Energy

Flexible Solar Panels Absorb Diffused Light

Virginia Tech researchers have produced flexible solar panels that can become part of window shades or wallpaper. The material will capture light from the sun as well as light from sources inside buildings.

Posted in: News, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, Materials
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2016 Create the Future Design Contest

The 2016 Create the Future Design Contest — sponsored by COMSOL, Mouser Electronics, and Tech Briefs Media Group (publishers of NASA Tech Briefs) — recognized innovation in product design in seven categories: Aerospace & Defense, Automotive/Transportation, Consumer Products, Electronics, Machinery/Automation/ Robotics, Med ical, and Sustainable Technologies. In this special section, you’ll meet the Grand Prize Winner, as well as the winners and Honorable Mentions in all seven categories, chosen from over 1,100 new product ideas submitted from a record 71 countries. To view all of the entries online, visit www.createthefuturecontest.com.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Automotive, Defense, Electronics, Alternative Fuels, Energy, Renewable Energy, Green Design & Manufacturing, Medical, Patient Monitoring, Automation, Robotics, Design processes, Collaboration and partnering
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2016 Create the Future Design Contest: Grand Prize Winner

HYLIION - HYBRID TECHNOLOGY FOR SEMI-TRAILERS AND THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY

Thomas Healy, RF Culbertson, AJ Emanuele, Morgan Culbertson, Wilson Sa, Pam Culbertson, Chad Saylor, Len Kulbacki, Eric Weber, Adam Faris, Kim Kasee, Roger Richter, Jared King, Phil Aufdencamp, and Tim Gehring

Hyliion, Pittsburgh, PA

Hyliion is bringing hybrid efficiency to the trucking industry by replacing a semi-trailer’s passive axle with the Intelligent Electric Drive Axle System. The system can decrease fuel consumption and reduce emissions by capturing wasted energy and storing it in a battery pack to help propel the trailer when needed. Currently, tractor-trailers get 6.5 miles per gallon, and on average use $48,000 of fuel annually (per tractor). The trucking industry in the U.S. spends $150B per year on fuel; 6.2% of all emissions in the U.S. comes from trucks.

Posted in: Articles, Automotive, Alternative Fuels, Energy, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy, Green Design & Manufacturing, Heavy trucks, Hybrid electric vehicles, Trailers
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2016 Create the Future Design Contest: Sustainable Technologies Category Winner

DESOLENATOR — WATER FROM SUNSHINE

William Janssen, Desolenator, London, UK

The Desolenator is a water-purification technology that decontaminates water from any source using only solar energy. The technology is a very affordable ($0.005/L) “at-source” method of water purification. It offers a combination of features and capabilities that makes it extremely well suited for household use. It is GSM-mobile enabled and is data-driven through sensors, enabling service through micro mobile payment. It is eco-friendly, has a lifespan of up to 20 years, doesn’t require filters/ membranes, doesn’t drain the main’s electricity, and doesn’t expel toxic waste into the ocean. The long-term goal is to prevent the worsening of the water crisis.

Posted in: Articles, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, Green Design & Manufacturing, Greenhouse Gases, Design processes, Sun and solar, Sustainable development, Water reclamation
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Products of Tomorrow: November 2016

The technologies NASA develops don’t just blast off into space. They also improve our lives here on Earth. Life-saving search-and-rescue tools, implantable medical devices, advances in commercial aircraft safety, increased accuracy in weather forecasting, and the miniature cameras in our cellphones are just some of the examples of NASA-developed technology used in products today.

Posted in: Products, Solar Power, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Sensors, Test & Measurement
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Method of Forming Textured Silicon Substrate by Maskless Cryogenic Etching

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed an advanced energy-storage device to accommodate portable devices, minimize emissions from automobiles, and enable more challenging space missions. The use of silicon for the anode of lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries is attractive because silicon has the highest theoretical charge capacity of any material when used as an anode in a Li-ion battery. Conventional silicon anodes undergo large-volume expansions and contractions with the absorption and desorption of Li-ions, however, and this results in pulverization of the anode after several charge and discharge cycles. JPL’s innovative Li-ion battery anodes are made of micro-textured silicon, which is able to accommodate the stress of expansion and contraction during the charging cycle. These robust silicon anodes make high-capacity, rapid-charge-rate Li-ion batteries practical.

Posted in: Briefs, Power Management, Energy, Battery cell chemistry, Energy storage systems, Lithium-ion batteries, Battery cell chemistry, Energy storage systems, Lithium-ion batteries, Silicon alloys
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Fully Premixed, Low-Emission, High-Pressure, Multi-Fuel Burner

Applications include use in aircraft, spacecraft, and heating and boilers for commercial and residential systems.

NASA’s Glenn Research Center has developed a novel design for a fully premixed, high-pressure burner capable of operating on a variety of gaseous fuels and oxidizers, including hydrogen-air mixtures, with a low pressure drop. The burner provides a rapidly and uniformly mixed fuel-oxidizer mixture that is suitable for use in a fully premixed combustion regime that has the benefits of low pollutant emissions (when operated at fuel lean conditions) and freedom from harmful flashback effects, combustion instabilities, and thermal meltdown problems that are normally associated with premixed combustion systems operating at high pressures.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace, Aviation, Energy, Low emission vehicles (LEV) and Zero emission vehicles (ZEV), Hydrogen fuel, Gases, Combustion and combustion processes
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Selenium Interlayer for High-Efficiency Multi-Junction Solar Cell

This technology can be commercialized for terrestrial applications such as power plants and smart grid systems.

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a low-cost, high-efficiency solar cell that uses a thin layer of selenium as the bonding material between wafers. Selenium is a semiconductor, and it is also transparent to light at photon energies below the band gap. The innovation allows a multi-junction solar cell to be developed without the constraint of lattice matching, and uses a low-cost, robust silicon wafer as the supporting bottom substrate and bottom cell. This enables a cell that is simultaneously lower in cost, more rugged, and more efficient than existing space solar cell designs. This technology has the potential to be used in next-generation solar cells in space, and it can be commercialized for terrestrial applications such as power plants and smart grid systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Energy, Solar Power, Solar energy, Joining, Semiconductors, Silicon alloys, Durability, Reliability, Durability, Reliability
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Tethered Vehicle Control and Tracking System

The system enables effective operation of airborne wind energy (AWE) generation systems.

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed hardware and software to track the flight of tethered vehicles, including kite-like, airborne wind energy (AWE) generation systems. The control system consists of a pan-tilt platform and a visible-spectrum digital camera, combined with tracking control software running on a standard PC. The system controls the flight of the vehicle to keep its position on a power-producing trajectory, maximizing velocity (but within limits). This trajectory produces tension, which turns the ground-based generator, producing the energy. The NASA system enables effective operation of groundgen or flygen types of AWE systems. NASA has a working prototype and pre-beta software, and is seeking development partners to make it more robust and user-friendly by testing it in real-world systems.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace, Aviation, Energy, Trajectory control, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Autonomous vehicles
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Preventing Cell-to-Cell Thermal Runaway in Lithium-Ion Battery Modules

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) cells are increasingly used in high-voltage and high-capacity modules. The Li-ion chemistry has the highest energy density of all rechargeable battery chemistries, but associated with that energy is the issue of catastrophic thermal runaway with a fire. With recent incidents in the commercial aerospace and electronics sectors, it was necessary to find methods to prevent cell-to-cell thermal runaway propagation.

Posted in: Briefs, Batteries, Energy, Scale models, Battery cell chemistry, Lithium-ion batteries, Battery cell chemistry, Lithium-ion batteries, Fire prevention
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