Archive for the ‘innovation’ Category


The focus here is on heavy duty engines. Of course they have to claim that carbon dioxide, vital to plants and vegetation, is a ‘pollutant’ but this is from the crazy side of today’s climate-obsessed world.
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Southwest Research Institute engineers have developed the next generation of clean diesel engine technology to reduce hazardous nitrogen oxides (NOx) and carbon dioxide emissions while minimizing fuel consumption, says Green Car Congress.

Working with regulatory agencies, vehicle manufacturers and suppliers, SwRI combined engine modifications with integrated aftertreatment technology and control strategies to reach near-zero emissions levels (0.02 g/hp-hr NOx emissions).

SwRI developed the technology for the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The work is described in a pair of SAE Technical Papers.

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Promotional video:

Regardless of questionable greenhouse climate theories, who wouldn’t want lower fuel consumption rates for their vehicle? ‘Up to 30%’ better economy is mentioned.
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A technology developed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory could pave the way for increased fuel economy and lower greenhouse gas emissions as part of an octane-on-demand fuel-delivery system, reports Phys.org.

Designed to work with a car’s existing fuel, the onboard separation technology is the first to use chemistry—not a physical membrane—to separate ethanol-blended gasoline into high- and low-octane fuel components.

An octane-on-demand system can then meter out the appropriate fuel mixture to the engine depending on the power required: lower octane for idling, higher octane for accelerating.

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Coal mine shaft and winding tower [image credit: Andy Dingley @ Wikipedia]


Like pumped hydro or any gravity-based system it uses more power than it stores. Euan Mearns and Roger Andrews did an interesting analysis on this idea in 2018, comparing it to batteries and hydro. One issue is finding enough suitable disused mine shafts that aren’t flooded. At least heavy weights don’t degrade over time, unlike batteries.
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The pilot project aims to demonstrate the firm’s technology, which works by using excess electricity to lift 12,000 tonnes of weights in a deep shaft and releasing them at a later time to generate energy, says Energy Live News.

The trial aims to assess the response speed of energy generation once the weights are released.

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Assessing integrated solar roofs for EVs

Posted: May 15, 2020 by oldbrew in innovation, Travel
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Lightyear One prototype


A novel range extender, or just another way to make costly EVs even more expensive? Insurance costs could be eye-watering too.

High-tech mobility innovator Lightyear and Royal DSM will jointly scale the commercialization of Lightyear’s unique solar-powered roof for the electric vehicle market, reports Green Car Congress.

With this solution, both companies aim to accelerate the global adoption of a broad range of Electric Vehicles (EVs).

Specifically, the partnership aims to integrate solar-powered roofs in a variety of electric vehicles, including cars, vans and buses, thus enabling users to charge their vehicle directly with clean energy.

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Great Barrier Reef, Australia [image credit: BBC]


Research continues, but what other ‘futuristic’ climate-related plans might they want to conjure up if this trial is deemed a success?
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An ambitious “cloud brightening” experiment has been carried out over Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in an early-stage trial that scientists hope could become a futuristic way to protect coral from global warming, says Phys.org.

In an attempt to cool waters around the reef by making clouds reflect more sunlight, researchers said they used a boat-mounted fan similar to a snow cannon to shoot salt crystals into the air.

Results from the trial were “really, really encouraging”, the project’s lead scientist Daniel Harrison from Southern Cross University said on Friday.

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Hydrogen-powered bus


Interesting, but as ever, cost and practicality questions have to be considered. Hydrogen has to be produced in an industrial process before it can be stored in large volumes. On the other hand, we’re told fuel cells could operate at ‘much safer pressures’ with this method.
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A research team led by Northwestern University has designed and synthesized new materials with ultrahigh porosity and surface area for the storage of hydrogen and methane for fuel cell-powered vehicles, reports Phys.org.

These gases are attractive clean energy alternatives to carbon dioxide-producing fossil fuels.

The designer materials, a type of a metal-organic framework (MOF), can store significantly more hydrogen and methane than conventional adsorbent materials at much safer pressures and at much lower costs.

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An end to this?


The researchers also imagine devices that would wirelessly power implants in a patient’s body without any surgery to change batteries.

Any device that sends out a Wi-Fi signal also emits terahertz waves —electromagnetic waves with a frequency somewhere between microwaves and infrared light, says Technology.org.

These high-frequency radiation waves, known as “T-rays,” are also produced by almost anything that registers a temperature, including our own bodies and the inanimate objects around us.

Terahertz waves are pervasive in our daily lives, and if harnessed, their concentrated power could potentially serve as an alternate energy source. Imagine, for instance, a cellphone add-on that passively soaks up ambient T-rays and uses their energy to charge your phone.

However, to date, terahertz waves are wasted energy, as there has been no practical way to capture and convert them into any usable form.

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EC Power’s All-Climate Battery


This type of battery, adopted by BMW among others, will be used in runabout vehicles at the next Winter Olympics in Beijing. Its self-heating feature means it can perform well in sub-zero conditions, unlike most Li-ion batteries. One report says it’s ‘only 1.5 percent heavier and costs 0.04 percent more than a conventional lithium-ion battery’.

A lithium-ion battery that is safe, has high power and can last for 1 million miles has been developed by a team in Penn State’s Battery and Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Center, reports TechXplore.

Electric vehicle batteries typically require a tradeoff between safety and energy density. If the battery has high energy and power density, which is required for uphill driving or merging on the freeway, then there is a chance the battery can catch fire or explode in the wrong conditions.

But materials that have low energy/power density, and therefore high safety, tend to have poor performance. There is no material that satisfies both. For that reason, battery engineers opt for performance over safety.

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‘Truths’ is an acronym* but it helps with the publicity. The satellite ‘will be sensitive to light in the visible and near-infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum’.
[*Traceable Radiometry Underpinning Terrestrial- and Helio- Studies]

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The UK is going to lead a space mission to get an absolute measurement of the light reflected off Earth’s surface, reports BBC Science.

The information will be used to calibrate the observations of other satellites, allowing their data to be compared more easily.

Called Truths, the new spacecraft was approved for development by European Space Agency member states in November.

Proponents of the mission expect its data to help reduce the uncertainty in projections of future climate change.

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Tesla Model 3 [image credit: Vauxford @ Wikipedia]


Of course he could have removed the heavy battery pack altogether and replaced it with an equivalent car engine, in theory at least. But he didn’t, so on with the report…

An engineer from Austria has recreated an even cheaper Model 3 by converting Tesla’s flagship electric vehicle into a hybrid by adding a two-cylinder gasoline engine and “downgrading” the battery pack, reports OilPrice.com.

Frank Obrist from Lustenau, Austria, founder of engineering company OBRIST Powertrain, wants to make EVs more affordable.

OBRIST Powertrain claims that the hybrid Tesla would have twice the range compared to the fully electric vehicle as designed and manufactured by Tesla.

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Solar power complex in California [USA.Gov – BLM – BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT]


This public statement looks long on ambition but short on realistic and/or affordable possibilities. They openly admit that existing ‘green’ tech won’t cut the mustard on its own, as everyone knew – or should have known – all along. In other words their legislated targets can’t be met, as things stand. The same problems will exist everywhere else that tries to enforce similar energy policies in pursuit of a ‘carbon-free’ mirage.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has released a solicitation (GFO-19-305) to fund innovative, non-Li-ion energy storage research projects, including green electrolytic hydrogen systems, reports Green Car Congress.

The Commission notes that the state’s statutory requirements (SB-350, SB-100) for low-GHG electricity cannot be met with currently fielded technologies alone, because those technologies do not have the energy density, daily cycle capability, longevity, safety, and price to be viable for the diverse set of applications that will be needed in the State.

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Small modular reactor [credit: ANS Nuclear Cafe]


The battle to make nuclear power more practical and affordable steps up a gear.

NuScale Power’s small modular reactor (SMR) design has cleared the latest stage of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)’s review process, reports New Civil Engineer.

The reactor is the world’s first SMR to undergo design certification review by the NRC, after passing phase 4 of the review process. It is on track for approval by September 2020.

SMR supporters see the reactors as a safer, more affordable nuclear power option.

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Solar train – OK for millionaires?

Posted: December 1, 2019 by oldbrew in innovation, Travel
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A bit of fun for tourists, but an electric bus would have been a lot cheaper.

Credit: Railfuture


Well, 10% solar-powered – that’s the target. Of course solar has its variables, mainly weather conditions and hours of daylight. So is this ‘solution’ worth the bother and cost, or not? The era of batteries on train locomotives has also arrived – see ‘Adding a third dimension – battery power’ here.

How many times have we looked at clever innovation and wondered why on earth no one thought of doing it before?

Often the simplest of ideas seem to lead to the most elegant of engineering solutions, says RailEngineer.

The truth is, of course, that invention is only half of the story. Sometimes the right meeting of minds must happen before a bright idea can become a reality.

To the best of our knowledge, the direct supply of solar power to rail traction systems has never been done, anywhere in the world.

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Credit: scienceblog.com


It’s claimed this invention could be used to improve any type of cooling system.

Imagine a device that can sit outside under blazing sunlight on a clear day, and without using any power cool things down by more than 23 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius).

It almost sounds like magic, but a new system designed by researchers at MIT and in Chile can do exactly that says TechXplore.

The device, which has no moving parts, works by a process called radiative cooling.

It blocks incoming sunlight to keep from heating it up, and at the same time efficiently radiates infrared light—which is essentially heat—that passes straight out into the sky and into space, cooling the device significantly below the ambient air temperature.

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Experimental Aluminium-Air power cell

The military developed and used ALuminium-Air power cell tech decades ago. New discoveries and advances in electrolyte mean it might become viable for commercial and domestic use. The Daily Mail has this:

Two years ago, Jackson claims, motor manufacturers lobbied the Foreign Office to bar him from a prestigious conference for European businesses and governments at the British embassy in Paris, which was supposed to agree a blueprint for ensuring all new cars are electric by 2040. The bid to exclude him failed. Now, with the signing of the Austin deal, it seems he is finally on the road to success.

He has also secured a £108,000 grant for further research from the Advanced Propulsion Centre, a partner of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. His technology has been validated by two French universities.

He says: ‘It has been a tough battle but I’m finally making progress. From every logical standpoint, this is the way to go.’

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CRYOBattery plant (model) [credit: Highview Power]


The fact that this kind of thing gets touted at all says a lot about the state of electricity generation in today’s trace-gas-fearing climate obsessed world. They talk of a ‘carbon free future’, but ignore the reality that world demand for oil, coal and gas is rising year on year as prosperity spreads around the globe and populations continue to increase.

It sounds like magic but it is real – a plan to store cheap night-time wind energy in the form of liquid air, reports BBC News.

Here is how: you use the off-peak electricity to compress and cool air in a tank, so it becomes a freezing liquid.

When demand peaks, you warm the liquid back into a gas, and as that expands it drives a turbine to create more electricity.

The technology, created by a backyard inventor, is about to hit the big time.

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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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