Energy

Molecules Could Harvest Sunshine for a Rainy Day

The Sun is a huge source of energy. In just one hour, planet Earth is hit by so much sunshine that humankind could cover its energy needs for an entire year if only we knew how to harvest and save it. A student at the University of Copenhagen has researched his way to a breakthrough that may prove pivotal for technologies trying to capture the energy of the Sun, and saving it for a rainy day.

Posted in: News, Energy, Energy Harvesting

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Electrical Power Converter Accepts Power from Renewable Energy

Engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas have invented a novel electrical power converter system that simultaneously accepts power from a variety of energy sources and converts it for use in the electrical grid system. The U.S. Department of Energy is seeking licensing opportunities for potential commercialization.

Posted in: News, Energy, Renewable Energy

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Fuel Breakthrough Supports Hydrogen-Powered Vehicles

Virginia Tech researchers have created hydrogen fuel using abundantly available corn stover – the stalks, cobs, and husks.The development could support the arrival of inexpensive hydrogen-powered vehicles. Unlike other hydrogen fuel production methods that rely on highly processed sugars, the Virginia Tech team used dirty biomass — the husks and stalks of corn plants — to create their fuel. The use of corn stover reduces initial costs and enables the use of a fuel source readily available near the processing plants. The team used a genetic algorithm, along with a series of complex mathematical expressions, to analyze each step of the enzymatic process that breaks down corn stover into hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The system uses both sugars glucose and xylose at the same time, which increases the rate at which the hydrogen is released. Hydrogen is separated from aqueous reactants and enzymes. The enzymatic reactions within the Virginia Tech system generate high-purity hydrogen, perfect for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The initial model increased reaction rates by threefold, decreasing the required facility size to about the size of a gas station. The modest reaction conditions also indicate the feasibility of low-capital requirements for building distributed hydrogen generating and fueling stations based on the technology.SourceAlso: Learn about Hydrogen Measurement in a Cryogen Flow Stream.

Posted in: News, Biomass, Energy

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White, Electrically Conductive, Radiation-Stable, Thermal Control Coating

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland A highly reflective, white conductive coating system was developed using a layered approach with a combination of commercially available white conductive pigments within a conductive binder system. The top coating is a space-stable, radiation-resistant, highly reflective coating that has been tailored to provide optimum reflectance properties and meet vacuum thermal surface resistivities. The combined layer is a mixture of a highly reflective, electrically dissipative coating and a moderately reflective but highly conductive pigment in a conductive binder. A second, underlying layer of conductive white coating offers optimum adhesion to metal substrates and the topcoat. The system vacuum resistivity at room temperature is approximately 1 × 109 ohms/sq, and has a solar absorptance of less than 0.13 as measured on a Cary 5000 spectrophotometer.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Thermoelectrics, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials, Thermal management, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Conductivity

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Piezoelectric Actuated Inchworm Motor (PAIM)

This linear piezoelectric actuator can operate at temperatures of 77 K or below. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Conventional piezoelectric materials, such as PZTs, have reasonably high electromechanical coupling over 70%, and excellent performance at room temperature. However, their coupling factor (converting electrical to mechanical energy and vice versa) drops substantially at cryogenic temperatures, as the extrinsic contributions (domain wall motions) are almost frozen out below 130 K.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Energy, Fluid Handling, Motors & Drives, Electric motors

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Optical Fiber for Solar Cells

These materials enable new solar-powered devices that are small, lightweight, and can be used without connection to existing electrical grids. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California Polymeric and inorganic semiconductors offer relatively high quantum efficiencies, and are much less expensive and versatile to fabricate than non-amorphous silicon wafers. An optical fiber and cladding can be designed and fabricated to confine light for transport within ultraviolet and near-infrared media, using evanescent waves, and to transmit visible wavelength light for direct lighting.

Posted in: Briefs, Energy, Energy Storage, Solar Power, Materials, Fiber Optics, Physical Sciences, Solar energy, Fibers, Polymers, Semiconductors

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Pumped Subsea Energy Storage

This technique would be applicable to offshore oil platforms and energy storage for public utilities. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California A local energy source is desired for near-shore and offshore applications. Gas generators, diesel generators, and long-length submerged power cables tend to be expensive. A proposed solution is to use offshore wind with some type of energy storage mechanism for up to 1 GW-h. Energy storage in batteries is too expensive and massive, and subsea compressed air energy storage (CAES) has not been proven for very deep depths. Furthermore, CAES involves very great temperature changes that result in large inefficiencies.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Solar Power, Wind Power, Physical Sciences, Energy storage systems, Wind power, Marine vehicles and equipment

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