UMD scientists invent new water-based battery that won’t catch fire

April 16, 2018 by  
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Researchers at the University of Maryland have invented a new  water -based zinc battery that is safer than a traditional lithium-ion battery, but which doesn’t sacrifice power or usability. The team utilized elements of older zinc battery technology with novel water-in- salt electrolytes to create a battery that is not prone to catching fire. “Water-based batteries could be crucial to preventing fires in electronics, but their energy storage and capacity have been limited – until now,” said study first author Fei Wang in a statement . “For the first time, we have a battery that could compete with the lithium-ion batteries in energy density, but without the risk of explosion or fire.” Their work was recently published in the journal Nature Materials . One of the new battery ‘s improvements over traditional batteries is its ability to overcome irreversibility, the phenomenon in which the charge delivered by the battery at its intended voltage decreases with usage, through a technique that changes the structure of the positively charged zinc ions within the battery. In addition to the battery’s application in consumer goods, it also could prove invaluable in extreme conditions such as the deep  ocean or outer space. Related: California’s desert battery could be three times the size of Tesla’s The saline aqueous nature of the zinc battery eliminates the need to replace evaporated water within the battery, a key challenge of traditional zinc batteries. “Existing zinc batteries are safe and relatively inexpensive to produce, but they aren’t perfect due to poor cycle life and low energy density,” said study co-author Chunsheng Wang in a statement . “We overcome these challenges by using a water-in-salt electrolyte.” The researchers believe that their invention and related discoveries could be applicable to a wide variety of energy technologies. “The significant discovery made in this work has touched the core problem of aqueous zinc batteries,” said study co-author Kang Xu in a statement , “and could impact other aqueous or non-aqueous multivalence cation chemistries that face similar challenges, such as magnesium and aluminum batteries.” + Nature Materials Via  TechXplore Images via John T. Consoli/University of Maryland

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UMD scientists invent new water-based battery that won’t catch fire

New nanowood insulation is more environmentally friendly than Styrofoam

March 14, 2018 by  
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Scientists have created a new insulating material from wood that bests Styrofoam : it’s “stronger and much more environmentally friendly,” according to the University of Maryland (UMD). Their material , called nanowood, can come in thin, flexible pieces or in blocks — take a closer look after the jump. The UMD -led team created nanowood by removing lignin, a substance in wood that keeps it rigid and brown. They also took out some short fibers “that tangle themselves in with the cellulose fibers that make up the scaffolding-like base structure of the wood,” according to the university. “The aligned cellulose fibers then bond with each other and results in a high mechanical strength.” Related: Incredible new “super wood” is as strong as steel When the team attempted to crush the nanowood, they discovered in one direction the material was 30 times stronger than thermal insulation materials like Styrofoam or aerogel. When testing how well nanowood insulates, they found it blocked a minimum of 10 degrees more heat than a Guinness World Record honoree for best insulator, silica aerogel, as well as Styrofoam. And while wool or glass insulators can irritate lung tissues or incite allergic reactions, according to UMD, nanowood’s fibers don’t cause those issues. UMD postdoctoral student Tian Li said of nanowood in the statement, “This can insulate better than most other current thermal insulators, including Styrofoam. It is extremely promising to be used as energy efficient building materials.” The journal Science Advances published the research earlier this month. Scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden contributed. UMD said Inventwood , a spinoff company from the research group of Liangbing Hu, UMD associate professor involved in this research, is commercializing wood-based nanotechnologies. Hu said in the statement his research program “experiments with nature’s nanotechnology that we see in wood.” Inventwood’s website lists transparent wood and clear paper among their technologies. + University of Maryland + Science Advances Images via the University of Maryland

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New nanowood insulation is more environmentally friendly than Styrofoam

Incredible new "super wood" is as strong as steel

February 9, 2018 by  
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It’s a twig, it’s a branch, it’s… Super Wood! Researchers at the University of Maryland have created a so-called “super wood” that is stronger than many titanium alloys. The research team used a two-step process to drastically increase the density of the wood , thus reinforcing its strength to 10 times that of traditional wood. “It is as strong as steel, but six times lighter,” research team co-leader  Teng Li told ScienceDaily . “It takes 10 times more energy to fracture than natural wood. It can even be bent and molded at the beginning of the process.” To create the super material, the research team first boiled wood in a mixture of sodium hydroxide and sodium sulfite. With lignin and hemicellulose partially removed, the wood is then hot-pressed to crush cell walls and forge strong nanofibers. The resulting density provides its super strength. “This kind of wood could be used in cars , airplanes, buildings — any application where steel is used,” research team co-leader Liangbing Hu Hu told ScienceDaily . Related: Milan’s striking wooden UniCredit building is powered by the sun Another of super wood’s special powers is its ability to be sourced sustainably . “Soft woods like pine or balsa, which grow fast and are more environmentally friendly, could replace slower-growing but denser woods like teak in furniture or buildings ,”said Hu. “Given the abundance of wood, as well as other cellulose-rich plants, this paper inspires imagination,” said professor of mechanics and materials at Harvard University Zhigang Suo, who was not involved in the study. The team at University of Maryland has also created a kind of transparent wood, which could be used to replace glass and plastic with more sustainably sourced, stronger alternatives. Via ScienceDaily and New Atlas Images via University of Maryland and Depositphotos

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World’s first piloted solar-powered helicopter lifts off in Maryland

September 20, 2016 by  
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University of Maryland students continue to soar with alternatively-powered aircraft . Their solar-powered helicopter, Solar Gamera, lifted off the ground earlier this month, marking the first flight of a piloted, solar-powered helicopter. The Solar Gamera lifted over a foot off the earth and flew for nine seconds. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyBDrmyRTqs Piloted by materials science major Michelle Mahon, the 100-square-foot Solar Gamera flew twice. The students created the solar panels themselves, according to Mahon, and the craft flies via electronic controls. While nine seconds may not seem like a very long time, doctorate student William Staruk, a member of the Solar Gamera team, said it’s “just a matter of drift” before the Solar Gamera can fly for longer periods of time. Related: Gamera II Helicopter Breaks World Altitude Record for Human-Powered Aircraft! Team Gamera has a storied history, beginning with human-powered flight. Back in 2011 the students who were then working on the Gamera project broke records with the longest human-powered flight in the United States and the longest human-powered flight by a woman in the world. Gamera II achieved the highest altitude reached by a human-powered helicopter ever to that date. In 2014, students rebranded the team as the Solar Gamera, adding solar power to the aircraft’s design. Staruk said in the video, “This project has come a long way in the past six of seven years from human power to solar power. So we are breaking barriers of all sorts of aviation with this one airframe.” Staruk was also a member of the human-powered helicopter team. The Solar Gamera likely won’t fly long distances; instead the project is intended to galvanize students and give them hands-on engineering experience. According to Solar Gamera faculty advisor Inderjit Chopra, “This is about inspiring and educating students, that’s our product here. No one thought that solar energy could lift a person [via helicopter].” + University of Maryland Images courtesy of the University of Maryland

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World’s first piloted solar-powered helicopter lifts off in Maryland

Scientists make eco-friendly batteries out of leaves

January 29, 2016 by  
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When we gaze up at a tree full of lush, green leaves we are actually looking at hundreds of tiny batteries. These tiny appendages save energy for the tree to use at a later time, a natural process scientists have harnessed to create literal leaf batteries as eco-friendly alternatives to the lithium powerhouses of today. Read the rest of Scientists make eco-friendly batteries out of leaves

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Scientists make eco-friendly batteries out of leaves

Students design and build a gorgeous LEED Platinum-seeking forum in Kansas

January 29, 2016 by  
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Students design and build a gorgeous LEED Platinum-seeking forum in Kansas

Manta moves forward with revolutionary solar-powered algae harvester that makes crude oil

October 21, 2015 by  
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Biofuel technology just got a major boost, as Maryland’s Manta Biofuel LLC got $150,000 worth of seed capital to put towards developing the next generation prototype of its revolutionary floating algae harvester. SeeNews reports that Manta got the funding from the Chesapeake Bay Seed Capital Fund for its portable, solar-powered prototype, which can autonomously navigate water and collect algae, which is then converted to crude oil through a process known as hydrothermal liquefaction . Read the rest of Manta moves forward with revolutionary solar-powered algae harvester that makes crude oil

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Manta moves forward with revolutionary solar-powered algae harvester that makes crude oil

Redox Set to Launch Dishwasher-Sized ‘Cube’ Fuel Cells for 90% Less than Current Technologies

August 15, 2013 by  
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Fuel cells could provide a vital source of power for off-grid communities and cities experiencing hurricanes and thunderstorms – but existing units are expensive, massive, and they tend to run extremely hot. That’s why Redox ‘s solid oxide fuel cell is such a breakthrough. The powerful fuel cell is about the size of a dishwasher , and it’s expected to cost 90% less than other units currently on the market. Read the rest of Redox Set to Launch Dishwasher-Sized ‘Cube’ Fuel Cells for 90% Less than Current Technologies Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: dishwasher-sized generator , distributed generation , Eric Wacshman , gas power generator , off-grid generator , PowerSERG 2-80 , Redox Distributed Generation , Redox Power , Redox Power System , Redox PowerSerg , Redox The Cube , reliable power , reliable power generator , safe power , uninterruptible power , University of Maryland        

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Redox Set to Launch Dishwasher-Sized ‘Cube’ Fuel Cells for 90% Less than Current Technologies

Texas A&M University Opens the Nation’s Largest Research and Development Solar Farm

August 15, 2013 by  
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Texas A&M University unveiled their first solar farm project early last month. Worth $600 million, the university project is also the nation’s biggest solar farm for research and development purposes. Called the Center for Solar Energy, the 800 hectare  solar destination  will generate 50 megawatts, providing power for the university’s buildings, about 20,000 houses in the neighborhood, and the nearby U.S. Army base of Fort Hood. + Texas A&M  Via Greenshine Blog The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: solar r&d , texas a&m , Texas A&M solar field , Texas A&M solar panels , Texas A&M solar power , Texas A&M University , texas university , USA largest solar research and development field        

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Texas A&M University Opens the Nation’s Largest Research and Development Solar Farm

Design Your Ideal Electric Vehicle With Tuk Tuk Factory’s New Online Customization Tool

August 15, 2013 by  
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All vehicles are not created equal – you wouldn’t take a sports car off-roading, or use a sedan as a food-truck. It’s important to choose the right vehicle for the job, although we usually just have to pick from what the manufacturers give us. That’s not the case with the adorable electric vehicles offered by a Dutch company called Tuk Tuk Factory . The company specializes in three-wheeled, electric-powered versions of the traditional tuk tuk , and it recently launched a handy web tool that allows anyone to build their own e-Tuk with customized colors and features. Read the rest of Design Your Ideal Electric Vehicle With Tuk Tuk Factory’s New Online Customization Tool Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: all-electric vehicle , Alternative Fuel , Design , e-tuk , electric cars , electric vehicles , green transportation , tuk tuk        

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