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Increasing Biodiesel Yield

Tech Thursdays with ATS – Increasing Biodiesel Yield

 

 

Biodiesel is a form of fuel created from processing vegetable oil or animal fat. It can even be made from leftover restaurant grease. Since the biodiesel fuel is made from readily available or recycled material, it is considered a sustainable source of energy. One of the main challenges of the widespread use of biodiesel is in the process used to convert it from its natural form into a fuel that can be compatible with engines. Typically, during this process the natural fat is combined with methanol, a fossil fuel source, to create the biodiesel. However, researchers from Cardiff University believe that they can use part of the waste generated during the process to increase the yield of usable fuel.

 

If you haven’t been following us, developing technologies is a subject that is near and dear to ATS considering that we test for and remove outdated storage tanks and even developed our own tank testing equipment. Scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are constantly creating new technologies that make our daily lives easier, streamline difficult processes, improve the environment, and generally bring us closer as a global community. On most Thursdays, the ATS blog strives to bring you a new “tech” that we think is worth learning about!

 

While biodiesel is generally considered an alternate source of energy, a main limiting factor has been the reliance on an outside fossil fuel source to convert the energy. In a recent study, scientists from the Cardiff Catalysis Institute at Cardiff University have found a catalyst that will convert the waste byproduct of biodiesel production back into methane. This methane can be used to manufacture more biodiesel fuel increasing the biodiesel yield and decreasing the necessity for outside materials. Hydrogen and magnesium oxide are cited as the main components used to catalyze the waste into reusable methanol.

 

While the research remains in early phases, it has the potential to increase biodiesel production significantly. This both offers a greater source of a sustainable fuel as well as the potential to be applied in alternate ways as the catalyst is further developed.

 

 

 

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Anaerobic Bioreactors Produce Fuel and Electricity

Tech Thursdays with ATS – Anaerobic Bioreactors Produce Fuel and Electricity

 

 

Wastewater can practically be considered a limitless resource. As long as there is an infrastructure for running water or a drainage system, wastewater will be a continual byproduct. Recently, many researchers have been looking into how that wastewater can be put to better use. One such purpose can be found when examining how wastewater is treated. There are multiple filtration processes and stages used to treat wastewater, including a basic mechanical treatment, a secondary biological treatment and sometimes a tertiary treatment. The purpose of the secondary treatment is to separate and treat any biological elements of waste. One way to handle this second level of treatment is with anaerobic bioreactors. Anaerobic bioreactors are able to separate the solid waste from the gas creating two different byproducts. These byproducts include gas which can be used as an alternate source of energy.

 

If you haven’t been following us, developing technologies is a subject that is near and dear to ATS considering that we test for and remove outdated storage tanks and even developed our own tank testing equipment. Scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are constantly creating new technologies that make our daily lives easier, streamline difficult processes, improve the environment, and generally bring us closer as a global community. On most Thursdays, the ATS blog strives to bring you a new “tech” that we think is worth learning about!

 

Some regions with less access to fresh water and abundant fuel are looking into how anaerobic reactors can treat their wastewater and provide them alternate fuel source. The biogas created by the anaerobic reactor, from organic material in the wastewater, can be used as cooking gas, or as fuel for electricity or to power vehicles. The bioreactor also produces thermal energy and could be potentially used as a source of heat if properly channeled. Researchers and companies are looking into how these systems can be implemented into communities for increased usage and long term benefits.

 

While anaerobic bioreactors are not an entirely new technology, their use is becoming more widespread. With the increased use of the technology, may come the increased use of this byproduct, alternate, natural gas that can be used for fuel and electricity.

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Solar Cells are Now Transparent

Tech Thursdays with ATS – Solar Cells Are Now Transparent

 

 

We have covered a lot of different aspects of solar cell technology here at ATS in our quest to provide you with interesting new technologies. We have explored topics like increased solar efficiency, biomass gasification, and artificial photosynthesis. However, there’s a new technology in town this week that can change not just how solar power works but where it can be used. Transparent solar power may soon be an available technology. This technology would have the potential to allow all clear surfaces, from windows to phones, to be used as a receptor for storing and converting solar energy.

 

If you haven’t been following us, developing technologies is a subject that is near and dear to ATS considering that we test for and remove outdated storage tanks and even developed our own tank testing equipment. Scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are constantly creating new technologies that make our daily lives easier, streamline difficult processes, improve the environment, and generally bring us closer as a global community. On most Thursdays, the ATS blog strives to bring you a new “tech” that we think is worth learning about!

 

A lot of the approach to solar energy harvesting has been focused on the efficiency of the system. The most efficient systems were often opaque. However, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The Michigan State University, believe they have bridged the gap between transparency and effectiveness. The connection relies on organic chemistry wherein the material is tuned to only allow ultraviolet and near infrared wavelengths. While colored surfaces remain more efficient for now, transparent surfaces will be able to be multi-use. Currently, researchers envision using the technology to power electronic devices.

 

Although the technology is still being developed, the possibilities for solar cells in transparent surfaces are endless.

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Nanowires Increase Efficiency of Solar Fuel Cell

Tech Thursdays with ATS – Nanowires Increase Efficiency of Solar Fuel Cell

 

 

As we have discussed here before on Tech Thursdays, scientists and engineers are constantly searching for ways to improve the efficiency of solar energy while maintaining or reducing the specialty materials involved in the process. The cost of converting solar energy into a usable fuel is generally one of its major limiting factors. However, new research from the Eindhoven University of Technology is offering an alternative to previous methods of connecting the fuel cell to the battery. The research team, partnered with the FOM Foundation, is combining nanowires with gallium phosphide to develop a more efficient way to transfer this energy.

 

If you haven’t been following us, developing technologies is a subject that is near and dear to ATS considering that we test for and remove outdated storage tanks and even developed our own tank testing equipment. Scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are constantly creating new technologies that make our daily lives easier, streamline difficult processes, improve the environment, and generally bring us closer as a global community. On most Thursdays, the ATS blog strives to bring you a new “tech” that we think is worth learning about!

 

In order for a solar cell to connect to a battery and produce energy, a semiconductor material is required. However, this conductor is usually the most expensive part of the process. The team’s proposal to create a grid of nanowires out of gallium phosphide (GaP) should increase efficiency of energy transfer while decreasing costs. Currently used as a conductor for colored LED lights, that we have previously covered, GaP applied to nanowires instead of flat cells will require an estimated ten thousand times less material. The nanowires will also aid in the extraction of oxygen increasing the yield of hydrogen and therefore the amount of energy produced. The scientists predict that this increase will yield as much as ten percent hydrogen.

 

Although this technology still requires further testing and improvement according to its researchers, the increase efficiency and decreased cost are both factors that definitely makes it a contender in the future of solar energy. This new technology could one day be seen in many technology sources.

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Water-Splitter Provides Clean Hydrogen Energy

Tech Thursdays with ATS – Water-Splitter Provides Clean Hydrogen Energy

 

 

Hydrogen, a gas that is commonly found in water, can be used as a source of energy and fuel. However, obtaining hydrogen in its single state is not always an easy or efficient process. This week, scientists at the University of Stanford have invented a device that can split the water molecule leaving isolated hydrogen and oxygen atoms. The device is described as a low voltage, single catalyst, water-splitter. Their belief is that the water-splitter will be valuable in isolating gases and can be applied in the renewable energy conversion process.

 

If you haven’t been following us, developing technologies is a subject that is near and dear to ATS considering that we test for and remove outdated storage tanks and even developed our own tank testing equipment. Scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are constantly creating new technologies that make our daily lives easier, streamline difficult processes, improve the environment, and generally bring us closer as a global community. Every Thursday, the ATS blog brings you a new “tech” that we think is worth learning about!

 

Initially, the research team considered previous water-splitting models. The current technology for atom splitting models required two electrodes consisting of two different expensive metals that acted as catalysts to draw out the hydrogen and oxygen respectively. In their new device, the team uses only nickle-iron oxide as the catalyst for both electrodes. Therefore, the device is able to operate more efficiently with consistent pH and low voltage levels. After modifying the voltage, the device is also able to continually operate for over a week at a time which the researchers’ note is “unprecedented.”

 

While the technology is still undergoing development, it will be interesting to see how the water-splitting can be applied and the ramifications to hydrogen and other gases as energy sources in the future.

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Evaporating Water as Renewable Energy

Tech Thursdays with ATS – Evaporating Water as Renewable Energy

 

 

Evaporation, the process through which a liquid transforms to a gaseous phase, is source of energy transfer frequently seen in nature. However, it is not a process that has been closely followed for technological purposes. A group of researchers at Columbia University are examining how the principals of evaporation can be applied to basic engineering. While the process of evaporation as it is applied to water, the examined application, is generally a nanoscale operation, the researchers have been seeking to develop a macroscale version to use this energy transfer as a source of renewable energy.

If you haven’t been following us, developing technologies is a subject that is near and dear to ATS considering that we test for and remove outdated storage tanks and even developed our own tank testing equipment. Scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are constantly creating new technologies that make our daily lives easier, streamline difficult processes, improve the environment, and generally bring us closer as a global community. Every Thursday, ATS brings you a new “tech” that we think is worth learning about!

 

The first stage of development was to find a way to capture the energy created in the evaporation process. The team has found the combination of bacterial spores with changes in humidity results in a force of energy that can be applied. The dry air shrinks the spores while the moist air expands them releasing energy. They contained the spores in a series of pieces of tape, when the spores were exposed to changes in the climate they were able to power the movement of the tape. The resulting system is referred to as a Moisture Mill.

 

While the team is continuing to develop the technology for more diverse use, their current findings include utilizing the bacterial evaporation process to power a light and a miniature car. The technology certainly has a way to go but imagine a future where your home’s electricity or your vehicle could be powered by the evaporation of water!

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Wind Modeling

Tech Thursdays with ATS – Wind Modeling

 

 

In order to determine how the wind will interact with the buildings in a city, scientists and engineers run tests using scale models with wind tunnels. The test results are then used do decide a number of factors in a city from types of building design codes and how to plan energy layout. However, recently, a team at the RMIT University in Australia believes that they may have found a more efficient method. This week a research team at the university has put together a study outlining how their wind modeling techniques will be able to predict much more information.

If you haven’t been following us, developing technologies is a subject that is near and dear to ATS considering that we test for and remove outdated storage tanks and even developed our own tank testing equipment. Scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are constantly creating new technologies that make our daily lives easier, streamline difficult processes, improve the environment, and generally bring us closer as a global community. Every Thursday, ATS brings you a new “tech” that we think is worth learning about!

 

This new wind modeling technique is based on computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and uses numerical flow as a substitute for physical tests. The team has successfully used their CFD model to predict the dynamic air flow around buildings on the university campus. They are hoping to combine the modeling system to make more energy efficient drones. The drones would be able to base their path on the wind currents to use less energy.

 

While the technology currently remains in early testing, the team, including scientists from LEAP Australia and the University of Sidney can see long term possibilities. More testing should lead to more answers on the “feasibility of the concept of long endurance micro-sized drones” and how the drones could be applied in the future.

 

 

 

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Fuel from Solar Energy

Tech Thursdays with ATS – Fuel from Solar Energy

 

 

Recently, we brought you a post about Artificial Photosynthesis that explained how researchers at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) believed they were one step closer to finding a way to capture and store energy from sunlight by combining electrolysis with silicon. This week, a team at the University of California, Berkeley has published research with what they believe is a different technology that will allow us to use the energy as fuel.

If you haven’t been following us, developing technologies is a subject that is near and dear to ATS considering that we test for and remove outdated storage tanks and even developed our own tank testing equipment. Scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are constantly creating new technologies that make our daily lives easier, streamline difficult processes, improve the environment, and generally bring us closer as a global community. Every Thursday, ATS brings you a new “tech” that we think is worth learning about!

 

Peidong Yang, the lead researcher at Berkley believes he has found a breakthrough in artificial photosynthesis by combining it with nanotechnology. While other methods for capture and storage have relied on microorganisms and the facilitation of electricity, this new technology uses semiconducting nanowires and electrotrophic bacteria. The semiconductors harvest energy from sunlight and directly pass the electrons to the bacteria in the wires. The team demonstrated their technology by combining butanol with pharmaceutical ingredients.

 

The technology should be adaptable for creating chemical compounds and stored fuel. Currently, the system is said to have similar levels of efficiency as natural photosynthesis. However, the belief is that those levels will increase with further development. Yang and his team also hope to develop a synthetic version of the electrotrophic bacteria. This will make the system more reliable in the future.

 

While plenty of research remains to understand the specifics of the technology, increase efficiency, and decrease reliance on exhaustible resources, it will be interesting to see how this technology develops in the future.

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Renewable Propane

Tech Thursdays with ATS – Renewable Propane

 

 

Here at ATS, we’re pretty familiar with propane, it’s an alternative to oil as fuel source and we’re often called in as homeowners or businesses are looking to make the switch between the two. However, if you’re not familiar with it, propane is generally found in gas form and as used as a source of energy to heat buildings or power stoves, and like many forms of fuel is a finite resource. That may be changing in the future as researchers at The University of Manchester’s Institute of Biotechnology (MIB) believe that they have found a way to create a renewable source of propane.

 

If you haven’t been following us, developing technologies is a subject that is near and dear to ATS considering that we test for and remove outdated storage tanks and even developed our own tank testing equipment. Scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are constantly creating new technologies that make our daily lives easier, streamline difficult processes, improve the environment, and generally bring us closer as a global community. Every Thursday, ATS brings you a new “tech” that we think is worth learning about!

 

In this new technology, scientists have found a method to create a synthetic pathway for the biosynthesis of propane. Since there is no natural pathway that can be adapted for propane, the proposed method combines a microbial biosynthetic pathway as a substitute. The researchers engineered an enzyme to adapt a butanol pathway to create the propane. Currently, the team is just exploring the possibility of a sustainable source of this current fossil fuel.

 

Since propane is easily transported in liquid form and is a fairly clean burning source of energy, a renewable source of propane could be considered a definite addition to fossil fuels. The research being completed by MIB may one day serve as a commercial technology that can provide renewable propane.

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Artificial Photosynthesis

Tech Thursdays with ATS – Artificial Photosynthesis

 

 

Photosynthesis is the process through which plants convert light energy into chemical energy to use as fuel. Researchers interested in alternate forms of energy have been looking into ways to artificially simulate photosynthesis and convert water and sunlight into fuel. This week the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) believes that they may actually be closer to finding a solution.

 

If you haven’t been following us, developing technologies is a subject that is near and dear to ATS considering that we test for and remove outdated storage tanks and even developed our own tank testing equipment. Scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are constantly creating new technologies that make our daily lives easier, streamline difficult processes, improve the environment, and generally bring us closer as a global community. Every Thursday, ATS brings you a new “tech” that we think is worth learning about!

 

One method to create energy from sunlight would be to use solar panels and harvest the energy. However, the scientists at the JCAP wanted to find a cheaper alternative. They created a device to harvest the sunlight directly. This device would allow them to split the water atoms into their hydrogen and oxygen gas forms.

 

The device from the JCAP uses a combination of electrolysis and silicon with cadmium-telluride solar cells to electrolyze the atoms. When combining the catalysts with the solar cells, the device functions both as an electrode and to harvest oxygen gas from the water molecules.

 

Creating a source of energy from sunlight and water seems like a great resource to have as the technology continues to develop.

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