The Future of Clean Energy: Crash Course Engineering #31

New ‘self-healing’ gel makes electronics more flexible

Researchers have developed a first-of-its-kind self-healing gel that repairs and connects electronic circuits, creating opportunities to advance the development of flexible electronics, biosensors and batteries as energy storage devices.

Canada’s clean electricity exports to triple under U.S. Clean Power Plan

Originally published in the Toronto Star tablet edition, Star Touch. By Tyler Hamilton As Canada’s petroleum sector struggles with the reality that sub-$30 (U.S.) oil could be here for some time, the country’s power sector is prepping for a dramatic increase in U.S. demand for clean electricity. Call it a shift from pipelines to power lines. Action on climate change is the reason — more specifically, U.S. President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which aims to slash carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by a third by 2030. The plan is expected to triple the flow of Canadian electricity into Midwestern and northeastern border states, part of a broader U.S. effort to comply with the international climate obligations that 196 countries agreed to …

X-rays reveal details of plastic solar cell production

Plastic solar cells are light, easy to install, and readily produced using a printer. Nevertheless, the processes that take place on the molecular scale during the production of organic solar cells are not yet entirely clear. Researchers have now managed to observe these processes in real time. Their findings could help to improve the efficiency of organic solar cells.

‘Yolks’ and ‘shells’ improve rechargeable batteries

One big problem faced by electrodes in rechargeable batteries, as they go through repeated cycles of charging and discharging, is that they must expand and shrink during each cycle — sometimes doubling in volume, and then shrinking back. This can lead to repeated shedding and reformation of its “skin” layer that consumes lithium irreversibly, degrading the battery’s performance over time. Now researchers have found a novel way around that problem: creating an electrode made of nanoparticles with a solid shell, and a “yolk” inside that can change size again and again without affecting the shell.

New research may enhance display, LED lighting technology

A new method to extract more efficient and polarized light from quantum dots (QDs) over a large-scale area has been developed by researchers. Their method, which combines QD and photonic crystal technology, could lead to brighter and more efficient mobile phone, tablet, and computer displays, as well as enhanced LED lighting.

Fishing vessel transformed into a wave power plant

Researchers are demonstrating that it is possible for a redundant fishing vessel to be used as a power plant. The first vessel of its kind is now anchored offshore in the Stadthavet area west in Norway, with the aim of generating electricity from the natural forces of the sea.