Energy

'Smart' Transformer Supports Power Grid of Tomorrow

Imagine a system that handles electricity flow not just from the power company to our homes, but also back from our homes to the power company. North Carolina State University researchers say an existing technology – the solid-state transformer — could make the conceptual "smart grid" a reality.

Posted in: News, Power Management, Power Supplies, Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Harvesting, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy
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What’s New on Tech Briefs: Smart Devices, Powered by the Sun

New stories on TechBriefs.com shed light on smart windows, solar paint, and more.

Posted in: News, Solar Power
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Smart Windows Get Smarter (and Self-Powered)

A “smart window” from Princeton University uses a transparent solar cell to selectively absorb and harvest near-ultraviolet light. The advanced window controls the transmission of visible light and infrared heat into the building, while the new type of solar cell uses near-UV light to power the system.

Posted in: News, Energy, Energy Harvesting, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy, Solar Power
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Sound-Off: Can Hydrogen be Stored in Carbon Nanotubes?

The fuel cell, an increasingly popular device in the automotive sector, creates a power source when coupled with hydrogen. The hydrogen can be made from natural gas or electrolysis of water and then compressed for storage. The challenge: How do you store hydrogen at low pressure?

Posted in: News, Energy Storage, Power Transmission, Propulsion
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Three-Dimensional Zinc Electrode Architectures for High-Performance Batteries

Zinc-based batteries offer a safe, inexpensive alternative to fire-prone lithium-based batteries, yet have been historically limited by poor rechargeability. A 3D zinc (Zn) “sponge” electrode architecture was developed comprising interpenetrating networks of Zn scaffolding and void space. The design characteristics yield superior electrochemical properties when cycled in alkaline electrolytes compared to conventional Zn powder-composite electrodes.

Posted in: Briefs, Energy
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Alpha-STREAM Convertor

Innovations offer a reliable and efficient way to generate power from any heat source.

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed two novel technologies that make Stirling engines more efficient and less costly. First, Glenn’s thermoacoustic power converter uses sound to turn heat into electric power. Utilizing heat-driven pressures and volume oscillations from thermoacoustic sources to power piezoelectric alternators or other power-converter technologies, this device can generate electricity with unprecedented efficiencies. Unlike conventional Stirling-based devices, this thermoacoustic engine achieves high thermal-to-electrical efficiencies with no moving parts. Glenn’s second advancement for Stirling engines replaces the conventional linear alternator with a magnetostrictive alternator that converts the oscillating pressure wave into electric power (see figure). These innovations offer a reliable and efficient way to generate power from any heat source, benefiting applications such as combined heat and power (CHP) systems, distributed generation, solar power generation, and heating and cooling systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Energy
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Silicon Nanoparticles Enable Energy-Collecting Windows

Photovoltaic cells are hidden in the window frame, blending invisibly into the built environment.

Technology that embeds silicon nanoparticles into efficient luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) has been developed. The LSCs are the key element of windows that can efficiently collect solar energy. When light shines through the surface, the useful frequencies of light are trapped inside and concentrated to the edges, where small solar cells can be put in place to capture the energy.

Posted in: Briefs, Energy
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Bacteria-Powered Battery is Printed on a Single Sheet of Paper

This battery enables self-sustained, paper-based, point-of-care devices.

A bacteria-powered battery that can power disposable electronics has been created on a single sheet of paper. The manufacturing technique reduces fabrication time and cost, and the design could revolutionize the use of bio-batteries as a power source in remote, dangerous, and resource-limited areas.

Posted in: Briefs, Energy
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Internal Short Circuit (ISC) Device Helps Improve Lithium-Ion Battery Design

This tool helps manufacturers ensure the safety and reliability of electric vehicle batteries.

Battery safety is key to the acceptance and penetration of electric vehicles into the marketplace. When battery internal shorts occur, they tend to surface without warning, and usually after the cell has been in use for several months. While some failures simply result in the cell getting very hot, in extreme cases, cells go into thermal runaway, igniting the device in which they are installed. The most publicized failures involved burning laptop and cellphone batteries, and resulted in millions of recalls.

Posted in: Briefs, Energy
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Selecting the Right Standard High-Voltage Power Supply

High-voltage power supplies drive a broad range of applications across diverse segments, including semiconductor, scientific, medical, industrial, and more. Designed to deliver stable supply voltages at 50 V and up, the power supplies, comprised of sophisticated components and specialized materials, must carefully manage the high voltages and associated effects, for example, corona and arcing. For systems developers choosing standard high-voltage power supplies, the specialized nature of high-voltage power calls for a power supply selection process that reflects the unique characteristics of the high- voltage power supply and its operation.

Posted in: White Papers, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Energy, Optics, Photonics
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