Saturday, December 17, 2011

On the promise of the artificial leaf

MIT's Dan Nocera is one of the forerunners involved in the development of an 'artificial leaf', a device that would mimic photosynthesis and store solar energy in the form of high-energy chemical bonds, a sort of generalization of solar cells, and photosynthesis itself.

Here's the MIT news article. This particular device uses solar energy to split water and store hydrogen. I recently attended a talk by Prof. James Barber of the Imperial College, London where he described his own work on understanding photosynthesis and described Dan Nocera's work as well. The photosynthetic machinery relies on a fantastically engineered molecular design which we would need to replicate using some heavy studies into single-molecular electron transfer in inorganic compounds. Time to hit the inorganic chemistry books, I say.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

MoS2 chips rival Silicon

Here is an article on making mirco-chips faster, cheaper and more readily available in terms of resources.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Siemens going tidal

As Grist notes in this article, «tidal power (...) has always seemed like a neat idea». Now Siemens is getting in the game. The goal is for tidal power to reach price parity with offshore wind by 2020.

Why tidal, you ask? Well, it's super predictable. And so a better business case.
«Power output of the systems could be calculated for centuries in advance», says Siemens CFO for solar and hydro. (Check out the linked Tech Review article for more)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The world's new lightest material

Here is an article about how US engineers have created the world's lightest material, a metal tube micro-lattice that in the future will be used for this like batteries and shock absorbers.

Boosting Battery Strength with Small Holes

Here is an article about how researchers at the university of Northwestern in the US are playing with lithium battery to make them better performing. According to the article, it is estimated witht the few changes they have made that lithium batteries 5 years from now will charge 10 times faster and last 10 times longer.

Experiments that may mean reduced ageing

Courtesy Nick.

This TED talk is by the illustrious Cynthia Kenyon, where she describes experiments done by her which could reveal genes which cause aging, at least those that appear to do so in C.Elegans, everyone's favorite model organism.

An interesting debate should ensue about what the implications of such research could be on the human race, given that part of the population problem, and indeed most current global problems, is due to an increased lifespan in humans.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

An aircraft that costs under 7 USD per hour to operate

Totally bakaakin, this one.

Electric + aircraft = good news for hippies and corporates.

This one was the result of a competition which was held, but that doesnt stop people from starting up interesting stuff with it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Power from the people

Check out this video on how the french are researching using the human body to power small devices, and how it may someday power sensors or things like pacemakers.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

the future of laptops

Here's some super cool science fiction, except its something chemists and materials scientists have been working towards for a long time now.

No time to comment further from my side. I hope we see these in the market soon, presumably they should be quite cheap, assuming they're made of polymers.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

New solar/battery materials

solar energy and batteries, the two biggest things on everyone's mind.

This article reveals new materials which hold promise of being good enough to store solar energy indefinitely, and rather than as heat (which has till now been the most efficient way of storing solar energy), they store it chemically. very exciting!

Organic thermoelectrics

The world is filled with heat, waste heat. Everywhere you look, everywhere you sit.
It's energy lying around for anyone to use, and this guy had long ago come up with a way to make a miniscule amount of energy from heat.

However, as usual with any technology that hasn't made it to the bigtime, its too expensive and produces too crappy an amount of anything.

However, thermoelectrics are making a comeback with polymers. That's plastics, which have the potential to convert heat differentials into electricity.

Friday, July 8, 2011

One small step from man...

I’m not meaning to be nationalistic with this post, but since I am Swedish I also have a special eye for Swedish innovations. During last year at my home university I heard about a project called Down to Earth. The project aims for technology transfer from you know what!? Space!!

Sustainable and energy conservative solutions have been a necessity on space shuttles since before Neil Armstrong said “One small step for man...blah ”. So why not apply these solutions in our everyday life? I am really looking forward to see what comes out of this project. And just imagine what other sources of inspiration lies in wait for exploitation? Can we find it in a remote African tribe? In your grandparents kitchen? In a children’s story?

Who knows, it could very well be ... a big step for mankind!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Unexpected discoveries

Have you ever thought about the usefulness of some existing inventions? In my opinion Google has the potential of being one of the most innovative companies in the internet industry today. With new applications and tools available constantly they just keep on surprising. As an environmental engineer I work a lot with Geographical Information Systems (commonly known as GIS) that makes it possible to study and visualize spatial pattern using maps. Usually I work with soft-wares such as ArcGIS or Manifold, but for the non-professional Google earth is a really simple and powerful tool to study the environment. I just found this article on the unexpected discoveries found using GE. Did Google expect this when they developed this application?
Many of these discoveries weren't found by the Google staff themselves, but by common users. You should never underestimate the creativity of the human brain!
But of course, sometimes imagination can take the best out of anybody...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fungus: How we're going to save the world

I've said this before mycelium is a great thing. Here is a video showing many applications of fungus in order to tackle the world's problems and doing so in a sustainable fashion. Very exciting.

Hybrid air vehicle

Creds to England for inventing this and creds to Nick for finding out about this.
A vehicle that can move in the sky for ~3 weeks uninterrupted, doesn't need an airstrip to land, and has numerous other advantages.
It looks a bit like a zeppelin, which just makes it fifty times cooler.
I am anxious to know when these would hit the market.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Some frightening stuff that we need to pursue

Finally, some real shit. These guys have managed to make an on/off memory expansion for rats' brains. Put the switch on, they remember. put it off, they forget.

The article says it all, I'm gonna go read the actual publication now, which is here.

google it and you shall find how much people's nuts are being driven with this. I haven't felt this excited since I heard what Craig Venter's lab had done.

Of course, one should keep in mind that these guys are trying to treat dementia, but I am interested in the memory-expansion applications, where one could upload memory into someone's brain. Perhaps even store it chemically, electronically. I think I need to get a few more degrees.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Future of Medicine: Leveraging Cross-Disciplinary Technologies

Here is an excellent and inspiring video for us to look forward to the future of medicine. This video explores current advancements and ideas for mixing disciplines such as nanotech, robotics, electronics future into the field of medicine. No matter what the medical problem is there will probably be an app for it.

Thermoelectric effect based energy generation

Today morning I was investigating the Seeback effect, as a means to convert heat differentials into electricity (sound familiar? The stirling engine! except, no moving parts, no expensive bits and pieces, and no large heavy engine)

Well, after a bit of snooping around, this man has already tried this. But there's no mention of the efficiency etc. Of course, since he thought of it first, he's already give it his name.

Of course, it's a little more complicated than just applying a heat difference between two pieces of metal. And it's actually very interesting, with theoretical efficiencies being as high as 60%. It's still going on, hope we can get more updates soon.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Some interesting physics

Luminiscent solar collectors should bring back some enthusiasm in concentrated solar power generators that I must admit I lost after the previous gloomy portentous article.

These fluorescent films use total internal reflection of fluorescent light within these films to concentrate it, which can be fed to solar cells.

The coolest part is that even diffuse light (cloudy days) can be concentrated using these. That's the part that really got me really get aroused.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Is Concentrated solar power doomed?

This page is subject to debate. Is concentrated solar power doomed? Will thermal power plants based on solar energy soon be a bad investment?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Did you know?

To be honest I am not an expert on technology, but what really interests me are mind blowing videos like this one. By knowing our past it is possible to maybe have a small idea about the future and where our efforts will be needed.

Can you imagine that internet now contributes more to the release of CO2 than the entire airplane traffic industry? What could be done to grasp this overwhelming world of exponential development in (almost) all fronts?

Next generation solar cells, the beginning of a new era.

Semiconductor quantum dots are going to be the buzzword when it comes to solar cells. They facilitate in the modulation of band energies through size control to offer new ways of improving photoresponse and photoconversion efficiencies. This paper discusses various strategies to maximize photoinduced charge separation and electron transfer processes for improving the overall efficiency of light energy conversion.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Osmotic Power

Credit to Norway, let's hope this technology, which i've actually seen years ago, proves economic. Development of membranes is the current issue.

This power plant uses the principal of osmotic pressure where fresh water meets salt water.

using unused portions of the solar spectrum I

This is the first of what I imagine to be a series of articles on photon conversion, spectrum conversion etc.

These guys at Max Planck Mainz (incidentally my favorite max planck institute) have come up with a way to up-convert the IR-region photons of the solar spectrum to UV-vis range ones, thus using the entire spectrum.

I think spectrum conversion is the obvious next step that materials scientists and chemists need to explore. more soon.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

something different

I smell TED talks being a big part of our coming futures.

This TED talk gives an insight into how countries are getting themselves out of poverty. Why should we care? Because more money for these guys means more money for the world, which means more money to invest in making big machines.

And we love big machines.

Credit goes to Iris Engstrom for this one, who is now a member of the bakaakin team.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Compressed air external combustion engines

I personally feel that the genius of the external combustion engines should not be underestimated. air, water as the working fluids is something we can all appreciate.

This site gives an interesting coffee-table type discussion on why the swtch to compressed air ext. combustion engines would be great.

I myself have been thinking about large engines with tapering combustion chambers. Fill gallons of water into an enormous tank, heat it up with a jolt of high power-density raw heat (from the sun, naturally), perform your rankine cycle, and then dump the water back into a water body. Great thing to have by a lake, I would imagine. Would love to hear peoples' thoughts on this one.

Technology trends

credit for this goes to Nick Doucette

This TED talk speaks of forecasting technologies, and the standard trends they seem to follow.

I think this is an excellent way to get some perspective, figure out where to head, and as a general case study of previous technologies.

'Nothing lasts forever, and we both know hearts can change.' - GnR, November Rain.

Why we will soon have solar panels

credit for this goes to Christian Eriksen.

This site presents some facts and figures about why we'll be seeing solar energy everywhere soon. bottomline: coal is going out (even though its cheap) and solar is on its way in. More posts about R&D coming soon.

Hopefully this excited you as much as it did me.

Spray-on solar panels

This website gives some details of an ongoing collaborative effort (since 2005) to build cost-effective solar panels for usage for a variety of applications.

The most interesting part of this approach is the use of the large IR portion of the solar spectrum, which means it is independant of cloudy days. (more research needed into this.)

About this blog

This blog is a collaborative effort of engineering and science students to keep themselves and any interested person updated on the latest technology (R&D) breakthroughs and the cutting edge.

This is more a review of technologies-to-be that shall change our lives, and less a review of the latest gadgets available in the market for consumer production. There are several other sites for this.

If you would like to post here, please contact the administrators.

Enjoy the posts and please feel free to add your comments and thoughts on anything.

Thank you!
-the Bakaakin team