Imagine if your exercise clothes could generate enough electricity to power your workout gadgets. This could be a reality in a few years with the development of a flexible, self-charging, non-leaky battery (or thermocell) that could convert body heat into power for devices such as fitness trackers. Continue reading Converting body heat into useable electricity
Heading into deep water
Perth researchers help Chevron keep oil and gas flowing smoothly
Out in the Gulf of Mexico Chevron are operating a $7.5 billion platform that’s recovering oil and gas from two-kilometre-deep ocean.
It’s the largest and deepest operation in the Gulf, with over 146km of pipeline bringing oil and gas to refineries.
But pipelines operating at extreme depths in cold water and crushing pressure are prone to blockage. University of Western Australia researchers are helping Chevron keep oil and gas flowing through deep-water pipes.
Access to affordable, reliable energy transforms communities. For most Australian and Indonesian families and businesses, that energy still comes from national grids—the networks of power lines that connect users to power suppliers.
But about 67 million Indonesians—almost a third of the country’s population—are not on the grid. They either rely on expensive, non renewable sources of power—often diesel—or they have no access to power at all. That poses a critical challenge for sustainable development of Indonesia—a nation of islands. To meet the Government’s goal of 90 per cent electricity coverage by 2020 the country’s electricity generation must grow by nine per cent per year.
Over sixty-five million Indonesians live off the grid. But what does that mean in the era of micro-grids, batteries and efficient solar panels? And how do communities change with 24/7 energy?
Providing reliable electric power is one of the keys to unlocking the potential of the remote islands and landlocked areas of Indonesia and of Australia’s north, a priority for both countries.
But there’s much more to it than installing the right mix of technologies. Bringing night-time activity, television, the internet and smart machines within the reach of people who have never had access to them before involves huge, potentially disruptive changes to their daily lives, their economic and political relationships, their whole culture.
A team of Australian and Indonesian scientists and social scientists is coming to grips with the scope of the problem by studying two sites in Indonesia where a start has already been made on introducing electricity. The seed project is financed by the Australia Indonesia Centre.
How do you secure a ship 500 metres long and six times heavier than an aircraft carrier to the seafloor for 25 years?
In the future, the entire roof of your house could be a solar panel, and you could harness the power of the sun to charge your mobile phone while on a remote bushwalk, thanks to cheap, printable solar cells.
Work is underway to perfect the “printing” of a film-like layer of solar cells that can be applied cheaply to hard or flexible surfaces to generate electricity from sunlight. Continue reading Victoria in race to print solar cells
Manufacturers are looking for ways to make their factories more sustainable, but before whacking a solar panel on the roof, they’ve got to plan carefully.
University of New South Wales researcher Assoc Prof Sami Kara says production lines need a steady supply of electricity, and if the sun goes behind a cloud, businesses get hit with penalty rates for suddenly drawing more energy from the grid.
Imagine a power station that’s literally sprayed onto your roof —and could match the colour of your tiles.
Thin film solar cells are thinner, cheaper and more versatile than the traditional silicon solar panels. Spray-on solar is a next step in the evolution of on-site power generation.
“These cells can be made with semiconductor dye materials, so you can match them to any colour or pattern you like—they’ll just convert that part of the solar spectrum into electricity. In the future we could have billboards that act as solar panels,” says Dr Gerry Wilson of CSIRO’s flexible electronics team.
Imagine a mobile phone, gaming gadget or laptop with a battery that never needs replacing, or electric cars powered by batteries that are as fast to recharge as it is to refill your car with petrol.
Researchers at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) are unlocking the secret inner workings of lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries to develop better, safer portable power.
Continue reading Tracking lithium for better batteries
Imagine a future where recharging your tablet could be as easy as typing a tweet—where portable electronic devices power themselves without ever plugging into the grid.
Researchers at RMIT University, Melbourne have assessed the capacity of piezoelectric films—thin layers that turn mechanical pressure into electricity—to do this.
The study is the first to evaluate how piezoelectric thin films, a thousandth of a millimetre thick, perform at the molecular level, precisely measuring the level of electrical voltage and current—and therefore, power—that could be generated.
Continue reading A step towards an everlasting battery