High-density hybrid powercapacitors: A new frontier in the energy race

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Toomen’s high-density hybrid power capacitors offer the density of lithium batteries, but with much greater charge and discharge rates, a massive range of safe operating temperatures, enormous lifespans and no danger of explosion

Hybrid “power capacitors” that can store as much energy as lithium batteries, but with much higher charge/discharge rates, a huge range of safe operating temperatures, super-long lifespans and no risk of explosion are already in production, says a small Belgian company that’s been testing them and selling them for some time.

Chinese family-owned company Shenzhen Toomen New Energy is tough to find, at least on the English-language internet, but Belgian electronic engineer Eric Verhulst bumped into Toomen representatives on a tiny stand at the Hannover Messe expo in Germany back in 2018, while looking for next-gen battery solutions for an electric mobility startup he was running.

The Toomen team made a hell of a claim, saying they’d managed to manufacture powerful supercapacitors with the energy density of lithium batteries. “Of course, that’s an unbelievable claim,” Verhulst told us. “It’s a factor of 20 better than what, for example, Maxwell had at the time. So I took my time, went over there, looked at their tests, did some tests myself, and I got convinced this is real. So at the end of 2018, we made an agreement to become their exclusive partner.”

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This electric aircraft concept uses stratospheric air-friction as a power source!

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If you’ve ever seen a jet blaze through the sky leaving a perfect line of smoke behind it, you’ve probably wondered why that smoke holds its shape so perfectly for so long, but doesn’t hold true on land when a motorbike or car zooms down the road. Air movement anywhere above the troposphere (the lowest region of our atmosphere) is extremely negligible. Jets, which fly in the stratosphere, leave behind that trail of smoke because the air there doesn’t move to disrupt the smoke trails. This also means that there’s immense amounts of friction when a jet travels at high speeds, cutting through the motionless air particles. Designer Michal Bonikowski believes that friction could actually be a source of clean energy that a plane could harness to reduce its carbon footprint.

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Silent Yachts debuts a new triple-deck version of its dead-quiet solar-powered catamaran

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Silent 80 Tri Deck Silent Yachts

It’s been touted as the builder’s “most spacious model to date.”

After making a major splash in the marine world earlier this year, Silent Yachts is doubling down—or tripling, perhaps—on its groundbreaking solar-powered catamaran. The Austrian-based builder has just unveiled a brand-new tri-deck version of its flagship Silent 80 series.

Touted as the marque’s “most spacious model to date,” the triple-decker boasts an epic panoramic air-conditioned saloon on the flybridge—a feature which sets it apart from its predecessor. The layout can be arranged with either a sweeping skylounge on the top deck or an expansive 295-square-foot fly deck—whatever the owner desires.

“We thought we can make another step forward with the new model,” Silent Yachts founder and chief executive Michael Köhler said. “The additional sky lounge is a very convenient space and helps stretch out the period of using the boat. The extra space on top extends social areas onboard, while offering new opportunities in terms of layout.”

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5 incredible synthetic biology holy grails that could change the world

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Investors are still waiting for next-generation biotech to deliver on its enormous promise and potential, but just one of these Holy Grails would make the wait worth it.

 Biotechnology has come a long way since 1978, when Herbert Boyer successfully demonstrated that human insulin could be produced from bacteria engineered with recombinant DNA. The breakthrough technology pushed a little-known company called Genentech into the spotlight and forever changed the world. Genentech was acquired by Roche for $46.8 billion in 2009. The American bioeconomy — biotech crops, biochemicals, and biologic drugs — generated an estimated $324 billion of gross domestic product in 2012. And millions of people worldwide today rely on insulin and other biologic drugs daily.

You could argue that recombinant DNA was the first Holy Grail technology delivered by the field. Several more have followed. In fact, we’ve recently been treated to the development and ongoing commercialization of the gene-editing technology known as CRISPR — a true game-changer for the biotech ecosystem. Headache-inducing legal entanglements aside, CRISPR promises to help synthetic biology deliver on its enormous potential and could even be an integral tool needed to produce several other world-changing Holy Grails. Some are closer to reality than investors may think.

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One of the World’s Tiniest Nuclear Plants Is Coming to Idaho

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The demonstration represents a new-generation of micro-reactors.

An innovative nuclear plant that runs on lower waste fuel hopes to be online by 2022-2025.

The plant’s creator, Oklo, joins startups around the world working to innovate safer, smaller nuclear power plants.

But experts suggest that Oklo’s timeline is unrealistic with years of nuclear approval process ahead.

An experimental nuclear reactor in Idaho could be the first of its kind in the United States: a commercial reactor providing power using fuel that reduces nuclear waste. The small power plant could power about 1,000 homes and can run almost autonomously for 20 years.

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‘We are literally making electricity out of thin air’; UMass develops groundbreaking technology that will change the way we power electronics

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Graphic image of a thin film of protein nanowires generating electricity from atmospheric humidity. (Ella Maru Studios)

Soon having to replace batteries or spend time recharging your phone could be a thing of the past. Scientists in Amherst are developing a new technology that will use the moisture from the air to create a charge.

The device is still in early stages having only been made public on Monday on the UMass website. It uses a natural protein to create electricity from moisture in the air and could have significant implications for the future of renewable energy, climate change and the future of medicine.

In layman’s terms; “We are literally making electricity out of thin air,” said the laboratories of electrical engineer Jun Yao. “The Air-gen generates clean energy 24/7.”

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Researchers achieve a 10x supercapacitor energy density breakthrough

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This flexible graphene supercapacitor design can store 10 times more energy than comparable existing technology

Supercapacitors can charge almost instantly, and discharge enormous amounts of power if needed. They could completely erase the Achilles heel of electric vehicles – their slow charging times – if they could hold more energy. And now Chinese and British scientists say they’ve figured out a way to store 10 times more energy per volume than previous supercapacitors.

A team split between University College London and the Chinese Academy of Sciences has released a study and proof of concept of a new supercapacitor design using graphene laminate films and concentrating on the spacing between the layers, the researchers discovering that they could radically boost energy density when they tailored the sizes of pores in the membranes precisely to the size of electrolyte ions.

Using this design, the team says it’s achieved a massive increase in volumetric energy density. Where “similar fast-charging commercial technology” tends to offer around 5-8 watt-hours per liter, this new design has been tested at a record 88.1 Wh/l. The team claims it’s “the highest ever reported energy density for carbon-based supercapacitors.”

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Graphene amplifier unlocks hidden frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum

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Light in the THz frequencies hits the ‘sandwich’ and is reflected with additional energy. Credit: Loughborough University

Researchers have created a unique device which will unlock the elusive terahertz wavelengths and make revolutionary new technologies possible.

Terahertz waves (THz) sit between microwaves and infrared in the light frequency spectrum, but due to their low energy, scientists have been unable to harness their potential. The conundrum is known in scientific circles as the “terahertz gap.”

Being able to detect and amplify THz waves (T-rays) would open up a new era of medical, communications, satellite, cosmological and other technologies. One major application would be as a safe, non-destructive alternative to X-rays. However, until now, the wavelengths, which range between 3mm and 30μm, have proved impossible to use due to relatively weak signals from all existing sources.

A team of physicists has created a new type of optical transistor—a working THz amplifier—using graphene and a high-temperature superconductor. The physics behind the simple amplifier relies on the properties of graphene, which is transparent and is not sensitive to light and whose electrons have no mass. It is made up of two layers of graphene and a superconductor that trap the graphene massless electrons between them like a sandwich.

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Lasers etch a ‘perfect’ solar energy absorber

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Using femto-second lasers to etch metallic structures, University of Rochester Institute of Optics professor Chunlei Guo and his team have developed a technique that can be used to collect sunlight to heat etched metal surfaces, which can then power an electrical generator for solar power. Credit: J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester

The University of Rochester research lab that recently used lasers to create unsinkable metallic structures has now demonstrated how the same technology could be used to create highly efficient solar power generators.

In a paper in Light: Science & Applications, the lab of Chunlei Guo, professor of optics also affiliated with Physics and the Material Sciences Program, describes using powerful femto-second laser pulses to etch metal surfaces with nanoscale structures that selectively absorb light only at the solar wavelengths, but not elsewhere.

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New research explains how solar panels could soon be generating power at night

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As beneficial as current solar panel technology has been in our quest to switch to renewable energy, such panels can’t generate electricity at night. Now, new research suggests it could be possible to design panels that can operate around the clock.

Under optimum conditions, at night these specially designed photovoltaic cells could generate a quarter of the energy they produce during the day, according to the new study.

To achieve this, we’d need to incorporate thermoradiative cells – devices that generate energy thanks to radiative cooling, where infrared or heat radiation leaves the cell and produces a small amount of energy in the process.

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Company to harvest green hydrogen by igniting oil fires underground

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Injection wells at the Superb oil field in Canada. To make hydrogen, workers heat the reservoir with steam and feed it air, setting off underground oil fires.

This month, on the frozen plains of Saskatchewan in Canada, workers began to inject steam and air into the Superb field, a layer of sand 700 meters down that holds 200 million barrels of thick, viscous oil. Their goal was not to pump out the oil, but to set it on fire—spurring underground chemical reactions that churn out hydrogen gas, along with carbon dioxide (CO2). Eventually the company conducting the $3 million field test plans to plug its wells with membranes that would allow only the clean-burning hydrogen to reach the surface. The CO2, and all of its power to warm the climate, would remain sequestered deep in the earth.

“We want to launch the idea that you can get energy from petroleum resources and it can be zero carbon emissions,” says Ian Gates, a chemical engineer at the University of Calgary and co-founder of the startup, called Proton Technologies.

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New droplet-based electricity generator: A drop of water generates 140V power, lighting up 100 LED bulbs

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New droplet-based electricity generator: A drop of water generates 140V power, lighting up 100 LED bulbs

A research team led by scientists from the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has recently developed a droplet-based electricity generator (DEG) with a field-effect transistor (FET)-like structure that allows for high energy conversion efficiency and instantaneous power density thousands of times that of its counterparts without FET technology. This would help to advance scientific research of water energy generation and tackle the energy crisis.

The research was led together by Professor Wang Zuankai from CityU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, Professor Zeng Xiao Cheng from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Professor Wang Zhong Lin, founding director and chief scientist from Beijing Institute of Nanoenergy and Nanosystems of Chinese Academy of Sciences. Their findings were published in Nature in a study titled “A droplet-based electricity generator with high instantaneous power density.”

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