Notable Research Cases
In our quest to rehabilitate strategic assets and infrastructure that have been left to rot for decades, we are presented with unique opportunities to rebuild from scratch, leveraging the latest trends in sustainable renewable energy and storage solutions. This provides perfect opportunities for research, and some ‘food for thought’ teasers in this regard can be depicted in the sections below.
Inspiring Sustainable City
The amazing Sustainable City, a housing development in Dubai with 3,500 people already living there and it’s still not quite finished. This truly is a remarkable achievement, a stark lesson to building contractors the world over. It’s not more expensive to build and it’s hugely cheaper and more efficient to live in.
Inspiring sustainable city planning!
Source: Fully Charged
Read more here: The Sustainable City
Liquid Metal Battery
On 29 November 2018 Energy Futures Lab and the Dyson School of Design Engineering hosted Professor Donald Sadoway of MIT to discuss the impact the liquid metal battery could have on the future of gridscale energy storage.
Massive-scale electricity storage would offer huge benefits to today’s grid, reducing price volatility, improving stability against loss of power, increasing utilization of generation assets by enabling us to design towards average demand instead of peak demand, and deferring the costs of upgrading existing transmission lines. When it comes to tomorrow’s grid, storage is key to widespread integration of renewables, i.e., solar and wind, which due to their inherent intermittency present challenges for contribution to base load.
Comprising two liquid metal electrodes and a molten salt electrolyte, the liquid metal battery offers colossal current capability and long service lifetime at very low cost, i.e., the price point of the electricity market. The round-trip efficiency of these batteries is greater than 80% under daily 4 h discharge (C/4), producing 1MWh to about 650 Average Homes. Fade rates of 0.00009%/cycle have been measured which means retention of more than 99% of initial capacity after 10 years of daily cycling at full depth of discharge. There is much to be learned from the innovative process that led to the discovery of disruptive battery technology.
Donald R. Sadoway is the John F. Elliott Professor of Materials Chemistry in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His B.A.Sc. in Engineering Science, M.A.Sc. in Chemical Metallurgy, and Ph.D. in Chemical Metallurgy are all from the University of Toronto. He joined the MIT faculty in 1978. The author of over 170 scientific papers and holder of 28 U.S. patents, his research is directed towards the development of rechargeable batteries as well as environmentally sound technologies for metals extraction.
He is the founder of two companies, Ambri and Boston Metal. Online videos of his chemistry lectures hosted by MIT OpenCourseWare extend his impact on engineering education far beyond the lecture hall. Viewed 1,800,000 times, his TED talk is as much about inventing inventors as it is about inventing technology. In 2012 he was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.
But where does the energy source come from to charge these grid-scale batteries?
Solar Roadways® (SR) is a modular system of specially engineered solar panels that can be walked and driven upon. Our panels contain LED lights to create lines and signage without paint. They contain heating elements to prevent snow and ice accumulation. The panels have microprocessors, which makes them intelligent. This allows the panels to communicate with each other, a central control station, and vehicles. Many people are surprised to learn that our panels are made of glass… but not ordinary glass. SR panels are made of specifically formulated tempered glass, which can support the weight of semi-trucks. The glass has a tractioned surface which is equivalent to asphalt. You can read more technical information in the Specifics page.
The primary purpose of Solar Roadways is to generate clean renewable energy on roadways and any other surface that can be walked or driven upon. That would include: parking lots, sidewalks, driveways, tarmacs, plazas, bike paths, playgrounds, garden paths, pool surrounds, courtyards and the like.
There are many longstanding uses for solar power, which are terrific. The SR concept takes solar technology to a new level. The idea is to collect the substantial solar energy which hits these surfaces but is currently not being utilized. In this way, they will have a dual purpose: modern infrastructure + smart power grid.
In the U.S., the highway infrastructure is in a dismal state. Solar Roadways was awarded a Phase I SBIR (Small Business Innovative Research) contract by the USDOT to research the viability of creating a highway system that would pay for itself over time through the generation of renewable energy. After completing two contracts with the USDOT, it is apparent that this goal is viable. SR panels can become the nation’s smart grid, providing energy to homes and businesses along the way.
Currently, most state DOTs (Department of Transportation) are no longer generating enough income through the gas tax to be able to keep up with road repairs. The last few decades have brought dramatic technological changes to cars, cell phones, computers, cameras, and many other technologies, but roads remain virtually unchanged.
It is obvious that it is time to modernize the highway system and create the first roadway system with a return on investment (ROI). In this way, two goals can be accomplished simultaneously: the creation of a modular, modern infrastructure while creating the renewable energy needed to effectively end the current dependence on fossil fuels.
South Africa to trial new ‘plastic road’ – made from recycled materials
The Kouga Municipality has announced that it will trial South Africa’s first plastic road.
Horatio Hendricks, executive mayor of Kouga Municipality, said the local authority had entered a partnership with Scottish company MacRebur and South African civil engineering experts to build ‘the first plastic road’ in Jeffrey’s Bay.
Recycled Plastic Is Being Used To Repave Roads Around The World
Students at the University of California at San Diego could soon be driving toward a future without plastic pollution.
That’s because the university recently approved a road made with recycled plastic waste, the first time a road of this style has been paved in the United States, according to the school’s paper UCSD Guardian.
The road comes from the UK-based company MacReber, which has paved roads throughout its home country and in Australia.
Vertical farming is the practice of growing crops in vertically stacked layers. It often incorporates controlled-environment agriculture, which aims to optimize plant growth, and soilless farming techniques such as hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics. Some common choices of structures to house vertical farming systems include buildings, shipping containers, tunnels, and abandoned mine shafts.
The modern concept of vertical farming was proposed in 1999 by Dickson Despommier, professor of Public and Environmental Health at Columbia University. Despommier and his students came up with a design of a skyscraper farm that could feed 50,000 people. Although the design has not yet been built, it successfully popularized the idea of vertical farming. Current applications of vertical farmings coupled with other state-of-the-art technologies, such as specialized LED lights, have resulted in over 10 times the crop yield than would receive through traditional farming methods. There have been several different means of implementing vertical farming systems into communities such as: Paignton, Israel, Singapore, Chicago, Munich, London, Japan, and Lincolnshire.
The main advantage of utilizing vertical farming technologies is the increased crop yield that comes with a smaller unit area of land requirement. The increased ability to cultivate a larger variety of crops at once because crops do not share the same plots of land while growing is another sought-after advantage. Additionally, crops are resistant to weather disruptions because of their placement indoors, meaning less crops lost to extreme or unexpected weather occurrences. Lastly, because of its limited land usage, vertical farming is less disruptive to the native plants and animals, leading to further conservation of the local flora and fauna.