New quantum tunneling application captures electricity from Earth’s heat

February 8, 2018 by  
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Researchers at  King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia have learned how to produce electricity from Earth’s excess heat through quantum tunneling. Quantum tunneling is a phenomenon in which particles are able to tunnel through a barrier that, under the rules of classical mechanics, they are usually unable to pass through. First predicted in the early 20th century and generally accepted by mid-century, quantum tunneling plays an important applied role in devices such as the tunnel diode, quantum computing, and the scanning tunneling microscope. Its more recent application, the harvest of electricity from Earth’s radiant heat, involves a specifically designed antenna that can identify this excess heat as high-frequency electromagnetic waves, then transforms the signals into a direct electrical charge. The heat produced by sunlight hitting the Earth results in a constant flow of infrared radiation that, if untapped, is essentially free energy gone to waste. It is estimated that the global output of infrared radiation may be as much as millions of gigawatts per second. Since the infrared wavelengths are so short, scientists at KAUST needed to design micro-antennas suited to catch this heat. “There is no commercial diode in the world that can operate at such high frequency,” said lead researcher Atif Shamim . “That’s why we turned to quantum tunneling.” Related: New double-pane quantum dot solar windows generate power with better efficiency Via a tunneling device known as a metal-insulator-metal (MIM) diode, electrons are able to pass through a small barrier, despite lacking the energy classically required to do so. As the electrons pass through this barrier, they are converted into an electrical direct current. The technology could be applied to solar panels , which currently only harvest a small percentage of the potential heat and light energy available for electrical power. While there is work to be done, the potential for how we gather and use energy is huge. “This is just the beginning – a proof of concept,” said Shamim . “We could have millions of such devices connected to boost overall electricity generation,” Via ScienceAlert Images via Depositphotos and  KAUST (1)

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New quantum tunneling application captures electricity from Earth’s heat

Our heaping food waste problem has an open secret: It can be solved

February 8, 2018 by  
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Experts from Kroger, Dow, ReFed, Feeding America and TSC weigh in the potential for making great systemic change.

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Our heaping food waste problem has an open secret: It can be solved

Can business policies untangle the fate of sea life?

November 28, 2017 by  
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Laws to protect wildlife are the first step in any conservation effort, but the potential of business to strengthen policy should not be overlooked.

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Can business policies untangle the fate of sea life?

Renewables offer mining a groundbreaking opportunity

August 10, 2017 by  
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With the potential to cut a gigaton of carbon, it’s time to take a hard look at sustainable mining.

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Renewables offer mining a groundbreaking opportunity

3 digital strategies to make your sustainability story pop

August 10, 2017 by  
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Americans increasingly want to hear your company’s sustainability story, a key way to differentiate your brand. Now, make that story stand out.

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3 digital strategies to make your sustainability story pop

Can craft butcher shops help transform the meat industry?

November 23, 2016 by  
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Small, artisan shops have the potential to encourage more farmers to switch to pasture-based practices, and could help scale up the market for better meat.

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Can craft butcher shops help transform the meat industry?

Outdoor recreation can’t beat the heat of climate change

November 23, 2016 by  
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If you do business in a place like Montana, Big Sky Resorts, Columbia and Newell Rubbermaid offer lessons in adaptation.

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Outdoor recreation can’t beat the heat of climate change

Amip Shah on the triple-bottom-line case for IoT

September 30, 2016 by  
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The Internet of Things (IoT) has changed the way we connect and interact with the world, from wellness and health monitoring to smart utility meters, integrated logistics, and self-driving cars. What is the potential impact beyond “things” — on our workforce, our communities and the way in which we work? Hewlett Packard Labs has been asking these questions. Learn how they are harnessing IoT innovations to drive solutions that work for both people and the planet. 

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How virtual reality will change the world

September 30, 2016 by  
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Virtual Reality dates to the 1950s, but 2016 is its seminal moment. With the launch of consumer VR systems we are entering a new reality of how we experience and interface with our technology. It’s not just entertainment: VR offers the potential to fundamentally change how we learn, interact, and recover through a variety of potential applications in academia, healthcare, advocacy and industry. This briefing will explore some possible ways VR can accelerate the sustainable economy.

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Beyond electrification: exploring alternative fuels for a clean energy economy

September 30, 2016 by  
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The promise of electric vehicles dominates mainstream media coverage, but they’re not the only way to reduce the transportation sector’s dependence on petroleum. Our experts will discuss the promise and practicality of various alternative fuels, especially cellulosic ethanol. Learn more about which approaches show the most promise for reducing carbon emission, the connection between ethanol and high octane, and why going cleaner doesn’t mean sacrificing performance.

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Beyond electrification: exploring alternative fuels for a clean energy economy

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