Stories tagged Physical Science

Jan
15
2008

AFS Trinity XH-150
AFS Trinity XH-150Courtesy AFS Trinity

Just plug it in

AFS Trinity corporation is hoping to convince auto makers to incorporate their "Extreme Hybrid" technology into their vehicle fleets. When bursts of energy need to be expended or stored (accelerating and stopping), use of ultracapacitors will prevent overheating of the batteries. The AFS Trinity batteries will only hold about 40 miles worth of power (78% of Americans drive less than 40 miles per day).

First 40 miles require no gasoline

If you drive 40 miles per day for 6 days and you drive 100 miles on the 7th day, how many gallons of gasoline do you need? AFS Trinity claims that one of their "extreme hybrid" technology equipped vehicles was able to do this with less than two gallons of gas (340 miles with 2 gallons of gas = 150+ mpg). The electricity which powered the car for the first 280 miles cost $7.58 (based upon $.06/kwh).

When can we get one?

Extreme Hybrid technology in commercial production is expected to cost around $8,700 more than current, gas-only SUV’s. Based upon today's gas prices and the weekly driving pattern above, the payback period would only be a few years.

"If car makers decide not to take advantage of this offer, AFS Trinity intends to raise the funds to begin modifying existing hybrids or manufacture its own 150 mpg SUV’s and, eventually, 250 mpg sedans. We believe such production models could be available for sale in three years.” (AFS Trinity CEO Edward W. Furia)

Learn more about the AFS Trinity Extreme Hybrid SUV

Jan
01
2008

Loremo near the front in race for 100 mpg X prize

Loremo diesel
Loremo dieselCourtesy Loremo AG
Although the X Prize Foundation has not officially released the rules, competitors are lining up for the Automotive X prize. C/net news has a great slide show about several front runners competing for the multi-million dollar prize. I previously posted about my favorite, the Aptera Typ-1. Recently the diesel powered Loremo has also been a media favorite.

Better than 100 mph and 100 mpg

Unlike the Aptera, the Loremo has four wheels, and seats four adults which are requirements in the Automotive X Prize. The Loremo LS gets better than 100 mpg (and 100 mph) from its 20 HP, 2 cylinder turbo diesel engine. Unlike the $100,00 Tesla, the Loremo is projected to cost only $22,500. The bad news is that the Loremo may not pass the United States emission standards. Check out these links for current info and comments on the Loremo and other Automotive X Prize vehicles (thanks to Eric Boyd).

Dec
14
2007

On Monday, December 3, the Science Museum's Science House officially opened its doors as a resource center for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) educators around the state.

Check out Science House!: Science House is not only a cool new resource for teachers, but it's also a zero-emissions, environmental demonstration building.
Check out Science House!: Science House is not only a cool new resource for teachers, but it's also a zero-emissions, environmental demonstration building.Courtesy SMM

Science House is a place where educators can check out classroom sets of hands-on materials for their students, engage in formal and informal consultation and professional development, and discuss education issues with friends and colleagues in a comfortable and creative environment.

Membership is available to districts for an annual fee. Any teacher within that district may make unlimited use of Science House during the school year. Colleges and universities can also become members.

Members of Science House can:

  • Borrow a complete set of skulls for comparative anatomy inquiry lessons with students;
  • Talk with a geologist, biologist, chemist, engineer, or mathematician about concepts that are interesting or confusing;
  • Try out a telescope, then borrow it for a student camping trip;
  • Learn about Minnesota's Academic Standards in Science and Mathematics align with national documents by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), and the National Research Council;
  • Meet a colleague from another school or district to review a lesson plan;
  • Enjoy a hot cup of coffee while grading papers;
  • Consult with a professional development specialist about how to integrate more mathematics into an upcoming science unit;
  • Take advantage of lab space, wireless access, and professional consultation to design lessons and meet potential partners, and much more.

Science House is open:

  • Monday - Thursday: 3:30 - 6:30 pm
  • Friday: 3:30 - 6 pm
  • Saturday - Sunday: Closed

(Please note: Science House will be closed December 24 - January 1 for holiday break.)

Hours are subject to change; please check the Science House webpage for updates.

Nov
19
2007

Garrett Lisi, a 39-year-old surfer, hiking guide and construction worker (with a PhD in theoretical physics), believes he may have solved the biggest problem in all of science – how are all the particles of matter and forces of nature related to one another? Scientists since Einstein have been trying to figure it out, with little success. (The current theory involves outrageously tiny “strings” vibrating in 11-dimensional space. The mathematics, they say, is beautiful, but it cannot be tested or verified.) Lisi’s breakthrough came when he noticed that the formulas that describe something called the E8 pattern -- a complex, geometrical design with 248 points – also describe many of the fundamental forces and particles. His theory is that nature follows the same formulas as E8, and that the figure can be used to predict particles that have not yet been discovered. If he's right, he will have finally shown that everything in the universe is related, and basically just different manifestations of the same essence.

Rad, dude.

Nov
08
2007

We couldn’t get the rights to a photo of a nano-ultra-capacitor, so here’s a picture of some cute baby ducks.: Photo by Mattay from Flickr.com
We couldn’t get the rights to a photo of a nano-ultra-capacitor, so here’s a picture of some cute baby ducks.: Photo by Mattay from Flickr.com

Many devices need to use stored energy. The most common storage devices are batteries and capacitors.

Batteries produce energy through chemical reactions in their mass, and release it at a slow and steady rate. Batteries can store a lot of energy, but they’re difficult to recharge.

Capacitors store energy on their surface, release it all in a burst, and then can be easily recharged. Many devices use capacitors – cellphones, computer memory, even some trucks and buses. But the amount of energy capacitors can store is limited – only one-millionth the power in a battery of the same size.

But perhaps not for long. A team of researchers at MIT is using nanotechnology to improve the storage capacity of capacitors. Working with materials just a few atoms thick, they can build very complicated shapes with lots of surface area to hold electrical charge. Test show these devices can hold up to 50% of the energy a battery holds, and yet still maintain the advantages of quick release and easy recharge. The researchers predict this next generation of capacitors could someday help power electric cars or store energy from renewable sources.

Nov
02
2007

Nanotechnology sometimes borrows from nature.

Morpho butterfly: Pigments don’t cause these butterflies’ intense colors. Instead, super-small lattice-like structures on the wings reflect only certain wavelengths of light (or color). And the colors shift with your perspective. (Photo courtesy Lionoche, through Flickr)
Morpho butterfly: Pigments don’t cause these butterflies’ intense colors. Instead, super-small lattice-like structures on the wings reflect only certain wavelengths of light (or color). And the colors shift with your perspective. (Photo courtesy Lionoche, through Flickr)

Super-small, light-reflecting structures—instead of pigments—create a morpho butterfly's intense, iridescent wing color. Scientists are developing nanomaterials with similar properties.

Zoom in on a butterfly's wing
Zoom in on a butterfly's wing

If you used a special microscope to look at these butterfly wings, you’d see tiny scales made up of thin layers of transparent wing material with nanoscale gaps between them. Light waves bouncing off the bottom surfaces interfere with waves reflecting from the tops. Most light waves are cancelled and only certain wavelengths—or colors—bounce back to your eyes. The more light in the environment, the brighter the color.

Wing structures: These complicated structures on butterfly wings manipulate light to control the color that we see.
Wing structures: These complicated structures on butterfly wings manipulate light to control the color that we see.

How do transparent thin films create color?: Scientists haven't yet created materials that work exactly like the butterfly wings. But layers and layers of transparent, super-thin films--each with a different index of refraction--can be tuned so that they only reflect specific wavelengths of light (o
How do transparent thin films create color?: Scientists haven't yet created materials that work exactly like the butterfly wings. But layers and layers of transparent, super-thin films--each with a different index of refraction--can be tuned so that they only reflect specific wavelengths of light (o

Scientists are developing all sorts of products that, like the butterfly wings, use layers of transparent materials with nanoscale spacing between them to manipulate light and create color. With them, we can create computer and cell phone displays, fabrics and paints that change color, optical devices that improve telecommunications systems, and films that reflect much more light than glass mirrors. Can you imagine other uses?

Oct
18
2007

Join us tonight for the Pompeii Adult Lecture: The Final Hours.

The Final Hours
Dr. Connie Rodriguez
Associate Professor and Department Chair of Classical Studies at Loyola of New Orleans
Thursday, October 18, 2007
7:00-9:00 PM

Dr. Rodriguez, visiting curator of the A Day in Pompeii exhibit, presents the final hours of Pompeii as related in letters by Pliny the Younger, who watched events unfold from a safe distance at Misenum. He tells of his uncle, Pliny the Elder, who was in charge of the Roman fleet stationed on the Bay of Naples and who met his death during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.

Tickets for each Pompeii lecture are $12 per person ($8 per Science Museum member). Lectures will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Science Museum's auditorium on level 3. For more information or to reserve tickets, call (651) 221-9444.

Sep
18
2007

Flash memory for cameras and hand held devices is getting cheaper, faster, and comes in ever larger capacities. New methods of production will be needed, though, to overcome current size and efficiency limitations.

Self-assembling memory: Ritesh Agarwal, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Pennsylvania
Self-assembling memory: Ritesh Agarwal, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Pennsylvania
Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania have developed a prototype of a memory device that is fast, durable, nonvolatile, and scalable. By using self-assembly techniques, nanowires that were 30-50 nanometers in diameter and 10 micrometers in length were formed. The nanowires were made out of germanium antimony telluride, a phase-changing material that switches between amorphous and crystalline structures, the key to read/write computer memory.

Tests showed extremely low power consumption for data encoding (0.7mW per bit). They also indicated the data writing, erasing and retrieval (50 nanoseconds) to be 1,000 times faster than conventional Flash memory and indicated the device would not lose data even after approximately 100,000 years of use, all with the potential to realize terabit-level nonvolatile memory device density.

The downside of this technology, at least for consumers, is that it is far from hitting the market. Agarwal said that a commercial product is still eight to ten years away.

Source: University of Pennsylvania News

Sep
18
2007

Polymer based lasers: Sarah Tolbert and Benjamin J. Schwartz, UCLA professors of chemistry and California NanoSystems Institute members. Credit: Reed Hutchinson/UCLA
Polymer based lasers: Sarah Tolbert and Benjamin J. Schwartz, UCLA professors of chemistry and California NanoSystems Institute members. Credit: Reed Hutchinson/UCLA
Products with LED-type displays, like cell phones, laptops and PDAs will soon be brighter, cheaper, and use less electricity.
Benjamin J. Schwartz discovered in the 1990s that lasers could be made out of randomly oriented semiconducting polymer chains. Now he and Sarah Tolbert have figured a way to get the spaghetti like polymer strands to straighten out so they can emit polarized laser light toward a precise target. The trick was to force the polymer chains into tiny, nanometer-sized holes in a piece of glass.

"What we do is take tiny, nanometer-sized holes in a piece of glass and force the polymer chains into the holes. The holes are so small that the spaghetti chains have no space to coil up. They have to lie straight, and all the chains end up pointing in the same direction." said Tolbert.

Laser light produced without mirrors

In most lasers, confining the light is typically done with external mirrors. In combination, the alignment of the polymer chains and the confinement of the light make it 20 times easier for the new materials to lase. The glass host matrix with the aligned nanoscale pores is also inexpensive to produce.

Brighter, cheaper, and using fewer batteries are traits of a winner in todays marketplace.

Source: UCLA News.

Aug
27
2007

Paper batteries you can bend and cut.

Paper battery
Paper battery
Made from 90 percent cellulose plus carbon nanotubes acting as electrodes, this paper like composite acts either as a battery or as a supercapacitor. No water is needed so this material can function from 100 below zero up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Along with use in small hand held electronics, the paper batteries’ light weight could make them ideal for use in automobiles, aircraft, and even boats. The paper also could be molded into different shapes, such as a car door, which would enable important new engineering innovations.
“Plus, because of the high paper content and lack of toxic chemicals, it’s environmentally safe,” Shaijumon said.

Print batteries by the roll.

The team has not yet developed a way to inexpensively mass produce the devices. The end goal is to print the paper using a roll-to-roll system similar to how newspapers are printed.

Read more.

Details of the project are outlined in the paper “Flexible Energy Storage Devices Based on Nanocomposite Paper” published Aug. 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute press release.