Fresh Water-Salt Water Battery Coming to an Estuary Near You from Stanford U

Most people are familiar with the potato battery or the lemon battery, two classic examples of the electrochemical cell. Similarly, there exists an electrical potential between salt water and fresh water, which can be exploited to harvest electrical energy. That is exactly what some enterprising researchers from Stanford have set out to do.

Stanford researchers have developed a battery that takes advantage of the difference in salinity between freshwater and seawater to produce electricity. Anywhere freshwater enters the sea, such as river mouths or estuaries, could be potential sites for a power plant using such a battery, said Yi Cui, associate professor of materials science and engineering, who led the research team. Continue reading

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Direct Methanol Fuel Cell from JPL

Here is some news from NASA regarding developments in fuel celltechnology, dated 26-May-2011.

A team of scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., in partnership with the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, developed a Direct Methanol Fuel Cell technology for future Department of Defense and commercial applications. Recently, USC and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, which manages JPL for NASA, awarded a license to SFC Energy, Inc., the U.S. affiliate of SFC Energy AG…This novel fuel cell technology uses liquid methanol as a fuel to produce electrical energy, and does not require any fuel processing. Pure water and carbon dioxide are the only byproducts of the fuel cell, and no pollutants are emitted. Direct Methanol Fuel Cells offer several advantages over other current fuel cell systems, especially with regard to simplicity of design and higher energy density. Current systems rely on hydrogen gas, a substance that is more difficult to transport and store. Continue reading

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IC Engine-Electric Hybrid Powered Flying Car from Scaled Composites





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Wireless Electricity Transfer: Startup Company from MIT

The above claim is no where near what Nikola Tesla dreamed of a century ago because Witricity(short for Wireless Electricity) have come up with techniques to send power wirelessly over only a few meters. This is different from capturing ambient radiowave energy as reported earlier, because the mode of transmission involves magnetic induction, similar to an (electric) transformer. In a transformer, there are two coils, a transmitting primary and a receiving secondary, coupled together magnetically. The magnetic coupling is made stronger through the help of an iron/steel core. Continue reading

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Renewable Biofuels from Bacteria

Here is an interesting article from Science Daily entitled “Green and Lean: Secreting Bacteria Eliminate Cost Barriers for Renewable Biofuel Production“.

A Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University research team has developed a process that removes a key obstacle to producing low-cost, renewable biofuels from bacteria. The team has reprogrammed photosynthetic microbes to secrete high-energy fats, making byproduct recovery and conversion to biofuels easier and potentially more commercially viable.

The work was supported by Biodesign Institute seed funding and a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Read the rest at the above link.

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New Electrical Energy Storage Techniques

POWER magazine has been in print for about 128 years catering to the global power generation industry. They

covered the earliest advances of steam power plants in the 1800s and addressed energy supply issues during World Wars I and II. We were the first to report on the birth of nuclear power, and today we report on modern advanced power technologies, including wind, solar, tidal, and ultrasupercritical generation.

I came upon this article entitled “Energy Storage Enables Just-in-time Generation” by Dr. Robert Peltier. (An apt name for someone involved in power, don’t you think? Do you know the Peltier effect?) Dr. Peltier is the chief editor of POWER and a mechanical engineering faculty member at Arizona State University.

The article is based on the methods used to store electrical energy. This is especially important for renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, which are unsteady. Wind is highly erratic, at times dying out completely and in certain seasons, reaching speeds beyond the safe limits of wind turbines requiring the turbines to be “parked”. Solar only works on clear sunny days. In addition, the price of gas, diesel or coal fluctuate and electric providers may find it useful to store energy when costs are low. It may be economical for nuclear or hydroelectric power plants to store energy during off-peak hours Continue reading

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Inkjet Printable Antenna For Harvesting Ambient Radiowave Energy

Harvesting of ambient energy can power small devices such as sensors and perhaps even wearable computing devices. This concept is just a miniscule application of what Nikola Tesla had in mind over a century ago, namely, harvesting energy from space and transmitting energy without wires over long distances. I am posting the following article here with the hope that perhaps it may inspire a reader to come up with a novel application for this concept.

Georgia Tech electrical engineering professor Manos Tentzeris and his team of graduate students have hit upon a technique to produce inkjet printable antennae to capture energy from ambient radio waves.

They have discovered a way to capture and harness energy transmitted by such sources as radio and television transmitters, cell phone networks and satellite communications systems.  By scavenging this ambient energy from the air around us, the technique could provide a new way to power networks of wireless sensors, microprocessors and communications chips…Tentzeris and his team are using inkjet printers to combine sensors, antennas and energy-scavenging capabilities on paper or flexible polymers. The resulting self-powered wireless sensors could be used for chemical, biological, heat and stress sensing for defense and industry; radio-frequency identification (RFID) tagging for manufacturing and shipping, and monitoring tasks in many fields including communications and power usage. Continue reading

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Brazil is Hiring Foreign Scientists and Aeronautics Engineers

Here is an article from Aviation entitled “Brazil and the New Nomads” by George Larson. Here are some excerpts.

In olden times, an aeronautical engineer signed on with one of the major airframe manufactures and spent an entire career there, parting with a gold watch and a pension. No more…These days, you have to go where the action is, and although a static housing market severely hampers mobility, talent is talent, and Honda CEO Michimasa Fujino has assembled a star-studded virtual United Nations of Aeronautics in Greensboro, with Americans, Europeans and Asians staffing the work stations. These are “The New Nomads.” Continue reading

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1000 mph (Faster Than Sound) Land Speed Record Attempt Coming Late 2011

Here is an article at The Economist on the Bloodhound SSC (supersonic car) land speed record project. The Bloodhound SSC will reportedly travel at 1050 mph (1690 kph). FYI: Sound speed at sea level is 768 mph (1236 kph, 343.2 m/s or 1126 ft/s).

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Volkswagen’s World’s Most Efficient Car: The XL1 Diesel Hyrbid

Volkswagen made a press release recently about another milestone reached by their concept car  codenamed the XL1 . They seem to be so impressed with the vehicle’s performance that they are going all out and calling it the world’s most efficient car. Their diesel-electric hybrid vehicle was driven from the VW headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, to the location of the Annual Stockholders Meeting in Hamburg, Germany, by the Chariman of the Board of Management, Dr. Ferdinand Piech, with an average fuel consumption of only 0.89 liters per 100 km (60 miles). VW has made great strides in attaining their goal of producing a practical and roadworthy two-seater car running on diesel and able to travel 100 km on 1 liter of diesel fuel or 235 miles on 1 gallon. (Link to a PDF of the July 2011 newsletter here and a video release here.) Continue reading

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