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

Fish-friendly whirlpool turbine makes hydropower green again

February 8, 2018 by  
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A company from Belgium wants to make hydropower green again. Turbulent’s whirlpool turbine can be installed in most canals or rivers , harnessing flowing water to generate power for as many as 60 homes, according to Business Insider . The device can operate at night and during the day to offer a clean, fish -friendly energy source. Turbulent’s nature-inspired micro hydropower plant can deliver decentralized energy at low cost, according to the company’s website. Their technology works well in rural areas, as long as there’s a river nearby. The company says their turbines don’t harm the environment and are easy to install. Business Insider said the system can be installed in a week. Related: Estream is the world’s smallest hydro power plant The whirlpool turbine makes use of small rapids or waterfalls to harness energy. The company digs up land near the water source to install a concrete basin. A generator and impeller goes inside the basin. Then a river wall is lifted so some of the river water will pour into the basin, getting the turbine going. Business Insider said in their video, “It produces limitless free energy as long as water is flowing” – if a river froze in the winter, production would could to a screeching halt. Turbulent says the turbine possesses just a single moving part, so it can have a longer operating life and doesn’t require much maintenance. A self-cleaning screen captures large debris. The company says the life of the concrete basin is 100 years, and fish won’t be harmed in the turbine; a video Turbulent produced shows fish swimming freely through the basin and even the turbine. The company claims in a video that hydropower has become less sustainable over time, with high-pressure turbines and dams , and their goal is to make the energy source sustainable again. Unlike large dams, their low-pressure turbine requires a height difference of roughly five feet to function effectively. Tested in rivers throughout Belgium, the device can be scaled up to generate 15, 30, and 100 kilowatts. Earlier this year, the company celebrated the official opening “of the first microcentral Turbulent in Chile.” + Turbulent Via Business Insider and Turbulent Images via Turbulent

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Fish-friendly whirlpool turbine makes hydropower green again

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