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Phase change material

The prototype device utilizes paraffin contained within thin aluminum plates

Although solar panels are active while the sun is shining, they typically don't do much once the sun goes down. This is why some systems incorporate water tanks. The water is heated during the day via the panels, then that stored thermal energy (heat) is used to warm the home at night. While the tanks are effective, they also take up a lot of space, making them difficult to fit into peoples' homes. A newly-developed device, however, stores just as much heat in half the space – using paraffin instead of water.  Read More

The robotics material in its hard (left) and soft states

If you've ever watched an octopus, you may have noticed how they can deliver powerful grasping force when necessary, yet can also squeeze through tiny openings by essentially making themselves "liquid." Now imagine if there were robots that could do the same thing. They could conceivably squirm through debris to reach buried survivors at disaster sites, or even travel through patients' bodies to perform medical procedures. An international team of scientists is working on making such technology a reality, using a combination of polyurethane foam and wax.  Read More

Still images drawn with the 'nano-pixel' technology that each measure around 70 micrometre...

The Retina displays featured on Apple's iPhone 4 and 5 models pack a pixel density of 326 ppi, with individual pixels measuring 78 micrometers. That might seem plenty good enough given the average human eye is unable to differentiate between the individual pixels, but scientists in the UK have now developed technology that could lead to extremely high-resolution displays that put such pixel densities to shame.  Read More

The Temperfect mug

Drinking hot beverages can be a tricky business. If you don't want them becoming tepid too quickly, you have to pour them into your mug while they're still too hot. Even then, you're left with a relatively short period in which they're "just right." The designers of the Temperfect mug, however, want to change that. They claim that their mug can keep your drink at the perfect sipping temperature for hours at a time, without using any electricity.  Read More

The phase-change drywall absorbs heat during the day, and releases it at night

Scientists from Spain’s Universidad Politécnica de Madrid have created a new type of drywall, that they claim can reduce a building’s energy consumption by up to 40 percent. Its secret? Lots of tiny beads of paraffin.  Read More

A sample of Fraunhofer's CryoSolplus phase-change battery coolant

One of the big enemies of electric vehicle batteries is heat. Batteries already warm up under normal use, but when hot summer temperatures or high workloads are thrown in, overheating becomes a real possibility. According to the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology, running a battery at ten degrees over its maximum “comfort level” of about 35ºC (95ºF) can deplete its service life by half. That’s why researchers there have developed a battery coolant known as CryoSolplus, which is said to offer three times the cooling capacity of plain water.  Read More

The Apollo dress shirt from Ministry of Supply uses NASA space suit technology to regulate...

So you're looking dapper in your snappy business suit as you head out into the afternoon sun to walk a few blocks to your next meeting but by the time you arrive you're a good deal less fresh than when you set off just moments before. Your expensive new super white cotton shirt is stuck to your back and something nasty is taking to the air around you. This is precisely the kind of scenario that the Apollo shirt from Ministry of Supply was designed to combat. The wrinkle-free dress shirt makes use of NASA technology to help regulate body temperature, while also neutralizing pit-pong and adapting to the movement of the wearer.  Read More

Two Purdue University engineering students have converted a gas-powered Yamaha YZF600r int...

It doesn't seem too long ago when we were reporting on breakthroughs in battery technology that would allow electric motorbikes like the Brammo Enertia to travel as much as 45 miles (72 km) on a single charge. These days, we're seeing most of the recent arrivals (such as the 2012 Zero S range, for instance, or the gorgeous custom-built Brutus 2.0) flying past the 100 miles (160 km) barrier with relative ease, a range long enough to quieten even the most fervent of petrol-heads. Two Purdue University engineering students have recently completed the conversion of a Yamaha YZF600r to electric power that further pushes the envelope to more than 120 miles (193 km), using batteries cooled by phase change material.  Read More

A new heat-regulating material could be used in buildings to cut heating and cooling costs

Researchers at the Ningpo, China campus of the University of Nottingham (UNNC) have created a new heat-regulating material that could be used to cut the heating and cooling costs of buildings. The non-deformed storage phase change material (PCM) can be fixed so that it starts absorbing any excess heat above a pre-determined temperature and releasing stored heat when the ambient temperature drops below the set point. The researchers say the material can be manufactured in a variety of shapes and sizes, even small enough so that it can be sprayed as a microscopic film to surfaces in existing buildings.  Read More

Swiss researchers have achieved reliable multi-bit phase-change memory, using a specially-...

Scientists from IBM Research – Zurich are claiming a world-first, for their recent demonstration of “reliable multi-bit phase-change memory [PCM] technology.” PCM involves the use of materials that change between crystalline and amorphous states, the two states having different levels of electrical resistance – data is stored in a binary fashion, using one level to represent a 0, and the other to represent a 1. By applying new techniques to existing PCM technology, the researchers were reportedly able to write and retrieve data 100 times faster than is possible with Flash.  Read More

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