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  • richardmitnick 7:51 pm on July 25, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A material difference", , , Bioindicators, , , Energy, Energy-storage applications, Enthusiasm for innovation, , , , PhD candidate Eesha Khare   

    From Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) : “A material difference” 

    MIT News

    From Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)

    July 25, 2021
    Bridget E. Begg

    A passion for biomaterials inspires PhD candidate Eesha Khare to tackle climate change.

    1
    A passion for biomaterials inspires Eesha Khare, an MIT PhD candidate in materials science and engineering, to tackle climate change. Credit: Gretchen Ertl.

    Eesha Khare has always seen a world of matter. The daughter of a hardware engineer and a biologist, she has an insatiable interest in what substances — both synthetic and biological — have in common. Not surprisingly, that perspective led her to the study of materials.

    “I recognized early on that everything around me is a material,” she says. “How our phones respond to touches, how trees in nature to give us both structural wood and foldable paper, or how we are able to make high skyscrapers with steel and glass, it all comes down to the fundamentals: This is materials science and engineering.”

    As a rising fourth-year PhD student in the MIT Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE), Khare now studies the metal-coordination bonds that allow mussels to bind to rocks along turbulent coastlines. But Khare’s scientific enthusiasm has also led to expansive interests from science policy to climate advocacy and entrepreneurship.

    A material world

    A Silicon Valley native, Khare recalls vividly how excited she was about science as a young girl, both at school and at myriad science fairs and high school laboratory internships. One such internship at the University of California-Santa Cruz (US) introduced her to the study of nanomaterials, or materials that are smaller than a single human cell. The project piqued her interest in how research could lead to energy-storage applications, and she began to ponder the connections between materials, science policy, and the environment.

    As an undergraduate at Harvard University (US), Khare pursued a degree in engineering sciences and chemistry while also working at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics. There, she grew fascinated by environmental advocacy in the policy space, working for then-professor Gina McCarthy, who is currently serving in the Biden administration as the first-ever White House climate advisor.

    Following her academic explorations in college, Khare wanted to consider science in a new light before pursuing her doctorate in materials science and engineering. She deferred her program acceptance at MIT in order to attend University of Cambridge (UK), where she earned a master’s degree in the history and philosophy of science. “Especially in a PhD program, it can often feel like your head is deep in the science as you push new research frontiers, but I wanted take a step back and be inspired by how scientists in the past made their discoveries,” she says.

    Her experience at Cambridge was both challenging and informative, but Khare quickly found that her mechanistic curiosity remained persistent — a realization that came in the form of a biological material.

    “My very first master’s research project was about environmental pollution indicators in the U.K., and I was looking specifically at lichen to understand the social and political reasons why they were adopted by the public as pollution indicators,” Khare explains. “But I found myself wondering more about how lichen can act as pollution indicators. And I found that to be quite similar for most of my research projects: I was more interested in how the technology or discovery actually worked.”

    Enthusiasm for innovation

    Fittingly, these bioindicators confirmed for her that studying materials at MIT was the right course. Now Khare works on a different organism altogether, conducting research on the metal-coordination chemical interactions of a biopolymer secreted by mussels.

    “Mussels secrete this thread and can adhere to ocean walls. So, when ocean waves come, mussels don’t get dislodged that easily,” Khare says. “This is partly because of how metal ions in this material bind to different amino acids in the protein. There’s no input from the mussel itself to control anything there; all the magic is in this biological material that is not only very sticky, but also doesn’t break very readily, and if you cut it, it can re-heal that interface as well! If we could better understand and replicate this biological material in our own world, we could have materials self-heal and never break and thus eliminate so much waste.”

    To study this natural material, Khare combines computational and experimental techniques, experimentally synthesizing her own biopolymers and studying their properties with in silico molecular dynamics. Her co-advisors — Markus Buehler, the Jerry McAfee Professor of Engineering in Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Niels Holten-Andersen, professor of materials science and engineering — have embraced this dual-approach to her project, as well as her abundant enthusiasm for innovation.

    Khare likes to take one exploratory course per semester, and a recent offering in the MIT Sloan School of Management inspired her to pursue entrepreneurship. These days she is spending much of her free time on a startup called Taxie, formed with fellow MIT students after taking the course 15.390 (New Enterprises). Taxie attempts to electrify the rideshare business by making electric rental cars available to rideshare drivers. Khare hopes this project will initiate some small first steps in making the ridesharing industry environmentally cleaner — and in democratizing access to electric vehicles for rideshare drivers, who often hail from lower-income or immigrant backgrounds.

    “There are a lot of goals thrown around for reducing emissions or helping our environment. But we are slowly getting physical things on the road, physical things to real people, and I like to think that we are helping to accelerate the electric transition,” Khare says. “These small steps are helpful for learning, at the very least, how we can make a transition to electric or to a cleaner industry.”

    Alongside her startup work, Khare has pursued a number of other extracurricular activities at MIT, including co-organizing her department’s Student Application Assistance Program and serving on DMSE’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. Her varied interests also have led to a diverse group of friends, which suits her well, because she is a self-described “people-person.”

    In a year where maintaining connections has been more challenging than usual, Khare has focused on the positive, spending her spring semester with family in California and practicing Bharatanatyam, a form of Indian classical dance, over Zoom. As she looks to the future, Khare hopes to bring even more of her interests together, like materials science and climate.

    “I want to understand the energy and environmental sector at large to identify the most pressing technology gaps and how can I use my knowledge to contribute. My goal is to figure out where can I personally make a difference and where it can have a bigger impact to help our climate,” she says. “I like being outside of my comfort zone.”

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    MIT Seal

    USPS “Forever” postage stamps celebrating Innovation at MIT.

    MIT Campus

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) is a private land-grant research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The institute has an urban campus that extends more than a mile (1.6 km) alongside the Charles River. The institute also encompasses a number of major off-campus facilities such as the MIT Lincoln Laboratory (US), the MIT Bates Research and Engineering Center (US), and the Haystack Observatory (US), as well as affiliated laboratories such as the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard(US) and Whitehead Institute (US).

    Founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) adopted a European polytechnic university model and stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering. It has since played a key role in the development of many aspects of modern science, engineering, mathematics, and technology, and is widely known for its innovation and academic strength. It is frequently regarded as one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

    As of December 2020, 97 Nobel laureates, 26 Turing Award winners, and 8 Fields Medalists have been affiliated with MIT as alumni, faculty members, or researchers. In addition, 58 National Medal of Science recipients, 29 National Medals of Technology and Innovation recipients, 50 MacArthur Fellows, 80 Marshall Scholars, 3 Mitchell Scholars, 22 Schwarzman Scholars, 41 astronauts, and 16 Chief Scientists of the U.S. Air Force have been affiliated with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) . The university also has a strong entrepreneurial culture and MIT alumni have founded or co-founded many notable companies. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU).

    Foundation and vision

    In 1859, a proposal was submitted to the Massachusetts General Court to use newly filled lands in Back Bay, Boston for a “Conservatory of Art and Science”, but the proposal failed. A charter for the incorporation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, proposed by William Barton Rogers, was signed by John Albion Andrew, the governor of Massachusetts, on April 10, 1861.

    Rogers, a professor from the University of Virginia (US), wanted to establish an institution to address rapid scientific and technological advances. He did not wish to found a professional school, but a combination with elements of both professional and liberal education, proposing that:

    “The true and only practicable object of a polytechnic school is, as I conceive, the teaching, not of the minute details and manipulations of the arts, which can be done only in the workshop, but the inculcation of those scientific principles which form the basis and explanation of them, and along with this, a full and methodical review of all their leading processes and operations in connection with physical laws.”

    The Rogers Plan reflected the German research university model, emphasizing an independent faculty engaged in research, as well as instruction oriented around seminars and laboratories.

    Early developments

    Two days after Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) was chartered, the first battle of the Civil War broke out. After a long delay through the war years, MIT’s first classes were held in the Mercantile Building in Boston in 1865. The new institute was founded as part of the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act to fund institutions “to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes” and was a land-grant school. In 1863 under the same act, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts founded the Massachusetts Agricultural College, which developed as the University of Massachusetts Amherst (US)). In 1866, the proceeds from land sales went toward new buildings in the Back Bay.

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) was informally called “Boston Tech”. The institute adopted the European polytechnic university model and emphasized laboratory instruction from an early date. Despite chronic financial problems, the institute saw growth in the last two decades of the 19th century under President Francis Amasa Walker. Programs in electrical, chemical, marine, and sanitary engineering were introduced, new buildings were built, and the size of the student body increased to more than one thousand.

    The curriculum drifted to a vocational emphasis, with less focus on theoretical science. The fledgling school still suffered from chronic financial shortages which diverted the attention of the MIT leadership. During these “Boston Tech” years, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) faculty and alumni rebuffed Harvard University (US) president (and former MIT faculty) Charles W. Eliot’s repeated attempts to merge MIT with Harvard College’s Lawrence Scientific School. There would be at least six attempts to absorb MIT into Harvard. In its cramped Back Bay location, MIT could not afford to expand its overcrowded facilities, driving a desperate search for a new campus and funding. Eventually, the MIT Corporation approved a formal agreement to merge with Harvard, over the vehement objections of MIT faculty, students, and alumni. However, a 1917 decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court effectively put an end to the merger scheme.

    In 1916, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) administration and the MIT charter crossed the Charles River on the ceremonial barge Bucentaur built for the occasion, to signify MIT’s move to a spacious new campus largely consisting of filled land on a one-mile-long (1.6 km) tract along the Cambridge side of the Charles River. The neoclassical “New Technology” campus was designed by William W. Bosworth and had been funded largely by anonymous donations from a mysterious “Mr. Smith”, starting in 1912. In January 1920, the donor was revealed to be the industrialist George Eastman of Rochester, New York, who had invented methods of film production and processing, and founded Eastman Kodak. Between 1912 and 1920, Eastman donated $20 million ($236.6 million in 2015 dollars) in cash and Kodak stock to MIT.

    Curricular reforms

    In the 1930s, President Karl Taylor Compton and Vice-President (effectively Provost) Vannevar Bush emphasized the importance of pure sciences like physics and chemistry and reduced the vocational practice required in shops and drafting studios. The Compton reforms “renewed confidence in the ability of the Institute to develop leadership in science as well as in engineering”. Unlike Ivy League schools, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) catered more to middle-class families, and depended more on tuition than on endowments or grants for its funding. The school was elected to the Association of American Universities (US)in 1934.

    Still, as late as 1949, the Lewis Committee lamented in its report on the state of education at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) that “the Institute is widely conceived as basically a vocational school”, a “partly unjustified” perception the committee sought to change. The report comprehensively reviewed the undergraduate curriculum, recommended offering a broader education, and warned against letting engineering and government-sponsored research detract from the sciences and humanities. The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and the MIT Sloan School of Management were formed in 1950 to compete with the powerful Schools of Science and Engineering. Previously marginalized faculties in the areas of economics, management, political science, and linguistics emerged into cohesive and assertive departments by attracting respected professors and launching competitive graduate programs. The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences continued to develop under the successive terms of the more humanistically oriented presidents Howard W. Johnson and Jerome Wiesner between 1966 and 1980.

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)‘s involvement in military science surged during World War II. In 1941, Vannevar Bush was appointed head of the federal Office of Scientific Research and Development and directed funding to only a select group of universities, including MIT. Engineers and scientists from across the country gathered at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)’s Radiation Laboratory, established in 1940 to assist the British military in developing microwave radar. The work done there significantly affected both the war and subsequent research in the area. Other defense projects included gyroscope-based and other complex control systems for gunsight, bombsight, and inertial navigation under Charles Stark Draper’s Instrumentation Laboratory; the development of a digital computer for flight simulations under Project Whirlwind; and high-speed and high-altitude photography under Harold Edgerton. By the end of the war, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) became the nation’s largest wartime R&D contractor (attracting some criticism of Bush), employing nearly 4000 in the Radiation Laboratory alone and receiving in excess of $100 million ($1.2 billion in 2015 dollars) before 1946. Work on defense projects continued even after then. Post-war government-sponsored research at MIT included SAGE and guidance systems for ballistic missiles and Project Apollo.

    These activities affected Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) profoundly. A 1949 report noted the lack of “any great slackening in the pace of life at the Institute” to match the return to peacetime, remembering the “academic tranquility of the prewar years”, though acknowledging the significant contributions of military research to the increased emphasis on graduate education and rapid growth of personnel and facilities. The faculty doubled and the graduate student body quintupled during the terms of Karl Taylor Compton, president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) between 1930 and 1948; James Rhyne Killian, president from 1948 to 1957; and Julius Adams Stratton, chancellor from 1952 to 1957, whose institution-building strategies shaped the expanding university. By the 1950s, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) no longer simply benefited the industries with which it had worked for three decades, and it had developed closer working relationships with new patrons, philanthropic foundations and the federal government.

    In late 1960s and early 1970s, student and faculty activists protested against the Vietnam War and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)’s defense research. In this period Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)’s various departments were researching helicopters, smart bombs and counterinsurgency techniques for the war in Vietnam as well as guidance systems for nuclear missiles. The Union of Concerned Scientists was founded on March 4, 1969 during a meeting of faculty members and students seeking to shift the emphasis on military research toward environmental and social problems. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) ultimately divested itself from the Instrumentation Laboratory and moved all classified research off-campus to the MIT (US) Lincoln Laboratory facility in 1973 in response to the protests. The student body, faculty, and administration remained comparatively unpolarized during what was a tumultuous time for many other universities. Johnson was seen to be highly successful in leading his institution to “greater strength and unity” after these times of turmoil. However six Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) students were sentenced to prison terms at this time and some former student leaders, such as Michael Albert and George Katsiaficas, are still indignant about MIT’s role in military research and its suppression of these protests. (Richard Leacock’s film, November Actions, records some of these tumultuous events.)

    In the 1980s, there was more controversy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) over its involvement in SDI (space weaponry) and CBW (chemical and biological warfare) research. More recently, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)’s research for the military has included work on robots, drones and ‘battle suits’.

    Recent history

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) has kept pace with and helped to advance the digital age. In addition to developing the predecessors to modern computing and networking technologies, students, staff, and faculty members at Project MAC, the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and the Tech Model Railroad Club wrote some of the earliest interactive computer video games like Spacewar! and created much of modern hacker slang and culture. Several major computer-related organizations have originated at MIT since the 1980s: Richard Stallman’s GNU Project and the subsequent Free Software Foundation were founded in the mid-1980s at the AI Lab; the MIT Media Lab was founded in 1985 by Nicholas Negroponte and Jerome Wiesner to promote research into novel uses of computer technology; the World Wide Web Consortium standards organization was founded at the Laboratory for Computer Science in 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee; the MIT OpenCourseWare project has made course materials for over 2,000 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) classes available online free of charge since 2002; and the One Laptop per Child initiative to expand computer education and connectivity to children worldwide was launched in 2005.

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) was named a sea-grant college in 1976 to support its programs in oceanography and marine sciences and was named a space-grant college in 1989 to support its aeronautics and astronautics programs. Despite diminishing government financial support over the past quarter century, MIT launched several successful development campaigns to significantly expand the campus: new dormitories and athletics buildings on west campus; the Tang Center for Management Education; several buildings in the northeast corner of campus supporting research into biology, brain and cognitive sciences, genomics, biotechnology, and cancer research; and a number of new “backlot” buildings on Vassar Street including the Stata Center. Construction on campus in the 2000s included expansions of the Media Lab, the Sloan School’s eastern campus, and graduate residences in the northwest. In 2006, President Hockfield launched the MIT Energy Research Council to investigate the interdisciplinary challenges posed by increasing global energy consumption.

    In 2001, inspired by the open source and open access movements, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) launched OpenCourseWare to make the lecture notes, problem sets, syllabi, exams, and lectures from the great majority of its courses available online for no charge, though without any formal accreditation for coursework completed. While the cost of supporting and hosting the project is high, OCW expanded in 2005 to include other universities as a part of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, which currently includes more than 250 academic institutions with content available in at least six languages. In 2011, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) announced it would offer formal certification (but not credits or degrees) to online participants completing coursework in its “MITx” program, for a modest fee. The “edX” online platform supporting MITx was initially developed in partnership with Harvard and its analogous “Harvardx” initiative. The courseware platform is open source, and other universities have already joined and added their own course content. In March 2009 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) faculty adopted an open-access policy to make its scholarship publicly accessible online.

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) has its own police force. Three days after the Boston Marathon bombing of April 2013, MIT Police patrol officer Sean Collier was fatally shot by the suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, setting off a violent manhunt that shut down the campus and much of the Boston metropolitan area for a day. One week later, Collier’s memorial service was attended by more than 10,000 people, in a ceremony hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) community with thousands of police officers from the New England region and Canada. On November 25, 2013, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) announced the creation of the Collier Medal, to be awarded annually to “an individual or group that embodies the character and qualities that Officer Collier exhibited as a member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) community and in all aspects of his life”. The announcement further stated that “Future recipients of the award will include those whose contributions exceed the boundaries of their profession, those who have contributed to building bridges across the community, and those who consistently and selflessly perform acts of kindness”.

    In September 2017, the school announced the creation of an artificial intelligence research lab called the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. IBM will spend $240 million over the next decade, and the lab will be staffed by MIT and IBM scientists. In October 2018 MIT announced that it would open a new Schwarzman College of Computing dedicated to the study of artificial intelligence, named after lead donor and The Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman. The focus of the new college is to study not just AI, but interdisciplinary AI education, and how AI can be used in fields as diverse as history and biology. The cost of buildings and new faculty for the new college is expected to be $1 billion upon completion.

    The Caltech/MIT Advanced aLIGO (US) was designed and constructed by a team of scientists from California Institute of Technology (US), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US), and industrial contractors, and funded by the National Science Foundation (US) .

    MIT/Caltech Advanced aLigo .

    It was designed to open the field of gravitational-wave astronomy through the detection of gravitational waves predicted by general relativity. Gravitational waves were detected for the first time by the LIGO detector in 2015. For contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves, two Caltech physicists, Kip Thorne and Barry Barish, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) physicist Rainer Weiss won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2017. Weiss, who is also an Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) graduate, designed the laser interferometric technique, which served as the essential blueprint for the LIGO.

    The mission of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:51 am on May 25, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "UT Austin Studies Mysterious Substance that Could Transform the Future of Energy", , , , Energy, Methane hydrate is relatively unstable., Methane hydrates could be a bridge-fuel to a carbon-free society., Scientists estimate that the Gulf of Mexico alone holds enough methane hydrate deposits to power the U.S. for hundreds of years into the future., The substance is made up of water molecules that form a crystal lattice which contains the densely trapped methane inside.,   

    From University of Texas at Austin (US) : “UT Austin Studies Mysterious Substance that Could Transform the Future of Energy” 

    From University of Texas at Austin (US)

    May 10, 2021
    Tracy Zhang

    In 2017, UT Austin geoscientists led the first U.S. university-based expedition to the Gulf of Mexico in search of methane hydrates. Today, they are at the forefront of research to understand this possible new energy source.

    1

    “We’re jamming a tiny straw through over a mile of water through over a half a mile of rock in order to pull up 10 feet of ice,” said Peter Polito, an expedition research scientist representing The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences (JSG).

    Surrounded by scientific gear, he is standing on the bridge of the Helix Q4000, a semi-submersible deep-water drilling vessel. All around him are massive cranes and robust machinery, and just a bit further out, nothing but rolling waves are in sight.

    2
    The Gulf of Mexico, photographed during the 2017 coring mission. Image Courtesy of Jackson School of Geosciences.
    3
    Aerial view of the Helix Q4000 vessel. Image Courtesy of Jackson School of Geosciences.

    It all seems like quite an enterprise — except the “ice” they are attempting to extract could revolutionize the future of energy.

    This 2017 University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) expedition was looking for methane hydrates, or methane gas trapped in ice. The substance is made up of water molecules that form a crystal lattice which contains the densely trapped methane inside. Methane hydrates are abundant in nature, usually found beneath or inside permafrost and buried in sediments under the sea floor.

    What’s most significant is that they hold more than 100 times the energy per unit of volume as methane found in the atmospheric pressure at sea level. Essentially, one liter of methane hydrate from the sea floor is 160 liters of methane on the surface.

    UT Austin is actively conducting research on these mysterious cores and will be venturing to the Gulf of Mexico again in 2022 to retrieve more samples.

    3
    Methane hydrate ice sample on fire. Image Courtesy of United States Geological Survey.

    “Methane hydrates could be a bridge fuel to a carbon-free society,” said Peter Flemings, a Jackson School professor and chief scientist of the coring mission.

    With its high energy density and large abundance in nature, scientists estimate that the Gulf of Mexico alone holds enough methane hydrate deposits to power the U.S. for hundreds of years into the future.

    As resources become more limited, governments are rushing to research alternative forms of energy, and UT is at the forefront of that research, being the first university in the U.S. to have led operations to gather samples of methane hydrates from sand deposits for study.

    Although they hold great potential as a viable energy source, extracting them is not an easy process. Methane hydrate is relatively unstable. If you drop the pressure or raise the temperature of the environment even slightly, the material can suddenly become undone and dissociate into its basic components of methane and water.

    This all means drilling for cores is an extremely difficult venture, and highly specialized equipment is needed to isolate and contain the substance within pressurized cores in order to properly extract and study them.

    4
    Researchers investigate the properties of methane hydrates.

    In addition to being the first U.S. university to lead expeditions to methane hydrate deposits in sand reservoirs, UT also has the only university-based facility that can safely store and study extracted pressurized cores. At the UT Pressure Core Center, an integrated team of scientists and engineers will continue their research on cores retrieved from this mission.

    The stakes are high, but if better studied and understood, methane hydrates could be an enormous untapped reservoir of energy for future generations — especially as coastal countries with limited resources are striving for energy security.

    The research also has the potential to shed light on the role methane hydrate plays in the Earth’s carbon cycle. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, and scientists studying the cores theorize that natural release of methane from large deposits could have had a hand in periods of past climate change.

    Interdisciplinary teams at UT have developed new technologies to better extract cores which were successfully put through their paces during land tests of the equipment last month. With UT at the hub of it all, it’s become a massive collaborative project involving various academic and governmental institutions.

    5
    From March 2020 land tests of new coring technologies in Cameron, Texas.
    6
    Close-up of hardware used for the 2021 land test in Oklahoma.

    Extracted cores, still in their pressurized state, have been sent to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and the Japan National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. A number of schools are working on studying the depressurized cores, such as the University of New Hampshire, The Ohio State University, Oregon State University, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Georgia Institute for Technology, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and the University of Washington, while scientists from the USGS, representatives from the DOE and researchers from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) act as advisers to the project.

    “It’s a colossal undertaking that has involved extraordinary efforts and participation at the highest levels of UT,” said Flemings. The land test alone is a $1 million project and is the last stage before UT’s next expedition in the spring of 2022.

    As one of many geoscientists, researchers and engineers who have put their hearts and souls into this project, Polito is looking forward to seeing results. “It’s an exciting time,” he said. “Soon, we’re going to know things that no one knew today.”

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Texas at Austin

    U Texas Austin campus

    The University of Texas at Austin is a public research university in Austin, Texas and the flagship institution of the University of Texas System. Founded in 1883, the University of Texas was inducted into the Association of American Universities (US) in 1929, becoming only the third university in the American South to be elected. The institution has the nation’s seventh-largest single-campus enrollment, with over 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students and over 24,000 faculty and staff.

    A Public Ivy, it is a major center for academic research. The university houses seven museums and seventeen libraries, including the LBJ Presidential Library and the Blanton Museum of Art, and operates various auxiliary research facilities, such as the J. J. Pickle Research Campus and the McDonald Observatory. As of November 2020, 13 Nobel Prize winners, four Pulitzer Prize winners, two Turing Award winners, two Fields medalists, two Wolf Prize winners, and two Abel prize winners have been affiliated with the school as alumni, faculty members or researchers. The university has also been affiliated with three Primetime Emmy Award winners, and has produced a total of 143 Olympic medalists.

    Student-athletes compete as the Texas Longhorns and are members of the Big 12 Conference. Its Longhorn Network is the only sports network featuring the college sports of a single university. The Longhorns have won four NCAA Division I National Football Championships, six NCAA Division I National Baseball Championships, thirteen NCAA Division I National Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships, and has claimed more titles in men’s and women’s sports than any other school in the Big 12 since the league was founded in 1996.

    Establishment

    The first mention of a public university in Texas can be traced to the 1827 constitution for the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas. Although Title 6, Article 217 of the Constitution promised to establish public education in the arts and sciences, no action was taken by the Mexican government. After Texas obtained its independence from Mexico in 1836, the Texas Congress adopted the Constitution of the Republic, which, under Section 5 of its General Provisions, stated “It shall be the duty of Congress, as soon as circumstances will permit, to provide, by law, a general system of education.”

    On April 18, 1838, “An Act to Establish the University of Texas” was referred to a special committee of the Texas Congress, but was not reported back for further action. On January 26, 1839, the Texas Congress agreed to set aside fifty leagues of land—approximately 288,000 acres (117,000 ha)—towards the establishment of a publicly funded university. In addition, 40 acres (16 ha) in the new capital of Austin were reserved and designated “College Hill”. (The term “Forty Acres” is colloquially used to refer to the University as a whole. The original 40 acres is the area from Guadalupe to Speedway and 21st Street to 24th Street.)

    In 1845, Texas was annexed into the United States. The state’s Constitution of 1845 failed to mention higher education. On February 11, 1858, the Seventh Texas Legislature approved O.B. 102, an act to establish the University of Texas, which set aside $100,000 in United States bonds toward construction of the state’s first publicly funded university (the $100,000 was an allocation from the $10 million the state received pursuant to the Compromise of 1850 and Texas’s relinquishing claims to lands outside its present boundaries). The legislature also designated land reserved for the encouragement of railroad construction toward the university’s endowment. On January 31, 1860, the state legislature, wanting to avoid raising taxes, passed an act authorizing the money set aside for the University of Texas to be used for frontier defense in west Texas to protect settlers from Indian attacks.

    Texas’s secession from the Union and the American Civil War delayed repayment of the borrowed monies. At the end of the Civil War in 1865, The University of Texas’s endowment was just over $16,000 in warrants and nothing substantive had been done to organize the university’s operations. This effort to establish a University was again mandated by Article 7, Section 10 of the Texas Constitution of 1876 which directed the legislature to “establish, organize and provide for the maintenance, support and direction of a university of the first class, to be located by a vote of the people of this State, and styled “The University of Texas”.

    Additionally, Article 7, Section 11 of the 1876 Constitution established the Permanent University Fund, a sovereign wealth fund managed by the Board of Regents of the University of Texas and dedicated to the maintenance of the university. Because some state legislators perceived an extravagance in the construction of academic buildings of other universities, Article 7, Section 14 of the Constitution expressly prohibited the legislature from using the state’s general revenue to fund construction of university buildings. Funds for constructing university buildings had to come from the university’s endowment or from private gifts to the university, but the university’s operating expenses could come from the state’s general revenues.

    The 1876 Constitution also revoked the endowment of the railroad lands of the Act of 1858, but dedicated 1,000,000 acres (400,000 ha) of land, along with other property appropriated for the university, to the Permanent University Fund. This was greatly to the detriment of the university as the lands the Constitution of 1876 granted the university represented less than 5% of the value of the lands granted to the university under the Act of 1858 (the lands close to the railroads were quite valuable, while the lands granted the university were in far west Texas, distant from sources of transportation and water). The more valuable lands reverted to the fund to support general education in the state (the Special School Fund).

    On April 10, 1883, the legislature supplemented the Permanent University Fund with another 1,000,000 acres (400,000 ha) of land in west Texas granted to the Texas and Pacific Railroad but returned to the state as seemingly too worthless to even survey. The legislature additionally appropriated $256,272.57 to repay the funds taken from the university in 1860 to pay for frontier defense and for transfers to the state’s General Fund in 1861 and 1862. The 1883 grant of land increased the land in the Permanent University Fund to almost 2.2 million acres. Under the Act of 1858, the university was entitled to just over 1,000 acres (400 ha) of land for every mile of railroad built in the state. Had the 1876 Constitution not revoked the original 1858 grant of land, by 1883, the university lands would have totaled 3.2 million acres, so the 1883 grant was to restore lands taken from the university by the 1876 Constitution, not an act of munificence.

    On March 30, 1881, the legislature set forth the university’s structure and organization and called for an election to establish its location. By popular election on September 6, 1881, Austin (with 30,913 votes) was chosen as the site. Galveston, having come in second in the election (with 20,741 votes), was designated the location of the medical department (Houston was third with 12,586 votes). On November 17, 1882, on the original “College Hill,” an official ceremony commemorated the laying of the cornerstone of the Old Main building. University President Ashbel Smith, presiding over the ceremony, prophetically proclaimed “Texas holds embedded in its earth rocks and minerals which now lie idle because unknown, resources of incalculable industrial utility, of wealth and power. Smite the earth, smite the rocks with the rod of knowledge and fountains of unstinted wealth will gush forth.” The University of Texas officially opened its doors on September 15, 1883.

    Expansion and growth

    In 1890, George Washington Brackenridge donated $18,000 for the construction of a three-story brick mess hall known as Brackenridge Hall (affectionately known as “B.Hall”), one of the university’s most storied buildings and one that played an important place in university life until its demolition in 1952.

    The old Victorian-Gothic Main Building served as the central point of the campus’s 40-acre (16 ha) site, and was used for nearly all purposes. But by the 1930s, discussions arose about the need for new library space, and the Main Building was razed in 1934 over the objections of many students and faculty. The modern-day tower and Main Building were constructed in its place.

    In 1910, George Washington Brackenridge again displayed his philanthropy, this time donating 500 acres (200 ha) on the Colorado River to the university. A vote by the regents to move the campus to the donated land was met with outrage, and the land has only been used for auxiliary purposes such as graduate student housing. Part of the tract was sold in the late-1990s for luxury housing, and there are controversial proposals to sell the remainder of the tract. The Brackenridge Field Laboratory was established on 82 acres (33 ha) of the land in 1967.

    In 1916, Gov. James E. Ferguson became involved in a serious quarrel with the University of Texas. The controversy grew out of the board of regents’ refusal to remove certain faculty members whom the governor found objectionable. When Ferguson found he could not have his way, he vetoed practically the entire appropriation for the university. Without sufficient funding, the university would have been forced to close its doors. In the middle of the controversy, Ferguson’s critics brought to light a number of irregularities on the part of the governor. Eventually, the Texas House of Representatives prepared 21 charges against Ferguson, and the Senate convicted him on 10 of them, including misapplication of public funds and receiving $156,000 from an unnamed source. The Texas Senate removed Ferguson as governor and declared him ineligible to hold office.

    In 1921, the legislature appropriated $1.35 million for the purchase of land next to the main campus. However, expansion was hampered by the restriction against using state revenues to fund construction of university buildings as set forth in Article 7, Section 14 of the Constitution. With the completion of Santa Rita No. 1 well and the discovery of oil on university-owned lands in 1923, the university added significantly to its Permanent University Fund. The additional income from Permanent University Fund investments allowed for bond issues in 1931 and 1947, which allowed the legislature to address funding for the university along with the Agricultural and Mechanical College (now known as Texas A&M University). With sufficient funds to finance construction on both campuses, on April 8, 1931, the Forty Second Legislature passed H.B. 368. which dedicated the Agricultural and Mechanical College a 1/3 interest in the Available University Fund, the annual income from Permanent University Fund investments.

    The University of Texas was inducted into the Association of American Universities in 1929. During World War II, the University of Texas was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.

    In 1950, following Sweatt v. Painter, the University of Texas was the first major university in the South to accept an African-American student. John S. Chase went on to become the first licensed African-American architect in Texas.

    In the fall of 1956, the first black students entered the university’s undergraduate class. Black students were permitted to live in campus dorms, but were barred from campus cafeterias. The University of Texas integrated its facilities and desegregated its dorms in 1965. UT, which had had an open admissions policy, adopted standardized testing for admissions in the mid-1950s at least in part as a conscious strategy to minimize the number of Black undergraduates, given that they were no longer able to simply bar their entry after the Brown decision.

    Following growth in enrollment after World War II, the university unveiled an ambitious master plan in 1960 designed for “10 years of growth” that was intended to “boost the University of Texas into the ranks of the top state universities in the nation.” In 1965, the Texas Legislature granted the university Board of Regents to use eminent domain to purchase additional properties surrounding the original 40 acres (160,000 m^2). The university began buying parcels of land to the north, south, and east of the existing campus, particularly in the Blackland neighborhood to the east and the Brackenridge tract to the southeast, in hopes of using the land to relocate the university’s intramural fields, baseball field, tennis courts, and parking lots.

    On March 6, 1967, the Sixtieth Texas Legislature changed the university’s official name from “The University of Texas” to “The University of Texas at Austin” to reflect the growth of the University of Texas System.

    Recent history

    The first presidential library on a university campus was dedicated on May 22, 1971, with former President Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson and then-President Richard Nixon in attendance. Constructed on the eastern side of the main campus, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum is one of 13 presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.

    A statue of Martin Luther King Jr. was unveiled on campus in 1999 and subsequently vandalized. By 2004, John Butler, a professor at the McCombs School of Business suggested moving it to Morehouse College, a historically black college, “a place where he is loved”.

    The University of Texas at Austin has experienced a wave of new construction recently with several significant buildings. On April 30, 2006, the school opened the Blanton Museum of Art. In August 2008, the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center opened, with the hotel and conference center forming part of a new gateway to the university. Also in 2008, Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium was expanded to a seating capacity of 100,119, making it the largest stadium (by capacity) in the state of Texas at the time.

    On January 19, 2011, the university announced the creation of a 24-hour television network in partnership with ESPN, dubbed the Longhorn Network. ESPN agreed to pay a $300 million guaranteed rights fee over 20 years to the university and to IMG College, the school’s multimedia rights partner. The network covers the university’s intercollegiate athletics, music, cultural arts, and academics programs. The channel first aired in September 2011.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:23 pm on February 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "$1 million funding for hydrogen vehicle refueller", A major barrier of hydrogen refuelling becoming a fuel source for cars and trucks is how to refuel and the lack of refuelling infrastructure., , As Australia considers energy alternatives we know hydrogen is clean and will be cost-competitive., , CSIRO is engaging with vehicle companies such as Toyota Australia to support the future adoption and supply of FCEVs in Australia., CSIRO will receive more than $1 million towards the development of a refuelling station to fuel and test hydrogen vehicles., CSIRO's national Hydrogen Industry Mission is estimated to create more than 8000 jobs, , Energy, Hydrogen refuelling will generate $11 billion a year in GDP and support a low emissions future., Swinburne's strong partnership with CSIRO means that we will be able to build on our focus of digitalisation and Industry 4.0., The refueller project will demonstrate a fleet trial for CSIRO hydrogen vehicles with the potential for expansion., The refuelling station at CSIRO's Clayton campus in Victoria is a key milestone in the development of CSIRO's national Hydrogen Industry Mission which aims to support Australia's clean hydrogen indust, VH2 is designed to bring researchers; industry partners; and businesses together to test; trial and demonstrate new and emerging hydrogen technologies.   

    From CSIRO-Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (AU): “$1 million funding for hydrogen vehicle refueller” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIRO-Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (AU)

    07 Feb 2021

    Nick Kachel
    Communication Advisor
    +61249606206

    CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, has welcomed Victorian government funding that will enable it to partner with Swinburne University of Technology to establish the Victorian Hydrogen Hub (VH2).

    1
    The proposed refuelling station at Clayton.

    2
    Some of the features of the refuelling station.

    VH2 is designed to bring researchers, industry partners and businesses together to test, trial and demonstrate new and emerging hydrogen technologies.

    Under the partnership, CSIRO will receive more than $1 million towards the development of a refuelling station to fuel and test hydrogen vehicles.

    The refuelling station, to be located at CSIRO’s Clayton campus in Victoria, is a key milestone in the development of CSIRO’s national Hydrogen Industry Mission, which aims to support Australia’s clean hydrogen industry – estimated to create more than 8000 jobs, generate $11 billion a year in GDP and support a low emissions future.

    “As Australia considers energy alternatives, we know hydrogen is clean and will be cost-competitive – but a major barrier to it becoming a fuel source for cars and trucks is how to refuel, and the lack of refuelling infrastructure,” CSIRO Executive Director, Growth, Nigel Warren said.

    “The refueller is a significant step towards removing that barrier.”

    Construction will take place as part of the development of VH2 – a new hydrogen production and storage demonstration facility, where CSIRO, Swinburne and their partners will test ‘real world’ uses for hydrogen technology.

    “We thank the Victorian government for supporting VH2 which, combined with the refueller, will allow us to test emerging hydrogen technologies,” Mr Warren added.

    Swinburne University of Technology’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Pascale Quester said the University was excited by the development.

    “We are grateful for the Victorian Government for their support,” Professor Quester said.

    “The Victorian Hydrogen Hub will be another demonstration of how we can bring people and technology together to create a better world.

    “Swinburne’s strong partnership with CSIRO means that we will be able to build on our focus of digitalisation and Industry 4.0, and support industry to enhance its understanding of what hydrogen can deliver.”

    The refueller project will demonstrate a fleet trial for CSIRO hydrogen vehicles with the potential for expansion, providing refuelling opportunities to other zero emission Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) in the local area.

    “We are proud to be investing in this forward-looking initiative, the kind that will help build a smarter Victoria and help respond to climate change,” Victorian Minister for Higher Education, Gayle Tierney said.

    CSIRO is engaging with vehicle companies such as Toyota Australia to support the future adoption and supply of FCEVs in Australia.

    “Toyota Australia is delighted to support the development of this new hydrogen refuelling station in Victoria with next-generation Mirai FCEVs,” Toyota Australia’s Manager of Future Technologies, Matt MacLeod said.

    “This is a significant step towards having the necessary refuelling infrastructure to help grow hydrogen opportunities in Australia.

    “We look forward working closely with CSIRO and their partners on this exciting project.”

    About the emerging Hydrogen Industry Mission

    CSIRO announced a program of national missions in August 2020, aimed at solving some of Australia’s greatest challenges.

    Missions are currently being developed.

    The Hydrogen Industry Mission aims to help Australia work out how to scale up domestic hydrogen supply and demand for a low emissions future, and support our hydrogen energy export industry.

    The mission builds on CSIRO’s National Hydrogen Roadmap which shared the opportunities for Australia’s clean hydrogen industry.

    CSIRO is currently engaging with and inviting advisory, funding, R&D and translation partners to work collaboratively on initiatives.

    See the full article here .


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    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (AU), is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:36 am on February 2, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New tool at Sandia brings some West Texas wind to the Duke City — virtually", A new custom-built wind turbine emulator has been installed at Sandia’s Distributed Energy Technologies Laboratory., , , , Energy, Faster research through innovation., New wind turbine motor, Sandia’s Distributed Energy Technologies Laboratory, Sandia’s Renewable Energy and Distributed Systems Integration program., The emulator consists of a scaled-down wind turbine motor and uses much of the same hardware and software that control actual turbines.   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories: “New tool at Sandia brings some West Texas wind to the Duke City — virtually” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories

    February 2, 2021
    Dan Ware and Mollie Rappe
    mrappe@sandia.gov
    505-844-4902

    1
    Rachid Darbali-Zamora examines Sandia National Laboratories’ new wind turbine motor, which will allow the distributed energy team to study how wind farms will behave under a variety of conditions and in different locations. Credit: Bret Latter.

    Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have a new tool that allows them to study wind power and see whether it can be efficiently used to provide power to people living in remote and rural places or even off the grid, through distributed energy.

    A new, custom-built wind turbine emulator has been installed at Sandia’s Distributed Energy Technologies Laboratory. The emulator, which mimics actual wind turbines at Sandia’s Scaled Wind Farm Technology Site near Lubbock Texas, will be used to study how wind farms behave under multiple weather conditions and load demands, and if they can be efficiently used as a source of distributed energy for consumers who live near the farms, according to Brian Naughton, a researcher with Sandia’s Wind Energy Technologies program.

    2
    Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWiFT) facility, located at Texas Tech University’s National Wind Institute Research Center in Lubbock, Texas.

    Unlike traditional wind farms that feed energy to grid-connected transmission lines, wind turbines used for distributed energy are close to or even directly connected to the end user or customer, said Naughton. This is especially important for users who are in remote areas or who are off the main electrical grid.

    “Right now, most wind generated power is just sent out on transmission lines to customers hundreds of miles away and can be affected by a wide variety of disruptions,” said Naughton. “Being able to test how wind turbines react to different and varying wind and weather conditions, we can help determine the viability of having generation take place closer to homes, schools and businesses.”

    Determining the viability of using wind turbines as a source of distributed energy is important due to the potential impact it could have on providing electricity to remote, island communities that exist largely off the main electric grid, said Rachid Darbali-Zamora, a researcher with Sandia’s Renewable Energy and Distributed Systems Integration program.

    “We’re looking at finding solutions to challenges faced by parts of the country that cannot be consistently powered by a traditional electric grid, such as remote communities in Alaska or islands that have experienced crippling devastation due to hurricanes,” said Darbali-Zamora. “Adding wind as a distributed energy source, we are potentially solving some big challenges that are faced regarding the utilization of microgrid technology.”

    Faster research through innovation

    By using the resources available at the Distributed Energy Technologies Laboratory, researchers will be able to exactly replicate wind, weather and load demand conditions at the Texas site, according to Naughton.

    3
    The scaled down turbine motor is connected to software that will allow the Sandia National Laboratories team to emulate a variety of conditions and tackle the challenges of using wind power as part of a microgrid for remote communities. Credit: Bret Latter.

    “Because the Distributed Energy Technologies Lab is so configurable, we’re able to conduct tests and simulations that are not feasible or safe to do on the actual electric grid or that we might have to wait days or weeks for conditions to be right at the wind farm site,” said Naughton. “Just like the lab can simulate weather and load conditions for solar photovoltaics and battery testing, we can now do the same thing for wind generation.”

    The emulator consists of a scaled-down wind turbine motor and uses much of the same hardware and software that control actual turbines. The motor is connected to the lab’s emulator system, allowing researchers to operate the “virtual” turbine under different conditions, Naughton said.

    “Because we’ve created an emulator that is as close to the real thing as possible, we can rapidly and cost-effectively go from concept to a solution to the challenges communities and utilities face regarding distributed energy generation,” said Naughton. “We also believe that the research we’re going to be conducting will have an overall benefit to grid resilience and stability, which affects everyone.”

    Replicating West Texas wind in real-time simulations

    In the laboratory setting, a model mimicking the Texas wind farm site’s electrical distribution system is run in real-time, generating approximately 15 kilowatts of electricity. Power from the wind turbine emulator is introduced to the simulated wind farm, influencing its behavior. In turn, responses, such as voltage variations, affect the wind turbine emulator behavior. This also allows the emulator to interact with other physical devices inside the Distributed Energy Technologies Lab such as solar photovoltaic inverters and protection systems, said Sandia’s Jon Berg, with the Wind Energy Technology’s program.

    “Wind as strong as 25 meters per second interacting with the rotor blades is represented by a motor drive that we can program to duplicate how the rotor speed would respond,” said Berg. “The torque being created then causes the emulator to produce electricity, just like the actual turbine does, as the turbine control system commands the power converter and generator to resist the input torque.”

    Naughton, Darbali-Zamora and Berg all believe that the ability to apply different control schemes to the emulator and simulated environments in real time, will help identify obstacles that can arise during deployment in the field such as system communications latencies or other configuration challenges. Being able to address these in a real-time test environment will save time and money and increase efficiency of field deployment.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Sandia Campus.


    Sandia National Laboratory

    Sandia National Laboratories is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.



     
  • richardmitnick 10:01 am on January 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Capturing and converting carbon dioxide from power plant emissions., Carbon dioxide sequestration, , Electrochemical reactions, Energy, In a series of lab experiments the rate of the carbon conversion reaction nearly doubled., , , The new system produced two new potentially useful carbon compounds: acetone and acetate   

    From MIT: “Boosting the efficiency of carbon capture and conversion systems” 

    MIT News

    From MIT News

    January 25, 2021
    David L. Chandler

    1
    Dyes are used to reveal the concentration levels of carbon dioxide in the water. On the left side is a gas-attracting material, and the dye shows the carbon dioxide stays concentrated next to the catalyst. Credit: Varanasi Research Group.

    Systems for capturing and converting carbon dioxide from power plant emissions could be important tools for curbing climate change, but most are relatively inefficient and expensive. Now, researchers at MIT have developed a method that could significantly boost the performance of systems that use catalytic surfaces to enhance the rates of carbon-sequestering electrochemical reactions.

    Such catalytic systems are an attractive option for carbon capture because they can produce useful, valuable products, such as transportation fuels or chemical feedstocks. This output can help to subsidize the process, offsetting the costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    In these systems, typically a stream of gas containing carbon dioxide passes through water to deliver carbon dioxide for the electrochemical reaction. The movement through water is sluggish, which slows the rate of conversion of the carbon dioxide. The new design ensures that the carbon dioxide stream stays concentrated in the water right next to the catalyst surface. This concentration, the researchers have shown, can nearly double the performance of the system.

    The results are described today in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science in a paper by MIT postdoc Sami Khan PhD ’19, who is now an assistant professor at Simon Fraser University, along with MIT professors of mechanical engineering Kripa Varanasi and Yang Shao-Horn, and recent graduate Jonathan Hwang PhD ’19.

    “Carbon dioxide sequestration is the challenge of our times,” Varanasi says. There are a number of approaches, including geological sequestration, ocean storage, mineralization, and chemical conversion. When it comes to making useful, saleable products out of this greenhouse gas, electrochemical conversion is particularly promising, but it still needs improvements to become economically viable. “The goal of our work was to understand what’s the big bottleneck in this process, and to improve or mitigate that bottleneck,” he says.

    The bottleneck turned out to involve the delivery of the carbon dioxide to the catalytic surface that promotes the desired chemical transformations, the researchers found. In these electrochemical systems, the stream of carbon dioxide-containing gases is mixed with water, either under pressure or by bubbling it through a container outfitted with electrodes of a catalyst material such as copper. A voltage is then applied to promote chemical reactions producing carbon compounds that can be transformed into fuels or other products.

    There are two challenges in such systems: The reaction can proceed so fast that it uses up the supply of carbon dioxide reaching the catalyst more quickly than it can be replenished; and if that happens, a competing reaction — the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen — can take over and sap much of the energy being put into the reaction.

    Previous efforts to optimize these reactions by texturing the catalyst surfaces to increase the surface area for reactions had failed to deliver on their expectations, because the carbon dioxide supply to the surface couldn’t keep up with the increased reaction rate, thereby switching to hydrogen production over time.

    The researchers addressed these problems through the use of a gas-attracting surface placed in close proximity to the catalyst material. This material is a specially textured “gasphilic,” superhydrophobic material that repels water but allows a smooth layer of gas called a plastron to stay close along its surface. It keeps the incoming flow of carbon dioxide right up against the catalyst so that the desired carbon dioxide conversion reactions can be maximized.

    2
    On the left, a bubble strikes a specially textured gas-attracting surface, and spreads out across the surface, while on the right a bubble strikes an untreated surface and just bounces away. The treated surface is used in the new work to keep the carbon dioxide close to a catalyst. Credit: Varanasi Research Group.

    By using dye-based pH indicators, the researchers were able to visualize carbon dioxide concentration gradients in the test cell and show that the enhanced concentration of carbon dioxide emanates from the plastron.

    3
    Here, dyes are used to reveal the concentration levels of carbon dioxide in the water. Green shows areas where the carbon dioxide is more concentrated, and blue shows areas where it is depleted. The green region at left shows the carbon dioxide staying concentrated next to the catalyst, thanks to the gas-attracting material. Credit: Varanasi Research Group.

    In a series of lab experiments using this setup, the rate of the carbon conversion reaction nearly doubled. It was also sustained over time, whereas in previous experiments the reaction quickly faded out. The system produced high rates of ethylene, propanol, and ethanol — a potential automotive fuel. Meanwhile, the competing hydrogen evolution was sharply curtailed. Although the new work makes it possible to fine-tune the system to produce the desired mix of product, in some applications, optimizing for hydrogen production as a fuel might be the desired result, which can also be done.

    “The important metric is selectivity,” Khan says, referring to the ability to generate valuable compounds that will be produced by a given mix of materials, textures, and voltages, and to adjust the configuration according to the desired output.

    By concentrating the carbon dioxide next to the catalyst surface, the new system also produced two new potentially useful carbon compounds, acetone, and acetate, that had not previously been detected in any such electrochemical systems at appreciable rates.

    In this initial laboratory work, a single strip of the hydrophobic, gas-attracting material was placed next to a single copper electrode, but in future work a practical device might be made using a dense set of interleaved pairs of plates, Varanasi suggests.

    Compared to previous work on electrochemical carbon reduction with nanostructure catalysts, Varanasi says, “we significantly outperform them all, because even though it’s the same catalyst, it’s how we are delivering the carbon dioxide that changes the game.”

    “This is a completely innovative way of feeding carbon dioxide into an electrolyzer,” says Ifan Stephens, a professor of materials engineering at Imperial College London, who was not connected to this research. “The authors translate fluid mechanics concepts used in the oil and gas industry to electrolytic fuel production. I think this kind of cross-fertilization from different fields is very exciting.”

    Stephens adds, “Carbon dioxide reduction has a great potential as a way of making platform chemicals, such as ethylene, from waste electricity, water, and carbon dioxide. Ethylene is currently formed by cracking long chain hydrocarbons from fossil fuels; its production emits copious amounts of carbon dioxide​ to the atmosphere. This method could potentially lead to more efficient carbon dioxide​ reduction, which could eventually move our society away from our current reliance on fossil fuels.”

    See the full article here .


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    The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

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  • richardmitnick 12:27 pm on December 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "An Ambitious Climate Modeling Project Hopes To Inform Energy Policy", , Energy, , Open Energy Outlook   

    From North Carolina State University: “An Ambitious Climate Modeling Project Hopes To Inform Energy Policy” 

    NC State bloc

    From North Carolina State University

    December 7, 2020
    Matt Shipman

    1
    Credit: NASA.

    Climate change poses significant challenges for policymakers, whether their focus is on national defense or agriculture. But it raises particularly thorny questions related to energy policy. Where should we focus our efforts in order to limit the effects of climate change while still providing reliable energy to users? Where should we invest our infrastructure dollars?

    The answers to these policy questions will obviously affect the near-term future of the energy system in the United States, which encompasses everything from power generation to transportation, fuel supply and manufacturing. But these policy decisions will also shape the course of global climate change for generations. That makes it critical for policymakers to make informed decisions. What results might a given policy have? What would happen if they invest in Option A instead of Option B?

    Computational models can project the likely outcomes associated with various policy decisions. But these models – and the information that goes into them – have their own limitations. And it is important for these tools to be well-studied in order to give policymakers the best possible information about the likely impact of different policies.

    An international team of researchers from a range of disciplines has launched a project called the Open Energy Outlook that aims to address these challenges. To raise the visibility of their effort, the researchers recently published an open access article in the journal Joule. The paper describes the benefits of distributed and collaborative energy modeling teams, which is the approach Open Energy Outlook is taking. To learn more, we spoke with Joe DeCarolis, co-founder of Open Energy Outlook and a professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at NC State.

    The Abstract: Broadly speaking, what is the Open Energy Outlook project hoping to accomplish?

    Joe DeCarolis: The ultimate goal of the Open Energy Outlook is to inform U.S. energy and climate policy efforts aimed at reducing carbon emissions. To do so, we plan to utilize computer models to rigorously examine technology pathways that reduce or eliminate carbon emissions across the whole U.S. energy system. A novel feature of our effort is a focus on models, tools, and datasets that are all open source and thus freely available to the public. With this transparent approach to modeling, we hope to build a community of scholars around this effort.

    TA: Can you lay out what modeling means in this context? How it’s used, and how it might be used?

    DeCarolis: We don’t have a way to run real-world experiments on the global energy system, so we use computer models to project the deployment and utilization of energy technologies across the energy system under different future scenarios. By examining similarities and differences across many different scenarios, we can derive insights that can inform policy.

    Climate scientists tell us the increase in global average temperature change should be limited to a maximum of 1.5-2 degrees Celsius relative to the pre-industrial era. In order to meet that target, we need to achieve net neutral carbon emissions from the global energy system sometime around the middle of this century. How are we going to meet this massive challenge? We can extrapolate existing market trends into the near future without formal models. For example, we can expect to see higher deployments of wind, solar and battery storage, along with increasing electrification across the energy system, including battery electric vehicles. But there’s a big gap between these short-term expectations and the end-game of carbon neutral energy systems. That’s where the models come in handy – they help us explore detailed future pathways that get us to zero emissions.

    As an example, electricity systems with a high share of renewables will need to be able to store energy for a long time, since there’s a lot of variability in energy production from season to season. That is well beyond the short-term duration (i.e., 2-8 hours) provided by lithium-ion batteries.

    One option for addressing this challenge would be to electrolyze water to make hydrogen, which we can store in large amounts. But then we’d need to use hydrogen directly as fuel, or cost-effectively convert it back into electricity or into other fuels for use across the energy system.

    Another option might involve a high share of nuclear power generation in the electric sector, which doesn’t require storage. That would have to be coupled with a high degree of electrification across the transportation, building and industrial sectors. We can run energy system models under different assumptions to observe how these different options affect energy technology deployment, cost and carbon emissions.

    2
    Credit: Jake Blucker.

    TA: And this type of modeling is your area of expertise, right?

    DeCarolis: Yes. My research focuses on the development and application of energy system models. At NC State, our team developed Tools for Energy Model Optimization and Analysis (Temoa), an open source energy system model. We developed Temoa for two reasons. First, we wanted to enable repeatable analysis. Anyone should be able to download our source code and data and replicate published results – it’s a fundamental tenet of science. Second, the model is designed to perform different types of sensitivity and uncertainty analysis. This aspect is crucially important, as future uncertainty in the energy space is very large, and we need to take it into account when thinking long-term about policy, technology deployment, emissions, and costs. Temoa is serving as the key model underpinning the Open Energy Outlook.

    [Editor’s Note: You can learn more about the Temoa model here: https://temoacloud.com/. Also, DeCarolis recently gave a talk on energy modeling, high performance computing and the Open Energy Outlook, which you can view online here: https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/events/energy-systems-modeling-high-performance-computing-resources.%5D

    TA: Why is modeling so important when it comes to discussions about climate and energy policy?

    DeCarolis: As I mentioned, we will need to fundamentally transform the global energy system over the next few decades to reach net zero carbon emissions. Achieving such an unprecedented goal requires an aggressive, coordinated effort across all sectors of the economy. Furthermore, energy infrastructure – including refineries, pipelines, power plants, transmission lines, buildings – is expensive and long-lived. Once such units are constructed, they often operate for decades. So investments being made right now affect our ability to achieve zero emissions in 2050 or 2060. Collectively, these investment decisions can also create path dependencies, whereby the infrastructure we develop today begets infrastructure of a similar type in the future. For example, a focus on utilizing cheap natural gas may make economic sense today, but the drilling platforms, pipelines, turbines and other infrastructure related to natural gas will be around for a long time, and may inhibit the transition to alternative forms of energy.

    Energy system models are useful because they allow analysts to let the system play out over the next several decades under different assumptions. They help us see more clearly how these short-term investment decisions affect our long-term goals, and how the properly designed policies can put us on the right path.

    TA: How does the Open Energy Outlook fit into this?

    DeCarolis: Within the United States, many of these modeling efforts are performed by government agencies and laboratories. For example, the Energy Information Administration uses the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) to produce the Annual Energy Outlook, which is regarded as the official mid-term energy outlook of the U.S. government. However, NEMS was designed to look at perturbations to a baseline, not the fundamental structural changes required to dramatically reduce or eliminate carbon emissions from the U.S. energy system. There are several other U.S. modeling efforts, but in general they: do not model the transition to net zero carbon emissions; lack critical detail regarding energy system expansion and operation; or are not open source and thus cannot be carefully scrutinized. The Open Energy Outlook is designed to help fill this gap, with the resulting analysis used to inform future policy.

    But our ambitions extend beyond this outcome-focused goal. We also want to change the approach to energy system modeling.

    First, we want to maximize transparency in our effort. A prerequisite for transparency is open source code and data, but transparency demands more than that. It requires careful documentation of the model and input data, with a narrative that clearly outlines key assumptions and caveats.

    Second, we want to develop a community around the effort. The boundaries around the energy systems we are trying to model – in space, time and the complex dynamics underlying energy system development – are extremely broad. These models not only try to incorporate physical and economic principles, but also consider how humans make decisions about energy infrastructure. We need a community of scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds and domain expertise to weigh in on these important issues as they pertain to the modeling analysis.

    TA: So, the recent piece in the journal Joule is what? A call to arms? What are you hoping will come from it?

    DeCarolis: The Joule piece is focused on the model development process. Historically, the type of modeling work we’re doing for the Open Energy Outlook would take place within the walls of a single institution. There are a couple of limitations with such an approach: there might be limited expertise to address the myriad challenges in energy system modeling, and some of the most long-lived and well-established modeling efforts are conducted by government agencies or intergovernmental organizations that may have limited scope or are subject to political considerations.

    During our first Open Energy Outlook workshop this past January, we realized that our modeling team – approximately 35 experts with diverse expertise across two dozen institutions – represents a new kind of distributed effort aimed at performing model-based analysis. To be fair, there are already distributed modeling efforts in Europe, but they often involve large multi-institutional teams and are well-funded by the European Union.

    In our case, we’re trying to create a new distributed effort from the bottom-up with limited funding. All the elements now exist to do this. We are utilizing open source models and data, allowing us to work collaboratively without any concern over intellectual property. And we have all the tools we need to coordinate the analysis: distributed software revision control systems, communication platforms, video-conference capabilities, and social media to push our messaging and seek feedback from the broader community of modelers and analysts. We think our distributed effort can serve as blueprint for other efforts. In the long run, using the tools at our fingertips can lead to more inclusive modeling efforts by including folks who normally wouldn’t be involved in energy system modeling.

    TA: What is the Open Energy Outlook group working on at present?

    DeCarolis: We’re currently in the process of building the large input dataset that will be used to conduct analysis. When complete, the database will include a detailed representation of U.S. fuel supply, electricity, transport, buildings and industry. A preliminary version of the database is already available in our GitHub repository: https://github.com/TemoaProject/oeo. In addition to the eventual report we plan to produce, we hope the input database and associated documentation will serve as an important resource for other modelers and researchers. We plan to have a complete version of the input database and documentation ready in the next few months.

    TA: What’s next for the Open Energy Outlook team?

    DeCarolis: The full team will reconvene virtually early in the new year and start planning for the first edition of the Open Energy Outlook report, which will be released in early 2022. For folks who might be interested, they can join our public mailing list (https://oeo.groups.io/g/main) and check our website (https://openenergyoutlook.org/). We welcome feedback and contributions to this effort.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    NC State campus

    NC State was founded with a purpose: to create economic, societal and intellectual prosperity for the people of North Carolina and the country. We began as a land-grant institution teaching the agricultural and mechanical arts. Today, we’re a pre-eminent research enterprise that excels in science, technology, engineering, math, design, the humanities and social sciences, textiles and veterinary medicine.

    NC State students, faculty and staff take problems in hand and work with industry, government and nonprofit partners to solve them. Our 34,000-plus high-performing students apply what they learn in the real world by conducting research, working in internships and co-ops, and performing acts of world-changing service. That experiential education ensures they leave here ready to lead the workforce, confident in the knowledge that NC State consistently rates as one of the best values in higher education.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:08 am on October 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Yogesh Surendranath wants to decarbonize our energy systems", , , , Energy,   

    From MIT: “Yogesh Surendranath wants to decarbonize our energy systems” 

    MIT News

    From MIT News

    October 23, 2020
    Anne Trafton

    1
    MIT chemistry professor Yogesh Surendranath joined the MIT faculty in 2013. “One of the most attractive features of the department is its balanced composition of early career and senior faculty. This has created a nurturing and vibrant atmosphere that is highly collaborative,” he says. “But more than anything else, it was the phenomenal students at MIT that drew me back. Their intensity and enthusiasm is what drives the science.” Credit: Gretchen Ertl.

    By developing novel electrochemical reactions, he hopes to find new ways to generate energy and reduce greenhouse gases.

    Electricity plays many roles in our lives, from lighting our homes to powering the technology and appliances we rely on every day. Electricity can also have a major impact at the molecular scale, by powering chemical reactions that generate useful products.

    Working at that molecular level, MIT chemistry professor Yogesh Surendranath harnesses electricity to rearrange chemical bonds. The electrochemical reactions he is developing hold potential for processes such as splitting water into hydrogen fuel, creating more efficient fuel cells, and converting waste products like carbon dioxide into useful fuels.

    “All of our research is about decarbonizing the energy ecosystem,” says Surendranath, who recently earned tenure in MIT’s Department of Chemistry and serves as the associate director of the Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage Center, one of the Low-Carbon Energy Centers run by the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI).

    Although his work has many applications in improving energy efficiency, most of the research projects in Surendranath’s group have grown out of the lab’s fundamental interest in exploring, at a molecular level, the chemical reactions that occur between the surface of an electrode and a liquid.

    “Our goal is to uncover the key rate-limiting processes and the key steps in the reaction mechanism that give rise to one product over another, so that we can, in a rational way, control a material’s properties so that it can most selectively and efficiently carry out the overall reaction,” he says.

    Energy conversion

    Born in Bangalore, India, Surendranath moved to Kent, Ohio, with his parents when he was 3 years old. Bangalore and Kent happen to have the world’s leading centers for studying liquid crystal materials, the field that Surendranath’s father, an organic chemist, specialized in.

    “My dad would often take me to the laboratory, and although my parents encouraged me to pursue medicine, I think my interest in science and chemistry probably was sparked at an early age, by those experiences,” Surendranath recalls.

    Although he was interested in all of the sciences, he narrowed his focus after taking his first college chemistry class at the University of Virginia, with a professor named Dean Harman. He decided on a double major in chemistry and physics and ended up doing research in Harman’s inorganic chemistry lab.

    After graduating from UVA, Surendranath came to MIT for graduate school, where his thesis advisor was then-MIT professor Daniel Nocera. With Nocera, he explored using electricity to split water as a way of renewably generating hydrogen. Surendranath’s PhD research focused on developing methods to catalyze the half of the reaction that extracts oxygen gas from water.

    He got even more involved in catalyst development while doing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley. There, he became interested in nanomaterials and the reactions that occur at the interfaces between solid catalysts and liquids.

    “That interface is where a lot of the key processes that are involved in energy conversion occur in electrochemical technologies like batteries, electrolyzers, and fuel cells,” he says.

    In 2013, Surendranath returned to MIT to join the faculty, at a time when many other junior faculty members were being hired.

    “One of the most attractive features of the department is its balanced composition of early career and senior faculty. This has created a nurturing and vibrant atmosphere that is highly collaborative,” he says. “But more than anything else, it was the phenomenal students at MIT that drew me back. Their intensity and enthusiasm is what drives the science.”

    Fuel decarbonization

    Among the many electrochemical reactions that Surendranath’s lab is trying to optimize is the conversion of carbon dioxide to simple chemical fuels such as carbon monoxide, ethylene, or other hydrocarbons. Another project focuses on converting methane that is burned off from oil wells into liquid fuels such as methanol.

    “For both of those areas, the idea is to convert carbon dioxide and low-carbon feedstocks into commodity chemicals and fuels. These technologies are essential for decarbonizing the chemistry and fuels sector,” Surendranath says.

    Other projects include improving the efficiency of catalysts used for water electrolysis and fuel cells, and for producing hydrogen peroxide (a versatile disinfectant). Many of those projects have grown out of his students’ eagerness to chase after difficult problems and follow up on unexpected findings, Surendranath says.

    “The true joy of my time here, in addition to the science, has been about seeing students that I’ve mentored grow and mature to become independent scientists and thought leaders, and then to go off and launch their own independent careers, whether it be in industry or in academia,” he says. “That role as a mentor to the next generation of scientists in my field has been extraordinarily rewarding.”

    Although they take their work seriously, Surendranath and his students like to keep the mood light in their lab. He often brings mangoes, coconuts, and other exotic fruits in to share, and enjoys flying stunt kites — a type of kite that has multiple lines, allowing them to perform acrobatic maneuvers such as figure eights. He can also occasionally be seen making balloon animals or blowing extremely large soap bubbles.

    “My group has really cultivated an extraordinarily positive, collaborative, uplifting environment where we go after really hard problems, and we have a lot of fun along the way,” Surendranath says. “I feel blessed to work with people who have invested so much in the research effort and have built a culture that is such a pleasure to work in every day.”

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    MIT Seal

    The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

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  • richardmitnick 9:18 am on October 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Groundbreaking research into solar energy technology develops through new EU-project", , , , Energy,   

    From Chalmers University of Technology SE: “Groundbreaking research into solar energy technology develops through new EU-project” 

    From Chalmers University of Technology SE

    Oct 05, 2020

    Johanna Wilde
    Press officer
    +46-31-772 2029
    johanna.wilde@chalmers.se

    1
    The specially designed molecule and energy system by the researchers from Chalmers has demonstrated unique abilities to catch and store solar energy. The image to the right shows a tube with the catalyst inside, in front of a vacuum set-up used to measure the rise of the temperature in the energy storage system. Credit: Yen Strandqvist/Johan Bodell/Chalmers University of Technology SE.

    Over the last few years, a specially designed molecule and an energy system with unique abilities for capturing and storing solar power have been developed by a group of researchers from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. Now, an EU project led by Chalmers will develop prototypes of the new technology for larger scale applications, such as heating systems in residential houses. The project has been granted 4.3 million Euros from the EU.

    In order to make full use of solar energy, we need to be able to store and release it on demand. In several scientific articles over the last few years, a group of researchers from Chalmers University of Technology have demonstrated how their specially designed molecule and solar energy system, named MOST (Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage System), can offer a solution to that challenge and become a vital tool in the conversion to fossil-free energy.

    The technology has generated great interest worldwide. With the , solar energy can be captured, stored for up to 18 years, transported without any major losses, and later released as heat when and where it is needed. The results achieved in the lab by the researchers are clear, but now more experience is needed to see how MOST can be used in real applications and at a larger scale.

    “The goal for this EU-project is to develop prototypes of MOST technology to verify potential for large-scale production, and to improve functionality of the system,” says Kasper Moth-Poulsen, coordinator of the project, and Professor and research leader at the Department for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Chalmers.

    Pushing towards products for real applications

    Within the project, the technology will be developed to become more efficient, less expensive and greener, thereby pushing towards products that can be used for real applications. Strong research teams from universities and institutes in Sweden, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany will connect and work together.

    “A very exciting aspect of the project is how we are combining excellent interdisciplinary research in molecule design along with knowledge in hybrid technology for energy capture, heat-release and low-energy building design,” says Kasper Moth-Poulsen.

    Using the molecule in blinds and windows

    Advances in the development of MOST technology have so far exceeded all expectations. The first, very simple – yet successful – demonstrations took place in Chalmers’ laboratories. Among other things, the researchers used the technology in a window film to even out the temperature on sunny and hot days and create a more pleasant indoor climate. Outside the EU project, application of the molecule in blinds and windows has begun, through the spin-off company Solartes AB.

    “With this funding, the development we can now do in the MOST project may lead to new solar driven and emissions-free solutions for heating in residential and industrial applications. This project is heading into a very important and exciting stage,” says Kasper Moth-Poulsen.

    More about: The EU project

    The EU project, which is also named Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage Systems, will extend over 3.5 years and has been allocated 4.3 million Euros. Partners in the project Include: Chalmers University of Technology, University of Copenhagen, University of Rioja, Fraunhofer Institute, ZAE Bayern and Johnson Matthey. At Chalmers, researchers from the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering will participate.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Chalmers University of Technology SE (Swedish: Chalmers tekniska högskola, often shortened to Chalmers) is a Swedish university located in Gothenburg that focuses on research and education in technology, natural science, architecture, maritime and other management areas

    The University was founded in 1829 following a donation by William Chalmers, a director of the Swedish East India Company. He donated part of his fortune for the establishment of an “industrial school”. Chalmers was run as a private institution until 1937, when the institute became a state-owned university. In 1994, the school was incorporated as an aktiebolag under the control of the Swedish Government, the faculty and the Student Union. Chalmers is one of only three universities in Sweden which are named after a person, the other two being Karolinska Institutet and Linnaeus University.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:51 pm on August 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Solar Panels Are Starting to Die Leaving Behind Toxic Trash", , , Energy,   

    From WIRED: “Solar Panels Are Starting to Die, Leaving Behind Toxic Trash” 


    From WIRED

    08.22.2020
    Maddie Stone

    Photovoltaic panels are a boon for clean energy but are tricky to recycle. As the oldest ones expire, get ready for a solar e-waste glut.

    1
    Photograph: Richard Newstead/Getty Images.

    Solar panels are an increasingly important source of renewable power that will play an essential role in fighting climate change. They are also complex pieces of technology that become big, bulky sheets of electronic waste at the end of their lives—and right now, most of the world doesn’t have a plan for dealing with that.

    But we’ll need to develop one soon, because the solar e-waste glut is coming. By 2050, the International Renewable Energy Agency projects that up to 78 million metric tons of solar panels will have reached the end of their life, and that the world will be generating about 6 million metric tons of new solar e-waste annually. While the latter number is a small fraction of the total e-waste humanity produces each year, standard electronics recycling methods don’t cut it for solar panels. Recovering the most valuable materials from one, including silver and silicon, requires bespoke recycling solutions. And if we fail to develop those solutions along with policies that support their widespread adoption, we already know what will happen.

    “If we don’t mandate recycling, many of the modules will go to landfill,” said Arizona State University solar researcher Meng Tao, who recently authored a review paper [Progress in Voltaics] on recycling silicon solar panels, which comprise 95 percent of the solar market.

    Solar panels are composed of photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert sunlight to electricity. When these panels enter landfills, valuable resources go to waste. And because solar panels contain toxic materials like lead that can leach out as they break down, landfilling also creates new environmental hazards.

    Most solar manufacturers claim their panels will last for about 25 years, and the world didn’t start deploying solar widely until the early 2000s. As a result, a fairly small number of panels are being decommissioned today. PV Cycle, a nonprofit dedicated to solar panel take-back and recycling, collects several thousand tons of solar e-waste across the European Union each year, according to director Jan Clyncke. That figure includes solar panels that have reached the end of their life but also those that were decommissioned early because they were damaged during a storm, had some sort of manufacturing defect, or got replaced with a newer, more efficient model.

    When solar panels reach their end of their life today, they face a few possible fates. Under EU law, producers are required to ensure their solar panels are recycled properly. In Japan, India, and Australia, recycling requirements are in the works. In the United States, it’s the Wild West: With the exception of a state law in Washington, the US has no solar recycling mandates whatsoever. Voluntary, industry-led recycling efforts are limited in scope. “Right now, we’re pretty confident the number is around 10 percent of solar panels recycled,” said Sam Vanderhoof, the CEO of Recycle PV Solar, one of the only US companies dedicated to PV recycling. The rest, he says, go to landfills or are exported overseas for reuse in developing countries with weak environmental protections.

    Even when recycling happens, there’s a lot of room for improvement. A solar panel is essentially an electronic sandwich. The filling is a thin layer of crystalline silicon cells, which are insulated and protected from the elements on both sides by sheets of polymers and glass. It’s all held together in an aluminum frame. On the back of the panel, a junction box contains copper wiring that channels electricity away as it’s being generated.

    At a typical e-waste facility, this high-tech sandwich will be treated crudely. Recyclers often take off the panel’s frame and its junction box to recover the aluminum and copper, then shred the rest of the module, including the glass, polymers, and silicon cells, which get coated in a silver electrode and soldered using tin and lead. (Because the vast majority of that mixture by weight is glass, the resultant product is considered an impure, crushed glass.) Tao and his colleagues estimate that a recycler taking apart a standard 60-cell silicon panel can get about $3 for the recovered aluminum, copper, and glass. Vanderhoof, meanwhile, says that the cost of recycling that panel in the US is between $12 and $25—after transportation costs, which “oftentimes equal the cost to recycle.” At the same time, in states that allow it, it typically costs less than a dollar to dump a solar panel in a solid-waste landfill.

    “We believe the big blind spot in the US for recycling is that the cost far exceeds the revenue,” Meng said. “It’s on the order of a 10-to-1 ratio.”

    If a solar panel’s more valuable components—namely, the silicon and silver—could be separated and purified efficiently, that could improve that cost-to-revenue ratio. A small number of dedicated solar PV recyclers are trying to do this. Veolia, which runs the world’s only commercial-scale silicon PV recycling plant in France, shreds and grinds up panels and then uses an optical technique to recover low-purity silicon. According to Vanderhoof, Recycle PV Solar initially used a “heat process and a ball mill process” that could recapture more than 90 percent of the materials present in a panel, including low-purity silver and silicon. But the company recently received some new equipment from its European partners that can do “95 plus percent recapture,” he said, while separating the recaptured materials much better.

    Some PV researchers want to do even better than that. In another recent review paper, a team led by National Renewable Energy Laboratory scientists calls for the development of new recycling processes in which all metals and minerals are recovered at high purity, with the goal of making recycling as economically viable and as environmentally beneficial as possible. As lead study author Garvin Heath explains, such processes might include using heat or chemical treatments to separate the glass from the silicon cells, followed by the application of other chemical or electrical techniques to separate and purify the silicon and various trace metals.

    “What we call for is what we name a high-value, integrated recycling system,” Heath told Grist. “High-value means we want to recover all the constituent materials that have value from these modules. Integrated refers to a recycling process that can go after all of these materials, and not have to cascade from one recycler to the next.”

    In addition to developing better recycling methods, the solar industry should be thinking about how to repurpose panels whenever possible, since used solar panels are likely to fetch a higher price than the metals and minerals inside them (and since reuse generally requires less energy than recycling). As is the case with recycling, the EU is out in front on this: Through its Circular Business Models for the Solar Power Industry program, the European Commission is funding a range of demonstration projects showing how solar panels from rooftops and solar farms can be repurposed, including for powering ebike charging stations in Berlin and housing complexes in Belgium.

    Recycle PV Solar also recertifies and resells good-condition panels it receives, which Vanderhoof says helps offset the cost of recycling. However, both he and Tao are concerned that various US recyclers are selling second-hand solar panels with low quality control overseas to developing countries. “And those countries typically don’t have regulations for electronics waste,” Tao said. “So eventually, you’re dumping your problem on a poor country.”

    For the solar recycling industry to grow sustainably, it will ultimately need supportive policies and regulations. The EU model of having producers finance the take-back and recycling of solar panels might be a good one for the U.S. to emulate. But before that’s going to happen, US lawmakers need to recognize that the problem exists and is only getting bigger, which is why Vanderhoof spends a great deal of time educating them.

    “We need to face the fact that solar panels do fail over time, and there’s a lot of them out there,” he said. “And what do we do when they start to fail? It’s not right throwing that responsibility on the consumer, and that’s where we’re at right now.”

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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  • richardmitnick 11:53 am on August 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Storing energy in red bricks", A coating of the conducting polymer PEDOT which is comprised of nanofibers that penetrate the inner porous network of a brick., A polymer coating remains trapped in a brick and serves as an ion sponge that stores and conducts electricity., Advantageously a brick wall serving as a supercapacitor can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times within an hour., , , Energy, How to convert red bricks into a type of energy storage device called a supercapacitor., If you connect a couple of bricks microelectronics sensors would be easily powered., The red pigment in bricks — iron oxide- or rust — is essential for triggering the polymerisation reaction.,   

    From Washington University in St.Louis: “Storing energy in red bricks” 

    Wash U Bloc

    From Washington University in St.Louis

    August 11, 2020
    Talia Ogliore
    talia.ogliore@wustl.edu

    1
    Red brick device developed by chemists at Washington University in St. Louis lights up a green light-emitting diode. The photo shows the core-shell architecture of a nanofibrillar PEDOT-coated brick electrode. Credit: D’Arcy laboratory, Department of Chemistry, Washington University in St. Louis.

    Imagine plugging in to your brick house.

    Red bricks — some of the world’s cheapest and most familiar building materials — can be converted into energy storage units that can be charged to hold electricity, like a battery, according to new research from Washington University in St. Louis.

    Brick has been used in walls and buildings for thousands of years, but rarely has been found fit for any other use. Now, chemists in Arts & Sciences have developed a method to make or modify “smart bricks” that can store energy until required for powering devices. A proof-of-concept published Aug. 11 in Nature Communications (and pictured above) shows a brick directly powering a green LED light.

    “Our method works with regular brick or recycled bricks, and we can make our own bricks as well,” said Julio D’Arcy, assistant professor of chemistry. “As a matter of fact, the work that we have published in Nature Communications stems from bricks that we bought at Home Depot right here in Brentwood (Missouri); each brick was 65 cents.”

    Walls and buildings made of bricks already occupy large amounts of space, which could be better utilized if given an additional purpose for electrical storage. While some architects and designers have recognized the humble brick’s ability to absorb and store the sun’s heat, this is the first time anyone has tried using bricks as anything more than thermal mass for heating and cooling.

    D’Arcy and colleagues, including Washington University graduate student Hongmin Wang, first author of the new study, showed how to convert red bricks into a type of energy storage device called a supercapacitor.

    “In this work, we have developed a coating of the conducting polymer PEDOT, which is comprised of nanofibers that penetrate the inner porous network of a brick; a polymer coating remains trapped in a brick and serves as an ion sponge that stores and conducts electricity,” D’Arcy said.

    The red pigment in bricks — iron oxide, or rust — is essential for triggering the polymerisation reaction. The authors’ calculations suggest that walls made of these energy-storing bricks could store a substantial amount of energy.

    “PEDOT-coated bricks are ideal building blocks that can provide power to emergency lighting,” D’Arcy said. “We envision that this could be a reality when you connect our bricks with solar cells — this could take 50 bricks in close proximity to the load. These 50 bricks would enable powering emergency lighting for five hours.

    “Advantageously, a brick wall serving as a supercapacitor can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times within an hour. If you connect a couple of bricks, microelectronics sensors would be easily powered.”

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Wash U campus

    Washington University’s mission is to discover and disseminate knowledge, and protect the freedom of inquiry through research, teaching, and learning.

    Washington University creates an environment to encourage and support an ethos of wide-ranging exploration. Washington University’s faculty and staff strive to enhance the lives and livelihoods of students, the people of the greater St. Louis community, the country, and the world.

     
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