The simplest molecule presents the best opportunity for energy. With global energy demands projected to rise 66% by 2030, the world desperately needs alternatives to fossil fuels. Hydrogen power, a recent media phenomenon, presents an enticing alternative – one whose development reaches much further back than most imagine. -When people hear ‘hydrogen power,’ they don’t realize that we’ve been working on it for 25 years, says Trygve Riis, the Norwegian chairman of the International Energy Agency’s Hydrogen Implementation Agreement (IEA-HIA). -The world has already made significant progress in hydrogen production, storage, distribution, and safety.
Riis spoke at a press briefing in Washington, DC, where he unveiled the IEA-HIA’s 25th anniversary report, In Pursuit of the Future: 25 Years of IEA Research Towards the Realisation of Hydrogen Energy Systems. "Hydrogen is one of the few options we have for meeting energy demands without increasing global carbon dioxide emissions,” said Giorgio Simbolotti, PhD, an IEA program officer who also spoke at the briefing.
In 2004, governments worldwide will spend about $1 billion (US) on hydrogen research and development; corporations will spend another $5 billion (US) – both figures all-time highs. Much of this investment is spurred by the HIA’s drive to develop ’baseline’ hydrogen technologies. "We have an ambitious vision, but the challenges are significant, said Riis. The first challenge is production. Today the world produces roughly 40 million tonnes of hydrogen per year, most used for making ammonia and, ironically, for refining fossil fuels. If used for energy, the world’s annual hydrogen output would satisfy just 0.1% of the world’s energy needs," said Simbolotti.
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Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.
Graphene is up to the job
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
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