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Energy

— Around The Home

Envirotouch switch keeps your energy use in check

By - December 9, 2014 4 Pictures
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
— Environment

Record efficiency for converting solar energy to hydrogen without rare metals

By - December 8, 2014 2 Pictures
Using solar energy to split water into its component parts, thereby allowing the solar energy to be stored as hydrogen fuel, generally involves one of two methods: using photoelectrochemical cells to directly split the water, or using solar cells to produce electricity to power an electrolyzer that separates the water molecules. One problem associated with the latter method is that it currently relies on rare metals. But now scientists from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have managed to do so using common materials, and have achieved a record solar energy to hydrogen conversion efficiency in the process. Read More
— Electronics

New electrolyte to enable cheaper, less toxic magnesium-sulfur-based batteries

By - November 30, 2014 1 Picture
There's another promising contender in the race to supplant the dominance of lithium-ion and metal-hydride based batteries in the world of energy storage. New research from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology's (KIT's) Helmholtz Institute Ulm (HIU) details the development of an electrolyte that can be used in new magnesium-sulfur battery cells that would be more efficient and inexpensive than the dominant types of batteries in use today. Read More
— Electronics

New technique for generating electricity from mechanical vibrations

By - November 12, 2014 1 Picture
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

Using 'dirty silicon' to cut the cost of solar cells

By - November 5, 2014 5 Pictures
Most everyone not vested in oil and gas agrees that renewable energies such as solar are a more sustainable option, but cost remains an issue. To make solar more competitive by addressing the high cost of solar cell production, researchers out of Norway have developed a method that could bring down the amount of silicon used per unit area by as much as 90 percent. The price of silicon is a major driver in the cost of solar panels. Read More

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