Sustainable Battery

The new carbon-based material for sodium-ion batteries can be extracted from apples.
Image: KIT

The saying goes: an apple a day keeps the doctor away; but in this case, an apple may be the answer to the next generation of energy storage technology.

ECS member Stefano Passerini of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology is leading a study to extract carbon-based materials for sodium-ion batteries from organic apple waste.

Developing batteries from waste

This new development could help reduce the costs of future energy storage systems by applying a cheap material with excellent electrochemical properties to the already promising field of sodium-ion batteries.

(MORE: Read more research by Passerini.)

Many researchers are currently looking to sodium-ion batteries as the next generation of energy storage, with the ability to outpace the conventional lithium-ion battery.

The future of sodium-ion batteries

Interest in sodium-ion batteries dates back to the 1980s, but discoveries haven’t taken off until recently. Researchers are now finding way to combat low energy densities and short life cycles through using novel materials such as apples.

(MORE: Read the full paper in ChemElectroChem.)

Sodium-ion batteries could prove to be the next big thing in large scale energy storage due to the high abundance of materials used in development and the relatively low costs involved.

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Krishnan Rajeshwar

Krishnan Rajeshwar, ECS senior vice president and co-founder of UTA’s Center for Renewable Energy, Science and Technology

New research headed by ECS senior vice president Krishnan Rajeshwar has developed “green fuels” to power cars, home appliances, and even impact critical energy storage devices.

Solar fuels addressing global issues

Rajeshwar’s research works to address critical global and environmental issue by creating an inexpensive way to generate fuel from harmful emissions such as carbon dioxide.

(MORE: Read additional publications by Rajeshwar.)

The University of Texas at Arlington professor and 35 year ECS member has developed a novel high-performing material for cells that harness sunlight to split carbon dioxide and water into usable fuels like methanol and hydrogen gas.

From harmful to helpful

“Technologies that simultaneously permit us to remove greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide while harnessing and storing the energy of sunlight as fuel are at the forefront of current research,” Rajeshwar said. “Our new material could improve the safety, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of solar fuel generation, which is not yet economically viable.”

(MORE: Read the full study as published in ChemElectroChem Europe.)

This from University of Texas at Arlington:

The new hybrid platform uses ultra-long carbon nanotube networks with a homogeneous coating of copper oxide nanocrystals. It demonstrates both the high electrical conductivity of carbon nanotubes and the photocathode qualities of copper oxide, efficiently converting light into the photocurrents needed for the photoelectrochemical reduction process.

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Tesla for Kids

Tesla is most commonly known for its novel innovations in automobile technology, research into battery technology, and even the company’s dedication to open source knowledge. Now, the company is shifting gears to create a product for all the tiny Elon Musk fans out there.

Tesla, in collaboration with Radio Flyer, has recently produced line of electric vehicles for kids.

True to Tesla vehicles, the kid car is essentially a scale model of Tesla’s popular electric sedan.

Sensor-1

Metasensor’s Sensor-1 is a personal security system for your portable goods.

Home security systems are great for protecting valuables inside your home and stopping attempted burglaries, but those systems aren’t very practical when you travel with your precious, portable property.

Metasensor has developed its new Sensor-1, which acts as a portable security system – changing the way we protect our belongings and track objects in general.

This from Popular Science:

Sensor-1 is a small, octagonal disk that contains an accelerometer, a gyroscopic stabilizer, and a magnetometer, which work together to track the orientation of the device it’s attached to in three dimensions. They alert Sensor-1 if the object has been moved, and how. It also has three LED lights, a small siren, and Bluetooth connectivity.

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Battery technology for water desalination

Inspired by the principles of the sodium ion battery, Kyle Smith (right) is re-appropriating technology to make huge strides in water desalination.
Image: L. Brian Stauffer

Battery applications range from powering electronic devices to storing energy harvested from renewable sources, but batteries have a range of applications beyond the obvious. Now, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are taking existing battery technology and applying it to efforts in water desalination.

The researchers have published the open access article in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society.

“We are developing a device that will use the materials in batteries to take salt out of water with the smallest amount of energy that we can,” said Kyle Smith, ECS member and assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “One thing I’m excited about is that by publishing this paper, we’re introducing a new type of device to the battery community and to the desalination community.”

Water desalination technologies have flourished as water needs have grown globally. This could be linked to growing populations or drought. However, because of technical hurdles, wide-spread implementation of these technologies has been difficult. However, the new technologies developed could combat that issue by using electricity to draw charged salt ions out of the water.

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A radical new development from Cornell University has the potential to change the superconducting community. For the first time, researchers have developed a self-assembling, porous, 3D gyroidal superconductor, which may have completely new properties.

This from Futurity:

The gyroid is a complex cubic structure based on a surface that divides space into two separate volumes that are interpenetrating and contain various spirals. Pores and the superconducting material have structural dimensions of only around 10 nanometers, which could lead to entirely novel property profiles of superconductors.

Read the full article.

Benefits of superconductors

Because superconductors offer no resistance to electrical current and can repel magnetic fields, they hold immense potential for future applications. While we depend on electricity to power a majority of our devices, researchers are always looking for a way to cut heat resistance. Heat resistance not only causes the deterioration and breakdown of appliances, it also leads to wasted energy.

(MORE: Read “Superconductors and the Future.“)

Superconductors, however, offer no resistance to electrical current. However, this is only at extremely low temperatures. The new research out of Cornell University challenges that traditional notion.

Development could ‘revolutionize everything’

“There’s this effort in research to get superconducting at higher temperatures, so that you don’t have to cool anymore,” said Ulrich Wiesner, leader of the research group. “That would revolutionize everything. There’s a huge impetus to get that.”
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Smart Sweatband Senses Dehydration

It’s not easy to tell if you’re dehydrated. Nearly 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated, putting many people at a health risk.

Now, a smart sweatband could tell you when you exercise is bordering on dangerous. By measuring the chemicals in your sweat, this sensor can alert you of dangerous situations by linking to your smartphone in the first fully integrated electronic system that can provide continuous, noninvasive monitoring of multiple biochemical in perspiration.

The device has the potential to measure more than perspiration, with goals of preforming population-level studies for medical applications.

Uphill Battle for Electric Cars

With plunging oil prices, it is proving to be more difficult than ever to entice buyers into purchasing an electric vehicle. While the low oil prices may be good for consumers’ gas tanks, the transportation sector continues to account for 27 percent of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions.

The question then arises of how electric car manufacturers can steer folks back toward electric vehicles and away from gas-guzzling cars?

(MORE: Read Interface: PV, EV, and Your Home)

Impact of falling oil prices

“It definitely makes the transition to sustainable energy more difficult,” said Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, at a business conference in Hong Kong about the impact of the free-falling oil prices.

Tesla rose to prominence in 2003 when oil prices soared, making electric vehicles all the more tempting. With oil prices continually on the decline, it’s now up to companies like Tesla to compel buyers and stress the importance of transitioning toward cleaner vehicles.

New features for electric cars

For companies like Tesla, that means developing things like autonomous cars with “summon” features – allowing the user to call their car just like a pet. Even aesthetic aspects have become more important, with Tesla focusing on futuristic designs.

“What we’re aspiring to do is to make the cars so compelling that even with lower gas prices, it’s still the car you want to buy,” Musk said.

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Car sensor technology

Is your Uber driver going too fast? Soon, you’ll be able to prove it.
Image: Noel Tock under Creative Commons license

Since 2009, Uber has taken off all around the world as the premier ride-sharing company. Now, your Uber experience may improve thanks to the company’s application of sensor technology via each driver’s smartphone.

A typical Uber experience asks the driver and passenger to rate each other after each drive. If the mark comes in unusually low, Uber can now investigate your claims by examining the driver’s journey with data pertaining to speed and erratic driving. The company aims to collect this data from the gyrometer in the driver’s phone and data from GPS and accelerometers.

This from Uber:

Gyrometers in phones can measure small movements, while GPS and accelerometers show how often a vehicle starts and stops, as well as its overall speed. If a rider complains that a driver accelerated too fast and broke too hard, we can review that trip using data. If the feedback is accurate, then we can get in touch with the driver.

Read the full article.

An array of different sensory devices are used in your smartphone, allowing our phones to follow our commands and functions seamlessly. From the sensors in your screen that recognize touch to the voltage and current measurement sensors for battery utilization optimization, sensors are constantly responding to the ever-increasing demand for faster, cheaper, smaller, and more sensitive means to monitor the world around us.

Now these sensor technologies could help produce safer conditions on the road. If gyrometer results show that drivers are moving their phones while driving, Uber may offer mounts. If the accelerators pick up constant speeding conditions, Uber is ready to tell their drivers to curb their enthusiasm.

Graphene Simplifies Ice Removal

Graphene ice removal

Through a nanoribbon-infused epoxy, researchers were able to remove ice through Joule heating.
Image: Rice University

Graphene, better known as the wonder material, has seemingly limitless possibilities. From fuel cells to night-vision to hearing, there aren’t many areas that graphene hasn’t touched. Now, researchers from Rice University and transforming graphene for uses in air travel safety.

James Tour, past ECS lecturer and molecular electronics pioneer, has led a team in developing a thin coating of graphene nanoribbons to act as a real-time de-icer for aircrafts, wind turbines, and other surfaces exposed to winter weather.

(MORE: Read “High-Density Storage, 100 Times Less Energy“)

Through electrothermal heat, the graphene nanoribbons melted centimeter-thick ice on a static helicopter rotor blade in a -4° Fahrenheit environment.

This from Rice University:

The nanoribbons produced commercially by unzipping nanotubes, a process also invented at Rice, are highly conductive. Rather than trying to produce large sheets of expensive graphene, the lab determined years ago that nanoribbons in composites would interconnect and conduct electricity across the material with much lower loadings than traditionally needed.

Read the full article.

“Applying this composite to wings could save time and money at airports where the glycol-based chemicals now used to de-ice aircraft are also an environmental concern,” Tour said.

The coating may also protect aircrafts from lightning strikes and provide and extra layer of electromagnetic shielding.

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