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— Environment

MIT researchers propose recycling lead from old batteries to produce new solar cells

The world of modern technology is one of out with the old, in with the new. For battery technology, that means the expected demise of lead-acid batteries and replacement by a more efficient, cheaper, and environmentally-friendly alternative. This is good news, but leaves the problem of what to do with all the lead in the batteries currently in use when the time comes to dispose of them? Researchers at MIT have an answer – use it to make solar cells. Read More
— Space

NASA selects proposals for advanced energy storage technologies

Once upon a time, energy systems for space missions were simple. You used batteries for very short missions, solar panels in the inner Solar System, nuclear power generators if you were beyond Mars or needed a lot of power, and fuel cells for manned spacecraft. However, as space exploration starts looking into lunar polar craters, comets, and the icy moons of Jupiter, new energy systems will be needed. To anticipate that need, NASA has made awards to four proposals to develop advanced energy storage technology for future manned and unmanned space missions.. Read More
— Environment

Cigarette butts transformed into high-performance supercapacitor component

Billions of cigarette butts are discarded around the world each year and, even when disposed of properly, pose a threat to the environment by leaching arsenic, lead and other nasty chemicals into land and waterways. New research shows these butts could be set for a new lease on life, with a team of Korean scientists demonstrating that used cigarette filters could actually double as a highly-effective energy storage material. Read More
— Environment

All-in-one system uses plant oils to power, heat, and cool the home

A team of researchers led by Newcastle University has produced an all-in-one Biofuel Micro Trigeneration (BMT) prototype system fueled entirely by unprocessed plant oils that provides combined cooling, heating, and electrical power. This first-generation system is designed for use in homes, with the potential for up-scaling for larger commercial and industrial applications. Read More
— Science

Sponge-like structure generates steam using lowest concentration of solar energy yet

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
— Environment

Moth eyes inspire more efficient photoelectrochemical cells

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
— 3D Printing

Semi-finalists in Electrolux Design Lab 2014 announced

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
— Environment

Net-zero energy test home ends year-long study with surplus energy

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