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MIT scientists have developed new battery technology that lets you fill a battery with goo instead of throwing it away or recharging it when it’s drained.
The black goo, called Cambridge sludge, works just like a normal battery. The goo is a liquid suspension that has charged particles and flows like quicksand. There is a positive suspension on one side and a negative suspension on the other. A current is generated when the charge moves from one goo to another through a thin membrane.
Link and words via Gizmodo.
..is the provocative title of another interesting talk from 27c3. It does a great job breaking down a lot of the problems we’re facing and, while I don’t agree with all the conclusions and suggestions, there’s definitely some pragmatic ideas in there that are food for thought. It does get very technical in a few places, but don’t let that dissuade you.
Background Material – it’s hard to go past Jared Diamond’s book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. There’s a condensed version in his Long Now talk or an even further condensed version in his TED Talk.
Further reading – John Robb’s blog Global Guerrillas, in particular his posts on: Resilient Communities, decentralized platforms, and self-organizing futures.
Lastly, the title says it all: Cities and Resilience: The Year Climate Started Hurting Politicians.
Like a lot of green technologies, one of the major issues with solar panels is that they are expensive. But a team of researchers from the University of Oxford may have stumbled upon a way to make solar cells much less expensive.
And they found the answer in a tube of toothpaste.
The team discovered that a metal oxide commonly found in toothpaste can be combined with a special dye and imprinted onto glass, making an instant solar cell. The glass can be created in a variety of colors, and the creators say that it has a great deal of potential.
“It opens up a lot of versatility and a lot of possibilities for building design,” Dr Henry Snaith told the BBC, though he admitted that it’ll take some time before the solar glass will be a commercially viable product.
“Coupled with our extremely low cost of manufacture and processing and the ongoing research effort to improve the overall performance of the device, we think it’s only a short while till our performance will be competitive.”
Paper batteries are not a new creation — many scientists are working on creating transistors out of the material — but CENIMAT has taken the concept a step further with a battery that gets its energy from water through hydrogen and oxygen electrolysis.
The battery can also absorb water vapors from the atmosphere. Apparently if the air has just 40 percent humidity, it is enough for the battery to recharge itself. The faculty’s scientists hope that the technology will benefit in the production of tablets, mobile phones and medical devices
As more cities are devastated (Brisbane alone is looking at a price tag in the billions after last week’s floods) one thing’s for sure; just rebuilding what was there before won’t be enough. And if billions are to be spent, it should be on structures armored against heavy weather.
This design seems like a good place to start (if malls and hotels are your thing, that is..)
Designed as “an integrated energy system with an uninterruptible power supply using alternative energy sources”, the slinky-like Ark Hotel uses solar panels and a rainwater collection system to provide inhabitants with power and water.
The dome-shaped hotel is constructed with wooden arches, steel cables and a “self-cleaning” plastic layer instead of glass.
Further, the 14,000 square metre shell-like construction of arches and cables distributes the weight evenly, meaning it can withstand earthquakes
It has also been designed to stay afloat in the event of floods or rising seas.
It would be built around a central pillar connecting to roof-top wind generators and heat pumps, as well as to energy storage and thermal conversion units below.
There will also be a “tornado” energy generating spiral at the top of the pillar.
Daylight is filtered through to internal rooms due to the hotel’s see-through structure, reducing the need for lighting.
There will be an array of vegetation to aid air quality and provide food sources.
The University of Cambridge has developed a low cost organic solar cell that has the potential to transform solar production. This new material is made of organic plastic and could be used on awnings, umbrellas and other plastic devices to generate energy.
By placing organic polymers (long chains of carbon-based molecules) in plastic you create an organic photovoltaic cell, that until now have not had much commercial success. With an operating principle similar to photosynthesis in green plants, organic photovoltaic cells are cheap to produce when compared to silicon solar cells, but have quite a low efficiency. This is something which the University of Cambridge is aiming to change.
The university team has reportedly come up with a commercial model that combines efficiency improvements, a longer lifespan, low-cost (and low-toxicity) raw materials, a cost-effective manufacturing process, and a product line that focuses on economies of scale and ease of installation. If this can be done, then cheaply produced solar cells have the ability to transform poorer countries and their energy demands.
This is what Futurism looks like today; not rabid predictions of jetpacks and flying cars, but sane, measured statements that pick up recent trends and forecast their result.
Currently in the prototype stage, from medgadget.com:
Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed tiny generators that can produce enough electricity from random, ambient vibrations to power a wristwatch, pacemaker or wireless sensor. In humans, these vibrations could come from moving muscles or limbs. The generators have demonstrated that they can produce up to 500 microwatts from typical vibration amplitudes found on the human body. That’s more than enough energy to run a wristwatch, which needs between 1 and 10 microwatts, or a pacemaker, which needs between 10 and 50.
If reality was a science-fiction novel, the prologue for the one starting today would include this text:
Masahiro Hotta at Tohoku University in Japan has come up with a much more exotic idea. Why not use the same quantum principles to teleport energy?
Today, building on a number of papers published in the last year, Hotta outlines his idea and its implications. The process of teleportation involves making a measurement on each one an entangled pair of particles. He points out that the measurement on the first particle injects quantum energy into the system. He then shows that by carefully choosing the measurement to do on the second particle, it is possible to extract the original energy.
All this is possible because there are always quantum fluctuations in the energy of any particle. The teleportation process allows you to inject quantum energy at one point in the universe and then exploit quantum energy fluctuations to extract it from another point. Of course, the energy of the system as whole is unchanged.
He gives the example of a string of entangled ions oscillating back and forth in an electric field trap, a bit like Newton’s balls. Measuring the state of the first ion injects energy into the system in the form of a phonon, a quantum of oscillation. Hotta says that performing the right kind of measurement on the last ion extracts this energy. Since this can be done at the speed of light (in principle), the phonon doesn’t travel across the intermediate ions so there is no heating of these ions. The energy has been transmitted without traveling across the intervening space. That’s teleportation.
Chapter One would be the construction of giant solar panels in space. The world would transition away from not just coal, but nuclear power too. We’d have a reason, nay be compelled to build a giant space fleet, setting up relay stations and outposts at first the Moon, then in orbit around Venus and Mercury.
Chapter Two would be the creation of a fleet powered by this very energy, having the power of the sun beamed straight into the star drives.
Chapter Three.. well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Crazy, I know. But a guy can only hope for the best, right?!
Thinner than hair, but won’t be availible until 2020:
Sanyo is in the news today, and again it’s about the company’s green tech power. The company today announced [JP] it will do everything to become Japan’s top player in the domestic solar industry by 2012 and eventually one of the top three solar companies on a global level. At the same time, the Nikkei reports [registration required, paid subscription] that Sanyo has succeeded in developing a solar cell that’s thinner than a human hair.
The company says it will benefit greatly from a new feed-in tariff program by the Japanese government introduced this month for green energy firms. Another factor for Sanyo’s self-confidence should be the speed with which it innovates. Their new prototype solar cell is just 58 micrometers thick, about one-fourth of most solar cells currently out there. (Sorry, there’s no picture available yet)
It’s made of two types of silicon whose structure Sanyo optimized to achieve a conversion efficiency of 22%. It’s said to be as bendable as paper, meaning it can be used for a variety of purposes, for example on uneven surfaces.
Sanyo says this technology might help reduce prices by as much as 25% when compared to solar cells available today. The company wants to commercialize the solar cells by 2020.
From the BBC:
A giant “digital cloud” that would “float” above London’s skyline has been outlined by an international team of architects, artists and engineers.
The construction would include 120m- (400ft-) tall mesh towers and a series of interconnected plastic bubbles that can be used to display images and data.
The Cloud, as it is known, would also be used an observation deck and park.
Its designers plan to raise the funds to build it by asking for micro-donations from millions of people.
“It’s really about people coming together to raise the Cloud,” Carlo Ratti, one of the architects behind the design from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) told BBC News.
“We can build our Cloud with £5m or £50m. The flexibility of the structural system will allow us to tune the size of the Cloud to the level of funding that is reached.”
The different spheres would act as structural elements, habitable spaces, decoration and LCD screens on which data could be projected.
“We could provide a custom feed of… searches made by Londoners during the Olympics to give a real time ‘barometer’ of the city’s interests and mood,” said Google, one of the supporters of the project, which has also offered to provide the information feeds.
The structure would also be used to harvest all the energy it produces according to Professor Ratti.
“It would be a zero power cloud,” he said.
As well as solar cells on the ground and inside some of the spheres, the lifts would use regenerative braking, similar to that in some hybrid cars.
That way, the designers say, potential energy from visitors to the top of the tower can be harnessed into useful electricity.
The first Solar Sail spacecraft met an untimely end, crashing into the ocean instead of making it into orbit. But now, in 2010, a new, improved version of that craft–an entire spaceship that’s propelled only by the sun’s rays–is set to launch. And scientists will be see if this unique spaceship will become the prototype for long term interstellar travel.
Some scientists believe that such solar sail technology holds the key to long term exploratory spaceflight, according to the Associated Press.The solar sail spacecraft are designed to be propelled by accumulating photons, not solar winds, and though slow-moving at first, would eventually be able to reach tremendous speeds. And that’s right–it’s zero emissions space travel.
The new craft, called the LightSail-1, will actually hopefully be the first of a series of three similar solar-sailed spacecrafts created by the Planetary Society–the space advocacy organization founded by none other than Carl Sagan.
Planetary Society describes the first of the three missions, which it hopes will launch in December of next year, as follows: “Our first solar sail will lay the foundation for the whole LightSail program by demonstrating controlled flight with only the pressure of solar photons bouncing off the sail.”
Design artist Mike Thompson has developed a one time use lamp that works by a flourescent reaction between human blood and an active chemical component dissolved in water.
Words and photo via medgadget.com. Interesting way to get light, emergency or otherwise.
The outer shells of the Photobioreactors are fiber-composite monocoque construction, pleated for stiffness. The Photobioreactors contain colonies of algae that require CO2 and light at the front end and generate hydrogen or biofuel at the other end. The system is based on the technology developed by OriginOil which that allows for continued operation in shade and also in complete darkness through the use of a helix of lights inside each algae coil.
We never got our hologram future, but this seems to be the closest thing. I’m not sure what problem this is trying to solve, but it’s pretty damn cool.
From Mother Nature Network:
Samsung just released the prototype of its new flexible OLED thin film video passport. The passport contains a small “video” (really a series of images) that simulates a 360 view of the passport holder’s head. The moving image is displayed on a thin film page that contains an active matrix of pixels, each of which are independently controlled by an energy source.
In this case that energy source is simply radio frequencies. There are no batteries or cables involved. Moving the passport closer to a tuned radio source lights up the video of the passport holder.
thanks for the tip-off aboniks!
New Scientist brings us the work of UK-based designers James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau. They believe that “if robots are ever to be welcomed into people’s homes, they’ll need to fit in with the rest of the furniture, and earn their keep”.
This lampshade is just one of their designs.
Insects are lured into the shade by ultraviolet lights – which are lit only at night – and become trapped.
Trapped insects eventually fall into the fuel cell below.
This generates electricity to power the ultraviolet LEDs, which can then switch on to trap more flies when the house lights are off.
Keep reading for more such interesting designs.