to watch, when local boys like the young Friedman could caddy at the United States Open, when everybody in Friedman’s town went to public schools.

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Jan 7, 2017

‘New York 2140’ Is a Sci-Fi Vision of the World Reshaped

Posted by in categories: climatology, economics, sustainability

If a trip to Venice is your ideal holiday, then you’re going to love the future.


Most of us, however, will be quite sobered by Kim Stanley Robinson’s upcoming novel, New York 2140, a near-future projection of a world reshaped by climate change. Sea level has risen by 50 feet, flooding the Big Apple and countless coastal cities around the planet. Thousands of species have gone extinct.

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Jan 4, 2017

These Futurists And Urban Farmers Are Figuring Out How To Farm On Mars

Posted by in categories: food, space, sustainability

The Mars Farm Odyssey group is thinking of non-NASA-approved solutions for making sure our colonists on the red planet have food (and weed).

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Jan 4, 2017

Costa Rica Went 250 Days in 2016 Without Burning Any Fossil Fuels

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability

READ THAT. It can be done.

A round of applause for Costa Rica: the small Central American country ran solely on renewable energy for 250 days of 2016, and over the whole year used renewables for 98.12 percent of its electricity needs.

The republic uses a mixture of renewable sources to generate its electricity including hydro, geothermal, wind, biomass, and solar energy, which meant it didn’t need to touch fossil fuels for two-thirds of the year.

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Jan 4, 2017

Germany has so much renewable energy that people are being paid to consume electricity

Posted by in categories: energy, sustainability

Germany had so much renewable energy last week that customers were briefly being paid to consume electricity, it has been reported.

As spotted by Quartz, who cite data from German think tank Agora Energiewende, fair weather and high winds on Sunday 8 May saw wind, solar and hydroelectric power plants producing 54.6GW of power, roughly 80 per cent of the 68.4GW of power being consumed across the country at that time.

As a result, the price of power plummeted, and went negative from 7AM to 5PM, bottoming out at -€130 per MWh at 1PM. Energy providers were essentially being paid by producers to take the electricity off their hands.

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Jan 3, 2017

Tomorrows’s mobility ELECTRIC

Posted by in category: sustainability

Convinced by the awesome performance of electric motor technology Kreisel Electric is developing various projects for aerospace, marine, road and terrain.

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Dec 31, 2016

Solar Panels Now So Cheap Manufacturers Probably Selling at Loss

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability

Solar manufacturers led by China’s Trina Solar Ltd. are probably selling at a loss after prices fell to a record low this week.

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