Physicists build circuit that generates clean, limitless power from graphene

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A team of University of Arkansas physicists has successfully developed a circuit capable of capturing graphene’s thermal motion and converting it into an electrical current.

“An energy-harvesting circuit based on graphene could be incorporated into a chip to provide clean, limitless, low-voltage power for small devices or sensors,” said Paul Thibado, professor of physics and lead researcher in the discovery.

The findings, published in the journal Physical Review E, are proof of a theory the physicists developed at the U of A three years ago that freestanding graphene—a single layer of carbon atoms—ripples and buckles in a way that holds promise for energy harvesting.

The idea of harvesting energy from graphene is controversial because it refutes physicist Richard Feynman’s well-known assertion that the thermal motion of atoms, known as Brownian motion, cannot do work. Thibado’s team found that at room temperature the thermal motion of graphene does in fact induce an alternating current (AC) in a circuit, an achievement thought to be impossible.

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IRJ 2020 Innovations Showcase: Siemens and Ballard develop hydrogen trains

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SIEMENS Mobility is currently developing a modular hydrogen fuel cell drive for its Mireo Plus H regional train platform, which will subsequently be integrated into other platforms.

The hydrogen-powered Mireo Plus H trains will be used on existing diesel routes and in regions where hydrogen is cheaply available.

The €12m project, in partnership with Canadian fuel cell producer Ballard Power Systems and the Rhine-Westphalian Technical University in Aachen (RWTH), plans to produce a usable fuel cell drive by 2021, with a planned range of 600km-900km in two or three-car trains.

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Transforming homes into power stations – how Sweden is disrupting energy production

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  • 54% of Sweden’s power comes from renewables and this energy is increasingly local.
  • Smart grids are switching Swedish homes from energy consumers to power-making ‘prosumers.’
  • Local ‘district heating’ plants use excess heat to warm the majority of Swedish homes.
  • Sweden tops the World Economic Forum’s Energy Transitions Index

By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.

As well as targeting 100% renewable electricity production by 2040, the country is transforming homes into highly efficient ‘prosumers’ – buildings which both produce and consume the vast majority of their own energy.

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Nikola Tesla’s vision of wireless power transmission is alive with Kiwi startup Emrod

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Its technology is supposed to be cheaper, safer, and more eco-friendly than wired power

History lesson: In 1890, Nikola Tesla caused a total blackout in the town of Colorado Springs using a 140-foot Tesla coil. Creating a citywide power outage was not his goal. He wanted to power a light bulb that was more than two miles away without using wires. Much to the dismay and anger of residents and the power plant, whose dynamo was burned out, the experiment was claimed to be a success, a claim that later proved to be debatable.

Now more than 100 years later, an energy startup called Emrod wants to bring Tesla’s dream of wireless power transmission to life. The New Zealand company has partnered with one of the country’s primary power distributors to build a wireless electricity infrastructure that it believes can deliver power more efficiently than traditional methods.

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California approves largest ever utility program to expand EV charging

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 A charging station for electric vehicles is pictured in Pasadena, California

California on Thursday approved a $437 million effort to build thousands of electric vehicle chargers, its utility regulator said, calling it the nation’s largest ever utility program to expand charging infrastructure.

The money will go to utility Southern California Edison SCE_pe.A to fund the installation of nearly 40,000 chargers, the California Public Utilities Commission said in a statement.

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New autonomous sustainable robots could mine the deep sea

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Pliant Energy Systems says its C-Ray robot could be used as a less invasive ocean mining tool.

Mining companies are ready to tackle two new frontiers like never before: space and the deep sea.

The deep ocean is a place that’s not only rich in sea life, vast swathes of it are also abundant in metals such as nickel, copper, cobalt, zinc, which are essential to making smartphones, electric vehicles, and solar panel parts.

The problem is that marine scientists and environmentalists strongly oppose the invasive methods proposed by these mining companies as they might irreversibly damage fragile ecosystems. Renewable energy firm Pliant Energy Systems thinks it has the solution to this problem.

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Brain-inspired electronic system could vastly reduce AI’s carbon footprint

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A wafer filled with memristors.

Extremely energy-efficient artificial intelligence is now closer to reality after a study by UCL researchers found a way to improve the accuracy of a brain-inspired computing system.

The system, which uses memristors to create artificial neural networks, is at least 1,000 times more energy efficient than conventional transistor-based AI hardware, but has until now been more prone to error.

Existing AI is extremely energy-intensive—training one AI model can generate 284 tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the lifetime emissions of five cars. Replacing the transistors that make up all digital devices with memristors, a novel electronic device first built in 2008, could reduce this to a fraction of a ton of carbon dioxide—equivalent to emissions generated in an afternoon’s drive.

Since memristors are so much more energy-efficient than existing computing systems, they can potentially pack huge amounts of computing power into hand-held devices, removing the need to be connected to the Internet.

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These EV chargers make money for their building-owner hosts

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Los Angeles-based EV charging startup Xeal, which uses predictive AI software to maximize the profits of charging stations, will boost passive income for commercial and residential building owners. It’s just successfully closed its seed investment round.

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Nano-diamond self-charging batteries could disrupt energy as we know it

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NDB makes remarkable claims about its self-charging nano-diamond battery, here seen mocked up as a circuit board component

California company NDB says its nano-diamond batteries will absolutely upend the energy equation, acting like tiny nuclear generators. They will blow any energy density comparison out of the water, lasting anywhere from a decade to 28,000 years without ever needing a charge. They will offer higher power density than lithium-ion. They will be nigh-on indestructible and totally safe in an electric car crash. And in some applications, like electric cars, they stand to be considerably cheaper than current lithium-ion packs despite their huge advantages.

The heart of each cell is a small piece of recycled nuclear waste. NDB uses graphite nuclear reactor parts that have absorbed radiation from nuclear fuel rods and have themselves become radioactive. Untreated, it’s high-grade nuclear waste: dangerous, difficult and expensive to store, with a very long half-life.

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EGEB: Germany builds the world’s first hydrogen train filling station

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 Hydrogen trains in Germany

Germany breaks ground on the world’s first hydrogen filling station for passenger trains.

The town of Bremervörde in Lower Saxony, Germany, has broken ground on the world’s first hydrogen filling station for passenger trains. Chemical company Linde will construct and operate the hydrogen filling station for the Lower Saxony Regional Transport Company.

The station has a daily capacity of approximately 1,600kg of hydrogen, and it will replace the current mobile filling station, according to Railway Technology.

Construction is expected to start in September, and the station’s completion is planned for mid-2021.

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Why wireless vehicle charging makes sense for smart cities

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Image of proposed wireless charging stations

Investments we make today in urban EV infrastructure must take into account future requirements for ride sharing, transit and utilities

 

As the world’s population grows increasingly urban — it’s expected that by 2050, 70 per cent of individuals will live in urban areas — it’s critical for these regions to have the infrastructure in place to support quick, convenient and electric mobility. From autonomous vehicles, to electric urban transit, to effective energy management by utilities, successful deployment depends on cities investing in the proper accompanying charging infrastructure. To that end, there’s a good case to be made that investing in wireless charging is critical for the prosperity of urban areas.

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24 million EVs is the limit for current U.S. power grid until 2028

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This PNNL study could help the U.S. power system keep ahead of the EV adoption curve.

 Getting the world to work without oil will not be easy. Apart from increasing EV adoption, we have to make sure the world can cope with them. Think about it: would the power grid stand too many electric cars demanding a charge at the same time? PNNL – Pacific Northwest National Laboratory – answered that question with a study saying the current US power grid can handle 24 million EVs until 2028. If the demand increases, we’ll need improvements.

It may seem far-fetched considering the entire US now has 1.5 million EVs on the roads, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Demand for EVs tends to grow, especially when electric pickup trucks such as the Tesla Cybertruck and Rivian R1T are available.

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