Posts belonging to Category green power

Rewritable Paper 20 Times

First developed in China in about the year A.D. 150, paper has many uses, the most common being for writing and printing upon. Indeed, the development and spread of civilization owes much to paper’s use as writing material.
According to some surveys, 90 percent of all information in businesses today is retained on paper, even though the bulk of this printed paper is discarded after just one-time use.
Such waste of paper (and ink cartridges) — not to mention the accompanying environmental problems such as deforestation and chemical pollution to air, water and land — could be curtailed if the paper were “rewritable,” that is, capable of being written on and erased multiple times.

Chemists at the University of California, Riverside have now fabricated in the lab just such novel rewritable paper, one that is based on the color switching property of commercial chemicals called redox dyes. The dye forms the imaging layer of the paper. Printing is achieved by using ultraviolet light to photobleach the dye, except the portions that constitute the text on the paper. The new rewritable paper can be erased and written on more than 20 times with no significant loss in contrast or resolution.
Rewritable-paper-Yadong Yin’s lab at the University of California, Riverside has fabricated novel rewritable paper, one that is based on the color switching property of commercial chemicals called redox dyes
This rewritable paper does not require additional inks for printing, making it both economically and environmentally viable,” said Yadong Yin, a professor of chemistry, whose lab led the research. “It represents an attractive alternative to regular paper in meeting the increasing global needs for sustainability and environmental conservation.
Study results appear online in Nature Communications.


Solar Panels Covering Car Parks Produce Cheap Energy

The world is full of car parks. And one British start-up wants us to be using them to produce green energy. Founder of the Solar Cloth Company, Perry Carroll, says his flexible solar panels can be placed on structures that can’t take the weight of traditional glass panels. Like this car park in Cambridge.
solar roof
There are enough car parking spaces in Great Britain that if we covered with solar, we would end up without having an energy problem at all in Great Britain. Now, we don’t have to cover farming fields, we don’t have to cover roofs, we don’t have to cover, if you wish to call it, new areas. This is existing infrastructure that people use“, says Perry Carroll, the founder of the Solar Cloth Company. The company’s Innovation Director Christopher Jackson says the lightweight, flexible panels can also be used on non-load bearing commercial roof space.

Roofs which you would never see otherwise can now be turned into sources of electricity. And that means you don’t have to have any impact on the environment, there are no concerns to take into account of planning. It’s an elegant solution to turn an otherwise unused space into a source of electricity“, Jackson adds. And the company also has iconic buildings such as the 02 Arena in London in its sights.
Perry Carroll concludes: “Imagine that powering itself, because it’s been covered in a flexible solar tensile structure. Imagine looking at things like the Sydney Opera House, imagine looking at sporting stadia where basically the ground is completely covered with a solar solution that allows you to one, appreciate the artistic merits of the design of the stadium, but it also allows you to create energy for its needs.”


A Billion Holes Make a Postage Stamp Battery

Researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) have invented a single tiny structure that includes all the components of a battery that they say could bring about the ultimate miniaturization of energy storage components.
A billion nanopores could fit on a postage stamp
The structure is called a nanopore: a tiny hole in a ceramic sheet that holds electrolyte to carry the electrical charge between nanotube electrodes at either end. The existing device is a test, but the bitsy battery performs well. First author Chanyuan Liu, a Ph.D. student in materials science, says that it can be fully charged in 12 minutes, and it can be recharged thousands of time.

Many millions of these nanopores can be crammed into one larger battery the size of a postage stamp. One of the reasons the researchers think this unit is so successful is because each nanopore is shaped just like the others, which allows them to pack the tiny thin batteries together efficiently.The space inside the holes is so small that the space they take up, all added together, would be no more than a grain of sand.
Now that the scientists have the battery working and have demonstrated the concept, they have also identified improvements that could make the next version 10 times more powerful. The next step to commercialization: the inventors have conceived strategies for manufacturing the battery in large batches.

A team of UMD chemists and materials scientists collaborated on the project: Gary Rubloff, director of the Maryland NanoCenter, Sang Bok Lee, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and seven of their Ph.D. students.

Solar-powered Bike Path Could Cover A Fifth of The Netherlands

SolaRoad isn’t your average bicycle path? Now, for the first in the world a bike path is fitted with embedded solar panels. Dutch finance minister Henk Kamp got in the saddle to launch the 70 metre stretch of a busy Amsterdam commuter road and made a comment: “This is not economically feasible but we will make it economically feasible and we are working on it very hard.
Co-inventor Sten de Wit says SolaRoad consists of rows of miniscule crystalline silicon solar cells, encased within concrete and covered with a translucent layer of tempered glass.
solar-powered bike path

The top layer is the main innovation of this road, because it has to combine a number of functions: it has to be transparent, because the sunlight has to go through the top layer to the solar cells that are underneath, but it also has to be sufficiently skid-resistant, sufficiently rough.” Because the path can’t be adjusted to the sun’s position, it produces 30 percent less energy than solar roof panels, says Sten De Wit. But he added that it’s suitable for up to a fifth of Dutch roads, and could eventually be used to power traffic lights and electric cars. “If in the future we could put that electricity from the road into electric cars that drive over the road, then we could make a huge step towards sustainable mobility system.” De Wit’s colleagues at the TNO research institute say they’ll have a commercially viable product within five years…once this initial trial gets into gear.


Electric Car Batteries Charged In A Few Minutes For 500 km Range

A car powered by its own body panels could soon be driving on our roads after a breakthrough in nanotechnology research by a team from the Queensland Institute of Technology (QUT) in Australia. Researchers have developed lightweight and cheap “supercapacitors” that can be combined with regular batteries to dramatically boost the power of an electric car.
The discovery was made by Dr Jinzhang Liu, Professor Nunzio Motta and PhD researcher Marco Notarianni, from QUT, and fellows from Rice University in Houston, in the United States.
The supercapacitors – a “sandwich” of electrolyte between two all-carbon electrodes – were made into a thin and extremely strong film with a high power density.
The film could be embedded in a car’s body panels, roof, doors, bonnet and floorstoring enough energy to turbocharge an electric car’s battery in just a few minutes.
ElectricCARSAfter one full charge this car should be able to run up to 500km (310 miles) – similar to a petrol-powered car and more than double the current limit of an electric car
Supercapacitors offer a high power output in a short time, meaning a faster acceleration rate of the car and a charging time of just a few minutes, compared to several hours for a standard electric car battery.”
In the future, it is hoped the supercapacitor will be developed to store more energy than a Li-Ion battery while retaining the ability to release its energy up to 10 times faster – meaning the car could be entirely powered by the supercapacitors in its body panels, Mr Notarianni said.

The findings, published in the Journal of Power Sources and the Nanotechnology journal, mean a car partly powered by its own body panels could be a reality within five years, Mr Notarianni said.

Fuel Cells For Hydrogen-powered Car

University of Utah engineers developed the first room-temperature fuel cell that uses enzymes to help jet fuel produce electricity without needing to ignite the fuel. These new fuel cells can be used to power portable electronics, off-grid power and sensors.

Fuel cells convert energy into electricity through a chemical reaction between a fuel and an oxygen-rich source such as air. If a continuous flow of fuel is provided, a fuel cell can generate electricity cleanly and cheaply. While batteries are used commonly to power electric cars and generators, fuel cells also now serve as power generators in some buildings, or to power fuel-cell vehicles such as prototype hydrogen-powered cars (See:

Tucson fuel cell
The major advance in this research is the ability to use Jet Propellant-8 (JP-8) directly in a fuel cell without having to remove sulfur impurities or operate at very high temperature,” says the study’s senior author, Shelley Minteer, a University of Utah professor of materials science and engineering, and also chemistry. “This work shows that JP-8 and probably others can be used as fuels for low-temperature fuel cells with the right catalysts.” Catalysts are chemicals that speed reactions between other chemicals.
A study of the new cells appears online today in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Catalysis.


Hydrogen Catalysts Efficient After Twenty-Thousand Cycles

Rice University scientists who want to gain an edge in energy production and storage report they have found it in molybdenum disulfide. The Rice lab of chemist James Tour has turned molybdenum disulfide’s two-dimensional form into a nanoporous film that can catalyze the production of hydrogen or be used for energy storage. The versatile chemical compound classified as a dichalcogenide is inert along its flat sides, but previous studies determined the material’s edges are highly efficient catalysts for hydrogen evolution reaction (HER), a process used in fuel cells to pull hydrogen from water.
Tour and his colleagues have found a cost-effective way to create flexible films of the material that maximize the amount of exposed edge and have potential for a variety of energy-oriented applications. Molybdenum disulfide isn’t quite as flat as graphene, the atom-thick form of pure carbon, because it contains both molybdenum and sulfur atoms. When viewed from above, it looks like graphene, with rows of ordered hexagons.

thin filmThe Rice lab built supercapacitors with thin films; in tests, they retained 90 percent of their capacity after 10,000 charge-discharge cycles and 83 percent after 20,000 cycles.

So much of chemistry occurs at the edges of materials,” said Tour. “A two-dimensional material is like a sheet of paper: a large plain with very little edge. But our material is highly porous. What we see in the images are short, 5- to 6-nanometer planes and a lot of edge, as though the material had bore holes drilled all the way through.”

The Rice research appears in the journal Advanced Materials.


Solar Power: Ninety Percent Of Captured Light Converted Into Heat

A multidisciplinary engineering team at the University of California, San Diego developed a new nanoparticle-based material for concentrating solar power plants designed to absorb and convert to heat more than 90 percent of the sunlight it captures. The new material can also withstand temperatures greater than 700 degrees Celsius and survive many years outdoors in spite of exposure to air and humidity. Their work, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot program, was published recently in two separate articles in the journal Nano Energy. By contrast, current solar absorber material functions at lower temperatures and needs to be overhauled almost every year for high temperature operations.


We wanted to create a material that absorbs sunlight that doesn’t let any of it escape. We want the black hole of sunlight,” said Sungho Jin, a professor in the department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. Jin, along with professor Zhaowei Liu of the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering professor Renkun Chen, developed the Silicon boride-coated nanoshell material. They are all experts in functional materials engineering.


Solar Plant produces twice more Than Nuclear Power Plant

A solar energy project in the Tunisian Sahara aims to generate enough clean energy by 2018 to power two million European homes. Called the TuNur project; developers, including renewable investment company Low Carbon and solar developer Nur Energie, say the site will produce twice as much energy as the average nuclear power plant. But instead of using typical photovoltaic cells that only generate power during the day; they’re using Concentrated Solar Power. Using a vast array of mirrors to concentrate and  reflect the intense Saharan sun to a central tower, water or molten salt is heated to over 500 degrees Celsius. The steamced powers a turbine which in turn generates electricity. This, says Nur Energie‘s CEO Kevin Sara, means the plant will produce electricity even when the sun is down.


solar power plant

 ”The technology that you can deploy in the desert is baseload renewable power; that means you can actually replace fossil fuel power plants because we can generate 24-7 using solar power,” says Kevin Sara, CEO of Nur Energie. Transmission lines will take the electricity to the Tunisian coast where a dedicated undersea cable will connect it to the European grid via a hub in northern Italy. Over ten millions euros has already gone into identifying the best location in the Tunisian Sahara to harness the intense solar radiation. “It’s quite large; it’s 10,000 hectares – a hundred square kilometres. But there’s nothing there, it’s just sand and a few bushes.

With energy security a big concern, Sara says the project has the potential to help end Europe’s reliance on fossil fuels using ‘desert power‘. “We believe that this is really opening a new energy corridor. This could be the first of many projects, and we could gradually de-carbonise the European grid using desert power, using this solar energy with storage from the Sahara desert and linked to Europe with high-voltage DC cables which are very, very low in their losses.” Sara added.
Tunisia is seeking to bolster its stability following the 2011 uprising, with lack of jobs and growth contributing to the unrest. The team behind the TuNur project hope the Saharan sunshine will be a shining light not only for renewable energy, but for the future of Tunisia.


How To Triple The Production Of Biogas

Researchers of the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2), and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) have developed the new BiogàsPlus, a technology which allows increasing the production of biogas by 200% with a controlled introduction of iron oxide nanoparticles to the process of organic waste treatment.

The development of BiogàsPlus was carried out by the ICN2‘s Inorganic Nanoparticle group, led by ICREA researcher Víctor Puntes, and by the Group of Organic Solid Waste Composting of the UAB School of Engineering, directed by Antoni Sánchez. The system is based on the use of iron oxide nanoparticles as an additive which “feeds” the bacteria in charge of breaking down organic matter. This additive substantially increases the production of biogas and at the same time transforms the iron nanoparticles into innocuous salt.

iron Oxyd nanoparticle
We believe we are offering a totally innovative approach to the improvement of biogas production and organic waste treatment, since this is the first nanoparticle application developed with this in mind. In addition, it offers a significant improvement in the decomposition of organic waste when compared to existing technologies”, explains Antoni Sánchez.

According to researchers, today’s biogas production is not very efficient – only 30 to 40 per cent of organic matter is converted into biogas - when compared to other energy sources. “The first tests conducted with BiogàsPlus demonstrated that product increases up to 200% the production of this combustible gas. This translates into a profitable and sustainable solution to the processing of organic waste, thus favouring the use of this renewable source of energy”, affirms Eudald Casals, ICN2 researcher participating in the project.