Stanford researchers pioneer world’s first affordable urea battery

February 13, 2017 by  
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Stanford University researchers have designed a new battery that could revolutionize renewable energy storage . Using urea , an affordable, natural and readily available material found in mammal urine and fertilizers, their battery is notably more efficient than past iterations. The battery, developed by Stanford chemistry professor Honjie Dai and doctoral candidate Michael Angell, uses an electrolyte made from urea – a material already produced in mass industrial quantities for use in plant fertilizers. Non-flammable and made with electrodes from abundant materials like aluminum and graphite, the battery presents a low-cost way for storing energy from many sources – including renewables . “So essentially, what you have is a battery made with some of the cheapest and most abundant materials you can find on Earth. And it actually has good performance,” says Dai in a press release. “Who would have thought you could take graphite, aluminum, urea, and actually make a battery that can cycle for a pretty long time?” Dai and his team were the first to make a rechargeable aluminum battery in 2015, which charged in less than a minute, while lasting for thousands of charge-discharge cycles. And they’ve improved on both the performance and cost of their latest model, which is about 100 times cheaper than the 2015 battery, with a higher efficiency of 1,500 charge-discharge cycles and a charging time of 45 minutes. This is also the first time that urea has been used to make a battery. Related: MIT researchers invent ingestible battery powered by stomach acid Energy storage is a huge challenge for solar power and other renewables, as users need a reliable way to store power for when their systems aren’t producing energy. The batteries currently on the market, including lithium ion and lead-acid batteries tend to be quite costly and don’t last that long. But Dai and Angell believe their battery might be the solution to the conundrum of renewable energy storage. “It’s cheap. It’s efficient. Grid storage is the main goal,” says Angell. “I would feel safe if my backup battery in my house is made of urea with little chance of causing fire,” added Dai. The researchers have licensed their battery patents to AB Systems, a company founded by Dai, and a commercial version of the battery is on the way. They’re planning to work on increasing its life span down the road by further investigating its internal chemical processes. Via Stanford Images via Pexels , US Navy and Tea Horse Trade Guest House , Wikimedia Commons

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Stanford researchers pioneer world’s first affordable urea battery

Playful KATRIS scratching post blocks fit together like Tetris for cats

February 13, 2017 by  
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Cat owners who find themselves hiding grubby scratching posts out of sight will love this awesome KATRIS set that combines feline fun with playful design. The modular system consists of scratchable blocks that double as flexible furnishings . All of the pieces are non-toxic, and they can be assembled in a variety of ways so that cats can enjoy an ever-changing feline playground. Featured on an episode of Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell”, KATRIS is the result of extensive research into the best materials for feline furniture according to cat behavioral science. Each shred-resistant block is made with 200 sheets of FSC-certified heavy-duty paper , and they can support up to 300 pounds of weight. The blocks can be connected in a variety of ways using built-in straps. https://youtu.be/dHhO_CnZBjU Related: Architects turn a cramped apartment into a gorgeous loft where the owner’s cats can roam freely The blocks are manufactured using non-toxic ingredients, such as SGS-certified, non-toxic glue and eco-friendly branding ink made with non-toxic soybean inks. Not only is the whole system completely recyclable, but the blocks are designed to have an extremely long life cycle, further minimizing waste. + KATRIS Cat Via Curbed Images via KATRIS

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Playful KATRIS scratching post blocks fit together like Tetris for cats

British supermarket chain launches trucks powered by food waste

February 13, 2017 by  
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Food waste has always been something of a bugbear with Waitrose , an upscale British grocer that stopped shoveling its leftovers into the landfill as early as 2012. It even packages some of its fusilli pasta in boxes made, in part, from recycled food scraps, which it says reduces the use of virgin tree pulp by 15 percent while lowering greenhouse-gas emissions by a fifth. But Waitrose wants to take the issue further, both literally and figuratively. The supermarket just announced that it’ll be running its delivery trucks entirely on biomethane gas generated from food waste—making it the first company in Europe to do so. Food waste is a looming concern in the United Kingdom. At a time when 8.4 million U.K. families struggle to feed themselves daily, the volume of household food waste continues to soar, amounting to an estimated 7.3 million metric tons in 2015. Waitrose, according to the Times , is partnering with CNG Fuels to juice up 10 of its trucks with 100 percent renewable biomethane. The trucks can run up to 500 miles—almost twice the current average—on what is essentially rotting food. “We will be able to make deliveries to our stores without having to refuel away from base,” Justin Laney of the John Lewis Partnership , which operates Waitrose, said in a statement on Thursday. Related: Toronto Rolls Out Biogas-Capable Garbage Trucks Because its biomethane costs 40 percent less than diesel, any upgrades will pay for themselves in two to three years, CNG Fuels said. “Renewable biomethane is far cheaper and cleaner than diesel, and, with a range of up to 500 miles, it is a game-changer for road transport operators,” CNG Fuels CEO Philip Fjeld said. Another plus? The alternative fuel emits 70 percent less carbon dioxide, which would give a much needed boost to the European Union’s pledge to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 under the Paris Climate Agreement . + Waitrose Via Grubstreet

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British supermarket chain launches trucks powered by food waste

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