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Electricity

Around The Home

Brio promises a safer, smarter power outlet

Most of us have a number of power outlets dotted around the house, and each one is a potential hazard to inquisitive little fingers. Brio promises a safer and smarter power outlet that can tell the difference between a kid's fingers and an electrical appliance, only turning on the juice for the latter. Read More

Around The Home

Envirotouch switch keeps your energy use in check

The modern home is chock-full of electrical appliances, many of which remain on standby when not in use and add unnecessary bulk to our energy bills. Thankfully, those looking to trim down on power usage aren't exactly short of options, with many devices emerging over the years designed to shut off our appliances at the wall. The Envirotouch is the latest take on the smart, energy-saving switch, relying on one-touch timer buttons to cut power to our appliances soon after we stop using them. Read More

Science

Ammonia-based battery system to convert low-grade waste heat into 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

Environment

Superconducting coil to slash costs and improve efficiency of direct-drive wind turbines

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

Electronics

New technique for generating electricity from mechanical vibrations

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

Environment

Scotland produces enough wind energy to power all its homes

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

Environment

Nanoparticle-based material turns up the heat on concentrated solar power

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

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