A Pair of Viruses Good for Your Computer – and Maybe Your Electric Vehicle

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants 0 Comments

To say that your battery is “smoking” would normally be the sign of a failed circuit, but researchers at the A. James Clark School of Engineering and College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Maryland may be putting a virus that’s bad even for tobacco to good use in creating a battery that may be up to 10 times more powerful than today’s best lithium cells.   Professor Reza Ghodssi, director of the Institute for Systems Research and Herbert Rabin Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Clark School,  is “harnessing and exploiting the ‘self-renewing’ and ‘self-assembling’ properties” of the  Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV), which in its unrestrained natural state destroys tobacco, tomatoes, peppers and other leafy green things.   …

A Sweet Look Into the Future

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Zach Hoisington, an engineer with Boeing Research and Development, proposes an electric airliner concept through the Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research (SUGAR) program.   During the CAFE Foundation’s fourth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium in Rohnert Park, California in April this year, he shared an amazing array of alternatives.   Making airliners viable in an era of disappearing fossil fuel has caused NASA and aircraft producers to explore different design approaches, including joined wing aircraft, strut-braced wings, and hybrid wing-body configurations. Strategies for doing more with less may include aerial refueling for extended range flight with larger payloads, and formation flights on common routes like those of migrating birds to reduce induced drag.  New sources of power may include hydrogen fuel cells and podded or integral …

The Light at the End of the Funnel

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants 0 Comments

In some exciting news that could make several quantum leaps in solar cell performance, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have announced a hundred-fold increase in light gathering capabilities for solar cells. If a cell were able to exploit this increase, an aircraft such as the Solar Impulse could fly on 120 solar cells instead of the 12,000 now spread across its over 200-foot wingspan. We’ve reported on carpet-like light-capturing formats for increasing solar cell output, but the MIT approach funnels light down a multi-carbon nanotube filament, boosting the output of the “tiny” solar cell at the bottom. MIT’s press release explains the outcome. “’Instead of having your whole roof be a photovoltaic cell, you could have little spots that were …