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Electricity

— Electronics

Google offers up US$1 million prize to shrink size of power inverters

The old saying says good things come in small packages. Google and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) seem to agree having launched the Little Box Challenge, an open competition with a US$1 million first prize to find innovative electronic designs to shrink power inverters down from their current bigger-than-a-bread-box size to something less than the size of a small laptop. Read More
— Science

Stanford researchers develop self-cooling solar cells

Photovoltaic cells are one of the more promising alternative energy sources. Mechanically they are very simple, with no moving parts, and are clean and emission-free. Unfortunately they are also inefficient. One of the reasons for this is that they overheat, a problem that a Stanford University team under electrical engineering professor Shanhui Fan is addressing with the development of a thin glass layer that makes solar cells self-cooling. Read More
— Environment

Sainsbury’s supermarket to be powered entirely by its own food waste

It's an unfortunate fact that every day around the world, supermarkets throw out tons of food that has spoiled before it could be purchased. While it would be best if that spoilage could be avoided in the first place, British grocery chain Sainsbury's is taking what might be the next-best approach – it's about to start using that unsellable food to power one of its stores. Read More
— Environment

PowerCube pop-up solar generator provides relief to disaster-struck areas

It was seven years ago that Ecosphere Technologies revealed its first iteration of a self-contained relief unit to provide power, water and shelter to disaster-struck areas. The company has since been busy refining the system's form and function and now announces the completion of what it says to be the world's largest deployable solar power generator. Capable of generating 15 kW of electricity, PowerCube is transported as a standard shipping container and can morph into a shelter, water treatment plant and communications base all with a push of a button. Read More
— Electronics

New water-based organic battery is cheap, rechargeable and eco-friendly

Lithium-ion batteries have made portable, rechargeable electronics commonplace. Unfortunately, they do have some glaring drawbacks, including heat issues, being made with rare, toxic elements, and the fact the technology doesn't scale up very well, which limits applications. A team of scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) is working on an alternative in the form of a water-based organic battery that is not only cheaper and more environmentally friendly, but also holds the potential for scaling up for use in wind and solar power plants as a means to store large amounts of energy. Read More
— Electronics

Researchers create flexible wires that could double as batteries

We literally live in a wired world, with wires snaking hither and yon transmitting electricity and data. Many are visible, while many more are hidden in the walls of buildings, the panels of cars, and the fuselage of aircraft. Now, imagine; what if we were able to turn each and every one of these into a battery that not only transmitted electricity but stored it too? Well, two researchers from the University of Central Florida (UCF) imagined that too, and came up with a way to use nano-technology to make wires with supercapacitance that may eventually also double as batteries. Read More
— Around The Home

Fraunhofer developing fuel cell system to power the home

As the world shifts to alternative forms of energy, ways to make homes less dependent on the grid continue to gather steam. Fuel cells, which are more efficient and have lower emissions than internal combustion engines seem like a logical candidate for taking up the slack, so the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems (IKTS) in Dresden is partnering with the heater manufacturer Vaillant to develop a domestic fuel cell system that uses natural gas to produce both heating and electricity. Read More
— Environment

CSIRO sets world record in generating "supercritical" steam using solar power

Researchers at Australia's CSIRO have claimed a world record for the highest temperatures ever achieved using solar energy to generate "supercritical" steam at its solar thermal test plant in Newcastle, Australia. Featuring more than 600 directional mirrors (heliostats) directed at two towers housing solar receivers and turbines, the researchers produced the steam at a pressure of 23.5 MPa (3400 psi) and 570° C (1,058° F). Read More
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