Archive for the ‘innovation’ Category

Credit: UN/WWAP


The report says the productivity of the new water harvester is ’10 times that of the previous device and 100 times higher than the early proof-of-concept device’, and that ‘no traces of metal or organics have been found in the water’.

In 2017, UC Berkeley chemists demonstrated that a new MOF design could rapidly adsorb water from even dry air, allowing it to be condensed and collected for drinking, reports TechXplore

A second-generation MOF can now cycle through adsorption and desorption in 20 minutes, allowing continous collection of more than a liter per day per kilogram of MOF using solar power.

The new MOF is the basis of a planned microwave-sized device that delivers 7-10 liters per day.

With water scarcity a growing problem worldwide, University of California, Berkeley, researchers are close to producing a microwave-sized water harvester that will allow you to pull all the water you need directly from the air—even in the hot, dry desert.

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Ex-drone, somewhere in Siberia


Incontinent pigeons could be the least of pedestrians’ worries if any of these headline-seeking flights of fancy come to fruition. Election soon?

Funding will support new technologies including electric passenger planes, flying urban taxis and freight-carrying drones, says Energy Live News.

Up to £300 million of investment has been announced for the development of cleaner and greener forms of transport in Britain.

The government will provide £125 million of funding, which will be supported by industry co-investment of up to £175 million for new technologies including electric passenger planes, flying urban taxis and freight-carrying drones.

It is part of a new Future of Flight Challenge announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which will be delivered by UK Research and Innovation.

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Solar panel road [image credit: Wattway]


The rotting leaves didn’t help, says ScienceAlert. Neither did the local tractors. Solar panels should be angled towards the Sun anyway, but that kills the whole road idea.

In July, the French daily newspaper Le Monde reported that the 0.6-mile (1 kilometre) solar road was a fiasco.

In December 2016, when the trial road was unveiled, the French Ministry of the Environment called it “unprecedented”. French officials said the road, made of photovoltaic panels, would generate electricity to power streetlights in Tourouvre, a local town.

But less than three years later, a report published by Global Construction Review says France’s road dream may be over.

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They call it ‘the world’s most ambitious project‘. Mind-boggling expenditure if it ever gets built. The solar city aspect of the plan gets panned here.

The riches of Silicon Valley have enabled some extravagant and quixotic projects, but they’ve got nothing on what oil money can do, says MNNOFA News.

A new report from The Wall Street Journal shares some of the proposals for Saudi Arabia’s biggest megaproject yet: a city built in the desert named Neom, where robots will outnumber humans and hologram teachers will educate genetically-enhanced students.

The details are stunning. It’s a mixture of dystopian fiction (AI surveillance cameras everywhere!) and childish imaginings (let’s build a robot dinosaur park!). Taken together, the plans remind of you what a dedicated nine-year-old can achieve in Minecraft. Yes, the scale and ambition are impressive, but it’s not like you could do this in real life, right?

Cloud seeding? Robot servants? A fake moon!? Sure, why not.

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H/T The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)

Well, possibly but it involves carbon capture. The costs and practicality have to be demonstrated first, and that tends to undermine most of such claims. Worth a try though.

If the Net Zero power plant performs as expected this is a real game changer for natural gas, says Forbes.

Since the United States is sitting on more natural gas than any country in the world, and it’s getting cheaper to get it out of the ground, this is no small game to change.

An actual game changing technology is being demonstrated as we sit in our air-conditioned abodes reading this. And it is being demonstrated by North Carolina–based Net Power at a new plant in La Porte, Texas.

The process involves burning fossil fuel with oxygen instead of air to generate electricity without emitting any carbon dioxide (CO2). Not using air also avoids generating NOx, the main atmospheric and health contaminant emitted from gas plants.

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E-truck test route [image credit: transport-online.de]


Back to the future? This is the truck equivalent of the trolleybuses that operated in some UK cities until the 1960s, and are still in use in a few other countries – except that these trucks do still have engines. Another expensive and over-engineered attempt to make a tiny reduction in trace gases in the atmosphere, in pursuit of futile ‘climate targets’ and to fool the public that such things matter.

Germany has opened its first autobahn test track for overhead power line (catenary) e-trucks, the environment ministry (BMU) announced in a press release [which says: ‘The Federal Environment Ministry has funded the construction of the plant with 14.6 million euros. For the field trial in Hesse, which runs until the end of 2022, a further 15.3 million is available’].

After years on a non-public testing ground, five hybrid test trucks will use the five kilometre long autobahn section between Frankfurt and Darmstadt in the state of Hesse until 2022, reports Clean Energy Wire.

The trucks are equipped with electric and diesel engines as well as batteries that can be quickly recharged via the overhead lines.

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The makers claim that ‘global and orbital travel will never be the same’.

A new air-breathing rocket engine is ready for a major round of testing in the next 18 months after having passed a preliminary design review by the European Space Agency (ESA), reports Space.com.

The Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE), which is being developed by the U.K. company Reaction Engines, can switch between two modes.

In aircraft-engine mode, it uses oxygen from the atmosphere, and in rocket-engine mode, it burns an oxidizer carried onboard together with the fuel liquid hydrogen.

The technology, deemed particularly promising for suborbital spaceflight and supersonic intercontinental travel, could one day revolutionize space transportation, advocates say.

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Image credit: Biocarbon Engineering


This report is talking about coastal mangrove forests in particular. The target is over a billion new trees, but it’s claimed two operators with ten drones could plant 400,000 trees a day.

British engineers have created a seed-planting drone which could help restore the world’s forests, reports the London Evening Standard.

Biocarbon Engineering, a start-up based in Oxford, designed the drones to fire seed missiles across fields, planting hundreds of potential trees in a matter of minutes.

In September 2018, the drones were deployed in a field just south of Yangon, Myanmar.

The seeds they sowed have since grown into tiny mangrove saplings, about 20-inches tall.

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Thermal battery


Various battery proposals sound promising, but few seem to survive the development stage and make it commercially. This outfit says it already has some sales, and plans to ‘build 100-megawatt-plus installations within a couple of years.’ Will it work out that way?

A South Australia-based startup says it’s built a thermal energy storage device with a lifetime of at least 20 years​ that can store six times more energy than lithium-ion batteries per volume, for 60-80 percent of the price, reports New Atlas.

South Australia has recently put the world’s biggest lithium battery into operation – but perhaps it should’ve waited.

Climate Change Technologies, also known as CCT Energy Storage, has launched its TED (Thermal Energy Device) with a set of remarkable claims.

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Desalination in California


As usual with these types of experiment, nothing can be assumed unless or until the tests of economic and industrial viability have been passed. They say the electrode ‘is able to go more than a thousand hours’ but that’s still only a few weeks. Storage and management of hydrogen is known to be tricky and expensive compared to most other fuels.

Stanford researchers have devised a way to generate hydrogen fuel using solar power, electrodes and saltwater from San Francisco Bay, reports Phys.org.

The findings, published March 18 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrate a new way of separating hydrogen and oxygen gas from seawater via electricity.

Existing water-splitting methods rely on highly purified water, which is a precious resource and costly to produce.

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Maybe there’s some military angle to this. As the report says, it ‘will be difficult and costly’. Capturing the sun’s power will be cloud-free, but when transmitting to the ground the clouds are still there.

China wants to put a solar power station in orbit by 2050 and is building a test facility to find the best way to send power to the ground, reports MACH (NBC News).

As the green energy revolution accelerates, solar farms have become a familiar sight across the nation and around the world.

But China is taking solar power to a whole new level. The nation has announced plans to put a solar power station in orbit by 2050, a feat that would make it the first nation to harness the sun’s energy in space and beam it to Earth.

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These types of tech ‘breakthroughs’ tend to have a low survival rate in the real world, so we await any developments – or not.

Bioscience engineers at KU Leuven have created a solar panel that produces hydrogen gas from moisture in the air, reports Science Business.

After ten years of development, the panel can now produce 250 litres per day – a world record, according to the researchers.

Twenty of these solar panels could provide electricity and heat for one family for an entire winter. 

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Top down view of the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment, ca. 1964 [image credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory]


H/T Discover Magazine

The Oak Ridge molten salt program operated in the mid-1960s but was terminated in January 1973. Could something like it make a comeback in today’s climate-obsessed world? One obvious selling point is the ability to consume spent nuclear fuel from traditional nuclear reactors.

Molten salt nuclear reactors may be the key to producing clean power without the dangers of a meltdown, says The Crux.
– – –
Troels Schönfeldt can trace his path to becoming a nuclear energy entrepreneur back to 2009, when he and other young physicists at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen started getting together for an occasional “beer and nuclear” meetup.

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The coming revolution in LED lighting

Posted: March 1, 2019 by oldbrew in Energy, innovation
Tags: ,

LED street lighting



There’s more to LED lighting than meets the eye, for example in durability and reduced energy use, as Phys.org reports. But claims they can help the climate seem somewhat starry-eyed.

A revolution in energy-efficient, environmentally-sound, and powerfully-flexible lighting is coming to businesses and homes, according to a paper in latest special energy issue of Optics Express, the Optical Society’s (OSA) open-access journal.

The paper envisions the future of lighting—a future with widespread use of light emitting diodes (LEDs), which offer a number of obvious and subtle advantages over traditional light bulbs.

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Credit: carsdirect.com


As with all battery-related news, it has to be treated with caution. Such ideas more often than not fail to turn into practical realities.

New technology promises an end to motorists’ ‘range anxiety’, reports NBC News.

Electric vehicles are easier on the environment than their gasoline-powered counterparts, but their long charging times and the scarcity of charging stations can make life hard for the eco-conscious motorists who drive them.

Now help may be on the horizon.

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Lithium ion battery


As ever there’s a big gap to be bridged between lab tests and industrial-scale application, but tests seem promising.

The latest lithium-ion batteries on the market are likely to extend the charge-to-charge life of phones and electric cars by as much as 40 percent, says TechXplore.

This leap forward, which comes after more than a decade of incremental improvements, is happening because developers replaced the battery’s graphite anode with one made from silicon.

Research from Drexel University and Trinity College in Ireland now suggests that an even greater improvement could be in line if the silicon is fortified with a special type of material called MXene.

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Busy day in Santa
Cruz, CA.


As if city traffic and parking isn’t a big enough headache already for anyone who attempts it, along comes another issue. The proposed cure isn’t much fun either.

Autonomous vehicles “have every incentive to create havoc,” a transportation planner says. UC Santa Cruz Magazine reporting.

With no need to park, self-driving cars will clog city streets and slow traffic to a crawl.

However, a policy fix could address these problems before autonomous vehicles become commonplace, says Adam Millard-Ball.

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Image credit: sanibelrealestateguide.com


H/T The Atlantic.
Researchers found that all 11 hurricanes they investigated that went through the mid-Atlantic in summer experienced ahead-of-eye cooling. This indicator was not previously known.

The key to predicting storm intensity may lie below the surface, says Undark magazine.

In August 2011, with Hurricane Irene bearing down on the mid-Atlantic coast, Scott Glenn, an ocean engineering researcher at Rutgers University, made a bold decision.

While most other research teams moved their ships, personnel, and expensive hardware to safety ahead of the hurricane, Glenn left his data-collecting drone—a torpedo-shaped underwater “glider” about 6 feet long and worth about $150,000—directly in its path.

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Oil in Alaska [image credit: businessinsider.com]


The oil industry is not about to go away and die quietly, contrary to the wishes of climate alarmists – far from it.

A new exploration technique has uncovered a deposit containing more than 1.5 billion barrels of crude oil in Alaska’s North Slope, reports OilPrice.com.

Digital technology adoption in all stages of upstream operations in the oil and gas industry has seen a steep rise recently.

While a lot has been written about the benefits of digitizing various aspects of the well-drilling, extraction, and field maintenance processes, there is also another major field where digital tech is changing the game: before the well-drilling even begins.

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Scottish offshore wind project [image credit : urbanrealm.com]


The very fact that these kinds of idea are being put forward is another admission that renewables are chronically intermittent and unreliable as electricity generators. We’re told ‘considerable investment’ would be needed but they ignore the fact that, for less cost and complexity, some reliable new gas power stations would be a far more practical plan.

By pumping compressed air into porous rocks deep under the sea floor, scientists think we could effectively store energy for months at a time, says Discover magazine.

With reports about climate change becoming increasingly dire, it’s increasingly important to find an eco-friendly way to not only generate energy, but also store it.

After all, wind turbines and solar power and the like don’t run steadily. So we can’t just stick that extra energy in a bottle to use when the wind dies down and the sun sets.

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