Through energy harvesting tiles, backpacks and insoles, there has been much talk about harnessing our kinetic energy to power mobile devices and other electronics. A team of researchers is claiming to have made a big breakthrough in the collective effort to turn human motion into usable energy, developing a new method of producing useful amounts of electricity from our footsteps.
The winning design of what is set to be the "largest waste-to-energy plant in the world" has been announced. Shenzhen East Waste-to-Energy Plant will take a distinctive circular form. It was designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects and Gottlieb Paludan Architects.
Experimentation with Germany's newest fusion reactor is beginning to heat up, to temperatures of around 80 million degrees Celsius, to be precise. Having fired up the Wendelstein 7-X to produce helium plasma late last year, researchers have built on their early success to generate its first hydrogen plasma, an event they say begins the true scientific operation of the world's largest fusion stellarator.
According to the Energy Supply Association of Australia, Australia boasts the highest rate of household solar panel installation in the world. But despite much of the continent being seemingly perfect for large scale solar, it has been slow in coming to the sun-drenched country. That could be set to change with the official opening of two plants that AGL Energy managing director and CEO Andy Vesey says "signals the birth of large-scale solar in Australia".
A little over a year ago, Pavegen's kinetic energy-harvesting tiles were installed at a soccer pitch in Rio. The movement of players across the tiles is used to generate electricity and power the pitch's floodlights. Now, a second such pitch has been created in Lagos, Nigeria.
The blistering advance of technology we are experiencing in the 21st century is nothing short of mind-boggling, and the rate of change being exponential, 2015 was by definition the busiest year yet. So before the Gregorian calendar keels over into 2016, let's take a wander through some of the year's most significant, salutary and attention-grabbing examples of scientific achievement, technological innovation and human endeavor.
Testing of the Wendelstein 7-x stellarator has started with a bang, albeit a very very small one, with researchers switching on the experimental fusion reactor to produce its first helium plasma at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Greifswald, Germany. After almost a decade of construction work and more than a million assembly hours, the first tests have gone according to plan with the researchers to shift focus to producing hydrogen plasma after the new year.
Clean fuels come in many forms, but burning iron or aluminum seems to be stretching the definition – unless you ask a team of scientists led by McGill University, who see a low-carbon future that runs on metal. The team is studying the combustion characteristics of metal powders to determine whether such powders could provide a cleaner, more viable alternative to fossil fuels than hydrogen, biofuels, or electric batteries.
Living on a houseboat may seem very romantic, but the day-to-day misery of hauling water from shore and listening to the thump of the generator can soon take the icing off the cupcake. As a glimpse into what could be the future of aquatic living, two Fraunhofer Institutes and their partners are working on a self-sufficient floating home that creates its own water, electricity, and heat without looking like a works barge.
In a large complex located at Greifswald in the north-east corner of Germany, sits a new and unusual nuclear fusion reactor awaiting a few final tests before being powered-up for the very first time. Dubbed the Wendelstein 7-x fusion stellarator, it has been more than 15 years in the making and is claimed to be so magnetically efficient that it will be able to continuously contain super-hot plasma in its enormous magnetic field for more than 30 minutes at a time. If successful, this new reactor may help realize the long-held goal of continuous operation essential for the success of nuclear fusion power generation.