Bio-Batteries, A Step Closer to Clean Energy

Clean Energy.jpeg



Researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) are a step closer to enhancing the generation of clean energy from bacteria.


A recently published report shows how electrons hop across otherwise electrically insulating areas of bacterial proteins, and that the rate of electron transfer is dependent on the orientation and proximity of electrically conductive ‘stepping stones’.


The hope is that this natural process can be used to improve ‘bio batteries’ which may be used to produce energy for portable technology such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops, powered by human or animal waste.


Unlike humans, many microorganisms can, survive without oxygen. Some bacteria survive by ‘breathing rocks’, especially minerals or iron. They derive their energy from the combustion of fuel molecules that have been taken into the cell’s interior.


A side product of this reaction is a flow of electricity that can be directed across the bacterial outer membrane and delivered to rocks in the natural environment, or to graphite electrodes in fuel cells.


This means that the bacteria can release electrical charge from inside the cell into the mineral, much like the neutral wire in a household plug.


The researchers looked at proteins called ‘multi-haem cytochromes’ contained in ‘rock breathing’ bacteria such as species of Shewanella.


Lead researcher Professor Julea Butt, from UEA’s School of Chemistry and School of Biological Sciences said, “These bacteria can generate electricity in the right environment.”


“We wanted to know more about how the bacterial cells transfer electrical charge — and particularly how they move electrons from the inside to the outside of a cell over distances of up to tens of nanometres.


“Proteins conduct electricity by positioning metal centres — known as haems — to act in a similar way to stepping stones by allowing electrons to hop through an otherwise electrically insulating structure. This research shows that these centres should be considered as discs that the electrons hop across.


“The relative orientation of neighbouring centres, in addition to their proximity, affects the rates that electrons move through the proteins.


“This is an exciting advance in our understanding of how some bacterial species move electrons from the inside to the outside of a cell and helps us understand their behaviour as robust electron transfer modules.


“We hope that understanding how this natural process works will inspire the design of bespoke proteins which will underpin microbial fuel cells for sustainable energy production.”


The research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and performed in collaboration with researchers at University College London, UK and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, USA.


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First Battery to Store Solar Power is a Major Breakthrough in Renewable Energy

Solar Energy Farm.jpeg


Is it a solar cell or a rechargeable battery? Both! The patent-pending device invented at The Ohio State University is the world’s first solar battery.


In the October 3, 2014 issue of the journal Nature Communications, the Ohio State researchers reported, they succeeded in combining a battery and a solar cell into one hybrid device.


The key to the innovation is a mesh solar panel, which allows air to enter the battery, and a special process for transferring electrons between the solar panel and the battery electrode. Light and oxygen inside the device, allow different parts of the chemical reactions that charge the battery.


Professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Ohio State, Dr. Yiying Wu said the university will license the solar battery to industry, which will help reduce the costs of renewable energy.


“The state of the art is to use a solar panel to capture the light, and then use a cheap battery to store the energy,” Wu said. “We’ve integrated both functions into one device. Any time you can do that, you reduce cost.” Wu believes that the device will bring costs down by 25 percent.


The invention also solves a longtime problem in solar energy efficiency, by eliminating the loss of electricity that normally occurs when electrons have to travel between a solar cell and an external battery. Usually, only 80 percent of the electrons that emerge from a solar cell make it into a battery.


With this new design, light is converted into electrons inside the battery, so nearly 100 percent of the electrons are saved. The design of the battery takes some of its idea from a battery that Wu and doctoral student Xiaodi Ren previously developed.


The pair invented a high-efficiency air-powered battery that discharges by a potassium and oxygen chemical reaction. The design won the $100,000 clean energy prize from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2014, and researchers formed a technology spin-off company called KAir Energy Systems, LLC to develop it.

“Basically, it’s a breathing battery,” Wu said. “It breathes in air when it discharges, and breathes out when it charges.”


For this new study, the researchers wanted to combine a solar panel with a battery similar to the KAir. The challenge they faced was that solar cells are normally made of solid semiconductor panels, which would block air from entering the battery.


This lead to doctoral student Mingzhe Yu designing a permeable mesh solar panel from titanium gauze, a flexible fabric upon which he grew vertical rods of titanium dioxide like blades of grass. Air passes freely through the gauze while the rods capture sunlight.


During charging, light hits the mesh solar panel and creates electrons. Inside the battery, electrons are involved in the chemical decomposition of lithium peroxide into lithium ions and oxygen. The oxygen is released into the air, and the lithium ions are stored in the battery as lithium metal after capturing the electrons.


When the battery discharges, it chemically consumes oxygen from the air to re-form the lithium peroxide. An iodide additive in the electrolyte acts as a “shuttle” that carries electrons, and transports them between the battery electrode and the mesh solar panel. The use of the additive represents a distinct approach on improving the battery performance and efficiency, the team said.


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The World’s Smallest Battery

World's Smallest Battery


Researchers at the University of Maryland have invented a single miniature structure that includes all the components of a battery which they say could be the beginning of the ultimate micro energy storage component.


The device, known as a nanopore, is a tiny hole in a ceramic sheet that holds electrolyte to carry the electrical charge between nanotube electrodes at either end. The existing device is a test, however, the itty bitty battery performs excellent, researchers say.


First author Chanyuan Liu, a graduate student in materials science & Engineering, says that it can be fully charged in 12 minutes, and it can be recharged thousands of times.


A team of UMD chemists and materials scientists collaborated on the project: Gary Rubloff , director of the Maryland NanoCenter and a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and in the Institute for Systems Research; Sang Bok Lee, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering; and seven of their Ph.D. students (two now graduated).


Several millions of these nanopores can be crammed into one larger battery the size of a postage stamp. One of the reasons the researchers believe the device is so successful is because each nanopore is shaped exactly the same, which allows them to pack the tiny thin batteries together efficiently. Co-author Eleanor Gillette’s modeling shows that the unique design of the nanopore battery is responsible for its success. The space inside the holes is so small, it is no larger than a grain of sand.

Now that the scientists have the battery working and have demonstrated the concept, they have come up with improvements that could make the next version 10 times more powerful. The next step is to commercialize the battery, which the researchers have developed a plan to do just that in large quantities.


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Switzerland’s Sebastien Buemi Makes History in Formula E Racing

Switzerland's Sebastien Buemi Makes History in Formula E Racing


Switzerland’s Sebastien Buemi has made history in Formula E racing recently, when he became the first driver to win three Formula E rounds in row ever.


As the reigning champion and former Formula One driver, Buemi has now won all three races this season for the Renault e. dams team at Buenos Aires following Hong Kong and Morocco.


Buemi’s began his career in Formula E racing with the inaugural Formula E season for e. dams alongside Frenchman Nicolas Prost. Currently Buemi is the most successful driver in the series’ history having claimed more wins, poles, fastest laps and points than any other driver in the series.


Formula E Racing

Formula E is a class of auto racing that uses only electric-powered cars. This series started with its inaugural championship started in Beijing on September 13, 2014 and is sanctioned by the FIA.


The current Formula E championship is contested by ten teams of two drivers each. The race usually takes place on a temporary city-center street circuits which are approximately 2 to 3.4 km (1.2 to 2.1 mi.) long.


Currently, only the Mexico City ePrix takes place on a road course, a modified version of the Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguez.


Race Day

The race lasts for about 50 minutes with the drivers making one mandatory pit stop to change cars. Changing tires during the race is not permitted, unless a change is necessary due to a puncture or some other detrimental damage to the tire. During a race, the maximum power is restricted to 170 kW. Points are awarded using the standard FIA system.



Fans are able to vote for their favorite driver, for every race, using various social media networks. Voting begins two weeks before a race and is open for voting up through the first six minutes of the race.


The three winning drivers each receive an extra 100 kJ of energy to be used in a power window between 180 kW and 200 kW.


Scoring Points

Points are awarded to the top ten drivers using the standard FIA system. Three points are also awarded to the driver who has the pole position. The driver who holds the fastest lap receives an additional point (two points during the first two seasons).


The championship consists of both a driver’s and teams’ championship. A driver’s end of season total is made up of their best results. A team’s total is made up by counting the drivers’ scores throughout the season.


With this past weekend’s win, Buemi leads the standings by 29 points from Brazilian Lucas Di Grassi with the next race to be held in Mexico City on April 1st.


Renault e.dams have now won half of all the Formula E races that have taken place. Jean – Eric Vergne, from France, was second in Saturday’s race for the Chinese Techeetah team with Di Grassi, who started on pole position, third for Team Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport.



This past weekend, Buenos Aires also got to see the first demonstration run of two driverless ‘Roborace’ development, or ‘DevBot’, electric cars running on the same track together at speeds reaching 185 kph.


The cars used sensors and on-board systems to navigate the street circuit while communicating with each other to avoid contact. However, one of the cars still managed to crash into the barriers.


An additional hazard was posed by a stray dog who found himself wandering onto the race track.


In a statement, Denis Sverdlov, Roborace’s Chief Executive said “This is a historic moment for Roborace and for the future of autonomous vehicle development,”


“Seeing these cars interacting at speed on a race track shows how fast the technology is progressing and how important a platform Roborace is for further development.


“It is so exciting to see these vehicles functioning without any human intervention, making their own decisions and taking appropriate actions in order to guide themselves around the track.”


Ultimately, Formula E organisers hope to have up to 10 driverless cars racing together. The goal is to have the teams write their own software, around city tracks as a support event to their series.


Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. I sincerely hope that my blog entertains, helps and gets you thinking. Please take a minute to leave a comment to start and interesting conversation, or add your interesting thoughts to an existing conversation.


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The Nissan IDS Concept Car – The Future of the Automobile



The Nissan IDS (Intelligent Driving System) concept car is drawing a lot of attention, which is understandable when you when you see it. First unrivaled at the 2015 Tokyo Auto Show, the vehicle is autonomous, which Nissan calls Piloted Drive and electric.


The auto maker plans to roll out the concept car in two phases. The first phase will be the Pilot Drive 1.0 which will be offered to the Japanese market beginning this year, before the car is sold to China, Europe and the United States.


The Piloted Drive 2.0 will include the ability to handle highway speeds and multiple lane roads. This will include the ability to merge into traffic and change lanes. The company said, in a statement, that the IDS system will be available on multiple models worldwide by 2020.




The state-of-the-art interior includes four individual seats that turn toward the center to make conversation easier. The steering wheel folds up, and a large touch screen appears on the dash. With soft lighting, the cabin resembles relaxing in your living room.


The driver is offered various driving options due to AI (Artificial Intelligence), voice and body gestures, all adding to, not only the driving experience, but also the overall safety of the vehicle.


When the driver chooses to manually drive the vehicle, there is no doubt in their mind that they are in complete control. The steering wheel was designed to give the driver the feeling they are holding the reins of a horse.


The interior lighting also switches to blue, designed to stimulate the driver’s ability to concentrate on the task of driving.




The stylish suicide doors, without pillars, immediately bring back images of 1960’s era Lincolns, the exterior of the Nissan IDS is just as futuristic as the interior. For enjoying the trip, the roof is almost entirely glass and rests on a carbon fiber body.


The Nissan IDS offers a long wheel base, enabling a smooth luxurious ride that you would more expect from a gasoline powered luxury car rather than an autonomous electric vehicle. The long wheelbase also offers the driver, if they choose to drive the vehicle, the ability to hug the road and perform like a fine tooled expensive sports car.


The Nissan’s hollow-structure A-pillars help to ensure superb visibility in all directions, reducing blind spots and also contributing to the feeling of a wide open space.



Power Plant

Containing a 60 kWh battery, with a light carbon fiber body and clean aerodynamic design, the concept car is expected to meet and exceed the need for traveling long distances, boasting a pretty astounding 340 miles per charge.


Many are saying that the Nissan IDS concept car is not only the vehicle of the future, but what all cars, present day and in the future should offer the driver. Setting aside the fact that the vehicle is autonomous and electric Nissan’s new concept car offers a ride that brings to mind fine made automobiles.


However, one of the most impressive features of the new concept car is its ability to improve the driving experience by improving the driver’s ability to see, think and react to all driving conditions.


Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. I sincerely hope that my blog entertains, helps and gets you thinking. Please take a minute to leave a comment to start and interesting conversation, or add your interesting thoughts to an existing conversation.

For more thought provoking articles please check out:

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Lord Kelvin (1824-1907)

British mathematical physicist and engineer William Thomson, who is better known as Lord Kelvin, was born in Belfast in 1824. Thomson is best known today for inventing the international system of absolute temperature, stated in units of kelvin, which bear his name. His other notable works include contributions to electricity, magnetism, thermodynamics, hydrodynamics, geophysics and telegraphy among other fields.


An extremely skilled engineer, Thomson is accredited with roughly 70 inventions and publishing more than 650 papers during his lifetime. Thomson was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1866 for his significant involvement in the laying of the first transatlantic telegraph cable.


Thomson did more work than any other electrician, up to his time, to introduce accurate methods and tools for measuring electricity. He published a description of his new divided ring electrometer in the Memoirs of the Roman Academy of Sciences for 1857, which was based on the old electroscope of Johann Gottlieb Friedrich von Bohnenberger. He also invented a series of effective instruments, including the quadrant electrometer, which encompass the entire field of electrostatic measurement.


Among his other inventions was the current balance, also known as the Kelvin balance or Ampere balance, for the precise specification of the ampere, which is the standard unit of electric current.


Thomson headed an international commission in 1893, to decide on the design of the Niagara Falls power station. He endorsed Westinghouse’s alternating current system, which was demonstrated at the Chicago World’s Fair that year, despite his belief in the superiority of direct current electric power transmission.

In November 1907 William Thomson caught a chill and his condition quickly deteriorated until he died at his Scottish residence, Netherhall, in Largs on December 17th of that year, leaving behind a legacy which makes him one of the most eminent scientists of the 19th century.

How to Make Your Own Pinball Game


Pinball machines are some of the oldest arcade games in history. Dating back to the mid 1600s these games have evolved into the light flashing, ball bumping game we know today. The origins of pinball are intertwined with the history of many other games.


Games played outdoors by rolling balls or stones on a grass course, as in the case of bocce or bowls, eventually evolved into various local ground billiards games played by hitting the balls with sticks and propelling them at targets, often around obstacles.


In this experiment, we will build a pinball game where sticks hit a Ping Pong ball into a cup that buzzes when the ball hits it.


Materials Needed:


  • Sticks or pencils to use as a flipper
  • Battery, either a 9 V and connector or AA and holder
  • Buzzer
  • Paper clips
  • Scissors
  • Aluminum foil
  • Wire Strippers
  • Shallow box
  • Duct tape
  • 4 oz. Paper cup
  • Ping Pong ball
  • 22-gauge stranded hook-up wire




Connect the leads of the battery holder and buzzer. Put the buzzer in the bottom of the cup with a hole in the bottom, so you can run the wires out to the battery holder.


Wrap the Ping Pong ball in a sheet of foil. Smooth it out so that the ball can roll freely when in play.


Next design a pinball machine table top on the shallow box. At one end, cut a hole for the cup to fit into. Set the cup, flush with the bottom of the box so the ball can roll into it unobstructed.

Add in obstacles and tubes to make play more interesting. The circuit is completed on the buzzer when the ball, wrapped in foil touches it, making it buzz.