Engineers develop new fuel cells with twice the operating voltage as hydrogen

EurekAlert  June 17, 2020 Researchers at Washington University have developed high-power direct borohydride fuel cells that operate at double the voltage of conventional hydrogen fuel cells. They pioneered a reactant identifying an optimal range of flow rates, flow field architectures and residence times that enable high power operation ensuring proper fuel and oxidant distribution and the mitigation of parasitic reactions. They demonstrated a single-cell operating voltage of 1.4 or greater, double that obtained in conventional hydrogen fuel cells, with peak powers approaching 1 watt/cm2. Doubling the voltage would allow for a smaller, lighter, more efficient fuel cell design. Their approach […]

Using the ‘shadow effect’ to generate electricity

Techxplore  May 21, 2020 Researchers in Singapore used Kelvin Probe Force Microscopy to experimentally validated that a shadow-effect energy generator (SEG) scavenges the illumination contrast that arises on the device from shadow castings, and generates a direct current, simply by placing a part of the generator in shadow. The SEG is capable of harvesting energy from illumination contrasts arising under weak ambient light. Without any optimization, the generator has a power density of 0.14 μW cm−2 under indoor conditions 0.001 sun, where shadows are persistent. It performs 200% better than that of commercial silicon solar cells under the effects of […]

Fossil fuel-free jet propulsion with air plasmas

Science Daily  May 5, 2020 Researchers in China propose a prototype design of a propulsion thruster that utilizes air plasma induced by microwave ionization. They used a microwave air plasma jet thruster using high-temperature and high-pressure plasma generated by a 2.45 GHz microwave ionization chamber for injected pressurized air. They measured the lifting force and jet pressure at various settings of microwave power and the air flow rate and demonstrated that, given the same power consumption, its propulsion pressure is comparable to that of conventional airplane jet engines using fossil fuels. A carbon-emission free thruster could potentially be used as […]

Pentagon awards contracts to design mobile nuclear reactor

Defense News  March 9, 2020 Project Pele is run through the Strategic Capabilities Office within DDR&E of DOD, involves the development of a safe, mobile and advanced nuclear microreactor to support a variety of Department of Defense missions such as generating power for remote operating bases. Under the program the Pentagon issued three contracts to start design work as part of a two-step plan. The system should be safely and rapidly moveable by road, rail, sea, or air and quick to set up and shut down, with a design which is inherently safe. If the testing goes well, a commercially […]

How to Design a Perpetual Energy Machine

Quanta Magazine  April 1, 2020 It is a tradition among puzzle columnists to pay homage to April Fools’ Day by testing the credulity of their readers with outrageous propositions. The late (and great) Martin Gardner, who authored the famous monthly column Mathematical Games in Scientific American for a quarter century, once used an April column to describe a thought experiment that purported to falsify the special theory of relativity. It was a version of the bar and ring paradox. Special relativity is still hale and hearty, but the thought experiment seems convincing at first glance. In the spirit of this […]

Turning water into watts

Physics World  March 3, 2020 Most approaches to harvesting mechanical energy from ocean waves rely on finding a way to move a conducting wire through a magnetic field to generate electricity. Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology designed triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) in small plastic spheres, about the size of oranges, that float in water. As the waves jostle the sphere, material inside bumps against the outer shell, generating charges. Th charges then flow through an attached wire. In lab tests each sphere could generate about 10 mW of power enough for powering small devices such as sensors on buoys used […]

Russian scientists found an effective way to obtain fuel for hydrogen engines

EurekAlert  February 20, 2020 Catalysts used for releasing hydrogen from an H2O molecule are made from platinum, or molybdenum which are expensive hence the output energy is expensive too. Researchers in Russia used thin films of molybdenum sulfide deposited on the surface of glassy carbon instead. In this case, the material consumption will be minimal, and the surface area of the catalyst will be the same as if it was completely made from molybdenum sulfide. They measured electrochemical characteristics which indicated that the differences in the achievable hydrogen evolution reactions performances of the films could be caused by their unique […]

New droplet-based electricity generator: A drop of water generates 140V power, lighting up 100 LED bulbs

Science Daily  February 5, 2020 An international team of researchers (USA – University of Nebraska, Hong Kong, China) found that the continuous droplets impinging on Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) provides a new route for the accumulation and storage of high-density surface charges. The device consists of an aluminium electrode, and an indium tin oxide (ITO) electrode with a film of PTFE deposited on it. The PTFE/ITO electrode is responsible for the charge generation, storage, and induction. When a falling water droplet hits and spreads on the PTFE/ITO surface, it naturally “bridges” the aluminium electrode and the PTFE/ITO electrode, translating the original system […]

Something from nothing: Using waste heat to power electronics

EurekAlert  February 12, 2020 A thermocell can convert environmental thermal energy to electric energy via thermal charging effect. However, the output voltage is low and depends on temperature. Researchers in Japan developed a thermocell containing a material that exhibited a temperature-induced phase transition of its crystal structure. Just above room temperature, the atoms in this solid material rearranged to form a different crystal structure. This phase transition resulted in an increase in output voltage from zero to around 120 mV, representing a considerable performance improvement over that of existing thermocells. They were able to finely tune the phase transition temperature […]

China’s Next Five-Year Energy Plan Will Shape the Global Energy Future

Next Big Future  January 23, 2020 The 14th Five-Year Plan will cover 2021-25. The full plan will be released around March 2021, but partial drafts and releases will be published in 2020. China is projected to reduce the proportion of coal in its energy mix to below 58% by 2020. There are proposals to set a target of coal usage at 55% of China’s energy mix by 2030 for the 14th five-year plan covering 2021-2025. Greenhouse gas emissions to peak around 2025-2030. In March the China Electricity Council suggested that coal-power capacity should grow to 1,300 GW by 2030. Hydropower […]