The way termite guts process food could teach scientists how to produce pollution-free energy and help solve the worlds imminent energy crisis. Speaking at the Institute of Physics conference Physics 2005 in Warwick today, Nobel laureate Steven Chu urged scientists to turn their attention to finding an environmentally friendly form of fuel. In an impassioned plea to some of the worlds brightest minds, he explained how hes leading by example, and encouraged others to join the effort which "may already be too late."
Chu, who shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1997, has begun studying termite guts – one place in nature where a key hurdle for carbon-neutral energy supply has already been solved. Termite guts take indigestible cellulose, which makes up the bulk of all plant material grown on earth, and convert it to ethanol, which even today is a versatile and popular fuel.
Chu described how he decided to leave the richly-funded precincts of Stanford University to become Director of the Lawrence Berkeley Labs to kick-start the effort. He has been cajoling his new colleagues, including 56 members of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, to realise the gravity of the problem and shift the focus of their research. And, he says, its beginning to work.
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Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
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Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
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