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Thermal

The new heliostats being installed to create a solar thermal field at CSIRO's Solar Energy...

Although electrical devices have evolved rapidly over the last few decades, the plants used to generate the electricity that power these devices are still dominated by the use of steam turbines that convert thermal energy, usually from the burning of fossil fuels, into mechanical energy. Even newer solar thermal power plants concentrate the sun’s rays to heat water into high-pressure steam to drive a turbine. But with water not always readily available in locations suited to harnessing solar energy, such as deserts, a new type of solar thermal field, tower and research facility is being built in Australia that requires only air and the sun, making it ideal for parts of the world that receive minimal rainfall.  Read More

A molecule of fulvalene diruthenium, which changes its configuration when it absorbs heat,...

In figuring out how a molecule called fulvalene diruthenium works to store and release heat, researchers at MIT may have paved the way for a rechargeable battery that stores heat instead of electricity. Although the molecule was discovered in 1996, ruthenium’s rarity and cost has ruled out it’s widespread use but the researchers say understanding the fundamental mechanism of how the molecule works should make it possible to find similar chemicals based on more abundant, less expensive materials.  Read More

Lunar Microwave Radiometer Daytime Brightness Temperature map of the Moon

The first complete microwave image of the Moon taken by Chinese lunar satellite Chang'E-1 has been revealed. Chang’E-1 is China’s first scientific mission to explore planetary bodies beyond Earth and the on-board Lunar Microwave Radiometer has made it possible for the first time to globally map the Moon in microwave frequencies. Radar observations of the Moon are unable to provide thermal information, and microwave observations taken from Earth cannot reach the far side of the moon. So Chang'E-1's (CE-1) orbit was conducted at an altitude of 200km (124 miles) and allowed it to observe every location of the moon with a nadir view and at high spatial resolution.  Read More

The all-electric Ford Focus will use liquid cooling/heating for its lithium-ion battery sy...

One of the downsides of the lithium-ion battery systems used in electric vehicles is that their performance, reliability, safety and durability can be negatively affected by extreme temperatures. When the all-new Ford Focus Electric debuts later this year in the U.S. it will be powered by a lithium-ion battery – no news there. What is interesting, however, is that the battery system will use cooled and heated liquid to regulate battery temperature, which should extend battery life and maximize driving range.  Read More

ORNL's James Klett with his LED-cooling graphite foam

LED lamps may soon be able to go much longer between fixture replacements thanks to a new graphite foam cooling system developed at the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The graphite foam works by passively wicking heat away from the lamp via its lightly-packed, open skeletal structure – and given that a ten-degree decrease in operating temperature can double the lifespan of LED lighting components, the benefits of keeping them cool are clear.  Read More

A land based OTEC facility at Keahole Point on the Kona coast of Hawaii

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) involves placing a heat engine between warm water collected at the ocean’s surface and cold water pumped from the deep ocean. Like a ball rolling downhill, heat flows from the warm reservoir to the cool one. The greater the temperature difference, the stronger the flow of heat that can be used to do useful work such as spinning a turbine and generating electricity. Researchers say that the temperature differential is around one degree Celcius greater on the leeward side of Hawaiian islands it is better suited for future ocean-based OTEC energy plants.  Read More

Multiple layers of graphene are being advanced as a new solution to fight overheating in e...

Overheating in laptops and electronic gadgets isn't just an annoyance to the end user — it's a major technological hurdle that puts a hard limit to the speed and energy efficiency of electronics. In a paper recently published on the journal Nature Materials, a team of scientists from the University of California found that multiple layers of graphene show strong heat conducting properties that can be harnessed in removing dissipated heat from electronic devices.  Read More

The SOLO-TREC autonomous underwater vehicle is deployed off the coast of Hawaii on an ocea...

We’ve covered a few underwater autonomous robots designed to make exploring the murky depths easier here on Gizmag, such as Snookie and the Talisman, but none that can generate its own power – until now. NASA, US Navy and university researchers have successfully demonstrated the first underwater vehicle to be powered entirely by natural, renewable, ocean thermal energy. Scalable for use on most robotic oceanographic vehicles, this technological breakthrough could usher in a new generation of autonomous underwater vehicles capable of virtually indefinite ocean monitoring for climate and marine animal studies, exploration and surveillance.  Read More

Johns Hopkins researchers are testing an infrared scanning system to detect melanoma (Imag...

Although melanoma is one of the less common types of skin cancer, it is responsible for the majority (around 75 percent) of skin cancer related deaths. Part of the problem is that current diagnoses rely on subjective clues such as size, shape and coloring of a mole. With the aim of providing an objective measurement as to whether a lesion may be malignant, researchers at John Hopkins University have developed a prototype non-invasive infrared scanning system that works by looking for the tiny temperature difference between healthy tissue and a growing tumor.  Read More

A laptop generating a little too much waste heat (Photo: secumem via Wikipedia Commons)

That heat emanating from your computer as you sit reading this article amounts to nothing more than wasted energy. And your computer is not alone. More than half of the energy consumed worldwide is wasted, most of it in the form of excess heat. But new research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) indicates it might be possible to harvest much of the wasted heat produced by everything from computer processors to car engines and electric powerplants, and convert it into usable electricity. This kind of waste-energy harvesting might lead to mobile phones with double the talk time, laptop computers that can operate twice as long before needing to be plugged in to mains power, or energy plants that produce more electricity for a given amount of fuel.  Read More

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