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Feb 11, 2023

Stone Age discovery in Kenya fuels mystery of who made the earliest tools

Posted by in category: energy

NEW YORK (AP) — Archaeologists in Kenya have dug up some of the oldest stone tools ever found, but who used them is a mystery.

In the past, scientists assumed that our direct ancestors were the only toolmakers. But two big fossil teeth found along with the tools at the Kenyan site belong to an extinct human cousin known as Paranthropus, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science.

This adds to the evidence that our direct relatives in the Homo lineage may not have been the only tech-savvy creatures during the Stone Age, said study author Rick Potts, director of the Smithsonian’s Human Origins Program.

Feb 11, 2023

Blue Alchemist Technology Powers our Lunar Future

Posted by in categories: chemistry, energy, space

To make long-term presence on the Moon viable, we need abundant electrical power. We can make power systems on the Moon directly from materials that exist everywhere on the surface, without special substances brought from Earth. We have pioneered the technology and demonstrated all the steps. Our approach, Blue Alchemist, can scale indefinitely, eliminating power as a constraint anywhere on the Moon.

We start by making regolith simulants that are chemically and mineralogically equivalent to lunar regolith, accounting for representative lunar variability in grain size and bulk chemistry. This ensures our starting material is as realistic as possible, and not just a mixture of lunar-relevant oxides. We have developed and qualified an efficient, scalable, and contactless process for melting and moving molten regolith that is robust to natural variations in regolith properties on the Moon.

Using regolith simulants, our reactor produces iron, silicon, and aluminum through molten regolith electrolysis, in which an electrical current separates those elements from the oxygen to which they are bound. Oxygen for propulsion and life support is a byproduct.

Feb 10, 2023

Breakthrough in recycling of wind turbine blades

Posted by in categories: chemistry, energy, sustainability

A new chemical process developed by Danish company Vestas can ensure that wind turbine blades are recycled at the end of their life, instead of being abandoned or going to landfill sites.

Wind power is one of the best ways to decarbonise the world’s electricity. Recent years have seen explosive growth in capacity additions, as well as gigantic new turbine designs able to generate as much as 18 MW. The costs keep falling, while efficiencies continue to improve. The trend is now obvious: renewable energy is the future and will inevitably displace fossil fuels.

Feb 9, 2023

Microstructure and defect engineering improves performance of lithium-ion batteries

Posted by in categories: energy, engineering, sustainability, transportation

A new North Carolina State University study, performed in collaboration with battery testing researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, shows that extremely short pulses from a high-powered laser can cause tiny defects in lithium-ion battery materials—defects that can enhance battery performance.

The technique, called nanosecond pulsed laser annealing, lasts for only 100 nanoseconds and is generated by the same type of laser used in modern-day eye surgeries. Researchers tested the technique on graphite, a material widely used in lithium-ion battery anodes, or positive electrodes. They tested the technique in batches of 10 pulses and 80 pulses and compared the differences in current capacity; power is calculated by multiplying voltage by current.

Lithium-ion batteries are widely used in portable electronic devices and electric cars. With further improvements, these batteries could have a major impact on transportation and as storage devices for renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

Feb 9, 2023

By growing uniform lithium crystals, engineers progress toward fast-charging lithium-metal batteries

Posted by in category: energy

In a new Nature Energy study, engineers report progress toward lithium-metal batteries that charge quickly—as fast as an hour. This fast charging is thanks to lithium metal crystals that can be seeded and grown—quickly and uniformly—on a surprising surface. The trick is to use a crystal growing surface that lithium officially doesn’t “like.” From these seed crystals grow dense layers of uniform lithium metal. Uniform layers of lithium metal are of great interest to battery researchers because they lack battery-performance-degrading spikes called dendrites. The formation of these dendrites in battery anodes is a longstanding roadblock to fast-charging ultra-energy-dense lithium-metal batteries.

This new approach, led by University of California San Diego engineers, enables charging of lithium-metal batteries in about an hour, a speed that is competitive against today’s lithium-ion batteries. The UC San Diego engineers, in collaboration with UC Irvine imaging researchers, published this advance aimed at developing lithium-metal batteries on Feb. 9, 2023, in Nature Energy.

To grow lithium metal crystals, the researchers replaced the ubiquitous copper surfaces on the negative side (the anode) of lithium-metal batteries with a lithiophobic nanocomposite surface made of lithium fluoride (LiF) and iron (Fe). Using this lithiophobic surface for lithium deposition, lithium crystal seeds formed, and from these seeds grew dense lithium layers—even at high charging rates. The result was long-cycle-life lithium-metal batteries that can be charged quickly.

Feb 9, 2023

New Prototype Device Generates Hydrogen From Untreated Seawater

Posted by in categories: chemistry, energy

Scientists have found a clever way to generate hydrogen straight from salty seawater. This could be another step towards a clean energy future, if renewables power the process.

The new device makes a few chemical modifications to existing technologies, making it possible to extract hydrogen from untreated, unpurified seawater – which could alleviate concerns about using precious water supplies.

“We have split natural seawater into oxygen and hydrogen… to produce green hydrogen by electrolysis, using a non-precious and cheap catalyst in a commercial electrolyzer,” explains chemical engineer Shizhang Qiao of the University of Adelaide in Australia.

Feb 9, 2023

Master Plan 3, the path to a fully sustainable energy future for Earth will be presented on March 1

Posted by in categories: energy, sustainability

The future is bright!

Feb 8, 2023

Abandoned Mine Shafts Can Use Gravity to Turn Them Into Giant Batteries

Posted by in category: energy

Abandoned mine shafts like this one can be turned into giant storage batteries.


The technology uses the vertical drop in abandoned mine shafts to generate zero-emission electricity.

Feb 6, 2023

Scientists discover a new type of amorphous ice

Posted by in categories: energy, space

We’ve got a new kind of ice on the block – medium-density amorphous ice (MDA).

It’s amorphous, which means that the water molecules are in a disorganised form instead of being neatly ordered like they are in the ordinary, crystalline ice you find floating in your Scotch on the rocks…

Amorphous ice is super rare on Earth, but scientists think that it might be the main type found in the frigid environment of outer space – because ice wouldn’t have enough thermal energy there to form crystals.

Feb 5, 2023

China begins single-capacity 16 MW turbine-powered wind farm construction

Posted by in category: energy

The offshore wind farm is expected to lower China’s carbon dioxide emissions by 1.36 million tonnes and claims to provide more than 1.6 billion kilowatts of power annually.

China claims to have begun the construction of its first extensive offshore wind farm using 16-megawatt turbines on Saturday.

This represents a significant change from the smaller, less effective turbines that China’s offshore wind farms have often employed, claimed a report on Sunday by China Global Television Network (CGTN), a state-run media.

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