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Electricity

As modern power generation methods are designed to squeeze the most power from the least amount of fuel, engineers are constantly looking at techniques to improve efficiency. One way to achieve this is to scavenge waste energy left over from the production process to capture and convert low-grade heat into usable energy. In pursuit of this goal, engineers at Pennsylvania State University have produced an ammonia-based battery that not only captures and converts waste heat economically and efficiently, but is claimed to do so at a greater capacity than other similar systems. Read More
Conventional offshore wind turbines are expensive and complicated pieces of machinery – in a large part because of their complex and maintenance-intensive gearboxes. Dr Shahriar Hossain from the University of Wollongong in Australia is looking to slash production costs and drastically improve efficiency replacing these gearboxes with a superconducting coil. Read More
Electrical energy is normally generated through heat, motion, nuclear transformation, or chemical reactions, but now scientists at VTT Technical Research Center of Finland have devised a new method that involves mechanical vibrations. They figured out how to "harvest" the vibrational energy that occurs naturally when two surfaces with different work functions are connected via electrodes, and this energy could potentially be used to power wearables and other low-power electronics. Read More
Scotland is pushing ahead with green energy, with First Minister Alex Salmond claiming that renewables could provide 100 percent of Scotland's energy by 2025. And last month, Salmond's push for wind farms appears to have borne fruit – wind power alone generated some 126 percent of the energy needed to power every home in Scotland in what the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) is calling a "bumper month." Even solar fared well despite the chilly conditions, with domestic solar PV panels chipping in around a third of the domestic energy bill. Read More
The world's first solar bike path is set to open in the Netherlands next Wednesday. The SolaRoad will run through Amsterdam's northern suburb of Krommenie and will feature concrete slabs embedded with solar panels to convert energy from the sun into electricity for the grid. Read More
Engineers at the University of Utah have developed and built the very first fuel cell using jet fuel that operates at room-temperature without the need to ignite the fuel. Using enzymes to help produce electricity, these new fuel cells have the potential to power everything from portable electronic devices to cars and off-grid power systems. Read More
The key factor when it comes to solar power plant efficiency – be they of the photovoltaic or concentrated solar power variety – is the amount of light that can be captured by the light-absorbing material and converted into electricity or heat. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have developed a new nanoparticle-based material that promises to improve the efficiency of CSP plants with its ability to absorb and convert over 90 percent of the sunlight it captures into heat. Read More
Researchers from Columbia University and the Georgia Institute of Technology are laying claim to having observed piezoelectricity in an atomically thin material for the first time. The effect was demonstrated in the world's thinnest electric generator made from a two-dimensional molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) material, which had previously been predicted to exhibit such properties. Read More
Kinetic chargers have been around for a few years, but have typically been big and bulky. Ampy is much smaller and fashionable enough to wear around. Read More
Thanks to mobile phone technology, getting caught in a disaster means that help is only a call away – unless the disaster knocks out the electricity to the cell towers. To help bring the phones back on line to aid in recovery efforts, researchers at Michigan Technological University are developing a team of robots designed to restore power to towers and other communication sites. Read More
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