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We're a little crazy, about science!

Posts tagged “energy

Tiny grains of lithium dramatically improve performance of fusion plasma

tokamak fusion reactor

While fusion might still be a far off dream, a new discovery may help bring that dream closer to reality. Scientists have discovered a phenomenon that helps them to improve fusion plasmas, a finding that could quicken the development of large scale fusion energy. The scientists found that when they injected tiny grains of lithium into a plasma undergoing a particular kind of turbulence then, under the right conditions, the temperature and pressure rose dramatically.

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Holy Grail of Battery Design: A lithium anode

charge-battery

Technology has been racing forward at an ever increasing rate. Unfortunately, anyone who owns a smartphone will tell you that the battery life doesn’t match the advancements. That is probably why engineers across the globe have been racing to design smaller, cheaper and more efficient rechargeable batteries to meet the power storage needs of everything from handheld gadgets to the new emerging electric cars. But a new breakthrough is about to [hopefully] change all that, a stable lithium anode.

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Finally, a Better Battery!

That's the million dollar question.

That’s the million dollar question.

You know what technology hasn’t been able to keep pace with us? Well besides whatever tech the DMV uses, it’s batteries. Think about it, they are nasty, make a mess, are hazzardous, hard to recycle and weigh a freaking ton compared to the energy stored. Current battery technology is my number one problem with electric cars as it stands now. Between the weight, the resources, and the waste, electric cars are almost a wash. Not quite mind you, but almost.

That’s about to change, maybe not for the electric car, but for the energy grid. Right now power is pumped out as fast as it’s being used. There is no real storage anywhere for surplus power so it is made on demand for people to use it as it’s being produced. This use as you make it system has proven to be the bane of solar and wind, the two major renewable energy technologies we have. This problem combined with the lobbyists for oil and gas companies and you can see why we don’t have more solar or wind power plants.

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Building with Batteries

low battery

Wires, we hate them. It’s okay you can say it, wires are… ugly. I hate throwing out the big “u” word like that, but facts are facts. So what if I told you, soon you might be finding power in unusual places. In fact, your whole home could be used to store energy.

This all thanks to a new type of supercapacitor that can take a licking and keep on ticking [I’ve always wanted to say that]. A supercapacitor so durable, it could be made into laptop casing, cars, buildings, just about anything. This new tech comes out of the [incredible] Vanderbilt Nanomaterials and Energy Devices Laboratory. 

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The Future of Fusion Funding

fusion

Photograph Courtesy of EFDA-JET

Fusion, the promise of clean, renewable energy has been so powerful that scientists have been chasing the dream for roughly 50 years now. Since the birth of atomic energy and the realization of the immense power hidden hidden in the atom, commercial fusion energy has always been 20 years away.

In one of the most ambitious fusion projects global leaders came together to construct the world’s largest fusion plant– ITER [International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor], in the hopes that scaling the technology to a larger size will be key in producing a fusion reaction that creates more energy than it takes to sustain the reaction.

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