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

Thursday, October 2, 2008

First Fuel Cell-Powered Plane Presented in Germany

Written by Ariel Schwartz
Published on October 1st, 2008

Last night, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) demonstrated the world’s first manned airplane that can fly exclusively with the use of a fuel cell. The fuel cell, which is based on polymer electrolyte membranes (PEM), generates power for the motor glider’s electric engine.PEM fuel cells are both simple and safe— they can operate between 120 and 180 C, only need a simple cooling system, don’t require humidification, and and can tolerate hydrogen gas impurities.

While the DLR’s demonstration is promising, its technology requires significantly more testing before it can be used commercially. And when PEM fuel cells are ready for aircraft use, they probably will only be used in small planes.

The DLR isn’t the first organization to test fuel cells for flight— this past April, Boeing flew a plane for 20 minutes on power generated solely by onboard fuel cells. But unlike the DLR’s plane, the Boeing model used lithium-ion batteries for takeoff.

While fuel cells may not be used to power aircraft anytime soon, they could be used in the near
future for auxiliary power-generation in small planes.


Half of Global Electricity To Come From Renewables IEA Says

by David Appleyard, Editor, Renewable Energy World Magazine
Paris, France []

Nearly 50% of global electricity supplies must come from renewable energy sources in order to cut CO2 emissions in half by 2050, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says in its latest study, “Deploying Renewables: Principles for Effective Policies.”

Meeting these very ambitious objectives to “minimize significant and irreversible climate change” will require unprecedented political commitment and effective policy design and implementation, the IEA said. The IEA is also urging governments to adopt effective policies based on five key design principles to accelerate the exploitation of the “large potential for renewable energy.”Nonetheless, the IEA also recognizes the scale of such an undertaking, saying in a statement, “this is a huge challenge and part of the entire energy revolution we need to achieve.”

Commenting at the launch of the study, Nobuo Tanaka, executive director of the IEA, said, “Only a limited set of countries have implemented effective support policies for renewables and there is a large potential for improvement. Several countries have made important progress in recent years in fostering renewables, with renewable energy markets expanding considerably as a result. However, much more can and should be done at the global level - in OECD member countries, large emerging economies and other countries - to address the urgent need of transforming our unsustainable energy present into a clean and secure energy future.”

Courtesy: Dr S Vasudevan

Solar Paint on Steel Could Generate Renewable Energy Soon

by Jane Burgermeister, European Correspondent
London, UK []

In three years, buildings covered in steel sheets could be generating large amounts of solar electricity, thanks to a new photovoltaic paint that is being developed in a commercial partnership between UK university researchers and the steel industry.

A laboratory built to develop the new solar technology that replicates plant's photosynthesis is due to start work on October 30th in Shotton, North Wales.

"If the solar cell paint can be successfully brought to the market, it could spell big changes when it comes to the future production of electricity," said Steve Fisher, spokesperson of the Corus Group, the Anglo-Dutch steel manufacturing group that is believed to be pouring tens of millions of euros into the venture.


Courtesy: Dr S Vasudevan