New type of wheat has 10 times more fiber

Scientists cultivates green batteries from plant

Environmentally friendly and energy-dense sugar battery

Footsteps could charge mobile electronics

An innovative energy harvesting and storage technology developed by the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UniWM) mechanical engineers could reduce reliance on the batteries in mobile devices. Tom Krupenkin, a professor of mechanical engineering at UW–Madison, and J. Ashley Taylor, a senior scientist in UW–Madison’s Mechanical Engineering Department, created an energy-harvesting technology that’s particularly well suited for capturing the energy of human motion to power mobile electronic devices. The technology could enable a footwear-embedded energy harvester that captures energy produced by humans during walking and stores it for later use. Power-generating shoes could be especially useful for the military, as soldiers currently carry heavy batteries to power their radios, GPS units and night-vision goggles in the field. The advance could provide a source of power to people in remote areas and developing countries that lack adequate electrical power grids.

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19 days ago

New rechargeable sodium battery based on oak leaf

Scientists at the University of Maryland (UniMary) have a new recipe for batteries, namely, bake a leaf, and add sodium. They used a carbonized oak leaf, pumped full of sodium, as a demonstration battery’s negative terminal, or anode. The scientists are trying to make a battery using sodium where most rechargeable batteries sold today use lithium. Sodium would hold more charge, but can’t handle as many charge-and-discharge cycles as lithium can. One of the roadblocks has been finding an anode material that is compatible with sodium, which is slightly larger than lithium. Some scientists have explored graphene, dotted with various materials to attract and retain the sodium, but these are time-consuming and expensive to produce.  In this case, they simply heated the leaf for an hour at 1,000 degrees C to burn off all but the underlying carbon structure.

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19 days ago

A new type of membrane has the potential to boost the performance of fuel cells

Scientists from CSIRO and Hanyang University in Korea developed a membrane. In hot conditions, the membrane, which features a water repellent skin, can improve the efficiency of fuel cells by a factor of four. According to CSIRO researcher and co-author Dr. Aaron Thornton, the skin works in a similar way to a cactus plant, which thrives by retaining water in harsh and arid environments. Fuel cells, like the ones used in electric vehicles, generate energy by mixing together simple gases, like hydrogen and oxygen. However, in order to maintain performance, proton exchange membrane fuel cells – or PEMFCs – need to stay constantly hydrated. At the moment this is achieved by placing the cells alongside a radiator, water reservoir and a humidifier. The downside is that when used in a vehicle, these occupy a large amount of space and consume significant power.

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19 days ago

Garden grass could become a source of cheap and clean renewable energy

Researchers use jiggly Jell-O to make powerful new hydrogen fuel catalyst

New technology could wean the battery world off cobalt

Thermal ‘earmuffs’ protect cell phone batteries from extreme temperatures

A thermal regulator that could be used to easily extend the temperature range of battery-powered devices, including smartphones, laptops and electric vehicles has been developed by the researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. The researchers explained that a battery’s usable energy drops dramatically in cold temperatures. At minus 20 degrees Celsius, a typical commercial lithium-ion battery cell can deliver only 20 percent of its room-temperature capacity. High temperatures can also create problems for batteries, which generate their own waste heat when in use. Battery lifetimes typically halve for every 13 degrees Celsius of excess temperature. Managing conflicting temperature needs has been a challenge for thermal packaging. 

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20 days ago

Scientists create biodegradable, paper-based biobatteries

Researchers at Binghamton University (BinghUni) have created a biodegradable, paper-based battery that is more efficient than previously possible. For years, there has been excitement in the scientific community about the possibility of paper-based batteries as an eco-friendly alternative. However, the proposed designs were never quite powerful enough, they were difficult to produce and it was questionable whether they were really biodegradable. This new design solves all of those problems. Associate Professor Seokheun Choi from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and Professor Omowunmi Sadik from the Chemistry Department worked on the project together. Seokheun Choi engineered the design of the paper-based battery, while Professor Omowunmi Sadik was able to make the battery a self-sustaining biobattery.

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20 days ago

The new process of producing biofuel

Alison Sweeney of the University of Pennsylvania (UniPenn) has been studying giant clams since she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara. These large mollusks, which anchor themselves to coral reefs in the tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans, can grow to up to three feet long and weigh hundreds of pounds. But their size isn’t the only thing that makes them unique. The lustrous cells on the surface of the clam scatter bright sunlight, which typically runs the risk of causing fatal damage to the cell, but the clams efficiently convert the sunlight into fuel. Using what they learn from these giant clams, the researchers hope to improve the process of producing biofuel.

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20 days ago

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