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Energy

A composite of graphite flakes and carbon foam is claimed to convert 85 percent of solar e...

Researchers working at MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering claim to have produced a sponge-like substance that helps convert water to steam using sunlight one-hundredth as bright as that required by conventional steam-producing solar generators. A composite of graphite flakes layered on a bed of carbon foam, the new material is reported to convert as much as 85 percent of received solar energy into steam.  Read More

Illustration of the 'moth eye' solar cell (Illustration: Empa)

As nocturnal creatures, moths need to maximize how well they can see in the dark whilst remaining less visible to avoid predators. This ability to collect as much of the available light as possible and at the same time reflect as little as possible, has inspired Researchers at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) to design a new type of photoelectrochemical cell using relatively low cost materials.  Read More

The Yura concept proposes autonomous drink-flying robots

The annual Electrolux Design Lab competition for 2014 has reached stage three of the judging, and 35 semi-finalists remain. Many of the entries are innovative, some are quirky, and others are downright strange. But in the spirit of originality, they are all very individual, unique takes on various types of household devices that we may be using in the not-too-distant future. We have a look at ten of the entries that caught our eye to give you an idea of the competition so far.  Read More

The net-zero test home at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Braving a harsh winter with snow-covered solar panels, the Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF) in Washington DC has come up trumps in a year-long study of its energy harvesting capabilities. Located on campus at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), researchers used computer simulation to replicate the energy consumption of a family of four. At the end of its first 12 months, there was a large enough surplus to power an electric car for 1,440 miles (2,317 km).  Read More

A  large, distributed network of concentrated solar power plants in desert regions could r...

Researchers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) have conducted a study to examine the potential for solar power to provide reliable electricity around the clock, every day of the year. The team found that a large, distributed network of concentrated solar power (CSP) plants in the Mediterranean basin or the Kalahari desert in southern Africa would be able to consistently run at 80 percent of maximum capacity or more throughout the year regardless of time of day, season, or weather conditions.  Read More

From left, supercapacitor developers Mihrimah Ozkan, Cengiz Ozkan and Zachary Favors (Phot...

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have developed a new graphene-based supercapacitor that uses a nanoscale architecture to double its energy and power performance compared to commercially-available alternatives. This breakthrough is another important step toward making supercapacitors viable for use in fast-charging, high-performance electric cars and personal electronics.  Read More

Researchers have created wires with supercapacitance, which may eventually also double as ...

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

The cell stacks that are the heart of a home fuel cell system being developed by Fraunhofe...

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

The CSIRO has generated 'supercritical steam' at a pressure of 23.5 MPa (3,400 psi) and 57...

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

A diagram illustrating the principle behind the new hybrid energy transfer system (Image: ...

Artificially replicating the biological process of photosynthesis is a goal being sought on many fronts, and it promises to one day improve light-to-energy efficiencies of solar collection well beyond what's possible with photovoltaic cells. One of the first steps is to imitate the mechanisms at work in the transfer of energy from reception through to output. To this end, Scientists have recently experimented with a combination of biological and photonic quantum mechanical states to form new half-light half-matter particle, called the “polariton.” It could help realize fully synthetic systems by mimicking the energy transport systems of biological photosynthesis.  Read More

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