Zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell systems soon could be powering the forklifts used in warehouses and other industrial settings at lower costs and with faster refueling times than ever before, courtesy of a partnership between Sandia National Laboratories and Hawaii Hydrogen Carriers (HHC).
The goal of the project is to design a solid-state hydrogen storage system that can refuel at low pressure four to five times faster than it takes to charge a battery-powered forklift, giving hydrogen a competitive advantage over batteries for a big slice of the clean forklift market. The entire U.S. forklift market was nearly $33 billion in 2013, according to Pell Research.
Think of the pressure change you feel when an elevator zips you up multiple floors in a tall building. Imagine how you’d feel if that elevator carried you all the way up to the top of Mt. Everest — in the blink of an eye.
That’s similar to what many fish experience when they travel through the turbulent waters near a dam. For some, the change in pressure is simply too big, too fast and they die or are seriously injured. In an article in Fisheries, ecologists from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and colleagues from around the world explore ways to protect fish from the phenomenon, known as barotrauma.
Wearable computers or devices have been hailed as the next generation of mobile electronic gadgets, from smart watches, to smart glasses to smart pacemakers. For electronics to be worn by a user, they must be light, flexible and equipped with a power source, which could be a portable, long-lasting battery or no battery at all but a generator. How to supply power in a stable and reliable manner is one of the most critical issues to commercialize wearable devices.
A team of The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) researchers headed by Byung Cho, a professor of electrical engineering, proposed a solution to this problem by developing a glass fabric-based thermoelectric (TE) generator that is extremely light and flexible and produces electricity from the heat of the human body. In fact, it is so flexible that the allowable bending radius of the generator is as low as 20 mm. There are no changes in performance even if the generator bends upward and downward for up to 120 cycles.
Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate Univ.’s Energy Materials and Surface Sciences Unit has made a surprising discovery about the degradation of solar cells that could help pave the way to creating a longer lifetime for these cells. Key factors for creating cost-efficient solar cells to compete with conventional energy sources like fossil fuels include fabrication cost, efficiency and lifetime of the cells. Prof. Yabing Qi and members of his unit have investigated the cause of degradation of a high efficiency solar cell. This discovery, published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, can help move various forms of solar cell technology forward now that researchers know what is causing degradation and shortening the lifespan.
Saliva-powered micro-sized microbial fuel cells can produce minute amounts of energy sufficient to run on-chip applications, according to an international team of engineers.
Bruce Logan, Evan Pugh Professor and Kappe Professor of Environmental Engineering, Penn State, credits the idea to fellow researcher Justine Mink. “The idea was Justine’s because she was thinking about sensors for such things as glucose monitoring for diabetics and she wondered if a mini microbial fuel cell could be used,” Logan says. “There is a lot of organic stuff in saliva.”
New research has found that the trailblazing “perovskite” material used in solar cells can double up as a laser, strongly suggesting the astonishing efficiency levels already achieved in these cells is only part of the journey.
Wind Can Provide a Surplus of Reliable, Clean Energy
The worldwide demand for solar and wind power continues to skyrocket. Since 2009, global solar photovoltaic installations have increased about 40 percent a year on average, and the installed capacity of wind turbines has doubled.
The dramatic growth of the wind and solar industries has led utilities to begin testing large-scale technologies capable of storing surplus clean electricity and delivering it on demand when sunlight and wind are in short supply.
Now, a team of Stanford Univ. researchers has looked at the “energetic cost” of manufacturing batteries and other storage technologies for the electrical grid. At issue is whether renewable energy supplies, such as wind power and solar photovoltaics, produce enough energy to fuel both their own growth and the growth of the necessary energy storage industry.
Researchers are charged up about biobatteries, devices able to harness common biological processes to generate electricity. Most biobatteries are unable to generate large amounts of power, but researchers recently developed a prototype version that has the potential to be lighter and more powerful than the batteries typically found in today’s portable electronic devices, including smartphones.
In the body, sugar is converted into energy in a process called metabolism, which decomposes sugar into carbon dioxide and water while releasing electrons. Biobatteries produce energy though the same conversion process by capturing the electrons that are generated in the decomposition of sugar with the same tools that the body uses. Because biobatteries use materials that are biologically based, they are renewable and non-toxic, making them an attractive alternative to traditional batteries that need metals and chemicals to operate.
Nanoscale Pillars May Aid Conversion of Heat to Electricity
Univ. of Colorado Boulder scientists have found a creative way to radically improve thermoelectric materials, a finding that could one day lead to the development of improved solar panels, more energy-efficient cooling equipment and even the creation of new devices that could turn the vast amounts of heat wasted at power plants into more electricity.
The technique — building an array of tiny pillars on top of a sheet of thermoelectric material — represents an entirely new way of attacking a century-old problem, says Mahmoud Hussein, an assistant professor of aerospace engineering sciences who pioneered the discovery.
Longevity of Turbines Makes Wind Farms Sound Investment
Wind turbines can remain productive for up to 25 years, making wind farms a good long-term choice for energy investors, according to new research.
The UK has a target of generating 15 percent of the nation’s energy from renewable resources such as wind farms by 2020. There are currently 4,246 individual wind turbines in the UK across 531 wind farms, generating 7.5 percent of the nation’s electricity.
Scientists say they’ve taken a key step toward harnessing nuclear fusion as a new way to generate power, an idea that has been pursued for decades.
They are still a long way from that goal. The amount of energy they got out of their experimental apparatus was minuscule compared to what they put into it. Still, the new work reached some significant milestones along the path to a cleaner and cheaper source of electricity, the researchers and experts say.
A Kansas State Univ. engineer has made a breakthrough in rechargeable battery applications.
Gurpreet Singh, assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering, and his student researchers are the first to demonstrate that a composite paper — made of interleaved molybdenum disulfide and graphene nanosheets — can be both an active material to efficiently store sodium atoms and a flexible current collector. The newly developed composite paper can be used as a negative electrode in sodium-ion batteries.
A new theoretical model developed by professors at the Univ. of Houston (UH) and Univ. of Montréal may hold the key to methods for developing better materials for solar cells.
Eric Bittner, a John and Rebecca Moores Professor of Chemistry and Physics in UH’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Carlos Silva, an associate professor at the Université de Montréal and Canada Research Chair in Organic Semiconductor Materials, say the model could lead to new solar cell materials made from improved blends of semiconducting polymers and fullerenes.