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Concept: Electrical generator


Direct electric power generation using biological functions have become a research focus due to their low cost and cleanliness. Unlike major approaches using glucose fuels or microbial fuel cells (MFCs), we present a generation method with intrinsically high energy conversion efficiency and generation with arbitrary timing using living electric organs of Torpedo (electric rays) which are serially integrated electrocytes converting ATP into electric energy. We developed alternative nervous systems using fluid pressure to stimulate electrocytes by a neurotransmitter, acetylcholine (Ach), and demonstrated electric generation. Maximum voltage and current were 1.5 V and 0.64 mA, respectively, with a duration time of a few seconds. We also demonstrated energy accumulation in a capacitor. The current was far larger than that using general cells other than electrocytes (~pA level). The generation ability was confirmed against repetitive cycles and also after preservation for 1 day. This is the first step toward ATP-based energy harvesting devices.

Concepts: Coal, Electromagnetism, Neurotransmitter, Electricity, Energy conversion, Electric power, Electricity generation, Electrical generator


The history of science is filled with examples of key discoveries and breakthroughs that have been published as landmark texts or journal papers, and to which one can trace the origins of whole disciplines. Such paradigm-shifting publications include Copernicus' De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (1543), Isaac Newton’s Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687) and Albert Einstein’s papers on relativity (1905 and 1915). Michael Faraday’s 1832 paper on electromagnetic induction sits proudly among these works and in a sense can be regarded as having an almost immediate effect in transforming our world in a very real sense more than any of the others listed. Here we review the status of the subject-the relationship between magnetism and electricity both before and after Faraday’s paper and delve into the details of the key experiments he carried out at the Royal Institution outlining clearly how he discovered the process of electromagnetic induction, whereby an electric current could be induced to flow through a conductor that experiences a changing magnetic field. His ideas would not only enable Maxwell’s later development of his theory of classical electromagnetism, but would directly lead to the development of the electric dynamo and electric motor, two technological advances that are the very foundations of the modern world. This commentary was written to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

Concepts: Electrical generator, Electricity, Isaac Newton, Royal Society, Maxwell's equations, Magnetic field, Michael Faraday, Electromagnetism


Evaporation is a ubiquitous phenomenon in the natural environment and a dominant form of energy transfer in the Earth’s climate. Engineered systems rarely, if ever, use evaporation as a source of energy, despite myriad examples of such adaptations in the biological world. Here, we report evaporation-driven engines that can power common tasks like locomotion and electricity generation. These engines start and run autonomously when placed at air-water interfaces. They generate rotary and piston-like linear motion using specially designed, biologically based artificial muscles responsive to moisture fluctuations. Using these engines, we demonstrate an electricity generator that rests on water while harvesting its evaporation to power a light source, and a miniature car (weighing 0.1 kg) that moves forward as the water in the car evaporates. Evaporation-driven engines may find applications in powering robotic systems, sensors, devices and machinery that function in the natural environment.

Concepts: Water cycle, Earth, Water, Life, Ecology, Natural environment, Energy, Electrical generator


Since Michael Faraday and Joseph Henry made their great discovery of electromagnetic induction, there have been continuous developments in electrical power generation. Most people today get electricity from thermal, hydroelectric, or nuclear power generation systems, which use this electromagnetic induction phenomenon. Here we propose a new method for electrical power generation, without using electromagnetic induction, by mechanically modulating the electrical double layers at the interfacial areas of a water bridge between two conducting plates. We find that when the height of the water bridge is mechanically modulated, the electrical double layer capacitors formed on the two interfacial areas are continuously charged and discharged at different phases from each other, thus generating an AC electric current across the plates. We use a resistor-capacitor circuit model to explain the results of this experiment. This observation could be useful for constructing a micro-fluidic power generation system in the near future.

Concepts: Inductor, Electrical generator, Inductance, Nuclear power, Electric charge, Electricity, Michael Faraday, Electromagnetism


This work presents performance advancements of dispenser printed composite thermoelectric materials and devices. Dispenser printed thick films allow for low-cost and scalable manufacturing of microscale energy harvesting devices. A maximum ZT value of 0.31 has been achieved for mechanically alloyed (MA) n-type Bi(2)Te(3)-epoxy composite films with 1 wt % Se cured at 350 °C. The enhancement of ZT is a result of increase in the electrical conductivity through the addition of Se, which ultimately lowers the sintering temperature (350 °C). A 62 single-leg thermoelectric generator (TEG) prototype with 5 mm ×700 μm × 120 μm printed element dimensions was fabricated on a custom designed polyimide substrate with thick metal contacts. The prototype device produced a power output of 25 μW at 0.23 mA current and 109 mV voltage for a temperature difference of 20 °C, which is sufficient for low power generation for autonomous microsystem applications.

Concepts: Microtechnology, Radioisotope thermoelectric generator, Electricity, Thermoelectric effect, Electrical conductivity, Energy harvesting, Electrical generator, Thermogenerator


Wind turbines generate electricity by removing kinetic energy from the atmosphere. Large numbers of wind turbines are likely to reduce wind speeds, which lowers estimates of electricity generation from what would be presumed from unaffected conditions. Here, we test how well wind power limits that account for this effect can be estimated without explicitly simulating atmospheric dynamics. We first use simulations with an atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) that explicitly simulates the effects of wind turbines to derive wind power limits (GCM estimate), and compare them to a simple approach derived from the climatological conditions without turbines [vertical kinetic energy (VKE) estimate]. On land, we find strong agreement between the VKE and GCM estimates with respect to electricity generation rates (0.32 and 0.37 We m(-2)) and wind speed reductions by 42 and 44%. Over ocean, the GCM estimate is about twice the VKE estimate (0.59 and 0.29 We m(-2)) and yet with comparable wind speed reductions (50 and 42%). We then show that this bias can be corrected by modifying the downward momentum flux to the surface. Thus, large-scale limits to wind power use can be derived from climatological conditions without explicitly simulating atmospheric dynamics. Consistent with the GCM simulations, the approach estimates that only comparatively few land areas are suitable to generate more than 1 We m(-2) of electricity and that larger deployment scales are likely to reduce the expected electricity generation rate of each turbine. We conclude that these atmospheric effects are relevant for planning the future expansion of wind power.

Concepts: Renewable energy, Electrical generator, Environmental effects of wind power, Energy, Wind, Windmill, Wind power, Wind turbine


In this paper, Model Predictive Control and Dead-beat predictive control strategies are proposed for the control of a PMSG based wind energy system. The proposed MPC considers the model of the converter-based system to forecast the possible future behavior of the controlled variables. It allows selecting the voltage vector to be applied that leads to a minimum error by minimizing a predefined cost function. The main features of the MPC are low current THD and robustness against parameters variations. The Dead-beat predictive control is based on the system model to compute the optimum voltage vector that ensures zero-steady state error. The optimum voltage vector is then applied through Space Vector Modulation (SVM) technique. The main advantages of the Dead-beat predictive control are low current THD and constant switching frequency. The proposed control techniques are presented and detailed for the control of back-to-back converter in a wind turbine system based on PMSG. Simulation results (under Matlab-Simulink software environment tool) and experimental results (under developed prototyping platform) are presented in order to show the performances of the considered control strategies.

Concepts: Group, Derivative, Windmill, Wind power, Abstract algebra, Vector space, Wind turbine, Electrical generator


The past five years has seen considerable expansion of wind power generation in Ontario, Canada. Most recently worries about exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) from wind turbines, and associated electrical transmission, has been raised at public meetings and legal proceedings. These fears have not been based on any actual measurements of EMF exposure surrounding existing projects but appear to follow from worries from internet sources and misunderstanding of the science.

Concepts: Wind power in the United Kingdom, Health, Human, Electrical generator, Wind power, Electromagnetism, Wind turbine, Windmill


A detailed study of hitherto unknown electrical and thermoelectric properties of graphite pencil traces on paper was carried out by measuring the Hall and Seebeck effects. We show that the combination of pencil-drawn graphite and brush-painted PEDOT:PSS films on regular office paper results in extremely simple, low-cost and environmentally friendly thermoelectric power generators with promising output characteristics at low-temperature gradients. The working characteristics can be improved even further by incorporating n-type InSe flakes. The combination of pencil drawn n-InSe:graphite nanocomposites and brush-painted PEDOT:PSS increases the power output by one order of magnitude.

Concepts: Film, Transmitter power output, Art, Electrical generator, Bismuth telluride, Pencil, Electricity, Thermoelectric effect


This study provides scenarios towards 2050 for the demand of five metals in electricity production, cars and electronic appliances. The metals considered are copper, tantalum, neodymium, cobalt and lithium. The study shows how highly technology-specific data on products and material flows can be used in integrated assessment models to asses global resource and metal demand. We use the Shared Socio-economic Pathways as implemented by the IMAGE integrated assessment model as a starting point. This allows us to translate information on the use of electronic appliances, cars and renewable energy technologies into quantitative data on metal flows, through application of metal content estimates in combination with a dynamic stock model. Results show that total demand for copper, neodymium and tantalum might increase by a factor of roughly 2 to 3.2, mostly as a result of population and GDP growth. The demand for lithium and cobalt is expected to increase much more, by a factor 10 to more than 20, as a result of future (hybrid) electric car purchases. This means that not just demographics, but also climate policies can strongly increase metal demand. This shows the importance of studying the issues of climate change and resource depletion together, in one modelling framework.

Concepts: Nuclear fission, Electrical generator, Aluminium, Model, Chemical elements, Renewable energy, Nickel, Metal