Tagged: Energy Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 10:35 am on August 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , At times renewable energy sources can produce more power than what is needed leaving some solar or wind energy to go to waste., , , Energy, Investing in batteries and other energy storage technologies to capture the excess can be economically viable with proper policy support., ,   

    From University of Michigan: “Investing in energy storage for solar, wind power could greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions” 

    U Michigan bloc

    From University of Michigan

    July 30, 2019
    Jim Erickson
    ericksn@umich.edu

    Written by Wendy Bowyer

    1

    Drive through nearly any corner of America long enough and giant solar farms or rows of wind turbines come into view, all with the goal of increasing the country’s renewable energy use and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    But what some may not realize is at times these renewable energy sources can produce more power than what is needed, leaving some solar or wind energy to, in a sense, go to waste. This oversupply condition is a lost opportunity for these clean energy resources to displace pollution from fossil fuel-powered plants.

    But by creating complex models analyzing power systems in California and Texas, University of Michigan scientists show in a study scheduled for online publication July 30 in Nature Communications, that investing in batteries and other energy storage technologies can be economically viable with proper policy support.

    That, in turn, could radically reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases—by up to 90% in one scenario examined by the researchers—and increase the use of solar and wind energy at a time when climate change takes on greater urgency.

    “The cost of energy storage is very important,” said study co-author Maryam Arbabzadeh, a postdoctoral fellow at U-M’s School for Environment and Sustainability. “But there are some incentives we could use to make it attractive economically, one being an emissions tax.”

    Arbabzadeh led the research in collaboration with colleagues at Ohio State University and North Carolina State University. Gregory Keoleian, director of U-M’s Center for Sustainable Systems, served as her adviser and one of the co-authors of the study.

    “Electricity generation accounts for 28% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and given the urgency of climate change it is critical to accelerate the deployment of renewable sources such as wind and solar,” said Keoleian, a professor of environment and sustainability and civil and environmental engineering.

    “This research clearly demonstrates how energy storage technologies can play an important role in reducing renewable curtailment and greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel power plants.”

    Arbabzadeh and her fellow researchers created complex models analyzing nine different energy storage technologies. They looked at the environmental effects of renewable curtailment, which is the amount of renewable energy generated but unable to be delivered to meet demand for a variety of reasons.

    They also modeled what would happen if each state would add up to 20 gigawatts of wind and 40 gigawatts of solar capacity, and how all of this would be impacted economically by a carbon dioxide tax of up to $200 per ton.

    What they found was striking.

    Adding 60 gigawatts of renewable energy to California could achieve a 72% carbon dioxide reduction. Then, by adding some energy storage technologies on top of that in California could allow a 90% carbon dioxide reduction. In Texas, energy storage could allow a 57% emissions reduction.

    But for all of this to happen, utility companies would need a reason to invest in energy storage systems, which require large amounts of capital investment. That is where the use of a carbon tax could be helpful, Arbabzadeh said.

    All nine of the energy storage technologies studied, including high-tech batteries, require a significant capital investment and all had different pros and cons. Also adding to the complexity of the research is the different type of generation mix in Texas and California.

    Texas uses some coal and natural gas-fired units. California uses more inflexible resources, like nuclear, geothermal, biomass and hydroelectric energy units, which make its renewable curtailment rates much higher than Texas.

    The work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program and the Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship Program.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please support STEM education in your local school system

    Stem Education Coalition

    U MIchigan Campus

    The University of Michigan (U-M, UM, UMich, or U of M), frequently referred to simply as Michigan, is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States. Originally, founded in 1817 in Detroit as the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania, 20 years before the Michigan Territory officially became a state, the University of Michigan is the state’s oldest university. The university moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres (16 ha) of what is now known as Central Campus. Since its establishment in Ann Arbor, the university campus has expanded to include more than 584 major buildings with a combined area of more than 34 million gross square feet (781 acres or 3.16 km²), and has two satellite campuses located in Flint and Dearborn. The University was one of the founding members of the Association of American Universities.

    Considered one of the foremost research universities in the United States,[7] the university has very high research activity and its comprehensive graduate program offers doctoral degrees in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as well as professional degrees in business, medicine, law, pharmacy, nursing, social work and dentistry. Michigan’s body of living alumni (as of 2012) comprises more than 500,000. Besides academic life, Michigan’s athletic teams compete in Division I of the NCAA and are collectively known as the Wolverines. They are members of the Big Ten Conference.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:15 am on May 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "U of T research looks at how to take the ‘petro’ out of the petrochemicals industry", , , , Energy, Phil De Luna, Renewable electrosynthesis,   

    From University of Toronto: “U of T research looks at how to take the ‘petro’ out of the petrochemicals industry” Phil De Luna 

    U Toronto Bloc

    From University of Toronto

    1
    Phil De Luna is the lead author of an article in Science that analyzes how green electricity and carbon capture could displace fossil fuels in the production of everything from fertilizer to textiles (photo by Tyler Irving)

    April 30, 2019
    Tyler Irving

    Fossil fuels are the backbone of the global petrochemicals industry, which provides the world’s growing population with fuels, plastics, clothing, fertilizers and more. A new research paper, published last week in Science, charts a course for how an alternative technology – renewable electrosynthesis – could usher in a more sustainable chemical industry and ultimately enable us to leave much more oil and gas in the ground.

    Phil De Luna, a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, is the paper’s lead author. His research involved designing and testing catalysts for electrosynthesis, and last November he was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list of innovators in the category of Energy. He and his supervisor, Professor Ted Sargent, collaborated on the paper with an international team of researchers from Stanford University and TOTAL American Services, Inc.

    Writer Tyler Irving sat down with De Luna to learn more about how renewable electrosynthesis could take the “petro” out of petrochemicals.

    Can you describe the challenge you’re trying to solve?

    Our society is addicted to fossil fuels – they’re in everything from the plastics in your phone to the synthetic fibres in your clothes. A growing world population and rising standards of living are driving demand higher every year.

    Changing the system requires a massive global transformation. In some areas, we have alternatives – for example, electric vehicles can replace internal combustion engines. Renewable electrosynthesis could do something similar for the petrochemical industry.

    What is renewable electrosynthesis?

    Think about what the petrochemical industry does: It takes heavy, long-chain carbon molecules and uses high heat and pressure to break them down into basic chemical building blocks. Then, those building blocks get reassembled into plastics, fertilizers, fibres, etc.

    Imagine that instead of using fossil fuels, you could use CO2 from the air. And instead of doing the reactions at high temperatures and pressures, you could make the chemical building blocks at room temperature using innovative catalysts and electricity from renewable sources, such as solar or hydro power. That’s renewable electrosynthesis.

    Once we do that initial transformation, the chemical building blocks fit into our existing infrastructure, so there is no change in the quality of the products. If you do it right, the overall process is carbon neutral or even carbon negative if powered completely by renewable energy.

    Plants also take CO2 from the air and make it into materials such as wood, paper and cotton. What is the advantage of electrosynthesis?

    The advantages are speed and throughput. Plants are great at turning CO2 into materials, but they also use their energy for things like metabolism and reproduction, so they aren’t very efficient. It can take 10 to 15 years to grow a tonne of usable wood. Electrosynthesis would be like putting the CO2 capture and conversion power of 50,000 trees into a box the size of a refrigerator.

    Why don’t we do this today?

    It comes down to cost. You need to prove that the cost to make a chemical building block via electrosynthesis is on par with the cost of producing it the conventional way.

    Right now there are some limited applications. For example, most of the hydrogen used to upgrade heavy oil comes from natural gas, but about four per cent is now produced by electrolysis – that is, using electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. In the future, we could do something similar for carbon-based building blocks.

    What did your analysis find?

    We determined that there are two main factors: The first is the cost of electricity itself, and the second is the electrical-to-chemical conversion efficiency.

    In order to be competitive with conventional methods, electricity needs to cost less than four cents per kilowatt-hour, and the electrical-to-chemical conversion efficiency needs to be 60 per cent or greater.

    How close are we?

    There are some places in the world where renewable energy from solar can cost as little as two or three cents per kilowatt-hour. Even in a place like Quebec, which has abundant hydro power, there are times of the year where electricity is sold at negative prices, because there is no way to store it. So, from an economic potential perspective, I think we’re getting close in a number of important jurisdictions.

    Designing catalysts that can raise the electrical-to-chemical conversion efficiency is harder, and it’s what I spent my thesis doing. For ethylene, the best I’ve seen is about 35 per cent efficiency, but for some other building blocks, such as carbon monoxide, we’re approaching 50 per cent.

    Of course, all this has been done in labs – it’s a lot harder to scale that up to a plant that can make kilotonnes per day. But I think there are some applications out there that show promise.

    Can you give an example of what renewable electrosynthesis would look like?

    Let’s take ethylene, which is by volume the world’s most-produced petrochemical. You could in theory make ethylene using CO2 from the air – or from an exhaust pipe – using renewable electricity and the right catalyst. You could sell the ethylene to a plastic manufacturer, who would make it into plastic bags or lawn chairs or whatever.

    At the end of its life, you could incinerate this plastic – or any other carbon-intensive form of waste – capture the CO2, and start the process all over again. In other words, you’ve closed the carbon loop and eliminated the need for fossil fuels.

    What do you think the focus of future research should be?

    I’ve actually just taken a position as the program director of the clean energy materials challenge program at the National Research Council of Canada. I am building a $21 million collaborative research program, so this is something I think about a lot.

    We’re currently targeting parts of the existing petrochemical supply chain that could easily be converted to electrosynthesis. There is the example I mentioned above, which is the production of hydrogen for oil and gas upgrading using electrolysis.

    Another good building block to target would be carbon monoxide, which today is primarily produced from burning coal. We know how to make it via electrosynthesis, so if we could get the efficiency up, that would be a drop-in solution.

    How does renewable electrosynthesis fit into the large landscape of strategies to reduce emissions and combat climate change?

    I’ve always said that there’s no silver bullet. Instead, I think what we need is what I call a “silver buckshot” approach. We need recycled building materials, we need more efficient LEDs for lighting, we need better solar cells and better batteries.

    But even if emissions from the electricity grid and the transportation network dropped to zero tomorrow, it wouldn’t do anything to help the petrochemical industry that supplies so many of the products we use every day. If we can start by electrifying portions of the supply chain, that’s the first step to building an alternative system.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Founded in 1827, the University of Toronto has evolved into Canada’s leading institution of learning, discovery and knowledge creation. We are proud to be one of the world’s top research-intensive universities, driven to invent and innovate.

    Our students have the opportunity to learn from and work with preeminent thought leaders through our multidisciplinary network of teaching and research faculty, alumni and partners.

    The ideas, innovations and actions of more than 560,000 graduates continue to have a positive impact on the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:53 am on April 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Record solar hydrogen production with concentrated sunlight", , , , Energy, , LRESE-EPFL’s Laboratory of Renewable Energy Science and Engineering, The research team installed a 7-meter diameter parabolic mirror that concentrates solar irradiation by a factor of 1000 and drives the device. The first tests are under way.   

    From École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne: “Record solar hydrogen production with concentrated sunlight” 

    EPFL bloc

    From École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

    4.29.19
    Laure-Anne Pessina

    1
    Saurabh Tembhurne, Sophia Haussener and Fredy Nandjou© Marc Delachaux / 2019 EPFL

    EPFL researchers have created a smart device capable of producing large amounts of clean hydrogen. By concentrating sunlight, their device uses a smaller amount of the rare, costly materials that are required to produce hydrogen, yet it still maintains a high solar-to-fuel efficiency. Their research has been taken to the next scale with a pilot facility installed on the EPFL campus.

    Hydrogen will play a key role in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. It can be sustainably produced by using solar energy to split water molecules. The resulting clean energy can be stored, used to fuel cars or converted into electricity on demand. But making it reliably on a large scale and at an affordable cost is a challenge for researchers. Efficient solar hydrogen production requires rare and expensive materials – for both the solar cells and the catalyst – in order to collect energy and then convert it.

    Scientists at EPFL’s Laboratory of Renewable Energy Science and Engineering (LRESE) came up with the idea of concentrating solar irradiation to produce a larger amount of hydrogen over a given area at a lower cost. They developed an enhanced photo-electrochemical system that, when used in conjunction with concentrated solar irradiation and smart thermal management, can turn solar power into hydrogen with a 17% conversion rate and unprecedented power and current density. What’s more, their technology is stable and can handle the stochastic dynamics of daily solar irradiation.

    The results of their research have just been published in Nature Energy. “In our device, a thin layer of water runs over a solar cell to cool it. The system temperature remains relatively low, allowing the solar cell to deliver better performance,” says Saurabh Tembhurne, a co-author of the study. “At the same time, the heat extracted by the water is transferred to catalysts, thereby improving the chemical reaction and increasing the hydrogen production rate,” adds Fredy Nandjou, a researcher at the LRESE. Hydrogen production is therefore optimized at each step of the conversion process.

    The scientists used the LRESE’s unique solar simulator to demonstrate the stable performance of their device. The results from the lab-scale demonstrations were so promising that the device has been upscaled and is now being tested outdoors, on EPFL’s Lausanne campus. The research team installed a 7-meter diameter parabolic mirror that concentrates solar irradiation by a factor of 1,000 and drives the device. The first tests are under way.

    Hydrogen stations

    The scientists estimate that their system can run for over 30,000 hours – or nearly four years – without any part replacements, and up to 20 years if some parts are replaced every four years. Their solar concentrator turns and follows the sun across the sky in order to maximize its yield. Sophia Haussener, the head of the LRESE and the project lead, explains: “In sunny weather, our system can generate up to 1 kilogram of hydrogen per day, which is enough fuel for a hydrogen-powered car to travel 100 to 150 kilometers.”

    For distributed, large-scale hydrogen generation, several concentrator systems could be used together to produce hydrogen at chemical plants or for hydrogen stations. Tembhurne and Haussener are planning to take their technology from the lab to industry with a spin-off company called SoHHytec.

    Open source software

    Thanks to an open interface, it will be possible to monitor the instantaneous performance of the system.
    As part of their research, the scientists also performed a technological and economic feasibility study and developed an open-source software program called SPECDO (Solar PhotoElectroChemical Device Optimization, http://specdo.epfl.ch). This program can help engineers design components for low-cost photoelectrochemical systems for producing solar hydrogen. Additionally, they provided a dynamic benchmarking tool called SPECDC (Solar PhotoElectroChemical Device Comparison), for the comparison and assessment of all photoelectrochemical system demonstrations.
    Funding

    This research is being funded by the NanoTera project SHINE and the SNFS Starting Grant SCOUTS; the scale-up is being funded by SNSF-Bridge, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy and EPFL.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    EPFL campus

    EPFL is Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university. It receives students, professors and staff from over 120 nationalities. With both a Swiss and international calling, it is therefore guided by a constant wish to open up; its missions of teaching, research and partnership impact various circles: universities and engineering schools, developing and emerging countries, secondary schools and gymnasiums, industry and economy, political circles and the general public.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:12 pm on April 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "In quantum breakthrough scientists demonstrate ‘one-way street’ for energy flow", , , , Energy, ,   

    From University of Chicago: “In quantum breakthrough, scientists demonstrate ‘one-way street’ for energy flow” 

    U Chicago bloc

    From University of Chicago

    Apr 4, 2019
    A. A. Clerk

    1
    Copyright shutterstock.com

    In a new study, scientists found a method to create a controllable one-way channel for the flow of vibrational energy and heat.

    A basic rule in our lives is that if energy can flow in one direction, then it can also flow in the reverse direction. For example, if you open a window and yell at someone outside, you also can hear if they yell back. But what if there was a way to create a “one-way street” for mechanical energy that only allows heat and sound to flow in one direction?

    Finding new ways to break this basic symmetry has sparked the interest of scientists and engineers in recent years; such one-way streets could be extremely useful in applications ranging from quantum computing to cooling in electronics and devices.

    A breakthrough experiment involving researchers with the Institute for Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago and Yale University demonstrated that by using light to mediate the interaction between mechanical systems, they can create a controllable, one-way channel for the flow of vibrational energy and heat.

    The study, published April 3 in Nature, was based on an idea developed earlier by the University of Chicago team [Physical Review X] and proves that the basic theory works. It also shows that the ideas can be implemented in a simple, compact system that could be incorporated in new devices.

    2
    Schematic image of the experimental device. Credit: Jack Sankey

    “This is a really exciting resource that can be used in both classical and quantum contexts,” said study co-author Aashish Clerk, a professor in molecular engineering at the University of Chicago who developed the theory. “This research could open the door for many new studies.”

    Breaking symmetry by using light

    The principle that says energy and information exchange between two systems via a two-way street is known as “reciprocity,” and it is a fundamental rule in most physical systems. Breaking this symmetry is crucial in a number of different applications. For example, by preventing a backward flow of energy, one could protect a delicate signal source from corruption, or cool a system by preventing unwanted heating.

    It’s especially important in quantum computation, in which scientists harness quantum phenomena to enable powerful new kinds of information processing. Breaking this symmetry ensures delicate quantum processors are not destroyed during the readout process.

    In their experiment, researchers used a tiny vibrating membrane as the mechanical system. Much like a drumhead, this membrane could vibrate in several distinct ways, each with a distinct resonant frequency.

    The researchers’ goal was to engineer a one-way flow of energy between two of these vibrational modes. To do this, the membrane was placed in a structure called an optical cavity, with two parallel mirrors designed to trap light. By shining light on the cavity using lasers, the researchers were able to use light as a medium for transferring mechanical energy between two vibrational modes. When the lasers were tuned carefully (in a way predicted by Clerk’s theory), this transfer mechanism was completely directional.

    From theory to lab to the quantum level

    The experiment was based on basic theoretical concepts developed by Clerk and his former postdoc Anja Metelmann (now at the Freie University in Berlin).

    “You can come up with a lot of ideas that are exciting in terms of the basic theory and concepts, but often there is a gap between these abstract ideas and what you can actually build and realize in the lab,” Clerk said. “To me, it is exciting that our proposal was realized, and that the experimentalists had enough control over their system to make it work.”

    The approach used in the experiment to achieve a one-way interaction—mechanical vibrations interacting with light—could pave the way for designing new devices targeting a variety of applications, ranging from mitigating heat flow to new kinds of communication systems. These unusual one-way interactions also have interesting fundamental implications.

    As a theoretical physicist who focuses on quantum systems, Clerk is particularly interested in studying arrays where many quantum systems interact with one another in a unidirectional manner. This could be a powerful way to generate the unusual kinds of quantum states that are needed for quantum communication and quantum computation.

    Other authors on the paper include Jack Harris, Haitan Xu and Luyao Jiang of Yale University.

    Clerk is working with the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago to advance his discoveries.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Chicago Campus

    An intellectual destination

    One of the world’s premier academic and research institutions, the University of Chicago has driven new ways of thinking since our 1890 founding. Today, UChicago is an intellectual destination that draws inspired scholars to our Hyde Park and international campuses, keeping UChicago at the nexus of ideas that challenge and change the world.

    The University of Chicago is an urban research university that has driven new ways of thinking since 1890. Our commitment to free and open inquiry draws inspired scholars to our global campuses, where ideas are born that challenge and change the world.

    We empower individuals to challenge conventional thinking in pursuit of original ideas. Students in the College develop critical, analytic, and writing skills in our rigorous, interdisciplinary core curriculum. Through graduate programs, students test their ideas with UChicago scholars, and become the next generation of leaders in academia, industry, nonprofits, and government.

    UChicago research has led to such breakthroughs as discovering the link between cancer and genetics, establishing revolutionary theories of economics, and developing tools to produce reliably excellent urban schooling. We generate new insights for the benefit of present and future generations with our national and affiliated laboratories: Argonne National Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

    The University of Chicago is enriched by the city we call home. In partnership with our neighbors, we invest in Chicago’s mid-South Side across such areas as health, education, economic growth, and the arts. Together with our medical center, we are the largest private employer on the South Side.

    In all we do, we are driven to dig deeper, push further, and ask bigger questions—and to leverage our knowledge to enrich all human life. Our diverse and creative students and alumni drive innovation, lead international conversations, and make masterpieces. Alumni and faculty, lecturers and postdocs go on to become Nobel laureates, CEOs, university presidents, attorneys general, literary giants, and astronauts.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:20 pm on March 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Completely doing away with wind variability is next to impossible, Energy, , Google claims that Machine Learning and AI would indeed make wind power more predictable and hence more useful, Google has announced in its official blog post that it has enhanced the feasibility of wind energy by using AI software created by its UK subsidiary DeepMind, Google is working to make the algorithm more refined so that any discrepancy that might occur could be nullified, , , Unpredictability in delivering power at set time frame continues to remain a daunting challenge before the sector   

    From Geospatial World: “Google and DeepMind predict wind energy output using AI” 

    From Geospatial World

    03/04/2019
    Aditya Chaturvedi

    1
    Image Courtesy: Unsplash

    Google has announced in its official blog post that it has enhanced the feasibility of wind energy by using AI software created by its UK subsidiary DeepMind.

    Renewable energy is the way towards lowering carbon emissions and sustainability, so it is imperative that we focus on yielding optimum energy outputs from renewable energy.

    Renewable technologies will be at the forefront of climate change mitigation and addressing global warming, however, the complete potential is yet to be harnessed owing to a slew of obstructions. Wind energy has emerged as a crucial source of renewable energy in the past decade due to a decline in the cost of turbines that has led to the gradual mainstreaming of wind power. Though, unpredictability in delivering power at set time frame continues to remain a daunting challenge before the sector.

    Google and DeepMind project will change this forever by overcoming this limitation that has hobbled wind energy adoption.

    With the help of DeepMind’s Machine Learning algorithms, Google has been able to predict the wind energy output of the farms that it uses for its Green Energy initiatives.

    “DeepMind and Google started applying machine learning algorithms to 700 megawatts of wind power capacity in the central United States. These wind farms—part of Google’s global fleet of renewable energy projects—collectively generate as much electricity as is needed by a medium-sized city”, the blog says.

    Google is optimistic that it can accurately predict and schedule energy output, which certainly would have an upper hand over non-time based deliveries.

    3
    Image Courtesy: Google/ DeepMind

    Taking a neural network that makes uses of weather forecasts and turbine data history, DeepMind system has been configured to predict wind power output 36 hours in advance.

    Taking a cue from these predictions, the advanced model recommends the best possible method to fulfill, and even exceed, delivery commitments 24 hrs in advance. Its importance can be estimated from the fact that energy sources that deliver a particular amount of power over a defined period of time are usually more vulnerable to the grid.

    Google is working to make the algorithm more refined so that any discrepancy that might occur could be nullified. Till date, Google claims that Machine Learning algorithms have boosted wind energy generated by 20%, ‘compared to the to the baseline scenario of no time-based commitments to the grid’, the blog says.

    4
    Image Courtesy: Google

    Completely doing away with wind variability is next to impossible, but Google claims that Machine Learning and AI would indeed make wind power more predictable and hence more useful.

    This unique approach would surely open up new avenues and make wind farm data more reliable and precise. When the productivity of wind power farms in greatly increased and their output can be predicted as well as calculated, wind will have the capability to match conventional electricity sources.

    Google is hopeful that the power of Machine Learning and AI would boost the mass adoption of wind power and turn it into a popular alternative to traditional sources of electricity over the years.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    http://www.geospatialworld.net

    With an average of 55,000+ unique visitors per month, http://www.geospatialworld.net is easily the number one media portal in geospatial domain; and is a reliable source of information for professionals in 150+ countries. The website, which integrates text, graphics and video elements, is an interactive medium for geospatial industry stakeholders to connect through several innovative features, including news, videos, guest blogs, case studies, articles, interviews, business listings and events.

    600,000+ annual unique visitors

     
  • richardmitnick 2:43 pm on February 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "14-Year-Old Kid Has Reportedly Become The Youngest Person to Achieve Nuclear Fusion", , , Energy, , , The Open Source Fusor Research Consortium has also verified Oswalt's results   

    From Science Alert: “14-Year-Old Kid Has Reportedly Become The Youngest Person to Achieve Nuclear Fusion” 

    ScienceAlert

    From Science Alert

    22 FEB 2019
    CARLY CASSELLA

    1
    (Fox News)

    We might have a new contender for the youngest person to ever achieve nuclear fusion.

    Tennessee teenager Jackson Oswalt is not your average 14-year-old. While other kids are playing video games or watching TV, he’s been busy putting together a nuclear laboratory in an old playroom in his house.

    The budding nuclear engineer has been working on this project since he was 12, and on 19 January 2018, just hours before his 13th birthday, he reportedly achieved his mission.
    Using 50,000 volts of electricity, Oswalt was reportedly able to combine two atoms of deuterium gas, successfully fusing the nuclei in his reactor’s plasma core.

    2
    (Jackson Oswalt)

    After conducting some further tests over the following months, Oswalt became more convinced than ever that he had achieved fusion.

    “For those that haven’t seen my recent posts, it will come as a major surprise that I would even consider believing I had achieved fusion,” he wrote on the Fusor.net forum recently.

    “However, over the past month I have made an enormous amount of progress resulting from fixing major leaks in my system. I now have results that I believe to be worthy.”

    To be clear, these claims have not been peer reviewed as yet – until they’re replicated and the results are published in a peer-review journal, we need to take all of this with a very, very big grain of salt.

    But Oswalt is not the only one who thinks he’s been successful.

    The Open Source Fusor Research Consortium has also verified Oswalt’s results. According to Jason Hull, an administrator on the website, Oswalt has now been added to the hobbyist group’s list of successful fusioneers.

    “Good work. Nice system. You have put some money into this,” Hull wrote, applauding Oswalt’s work.

    He’s not wrong. While Oswalt’s nuclear reactor is considered a “tiny volume fusor”, setting it up in an old playroom in his parents’ house cost something like $10,000 (£7,700).

    What’s even crazier is that Oswalt isn’t the only young teen working on ambitious projects like this.

    If Oswalt’s results are peer-reviewed or verified by a scientific organisation, he will have officially ousted the former record holder, a 14-year-old named Taylor Wilson, as the youngest person to ever achieve nuclear fusion.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 11:04 am on February 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Energy, , Utilities are starting to invest in big batteries instead of building new power plants   

    From The Conversation: “Utilities are starting to invest in big batteries instead of building new power plants” 

    Conversation
    From The Conversation

    February 22, 2019
    Jeremiah Johnson
    Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering
    North Carolina State University

    Joseph F. DeCarolis
    Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering
    North Carolina State University

    1
    Utilities are starting to invest in big batteries instead of building new power plants. This is what a 5-megawatt, lithium-ion energy storage system looks like. phys.org
    Credit: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

    Due to their decreasing costs, lithium-ion batteries now dominate a range of applications including electric vehicles, computers and consumer electronics.

    You might only think about energy storage when your laptop or cellphone are running out of juice, but utilities can plug bigger versions into the electric grid. And thanks to rapidly declining lithium-ion battery prices, using energy storage to stretch electricity generation capacity.

    Based on our research on energy storage costs and performance in North Carolina, and our analysis of the potential role energy storage could play within the coming years, we believe that utilities should prepare for the advent of cheap grid-scale batteries and develop flexible, long-term plans that will save consumers money.

    2
    All of the new utility-scale electricity capacity coming online in the U.S. in 2019 will be generated through natural gas, wind and solar power as coal, nuclear and some gas plants close. U.S. Energy Information Administration

    Peak demand is pricey

    The amount of electricity consumers use varies according to the time of day and between weekdays and weekends, as well as seasonally and annually as everyone goes about their business.

    Those variations can be huge.

    For example, the times when consumers use the most electricity in many regions is nearly double the average amount of power they typically consume. Utilities often meet peak demand by building power plants that run on natural gas, due to their lower construction costs and ability to operate when they are needed.

    However, it’s expensive and inefficient to build these power plants just to meet demand in those peak hours. It’s like purchasing a large van that you will only use for the three days a year when your brother and his three kids visit.

    The grid requires power supplied right when it is needed, and usage varies considerably throughout the day. When grid-connected batteries help supply enough electricity to meet demand, utilities don’t have to build as many power plants and transmission lines.

    Given how long this infrastructure lasts and how rapidly battery costs are dropping, utilities now face new long-term planning challenges.

    3
    Grid-scale batteries are being installed coast-to-coast as this snapshot from 2017 indicates. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Battery Storage Market Trends, 2018.

    Cheaper batteries

    About half of the new generation capacity built in the U.S. annually since 2014 has come from solar, wind or other renewable sources. Natural gas plants make up the much of the rest but in the future, that industry may need to compete with energy storage for market share.

    In practice, we can see how the pace of natural gas-fired power plant construction might slow down in response to this new alternative.

    So far, utilities have only installed the equivalent of one or two traditional power plants in grid-scale lithium-ion battery projects, all since 2015. But across California, Texas, the Midwest and New England, these devices are benefiting the overall grid by improving operations and bridging gaps when consumers need more power than usual.

    Based on our own experience tracking lithium-ion battery costs, we see the potential for these batteries to be deployed at a far larger scale and disrupt the energy business.

    When we were given approximately one year to conduct a study on the benefits and costs of energy storage in North Carolina, keeping up with the pace of technological advances and increasing affordability was a struggle.

    Projected battery costs changed so significantly from the beginning to the end of our project that we found ourselves rushing at the end to update our analysis.

    Once utilities can easily take advantage of these huge batteries, they will not need as much new power-generation capacity to meet peak demand.

    What energy-storage batteries cost

    Grid-scale lithium-ion battery costs per kilowatt hour have plummeted in the past four years. They will probably fall further.

    Utility planning

    Even before batteries could be used for large-scale energy storage, it was hard for utilities to make long-term plans due to uncertainty about what to expect in the future.

    For example, most energy experts did not anticipate the dramatic decline in natural gas prices due to the spread of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, starting about a decade ago – or the incentive that it would provide utilities to phase out coal-fired power plants.

    In recent years, solar energy and wind power costs have dropped far faster than expected, also displacing coal – and in some cases natural gas – as a source of energy for electricity generation.

    Something we learned during our storage study is illustrative.

    We found that lithium ion batteries at 2019 prices were a bit too expensive in North Carolina to compete with natural gas peaker plants – the natural gas plants used occasionally when electricity demand spikes. However, when we modeled projected 2030 battery prices, energy storage proved to be the more cost-effective option.

    Federal, state and even some local policies are another wild card. For example, Democratic lawmakers have outlined the Green New Deal, an ambitious plan that could rapidly address climate change and income inequality at the same time.

    And no matter what happens in Congress, the increasingly frequent bouts of extreme weather hitting the U.S. are also expensive for utilities. Droughts reduce hydropower output and heatwaves make electricity usage spike.

    4
    The Scattergood power plant in Los Angeles is one of three natural gas power plants slated to shut down by 2029. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

    The future

    Several utilities are already investing in energy storage.

    California utility Pacific Gas & Electric, for example, got permission from regulators to build a massive 567.5 megawatt energy-storage battery system near San Francisco, although the utility’s bankruptcy could complicate the project.

    Hawaiian Electric Company is seeking approval for projects that would establish several hundred megawatts of energy storage across the islands. And Arizona Public Service and Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority are looking into storage options as well.

    We believe these and other decisions will reverberate for decades to come. If utilities miscalculate and spend billions on power plants it turns out they won’t need instead of investing in energy storage, their customers could pay more than they should to keep the lights through the middle of this century.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Conversation launched as a pilot project in October 2014. It is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public.
    Our team of professional editors work with university and research institute experts to unlock their knowledge for use by the wider public.
    Access to independent, high quality, authenticated, explanatory journalism underpins a functioning democracy. Our aim is to promote better understanding of current affairs and complex issues. And hopefully allow for a better quality of public discourse and conversation.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:36 pm on November 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Energy, Record-breaking solar cells get ready for mass production   

    From Horizon The EU Research and Innovation Magazine: “Record-breaking solar cells get ready for mass production” 

    1

    From Horizon The EU Research and Innovation Magazine

    21 November 2018
    Benedict O’Donnell

    1
    Researchers in Europe are trying to work out how record-breaking solar cells contacts can be mass-produced. BedZed Eco village. Image credit: Flickr- Bioregional International, licensed under CC.

    Sandwiching an oxygen-rich layer of silicon between a solar cell and its metal contact has allowed researchers in Europe to break performance records for the efficiency with which silicon solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. But the challenge now is how to make these so-called passivating contacts suitable for mass production.

    ‘There is currently a lot of excitement about passivating contacts among the solar cell community,’ said Dr Byungsul Min at the Institute for Solar Energy Research in Hamelin (ISFH), Germany. This year, the technology allowed his laboratory to set a new record efficiency of 26.1% for the kind of solar cells the kind that dominates the photovoltaics market. Commercial solar panels currently operate with an efficiency of around 20%.

    Passivating contacts consist of two thin layers of oxidised and crystallised silicon sandwiched between a solar cell and its metal contact. Speaking to a packed hall this September at the European Photovoltaics Solar Energy Conference in Brussels, Belgium, Dr Min said that the layers work by healing broken atomic bonds on the silicon surface and reducing the risk of electric charges getting trapped as they flow out of the solar cell.

    The design was developed in 2013 by ISFH and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg, Germany. In recent years, it has driven the energy conversion efficiency of silicon photovoltaics above 25% – a ceiling that had limited the efficiency that researchers could achieve in the lab for over a decade.

    Mass fabrication

    Still, Dr Min says that few manufacturers have so far adopted passivating contacts in industry. As part of a project called DISC, he is now coordinating work with research institutes and equipment manufacturers across Europe to streamline their design for mass fabrication.

    Making record-setting solar cells with passivating contacts has so far required costly materials and complex laboratory techniques that Dr Min says cannot be adopted in factory assembly lines. However, by getting rid of these sophisticated approaches and substituting them with tools that are already common in the solar cell industry, the DISC consortium expects to bring down manufacturing costs for the technology.

    ISFH has notably replaced an expensive and highly conductive indium-containing layer that is deposited on the cell surface to better collect electrical charges out of the passivating contact. By fine-tuning pressure and temperature conditions during production, Dr Min can now form a zinc-containing layer that presents comparable physical properties while using abundant materials.

    Dutch equipment provider Meco is swapping complex lithography steps with plating techniques that can metallise the electrical contacts of passivating contact solar cells in throughputs high enough for factory assembly lines.

    Over the past year, DISC samples have shuttled across France, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands as partners play their part in an international supply line. Each laboratory adds a layer of silicon or other materials in which it specialises, gradually building up the stack of semiconductors into a functioning solar cell.

    ‘This August, we completed our first industry-sized solar cells,’ said Dr Min. ‘They have already reached energy conversion efficiencies above 21%.’ This falls within the range of solar cells on the market today.

    Over the coming year, Dr Min expects that fine-tuning the layers in these factory-friendly devices will help edge their performance above that of the competition. In an industry where a difference of just half a percentage can make or break companies, a technology with a proven potential of over 25% efficiency in the laboratory offers enticing prospects for manufacturers.

    ‘We have to go to higher solar cell efficiencies,’ agreed Dr Martin Hermle, one of the pioneers of passivating contacts at Fraunhofer ISE. His research group is now developing industrial deposition methods for the solar cells produced in DISC, and developing ways of further boosting their energy conversion efficiency in another project called Nano-Tandem.

    ‘The cost of solar panels is largely dictated by their surface area. If you can make cells with 30% efficiency instead of 20% or 15%, that really helps reduce the overall cost of solar energy.’

    2
    Technology developed by two German institutes set a new record efficiency for solar cells of 26.1%. Image credit: Institute for Solar Energy Research in Hamelin.

    33% efficiency

    Earlier this year, Fraunhofer ISE produced a solar cell that reached a staggering 33% efficiency. Researchers stacked a silicon solar cell that incorporated passivating contacts with two additional solar cells made of more exotic materials, based on elements in the third and fifth group of the periodic table.

    ‘These top cells are good at absorbing blue shades of light, but they are made of comparatively rare elements, like gallium or indium, that are also slower to assemble than conventional silicon solar cells,’ said Dr Hermle. ‘If you want to compete on the mass market, you have to bring the cost of the material deposition down by about two orders of magnitude.’

    One solution Nano-Tandem is exploring is to use less of them. Fraunhofer ISE has shipped silicon solar cells with passivating contacts to IBM Research Zürich, where project partners are placing solar cells on top of them not as solid layers, but as carpets of wires barely 1000 atoms wide. Startup Sol Voltaics and Lund University in Sweden are developing a potentially cheaper way of manufacturing the nanowires, assembling them from gas molecules as they fly through a tube furnace.

    Nano-Tandem coordinator Professor Lars Samuelson at Lund University says that the raw materials used are expensive, but that photonic effects in them could turn their economics around. He says that, assembled wisely, manufacturers could in principle use 90% less material without much impact on the efficiency or light absorption of their solar cells.

    This is the kind of innovative edge that Dr Hermle describes as crucial in keeping European research institutes at the head of solar cell technology. As the market for solar cells skyrockets into 11-digit annual figures, Asian competition is increasingly muscling European manufacturers out of business.

    Dr Hermle says that passivating contacts offer an example of how European industry can remain relevant in the face of global competition. ‘This is a technology that really came from Europe to the solar cell market,’ he said.

    The research in this article was funded by the EU. If you liked this article, please consider sharing it on social media.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 9:27 am on November 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Energy, Generating electricity and cooling buildings, , Revolutionizing energy-producing rooftop arrays, , What they weren’t able to test is whether the device also produced electricity. The upper layer in this experiment lacked the metal foil normally found in solar cells that would have blocked the inf   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford researchers develop a rooftop device that can make solar power and cool buildings” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    November 8, 2018
    Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering
    (650) 736-2245,
    tabate@stanford.edu

    1
    Professor Shanhui Fan and postdoctoral scholar Wei Li atop the Packard Electrical Engineering building with the apparatus that is proving the efficacy of a double-layered solar panel. The top layer uses the standard semiconductor materials that go into energy-harvesting solar cells; the novel materials on the bottom layer perform the cooling task. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

    Stanford electrical engineer Shanhui Fan wants to revolutionize energy-producing rooftop arrays.

    Today, such arrays do one thing – they turn sunlight into electricity. But Fan’s lab has built a device that could have a dual purpose – generating electricity and cooling buildings.

    “We’ve built the first device that one day could make energy and save energy, in the same place and at the same time, by controlling two very different properties of light,” said Fan, senior author of an article appearing Nov. 8 in Joule.

    The sun-facing layer of the device is nothing new. It’s made of the same semiconductor materials that have long adorned rooftops to convert visible light into electricity. The novelty lies in the device’s bottom layer, which is based on materials that can beam heat away from the roof and into space through a process known as radiative cooling.

    In radiative cooling, objects – including our own bodies – shed heat by radiating infrared light. That’s the invisible light night-vision goggles detect. Normally this form of cooling doesn’t work well for something like a building because Earth’s atmosphere acts like a thick blanket and traps the majority of the heat near the building rather allowing it to escape, ultimately into the vast coldness of space.

    Holes in the blanket

    Fan’s cooling technology takes advantage of the fact that this thick atmospheric blanket essentially has holes in it that allow a particular wavelength of infrared light to pass directly into space. In previous work, Fan had developed materials that can convert heat radiating off a building into the particular infrared wavelength that can pass directly through the atmosphere. These materials release heat into space and could save energy that would have been needed to air-condition a building’s interior. That same material is what Fan placed under the standard solar layer in his new device.

    Zhen Chen, who led the experiments as a postdoctoral scholar in Fan’s lab, said the researchers built a prototype about the diameter of a pie plate and mounted their device on the rooftop of a Stanford building. Then they compared the temperature of the ambient air on the rooftop with the temperatures of the top and bottom layers of the device. The top layer device was hotter than the rooftop air, which made sense because it was absorbing sunlight. But, as the researchers hoped, the bottom layer of the device was significant cooler than the air on the rooftop.

    “This shows that heat radiated up from the bottom, through the top layer and into space,” said Chen, who is now a professor at the Southeast University of China.

    What they weren’t able to test is whether the device also produced electricity. The upper layer in this experiment lacked the metal foil, normally found in solar cells, that would have blocked the infrared light from escaping. The team is now designing solar cells that work without metal liners to couple with the radiative cooling layer.

    “We think we can build a practical device that does both things,” Fan said.

    Shanhui Fan is the director of the Edward L. Ginzton Laboratory, a professor of electrical engineering, a senior fellow at the Precourt Institute for Energy and a professor, by courtesy, of applied physics. Postdoctoral scholars Wei Li of Stanford and Linxiao Zhu of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, also co-authored the paper.

    The research was supported by the Stanford University Global Climate and Energy Project, the National Science Foundation and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 1:50 pm on November 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Energy, , , , Researchers create most complete high-res atomic movie of photosynthesis to date, , ,   

    From SLAC National Accelerator Lab: “Researchers create most complete high-res atomic movie of photosynthesis to date” 

    From SLAC National Accelerator Lab

    November 7, 2018

    Andrew Gordon
    agordon@slac.stanford.edu
    (650) 926-2282

    In a major step forward, SLAC’s X-ray laser captures all four stable states of the process that produces the oxygen we breathe, as well as fleeting steps in between. The work opens doors to understanding the past and creating a greener future.

    1
    Using SLAC’s X-ray laser, researchers have captured the most complete high-res atomic movie to date of Photosystem II, a key protein complex in plants, algae and cyanobacteria responsible for splitting water and producing the oxygen we breathe. (Gregory Stewart, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

    Despite its role in shaping life as we know it, many aspects of photosynthesis remain a mystery. An international collaboration between scientists at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and several other institutions is working to change that. The researchers used SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser to capture the most complete and highest-resolution picture to date of Photosystem II, a key protein complex in plants, algae and cyanobacteria responsible for splitting water and producing the oxygen we breathe. The results were published in Nature today.

    SLAC/LCLS

    Explosion of life

    When Earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago, the planet’s landscape was almost nothing like what it is today. Junko Yano, one of the authors of the study and a senior scientist at Berkeley Lab, describes it as “hellish.” Meteors sizzled through a carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere and volcanoes flooded the surface with magmatic seas.

    Over the next 2.5 billion years, water vapor accumulating in the air started to rain down and form oceans where the very first life appeared in the form of single-celled organisms. But it wasn’t until one of those specks of life mutated and developed the ability to harness light from the sun and turn it into energy, releasing oxygen molecules from water in the process, that Earth started to evolve into the planet it is today. This process, oxygenic photosynthesis, is considered one of nature’s crown jewels and has remained relatively unchanged in the more than 2 billion years since it emerged.

    “This one reaction made us as we are, as the world. Molecule by molecule, the planet was slowly enriched until, about 540 million years ago, it exploded with life,” said co-author Uwe Bergmann, a distinguished staff scientist at SLAC. “When it comes to questions about where we come from, this is one of the biggest.”

    A greener future

    Photosystem II is the workhorse responsible for using sunlight to break water down into its atomic components, unlocking hydrogen and oxygen. Until recently, it had only been possible to measure pieces of this process at extremely low temperatures. In a previous paper, the researchers used a new method to observe two steps of this water-splitting cycle [Nature]at the temperature at which it occurs in nature.

    Now the team has imaged all four intermediate states of the process at natural temperature and the finest level of detail yet. They also captured, for the first time, transitional moments between two of the states, giving them a sequence of six images of the process.

    The goal of the project, said co-author Jan Kern, a scientist at Berkeley Lab, is to piece together an atomic movie using many frames from the entire process, including the elusive transient state at the end that bonds oxygen atoms from two water molecules to produce oxygen molecules.

    “Studying this system gives us an opportunity to see how metals and proteins work together and how light controls such kinds of reactions,” said Vittal Yachandra, one of the authors of the study and a senior scientist at Berkeley Lab who has been working on Photosystem II for more than 35 years. “In addition to opening a window on the past, a better understanding of Photosystem II could unlock the door to a greener future, providing us with inspiration for artificial photosynthetic systems that produce clean and renewable energy from sunlight and water.”

    Sample assembly line

    For their experiments, the researchers grow what Kern described as a “thick green slush” of cyanobacteria — the very same ancient organisms that first developed the ability to photosynthesize — in a large vat that is constantly illuminated. They then harvest the cells for their samples.

    At LCLS, the samples are zapped with ultrafast pulses of X-rays [Science] to collect both X-ray crystallography and spectroscopy data to map how electrons flow in the oxygen-evolving complex of photosystem II. In crystallography, researchers use the way a crystal sample scatters X-rays to map its structure; in spectroscopy, they excite the atoms in a material to uncover information about its chemistry. This approach, combined with a new assembly-line sample transportation system [Nature Methods], allowed the researchers to narrow down the proposed mechanisms put forward by the research community over the years.

    Mapping the process

    Previously, the researchers were able to determine the room-temperature structure of two of the states at a resolution of 2.25 angstroms; one angstrom is about the diameter of a hydrogen atom. This allowed them to see the position of the heavy metal atoms, but left some questions about the exact positions of the lighter atoms, like oxygen. In this paper, they were able to improve the resolution even further, to 2 angstroms, which enabled them to start seeing the position of lighter atoms more clearly, as well as draw a more detailed map of the chemical structure of the metal catalytic center in the complex where water is split.

    This center, called the oxygen-evolving complex, is a cluster of four manganese atoms and one calcium atom bridged with oxygen atoms. It cycles through the four stable oxidation states, S0-S3, when exposed to sunlight. On a baseball field, S0 would be the start of the game when a player on home base is ready to go to bat. S1-S3 would be players on first, second, and third. Every time a batter connects with a ball, or the complex absorbs a photon of sunlight, the player on the field advances one base. When the fourth ball is hit, the player slides into home, scoring a run or, in the case of Photosystem II, releasing breathable oxygen.

    The researchers were able to snap action shots of how the structure of the complex transformed at every base, which would not have been possible without their technique. A second set of data allowed them to map the exact position of the system in each image, confirming that they had in fact imaged the states they were aiming for.

    1
    In photosystem II, the water-splitting center cycles through four stable states, S0-S3. On a baseball field, S0 would be the start of the game when a batter on home base is ready to hit. S1-S3 would be players waiting on first, second, and third. The center gets bumped up to the next state every time it absorbs a photon of sunlight, just like how a player on the field advances one base every time a batter connects with a ball. When the fourth ball is hit, the player slides into home, scoring a run or, in the case of Photosystem II, releasing the oxygen we breathe. (Gregory Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

    Sliding into home

    But there are many other things going on throughout this process, as well as moments between states when the player is making a break for the next base, that are a bit harder to catch. One of the most significant aspects of this paper, Yano said, is that they were able to image two moments in between S2 and S3. In upcoming experiments, the researchers hope to use the same technique to image more of these in-between states, including the mad dash for home — the transient state, or S4, where two atoms of oxygen bond together — providing information about the chemistry of the reaction that is vital to mimicking this process in artificial systems.

    “The entire cycle takes nearly two milliseconds to complete,” Kern said. “Our dream is to capture 50-microsecond steps throughout the full cycle, each of them with the highest resolution possible, to create this atomic movie of the entire process.”

    Although they still have a way to go, the researchers said that these results provide a path forward, both in unveiling the mysteries of how photosynthesis works and in offering a blueprint for artificial sources of renewable energy.

    “It’s been a learning process,” said SLAC scientist and co-author Roberto Alonso-Mori. “Over the last seven years we’ve worked with our collaborators to reinvent key aspects of our techniques. We’ve been slowly chipping away at this question and these results are a big step forward.”

    In addition to SLAC and Berkeley Lab, the collaboration includes researchers from Umeå University, Uppsala University, Humboldt University of Berlin, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California, San Francisco and the Diamond Light Source.

    Key components of this work were carried out at SLAC’s Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL), Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS) and Argonne National Laboratory’s Advanced Photon Source (APS). LCLS, SSRL, APS, and ALS are DOE Office of Science user facilities. This work was supported by the DOE Office of Science and the National Institutes of Health, among other funding agencies.

    SLAC/SSRL

    LBNL/ALS

    ANL APS

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SLAC Campus
    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
%d bloggers like this: