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Rice University

Health & Wellbeing

Solar steam sterilization system could clean up in the developing world

Last year, researchers at Rice University revealed a new way to convert solar energy directly into steam using light-absorbing nanoparticles. At that time, the technology had already been used to create a solar steam-powered autoclave for sterilizing medical and dental equipment and the project had been awarded a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to turn the technology to the task of sanitizing human waste. The researchers have now put both applications to the test.Read More

Science

Threadlike carbon nanotube fiber combines strength, flexibility and conductivity

At about 100 times the strength of steel at one sixth the weight and with impressive electrical conductive properties, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have promised much since their discovery in 1991. The problem has been translating their impressive nanoscale properties into real-world applications on the macro scale. Researchers have now unveiled a new CNT fiber that conducts heat and electricity like a metal wire, is very strong like carbon fiber, and is flexible like a textile thread.Read More

Environment

Graphene oxide causes radioactive material to "clump" out of water

Removing radioactive material from contaminated water, such as that in Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plants, could be getting a little easier. Scientists from Houston’s Rice University and Lomonosov Moscow State University have discovered that when flakes of graphene oxide are added to such water, it causes the radionuclides to condense into clumps. Those clumps can then be separated and disposed of. Read More

Energy

Plant root used to create eco-friendly lithium-ion battery

Researchers have found an eco-friendly alternative to the metal ores currently favored in the electrodes of lithium-ion batteries. The new non-toxic and sustainable battery uses purpurin, a red/yellow dye extracted from the root of the madder plant that has been used for dying cloth for at least 3,500 years – meaning the substance can simply be grown rather than mined.Read More

Science

High-efficiency solar energy tech turns water into steam

A team of researchers at Rice University has developed a new technology that uses light-absorbing nanoparticles to convert solar energy directly into steam. Even though it is already significantly more efficient than solar panels at producing electricity, the technology will likely find its first applications in low-cost sanitation, water purification and human waste treatment for the developing world.Read More

Science

MIT breakthrough could lead to paper-thin bullet-proof armor

Scientists have theorized that paper-thin composite nanomaterials could stop bullets just as effectively as heavy weight body armor, but progress has been hampered by their inability to reliably test such materials against projectile impacts. Researchers at MIT and Rice University have developed a breakthrough stress-test that fires microscopic glass beads at impact-absorbing material. Although the projectiles are much smaller than a bullet, the experimental results could be scaled up to predict how the material would stand up to larger impacts.Read More

Energy

How to boost lithium battery performance – just add crushed silicon

Researchers at Rice University and Lockheed Martin may have developed a low-cost method of creating longer-lasting, high-capacity lithium-ion batteries. Currently graphite is used as the anode in commercial li-ion products, despite the fact that a silicon anode could potentially store ten times more lithium ions. The team says it has solved one of the problems associated with silicon, which nearly triples the energy density of current li-ion batteries.Read More

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