Energy-generating ‘artificial plants’ turn greenhouse gases into clean air

April 27, 2017 by  
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Groundbreaking research from scientists at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and Florida State University could help in the fight against climate change . The researchers were able to trigger photosynthesis in metal-organic frameworks (MOF) with a little help from blue light , and the process turned carbon dioxide (CO2) into solar fuel . UCF assistant professor Fernando Uribe-Romo described the find as a breakthrough. Scientists have been seeking such a breakthrough for years. The trick is getting visible light to set off the chemical reaction; ultraviolet rays can do it but only comprise four percent of the light hitting Earth from the sun. Most materials that can absorb visible light to set off the reaction are too expensive or rare. The Florida scientists, however, found they could use the common nontoxic metal titanium added with organic molecules that can be designed to absorb certain colors of light. Uribe-Romo set them up to absorb blue light. Related: MIT Scientists Create Artificial Solar Leaf That Can Power Homes The team tested the MOF inside a photoreactor – or glowing blue cylinder lined with LED lights to mimic blue wavelengths shining from the sun – and the resulting chemical reaction turned CO2 into solar fuel. Uribe-Romo said, “The idea would be to set up stations that capture large amounts of CO2, like next to a power plant . The gas would be sucked into the station, go through the process, and recycle the greenhouse gases while producing energy that would be put back into the power plant.” He said it may even be possible for the material to be put in rooftop shingles to both clean the air and generate energy usable for homeowners. He aims to keep working with the synthetic material and see if different wavelengths of visible light can set off the reaction. The Journal of Materials Chemistry A published the find online earlier this month. Via The Independent and EurekAlert! Images via UCF: Bernard Wilchusky and University of Central Florida

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Energy-generating ‘artificial plants’ turn greenhouse gases into clean air

6 groundbreaking examples of tech innovations inspired by biomimicry

March 29, 2017 by  
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Da Vinci was definitely on to something when he observed birds and copied their forms to create his own wings for flight. Although biomimicry wasn’t ultimately successful in helping Da Vinci achieve flight , it has a solid track record for getting engineers, thinkers, and inventors to approach problems in design and technology by returning to nature and its processes. Here are six examples of how observing and imitating nature lead to designs that can improve issues in the modern world. Wind turbine with hummingbird wings Wind turbines typically incorporate a pinwheel shape, but a breakthrough design from Tyer Wind has cleverly tapped into the gravity-defying hovering abilities of hummingbirds . While it may look like these feather-light birds are furiously flapping their wings in a linear fashion, they actually use a figure eight configuration. The design for this new turbine uses wings instead of traditional rotating blades to turn energy from wind into green electricity through 3-D Aouinian Kinematics . Cactus water collector After observing certain cacti ’s ability to collect and store water particles from fog, students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago were inspired to create Dewpoint , a design with real-world applications beyond the desert. By recreating a cactus’s prong-like spines and attaching them to a panel that can absorb, collect, and efficiently save water, the team is beginning to explore water security possibilities for a world that is increasingly facing drought, desertification, and disappearing water sources. Stable and durable bridge Anyone who has ever watched a little leaf on a tree take hit after hit from wind or pelting rain (or perhaps a child with a stick) and still persist knows that surprising hidden strength can be found in many of Mother Nature’s designs. Wanda Lewis has been studying that idea for 25 years, looking specifically at how examining the ways that fragile elements in nature respond to external forces and stress can benefit the structure of a modern, man-made bridge . Lewis developed a mathematical model for bridge design that would take into consideration modern stressors such as traffic and extreme weather conditions. Lewis’s “form-finding” would enable the creation of bridges that are safer, more durable, and long-lasting  by using a previously elusive optimal arch. Related: Biomimicry keeps hope alive despite the new regime Light-sensitive robot caterpillar What may look like a tiny piece of wavy plastic (or perhaps a miniaturized piece of bacon) is actually a robot that can carry loads up to 10 times larger than itself . With caterpillars as inspiration, physics researchers in Poland created this 15 millimeter long critter which is crafted from light-sensitive Liquid Crystalline Elastomers. Mimicking the wave-like motions of a moving caterpillar, this soft robot can also go up a slope or squeeze into a small space. Watch this little robot move in a surprisingly meditative video. Artificial leaf Artificial photosynthesis has been around for over a century, but Caltech’s Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis has found a way to mimic the natural process and safely, effectively, and affordably produce and store energy using the sun . The group’s artificial leaf consists of two electrodes (one that generates hydrogen gas, the other that generates oxygen gas), as well as a plastic membrane that keeps the collected gases separate. The Caltech crew is working on scaling up the design, but their innovation shows promise for creating a system that uses only sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to produce hydrogen fuels that can be utilized as needed. Avian-inspired train It’s a bird…it’s a train…it’s kind of both: a bullet train  whose design was partially inspired by features of an owl and a kingfisher . Engineer, general manager of the tech development department for Japan’s bullet trains , and avid bird-watcher Eiji Nakatsu wanted to make his trains both faster and quieter . He first employed his observations about the noise-dampening feather parts of an owl to reduce the sound effects of the trains as they whizzed through neighborhoods and tunnels. Later, he observed that the streamlined shape of the kingfisher’s bill could be used in a new train design to further reduce noise (including a persistent sonic boom effect) and decrease necessary fuel amounts, all while reducing travel time.

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6 groundbreaking examples of tech innovations inspired by biomimicry

This adorable little sea slug is solar powered

August 7, 2015 by  
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Costasiella kuroshimae , known commonly as Leaf Sheep, is an ocean-dwelling grazer that “steals”  photosynthesizing chloroplasts from the food it eats in order to generate energy. The Leaf Sheep is a species of sea slug that munches on algae instead of grass, like the sheep you find on dry land. Reaching a length of 5 mm, the tiny aquatic slug has the distinction of being one of the few animals that are able to photosynthesize. Read the rest of This adorable little sea slug is solar powered

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This adorable little sea slug is solar powered

Underwater “Stonehenge” discovered near Sicily is over 10,000-years-old

August 7, 2015 by  
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Off the coast of Sicily, researchers have discovered a giant stone monolith submerged in a shallow channel. A report published in Science Direct suggests the man-made object was created by an ancient civilization for a purpose likely akin to that of Stonehenge, which the monolith resembles. Researchers estimate the monument’s age at over 10,000 years, and believe its existence confirms “significant Mesolithic human activity in the Sicilian Channel region.” Read the rest of Underwater “Stonehenge” discovered near Sicily is over 10,000-years-old

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Plant Power: Dutch company harvests electricity from living plants

January 14, 2015 by  
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A Dutch company harnesses electricity from living plants, and then uses it to power cell phone chargers , Wi-Fi hotspots, and now over 300 LED streetlights in two sites in the Netherlands. Plant-e debuted its “Starry Sky” project in November 2014 at an old ammunition site called HAMbrug, near Amsterdam, and plant power is also being used near the company’s headquarters in Wageningen. Read the rest of Plant Power: Dutch company harvests electricity from living plants Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “clean energy” , “wind power” , city lights , clean power , dutch , Electricity , LED lights , Netherlands , photosynthesis , Plant power , Plant-e , plants , power , public lights , renewable , renewable energy , solar , streelights , Sustainable

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Plant Power: Dutch company harvests electricity from living plants

Biophotovoltaic Moss Table Generates Electricity Through Photosynthesis

May 15, 2014 by  
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What if your lamp and laptop could be  powered by plants ? Biophotovoltaics ‘ Moss Table is an innovative furnishing that demonstrates the future potential of Bio-Photo-Voltaic (BPV) technology. Here electricity is generated from the electrons captured by conductive fibers inside the moss table . The technology turns energy that would otherwise be wasted in the photosynthesis process into power that can be put to practical use. Read the rest of Biophotovoltaic Moss Table Generates Electricity Through Photosynthesis Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “green furniture” , algae power , bio energy harvesting , biophotovoltaic , biophotovoltaics , BPV , eco furniture , energy generating furniture , green design , living tables , milan design week 2012 , MoSS , moss table , table

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Biophotovoltaic Moss Table Generates Electricity Through Photosynthesis

Plant-e Develops Electricity-Generating Plants to Bring Clean Energy to Off-Grid Locations

March 19, 2014 by  
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A Dutch start-up called Plant-e has developed a way to use living plants as a continuous source of clean energy – all that’s needed is a light source, carbon dioxide, water, and, of course, a field or patch of plants. The system works best in wetlands or watery fields like rice paddies, but it doesn’t matter if the water is brackish or polluted, so areas unsuitable for growing crops could be repurposed as a power source. There’s no complicated infrastructure to install, which makes it super easy to bring electricity to isolated regions that are currently without power. Read the rest of Plant-e Develops Electricity-Generating Plants to Bring Clean Energy to Off-Grid Locations Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “clean energy” , “sustainable energy” , agriculture , cheap energy , electrodes , green energy , green power , photosynthesis , plant electricity , plants , renewable energy , rice fields , wetlands        

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Plant-e Develops Electricity-Generating Plants to Bring Clean Energy to Off-Grid Locations

Bionic Plants use Nanotech for Supercharged Photosynthesis

March 18, 2014 by  
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Most people already understand what makes plants such an important part of the environment — by absorbing light and carbon, they’re able to photosynthesize , releasing fresh oxygen into the atmosphere to keep animal life on Earth breathing. What you may not realize is that while plants serve a vitally important function, the process itself actually isn’t very efficient . Not only do most plants reflect green light rather than absorbing it, but they’re only able to use about 10% of the sunshine they receive. What else could we do with all that extra energy? Read the rest of Bionic Plants use Nanotech for Supercharged Photosynthesis Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: bionic plants , chlorophyll , chloroplasts , MIT , nanoparticles , nanotech , nanotechnology , nanotubes , photosynthesis        

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Moss FM: World’s First Plant-Powered Radio Uses “Biological Solar Panels”

February 10, 2014 by  
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Moss FM is the world’s first plant-powered radio! The neatly arranged pots of moss form a Photo Microbial Fuel Cell that captures electrons generated during photosynthesis and converts them into electricity, even when there is no light. The project was developed by Swiss designer Fabienne Felder in collaboration with Cambridge University scientists Dr. Paolo Bombelli and Ross Dennis. While the technology is still in its infancy, the team hopes that it will become commercially viable in as little as five to ten years. Read the rest of Moss FM: World’s First Plant-Powered Radio Uses “Biological Solar Panels” Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: biological solar panels , biophilic technology , fabienne felder , green technology , microbial fuel cells , MoSS , moss fm , photo microbial fuel cells , photo-mfcs , photosynthesis , Plant power , plant-powered radio , renewable technology , university of cambridge        

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Moss FM: World’s First Plant-Powered Radio Uses “Biological Solar Panels”

Streams Polluted by Pharmaceuticals Show Signs of Stress

April 1, 2013 by  
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Photo via Shutterstock Much of the world’s human population has some sort of pharmaceutical running through their veins, and as it turns out, so does the planet’s streams and rivers. According to a report published in Ecological Applications by the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies , drugs and other chemicals have found their way into the freshwater supply and are affecting the health of the ecosystem. The study looked at six common compounds and how they altered the aquatic organisms that create the slippery “biofilm” that covers rocks. Scientists found a dramatic decrease in algal photosynthesis and respiration as well as a change in the bacterial community. Read the rest of Streams Polluted by Pharmaceuticals Show Signs of Stress Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: algae , antihistamine , bacteria , biofilm , caffeine , cary institue of ecosystem studies , chicago , diphenhydramine , dr. emma rosi-marshall , drugs , ecological applications , fresh water , Indiana , indiana university , loyola university , Maryland , New York. , pharmaceutical , photosynthesis , Pollution , respiration

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