June 2014



Thwaites Glacier Melting glaciers: A new study by researchers at NASA and the University of California, Irvine, finds a rapidly melting section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet appears to be in an irreversible state of decline, with nothing to stop the glaciers in this area from melting into the sea. Read more ....

Squid Symbiosis: The small but charismatic Hawaiian bobtail squid is known for its predator-fooling light organ. To survive, the nocturnal cephalopod depends on a symbiotic association with a luminescent bacterium that gives it the ability to mimic moonlight on the surface of the ocean and, in the fashion of a Klingon cloaking device, deceive barracuda and other fish that would happily make a meal of the small creature. Read more ....

Coral reef Protective corals: Coral reefs are widely regarded as one of the most beautiful, diverse and delicate ecosystems on the planet. A new study by an international team of scientists reveals that reefs also play the tough guy role in protecting hundreds of millions of people from rising sea levels and damaging wave action. Read more .....

Sea anemone Oceanic life: A deep-water creature once thought to be one of the world's largest sea anemones, with tentacles reaching more than 6.5 feet long, actually belongs to a new order of animals. Read more ....

Batteries Harnessing 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, solid-state materials that can produce electricity from a temperature gradient, but the efficiency of such devices is limited by the availability of materials. Read more ....

Aircraft Brain-controlled flight: Pilots of the future could be able to control their aircraft by merely thinking commands. Scientists of the Technische Universitat Munchen and the TU Berlin claim to have demonstrated the feasibility of flying via brain control - with astonishing accuracy. Read more ....




Harnessing 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, solid-state materials that can produce electricity from a temperature gradient, but the efficiency of such devices is limited by the availability of materials.

Now researchers at MIT and Stanford University have found a new alternative for low-temperature waste-heat conversion into electricity -- that is, in cases where temperature differences are less than 100 degrees Celsius.

The new approach, based on a phenomenon called the thermogalvanic effect, is described in a paper published in the journal Nature Communications by postdoc Yuan Yang and professor Gang Chen at MIT, postdoc Seok Woo Lee and professor Yi Cui at Stanford, and three others.

Since the voltage of rechargeable batteries depends on temperature, the new system combines the charging-discharging cycles of these batteries with heating and cooling, so that the discharge voltage is higher than charge voltage. The system can efficiently harness even relatively small temperature differences, such as a 50 C difference.

To begin, the uncharged battery is heated by the waste heat. Then, while at the higher temperature, the battery is charged; once fully charged, it is allowed to cool. Because the charging voltage is lower at high temperatures than at low temperatures, once it has cooled the battery can actually deliver more electricity than what was used to charge it. That extra energy, of course, doesn't just appear from nowhere: It comes from the heat that was added to the system.

The system aims at harvesting heat of less than 100 C, which accounts for a large proportion of potentially harvestable waste heat. In a demonstration with waste heat of 60 C the new system has an estimated efficiency of 5.7 percent.

The basic concept for this approach was initially proposed in the 1950s, Chen says, but "a key advance is using material that was not around at that time" for the battery electrodes, as well as advances in engineering the system.

That earlier work was based on temperatures of 500 C or more, Yang adds; most current heat-recovery systems work best with higher temperature differences.

While the new system has a significant advantage in energy-conversion efficiency, for now it has a much lower power density -- the amount of power that can be delivered for a given weight -- than thermoelectrics. It also will require further research to assure reliability over a long period of use, and to improve the speed of battery charging and discharging, Chen says. "It will require a lot of work to take the next step," he cautions.

Chen, the Carl Richard Soderberg Professor of Power Engineering and head of MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering, says there's currently no good technology that can make effective use of the relatively low-temperature differences this system can harness. "This has an efficiency we think is quite attractive," he says. "There is so much of this low-temperature waste heat, if a technology can be created and deployed to use it."

Cui says, "Virtually all power plants and manufacturing processes, like steelmaking and refining, release tremendous amounts of low-grade heat to ambient temperatures. Our new battery technology is designed to take advantage of this temperature gradient at the industrial scale."

Lee adds, "This technology has the additional advantage of using low-cost, abundant materials and manufacturing process that are already widely used in the battery industry."

(Source: A Massachusetts Institute of Technology news release. Article written by David Chandler, MIT News Office)



Some useful links for
your career:


  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
  • IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
  • IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu

DISCLAIMER: The contents of this website are for informational purposes only. Although due care is taken, the correctness and accuracy cannot be guaranteed. The science and medical research articles are for informational purposes only, aimed at kindling an interest in science. They are not intended to provide any kind of advice.