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Archive for the ‘renewable enegy’ Category

Safe battery tech prevents “thermal runaway”

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150108-stanford-battery-1-100637348-largeIf it gets too hot, get out of the battery! Researchers at Stanford University have developed a lithium-ion battery that shuts down automatically as it begins to overheat.

Lithium-ion batteries are used in nearly all portable electronics. They’re light, can store a lot of energy and are easily recharged, but they are also susceptible to overheating if damaged. A short circuit in the battery often leads to fire. A recent article in Nature Energy by a team of Stanford researchers reveals a safe battery design that features “a fast and reversible thermoresponsive polymer switching material that can be incorporated inside batteries to prevent thermal runaway.”

The new Stanford battery uses a polyethylene film that has embedded particles of nickel with nanoscale spikes. Researchers coated the spikes with graphene, a conducting material, so that electricity can flow over the surface. When the temperature rises the film expands, and at about 70 degrees Celsius (160 degrees Fahrenheit) the conducting spikes no longer touch each other, breaking the circuit – causing the battery to shut down.

Once the battery shuts down, the runaway thermal reaction is avoided and the battery cools; eventually the nickel spikes are brought back into contact and the electricity flow resumes.

“We can even tune the temperature higher or lower depending on how many particles we put in or what type of polymer materials we choose,” said Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford and a member of the research team.

The Nature Energy article [Nature Energy 1, Article number: 15009 (2016) doi:10.1038/nenergy.2015.9] says: “Batteries with this self-regulating material built in the electrode can rapidly shut down under abnormal conditions such as overheating and shorting, and are able to resume their normal function without performance compromise or detrimental thermal runaway. Our approach offers 103–104 times higher sensitivity to temperature changes than previous switching devices.”

This has the potential of averting the catastrophic fires seen in hoverboards, laptops and aircraft.

The article was written by the researchers Zheng Chen, Po-Chun Hsu, Jeffrey Lopez, Yuzhang Li, John W. F. To, Nan Liu, Chao Wang, Sean C. Andrews, Jia Liu, Yi Cui and Zhenan Bao.

Image: Stanford researchers use a polyethylene film in lithium-ion batteries to shut down the battery if it gets too hot. Credit: Stanford University/IDGNS

Written by William DiBenedetto

9 February, 2016 at 5:30 am

Pope Francis: Care for our common home (4)

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Laudato Si'_cover_ Thomas CizauskasHere’s the next installment of our close read of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter on climate change, Laudato Si’.

(Note: emphasis added by me)

Climate as a common good

The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life. A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it. It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity. Concentrated in the atmosphere, these gases do not allow the warmth of the sun’s rays reflected by the earth to be dispersed in space. The problem is aggravated by a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels, which is at the heart of the worldwide energy system. Another determining factor has been an increase in changed uses of the soil, principally deforestation for agricultural purposes. (Para. 23) Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

5 October, 2015 at 6:00 am

A Shell game?

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shell oil vintage sign_Karen BlahaWhen the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell chats up the importance of renewable energy as part of the globe’s future energy mix, one might well be a tad suspicious—after all this is an oil major speaking, right?

Could it be that Ben van Beurden has seen the light, powered by things other than fossil fuels? Is it possible he is thinking about the future in a way that’s perhaps more enlightened than simply rhetorical?

Speaking recently at OPEC‘s 167th meeting in Vienna, van Beurden said traditional energy sources should integrate and work together with clean technologies to provide sustainable and economically-sensible power for the future. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

13 July, 2015 at 6:30 am

France’s green artistic panache

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img_5446Leave it to the French to make something as mundane as a wind turbine into a work of art by installing two of them on the Eiffel Tower.

Yes, that Eiffel Tower, which itself is a monument to both creativity and sustainability: when it was built in 1889 it was only intended to last for 20 years. In the ensuing 126 years the tower has gone through many renovations, but the latest sends a decidedly green message whirling into the future.

Earlier this year, the renewable energy firm Urban Green Energy installed two wind turbines inside the metal scaffolding of the tower. The turbines will produce 10,000 kilowatt hours, enough to power the tower’s first floor commercial establishments, which include restaurants, a souvenir shop, and exhibits about the history of the tower.

The turbines are part of a plan to reduce the environmental impact of the tower. Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE), the organization that runs the tower, is also installing rainwater collection systems, LED lights, and solar panels on it. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

8 June, 2015 at 6:00 am

Utilities’ use of renewable energy rising

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ceres picThe “new reality” facing electricity consumers and their utility companies is that renewable energy is meeting an increasingly larger share of U.S. energy needs, according to a report from Ceres and Clean Edge.

That translates into more and better choices and a clean energy future.

“Renewables—including wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, waste heat and small-scale hydroelectric—accounted for a whopping 49 percent of new U.S. electric generating capacity in 2012, with new wind development outpacing even natural gas,” writes Jon Wellinghoff, partner at Stoel Rives LLP and former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the report.

Benchmarking Utility Clean Energy Deployment: 2014, is the first annual report from Ceres in partnership with Clean Edge on this subject. It ranks the nation’s 32 largest electric utilities and their local subsidiaries on their renewable energy sales and energy efficiency savings. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

12 August, 2014 at 6:00 am

Microsoft doubled renewable energy purchases in FY 2013

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MS citizenshipBefore this difficult year fades into history, I wanted to call attention to an excellent development, care of a local PNW company you may have heard of, Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft’s 2013 “Citizenship Report” describes an ambitious agenda that features making its operations carbon neutral, and using the “power of technology” to promote human rights.

The software giant’s fiscal year 2013 was pivotal on those points, CEO Steven A. Ballmer wrote, because it took the “first big, bold steps” in it its transformation to a devices and services company and in its citizenship work. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

5 December, 2013 at 4:30 am

Romney energy policy: oil and gas

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And renewables? Fuhgetaboudit! A clean energy economy is the sort of idea that’s impossible to find in Mitt Romney’s approach to energy policy, contained in his 87-page platform document, “Believe in America: Mitt Romney’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth.”

Romney’s energy program is so bereft of new ideas and so cynically beholding to Big Oil and King Coal that it’s almost breathtaking: basically, whatever the fossil fuel industry wants, Romney is there.

One of the bills he says he’ll introduce on “day one” of his presidency will direct the Department of Interior “to undertake a comprehensive survey of American energy reserves in partnership with exploration companies and initiate leasing in all areas currently approved for exploration.”

There it is—Romney the handmaiden and toady for Big Oil and King Coal on energy policy. Exactly what the economy and the environment needs. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

4 June, 2012 at 2:00 am

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