Graphene Applied to Body Armor

The ballistic test shows that graphene is excellent at both absorbing and spreading the energy of an impact.Credit: Jae-Hwang Lee

The ballistic test shows that graphene is excellent at both absorbing and spreading the energy of an impact.
Credit: Jae-Hwang Lee

We’ve been talking a lot about graphene – from its potential in energy storage to its ability to improve and revolutionize personal electronic devices, this material seems to be everywhere. Now, engineers out of the University of Massachusetts believe it could help save lives.

Engineers developed a mock-up of multilayered graphene body armor and tested it in a miniature shooting range. The results suggest that graphene may be able to absorb 10 times the amount of energy that its steel competitor can before failing.

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Cyborg Roaches Advance Science

roach

Photographs of Blaberus discoidalis (A), the transmitter circuit (B) and of a quarter coin (C) to compare the scales involved.

While browsing through the vast array of Open Access articles that ECS hosts in its Digital Library, one title in particular caught our eye here at headquarters.

I mean, it is pretty hard to ignore an academic article titled “Wireless Communication by an Autonomous Self-Powered Cyborg Insect.

The article, published in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society by researchers from Case Western Reserve University (one of the authors is ECS Board of Directors Senior VP Dan Scherson), details – to put it simply – how a cyborg cockroach can generate and transmit signals wirelessly.

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The Power of Poo: Britain’s Bio-Bus

The Bio-Bus, nicknamed "the number two," will transport riders between Bath and Bristol.Credit: GENeco

The Bio-Bus, nicknamed “the number two,” will transport riders between Bath and Bristol.
Credit: GENeco

Here at ECS, we love to talk about renewable resources – and we also like talking about poop. And with Britain’s first ‘poo-powered’ bus hitting the roads, we have a perfect excuse to talk about both.

GENeco has developed the new 40-seat Bio-Bus, which is powered by human waste. In technical terms, the bus runs on the biomethane gas that is produced at a sewage treatment works in Avonmouth.

According to BBC, the bus can travel up to 300 km – or 186 miles – on one tank of gas. One tank would be equivalent to the annual waste of five people. Further, the vehicle will emit up to 30 percent less carbon dioxide than conventional diesel vehicles.

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Let’s Hear It for LEDs

More and more households are using LED light bulbs due to improved efficiency, reliability, and now a more affordable cost over their incandescent cousins. With droves of scientists researching in the area of LED and producing new developments, these bulbs are beginning to become the new norm.

Let’s take a look at the journey the LED bulb has gone though thus far.

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First Solar-Powered Bike Lane in Netherlands

SolaRoad coverts sunlight on the road surface into electricity: the road network works as an inexhaustible source of green power.Credit: SolaRoad

SolaRoad converts sunlight on the road surface into electricity: the road network works as an inexhaustible source of green power.
Credit: SolaRoad

A solar-powered cycle path – called SolaRoad – has been unveiled in the Netherlands. The path can generate enough electricity to power three households, reports BBC.

The new path has been installed in Kormmenie, which is 25 kilometers from Amsterdam. While the path is currently 70 meters long, it will be extended to 100 meters by 2016.

Dr. Sten de Wit from SolaRoad believes that this is just the beginning for solar-powered paths. Dr. de Wit foresees solar roads eventually being used to power the electric vehicles that use them, similar to Dutch developer Heijmans and designer Daan Roosegaard in their “smart highway.”

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Toyota’s Fuel Cell Car Unveiled

Recently, fuel cells have been the hot topic in energy discussions. In accordance with this, Toyota has introduced its first mass-market fuel cell car that will be available for purchase next month.

The company is calling the four-seat sedan Mirai, which means “future” in Japanese. The car will first go on sale in Japan on December 15th, followed by sales in the United States and Europe in the fourth quarter of 2015.

This from Reuters:

The ultimate “green car”, fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) run on electricity made by mixing hydrogen fuel and oxygen in the air – a technology first used in the Apollo moon project in the 1960s. Its only by-product is heat and water – water so pure the Apollo astronauts drank it.

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Smart Streets: The Highway Is Getting Brighter

The painted road markings are said to be able to glow up to eight hours in the dark.Credit: Roosegaarde

The painted road markings are said to be able to glow up to eight hours in the dark.
Credit: Roosegaarde

There has been a great deal of debate and innovation in smart cars recently, but why just stop at the car? Why not make a smart highway?

At least that’s the question Dutch developer Heijmans and designer Daan Roosegaard are asking. Since 2012 the duo have been talking about and drumming up game plans for innovative designs that would improve road sustainability, safety, and perception.

These ideas include: electric priority lane, which would allow electric cars to charge themselves while driving; dynamic paint, which would glow or become transparent upon sensing temperature in order to let you know road conditions; and interactive light, which would be controlled by sensors to active only when traffic approaches in order to create sustainable road light.

But the company’s main, and most tangible, development is their glow-in-the-dark lining.

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New Coating to Make Batteries Safer

At left, a typical button battery; at right, a button battery coated with quantum tunneling composite (QTC).Credit: Bryan Laulicht/MIT

At left, a typical button battery; at right, a button battery coated with quantum tunneling composite (QTC).
Credit: Bryan Laulicht/MIT

We’ve heard a lot about innovation and improvements in the field of battery recently, but safety seems to have been put on the back-burner in lieu of creating a more powerful battery. This issue has now been addressed through funding from the National Institutes of Health in order to make technological breakthroughs in safety innovations for batteries.

According to the National Capital Poison Center, more than 3,500 people of all ages swallow button batteries every year in the United States. In order to combat the permanent injury that this could cause, researchers from MIT, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital have come together to create a coating that prevents batteries from conducing electricity after being swallowed – thereby causing no damage to the gastrointestinal tract.

Prior to this innovation, once a battery was swallowed, it would start to interact with the saliva and create an electric current. This current produces hydroxide, which causes damages to tissue. If not treated, this can cause serious injury within a few hours.

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Engineers at UC San Diego have developed a nanoparticle-based material for concentrating solar power plants that converts 90% of captured sunlight to heat. With particle sizes ranging from 10 nanometers to 10 micrometers, the multiscale structure traps and absorbs light more efficiently and at temperatures greater than 700 degrees Celsius.Credit: Renkun Chen, Mechanical Engineering Professor, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering

Engineers at UC San Diego have developed a nanoparticle-based material for concentrating solar power plants that converts 90% of captured sunlight to heat.
Credit: Renkun Chen, Mechanical Engineering Professor, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering

An engineering team from the University of California, San Diego, has developed a new nanoparticle-based material for concentrating solar power. The new research, which has been funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot program and published in the journal Nano Energy, aims to convert 90 percent of captured light into heat and make solar costs more competitive.

The new material will be able to withstand temperatures greater than 700° Celsius and can survive many years outdoors, despite exposure to humidity.

“We wanted to create a material that absorbs sunlight that doesn’t let any of it escape. We want the black hole of sunlight,” said Sungho Jin, a professor in the department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

This from the University of California, San Diego:

The novel material features a “multiscale” surface created by using particles of many sizes ranging from 10 nanometers to 10 micrometers. The multiscale structures can trap and absorb light which contributes to the material’s high efficiency when operated at higher temperatures.

Read the full article here.

Head over to our Digital Library and read more research by Sungho Jin, one of the developers of the Silicon boride-coated nanoshell material.

The technology can be applied on top of an existing module or integrated into a new module during assembly, on flat or curved surfaces.Credit: CSEM

The technology can be applied on top of an existing module or integrated into a new module during assembly, on flat or curved surfaces.
Credit: CSEM

The Swiss company, Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM), has announced that they have developed the world’s first white solar modules. According to the company, this will allow for a more visually appealing solar module, which will blend into buildings to become virtually invisible.

The current blue-black solar modules are built to maximize sunlight absorption, whereas a white solar module was previously not a color option due to the fact that the color would generally reflect light, rather than absorbing it.

This from CSEM:

CSEM has developed a new technology to make white solar modules, with no visible cells and connections, a reality. It combines a solar cell technology able to convert infrared solar light into electricity and a selective scattering filter, which scatters the whole visible spectrum while transmitting infrared light. Any solar technology based on crystalline silicon can now be used to manufacture white – and colored – modules.

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