Walyou » Science http://walyou.com Cool Gadgets, New Gadgets, Tech News and Geek Design Wed, 22 Oct 2014 18:01:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Miracle Battery Gets from 0 to 70 Percent in 2 Minutes, Lasts Up to 20 Years http://walyou.com/miracle-battery-70-percent-in-2-minutes/ http://walyou.com/miracle-battery-70-percent-in-2-minutes/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 18:46:09 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=180046

Researchers at Nanyang Technological University have developed a battery that charges ultra-fast and is able to store energy for up to 20 years.

The increased popularity and use of smartphones determined scientists to look for ways of improving the way batteries charge and store energy. The good news about the battery developed by the NTU researchers is that it’s not an absolute novelty, so the research didn’t really start from the ground up. Instead, it represents an improvement over existing Lithium-Ion batteries. What’s really revolutionary here is that the battery can be charged to 70 percent in 2 minutes, and that it can store the charge for up to 20 years. Mind you, this doesn’t mean that a smartphone equipped with such a battery would need to be recharged every two decades, but that the battery will still be usable after 20 years if it’s charged and then forgotten in a cave. Not the Batcave, as I doubt the Caped Crusader would misplace his gadgets for so long.

Associate Professor Chen Xiaodong from the School of Materials Science and Engineering at NTU Singapore, who invented these ultra-fast charging batteries, pointed out that “With our nanotechnology, electric cars would be able to increase their range dramatically with just five minutes of charging, which is on par with the time needed to pump petrol for current cars. Equally important, we can now drastically cut down the waste generated by disposed batteries, since our batteries last ten times longer than the current generation of lithium-ion batteries.”

NTU professor Rachid Yazami, who co-invented 34 years ago the lithium-graphite anode, a precursor of modern Li-Ion batteries, stated that “While the cost of lithium-ion batteries has been significantly reduced and its performance improved since Sony commercialised it in 1991, the market is fast expanding towards new applications in electric mobility and energy storage. There is still room for improvement and one such key area is the power density — how much power can be stored in a certain amount of space — which directly relates to the fast charge ability. Ideally, the charge time for batteries in electric vehicles should be less than 15 minutes, which Prof Chen’s nanostructured anode has proven to do.”

Professor Chen also mentioned that these batteries are easy to manufacture: “Manufacturing this new nanotube gel is very easy. Titanium dioxide and sodium hydroxide are mixed together and stirred under a certain temperature. Battery manufacturers will find it easy to integrate our new gel into their current production processes.”

In this context, we can only hope that the batteries will be available in a commercially viable form in the near future. As a matter of fact, you know what? I want a few right now!

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Scientists Create Molten Metal Batteries for Storing Renewable Energy http://walyou.com/molten-metal-batteries-renewable-energy-storage/ http://walyou.com/molten-metal-batteries-renewable-energy-storage/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 21:02:07 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=179608

The American engineers who created the liquid metal batteries point out that these won’t have a consumer application anytime soon, but are rather aimed at the grid.

Scientists have been very creative lately when it came to new ways of storing renewable energy, but most designs were for consumer electronics. These molten metal batteries, on the other hand, are meant for storing renewable energy in the grid, as there’s no way people could have the conditions for handling liquid metals at a temperature of 450C.

In an interview with BBC News, Prof Ian Fells, a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and former chair of the New and Renewable Energy Centre, commented that “Sometimes, when the wind is blowing strongly, we have spare capacity available – if only we could store it, so that we could use it when the wind isn’t blowing. Using these molten metal electrodes is, it seems to me, a very good idea.”

The project’s senior researcher Prof Donald Sadoway, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, explained how the liquid metal batteries are supposed to work: “It’s this back and forth, of the top layer disappearing into the bottom layer to generate electricity, and then reconstituting the top layer by consuming electricity, that gives you the rechargeability of the battery.”

Sadoway added that “We wanted to decrease the operating temperature. We were thinking, we’ll take a bit of a compromise on the voltage, if it’s offset by an even better compromise on the melting point.” The 450C temperature is key to the efficiency of the batteries, and represents a clear improvement over the 700C of a previous design.

Prof Fells pointed out that the cost of this project is much lower than its alternatives: “All of these strategies are scientifically possible – it comes down to the cost. If people can make the case that this one is economic, then it’ll do well.”

Dr Frank Marken, a physical chemist at the University of Bath, while not extremely impressed by the idea, admitted that the MIT engineers have their merits: “It’s not revolutionary in the idea – but it may be revolutionary in terms of the application. One tricky aspect of this is how much do you lose in each cycle? And what they’ve done here is very clever. It needs a higher temperature, but they don’t lose much energy.”

This looks like very good news, even though it might take a while until the whole project is put into practice.

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Brain to Brain Communication Marks the Beginning of the Age of Superheroes http://walyou.com/brain-to-brain-communication/ http://walyou.com/brain-to-brain-communication/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 20:50:03 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=179158

Something believed to be possible only in science-fiction flicks, brain to brain communication has now become a reality. The successful test that was performed recently had a person from India send greetings to three people from France.

The thought that the greetings were transmitted using nothing more than the brain (and possibly a bit of hi-tech) is exciting, but at the same time really terrifying. Fortunately, no one is going to enter your mind without your consent anytime soon, as the experiment that took place in a lab in India was computer-mediated.

Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Director of the Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, explained how the entire experiment was possible: “By using advanced precision neuro-technologies including wireless EEG and robotized TMS, we were able to directly and noninvasively transmit a thought from one person to another, without them having to speak or write. We believe these experiments represent an important first step in exploring the feasibility of complementing or bypassing traditional language-based or motor-based communication.”

More precisely, the sender that was located in the Indian lab had to translate the letters of the words “hola” and “ciao” (apparently the researchers involved in this project had no idea what the French word for “hello” is) into binary code. Upon doing so, a brain-computer interface based on an EEG cap was used for entering the code into a computer. The binary code was then e-mail to a lab in France, where a similar interface, this time based on transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), put the letters together and transmitted the numbers into the recipients’ brain.

Some argue that this is in fact a hands-free telegraph, as the whole experiment relied on faking visual stimuli. However, as neither voice, nor text input were used, this can be regarded as brain to brain communication. It remains to be seen what applications the scientists will find for the non-intrusive brain to brain communication. For the time being, lets just hope that no one evil gets their hands on this technology.

Details about the brain-to-brain communication experiment can be found in the paper that was published in the journal PLOS One.

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Swiss Engineers Create Watch-Inspired Battery-Free Pacemaker http://walyou.com/swiss-clockwork-pacemaker/ http://walyou.com/swiss-clockwork-pacemaker/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 20:58:35 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=179062

After centuries of creating some of the world’s most accurate wristwatches, Swiss engineers now turn their attention to cardiology, in a successful attempt to create a battery-free pacemaker that draws inspiration from mechanical timepieces.

When first developed for pocket watches by Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Perrelet in 1777, self-winding mechanisms emerged as a very convenient solution for the forgetful ones. Automatic watches, which were the next logical step, were even better, as the natural movements of the hand were enough for generating the energy needed by the watch to run. Now, this concept is implemented by Swiss engineers in prototype automatic pacemakers that do away with batteries.

Pacemakers in themselves are a great invention, but their main problem is that they require batteries, and in order to get the power sources replaced, patients need to go through surgical interventions. On the other hand, an automatic pacemaker that’s powered by the heart’s motion would represent a major step forward.

Adrian Zurbuchen of the University of Bern, explained while attending the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in Barcelona that the tests on animals were successful and that their heartbeats were at a steadily 130 bpm: “This is a feasibility study. We have shown that it is possible to pace the heart using the power of its own motion.”

There are no plans to begin tests on humans, just yet, but the preliminary results are great. Knowing that people wearing pacemakers wouldn’t have to go through the traumatic experience of surgery every now and then would provide some relief.

Besides, Zurbuchen has only conducted this research with his team of engineers, without any help (financial or otherwise) from industrial partners. Of course, he is open towards collaborating with investors and other companies interested in the development of a battery-free pacemaker, and at this point his team should get all the help they can.

While other researchers have looked into external sources for powering pacemakers, the idea to use the heart as the pacemaker’s power generator is entirely new. A clockwork pacemaker is firm proof that Swiss engineers are good at more than just watches, even if the things they create are inspired from the very same time-keepers.

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Transparent Solar Cell Turns Screens and Windows Into Power Sources http://walyou.com/transparent-solar-cell/ http://walyou.com/transparent-solar-cell/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 20:24:58 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=178892

What would it be like to power your smartphone with the energy harvested by its screen, or even better, to power your home with the energy harvested by its windows? Researchers at Michigan State University are about to turn this utopic dream into reality.

The fully transparent solar concentrator developed by the researchers is capable of turning any sheet of glass into a photovoltaic solar cell. There’s a lot of potential in this project, as research team leader Richard Lunt remarks that it could be implemented in “tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader.”

A transparent solar cell is a bit of a contradiction in terms, as photovoltaic cells absorb photons and turn them into electrons (energy), fact that doesn’t theoretically happen if the sunlight goes passes through the cell. Particularly because of this reason, previous attempts of making a transparent solar cell resulted in partially transparent ones, and the one developed by Richard Lunt and his team is the first one featuring fully transparency.

The secret of their success is represented by the transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC), which is made of organic salts that transform non-visible wavelengths of infrared and ultraviolet light into a different, non-visible infrared light. The resulting infrared light is in turn transmitted to the edge of the plastic, where typical photovoltaic solar cells transform it into electrons, and thus energy.

As expected, the main problem with this transparent solar cell is represented by its efficiency, which currently is of only 1%. However, the researchers are confident that an efficiency of 5% is attainable.

Ideally, this technology would become more efficient and would start being adopted by smartphone manufacturers and window makers. Green energy is becoming a more ardent problem with each passing day, and every development in this field should be exploited to the fullest. For the time being, the sun represents an infinite source of energy, and we should really take advantage of that. In other words, I also dream of cars that are powered by such transparent solar cells placed in their sun roofs. Of course, there are many other possible applications, so we just need to wait for this technology to become widely spread.

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Temporary Tattoo Lactate Sensor Turns Sweat Into a Source of Energy http://walyou.com/temporary-tattoo-lactate-sensor-sweat-biobattery/ http://walyou.com/temporary-tattoo-lactate-sensor-sweat-biobattery/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 20:57:56 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=178772

If last year, scientists at UCSD created a temporary tattoo sensor capable of monitoring lactate levels, this time around the researchers are trying to demonstrate that the same sensor can be improved to turn sweat into the energy necessary for powering small gadgets.

Sweat is a common thing, at least during summer months, so a team of researchers at University of California in San Diego started wondering why exactly couldn’t this be used as a source of energy. I don’t want to be mean, but writing the previous phrase made by think at hundreds of people working out on stationary bikes in order to power some device. After all, this is exactly how 10 healthy volunteers tested out the sweat biobattery.

Wenzhao Jia, a postdoctoral student in the lab of Joseph Wang, D.Sc., at UCSD, explained that “The current produced is not that high, but we are working on enhancing it so that eventually we could power some small electronic devices. Right now, we can get a maximum of 70 microWatts per cm2, but our electrodes are only 2 by 3 mm in size and generate about 4 microWatts – a bit small to generate enough power to run a watch, for example, which requires at least 10 microWatts. So besides working to get higher power, we also need to leverage electronics to store the generated current and make it sufficient for these requirements.”

The idea itself is not bad at all, but the numbers need to be increased exponentially in order to make the sensor viable. Indeed, biobatteries such as this one recharge faster and rely on reusable sources of energy, but we can’t produce sweat all day long (well, that really depends very much on the climate). Knowing that there have been incidents of smartphone batteries exploding and hurting people, or simply leaking, I realize that there’s yet another advantage to this sweat biobattery.

This innovative concept also reminded me of an African woman’s project of turning urine into energy. I guess such things show just how inventive some people can be when it comes to generating energy using never-heard-before sources. Kudos to such people who aren’t afraid to experiment with unusual things!

Check out the following video to see in detail how the temporary tattoo lactate sensor is supposed to work:

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Twitch, imgur & reddit team up for ‘DERP’ http://walyou.com/derp/ http://walyou.com/derp/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 17:32:21 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=178761

Some of the biggest websites around, reddit, imgur and Twitch, have teamed up for a project called ‘DERP’. And, turns out it’s about science and not memes and cat pictures.

Reddit and Imgur are already staples of the Inteernet, while Twitch is quickly becoming so. These websites of undeniable reach have decided to put some of that reach to a good use, that is, science research for the good of humanity. Along with several other partners, they are launching an initiative meant to help researchers perform studies and share the information they gather on social networks and many other topics. This alliance has decided to call the initiative the Digital Ecologies Research Partnership, abbreviated as “DERP”. Yes, of course it’s called DERP, what else?

Other sites involved in the initiative include Fark, and Stack Exchange, niche sites that are way more focused than the ones mentioned above, and aimed at a more core audience. In the end, it’s a mixed bag of social sites of all kinds and sizes, with some of the most active web communities. The point, though, is ensuring that any research conducted through DERP will see the light of day, and be shared in an open and public manner.

DERP aims to hook up researchers with relevant, publicly available data. As a unified initiative, the idea is to get information for researchers without them having to view and contact sites individually. There are reports of teams at Stanford, Columbia, MIT, and several other universities already benefiting from it.

Via The Guardian

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UK Retailer Sainsbury’s Use Food Waste To Entire Power Store http://walyou.com/uk-retailer-sainsburys-use-food-waste-to-entire-power-store/ http://walyou.com/uk-retailer-sainsburys-use-food-waste-to-entire-power-store/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:00:21 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=177464

Swapping expensive bills for slightly smelly food waste, one UK supermarket chain has now found a smart solution to paying for power.

Pay your electricity bills folks; you never know when your lights are going to go out or your TV’s going to turn itself up right at the cliffhanger of a gripping Game of Thrones episode if you don’t. Dreadful stuff. Alternatively, if you’ve got a bio-engine just sitting around and also about 3 tonnes of gone off, stinky and completely inedible food laying around you could just take a mouldy leaf out of UK retailer Sainsbury’s book by using all of that food waste to power your electricity and heat your home. That’s what they’ve now done at one branch in Cannock, West Midlands, upon realising that it’s far cheaper (and makes a lot more sense, if you think about it) for them to utilise their leftovers instead of forking out both to dispose of it and not get anything back and to pay for electricity too.

The Sainsbury’s branch in question happens to be just down the road from Biffa, a food waste specialist company, which is why this plan is so darn clever. Biffa will use microbes to turn Sainsbury’s honking food into bio-methane after which that gas is then shuttled back to the store using a 1.5km long cable. The plan is set to be so successful that not only are they going to make good use of that Biffa bio-fuel but the supermarket is also going to go completely off of The National Grid meaning that it won’t receive any electricity from the UK’s nationwide power source whatsoever.

Sainsbury’s says that it will allow them to “close the loop on food recycling” but questions remain about what will happen to the rest of the food that isn’t turned into the eco-friendly power stuff. Well, proving that they are perhaps the philanthropists (and resourceful merchants) that we’d all like to be, any food that doesn’t get sent to Biffa (and that presumably isn’t past its use-by date) will be given to charities and food banks, which is in line with what they do already. They currently make enough food stuff waste at the store for it to power 2,500 homes a year and there are likely other branches that make even more so could this be rolled out across the country? Could it even bring British supermarket prices down? We’ll keep you posted once we know more.

Source: Sainsbury’s

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“Organ supercooling”, the super cool technique that will save lives http://walyou.com/organ-supercooling-the-super-cool-technique-that-will-save-lives/ http://walyou.com/organ-supercooling-the-super-cool-technique-that-will-save-lives/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 13:00:23 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=176916

Lots people who need an organ transplant will die before ever getting to the surgery room, but soon that may become a thing of the past.

Organ supercooling is the name of a new medical technique developed at Harvard meant to “supercool” the organ and making it last longer. The technique also pumps the targeted organ with oxygen and nutrients, which in the end makes it last up to three times as long, potentially saving the patients some time and their lives in the process.

We consider organs to be viable for only 24 hours after leaving a body, but after experimenting with supercooling on animal organs, researchers considered them to last 72 hours instead. That’s a lot of extra time, especially when a life depends on it.

These news come straight from Natural Medicine. Researchers claim that, while the lead is very promising, we’re gonna have to wait a bit before they conduct the extra tests on humans and decide if this is viable for us too.

Source: The Mary Sue

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3D Printed Human Kidney Replacement Created by Connecticut Students http://walyou.com/3d-printed-human-kidney-substitute/ http://walyou.com/3d-printed-human-kidney-substitute/#comments Thu, 15 May 2014 20:45:38 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=175752

A team of students from the University of Connecticut collaborated with 3D printing company ACT Group to create a viable artificial human kidney.

Considering the great number of people from all over the world, and not just the US, in need for a kidney replacement, what Connecticut students Derek Chhiv, Meaghan Sullivan, Danny Ung, Benjamin Coscia, Guleid Awale, and Ali Rogers have done could represent the beginning of a new era in medicine. The six students were distributed in two teams under the supervision of Anson Ma, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Connecticut. Luckily enough, each of the two teams had a different approach to the problem, and since differences are a sure way to progress, this means that better final results could be obtained by summing the advantages of each one of them.

Ma stated about this experiment that “The objective of the design project is to get these students to combine the latest technology and their chemical engineering knowledge, learned over their four years at UConn, to solve a technical problem where we can make a difference.”

As Guleid Awale pointed out, “While the other team utilized techniques such as electrodialysis and forward osmosis in their prototype, our group opted for mainly hollow fiber membrane technology commonly found in traditional hemodialysis treatments.”

Benjamin Coscia explained that “Because 3D printing resolutions are not currently low enough to print a structure which will actually filter blood, the file is of only the shell of the kidney. Hollow fiber membranes will be installed on the inside to do the filtration function. The kidney will then be sealed together using the threads and sealing o-rings. A fluid called dialysate will be circulated on the outside of the membranes, inside of the shell, to remove waste material from the blood and keep useful material from leaving the blood. A waste stream maintains the person’s ability to urinate. The outside of the shell can be used as a substrate for growth of biological material for ease of integration into the body.”

At 12 cm in length and 6 cm in diameter, the 3D printed human kidney replacement that these students created is as big as the one of an adult.

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