Thursday, December 25, 2008

'India will have to reduce energy consumption by 20%’

CHENNAI: Some sections view the current economic meltdown as a direct fall-out of consumption exceeding money supply. Power policy makers of the
country seem to have stuck on the analogy to caution energy con-sumption in urban India.
“In fact, we need to expand energy con-sumption in this country, mainly to the two-thirds of our population who have scarce or no access to electricity, and non-biomass fuels,” said Planning Commission principal adviser (energy) Surya P Sethi. India’s per capita consumption of power is 20% the world average, 4% that of the US, and 28% that of China. “To achieve a desirable human development index growth, the pres-ent power consumers will have to cut their usage by 20%, by which growth may come down by a percentage point or two”. Speaking at the panel discussion on sustainable electricity in India, at Pan IIT, an IIT alumni conference, at the Indian institute of technology Madras on Saturday, he said the situation was potentially explosive unless we invest talent, technology and innovation in equitable allocation of basic resources like energy, water and land.To achieve 20% energy conservation we need to increase the energy efficiency of our appli-ances by 20%, he said. READ MORE...
Source: The Economic Times

Low-cost fuel cells a step closer

Low-cost fuel cells a step closer Chinese researchers develop a nickel catalyst
by Helen Tunnicliffe

A GROUP OF scientists from Wuhan University in China have developed a hydrogen fuel cell using a nickel-based catalyst and an alkaline electrolyte, which they believe is a viable alternative to expensive platinum catalysts and acidic electrolytes currently in use.

Shanfu Lu, Jing Pan, Aibin Huang, Lin Zhuang and Juntao Lu developed an alkaline electrolyte - the polymer quaternary ammonium polysulphone – which can conduct hydrogen ions. They used silver for the positive electrode and chromium-decorated nickel for the negative electrode.

“The surface electronic structure of nickel has been tuned to suppress selectively the surface oxidative passivation with retained activity toward hydrogen oxidation,” states the abstract.

In other words, the chromium has changed the surface electronic structure of the nickel to prevent it from being oxidised (which would otherwise reduce its effectiveness) while still allowing the catalysis of the reaction of hydrogen ions which produces the electrical current.

Most hydrogen fuel cells in use today are acidic and corrode metals. Most research has, therefore, concentrated on catalysts made from precious metals, usually platinum, which are stable in acidic conditions. However, their high cost has prevented a greater uptake of the technology. The scientists believe their discovery to be an important advance in fuel cell technology.

The paper was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Source: tcetoday, Friday 26 December 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Scientific output in nanoscience increased by nearly 16% per year during the last decade

(Nanowerk News) Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Nanotechnology - World R&D Report 2008 - Research in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology" report to their offering. This bibliometric report examines scientific activity in nanoscience using scientific papers, as well as intellectual property in nanotechnology using patents granted by the USPTO. The central aim of the scientometric and technometric analyses is to identify areas in which high-output, high-intensity, and high-impact research is being conducted. For this purpose, emphasis is placed on ranking research at the country, company and university levels. In addition, the report examines how nanoscale research and technology are evolving over time and features detailed analyses of eight non-mutually exclusive domains of nanoscale R&D. Nanoscience and nanotechnology are hotbeds of R&D wherein emergent properties of matter, which are present only at extremely small feature scales, are discovered and exploited. R&D Reports uses bibliometric indicators calculated on peer-reviewed papers in the Scopus database and granted patents in the USPTO database to produce multicriteria rankings and collaboration networks of countries, universities and companies. These show, at a glance, the leaders' scientific and technological positions in eight key domains of nanoscience and nanotechnology: General Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Materials Electronics and Computing Optics and Photonics Nanoelectromechanical Systems (NEMS) Medicine and biology Energy Environment Metrology
Key findings include: The scientific output in nanoscience increased at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 16% during the last decade. The scientific output in Republic of Korea and China exhibit spectacular growth. The number of patents granted has also grown rapidly (10%). Nanomaterials, nanophotonics, nanoelectronics and nanoscience in medicine & biology represent the largest concentration of R&D. Growth is particularly fast in emerging domains, namely NEMS, energy and environment.
For more information visit

Source: Research and Markets

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New Polymer Coatings Prevent Corrosion, Even When Scratched

Imagine tiny cracks in your patio table healing by themselves, or the first small scratch on your new car disappearing by itself. This and more may be possible with self-healing coatings being developed at the University of Illinois.

The new coatings are designed to better protect materials from the effects of environmental exposure. Applications range from automotive paints and marine varnishes to the thick, rubbery coatings on patio furniture and park benches.

"Starting from our earlier work on self-healing materials at the U. of I., we have now created self-healing coatings that automatically repair themselves and prevent corrosion of the underlying substrate," said Paul Braun, a University Scholar and professor of materials science and engineering. Braun is corresponding author of a paper accepted for publication in the journal Advanced Materials, and posted on its Web site. READ MORE....
Source: ScienceDaily

Now, chromium-free coatings to protect cars against rust

A new chromium-free coating can help protect cars against rust, reveals new study.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institutes for Silicate Research ISC in Würzburg and for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU in Chemnitz, developed an alternative anti-corrosion method based on nanocomposites as against the long-standing chromium plating prohibited since 2007.
The boffins along with colleagues at the Institute for Corrosion Protection Dresden GmbH had submerged steel sheets into a coating sol, applied a power coating and exposed them to various tests to produce the new nanomaterials.
While the steel sheets were kept in a chamber filled with atomized brine for 360 hours, or 15 days, at a temperature of 35 degrees, the metal sheets had also been placed in an environment chamber with a relative humidity of 100 percent for 240 hours, or 10 days.
ISC project manager Dr. Johanna Kron said: “These coatings protect most galvanized materials almost as well as commercial yellow chrome plating. Indeed, the new coatings are often even more effective than the chromium-free system and chromium(III) passivation currently on the market.”
The study also found that the chromium-free coated metal sheets, which were less than a thousandth of a millimeter thick, could be formed in exactly the same way as yellow chrome plated sheets.
Kron revealed that the corrosion-proofing system could be expected to hit the market in around five years. (ANI)

A new water treatment method

Treating industrial wastewater with scrap iron can be a cheap and effective way to reduce pollution from factories

SCRAP conjures up visions of rusting junkyards on the wrong side of the tracks. But this image could soon be given a green makeover. Researchers have found that iron filings from factories can be a cheap and efficient way to clean up polluted water. Because such scrap is widely available, the idea could be particularly useful in developing countries.

The new approach is being used to treat wastewater in the Taopu Industrial District of Shanghai, which is home to many small pharmaceutical, petrochemical and textile factories that discharge water contaminated with dyes, phosphorus and nitrogen. The project, which began in August 2006, now treats about 60,000 cubic metres (about 13m gallons) a day of industrially contaminated water—which is about the volume of municipal wastewater that a small town generates. READ MORE...

Source: The Economist

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Fusion breakthrough will boost power output

Fusion breakthrough will boost power output
Dec. 4, 2008David Chandler, MIT News OfficeResearch carried out at MIT's Alcator C-Mod fusion reactor may have brought the promise of fusion as a future power source a bit closer to reality, though scientists caution that a practical fusion powerplant is still decades away.
Fusion, the reaction that produces the sun's energy, is thought to have enormous potential for future power generation because fusion plant operation produces no emissions, fuel sources are potentially abundant, and it produces relatively little (and short-lived) radioactive waste. But it still faces great hurdles."There's been a lot of progress," says physicist Earl Marmar, division head of the Alcator Project at the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC). "We're learning a lot more about the details of how these things work."The Alcator C-Mod reactor, in operation since 1993, has the highest magnetic field and the highest plasma pressure of any fusion reactor in the world, and is the largest fusion reactor operated by any university. READ MORE...

The story is also available in the Dec. 3, 2008, edition of MIT Tech Talk,


Will solar power ever be as cheap as coal?

Will solar power ever be as cheap as coal?
Some predict that within five years, it could rival fossil-fuel energy.

Lexington, Mass.

“Solar power is the energy of the future – and always will be.”

That tired joke, which has dogged solar-generated electricity for decades due to its high cost, could be retired far sooner than many think.

While solar contributes less than 1 percent of the energy generated in the United States today, its costs are turning sharply downward.

Whether using mirrors that focus desert sunlight to harvest heat and spin turbines or rooftop photovoltaic panels that turn sunshine directly into current, solar is on track to deliver electricity to residential users at a cost on par with natural gas and perhaps even coal within the next four to seven years, industry experts say.

“We’re confident that we’re not that far away from a tipping point where energy from solar will be competitive with fossil fuels,” said Ray Kurzweil, a National Academy of Engineers panel member after the panel reported on the future of solar power in February. “I personally believe that we’re within five years of that tipping point.” READ MORE...
Source: The Christian Science Monitor

ISRO and Tata Motors: Towards hydrogen fuel cells operated bus

(Dr. Lalit Kishore)

It was in 2006 that ISRO and Tata Motors had entered into an agreement to design and develop a hydrogen fuel cell for operating a Tata bus as a replacement to fossil fuel. V. Gandhi is leading the team of ISRO researchers working on this project.

According to report by Radhakrishna Rao, everything is going as planned and the hydrogen fuel cell system will be integrated into the Tata bus by the first quarter of 2009. READ MORE...

Indian industry taking to green technologies with relish

December 7th, 2008 - 12:56 pm ICT by IANS -

Poznan (Poland), Dec 7 (IANS) Indian entrepreneurs are taking to green technologies with a relish and do not see intellectual property rights (IPR) as a barrier, a new international study has found.Co-author of the study, David Ockwell of the University of Sussex in Britain, said that he had found Indian industry driving collaborations with firms around the world to work jointly on developing green technologies in the five areas studied:

* Integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) for power generation;* Energy efficient technology adoption in Indian small and medium enterprises (SMEs), specifically the glass and foundry industries;* Wind energy;* Solar photovoltaic (PV) cells; and* Hybrid vehicles
The study was carried out by a joint team from four organisations: The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) based in New Delhi; the Science & Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU) of the University of Sussex; the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) in Sussex and the Britain-based Margaree Consultants.

Announcing the interim results of the study on the sidelines of the Dec 1-12 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) summit in this city in western Poland, Ockwell said he had found technology transfer to the Indian firms had led not only to the transfer of goods and services, but also of the skills and know-how for operation and maintenance as well as the knowledge and expertise behind the technology.

This, he said, had led to new production and technological capacity.

The study, initiated by the governments of India and Britain, had been meant to identify barriers to the transfer of low-carbon energy technology.

In the area of IGCC for power generation, the researchers found the key barrier was having to work with high-ash content in Indian coal. The other problem was that the technology had not yet been commercialised anywhere in the world.

The researchers felt there was high potential for international collaboration here, Ockwell said, though he did find international firms were a bit cautious about which Indian firm they collaborated with.

The spread of green technologies in India is of course intimately connected with their take-up by the SMEs, which account for one-third of the country’s exports, half of its industrial output and are the largest employers after agriculture.

Ockwell said the researchers had found that by and large SMEs use indigenous knowledge and techniques, their resource use is inefficient, they do not have off-the-shelf solutions easily available and they conduct little research and development (R&D).

But, the researchers found many entrepreneurs in the SME sector keen on green technology collaborations, and they did not think IPRs were an issue.

“This leads to an interesting high potential for aggregate emissions reductions without issues associated with large industrial installations,” Ockwell said, though it is “reliant on willingness of international firms to share technology”.

He had found a “strong emphasis on long term international, public-private-NGO collaboration” and that a “possible domestic policy push - switch from coal to gas in the specific industrial areas around Delhi, Agra and Jaipur” was accelerating the interest of SMEs in green technologies.

In the area of wind energy, of course, India has done very well, with Suzlon being one of the top five wind energy firms globally. The researchers found that Indian wind energy firms had “used commercial approach to access IPRs via acquisition and licensing”, Ockwell said, “for example through R&D in Netherlands and marketing in Denmark”.

In the area of manufacturing solar PV cells, the researchers had found that the Indian market export driven and to date IPRs for manufacturing equipment largely stays with foreign firms.
“The Indian firms’ niche is to produce at lower cost,” Ockwell said.

“IPRs are not a barrier as yet, but they could become more of an issue as firms move towards manufacture along the value chain and more automated processes, such as PV grade silicon and thin film. This will be dependent on how concentrated relevant parts of the value chain are.”
Ockwell had found that recent developments in the solar PV cell manufacturing market were largely driven by domestic policy. This June, the Indian government placed development of solar energy at the centre of its National Action Plan on Climate Change.

The researchers found “strong domestic efforts in India to develop hybrid technology, driven also by acquisition such as the Tata purchase of the Norweigan electric vehicle company Miljo, as well as collaboration in development of the National Hybrid Propulsion Platform.

Ockwell said Indian entrepreneurs - many of whom had moved from large car manufacturing firms abroad - were licensing new hybrid technologies from second tier firms in the West.
Overall, he added, Indian firms found the only barriers to transfer of green technologies were people. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way, they said.”

However, the researchers were worried that Indian firms seemed happy to follow and not lead research in green technologies. “This leaves unanswered the question of long term technological capacity building,” Ockwell said.

(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at

Sunday, November 30, 2008

New nanotechnology educational resource offers teachers ready-to-use modules

(Nanowerk News) AccessNano is a unique, cutting-edge nanotechnology educational resource designed to introduce accessible and innovative science and technology into Australian secondary school classrooms. AccessNano aims to provide teachers with a fresh new approach to teaching science in their school, as well as stimulating new ideas and opening pathways for careers in nanotechnology for students.
AccessNano is an Australian government initiative funded through the Australian Office of Nanotechnology, under the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research in working with the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
AccessNano provides teachers with 13 ready-to-use, versatile, web-based teaching modules, featuring PowerPoint presentations, experiments, activities, animations and links to interactive websites. Topics covered fit into current Australian curricula requirements, and include teaching units for Years 7-11.
Source: NanoWerk

Micro Fuel Cells Get Closer to Replacing Batteries

Micro Fuel Cells Get Closer to Replacing Batteries

Mobile electronics have the potential to offer digital luxuries beyond our imagination, but they will never get there on today’s lithium ion batteries. Power has been the weak spot in the development of more advanced mobile electronics, and the need for power will become even more important as devices feature more energy-sapping applications.

Source:Micro Fuel Cells Get Closer to Replacing Batteries

Indo-German science ties

NEW DELHI: A team of German science journalists is on a 10-day visit to India. The purpose of the visit is to familiarise themselves with the science and education system in India.

"India is increasingly becoming a global player and an important partner in the field of science,” says Eva-Maria Streier, head, press and public relations division, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, adding that while in Delhi the team will be getting an idea of the Indian education policies, their visit to the institutes in Bangalore and Hyderabad will give them an idea about the IT industry and biotechnology respectively. Martin Spiewak, who mainly writes about education and science politics, and is an editor of the German weekly newspaper, Die Zeit, is looking forward to his stay in India. He will be trying to find out more about the quality and system of higher education in science in India. READ MORE...

Source: Times of India

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Direct methanol fuel cells could power portable devices

By: Dennis Ndaba
Published: 14 Nov 08 - 0:00
Fuel cells can contribute to energy security, because they possess the potential to convert potentially renewable fuels, such as hydrogen, methanol or ethanol, cleanly and efficiently into electrical energy, says the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR’s) Mark Rohwer.
They are of particular interest to South Africa, as they incorporate catalytic metals, like platinum, of which three-quarters of the world’s known reserves are found in South Africa.
A fuel cell is a device that converts chemical energy directly into electrical energy. In contrast, conventional production of electricity from fossil fuels involves conversion of the chemical energy in the fuel into thermal energy, then kinetic energy and finally into electrical energy.

Now, ISRO scientists develop hydrogen fuel cells to power bus

Bangalore, Nov 17 (PTI) India's space scientists have developed hydrogen fuel cells to power an automobile bus by leveraging their know-how of the homegrown cryogenic technology for rockets.The two-year effort has yielded positive results and the scientists are now readying for the fuel cells to be fitted into a bus."That's not exactly the cryogenic technology... (It's) liquid hydrogen handling and that's where we have some expertise. So, we have finalised the design", Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation, G Madhavan Nair told PTI here.According to Honorary Adviser of ISRO V Gnana Gandhi leading the technical team in this project, ISRO and Tata Motors entered into an MoU in 2006 to design and develop an automobile bus using hydrogen as a fuel through fuel cell route.Nair said: "Tatas are taking the responsibility for the locomotive part of it, and hydrogen handling system also. First protomodel has been assembled. Results are good. May be next year, it should be on the road".Gandhi said: "We are planning to integrate the system in the first quarter of next year (January-March 2009), and vehicle integration in the second quarter".He said the hydrogen cells are a spin-off of the cryogenic technology that ISRO has been developing for the last few years. PTI
Source: PTI

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An electric workout through pedal power

Gyms hook up exercise bikes to TVs, laptops, and batteries to let their patrons power the place. By Vijaysree Venkatraman Correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor/ November 13, 2008 edition

Cambridge, Mass.
After classes, Sally Peach, a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has a long list of to-dos.
She wants to hit the gym, tackle school work, and, as captain of an intramural soccer team and member of a campus health advocacy program, she has plenty of e-mail to respond to every evening.
“Though I know I am being productive, it feels like a complete waste of time to sit there and do just [e-mail replies],” says Ms. Peach.
So, once she arrives at the gym, Peach makes a beeline for a special stationary bike that has a laptop built into the front. The computer is not plugged in. There is an empty space where the battery once fit. But when Peach starts pedaling, the computer fires up. Her spinning workout powers the laptop – and lets her cross off two tasks at once.
Pedal power has been a small-time alternative-energy source for ages. Many innovators have tried to tap the simple motion to power devices – especially those engineered for developing countries, where power grids are unreliable. But few designs have stuck. People aren’t willing to exert much energy just to run simple devices.
But in gyms across the country, ecoconscious patrons are asking why cardio equipment needs to drain power, when the exercisers are already eager to burn calories. Now, fitness centers are beginning to experiment with ways to put muscle strength to good use.
“The idea pretty much sold itself,” says Adam Boesel, a personal trainer in Portland, Ore.
He saw a television report about a Hong Kong gym with human-powered equipment and set out to create an eco-friendly fitness center in his hometown. Mr. Boesel’s Green Microgym opened in late August and has already registered more than 100 members.
The gym chose Team Dynamo stationary bikes, which harness the power of four connected bicycles to generate an average of up to 200 watts per hour. That’s enough to power a LCD television and stereo system for the duration of the ride, according to Team Dynamo inventor Mike Taggett. “And you don’t have to be cycling champ Lance Armstrong to do this because it is a team effort,” he says, referring to how four bikers help charge the batteries.
At Green Microgym, electricity generated by the bikes flows into a bank of batteries, which, in turn, powers devices. Boesel plans to install a “grid-tie” inverter, which allows the generated energy to stream directly into the power grid. This device allows creators of alternative energy, such as solar and wind, to “spin the meter backward” and sell power to their local utility company.
The idea is to meet the gym’s power requirements – kept low by a prudent use of plugged-in devices – with solar panels and an array of energy-producing equipment, says Boesel.
Power bike setups of all sizesDavid Butcher, a California Web manager, gets his daily workout on a generator-bike he built three years ago. Pedaling at a steady pace, he charges many appliances at once: the robotic vacuum cleaner, a set of lights, and his laptop. Mr. Butcher webcasts live from his Los Gatos, Calif. basement during these 40-minute sessions. Thanks to the energizing workout, “I feel like a rocket now,” he says, a little breathless from his morning exercise.
Elsewhere, others are testing retrofitted equipment in well-trafficked commercial gyms. A group spinning class can produce a monthly output of 300 kilowatt-hours – enough energy to light six homes for a month and cut 420 pounds of carbon emission, according to Jay Whelan, founder of Green Revolution.
“There is no use it or lose it, or battery maintenance, because the power goes right back to the grid,” says Mr. Whelan, a clean-energy entrepreneur who recently retrofitted bikes for the spin class at the 1,200-member Ridgefield Fitness Club in Connecticut.
Elliptical trainers, another popular piece of cardio equipment, are a good source of human power.
“They are even better than bikes since they involve both arm and leg muscles,” says Hudson Harr, founder of in St. Petersburg, Fla. In April, his start-up company installed an array of retrofitted ellipticals at the 28,000-member Gainesville (Fla.) Health & Fitness Center. A student gym at the University of Florida in Gainesville was next on his list. “Not doing this would be such a waste of energy,” says David Bowles, the school’s director of recreational sports.
How to balance the workoutThe idea of using human energy to power appliances – instead of using batteries – is catching on for two reasons: fun and environment-consciousness, says Arjen Jansen, a researcher in human-powered energy systems at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.
“Laptops and televisions have evolved and the designs are very energy-efficient, says Jason Moore, a Fulbright scholar studying bicycle design at the Dutch university. Now that these rigs are better at capturing energy, gyms are can put them to use – powering little perks such as TVs, laptops, and lights.
Still, few people go to a fitness center in order to generate electricity.
“People go the gym primarily to get a good workout,” says Whelan from Green Revolution. The workout equipment should feel just like it did before the retrofitting, he emphasizes. Raising the resistance level on these machines will increase the output exponentially, but it might ruin the experience for his customers. He opts to let the rider have complete control over the settings, same as before.
What’s next for ecogyms?“What we are doing now is taking baby steps in the right direction,” says Boesel of Green Microgym.
All aerobic equipment, including Stairmasters and rowing machines, can be retrofitted to generate power. Each device, however, comes with its own set of engineering challenges. And while the industry is most driven by retrofitting companies, “in the future, manufacturers may offer power-generation as an option on cardio equipment,” says Joe Cirulli, owner of the Gainesville Health & Fitness Center.
Some energy savings could be incidental. “As the exerciser’s output exceeds the display needs, the extra power is ‘shunted’ to resistors, which then heat up simply to shed the energy that is created,” says Mr. Taggett of Team Dynamo. The cardio room warms up and requires extra air-conditioning in warmer climates. With these new machines, however, the excess energy is channeled into creating power.
As exercisers become aware of the metrics of human power-production, it could push them to work harder.
“What we have been finding is that people challenge themselves to work a little bit harder because now they can measure how much energy they create,” says Whelan. “It seems like there is a personal goal to try and create just a little bit more than the last time they worked out.”
When they gravitate to these innovative systems, gym-goers could also move away from power-hogging equipment. Once people figure out that the average treadmill takes 1,500-2,000 watts to run, they may switch to power-producing machines, says Taggett.
“Right now, it would take nine Lance Armstrongs or 15 nonathletes to keep one treadmill chugging along,” he says.
Source: The Christian Science Monitor

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Light Weight Hydrogen 'Tank' Could Fuel Hydrogen Economy

Dutch-sponsored researcher Robin Gremaud has shown that an alloy of the metals magnesium, titanium and nickel is excellent at absorbing hydrogen. This light alloy brings us a step closer to the everyday use of hydrogen as a source of fuel for powering vehicles. A hydrogen ‘tank’ using this alloy would have a relative weight that is sixty percent less than a battery pack.

In order to find the best alloy Gremaud developed a method which enabled simultaneous testing of thousands of samples of different metals for their capacity to absorb hydrogen.

Hydrogen is considered to be a clean and therefore important fuel of the future. This gas can be used directly in cars in an internal combustion engine, like in BMW’s hydrogen vehicle, or it can be converted into electrical energy in so-called fuel cells, like in the Citaro buses in service in Amsterdam. READ MORE...
Source: ScienceDaily

High-temperature Superconductors: New Method Exploring 'Energy Gap' Shows Electron Pairs Exist Before Superconductivity Sets In

Like astronomers tweaking images to gain a more detailed glimpse of distant stars, physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have found ways to sharpen images of the energy spectra in high-temperature superconductors — materials that carry electrical current effortlessly when cooled below a certain temperature.

These new imaging methods confirm that the electron pairs needed to carry current emerge above the transition temperature, before superconductivity sets in, but only in a particular direction. READ MORE...

Source: ScienceDaily

Digital revolution comes to printed word

By Eric Pfanner
Published: November 7, 2008

PARIS: "Why are books the last bastion of analog?" Jeff Bezos, the chief executive of, asked last November as his company unveiled the Kindle, a portable, electronic book-reading device. Long after other media had joined the digital revolution - in some cases only after suffering its ravages - book publishers clung to the reassuringly low-tech tools of printing press, paper and ink.

A year later, that bastion is starting to yield. The world of books is going digital, too.
Last week, American authors and publishers reached an agreement with Google to settle lawsuits over the company's Book Search program, under which Google is scanning millions of books and making their contents available on the Internet. The deal allows Google to sell electronic versions of copyrighted works that have gone out of print, a category that includes the vast majority of the world's books.

"So almost overnight, not only has the largest publishing deal been struck, but the largest bookshop in the world has been built, even if it is not quite open for business yet," wrote Neill Denny, editor of The Bookseller, a trade publication based in London, on his blog.

The settlement remains subject to approval by a U.S. court, and the bookshop would operate only in the United States for now. But the agreement is only one of many initiatives under which books are making what may be the biggest technological leap since Gutenberg invented the printing press. READ MORE...

Source: International Herald Tribune

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

UPS Systems helps prove hydrogen fuel cells as an energy source for businesses

Hungerford, UK--UPS Systems plc will supply and install a hydrogen fuel cell for the Environmental Energy Technology Centre (EETC) in Yorkshire. The Centre aims to prove that hydrogen is a viable source of energy, which is more reliable, more cost effective and ultimately more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels.

Yorkshire Forward commissioned the Centre located on the Advanced Manufacturing Park on the Rotherham-Sheffield border. Designed to be an iconic zero-carbon building, it encourages the development and commercialisation of environmental energy technologies.

The main feature of the Centre is its "Hydrogen Mini-Grid System" (HMGS) which has been developed by Pure Energy in the Shetlands and the energy consultancy, TNEI. The HMGS is an innovative system which supplies power to the building, enabling it to be self sufficient. It uses renewable energy produced by a 225kW wind turbine, which will produce over 500MWh each year - more than enough to power the Centre.

Through its close working relationship with Pure Energy, UPS Systems will be providing the EETC with a 30kW power system comprising nine inverters, three 12kW fuel cells, 240Ah batteries and supervisory software to control the system. These components will be installed and integrated with the HMGS to form an end-to-end renewable energy process to power the EETC's facilities.

With sufficient wind, the Centre's turbine will generate enough electricity to power both the onsite facilities and an electrolyser that will, in turn, create hydrogen. The hydrogen will then be compressed and stored for later use, and any excess power will be fed back into the National Grid. During periods of low wind speed, the fuel cell will automatically activate, converting the stored hydrogen into electricity and ensuring a continuous supply of power to the EETC.
Managing Director of UPS Systems Tom Sperrey commented: "This project will prove to be important in the progression of hydrogen and fuel cell technology as viable alternative sources of energy. The Environmental Energy Technology Centre demonstrates how businesses can potentially be self sufficient by using renewable energy."

Dr. Jason Stoyel, Technical Manager at TNEI concluded, "The HMGS is at present the largest wind-to-hydrogen installation in the UK and is the first to incorporate both the ability to dispense high pressure hydrogen for vehicle refuelling as well as a fuel cell to generate electricity. UPS Systems' expertise in fuel cells is vital to the success of the project and will help make the EETC a truly Carbon Neutral facility."

UPS Systems plc ( is the UK's largest independent supplier of standby power solutions. Through its independent position, allied to close working relationships with the world's leading manufacturers, the company is uniquely able to offer impartial technical advice on the widest range of standby power solutions. An authority on fuel cell technology, UPS Systems implemented the UK's first two hydrogen fuel cells providing standby power, and is currently working on projects where the technology will be used for the supply of backup or prime power to utilities, telecommunications, remote telemetry, portable signage and renewable energy applications.

The Advanced Manufacturing Park ( is a manufacturing technology park providing advanced solutions for organisations. The Environmental Energy Technology Centre located at the Park has a low-carbon life time design and unique energy system.
Pure Energy ( provides off-grid renewable hydrogen solutions for the community, private and public sector.

TNEI ( is an independent consultancy specialising in five key energy services: Energy Management; Power Systems and Technology; Planning and Environmental; Culture, Strategy and Sustainability and Software Development incorporating IPSA Power.

Yorkshire Forward ( is the Regional Development Agency charged with improving the Yorkshire and Humber economy. It is a business-led organisation that aims to help improve the region's relative economic performance and reduce social and economic disparities by encouraging public and private investment.

CONTACT: Alice Cambata, Resonates SLM Ltd Tel: +44 (0)1635 898 363 e-mail:

Nanotechnology sparks fears for the future

Nanomaterials are likely to kill people in the future just as asbestos did unless extensive safety checks are put in place, a Royal Commission report has said.

The team of experts assessing the likely impacts of the emerging technology are worried that when nanomaterials escape into the environment they will damage people and wildlife but that it will be years before the effects are seen.

Past generations have brought into general usage materials such as asbestos, leaded petrol, CFCs and cigarettes without adequately considering the potential damage and the commission fears nanomaterials will prove similarly dangerous. READ MORE...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Indian refiner to bottle water from fuel-cell plant

Mumbai-based Bharat Petroleum (BOM: BPCL.BO) said it plans to break into the bottled water business to capitalize on the byproduct of hydrogen fuel cells.

State-run Bharat has tentative plans for a 1,000-megawatt hydrogen fuel cell plant during the next three to five years. READ MORE...

Courtesy: Dr S Vasudevan

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Golden slingshot

There is an article on "Golden slingshot" appeared in Economist.
The next generation of cancer treatments may be delivered by nanoparticles.

Record High Performance With New Solar Cells

Researchers in China and Switzerland are reporting the highest efficiency ever for a promising new genre of solar cells, which many scientists think offer the best hope for making the sun a mainstay source of energy in the future. The photovoltaic cells, called dye-sensitized solar cells or Grätzel cells, could expand the use of solar energy for homes, businesses, and other practical applications, the scientists say. READ MORE...

Source: ScienceDaily (Nov. 3, 2008)

Light Weight Hydrogen 'Tank' Could Fuel Hydrogen Economy

Dutch-sponsored researcher Robin Gremaud has shown that an alloy of the metals magnesium, titanium and nickel is excellent at absorbing hydrogen. This light alloy brings us a step closer to the everyday use of hydrogen as a source of fuel for powering vehicles. A hydrogen ‘tank’ using this alloy would have a relative weight that is sixty percent less than a battery pack.

Source: ScienceDaily (Nov. 5, 2008)

Connecting Private Tutors and Students

Connecting Private Tutors and Students
100% free service - for both students and personal tutors

Welcome to Tutor Hunt, we know that finding a tutor is not an easy task. Whether searching for primary, GCSE, A-Level or an adult learner, at Tutor Hunt we strive to make the process as painless as possible - listing all personal and private tutors closest to you is simple.

Tutor Hunt is a service for both pupils and tutors wishing to advertise their service on this site. We feel by making this site free we are under no obligation to list anyone. Should we have a reason that we think a tutor shouldn't be listed we simply won't list them online. This leaves us with an unbiased source for private tutors.

Reducing Pollution: Green Future For Scrap Iron

Zhang, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, recently concluded a five-year research project in which he and his colleagues at Tongji University in Shanghai used two million pounds of iron to detoxify pollutants in industrial wastewater.

The project, carried out in Shanghai, was the largest in history to use iron in an environmental application. The iron, called zero valent iron (ZVI) because it is not oxidized, was obtained in the form of shavings or turnings from local metal-processing shops for less than 15 cents a pound.
Source: ScienceDaily (Nov. 7, 2008)

Clean energy to supply half of Asia's electricity needs by 2050

MANILA, Philippines - Renewable energy sources will account for 67 percent of the electricity produced in developing countries in Asia by 2050, a report by Greenpeace and the the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) said. Renewable energy will supplant “the need for nuclear energy and reducing requirements for fossil fuel-fired power plants," the report said.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

New type of fuel found in Patagonia fungus

BOZEMAN, Mont. -- A team led by a Montana State University professor has found a fungus that produces a new type of diesel fuel, which they say holds great promise.

Calling the fungus' output "myco-diesel," Gary Strobel and his collaborators describe their initial observations in the November issue of Microbiology.

The discovery may offer an alternative to fossil fuels, said Strobel, MSU professor of plant sciences and plant pathology. The find is even bigger, he said, than his 1993 discovery of fungus that contained the anticancer drug taxol. READ MORE...

Source: Erekalert

Friday, October 31, 2008

Lithium-ion Nanomaterial Batteries: Our new hope with a dose of caution

The article says that the batteries could be significant to energy storage for transportation; wind, solar, and other forms of alternative energy; smart-grid electricity management; viable electric vehicles; and others. The article says that there is currently a lack of oversight on other potential risks and that only a few studies exist on the potential environmental implications of recycling and disposing these new batteries.

The article can be viewed here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A World of Science in the Developing World

A World of Science in the Developing World

The public and policy-makers are increasingly looking to the scientific community to address critical global problems. Finding solutions will require the collective insights and experience of scientists, policy-makers, industry and non-governmental groups. A World of Science in the Developing World reflects the expertise of members and associates of TWAS, the academy of sciences for the developing world, and coincides with its twenty-fifth anniversary.

Nature has published as supplement collection of articles by eminent developing world scientists. Most of them are free access...

Source: Nature

Patenting of publicly funded research

Is Bayh-Dole Good for Developing Countries? Lessons from the US Experience

Recently, countries from China and Brazil to Malaysia and South Africa have passed laws promoting the patenting of publicly funded research, and a similar proposal is under legislative consideration in India. These initiatives are modeled in part on the United States Bayh-Dole Act of 1980. Bayh-Dole (BD) encouraged American universities to acquire patents on inventions resulting from government-funded research and to issue exclusive licenses to private firms, on the assumption that exclusive licensing creates incentives to commercialize these inventions. A broader hope of BD, and the initiatives emulating it, was that patenting and licensing of public sector research would spur science-based economic growth as well as national competitiveness. And while it was not an explicit goal of BD, some of the emulation initiatives also aim to generate revenues for public sector research institutions.

We believe government-supported research should be managed in the public interest. We also believe that some of the claims favoring BD-type initiatives overstate the Act's contributions to growth in US innovation. Important concerns and safeguards —learned from nearly 30 years of experience in the US— have been largely overlooked. Furthermore, both patent law and science have changed considerably since BD was adopted in 1980. Other countries seeking to emulate that legislation need to consider this new context....

Anthony D. So and six co-authors, Is Bayh-Dole Good for Developing Countries? Lessons from the US Experience, PLoS Biology, October 28, 2008.

Source: PLoS Biology

Materials for electrochemical capacitors

The recent issue of Nature Materials carries a review article on electrochemical capacitors. It will be very much useful for reserachers in this field.

Abstract of the review can be viewed here.

The Future of Food: How Science Will Solve the Next Global Crises.

The Future of Food: How Science Will Solve the Next Global Crises.

Forty years ago, advances in fertilizers and pesticides boosted crop yield and fed a growing planet. Today, demand for food fueled by rises in worldwide consumption of meat and protein is again outpacing farmers ability to keep up. It's time for the next Green Revolution.
Source: Wired Magazine

US scientist to develop anti corrosion metal alloys

October 29, 2008
US scientist to develop anti corrosion metal alloys

It is reported that American scientists have found ways to make metal alloys which are more resistant to corrosion. Oxide scales develop on the outer surface of alloys, creating a protective barrier that prevents carbon-bearing molecules from getting into the alloy and causing corrosion.However, scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have discovered networks of continuous metal nano particles in the coating. These let the carbon dissolve and diffuse through the layer, leading to increased corrosion rates and brittleness.According to the scientists, by eliminating these nano particles, alloys can be made to be more corrosion resistant and longer lasting. They have already created 22 kilogram batches of modified alloys which are said to have ten times the life expectancy of similar commercial alloys.The researchers say these alloys will be commercialized in due course, and will be of interest to the chemical, petrochemical and refining industry.
Source: Steelguru
The original article can be seen in Nature Materials 7, 641 - 646 (2008) Published online: 11 July 2008 doi:10.1038/nmat2227

The Search for a Better Battery Seems Everlasting

Computer chips double in speed every two years. The typical personal computer's storage capacity has expanded 36,000 times since 1989. Internet-connection speeds climb at about 50% a year.

But the batteries that run these devices can't keep up. Their power is rising at only about 10% a year. They hold a charge for maddeningly short periods that have, at one time or another, frustrated every laptop-, cellphone- or Blackberry-toting road warrior. In airport waiting areas, freeloaders routinely rush to the outlets to recharge their gadgets for the next leg of the trip.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Fuel cells for aircraft engine

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) recently presented the first manned airplane that can take-off and fly exclusively with a fuel cell. The innovative fuel cell, based on a high temperature polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM), generates power for the electric engine of the motor glider Antares DLR-H2. The initial results of the high-temperature PEM fuel cells demonstrated better performance from the DLR testing - even under difficult low pressure conditions.

This technology is based on Celtec® - membrane electrode assemblies by BASF - a technology that integrates into aircraft auxiliary power fuel cells. High temperature PEM fuel cells can operate at 120 to 180°C; need no humidification; require simple cooling system; and offer a broad operating window. It can also tolerate impurities in the hydrogen fuel gas, due to which impure hydrogen is sourced from jet fuel reformation on board the aircraft.

The project evaluates the potential of the technology for future applications in commercial aircraft.

Friday, October 24, 2008

International Energy Outlook 2008

The International Energy Outlook 2008 (IEO2008) presents an assessment by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the outlook for international energy markets through 2030. U.S. projections appearing in IEO2008 are consistent with those published in EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2008 (AEO2008), which was prepared using the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS). The complete report can be downloaded here.

Source: EIA

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Nanowires: Boosting batteries

Nanowires: Boosting batteries
Tim Reid

Electrodes made from silicon nanowires can greatly improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries.

Original article citation Peng, K., Jie, J., Zhang, W. & Lee, S. T. Silicon nanowires for rechargeable lithium-ion battery anodes. Appl. Phys. Lett. 93, 033105 (2008).

Source: Nature

Periodic Table Live!

Periodic Table Live! allows you to explore a broad range of information about the elements, their reactions, their properties, their structures and their histories.

Chemical Education Digital Library (ChemEd DL) recently developed a noteworthy resource “Periodic Table Live!”. It allows you to explore a broad range of information about the elements, their reactions, their properties, their structures and their histories.

You can see pictures, view videos of reactions, and play around with 3-dimensional crystal structure(s) of elements. An additional function of the periodic table is its ability to chart and sort. You can choose a certain property (or many properties) of a selection of elements, and see how they compare based on where the element is on the periodic table. Periodic Table Live! is useful way to teach students about periodic trends.

Periodic Table Live can be accessed at:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Future of the Electric Car in China

by Lou Schwartz, China Strategies
Pennsylvania, United States

A recent New York Times article reporting that a Warren Buffett controlled company will pay 1.8 billion Hong Kong dollars for a 9.89% share of BYD Automotive, the Chinese battery and car manufacturer that plans to sell electric-powered cars in the United States, puts a spotlights on electric vehicles (EVs) and infrastructure in China.

Though attention is now focused on BYD Automotive, there are several other Chinese car companies that are also developing EVs as a result of the technical, legal and physical infrastructure to support alternative fuel vehicles that is currently being put in place. Though there are only a relative few EVs on the streets of a few large cities, the Chinese EV is gaining traction in terms of research and development. In addition to BYD Automotive, the following companies have a gained a foothold in the Chinese electric car industry: the Wanxiang Group, Wuhan Dongfeng, Tianjin Qingquan and Anhui Qirui.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

India launches first Moon mission

India has successfully launched its first mission to the Moon.

The unmanned Chandrayaan 1 spacecraft blasted off smoothly from a launch pad in southern Andhra Pradesh to embark on a two-year mission of exploration.

The robotic probe will orbit the Moon, compiling a 3-D atlas of the lunar surface and mapping the distribution of elements and minerals.

The launch is regarded as a major step for India as it seeks to keep pace with other space-faring nations in Asia.

It was greeted with applause by scientists gathered at the site.

Source: BBC

Science in India on the rise

Thomson Reuters Analyzes India's Growing Share of World's Scientific Papers

The Scientific business of Thomson Reuters announced the results of a survey assessing India's growing scientific prominence. In the September/October issue of Science Watch, Thomson Reuters analyzes data from its National Science Indicators and Essential Science Indicators to show Indias steady increase in research output and impact since 2000.

Such analysis is a hallmark of Science Watch, which uses unique citation data to provide rankings and reports on todays most significant science.

In 1985, Indian researchers accounted for 12,500 research papers indexed by Thomson Reuters. Between 1985 and 2000, this number barely exceeded 14,000 annually. Then, in 2000, India began to see a significant rise in its scientific output, by 2007 reaching more than 27,000 papers.

For more information, go to

NCL scientists have developed a low-cost fuel cell component

Since making fuel cells that use pure hydrogen is prohibitively expensive, scientists make do with so-called diluted hydrogen, which has traces of impurities such as carbon monoxide
Jacob P. Koshy

New Delhi: The National Chemical Laboratory, or NCL, has developed an efficient, low-cost component crucial to build fuel cells which combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, scientists said.

Though hydrogen as fuel is still not commercially viable when compared with fossil fuels such as petrol and coal, it hasn’t prevented countries including India from making big bets on it, since it is an eco-friendly alternative and does not contribute to climate change.

The Central government last year unveiled a hydrogen economy plan that envisages a million hydrogen-fuelled vehicles on India’s roads by 2020.

Researchers at Pune-based NCL have innovated a variant of polybenzimidazole that can be used as an electrolyte, a part of the electricity-producing mechanism in fuel cells. Polybenzimidazole is a class of polymer used in making spacesuits.

Since making fuel cells that use pure hydrogen is prohibitively expensive, scientists make do with so-called diluted hydrogen, which has traces of impurities such as carbon monoxide.
Though much cheaper, diluted hydrogen has its set of problems such as a higher working temperature and corrosive reactions that reduce performance of the cells.

Researchers, therefore, spend a lot of time in developing electrolytes that can get around these problems, and the polybenzimidazole variant promises to be a suitable one, said K. Vijayamohan, a senior scientist at the NCL, who is closely involved with the fuel cell programme of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, or CSIR, the country’s largest publicly funded research and development agency.

Most hydrogen fuel cells currently use nafion, a polymer trademarked by chemical giant E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., as electrolyte.

“Nafion is an industry standard. In fact, every major fuel cell application — from cars to stationary power backup — is done with nafion, though most manufacturers wouldn’t advertise it,” said Manoj Neergat, a fuel cell expert at Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.

“Nobody has yet developed a better substitute to nafion, and being a crucial component, anybody who comes up with a cheaper, more efficient alternative has certainly taken a big step,” he said.

According to Vijayamohan, the polybenzimidazole variant that NCL has developed “will be at least 100 times cheaper to manufacture than nafion”.

He claimed the electrolyte is superior to nafion because it is resistant to carbon monoxide and has efficiently worked at 150 degree Celsius.

Nafion doesn’t tolerate temperatures above 80 degrees Celsius.

However, Vijayamohan said, crucial tests on its viability still remain, such as how many hours it could run without a replacement.

Also, a viable electrolyte is only a part of a series of steps required to develop a successful working fuel cell, said Yogeswara Rao, who heads the technology and business development programmes of CSIR.

“After the membrane (electrolyte), we have to develop fuel cell stacks, (and) that cannot be too heavy. We need to develop reformers (devices that extract hydrogen from fossil fuels such as natural gas and methanol), all of which are being done at various CSIR labs across the country,” Rao said.

With oil prices at nearly $69 (Rs3,367.2) a barrel and the threat of climate change from greenhouse gas emissions on the rise, governments are increasingly looking at alternative sources of fuel, from vegetable oil to bacteria.

CSIR’s Rs23.5 crore fuel cell programme began in 2001, and though it has yielded 11 patents and at least 27 research publications in peer-reviewed journals, even a 1kW indigenous fuel cell is still some time away.

According to Neergat, viable Indian fuel cells are at least a decade away. “Not only in India, but the world over, fundamentally new breakthroughs are yet to be made. Everybody is still working on approaches (membranes, catalysts) that were discovered in the 1990s,” he said.

“ indigenous fuel cell is still much more than five years away.”

Source: Livemint

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Anti-corrosion metal treatment

BIRCHWOOD Casey Metal Finishes claim to have developed a low temperature, non-polluting black oxide treatment which gives a protective finish to high strength metal bolts and critical fasteners.

The TRU TEMP process forms a non-dimensional, deep black finish which is said to provide long-term corrosion resistance for high tension bolts, nuts and similar fastening devices. It can also prevent galling on critical thread surfaces.

The black magnetite coating is 0.5 microns thick, and does not affect the parts’ hardness or tensile strength.The process developer claims the finish can withstand up to 100 to 200 hours of neutral salt spray, and several hours of humidity. This protection from corrosion allows for parts to be used in storage and shipment in corrosive atmospheres such as ocean shipment.

According to the company, the TRU TEMP solution operates at 93 degrees Celsius, as opposed to 143 degrees. This is safer because it eliminates the risks of splattering and boilover.

It is also not a phosphate process, which can cause steel to become brittle due to extended contact with acidic process baths.

The metal treatment uses mild alkaline chemistry and takes 25 minutes. Small parts can be processed in bulk loads, while largest parts are finished on racks. The process lines can be automated through the use of a computer numerically controlled programmable hoist system.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Nanotechnology carried out a special issue on Nanostructured Solar Cells. This issue provides concrete examples of how the techniques of nanoscience and nanotechnology can be used to understand, control and optimize the performance of novel photovoltaic devices.
Leading research in this area is described in many of the articles in this special issue.


It is available for free access to its contents for some days.

The issue can be viewed at:

NISCAIR Online Periodicals Repository

National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR), New Delhi recently started open access repository of its publications using DSpace. NISCAIR publishes 16 scholarly journals in various fields. Presently full text facility is provided for some of the journals . For other journals, one can access abstracts. Full text of these journals will be made available shortly.

The repository can be viewed at:

On a Solar Mission: How India is Becoming a Centre of PV Manufacturing

by Jaideep Malaviya

With a new energy plan in place, India is focusing on solar energy for a major contribution. Meanwhile, India's PV manufacturing sector is developing fast, writes Jaideep Malaviya.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s recent announcement of a credible energy plan for India goes way beyond the hullabaloo Indo–US nuclear deal. By far the most welcome component of the six-point plan is the declaration to develop India’s capacity to tap the power of the sun in order to increase sustainable sources of energy. The PM memorably said: ‘In this strategy, the sun occupies centre stage, as it should, being literally the original source of all energy. We will pool all our scientific, technical and managerial talents with financial sources to develop solar energy as a source of abundant energy to power our economy and to transform the lives of our people and change the face of India.’ To help achieve this, the Indian government has launched a National Mission on Solar Energy.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

“Nanotechnology offers huge research scope”

Dr Aiyagiri Rao, Mission Director (Nano Mission) and Advisor and Head, Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC), Department of Science and Technology during the inauguration of nanomaterials laboratory at SASTRA University, Thanjavur said nanotechnology offers tremendous scope and opportunities for research. He pointed out that the Department of Science and Technology had undertaken the Nano Mission with a view to fostering interdisciplinary research in nanoscience and technology.

Source: The Hindu, Saturday, Oct 11, 2008

Low-cost nanotechnology substitute for gold and silver in printable electronics

Ink-jet printing of metal nanoparticles for conductive metal patterns has attracted great interest as an alternative to expensive fabrication techniques like vapor deposition. The bulk of the research in this area focuses on printing metal nanoparticle suspensions for metallization. For example, silver and gold nanoparticle suspensions have been inkjet printed to build active microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), flexible conductors and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. Nobel metals like silver and gold are preferred nanoparticles for ink-jet formulations because they are good electrical conductors and they do not cause oxidation problems. However, gold and silver still are too expensive for most high volume, ultra low-cost applications such as RFID tags with required unit costs below one cent.

In order to print metals one needs to prepare a metal ink, or, in terms of materials engineering, it requires matching the properties of small metal particles with an ink-jet base fluid. Furthermore, for large-scale and low-cost industrial applications, the ink needs to be rugged and stable against air and humidity.



Monday, October 13, 2008

Sensitive nanowire disease detectors made by Yale scientists

New Haven, Conn. — Yale scientists have created nanowire sensors coupled with simple microprocessor electronics that are both sensitive and specific enough to be used for point-of-care (POC) disease detection, according to a report in Nano Letters.

The sensors use activation of immune cells by highly specific antigens — signatures of bacteria, viruses or cancer cells — as the detector. When T cells are activated, they produce acid, and generate a tiny current in the nanowire electronics, signaling the presence of a specific antigen. The system can detect as few as 200 activated cells.

In earlier studies, these researchers demonstrated that the nanowires could detect generalized activation of this small number of T cells. The new report expands that work and shows the nanowires can identify activation from a single specific antigen even when there is substantial background "noise" from a general immune stimulation of other cells.

Describing the sensitivity of the system, senior author Tarek Fahmy, Yale assistant professor of biomedical engineering, said:. "Imagine I am the detector in a room where thousands of unrelated people are talking — and I whisper, 'Who knows me?' I am so sensitive that I can hear even a few people saying, 'I do' above the crowd noise. In the past, we could detect everyone talking — now we can hear the few above the many."

According to the authors, this level of sensitivity and specificity is unprecedented in a system that uses no dyes or radioactivity. Beyond its sensitivity, they say, the beauty of this detection system is in its speed — producing results in seconds — and its compatibility with existing CMOS electronics.

"We simply took direction from Mother Nature and used the exquisitely sensitive and flexible detection of the immune system as the detector, and a basic physiological response of immune cells as the reporter," said postdoctoral fellow and lead author, Eric Stern. "We coupled that with existing CMOS electronics to make it easily usable."

The authors see a huge potential for the system in POC diagnostic centers in the US and in underdeveloped countries where healthcare facilities and clinics are lacking. He says it could be as simple as an iPod-like device with changeable cards to detect or diagnose disease.

Importantly, Stern notes that the system produces no false positives — a necessity for POC testing.

The authors suggest that in a clinic, assays could immediately determine which strain of flu a patient has, whether or not there is an HIV infection, or what strain of tuberculosis or coli bacteria is present. Currently, there are no electronic POC diagnostic devices available for disease detection. "Instruments this sensitive could also play a role in detection of residual disease after antiviral treatments or chemotherapy," said Fahmy. "They will help with one of the greatest challenges we face in treatment of disease — knowing if we got rid of all of it."

Citation: Nano Letters 8(10): 3310-3314 (October 1, 2008)
Contact: Janet Rettig Emanueljanet.emanuel@yale.edu203-432-2157Yale University

Source: Eurekalert

New composites could suit fuel cells and biosensors

Composites made of glucose oxidase (GOx), carbon nanotubes and biologically synthesised silica have been developed with the aim of using them in biosensors and biofuel cells, as well as a variety of medical, scientific and industrial applications.

The development has been made by: Heather Luckarift and Glenn Johnson of the Air Force Research Laboratory at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, and Dmitri Invitski, Kateryna Artyuskova, Rosalba Rincon and Plamen Atanassov of the University of New Mexico.


Source: Eureka Magazine

Plant waste to power future fuel cells

WASHINGTON: Scientists are working on using cellulose to power microbial fuel cells, in which bacteria digest plant waste matter to create electricity directly. These fuel cells could be used to charge batteries or power electrical devices.


Source: The Times of India

India hopes to attract over $4 bln in green energy

By Biman Mukherji and Krittivas Mukherjee

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India is hoping to attract investments of more than $4 billion in renewable energy over the next 5-7 years, as it prepares to unveil a new biofuels policy within a month, the renewable energy minister said.

Domestic and foreign companies such as India's Tata group and Reliance Industries as well as state-run utilities are among hundreds of companies vying for a stake in India's emerging green energy sector.

Another 150 companies are also keen to set up biofuel processing plants, Vilas Muttemwar told Reuters in an interview.

"A lot of scope is there in the coming days for renewable energy... According to our information, nearly 200 billion rupees ($4.3 billion) is the investment we are expecting in five to seven years," he said during Reuters Global Environment Summit.

The investments span solar, hydro, wind and biofuel energy.

India aims to generate 25,000 megawatts of power from renewable energy over the next four years, more than double the current generation level of 12,000 MW.

Source Reuters

Sunday, October 12, 2008

OpenSource Nanotechnology

Open Source Nano is an invitation to participate in the innovations of nanotechnology right from the start. It is an experiment in making high-tech laboratory research something that can be improved and innovated outside the laboratory, by making it "vernacular"–putting it in the language that people speak, and the tools and materials they have at hand.

OS Nano is an experiment in making nanotechnology research accessible, simple and transferable and to make it address environmental, health and social justice issues around the world.

OS Nano

Courtesy: Prof. S. Arunachalam

Mushroom Enzyme-The Way to Clean Fuel Cells

From specific mushrooms could be extracted some enzymes wich could act as an essential catalyst in fuel cells and hence reduce the use of heavy metals in the future.Scientists at Oxford University have uncovered a new variety of mushrooms whose enzyme could be used instead of heavy metals like platinum in the future of fuel cells...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2008

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2008 jointly to
Osamu Shimomura, Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), Woods Hole, MA, USA and Boston University Medical School, MA, USA,
Martin Chalfie, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
Roger Y. Tsien, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA"for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP".

Glowing proteins – a guiding star for biochemistry

The remarkable brightly glowing green fluorescent protein, GFP, was first observed in the beautiful jellyfish, Aequorea victoria in 1962. Since then, this protein has become one of the most important tools used in contemporary bioscience. With the aid of GFP, researchers have developed ways to watch processes that were previously invisible, such as the development of nerve cells in the brain or how cancer cells spread.

Tens of thousands of different proteins reside in a living organism, controlling important chemical processes in minute detail. If this protein machinery malfunctions, illness and disease often follow. That is why it has been imperative for bioscience to map the role of different proteins in the body.

This year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry rewards the initial discovery of GFP and a series of important developments which have led to its use as a tagging tool in bioscience. By using DNA technology, researchers can now connect GFP to other interesting, but otherwise invisible, proteins. This glowing marker allows them to watch the movements, positions and interactions of the tagged proteins.

Researchers can also follow the fate of various cells with the help of GFP: nerve cell damage during Alzheimer's disease or how insulin-producing beta cells are created in the pancreas of a growing embryo. In one spectacular experiment, researchers succeeded in tagging different nerve cells in the brain of a mouse with a kaleidoscope of colours.

The story behind the discovery of GFP is one with the three Nobel Prize Laureates in the leading roles:
Osamu Shimomura first isolated GFP from the jellyfish Aequorea victoria, which drifts with the currents off the west coast of North America. He discovered that this protein glowed bright green under ultraviolet light.

Martin Chalfie demonstrated the value of GFP as a luminous genetic tag for various biological phenomena. In one of his first experiments, he coloured six individual cells in the transparent roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans with the aid of GFP.

Roger Y. Tsien contributed to our general understanding of how GFP fluoresces. He also extended the colour palette beyond green allowing researchers to give various proteins and cells different colours. This enables scientists to follow several different biological processes at the same time.

A new approach to use hydrogen as an alternative fuel source has been discovered

A team of scientists from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) has designed a material with such high ion conductivity that it allows the use of hydrogen as a clean fuel. The research work has been published in the prestigious journal 'Science.'

Fuel cells are the foundation of this technology which, if it becomes industrially viable, would represent the beginning of an energy revolution that would replace the current fossil fuel based system by a model based on hydrogen. This would be an energy source that is practically endless and since it only generates water as a combustion by-product, it is ecologically friendly.
The function of fuel cells is similar to that of batteries, but while batteries only store energy in a closed chemical system, fuel cells produce energy by combusting hydrogen.

To accomplish this, fuel cells require an electrolyte that permits the flow of ions between the electrodes. The problem that scientists currently face is that a temperature of up to 800 degrees Celsius is needed to achieve a high enough ionic conductivity. Therefore the challenge they must overcome is how to reduce the working temperature of this technology to an acceptable range.
Towards this end, a research group at the Complutense University has produced a material with a new structure by alternating layers of an ion conductive material that is currently used in fuel cells (Yttria-stabilized zirconia) with a dielectric material (Strontium titanate). The combination of these two materials with very diverse crystalline structures has produced a rare atomic disposition full of gaps that act as a path for the flow of ions. This results in a colossal ionic conductivity at the transition surface between the two materials.

The image of the molecular structure of this material has been obtained at the Oak Ridge national laboratory (USA) using a scanning transmission electron microscope with a resolution of less than 0,1 nanometres (the approximate size of an hydrogen atom). The researchers were very surprised to see in the images a perfectly structured growth at the atomic level, in spite of the very different structures of the materials. As a matter of fact, this result was absolutely unexpected according to the experience gathered from the analysis of this type of structures.

An even greater surprise was the high degree of ionic conductivity, measured at the Universidad Complutense in collaboration with the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid. It is about a hundred million times higher than that of materials used at present for the fabrication of fuel cells. This characteristic could allow their use at room temperature, permitting extensive use of hydrogen as an alternative energy source.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pillars of Modern Electrochemistry

The recent issue of INTERFACE (the Electrochemical Society publication) carries an interesting article on historical glimpses of electrochemistry.

The article titled "Pillars of Modern Electrochemistry" authored by A. K. Shukla and T. Prem Kumar appeared under ECS Classics. It carries wonderful collection of information and photographs of the pioneers in the field of electrochemistry. It will be a handy reference guide for students, research scholars and scientists.

The fulltext of the article can be viewed at
INTERFACE ,Vol. 17, No. 3 Fall 2008

PV's "Moore's Law" Required To Drive Increased Material Efficiency

by Debra Vogler, Senior Technical Editor, Solid State Technology

The road to grid parity for PV power generation will be difficult, needing five or more years to compete with utility power, unsubsidized, on a large scale, noted Mark Thirsk, managing partner at Linx Consulting, at a recent SEMI PV forecast luncheon (Sept. 18) in Santa Clara, CA.

Most input materials for PV production are in relative oversupply and will not constrain production, Thirsk pointed out — and for this reason manufacturers are conservative about capacity investment. In particular, his PV module production forecast shows an overstep in demand in 2008. One reason for suppliers' reluctance to build capacity for entering the silicon supply chain is that it is an inefficient process. "Only about 15% of all the silicon going into the supply chain goes into the wafers, so it's a pretty wasteful and capital intensive process, so there is a lot of reluctance to build capacity," said Thirsk. Despite the efficiency challenges, Thirsk's forecast indicates that an oversupply may occur in 2009.


Now solar rickshaws on Delhi roads

NEW DELHI: Solar-powered rickshaws called green rickshaws were introduced in Chandni Chowk here on Thursday as part of a pilot project. Each of these rickshaws costs about Rs.17, 000 and the idea is to have them in place of the man-pulled rickshaws.

The inaugural ceremony was attended by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Union Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal, who is the Member of Parliament from Chandni Chowk.

The green rickshaws weigh about 210 kg each and are able to run at a speed of 15 to 20 km per hour.

Solar power: Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Union Minister for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal riding a solar-electric rickshaw after launching it in Delhi on Thursday.

They operate on solar battery that is expected to last 70 km on a single charge. These batteries take about five hours to be charged with the help of solar panels that are to be connected to the charging unit. Most of these charging units are being set up above Delhi Metro stations.

As these rickshaws would have to go to the charging station for replacement of existing battery, they would ply within a radius of 3 km from the metro stations.


Nobel Prize In Physics

Nobel Prize In Physics

Three honored for developing fundamental theory that explains why matter persists
Elizabeth K. Wilson

This year's Nobel Prize in Physics pays homage to symmetry breaking, an abstruse but critical theory in physics that explains why matter should have persisted after the Big Bang. Developed in the 1960s and '70s, symmetry breaking also led to predictions about new types of quarks, which are subatomic particles that make up particles such as protons and neutrons.

The prize will be shared by three researchers. Yoichiro Nambu, 87, of the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago, will receive half the $1.4 million prize for, in the words of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, "the discovery of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics."

The other half of the prize will be shared by Makoto Kobayashi, 64, of the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization in Tsukuba, Japan, and Toshihide Maskawa, 68, of the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics at Japan's Kyoto University, "for the discovery of the origin of the broken symmetry which predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature."

Kobayashi, who was reached by phone in Japan during a press conference at the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm announcing the prize, said he was "very glad" to have been honored. "It was a surprise—I did not expect it," he said.

Symmetry breaking is one of the cornerstones of the so-called standard model, which unites theories of matter and three of the four fundamental forces in nature—the electromagnetic, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear forces—professor Lars Bergström, secretary of the Nobel Committee for Physics, said at the conference, which was broadcast over the Web.
The theories also have implications for chemistry, notes Richard L. Hahn, a nuclear chemist at Brookhaven National Laboratory. "The concepts of symmetries and symmetry breaking are fundamental to our understanding of the universe in which we live and to all of the sciences, chemistry as well as physics," he says. "The eventual creation of the chemical elements in the early stages ... of the universe is also tied to these processes."

The ultimate importance of symmetry breaking is illustrated by the events that occurred after the Big Bang, when a slight imbalance or spontaneous "breaking" of symmetry between matter and antimatter particles allowed what we know as regular matter to establish a predominant presence over antimatter in the universe. If that had not occurred, matter and antimatter would have existed in equal amounts, and the particles would have simply annihilated each other.
"Because of this small breaking...we can sit here," Bergström said.
Source: C&EN

Monday, October 6, 2008

China and India's energy problems

China and India's energy problems

It took some time today. In two long articles, Reuters talk about the future of energy in China, and India's Vice President of the draft speech at the conference are all for energy. Both, the issue of energy efficiency and economic growth, and the amount of energy to the problem have a common point.Reuters coverage of China starts that Beijing suburb east ring road 5 line from the story of the Sinopec gas station has begun. The gas station is unable to supply gasoline to the truck in the raw, and saying go somewhere another. Trucks say, we do not go anywhere, because we can not move without gasoline. At the end of the article, the recent drastic increase in the wholesale of diesel per liter up 5.29 yuan to 6.23 yuan. Then, Sinopec stand has a shorter raw of trucks, because of the impact of energy policy, it is said.China is blessed with natural resources is likely, if per capita it is not. China’s coal is the world's third largest reserve, and, in 2007, the China)s production was accounted for 40 percent of the world. However, if used as it does, coal would be disappearing in 80 years, oil in 15 years, and natural gas in 30 years. China’s energy consumption per GDP is three time an eight times of the United States and Japan. That has been we are paying attention.The Chinese government has a plan the current energy per 10,000 yuan GDP, equivalent to about 1,460 dollars , to be go down to a 20 percent cut in 2010.

That means , in 2005, TCE was the equivalent of 1.22 tons of coal and will be 0.98 tons in 2010. In the 11th Five-Year Energy Development Plan, for 2005-2010, the growth of energy consumption reduced to 3.5 percent and, energy consumption in 2010 will be to 2,446,000,000 tons of coal equivalent.Vice-President of India has touched on this point, but it is not match with our sense. According to him, Indian to earn a dollar GDP1 with 0.16kg of oil equivalent using electricity, China's response 0.23kg, the United States 0.22kg, and the world's average of 0.21kg. The loss of power problem, it is important for India. It is now 36 percent loss in India and it is worse than the world average of 28 percent.Both of the two articles have, on renewable energy, a lot of character. Both the development of hydropower is considered as a major pillar of renewable energy. China's nuclear power is also still planning on going to be room for expansion.

Both have a point of how to curb coal-fired to be saved. It is going to say with a common point.For bio-fuels, Vice President of India has an important point. First, solar and bio-fuel dependence on the land, his saying “land intensity”, are his concern. For example, cover with solar power in Japan and 250 million people are said to be sacrificed. Shikoku Island in Japan is comparable to the population and land on this point. Also, for a scattered collection of bio-fuels, Google saying is that the intelligence network of transmission lines is required and it may be arevolution.ReferencePhilippines●081004A Philippines, Manila BulletinERC pegs WESM prices at NPC TOU rates for Oct.

billing●081004B Laos, .alertnet.orgLaos dams threaten homes, incomes and fish, say campaigners●081004C India, pib.nic.inVice President Inaugurates ‘India Energy Conference’●081004D China,'s road to energy security


Mixed predictions on hydrogen car

Monday, 6 October 2008

US carmaker Ford says the mass production of hydrogen-fuelled cars is unlikely for at least 20 years, a forecast at odds with other carmakers targeting an earlier transition.Cars running on hydrogen fuel cells are seen as the eventual replacement for fossil fuel cars, with gasoline-eclectic hybrids and fully electric “plug in” cars seen as transitional technologies along the way because of range limitations.Hydrogen fuel cells create electricity under a chemical process using hydrogen and oxygen. The only emission from the process is water vapour and only small amounts of hydrogen are needed to go along way. While the technology has already produced prototypes and plans by some carmakers for commercial models by 2010, the cost of hardware and the lack of a distribution network for the refuelling of cars is seen as a major barrier.“I have not seen a viable, affordable plan to convert an economy to hydrogen, it could well take until 2030,'' Greg Frenette, Ford's lead hydrogen engineer, told Bloomberg.General Motors and Honda are far more optimistic in their outlook and have small numbers of hydrogen cars on the road in testing programmes in the US. GM says the distribution challenge is being overcome and is working with local government to install filling stations in its trial areas.GM says its targeting 2010 for the availability of a cost-completive technology. Honda says mass production may be possible within ten years. The technology should be competitive on range and speed within five years, but not on cost, said Masaaki Kato, chief of Honda’s research unit.

Bloomberg 3/10/08

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Online Scientific Repository Hits Milestone

Online Scientific Repository Hits MilestoneWith 500,000 Articles, arXiv Established as Vital Library Resource

ITHACA, N.Y. (October 3, 2008) . Reinforcing its place in the scientific community, the arXiv repository at Cornell University Library reached a new milestone in October 2008. Half a million e-print postings . research articles published online . now reside in arXiv, which is free and available to the public.

arXiv is the primary daily information source for hundreds of thousands of researchers in many areas of physics and related fields. Its users include the world's most prominent researchers in science, including 53 Physics Nobel Laureates, 31 Fields Medalists and 55 MacArthur Fellows, as well as people in countries with limited access to scientific materials. The famously reclusive Russian mathematician Grigori Perelman posted the proof for the 100-year-old Poincare Conjecture solely in arXiv.

Journalists also use the repository extensively to prepare articles for the general public about newly released scientific results. It has long stood at the forefront of the open-access movement and served as the model for many other initiatives, including the National Institute of Health?fs PubMedCentral repository, and the many institutional DSpace repositories. arXiv is currently ranked the No. 1 repository in the world by the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities.
"arXiv began its operations before the World Wide Web, search engines, online commerce and all the rest, but nonetheless anticipated many components of current 'Web 2.0' methodology," said Cornell professor Paul Ginsparg, arXiv's creator. "It continues to play a leading role at the forefront of new models for scientific communication."

arXiv encompasses publications in physics, mathematics, statistics, computer science and quantitative biology. Researchers upload their own articles to arXiv, and they are usually made available to the public the next day. A team of 113 volunteer moderators from around the world screen submissions and recommend whether they should be included in the repository.
More than 200,000 articles are downloaded from arXiv each week by about 400,000 users, and its 118,000 registered submitters live in nearly 200 countries, including Suriname, Sudan and Iraq. Fifteen countries host mirrors of the main site, which is located on Cornell's campus in Ithaca, N.Y.

"It represents an incredible model for scholarly communication that transcends borders, publishers and time," said Anne R. Kenney, Cornell's Carl A. Kroch University Librarian. "We bring operational stability and a demonstrated track record of stewardship to this invaluable open-access resource."

Ginsparg developed arXiv in 1991, when he was working for Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. When Ginsparg came to Cornell as a faculty member in 2001, the repository came with him and is now a collaboration between Cornell University Library and Cornell?fs Information Science Program. The Library maintains the repository; information science handles research and development.

The repository is continually evolving, adding links to other repositories and RSS feeds. New facilities are being developed to ease the submission process for authors and support the addition of articles from conference management systems. The new query-and-retrieval interface allows others to build additional services onto arXiv, such as an iPhone interface.
"We're excited to not only sustain and grow arXiv, but also to make it an integral part of the global scholarly communications infrastructure," he said arXiv manager Simeon Warner, who has been working on the project for nearly a decade."

===See for more details
Courtesy: Prof. S Arunachalam