MIT battery that inhales and exhales air can store power for months

October 12, 2017 by  
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Could this air-breathing battery help solve energy storage woes? 10 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers developed the battery capable of storing electricity for months for around one fifth of the cost of comparable technologies. MIT professor Yet-Ming Chiang said, “This battery literally inhales and exhales air , but it doesn’t exhale carbon dioxide , like humans – it exhales oxygen .” MIT says their air-breathing battery could help renewable energy , like solar and wind, be more practicable for the grid . Their rechargeable flow battery costs a fraction of current technology, and can store power for long periods of time, with zero emissions and few location restraints. Related: Former Tesla executives to produce battery “with significantly lower carbon footprint” Sulfur dissolved in water comprises the battery’s liquid anode. What MIT described as an aerated liquid salt solution in the liquid cathode brings in and lets out oxygen. According to the institute, “Oxygen flowing into the cathode causes the anode to discharge electrons to an external circuit. Oxygen flowing out sends electrons back to the anode, recharging the battery.” The cost of the anode, cathode, and electrode materials in the battery is around 1/30 that of lithium-ion batteries , according to MIT. If the battery system was scaled up, it could store electricity for around $20 to $30 per kilowatt-hour – compare that against today’s batteries, which are around $100 per kilowatt-hour, at least. Right now, the prototype is about as big as a coffee cup. But Chiang said flow batteries are highly scalable. This new technology could compete with pumped hydroelectric storage systems, though, since the MIT system is more compact, it could be deployed in more locations where renewable energy is being generated. As solar and wind energy production can be intermittent, the battery could store the energy they generate to offer a reliable source of power. The journal Joule published the research this week. Via MIT News Images courtesy of the researchers and Felice Frankel

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MIT battery that inhales and exhales air can store power for months

Nissan’s new EV ecosystem could give free power to EV owners

October 5, 2017 by  
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The future looks bright for electric vehicle (EV) owners. Nissan recently unveiled plans for the four pillars of their EV ecosystem, including a commitment to expand what they called the biggest fast charger network in Europe by 20 percent. They also aim to offer free power for EV owners who have a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) system, which feeds power from a car’s battery pack to the grid or a home. Nissan sketched plans for the future recently at the Nissan Futures 3.0 event in Norway. They showed off the new Nissan Leaf , which they said can travel 378 kilometers, or around 235 miles, on one charge. They also announced a longer-range all-electric e-NV200 van, which has a 280-kilometer, or 174-mile, range. Related: People in Denmark are earning up to $1,530 just by parking their EVs The second pillar of their plan is their commitment to infrastructure . During the upcoming 18 months, they plan to increase the number of fast chargers in Europe from 4,600 to 5,600. Their third pillar is new home and business chargers; their double-speed seven kilowatt (kW) home charger can recharge a vehicle in five and a half hours. Meanwhile, their 22 kW charger, targeted at businesses, can charge an EV in two hours. They also showcased the xStorage , their home energy storage system. And they have a scheme to get owners free power. xStorage is bidirectional, which means with it EV owners can send power to the grid from a car battery pack. They have been testing the free energy idea in Denmark. Nissan explained in a press release, “Using Nissan bidirectional charging, customers can draw energy from the grid to power their car or van and then ‘sell’ back to the grid for others to use. This means, once a nominal charge has been paid by the business for the installation of a V2G charger there are no fuel or energy costs – just free power for your EV.” They announced a United Kingdom collaboration with OVO allowing owners to buy xStorage at a discounted price, enabling them to charge an EV or start selling power to the grid. Nissan said these owners could make around £350, or around $461, a year. They hope to explore the idea of free power for EV owners in other regions of Europe. Via Nissan and Electrek Images via Nissan

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Nissan’s new EV ecosystem could give free power to EV owners

Scientists say ice may fizz and bubble like champagne when floating in outer space

October 5, 2017 by  
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A group of scientists now believe that ice fizzes and bubbles like champagne when floating in outer space . This discovery was made when researchers at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan first created a mixture of three substances commonly found on comets and interstellar clouds from which stars form: water, ammonia, and methanol. Next, the team exposed this mixture to ultraviolet radiation to imitate the harsh environment beyond the atmosphere. As the ice temperature increased to -213 degrees Celsius, it started to crack, but at only five degrees beyond, bubbles began to form and pop within the ice. This bubbling ceased when the ice warmed to -123 degrees Celsius, and returned to its fully solid form. When the experiment was repeated under different circumstances, the ice’s behavior changed substantially. There were fewer bubbles in ice with less amounts of ammonia and methanol; without UV radiation, there were no bubbles at all. When exposed to radiation, the scientists noticed an increase in hydrogen gas. This suggests that the ice bubbles are formed by hydrogen, which had split off from the methane and ammonia molecules under radiation. In addition to its unusual bubbling, space ice also assumes the viscous quality of refrigerated honey at temperatures between ?185° C and ?161° C. Related: New NASA discovery hints at water elsewhere in the solar system Previous experiments, such as those conducted by Cornelia Meinert of the University Nice Sophia Antipolis in France and her colleagues, have shown that irradiated ice contains a large amount of organic molecules, including ribose, an essential ingredient in DNA . Previously, skeptics of life within space argued that the complex molecules essential for life may have been contamination. “Now [these new results are] helping us argue that at this very low temperature, the small precursor molecules can actually react with each other,” said Meinert, who was not involved in the new experiment. “This is supporting the idea that all these organic molecules can form in the ice, and might also be present in comets.” Via Science News Images via Hubble ESA/Flickr and Science News

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Scientists say ice may fizz and bubble like champagne when floating in outer space

Trump’s DOE invests $62 million in concentrated solar power

September 15, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump doesn’t usually mention solar power , unless it’s talk of covering his beloved border wall in solar panels . But his Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced a huge investment in concentrated solar power (CSP). Recently, the solar industry  reached the 2020 SunShot Initiative utility-scale solar cost goal, so the DOE is now looking into new priorities for investment. The DOE recently issued a press release stating they’ll invest up to $82 million in research: $62 million for CSP and $20 million in power electronics technologies, focusing on new technologies now that the average price for utility-scale solar is now six cents per kilowatt-hour. The MIT Technology Review suggested DOE officials think CSP could enhance grid stability more in the long term since CSP plants can store some power as heat, allowing them to keep producing electricity when there’s no sunshine. Related: Dubai to build the world’s biggest concentrated solar power plant But the energy CSP plants generate has been costlier than photovoltaics . And according to the MIT Technology Review, some people are suspicious the DOE may move to weaken support for photovoltaics. The Trump administration’s 2018 budget proposal slashed funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by almost 70 percent. That’s the same office that manages the SunShot Initiative. The DOE also announced a $50 million funding opportunity for large-scale pilot fossil fuel projects in late August. But CSP’s ability to store power is a strong advantage. Energy policy researcher David Victor of the University of California, San Diego did say investing in CSP makes sense, telling MIT Technology Review, “My general impression is that we have relatively over-invested in photovoltaics and under-invested in [concentrated solar].” Dan Reicher, executive director at Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, told MIT Technology Review, “[Concentrated solar power] today hasn’t been able to compete with photovoltaics, but there are some promising research areas. Given the climate challenge, we need to put eggs in many, many zero-carbon baskets.” Via MIT Technology Review and the Department of Energy Images via Bureau of Land Management on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Trump’s DOE invests $62 million in concentrated solar power

Clean energy buyers team up to reshape policy landscape

September 14, 2017 by  
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Amazon, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Salesforce and Walmart flex muscle in the new Advanced Energy Economy trade group.

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Clean energy buyers team up to reshape policy landscape

MIT researchers explore ancient firebrick technology to store energy

September 7, 2017 by  
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Firebricks – or bricks made with clay able to endure temperatures of 1,600 degrees Celsius – have been around for at least 3,000 years. Now Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers are revisiting this ancient technology to potentially help us transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy . The researchers worked out a scheme where excess electricity , generated when the wind is blowing or sun is shining, could be converted into heat and stored in the firebricks for later use. The firebricks technology has existed since the time of the Hittites, according to MIT researchers, who want to draw on this old technology to help make carbon-free power sources competitive with fossil fuels. Right now, with solar and wind power , electricity prices can collapse to near zero when there’s high wind or solar output, making those clean energy installations unprofitable unless companies can store power. Related: Google wants to solve renewable energy storage with salt and antifreeze Their system, called Firebrick Resistance-heated Energy Storage, or FIRES, costs between one-tenth and one-fortieth as much as pumped hydroelectric systems or batteries . It works like this: electric resistance heaters convert that excess electricity to heat, which would be stored in a large mass of firebricks. If the firebricks are inside an insulated casing, they can store that heat for long periods of time. The heat could either be utilized for industrial processes or converted back to electricity later. Regis Matzie, retired Westinghouse Electric Chief Technical Officer, wasn’t involved with the research but told MIT the way electricity prices are determined in America yields to a “skewed electricity market [that] produces low or even negative prices when a significant fraction of electrical energy on the grid is provided by renewables.” He said FIRES could offer an innovative solution, but a demonstration would probably be needed to see if the method is indeed economical. The Electricity Journal published the MIT research online the end of August. The next step will be setting up full-scale prototypes in the real world, which lead author Charles Forsberg said could occur in 2020. He said they’re looking for the right customers – one example would be an ethanol refinery, since they use a lot of heat, located near a large wind farm . Via MIT News Images via U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Gary J. Rihn/Released and courtesy of the researchers

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Three hurricanes form in the Atlantic for the first time since 2010

September 7, 2017 by  
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While Hurricane Irma barrels through the Caribbean towards the United States mainland, another two potentially powerful storms are waiting in the wings. Following closely behind Irma, one of the strongest hurricanes recorded in the Atlantic, are Tropical Storms Jose and Katia. The presence of these storms marks the first time since 2010 that three active hurricanes have formed in the Atlantic. In what may prove to be one of the most active on record , the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season has already demonstrated the unpredictable and explosive power of storms in the age of climate change . Jose, like Irma, is known as a Cape Verde hurricane for its origins in the far eastern Atlantic , near the island nation of Cape Verde off the coast of Africa . However, it is unlikely that Jose will follow Irma’s path nor will it likely be as powerful. Jose is expected to spin towards the open ocean and become a Category 3 hurricane, though it is not expected to travel over any land area. Related: Harvey forces National Weather Service to add new color to its rainfall map Katia is more closely related to Harvey, in that it too became a hurricane in the warm waters of the southern Gulf of Mexico. Despite its shared birthplace with the devastating hurricane that made landfall near Houston , Katia is expected to travel close to Mexico . It is currently nearly 200 miles northeast of Veracruz, Mexico, near which a small portion of the coast is currently under hurricane watch. Although three hurricanes active in the Atlantic at the same time is unusual, it is neither unprecedented nor unrivaled. During the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season, four hurricanes, including Hurricane Georges which caused major damage in Haiti and the Dominican Republic , were active during the same period. Via CNN Images via NOAA (1)

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Three hurricanes form in the Atlantic for the first time since 2010

From Tesla to Mercedes-Benz, automakers become energy companies

August 21, 2017 by  
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New battery offerings and alliances with renewable energy providers are catalyzing a shift with big implications for the power grid.

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Business and the Sustainable Development Goals: What now?

August 21, 2017 by  
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The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals could be a game changer for issues such as forestry and agriculture, although challenges remain.

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Chinese researchers develop flexible salt-powered batteries

August 14, 2017 by  
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As the world rushes to transition to a new energy economy, researchers are uncovering novel methods to harvest energy from mundane, everyday sources. A research team in China has created a new battery that could be safely used in wearable or implantable devices, thanks to its use of salt-based electrolytes. This breakthrough could drastically improve the quality and safety of battery-dependent medical technology and may even pave the way for sweat-powered devices. In order to be effective, implantable or wearable batteries need to be flexible to allow functional bending on organic surfaces. In prior iterations, these batteries usually included a mix of toxic chemicals that serve as the electrolytes through which electrical charge can flow. This new battery uses non-harmful electrolytes such as sodium sulfate and saline. Because there is less of a concern regarding leakage of these chemicals, the battery’s design does not require extra material to protect humans from exposure and is significantly less bulky. Related: Inexpensive new battery generates power with just a drop of saliva One particularly interesting implication of a salt-based battery is the idea that the batteries could prove effective at harvesting sweat and other salty bodily fluids to power a workout assistant device. The researchers also noted that the batteries have a marked ability to convert dissolved oxygen into hydroxide ions, which could prove useful in medical applications.  “We can implant these fiber-shaped electrodes into the human body to consume essential oxygen, especially for areas that are difficult for injectable drugs to reach,” said researcher Yonggang Wang. “Deoxygenation might even wipe out cancerous cells or pathogenic bacteria since they are very sensitive to changes in living environment pH. Of course, this is hypothetical right now, but we hope to investigate further with biologists and medical scientists.” Via Engadget Images via Deposit Photos , Tim Simpson/Flickr  and Andy Armstrong/Flickr

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