Revolution-Green http://revolution-green.com Alternative Energy News Thu, 23 Mar 2017 07:56:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.3 Pulverizing electronic waste is green, clean — and cold http://revolution-green.com/pulverizing-electronic-waste-green-clean-cold/ http://revolution-green.com/pulverizing-electronic-waste-green-clean-cold/#comments Wed, 22 Mar 2017 04:50:38 +0000 http://revolution-green.com/?p=15048 This story is a little left field, but simplistic and solves a growing problem especially in Asia Researchers at Rice University and the Indian Institute of Science have an idea to simplify electronic waste recycling: Crush it into nanodust. Simplified Process Specifically, they want to make the particles so small that separating different components is […]

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This story is a little left field, but simplistic and solves a growing problem especially in Asia

Researchers at Rice University and the Indian Institute of Science have an idea to simplify electronic waste recycling: Crush it into nanodust.

Circuit boards from electronics, like computer mice, can be crushed into nanodust by a cryo-mill, according to researchers at Rice University and the Indian Institute of Science. The dust can then be easily separated into its component elements for recycling. CREDIT: Chandra Sekhar Tiwary/Rice University

Simplified Process

Specifically, they want to make the particles so small that separating different components is relatively simple compared with processes used to recycle electronic junk now.

Chandra Sekhar Tiwary, a postdoctoral researcher at Rice and a researcher at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, uses a low-temperature cryo-mill to pulverize electronic waste – primarily the chips, other electronic components and polymers that make up printed circuit boards (PCBs) — into particles so small that they do not contaminate each other.

Then they can be sorted and reused, he said.

The process is the subject of a Materials Today paper by Tiwary, Rice materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan and Indian Institute professors Kamanio Chattopadhyay and D.P. Mahapatra.

The researchers intend it to replace current processes that involve dumping outdated electronics into landfills, or burning or treating them with chemicals to recover valuable metals and alloys. None are particularly friendly to the environment, Tiwary said.

“In every case, the cycle is one way, and burning or using chemicals takes a lot of energy while still leaving waste,” he said. “We propose a system that breaks all of the components – metals, oxides and polymers – into homogenous powders and makes them easy to reuse.”

The researchers estimate that so-called e-waste will grow by 33 percent over the next four years, and by 2030 will weigh more than a billion tons. Nearly 80 to 85 percent of often-toxic e-waste ends up in an incinerator or a landfill, Tiwary said, and is the fastest-growing waste stream in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The answer may be scaled-up versions of a cryo-mill designed by the Indian team that, rather than heating them, keeps materials at ultra-low temperatures during crushing.

Cold materials are more brittle and easier to pulverize, Tiwary said. “We take advantage of the physics. When you heat things, they are more likely to combine: You can put metals into polymer, oxides into polymers. That’s what high-temperature processing is for, and it makes mixing really easy.

“But in low temperatures, they don’t like to mix. The materials’ basic properties – their elastic modulus, thermal conductivity and coefficient of thermal expansion – all change. They allow everything to separate really well,” he said.

The test subjects in this case were computer mice – or at least their PCB innards. The cryo-mill contained argon gas and a single tool-grade steel ball. A steady stream of liquid nitrogen kept the container at 154 kelvins (minus 182 degrees Fahrenheit).

When shaken, the ball smashes the polymer first, then the metals and then the oxides just long enough to separate the materials into a powder, with particles between 20 and 100 nanometers wide. That can take up to three hours, after which the particles are bathed in water to separate them.

“Then they can be reused,” he said. “Nothing is wasted.”

Reference

S. Kishore of the Indian Institute of Science is co-lead author of the paper. R. Vasireddi, also of the Indian Institute of Science, is a co-author. Ajayan is chair of Rice’s Department of Materials Science and NanoEngineering, the Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor in Engineering and a professor of chemistry.

Read the abstract at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1369702116303972

This news release can be found online at http://news.rice.edu/2017/03/20/pulverizing-e-waste-is-green-clean-and-cold/

Related materials

Ajayan Research Group: http://ajayan.rice.edu

Non-Equilibrium Processing and Nano Materials Group (Chattopadhyay lab): materials.iisc.ernet.in/~kamanio/

 

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Spinning sail technology http://revolution-green.com/spinning-sail-technology/ http://revolution-green.com/spinning-sail-technology/#comments Wed, 22 Mar 2017 00:59:15 +0000 http://revolution-green.com/?p=15044 Over 200 years after steamships first began crossing the ocean, wind power is finding its way back into seafaring. Global shipping firm Maersk is planning to fit spinning “rotor sails” to one of its oil tankers as a way of reducing its fuel costs and carbon emissions. The company behind the technology, Finnish firm Norsepower, […]

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Over 200 years after steamships first began crossing the ocean, wind power is finding its way back into seafaring. Global shipping firm Maersk is planning to fit spinning “rotor sails” to one of its oil tankers as a way of reducing its fuel costs and carbon emissions. The company behind the technology, Finnish firm Norsepower, says this is the first retrofit installation of a wind-powered energy system on a tanker.

Norsepower

Yet the idea of using these spinning cylinders on ships to generate thrust and drive them forward was first trialled in 1924 – and shortly after disregarded. So why do Norsepower and Maersk (and the UK government, which is providing most of the £3.5m of funding), think this time the technology will be more of a success?

The rotor sail was invented by German engineer Anton Flettner. It is effectively a large, spinning metal cylinder that uses something called the Magnus effect to harness wind power and propel a ship.

How does it work?

When wind passes the spinning rotor sail, the air flow accelerates on one side and decelerates on the opposite side. This creates a thrust force that is perpendicular to the wind flow direction. Although it takes energy in the form of electricity to spin the sail, the thrust it produces means the engines can be significantly throttled back, so it reduces overall fuel use and emissions.

Flettner built two rotor vessels, one of which managed to sail across the Atlantic to New York in 1926. But this modern attempt to harness the wind for ocean travel failed to compete with diesel power. Rotor sails were too heavy and the costs too high for them to yield the expected fuel savings and become successful with shipping operators.

The first Flettner rotor-powered ship. Library of Congress

Technology improvements and the rise of environmental regulations have led to renewed interest in rotor sails. Wind power firm Enercon launched a new rotor ship in 2008, while in 2014 Norsepower added its first rotor sail to a cargo ship owned by sustainable shipping firm Bore. Promising lightweight and relatively cheap materials and designs, combined with higher oil prices and the need to reduce emissions, mean rotor sails could now take off.

The 240 metre-long Maersk tanker will be retrofitted with two modernised versions of the Flettner rotor that are 30 metres tall and five metres in diameter. In favourable wind conditions, each sail can produce the equivalent of 3MW of power using only 50kW of electricity. Norsepower expect to reduce average fuel consumption on typical global shipping routes by 7% to 10%, equivalent to about 1,000 tonnes of fuel a year.

 

The rotor sail project will be the first installation of wind-powered energy technology on this type of tanker. This will provide insights into fuel savings and operational experience and help to reduce their environmental impact. Each rotor sail is made using the latest intelligent lightweight composite sandwich materials, and offers a simple yet robust hi-tech solution, although they could still cost more than £1.5m to install. That is the equivalent of around 5.5% of the cost of a typical used ship of that size, but a significantly lower percentage for a new tanker.

Greener technologies

The rotor sails that Maersk will be testing might be its most promising technology yet, but it has also been exploring other efficiency measures. Shipping is entering a brave new era with accelerating advances in big data, artificial intelligence, smart ships, robotics and automation. Maersk is testing drones to deliver ship supplies instead of traditional barges, special paints on its hulls that would cut down on algae and other microorganisms that increase drag, solar-powered sails, kites that tow a vessel, batteries, and biofuels.

What will force more shipping firms to adopt these kind of measures are the new pollution rules that will come into effect at the end of the decade. From 2020, shipping companies will be required to reduce the sulphur content of their fuel, which could come at a significant cost. This potentially makes investment in technologies such as rotor sails much more worthwhile. Wind propulsion for commercial vessels appears to be gaining mainstream industry support and perhaps, in the not too distant future, might even become commonplace.

Reference

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

http://norsepowerltd-public.sharepoint.com/rotor-sail-solution

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New gel-like coating beefs up the performance of lithium-sulfur batteries http://revolution-green.com/new-gel-like-coating-beefs-performance-lithium-sulfur-batteries/ http://revolution-green.com/new-gel-like-coating-beefs-performance-lithium-sulfur-batteries/#comments Wed, 22 Mar 2017 00:11:16 +0000 http://revolution-green.com/?p=15040 Many of these stories on battery enhancements may seem small steps, but their impact is amplified by the deduction in costs seen in the last few years. A small step like this can make a huge difference in the longevity of lithium-ion batteries in vehicles and for grid storage. Improve the longevity and you improve […]

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Many of these stories on battery enhancements may seem small steps, but their impact is amplified by the deduction in costs seen in the last few years. A small step like this can make a huge difference in the longevity of lithium-ion batteries in vehicles and for grid storage. Improve the longevity and you improve the economical viability.

Yale scientists have developed an ultra-thin coating material that has the potential to extend the life and improve the efficiency of lithium-sulfur batteries, one of the most promising areas of energy research today.

An electrode is coated with a layer of the new material. CREDIT: Yale University

In a study published online March 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers describe the new material — a dendrimer-graphene oxide composite film — which can be applied to any sulfur cathode. A cathode is the positive terminal on a battery.

According to the researchers, sulfur cathodes coated with the material can be stably discharged and recharged for more than 1,000 cycles, enhancing the battery’s efficiency and number of cycles.

“Our approach is general in that it can be integrated with virtually any kind of sulfur electrode to increase cycling stability,” said Hailiang Wang, assistant professor of chemistry at Yale and lead investigator of the study. “The developed film is so thin and light it will not affect the overall size or weight of the battery, and thus it will function without compromising the energy and power density of the device.”

New types of electrodes — positive and negative terminals — are considered essential for the development of a new generation of high energy-density batteries. As lithium-ion batteries begin to reach their capacity limits, many researchers are looking at lithium-sulfur as a solution. Sulfur is both lightweight and abundant, with a high theoretical energy capacity. However, existing lithium-sulfur battery technology suffers from a loss of capacity during cycling.

The Yale team made its discovery by combining the distinct properties of two material components. They merged the mechanical strength of graphene oxide with the ability of a dendrimer molecule to confine lithium polysulfides. The result is a gel-like slurry that can be readily coated as a 100-nanometer-thin film onto sulfur electrodes.

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The corresponding authors of the study are Gary Brudvig, the Benjamin Silliman Professor and chair of chemistry, professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry, and director of the Yale Energy Sciences Institute at Yale West Campus; Yale chemistry professor Victor Batista; and Wang.

Co-authors of the study are Wen Liu, Jianbing Jiang, Ke R. Yang, Yingying Mi, Piranavan Kumaravadivel, Yiren Zhong, Qi Fan, Zhe Weng, Zishan Wu, and Judy Cha, all of Yale, and Henghui Zhou of Peking University.

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Superconducting tape which could one day be used to double the potency of wind turbines. http://revolution-green.com/superconducting-tape-one-day-used-double-potency-wind-turbines/ http://revolution-green.com/superconducting-tape-one-day-used-double-potency-wind-turbines/#comments Tue, 21 Mar 2017 10:11:39 +0000 http://revolution-green.com/?p=15037 Eurotapes is a European research project on superconductivity.  This is the  ability of certain materials to channel electricity with zero resistance and very little power loss. The project has produced 600 metres (1,968 feet) of the tape, said the coordinator of the project, Xavier Obradors, of the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona. “This material, […]

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Eurotapes is a European research project on superconductivity.  This is the  ability of certain materials to channel electricity with zero resistance and very little power loss. The project has produced 600 metres (1,968 feet) of the tape, said the coordinator of the project, Xavier Obradors, of the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona.

“it will make it possible to manufacture wind turbines one day with double the potency of existing ones”

“This material, a copper oxide, is like a thread that conducts 100 times more electricity than copper. With this thread you can for example make cables to transport much more electricity or generate much more intense magnetic fields than today,” he told AFP.

“This new material could be used to make more potent and lighter wind turbines,” he added, predicting it will make it possible to manufacture wind turbines one day with double the potency of existing ones.

In the long run the project could “revolutionise the production of renewable energy,” the Institute said in a statement.

Eurotapes is a four-year project involving world leaders in the field of superconductivity from nine European nations—Austria, Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Romania, Slovakia and Spain.

The European Union covers the bulk of its budget of 20 million euros ($21 million).

When an electric current passes through a conductor such as copper and silver, part of the charge is lost as heat, a loss that increases with the distance the charge travels. In superconductivity—first discovered in mercury in 1911—electrical resistance suddenly drops to zero in some metals when they are cooled to near absolute zero (-273 degrees Celsius, -459 Fahrenheit).

This also produces a strong magnetic field—an effect which has found applications, including in MRI body scanners.

To achieve zero-loss power transmission now, cables encased in tubes can be cooled with liquid nitrogen to make them superconductive—but the complex and expensive technology has not been commercially used on a large scale.

Power companies have run only small-scale and pilot projects.

The aim is to one day find materials that can become superconductors at room temperature, which would allow zero-loss transmission of power over vast distances.

References

https://phys.org/news/2017-03-european-team-superconductivity-breakthrough.html

http://eurotapes.eu/summary/summary

https://phys.org/news/2017-03-material-theoretical-superconductivity.html

 

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NATHAN COPPEDGE’S PERPETUAL MOTION MACHINES http://revolution-green.com/nathan-coppedges-perpetual-motion-machines-2/ http://revolution-green.com/nathan-coppedges-perpetual-motion-machines-2/#comments Mon, 20 Mar 2017 08:22:29 +0000 http://revolution-green.com/?p=15030

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New Haven. April 20, 2015. Recently I was doing what I normally do, which is promoting my concepts of perpetual energy on the web. This led to a somewhat lengthy discussion with some of the members of this website. One of them encouraged me to submit an article explaining my ideas to the general public. As a disclaimer, I will say that I have not actually built a complete perpetual motion machine. However, unlike many others, I think I have found experimental evidence. This puts me in one of four categories. Either I have evidence and it’s too complicated to prove, or I’m too naïve to realize it doesn’t work, or I have new forms of evidence, or I will gradually be disproven by sophisticated evidence from the scientific community. Essentially, like all other perpetual motion machine concepts, it boils down to one question: whether it works or does not.

Traditionally, perpetual motion is opposed by two principles from physics and mathematics, called the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics. Some people with experience with physics think that these principles aren’t even required to disprove perpetual motion. They cite friction and the usual inability for a device to gain altitude after it has lost altitude. Wheels, for example, turn efficiently, but take losses from friction. How could I possibly solve these problems, let alone the problems of thermodynamics? There is at least one loophole, called the problem of proportionality. If a system can make special use of geometry to find a special efficiency in the way objects move, then physics laws might be moot, because there might be ‘hidden exponents’.

 

Proportionality devices were assumed to be disproven in a proof introduced by Emmy Noether as recently as 1915, which states that conservation of energy follows from other laws of physics, including, I think, Newtonian Mechanics. However, while this law has found no widely cited physical exception, if perpetual motion machines had not previously been built, then a new form of mechanical dynamics such as perpetual motion might serve as a legitimate contradiction of the law.

In the abstract, because of the reliance of Noether’s theorem upon the theory of the dissipation of linear momentum (finite energy), the only theory that might be viable to disprove her law is a kind of ‘mass-force.’ Physicists traditionally considered this to be illegitimate, because energy is seen as something separate from the mass of an object. Physics explains that the potential energy of an object on earth in terms of mass has to do with it’s height relative to gravity. According to this view, there cannot be a perpetual motion machine, because altitude is always lost. However, in my own theories of perpetual energy, I found counter-examples.

The first major counter-example I found was confirmed in a 2009 experiment. I found a rolling weight of any earthly mass can pull an identical weight vertically, when the second weight is partly supported horizontally. I also designed on paper a device called the Motive Mass Machine Iteration 2.

The device [pictured above], was supposed to make use of the free-falling versus supported weight principle to overcome the problem of proportionality. However, since 2009 I have not built the device, for several reasons. 1. I have been resting on my laurels, thinking it was enough to be the designer without being the builder. 2. I thought it would be better to invest my valuable time as a designer in designing other types of devices, which could also eventually be proven viable. 3. I thought a professional manufacturer might be better at constructing these things (since I had already provided the design, my work was done), citing the crudeness of my experiments as evidence of an inability to build the real thing. And, 4. As I learned later, I feared angels of judgment.

 

For a two years I fell into a strange kind of stupidity, in which I conducted no experiments. Perhaps it was entropy getting back at me. I had previously found that there was both evidence and no evidence for my Tilt Motor concept. According to my experiments, it was exactly as if the laws of physics had changed in the course of my two experiments. For, in the first experiment, the Tilt Motor appeared to work, whereas in the second experiment, it clearly did not work. Thinking I didn’t want things to get worse, I decided not to build a full-scale model of that device. I knew at this point that if it did work, the construction must be highly specific. It was something I was not capable of building.

However, I did continue my experiments on new concepts. This brings me to my second counter-example to Noether’s Law.

 

 

In Nov. 9th – 10th, 2013, I built a counterweighted leverage apparatus which was designed expressly on the urge to prove that energy extraction could be possible. The device made use of six different principles:

(1) It begins from rest and uses no electricity or stored energy, except a counterweight, (2) It moves upwards and then downwards on its own, (3) It uses a principle of weight versus leverage, with the weight at a lesser leverage distance, (4) It makes use of a supporting track, which creates in imbalance between the mobile weight and the counterweight, (5) The lever is unbalanced at every point of motion, and (6) All parts may return to their initial altitudes after motion.

While not a perpetual motion machine, my experiment succeeded. I had proven that it was possible for a device to move up and down from rest. And since all parts could return to the same altitudes, it was at no cost of energy. Since conventional physics said that there were no such thing as ideal systems, I knew that energy could be extracted.

I subsequently designed (on paper), a full mock-up of a device I felt, as a result of the experiment, was proven to be perpetual. It simply made use of the same unit repeated in a horizontal circle. Since the marble didn’t need to gain average altitude in the entire course of the circuit, I reasoned that there was nothing else to prove! I had designed a perpetual motion machine!

My third counter-example did not come for another eight months. In July 3rd, 2014, I conducted an experiment so subtle that I still don’t know if it works. The experiment was inspired by ‘message balls’ which have widely been reported to roll on the Vatican roof (actually, making it much more complicated, this may be a delusion I developed, along with a personal theory that the Masons had invented perpetual motion). And, another inspiration was a device with a poor reputation amongst physicists, that I call the tracked spindle. According to what I thought I found, under highly specific configurations, an object can roll upwards! I tested the simple but subtle device with a level, and found that either the rolling marble (which was the only moving part) was losing a lot of altitude relative to the board (which I thought it wasn’t), or the marble had actually gained altitude! Surely this difference was very subtle! But there was no doubt that the sideboard was angled upwards. And I knew momentum could be provided by the angle of a separate backboard. I reasoned if momentum could be provided, so too, resistance could be overcome, however slight, so long as the marble was supported.

If this third or fourth major experiment worked, then it was possible to build a device called an Escher Machine, in which a marble could roll upwards indefinitely until it ran out of gravity, or was blown by the wind, etc.! I knew this device appeared to contradict physics, but the work that led me to this experiment seemed to me to be belabored enough to justify that ‘something happened’! I felt on top of the world, with the idea that I alone was conducting significant experiments with simple over-unity!

But, perhaps these devices already existed, and no one was talking about them? That was possible, compared to the evidence I had already found.

Article Posted on behalf of: Nathan Coppedge

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Moving electrons from layer 1 to layer 3 without ever being detected in layer 2 http://revolution-green.com/moving-electrons-layer-1-layer-3-without-ever-detected-layer-2/ http://revolution-green.com/moving-electrons-layer-1-layer-3-without-ever-detected-layer-2/#comments Sat, 18 Mar 2017 13:31:01 +0000 http://revolution-green.com/?p=15027 This is a rather mind bending story, or as a call it a 2 coconut wine read. (you can use coconut wine to run your car I think) Quantum movement of electrons in atomic layers shows potential of materials for electronics and photonics Common sense might dictate that for an object to move from one […]

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This is a rather mind bending story, or as a call it a 2 coconut wine read. (you can use coconut wine to run your car I think)

Quantum movement of electrons in atomic layers shows potential of materials for electronics and photonics

Illustration of laser beam triggering quantum movement of electrons between top and bottom layers, bypassing middle layer. The new tri-layer material from KU’s Ultrafast Laser Lab material someday could lead to next-generation electronics. CREDIT: Frank Ceballos University of Kansas

Common sense might dictate that for an object to move from one point to another, it must go through all the points on the path.

“Imagine someone driving from Kansas City to Topeka on I-70 — it’s safe to say that he must be in Lawrence at some point during the trip,” said Hui Zhao, associate professor of physics & astronomy at the University of Kansas. “Or in basketball, when KU’s Josh Jackson receives an alley-oop pass from Frank Mason III and dunks the ball from above to below the rim, the ball must be in the hoop at some point in time.”

Not so for electrons in the quantum world, which don’t follow such common-sense rules for the most part.

“Electrons can show up on the first floor, then the third floor, without ever having been on the second floor,” Zhao said.

Zhao, along with KU physics graduate student Frank Ceballos and Self Graduate Fellow Samuel Lane, has just observed the counterintuitive motion of electrons during experiments in KU’s Ultrafast Laser Lab.

“In a sample made of three atomic layers, electrons in the top layer move to the bottom layer, without ever being spotted in the middle layer,” said the KU researcher.

Because this sort of “quantum” transport is very efficient, Zhao said it can play a key role in a new type of manmade material called “van der Waals materials” that could be used someday in solar cells and electronics.

Their findings were just published in Nano Letters, a premier journal on nanoscience and nanotechnology.

The KU research team fabricated the sample by using the “Scotch tape” method, where single-molecule layers are lifted from a crystal with tape, then verified under an optical microscope. The sample contains layers of MoS2, WS2 and MoSe2 — each layer thinner than one nanometer. All three are semiconductor materials and respond to light with different colors. Based on that, the KU researchers used a laser pulse of 100 femtosecond duration to liberate some of the electrons in the top MoSe2 layer so they could move freely.

“The color of the laser pulse was chosen so that only electrons in the top layer can be liberated,” Zhao said. “We then used another laser pulse with the ‘right’ color for the bottom MoS2 layer to detect the appearance of these electrons in that layer. The second pulse was purposely arranged to arrive at the sample after the first pulse by about 1 picosecond, by letting it travel a distance 0.3 mm longer than the first.”

The team found electrons move from the top to the bottom layer in about one picosecond on average.

“If electrons were things that followed ‘common sense,’ like so-called classical particles, they’d be in the middle layer at some point during this one picosecond,” Zhao said.

The researchers used a third pulse with another color to monitor the middle layer and found no electrons. The experimental discovery of the counterintuitive transport of electrons in the stack of atomic layers was further confirmed by simulations performed by theorists Ming-Gang Ju and Xiao Cheng Zeng at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, who co-authored the paper. According to Zhao, the verification of quantum transport of electrons between atomic layers connected by van der Waals force is encouraging news for researchers developing new materials.

“The Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age — materials have been the defining element of human history,” he said. “The modern information-technology age is largely based on silicon, which is a result of many decades of material research focused on finding new materials and developing better techniques to make them with high quality and low cost.”

Zhao said in recent decades researchers have learned to tune properties of materials by changing their size and shape on a nanometer scale. A new form of nanomaterials, known as two-dimensional materials, was discovered about a decade ago. “They are formed by single layers of atoms or molecules,” he said. “The most well-known example is graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms. So far, about 100 types of two-dimensional materials have been discovered, such as the three used in this study. Because these atomic layers can be stacked by using van der Waals force, they opened up an entirely new route to make new functional materials.”

The researcher said his team’s work focused on a key requirement for such materials to be ideal for electronic and optical applications: Electrons must be able to move between these atomic layers efficiently.

“This study showed electrons can transfer between these layers in a quantum fashion, just like in other conductors and semiconductors,” he said.

Research Support

The National Science Foundation funded this research. Lane was supported by the Self Graduate Fellowship.

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Sugar signaling and regulation of oil production in plants http://revolution-green.com/sugar-signaling-regulation-oil-production-plants/ http://revolution-green.com/sugar-signaling-regulation-oil-production-plants/#comments Sat, 18 Mar 2017 13:20:30 +0000 http://revolution-green.com/?p=15024 Research points to new biochemical strategies for increasing oil yield from crops grown to produce bio-fuels and bio-materials. I am not sure if this is a good thing yet as playing around with nature can have consequences.   Even plants have to live on an energy budget. While they’re known for converting solar energy into chemical energy […]

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Research points to new biochemical strategies for increasing oil yield from crops grown to produce bio-fuels and bio-materials. I am not sure if this is a good thing yet as playing around with nature can have consequences.

This image shows the portion of WRINKLED1 (green ‘ribbon’) that binds to DNA (orange, green, and blue ‘twisted ladder’) to turn on the genes for oil production in plants. The magenta, red, and blue stick-figure portions of the molecule get phosphorylated by KIN10 to mark WRINKLED1, initiating a process that leads to its destruction. Interfering with these phosphorylation sites could be one way to stabilize WRINKLED1 to increase plant oil production. CREDIT: Brookhaven National Laboratory

 

Even plants have to live on an energy budget. While they’re known for converting solar energy into chemical energy in the form of sugars, plants have sophisticated biochemical mechanisms for regulating how they spend that energy. Making oils costs a lot.

By exploring the details of this delicate energy balance, a group of scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory has identified a previously unknown link between a protein that maintains plant sugar balance and one that turns on oil production. The biochemical detective work, described in the journal The Plant Cell, points to new strategies for tapping into the energy plants capture from the sun to produce oil-based biofuels and other biomaterials.

“This study shows how understanding fundamental biochemistry and cell biology can potentially be useful for increasing the production of desired plant products,” said Brookhaven Lab senior biochemist John Shanklin, who led the research. “It’s an example of basic science pointing to ways to improve crop plants to produce more of what we want.”

Shanklin’s team, which includes postdoctoral fellow Zhiyang Zhai and research associate Hui Liu, explored the roles of genetic and biochemical factors that might provide a link between plants’ sugar levels and oil production.

“We know a lot about sugar homeostasis-the mechanisms that keep sugar at the right level,” Shanklin said. “One of the key players is a protein that controls sugar levels much like a thermostat controls temperatures.”

When sugar is low, this protein, known as KIN10, adds a phosphate group to as many as a thousand different proteins to change their functions in ways that ultimately increase sugar levels, Shanklin explained. As sugar levels increase KIN10’s ability to phosphorylate proteins becomes inhibited, slowing down sugar production.

In addition, when plenty of sugar is available, plants can invest in energy-intensive processes such as making oils. But when sugar levels drop, oil production slows. So Shanklin suspected a link between these two processes.

His team started by looking at the 1,000 or so proteins phosphorylated by KIN10, but didn’t find the links to oil synthesis they were looking for. So the scientists turned their focus to a master regulatory protein known to control oil synthesis.

“This protein, known as WRINKLED1, turns on the genes that make oil,” Shanklin said.

“To test for links between the two regulatory proteins, we exploited a rapid genetic analysis system to express genes (and combinations of genes) in tobacco leaves, and then used immunological methods to measure the proteins produced by those genes and quantitative analysis to measure the oil,” said Zhai, the postdoc who carried out many of the experiments.

“This was a tough detective story, solved with creativity on Zhai’s part,” said Shanklin. “He brought together a number of different biochemical and genetic techniques to solve this puzzle.”

When the scientists expressed the gene for WRINKLED1 in tobacco leaves, this oil-production “on switch” protein accumulated along with oil. However, when they also expressed the gene for KIN10, the WRINKLED1 protein was degraded and little oil accumulated. This suggested that WRINKLED1 was somehow targeted by KIN10-a previously unknown connection.

To investigate the connection further, the team purified these proteins (KIN10 and WRINKLED1) and used a radioactive form of the element phosphorous to trace the phosphorylation reaction. When KIN10 was present, the radioactive phosphorous atoms were transferred to WRINKLED1, most likely at two sites the team hypothesized as being KIN10 target sites after analyzing the protein’s sequence.

“We confirmed the identity of the two sites by making genetic variants of WRINKLED1 that lacked them, and showed that these variants weren’t phosphorylated by KIN10,” Shanklin said. “And when we tested the expression of the modified variants in tobacco leaves, WRINKLED1 accumulated to higher levels.”

The reason, Shanklin explained, is that phosphorylation marks and prepares WRINKLED1 for destruction by the cell’s natural protein recycling machinery.

This work therefore provides a mechanistic link between sugar levels and oil production.

“When sugar is low, KIN10 phosphorylates WRINKLED1, marking it for destruction, so less WRINKLED1 is available to turn on oil production,” Shanklin said. “Conversely, when sugar levels rise-when times are good-KIN10 is turned off and WRINKLED1 levels go up and drive oil production.”

The details of the study offer several possible ways for scientists to modify WRINKLED1 to try to “trick” plants into making more oil: One is to alter the sites that get phosphorylated; the other is to interfere with sites that enable the phosphorylated protein to enter the recycling machinery.

“Nature makes genetic ‘on-switches’ short lived to enable rapid responses to changing metabolic conditions,” said Shanklin. “So we don’t need to make more of the oil-production ‘on-switch,’ we just need to prevent the protein from being degraded so it accumulates and we get stronger effects.

Reference

This new mechanistic knowledge of WRINKLED1 degradation may help metabolic engineers achieve their goal of turning plant oils into a sustainable resource for making biofuels and other chemical products.

This research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by the Research Foundation for the State University of New York on behalf of Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit applied science and technology organization.

Related Links

Scientific paper: “Phosphorylation of WRINKLED1 by KIN10 Results in its Proteasomal Degradation; Providing a Link Between Energy Homeostasis and Lipid Synthesis”

An electronic version of this news release with related graphics is available in the Brookhaven Lab online newsroom: http://www.bnl.gov/newsroom/news.php?a=112106

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Nanotube film may resolve longevity problem of challenger solar cells http://revolution-green.com/nanotube-film-may-resolve-longevity-problem-challenger-solar-cells/ http://revolution-green.com/nanotube-film-may-resolve-longevity-problem-challenger-solar-cells/#comments Sat, 18 Mar 2017 13:11:13 +0000 http://revolution-green.com/?p=15021 Researchers lengthened the lifetime of perovskite solar cells by using nanotube film to replace the gold used as the back contact and the organic material in the hole conductor. Five years ago, the world started to talk about third-generation solar cells that challenged the traditional silicon cells with a cheaper and simpler manufacturing process that […]

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Researchers lengthened the lifetime of perovskite solar cells by using nanotube film to replace the gold used as the back contact and the organic material in the hole conductor.

his is an illustration of a perovskite solar cell. CREDIT: Photo by Aalto University / University of Uppsala / EPFL

Five years ago, the world started to talk about third-generation solar cells that challenged the traditional silicon cells with a cheaper and simpler manufacturing process that used less energy.

Methylammonium lead iodide is a metal-organic material in the perovskite crystal structure that captures light efficiently and conducts electricity well — both important qualities in solar cells. However, the lifetime of solar cells made of metalorganic perovskites has proven to be very short compared to cells made of silicon.

Now researchers from Aalto University, Uppsala University and École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have managed to improve the long term stability of solar cells made of perovskite using “random network” nanotube films developed under the leadership of Professor Esko Kauppinen at Aalto University. Random network nanotube films are films composed of single-walled carbon nanotubes that in an electron microscope image look like spaghetti on a plate.

‘In a traditional perovskite solar cell, the hole conductor layer consists of organic material and, on top of it, a thin layer of gold that easily starts to disintegrate and diffuse through the whole solar cell structure. We replaced the gold and also part of the organic material with films made of carbon nanotubes and achieved good cell stability in 60 degrees and full one sun illumination conditions’, explains Kerttu Aitola, who defended her doctoral dissertation at Aalto University and now works as a researcher at Uppsala University

In the study, thick black films with conductivity as high as possible were used in the back contact of the solar cell where light does not need to get through. According to Aitola, nanotube films can also be made transparent and thin, which would make it possible to use them as the front contact of the cell, in other words as the contact that lets light through.

‘The solar cells were prepared in Uppsala and the long-term stability measurement was carried out at EPFL. The leader of the solar cell group at EPFL is Professor Michael Grätzel, who was awarded the Millennium Prize 2010 for dye-sensitised solar cells, on which the perovskite solar cells are also partly based on’, says Aitola.

Solar cells in windows

The lifetime of solar cells made of silicon is 20-30 years and their industrial production is very efficient. Still, alternatives are needed as reducing the silicon dioxide in sand to silicon consumes a huge amount of energy. It is estimated that a silicon solar cell needs two or three years to produce the energy that was used to manufacture it, whereas a perovskite solar cell would only need two or three months to do it.

‘In addition, the silicon used in solar cells must be extremely pure’, says Aitola.

‘Perovskite solar cell is also interesting because its efficiency, in other words how efficiently it converts sunlight energy into electrical energy, has very quickly reached the level of silicon solar cells. That is why so much research is conducted on perovskite solar cells globally.’

The alternative solar cells are even more interesting because of their various application areas. Flexible solar cells have until now been manufactured on conductive plastic. Compared with the conductive layer of plastic, the flexibility of nanotube films is superior and the raw materials are cheaper. Thanks to their flexibility, solar cells could be produced using the roll-to-roll processing method known from the paper industry.

‘Light and flexible solar cells would be easy to integrate in buildings and you could also hang them in windows by yourself’, says Aitola.

Reference

 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adma.201606398/full

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Australian Prime Minister proposes pumped hydro to enable more renewables http://revolution-green.com/australian-prime-minister-proposes-pumped-hydro-enable-renewables/ http://revolution-green.com/australian-prime-minister-proposes-pumped-hydro-enable-renewables/#comments Fri, 17 Mar 2017 04:26:21 +0000 http://revolution-green.com/?p=15017 The following story is great news for renewable energy and a kick in the but for fossil fuels. This seems to be an opposite trend to which the USA is heading at the moment. This is in addition to the 100MW battery storage planned by two states. The story is an extract from an article […]

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The following story is great news for renewable energy and a kick in the but for fossil fuels. This seems to be an opposite trend to which the USA is heading at the moment. This is in addition to the 100MW battery storage planned by two states.

The story is an extract from an article at renew-economy by By on 16 March 2017

http://reneweconomy.com.au/turnbull-drives-stake-through-heart-of-fossil-fuel-industry-48916/

Turnbull drives stake through heart of fossil fuel industry

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced his desire to spend $2 billion on a 2GW pumped hydro scheme in the Snowy Mountains, in a move that will potentially drive a stake through the heart of the fossil fuel generation industry in Australia.

The move – which is subject to a feasibility study by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and funding agreements from Snowy Hydro’s three government owners (Federal, NSW, and Victoria) – could be the most significant intervention in Australia’s energy markets in half a century.

By promoting pumped hydro, Turnbull is effectively signing the death knell for any new coal or gas fired generation built by the private sector, and is paving the way for a 100 per cent renewable energy grid, driven mostly by wind and solar.

It also makes a reported and belated push for nuclear energy from members of his Coalition entirely redundant, because it would remove the need to rely on “baseload” generation over the medium to long term.

Assuming this does go ahead at the scale advertised, the conversation around energy delivery will now shift from “baseload” to flexibility, and gas and coal will no longer be able to compete, on either cost or utility, over the medium to long term.

Indeed, the biggest beneficiary of this push into pumped hydro could well be solar PV and wind energy, which are now the clear leaders in energy costs, with further sharp falls ahead.

And new generation is needed to replace ageing coal and gas generators, and meet new demand from growing population and electric vehicles.

By adding pumped hydro, and distributed battery storage (in homes, buildings and in EVs), Australia can reach a 100% renewable energy target, possibly within a few decades.

The ANU’s Andrew Blakers, who last month released an analysis that showed Australia could reach 100 per cent renewable energy with solar, wind and pumped hydro, at a cost of around $75/MWh – cheaper than current wholesale prices – describes the move as a game changer.

He estimates that once this scheme is completed, Australia will be nearly half way to having enough pumped hydro and other storage to support a wind and solar grid.

“A 100 per cent renewable energy grid will require around 450GWh of storage,” Blakers told RenewEconomy.

“Pumped hydro is by far the cheapest in the wholesale market,” he says. But around half the storage needed will come in the form of battery storage ‘behind the meter’, paid for by homes, businesses and electric car owners, and through demand management.

“It’s game over for gas, it’s game over for nuclear. Solar PV and wind have won the race,” Blakers said. It also makes life difficult for proposed solar thermal and storage technologies, unless they can compete in areas unsuitable for pumped hydro.

Australia already has around 2.5GW of pumped hydro, mostly in the Snowy Mountains, but also at Wivenhoe and Shoalhaven. This new initiative is to be formally announced by Turnbull in the Snowy Mountains on Thursday, but was widely distributed to the main papers overnight.

Pumped hydro is by far the cheapest form of storage,

The idea is to pair the huge Tantangara and the Talbingo reservoirs. Because the dams already exist, the cost of the pumped hydro is much reduced. The $2 billion will be spent on tunnels, power stations and poles and wires to connect it.

Indeed, there is nearly enough water in these reservoirs to provide enough dispatchable power to meet a 100 per cent renewable grid.

But no grid can put all its eggs in one basket, or in one location. So more storage capacity needs to be built in different places, such as the proposed pumped hydro plant at the Kidston gold mine in Queensland, to be paired with a solar power plant to push the water uphill.

Blakers says around 6GW more of pumped hydro will be needed, assuming that battery storage and demand management accounts for the rest.

Blakers says that pumped hydro is by far the cheapest form of storage, although it does rely on price volatility – the cost of pumping water uphill, minus 20 per cent losses, needs to be overcome by the cost received. In that sense, the building of such a scheme almost assumes, or at least relies on, more wind and solar being built.

Pumped hydro, however, cannot compete in smaller arrays, which leaves battery storage and other technologies to compete at the “distributed” level – say around 10MW to 20MW.

This will be important because storage needs to be distributed around the grid, lest a problem occur with the huge interconnectors.

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flow batteries for computers http://revolution-green.com/flow-batteries-computers/ http://revolution-green.com/flow-batteries-computers/#comments Thu, 16 Mar 2017 04:17:05 +0000 http://revolution-green.com/?p=15010 We always think of flow batteries as rather large devices for grid applications or transport. This may be all about to change Liquid fuel for future computers Researchers at ETH Zurich and IBM Research Zurich have built a tiny redox flow battery. This means that future computer chip stacks — in which individual chips are […]

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We always think of flow batteries as rather large devices for grid applications or transport. This may be all about to change

Liquid fuel for future computers

Researchers at ETH Zurich and IBM Research Zurich have built a tiny redox flow battery. This means that future computer chip stacks — in which individual chips are stacked like pancakes to save space and energy — could be supplied with electrical power and cooled at the same time by such integrated flow batteries. In a flow battery, an electrochemical reaction is used to produce electricity out of two liquid electrolytes, which are pumped to the battery cell from outside via a closed electrolyte loop.

Three-dimensional chip stacks could be used in computers in the future. Integrated microscale flow batteries could both power and cool them. CREDIT: Courtesy IBM Research Zurich

“The chips are effectively operated with a liquid fuel and produce their own electricity,” says Dimos Poulikakos, Professor of Thermodynamics at ETH Zurich. As the scientists use two liquids that are known to be suitable both as flow-battery electrolytes and as a medium to also effect cooling, excess heat can also be dissipated from the chip stack via the same circuit.

The battery built by the scientists is only around 1.5 millimetres thick. The idea would be to assemble chip stacks layer by layer: a computer chip, then a thin battery micro-cell that supplies the chip with electricity and cools it, followed by the next computer chip and so on.

Record-high output

Previous flow batteries (see box) are usually large scale and used mainly in stationary energy storage applications, for instance in combination with wind farms and solar power plants, where they temporarily store the energy produced there so it can be used at a later time. “We are the first scientists to build such a small flow battery so as to combine energy supply and cooling,” says Julian Marschewski, a doctoral student in Poulikakos’ group.

The output of the new micro-battery also reaches a record-high in terms of its size: 1.4 watts per square centimetre of battery surface. Even if you subtract the power required to pump the liquid electrolytes to the battery, the resulting net power density is still 1 watt per square centimetre.

As the researchers were able to show in an experiment, the electrolyte liquids are actually able to cool a chip. They are even able to dissipate heat amounts many times over what the battery generates as electrical energy (which is converted into heat while the chip is in operation).

Channel system optimised with 3D printing

According to the scientists, the most serious challenge in constructing the new micro-flow batteries was to build them in such a way that they are supplied with electrolytes as efficiently as possible while at the same time keeping the pumping power as low as possible. “It was important to find the ideal compromise,” says Marschewski.

The electrochemical reactions in the battery occur in two thin and porous electrode layers that are separated by a membrane. Marschewski and his colleagues used 3D-printing technology to build a polymer channel system to press the electrolyte liquid into the porous electrode layer as efficiently as possible. The most suitable of the various designs tested proved to be one made of wedge-shaped convergent channels.

large systems

The scientists have now provided an initial proof-of-concept for the construction of a small flow battery. Although the power density of the new micro-flow battery is very high, the electricity produced is still not entirely sufficient to operate a computer chip. In order for the flow battery to be used in a chip stack, it must be further optimised by industry partners.

As the scientists point out, the new approach is also interesting for other applications: in lasers, for example, which have to be supplied with energy and cooled; or for solar cells, where the electricity produced could be stored directly in the battery cell and used later when needed. The system could also keep the operating temperature of the solar cell at the ideal level. In addition, large flow batteries could also be improved with the optimised approach of forcing the electrolyte liquids through the porous electrodes.

This is an old video but illustrates a predecessor to the idea

 

Flow batteries

Batteries store energy in chemical form and convert it into electricity through electrochemical reactions. In conventional (ion) batteries, the energy is stored in two fixed electrodes; but in flow batteries, it is stored in two liquid electrolytes, which are pumped into the flow battery in two separate circuits. “Flow batteries are in principle rechargeable fuel cells,” explains ETH doctoral student Julian Marschewski. But while fuel cells can only convert chemical energy into electrical energy, flow batteries can convert into both directions.

For conventional batteries, the more energy they store, the larger and heavier they are. In flow batteries, the electrolyte liquids (i.e. the fuel) can be supplied from outside. One advantage is that the cells of the flow batteries can be designed smaller and lighter. A disadvantage, however, is that flow batteries require a liquid supply system.

Reference

Marschewski J, Brenner L, Ebejer N, Ruch P, Michel B, Poulikakos D: 3D-printed fluidic networks for high-power-density heat-managing miniaturized redox flow batteries. Energy and Environmental Science 2017, doi: 10.1039/c6ee03192g

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