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Steam from the Sun

July 22, 2014 by Energy @ MIT

Steam and New Materials

A new and innovative material structure developed at MIT generates steam by soaking up the sun. The structure, which consists of a layer of graphite flakes and an underlying carbon foam, is a porous, insulating material structure that floats on water.[read more]

Making a Wire-Free Future

July 11, 2014 by Energy @ MIT

Wireless Energy Future

More than a century ago, engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla proposed a global system of wireless transmission of electricity — or wireless power. But one key obstacle to realizing this ambitious vision has always been the inefficiency of transferring power over long distances.[read more]

Novel Bromine Battery: Small-Scale Demo, Large-Scale Promise

July 2, 2014 by Energy @ MIT

Battery and Storage Innovation

The availability of low-cost, high-capacity energy storage technology could profoundly change today’s energy landscape. The ability to store electricity when supplies are abundant and deliver it later when they’re not would permit widespread use of intermittent sources such as solar and wind.[read more]

Diagnosing 'Broken' Buildings to Make them Greener

June 24, 2014 by Energy @ MIT

Diagnosing Buildings

The co-founders of MIT spinout KGS Buildings have an important saying: “All buildings are broken.” The energy that is wasted through faulty or inefficient equipment, they say, can lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in avoidable annual costs.[read more]

Seeing How a Lithium-Ion Battery Works

June 14, 2014 by Energy @ MIT

Batteries and Innovation

New observations by researchers at MIT have revealed the inner workings of a type of electrode widely used in lithium-ion batteries. The new findings explain the unexpectedly high power and long cycle life of such batteries, the researchers say.[read more]

Surprising Nanotubes: Some Slippery, Some Sticky

June 5, 2014 by Energy @ MIT

Nanotube Types

Nanotubes — microscopic cylinders the shape of drinking straws, but just one-thousandth the diameter of a human hair — have been the subject of intensive research, with potential uses ranging from solar cells to chemical sensors to reinforced composite materials.[read more]

Microbes Chow Down on Latest Fuel-Cell Tech

May 31, 2014 by Energy @ MIT

Microbes and Fuel-Cell Innovation

You can very quickly run out of fingers and toes in counting the myriad ways we waste energy. Take the inefficiency of our sewage systems, for example: The energetic content of wastewater is about 10 times the amount of energy it takes to process it.[read more]

Improving a New Breed of Solar Cells

May 29, 2014 by Energy @ MIT

New Solar Cells

Solar-cell tech has advanced rapidly, as hundreds of groups around the world pursue more than two dozen approaches using different materials, technologies, and approaches to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Now a team at MIT has set a new record for the most efficient quantum-dot cells.[read more]

A New Way to Make Sheets of Graphene

May 25, 2014 by Energy @ MIT

Graphene Production Innovation

Graphene’s promise as a material has led researchers around the world to study the material in search of new applications. But one of the biggest limitations to wider use of the strong, lightweight, highly conductive material has been the hurdle of fabrication on an industrial scale.[read more]

A New Way to Harness Waste Heat

May 22, 2014 by Energy @ MIT

Saving Waste Heat

Vast amounts of excess heat are generated by industrial processes and by electric power plants; researchers around the world have spent decades seeking ways to harness some of this wasted energy. Most such efforts have focused on thermoelectric devices.[read more]

High-Flying Turbine Produces More Power

May 16, 2014 by Energy @ MIT

Airborne Wind Energy Turbine

For Altaeros Energies, the sky’s the limit when it comes to wind power. Founded by Ben Glass and Adam Rein, Altaeros has developed the first commercial airborne wind turbine, using a helium-filled shell to float as high as a skyscraper and capture the stronger, steadier winds available at that altitude.[read more]

Getting More Electricity out of Solar Cells

May 9, 2014 by Energy @ MIT

Solar Cell Efficiency

When sunlight shines on today’s solar cells, much of the incoming energy is given off as waste heat rather than electrical current. In a few materials, however, extra energy produces extra electrons — behavior that could significantly increase solar-cell efficiency.[read more]

How to Count Methane Emissions

May 5, 2014 by Energy @ MIT

Methane Emissions Measurements

In formulating policies to address greenhouse gas emissions, or evaluating the potential impact of different energy technologies on global climate change, one of the thorniest issues is how to account for the very distinctive characteristics of various different gases.[read more]

New Material for Flat Semiconductors

May 2, 2014 by Energy @ MIT

New Materials from MIT

Researchers around the world have been working to harness the unusual properties of graphene, a two-dimensional sheet of carbon atoms. But graphene lacks one important characteristic: a property called a bandgap, which is essential for making devices such as computer chips and solar cells.[read more]

Excitons Observed in Action for the First Time

April 19, 2014 by Energy @ MIT

Solar Tech Advancements

A quasiparticle called an exciton — responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits — has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within materials has never been directly observed.[read more]