Fri, Feb

  • Airline industry could fly thousands of miles on biofuel from a new promising feedstock

    A Boeing 747 burns one gallon of jet fuel each second. A recent analysis from researchers at the University of Illinois estimate that this aircraft could fly for 10 hours on bio-jet fuel produced on 54 acres of specially engineered sugarcane.

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  • Applying Insights from the Pharma Innovation Model to Battery Commercialization

    If electronics are the underpinning of our modern economy, then batteries are what make the world go round. And since its commercial introduction in 1995, the lithium-ion (li-ion) battery has been king.

    Over the past 30 years, a three-fold improvement in energy density has driven li-ion batteries far down the cost curve, from more than $3,000/kWh to approximately $150/kWh today, making li-ion the battery chemistry of choice for our toys, consumer electronics, medical devices, power tools, and increasingly, cars. Applications for household and grid storage that balance the intermittency of renewables are already hitting the market. Indeed, the $30 billion industry is expected to clock a blistering 11.6% annual growth rate through 2024, to a valuation of nearly $80 billion1.

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  • Insect eyes inspire new solar cell design by Stanford researchers

    Packing tiny solar cells together, like micro-lenses in the compound eye of an insect, could pave the way to a new generation of advanced photovoltaics, say Stanford University scientists.

    In a new study, the Stanford team used the insect-inspired design to protect a fragile photovoltaic material called perovskite from deteriorating when exposed to heat, moisture or mechanical stress. The results are published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science (E&ES).

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  • Why US Battery Startups Fail -- And How to Fix It

    Better batteries are critical to the world’s clean energy future. More economical and efficient batteries would help to solve many of our planet’s energy challenges, paving the way towards long-range electric vehicles to help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels as well as advancing renewable energy production by resolving intermittency problems. However, the scientific research needed to bring the necessary advances in materials to market in the US remains a formidable challenge. Hurdles include high upfront capital costs and long timelines to success – leading many startup companies to fail, even with generous funding from venture capital and esteemed investors such as Bill Gates.

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  • Firebricks offer low-cost storage for carbon-free energy

    Firebricks, designed to withstand high heat, have been part of our technological arsenal for at least three millennia, since the era of the Hittites. Now, a proposal from MIT researchers shows this ancient invention could play a key role in enabling the world to switch away from fossil fuels and rely instead on carbon-free energy sources.

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  • Engineers develop tools to share power from renewable energy sources during outages

    If you think you can use the solar panels on your roof to power your home during an outage, think again. During an outage, while your home remains connected to the grid, the devices that manage your solar panels are powered down for safety reasons. In other words, this permanent connection to the grid makes it impossible for homeowners to draw on power generated by their own renewable energy resources.

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  • Stanford professor tests a cooling system that works without electricity

    It looks like a regular roof, but the top of the Packard Electrical Engineering Building at Stanford University has been the setting of many milestones in the development of an innovative cooling technology that could someday be part of our everyday lives. Since 2013, Shanhui Fan, professor of electrical engineering, and his students and research associates have employed this roof as a testbed for a high-tech mirror-like optical surface that could be the future of lower-energy air conditioning and refrigeration.

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  • A revolution in lithium-ion batteries is becoming more realistic

    The modern world relies on portable electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, cameras or camcorders. Many of these devices are powered by lithium-ion batteries, which could be smaller, lighter, safer and more efficient if the liquid electrolytes they contain were replaced by solids. A promising candidate for a solid-state electrolyte is a new class of materials based on lithium compounds, presented by physicists from Switzerland and Poland.

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  • ASU team shines new light on photosynthesis

    A team of scientists from ASU’s School of Molecular Sciences and Pennsylvania State University has taken us a step closer to unlocking the secrets of photosynthesis, and possibly to cleaner fuels.

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  • Photosynthesis Discovery Could Lead to Design of More Efficient Artificial Solar Cells

    A natural process that occurs during photosynthesis could lead to the design of more efficient artificial solar cells, according to researchers at Georgia State University.

    During photosynthesis, plants and other organisms, such as algae and cyanobacteria, convert solar energy into chemical energy that can later be used as fuel for activities. In plants, light energy from the sun causes an electron to rapidly move across the cell membrane. In artificial solar cells, the electron often returns to its starting point and the captured solar energy is lost. In plants, the electron virtually never returns to its starting point, and this is why solar energy capture in plants is so efficient. A process called inverted-region electron transfer could contribute to inhibiting this “back electron transfer.”

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