Archives for posts with tag: Stanford

Pomegranates are a super-food for humans, and now they’re inspiring scientists to make super batteries for your smart phone and other devices. Researchers at Stanford University have taken inspiration from the pomegranate to design a supercharged anode battery. Working in collaboration with the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, the team used the pomegranate’s unique seed design to make a battery that can store 10 times more charge than a standard rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

Green Halo - Stanford Scientists Engineering Pomegranate Powered Batteries to be used on Tech Devices

The pomegranate project could lead to smaller and lighter silicon anode batteries that could power cell phones, tablets and other devices. The silicon anodes could store 10 times more power than traditional graphite anodes, operating at 97 percent capacity even after being charged and used 1,000 times. Clustered like pomegranate seeds, the silicon anodes are light and powerful, encased in carbon shells that conduct electricity.

Traditional graphite anodes are also grouped in clusters, but during the cycling process they form gunk which gradually deteriorates the life of the battery. The silicon anodes, arranged like pomegranate seeds, are smaller than their carbon outer casing, which enables more leeway when cycling, and prolongs the life of the battery. As the silicon is charged, it expands within its carbon shell, which keeps the anode safe and intact and acts as a perfect path for electrical currents. The scientists are currently working on perfecting the process, and sourcing lower priced silicon nanoparticles to make the battery affordable for the consumer market.

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Scientists say that tuna swimming in the Gulf of Mexico during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill may have experienced heart damage. 

Lab research has demonstrated how crude oil chemicals can disrupt heart function in the fish. The study, published in Science magazine, is part of the ongoing work to try to understand the impacts of the disaster.

The gulf is an important spawning ground for bluefin and yellowfin tuna. Tracking studies have indicated that many of these fish would have been in the area during the 2010 disaster.

Green Halo - Tuna Fish Impacted from 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Scientists have long known that certain chemicals in crude oil – such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) – can be harmful to the hearts of embryonic and developing fish. These molecules, which have distinct ring-like structures, cause a slowing of the heart, irregularities in rhythm and even cardiac arrest at high exposures.

Pathways blocked

Earlier studies never explained the precise mechanisms involved. Now, scientists from Stanford University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) think they have some answers. Working on tuna heart tissues in the lab, they have detailed how PAHs can block important cellular pathways. These are pathways where potassium and calcium ions move in and out of cells. Their ability to do so quickly is vital to the proper functioning of those heart cells.

“What we found was that oil blocked key processes in the cardiac cells involved with linking excitation to contraction, which means that beat to beat, we slowed the heart cells down and we also decreased their contractility,” Barbara Block, a professor of marine sciences at Stanford.

Human implications?

Because the mechanisms involved operate in the same way in the hearts of all vertebrates, it is highly likely, the team says, that other animals swimming in waters around the crippled rig would have been exposed to similar cardiac risks. And the questions also reach across to human health – because vehicle engines put PAHs into the air in our cities.

Green Halo - Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill 2010 Impacting Environment and Animal Life

“Impressively, the cardiac excitation-contraction coupling pathways are the most conserved pathways in all of animals. It means that the same ion channels present in tuna to make its heart beat are present in humans. So we’re interested in the impact of oil petroleum products on our own excitation-contraction coupling, and we’re interested in linking air pollution, for example – a place where petroleum products are often found, volatiles from our exhausts – to the problems of cardiac morbidity that are seen across the planet on a very smoggy day,” said Prof Block.

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The solar energy industry is still in the process of exploring how to make photovoltaic panels more efficient and less intrusive, and researchers at Stanford have already pushed forward with peel-and-stick solar panels. However, for high power usage the devices must be large and in direct contact with the sun at all times, meaning they need to track its position in the sky using sensors and equipment that are expensive and susceptible to bad weather. Currently seeking funding through Indiegogo,Rawlemon is an alternative in the shape of an oddly beautiful eyeball-shaped lens, that uses refraction to concentrate sunlight with minimal need for tracking.

Designed by German architect Andre Broessel, the invention uses a large glass sphere lens, which collects diffuse light from multiple angles. The shape of the lens focuses this light into a fine beam — much like a magnifying glass — that can deliver a greater amount of sunlight — around 70 percent more — than traditional photovoltaic panels can collect on their own, even when they track the sun. The system enables Broessel to reduce the size of the solar panel to around one percent of the typical PV device. At the same time, the Rawlemon product is arguably much more aesthetically pleasing than the gray, oblong panels currently in use.

The project is running an Indiegogo campaign until 1 March, where backers can pledge to have Rawlemon’s Beta.ey XL device installed in their homes for USD 6,000. Those whose pockets aren’t quite as deep can still trial the concept through the Beta.ey Special Edition for USD 489, a miniaturized version of the device that can charge users’ phones — a product in its own right. If the price can be brought down further, could Rawlemon even replace the solar panel?

Rawlemon Spherical Solar Energy Generator video:

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Green roofs offer a lot of environmental benefits – they provide additional insulation, reduce rainwater runoff, and can lower your electricity bill. However a new study suggests that roofs painted white might actually be more effective at fighting climate change. A study published in the Energy and Buildings Journal compared three types of roofs – green, black and white – and came to the conclusion that white roofs have great economic benefits, and they are also three times more effective than the other two at fighting climate change.

Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory conducted an economic analysis of the costs and benefits of white, black and green roofs and found that white roofs are far superior in fighting climate change than the other two. While roofs painted black absorb heat and contribute to the urban heat island effect, white roofs reflect the sunlight back into the atmosphere and help cool down its lower parts. The study advises those concerned with global climate change to choose white roofs, adding to a host of other studies in the past decade that have allowed the “white roof movement” to gain momentum across the United States. However, things are not as simple as they seem.

A series of climate simulations carried out by Mark Z. Jacobson and Ten Hoeve of Stanford University showed some unexpected results. Despite their beneficial effects on the lower parts of the atmosphere, white roofs decrease the temperature difference half a mile above ground-a difference which drives cloud formation and less clouds means more sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface. This, among other issues like the impact on fossil fuel consumption and summer cooling vs. winter heating gains, is still subject of scientific debates. Meanwhile, it should also be noted that vegetated roofs offer built-in storm water management mechanisms in addition to some cooling benefits.

Green Halo White Black Green Roof Environment Benefits Climate Change Economical

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