News

Proposed Device Harvests Energy from Earth's Infrared Emissions

Physicists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) envision a device that would harvest energy from Earth’s infrared emissions into outer space.The research team is proposing something akin to a photovoltaic solar panel. Instead of capturing incoming visible light, however, the device would generate electric power by releasing infrared light.To show the range of possibilities, the group suggests two different kinds of emissive energy harvesters: one that is analogous to a solar thermal power generator, and one that is analogous to a photovoltaic cell. Both would run in reverse.The first type of device would consist of a “hot” plate at the temperature of the Earth and air, with a “cold” plate on top of it. The cold plate, facing upward, would be made of a highly emissive material that cools by very efficiently radiating heat to the sky. Based on measurements of infrared emissions in Lamont, Oklahoma (as a case study), the researchers calculate that the heat difference between the plates could generate a few watts per square meter, day and night.SourceAlso: Learn about the TIRS thermal infrared sensor.

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President Announces Manufacturing Innovation Competitions

A Detroit-area based consortium of 60 companies, nonprofits, and universities and a Chicago-based consortium of 73 companies, nonprofits, and universities are partnering with the federal government to launch two new manufacturing innovation hubs.

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World War II-Era Equipment Gets Restored For Today's Research Needs

It sounds like the ultimate recycling project. The Naval Research Laboratory and the Office of Naval Research, through its INTOP Program, have taken a 96,000-pound piece of equipment that was used in the 1940s and are refurbishing it for use in research today. This World War II-era equipment, a three-axis tilting platform now called the Ship Motion System (SMS), is located at NRL's Chesapeake Bay Detachment (CBD) along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Calvert County, Maryland.

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Army Researchers Inspire Commercial Rifle Fire Control Systems

Researchers at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory go about their business every day working on projects to help better serve the military and its members who protect our country. Sometimes the research inspires commercial companies to do additional research and expand on certain aspects to develop products of their own. That is what happened with the Army Research Laboratory's (ARL's) research called "Inertial Reticle Technology," where researchers who were then in the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate developed a concept to apply advanced fire control technology to sniper weapons.

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NASA SPHERES Run Circles Around Ordinary Satellites

NASA’s free-flying satellites known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) have been flying aboard the International Space Station since 2003. Powered by AA batteries, the satellites act as free-flying platforms that can accommodate various mounting features and mechanisms in order to test and examine the physical or mechanical properties of materials in microgravity.

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System Enables Collaboration Among Fleets of Robots

Writing a program to control a single autonomous robot navigating an uncertain environment with an erratic communication link is hard. Writing one for multiple robots that may or may not have to work in tandem, depending on the task, is even harder.

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Motion Capture Assists Skaters with Jumps

According to a recent poll, almost a fourth of Americans say figure skating is their favorite Olympic sport. But while most of us just sit back and enjoy the show Jim Richards zeroes in on the skaters’ air position. Richards, a Professor at the University of Delaware, knows that proper air position is critical to successful jumps.

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