Liquid metal battery, HOT solar cells, and a Space Elevator!


Hot Solar CellsHot Solar Cells

Associate professor of electrical engineering Minjoo Larry Lee

Associate professor of electrical engineering Minjoo Larry Lee just got 2.5 Million dollars to develop dual-junction solar cells that can operate efficiently at extreme temperatures above 398.889 Celsius (or 750 degrees Fahrenheit). That’s about as hot as it gets in a brick oven. The idea is that in addition to converting a portion of the sunlight directly into electricity, the solar cells will use the remainder of the light to heat high-temperature fluids that can drive a steam turbine or be stored for later use. This dual approach may raise the efficiency factor from 20-30% of today’s photovoltaic solar cells to new, higher levels as well as allow for energy storage in high-temperature fluids, which will be more efficient than today battery technology.

Liquid Metal Battery

Liquid Metal Battery

Researchers at MIT have improved a proposed liquid battery system that could enable renewable energy sources to compete with conventional power plants.
Donald Sadoway and colleagues have already started a company to produce electrical-grid-scale liquid batteries, The battery uses two layers of molten metal, separated by a layer of molten salt that acts as the battery’s electrolyte (the layer that charged particles pass through as the battery is charged or discharged). Because each of the three materials has a different density, they naturally separate into layers, like oil floating on water. But the new formula—published in the journal Nature by Sadoway, former postdocs Kangli Wang and Kai Jiang, and seven others—substitutes different metals for the molten layers used in a battery previously developed by the team. Extensive testing has shown that even after 10 years of daily charging and discharging, the system should retain about 85 percent of its initial efficiency—a key factor in making such a technology an attractive investment for electric utilities.

Space Elevator

Space elevator by 2050Japanese construction company Obayashi, revealed today its plans to have a fully functional space elevator by the year 2050. As Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports, Obayashi says it is working to build a space elevator that can reach 96,000 kilometers (roughly 60,000 miles) into space, capable of transporting people and cargo at a much lower cost than the rockets traditionally launched from Earth. The trip on Obayashi’s space elevator is said to take a total of seven days one-way, with the destination being a space station that would be built specifically for this scenario. 7 days in a space elevator? and what if it gets stuck? any parachutes onboard? Brrr….

Cool stuff is happening every day! and here at Drops of Wisdom, we’ll keep you in the loop!



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