Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Electricity

Structural supercapacitors could allow energy to be stored directly in structural material...

Imagine using a mobile phone powered entirely by its casing, or an electric car that runs off power stored in its chassis. Researchers at Vanderbilt University have created a structural supercapacitor that could, they believe, bring this closer to reality, making batteries and power cords obsolete. The structural supercapacitor could make it possible to store energy directly in structural materials, allowing them to deliver power long-term while surviving the real-life mechanical stresses they're bound to experience.  Read More

A group of scientists are turning to Indiegogo to fund fusion power research (Image: LPP F...

A group of researchers at New Jersey-based LPP Fusion is turning to crowdfunding to demonstrate net power gain from a nuclear fusion reactor. The scientists plan to do this using a technique which is relatively little-known, but which they claim is scientifically sound and only relies on well-established science. Given enough funding, the researchers say they could design a US$500,000, 5 MW reactor that would produce energy for as little as 0.06 cents per kWh, all by the end of the decade.  Read More

The Buoyant Air Turbine, from Altaeros Energies

Winds are stronger and steadier at higher altitudes, that’s why the Buoyant Air Turbine (BAT) from Altaeros is pushing to be the highest wind turbine in history. Already tested to 500 feet off the ground in 45 mph winds, this helium-filled shell with a wind turbine in the middle is soon shooting for a world record 1,000 ft float. Packing down into a shipping container for transport, the BAT is being proposed as a quickly deployable tethered power source for remote areas and emergency zones.  Read More

The three young inventors of the Pluvia system, which uses rainwater runoff to generate el...

When we complain about the rain, other people will often say "Yeah, but it's good for the plants." Well, thanks to a microturbine-based system created by three students from the Technological University of Mexico, it's now also being used to generate electricity for use in low-income homes.  Read More

Panasonic's Power Supply Container is a self-contained solar power plant designed for deve...

In an effort to bring reliable electricity supplies to emerging regions and remote island communities, Panasonic has developed an expandable, portable, self-contained photovoltaic system. The "Power Supply Container" comes equipped with 12 of Panasonic's HIT240 solar modules on the roof and generates approximately 3 kW of electricity, with 24 lead-acid batteries capable of storing 17.2 kWh of energy used to store excess electricity.  Read More

At the microscopic level, combustion can't support itself, as it does in this Petri dish f...

If you’re going to do something like building a Porsche 911 that fits on the head of a pin, or make a microscopic medical pump, you need a microscopic engine. A team of researchers from the University of Twente in the Netherlands, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Germany’s University of Freiburg have developed a micro-engine that burns oxygen and hydrogen, but there’s a small problem; they’re not sure how the thing works.  Read More

The unobtrusive nature of SnapRays adds weight to its creator's claim as a convenient repl...

Placing guidelights up your hallway or down your staircase can involve bulky plugin solutions or a professional and expensive installation. SnapRays Guidelight, an easy-install outlet cover with built-in LEDs, could simplify this process by turning any standard power outlet into a night light without the need for re-wiring or batteries.  Read More

Microscope photo of tungsten diselenide samples connected to electrodes

Graphene, the two-dimensional lattice of carbon atoms, may be the wonder material du jour, but ultrathin layers of other elements are also proving to be an exciting area of research. One-atom-thick sheets of germanium and tin have shown potential as semiconductors and a topological insulators respectively, and now ultrathin layers of tungsten and selenium have been used to create a diode that could be used in ultrathin, flexible, semi-transparent solar cells.  Read More

Associate Professor John Andrews with an experimental preliminary proof of concept proton ...

Just as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles – big and small – start heading to the road, researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have come up with the concept of a proton flow battery that could expand the reach of hydrogen-based electrical energy systems as well as provide a potential alternative to lithium ion batteries.  Read More

The Energy Bunker was originally constructed in 1943 to serve as a Nazi anti-aircraft bunk...

Energy and utilities company Hamburg Energie has joined forces with IBA Hamburg to transform a former Nazi anti-aircraft flak bunker into a green energy power plant. The Hamburg-based "Energy Bunker" has already begun producing energy for the local community, but once running at full capacity will provide up to 3,000 homes with heating, and another 1,000 homes with electricity.  Read More

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