An interdisciplinary team, including 32 year ECS member Stuart Licht and ECS student member Matthew Lefler, has developed a way to make electric vehicles that are not only carbon neutral, but carbon negative – capable of reducing the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide as they operate by transforming the greenhouse gas.

By replacing the graphite electrodes that are currently being used in the development of lithium-ion batteries for electric cars with carbon materials recovered from the atmosphere, the researchers have been able to develop a recipe for converting collected carbon dioxide into batteries.

This from Vanderbilt University:

The team adapted a solar-powered process that converts carbon dioxide into carbon so that it produces carbon nanotubes and demonstrated that the nanotubes can be incorporated into both lithium-ion batteries like those used in electric vehicles and electronic devices and low-cost sodium-ion batteries under development for large-scale applications, such as the electric grid.

Read the full article.

The research is not the first time scientists have shown progress in collecting and converting harmful greenhouse gases from the environment.

Typically, carbon dioxide conversion revolves around transforming the gas into low-value fuels such as methanol. These conversions often do not justify the costs.

(MORE: Read “Carbon Nanotubes Produced from Ambient Carbon Dioxide for Environmentally Sustainable Lithium-Ion and Sodium-Ion Battery Anodes.“)

However, the new process produces better batteries that are not only expected to be efficient, but also cost effective.

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Looking to save on electricity? Why not use bioluminescent bacteria to light the way?

Innovative start-up Glowee is looking to do just that to illuminate the streets of Paris. By using bacteria found in squid, Glowee is producing lights that consist of transparent gases filled with a gel containing the bioluminescent bacteria alongside the sugars and oxygen they need to survive.

The bio-lights will allow cities to cut back on energy and avoid light pollution. With lower electricity consumption comes considerably less carbon dioxide emissions.

Currently, the company is looking to increase lifespan and efficiency before implementing the technology.

Researchers have found a way to use rust to build a solar-powered battery.Image: Flickr

Researchers have found a way to use rust to build a solar-powered battery.
Image: Diego Torres Silvestre

What happens when corrosion meets energy? For researchers at Stanford University, the marriage of those two uniquely electrochemical topics could yield an answer to large-scale solar power storage.

The question of how to store solar power when the sun goes down has been on the forefront of scientific discussion. While electrochemical energy storage devices exist, they are typically either too expensive to work on a large-scale or not efficient enough.

Building a solar-powered battery

New research shows that metal oxides, such as rust, can be fashioned into solar cells capable of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. The research could be looked at revelatory, especially when considering large-scale storage solutions, because of its novel heat attributes.

While we knew the promising solar power potential of metal oxides before, we believed that the efficiency of cells crafted from these materials would be very low. The new study, however, disproves that theory.

The team showed that as the cells grow hotter, efficiency levels increase. This is a huge benefit when it comes to large-scale, solar energy conversion and it the polar opposite of the traditional silicon solar cell.

“We’ve shown that inexpensive, abundant, and readily processed metal oxides could become better producers of electricity than was previously supposed,” says William Chueh, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering.

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Up until the 1948, the lemon-lime soda 7-Up contained lithium salts, a substance most commonly known for its medical qualities used in the treatment of major depressive disorders.

While the additive has long since been removed from 7-Up, the scientists from the YouTube channel Periodic Videos thought it would be interesting to drop a piece of lithium into the current day recipe for the soda.

Initially, the results were as expected: nothing special. But after a few more seconds, the solution began transforming from its clear, bubbly state to a dark, sludgy brown. Watch as Sir Martyn Poliakoff explains the unexpected phenomena.

Bill & Melinda Gates FoundationThe Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been fighting the good fight on many fronts over the years, including poverty, women’s equality, and of course, energy.

In their 2016 annual letter, the private foundation looked at the issue of access to energy. According to Bill Gates, 1.3 billion people – or 18 percent of the world’s population – live without electricity to light their homes.

Energy crisis

Many energy trouble areas exist in sub-Saharan Africa, where 7 out of 10 people live in the dark. The same problems exist in parts of Asia and India where more than 300 million people lack access to electricity.

(MORE: Take a look at the work that ECS has done with the Gates Foundation to tackle critical issues in water and sanitation.)

There are still many parts of the world that have yet to reap the benefits of Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb.

But it’s not just about light. Energy allows better medical care through functioning hospitals, greater educational efforts through functioning schools, and even more food through the powering of agricultural devices.

Renewable energy revolution

Not only is the provision of energy to all people essential, but the research into finding a clean, efficient way to do so is also crucial. ECS members and scientists across the globe are currently making effort to combat climate change, which is consequentially poised to hit the world’s poor the hardest.

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Powering Fuel Cells with Wastewater

The word “renewable” often triggers thoughts of solar and wind in the realm of energy technology.

Two researchers from Virginia Tech are now trying to change that perception, focusing on maximizing the amount of electricity that can be generated from the wastewater we flush down the toilet.

They’re turning poo into power.

(MORE: See what ECS scientists are doing to transform wastewater.)

“Tracing the bacteria gave us a major piece of the puzzle to start generating electricity in a sustainable way,” said Xueyang Feng, co-author of the study. “This is a step toward the growing trend to make wastewater treatment centers self-sustaining in the energy they use.”

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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