Is it possible to design a material to fulfil current methane storage goals?

nanotech methane

This is the question that a multi-disciplinary research team set out to answer by rapidly screening hundreds of thousands of possible methane storage materials in a computational study. Methane could reduce global dependence on oil so the search is on for nanoporous materials to act as fuel tanks for this tricky-to-store gas; but things are not looking promising.

‘Natural gas storage in porous materials provides the key advantage of being able to store significant natural gas at low pressures than compressed gas at the same conditions,’ explains engineer Mike Veenstra of Ford Motor Company, US, who was not involved in the research. ‘The advantage of low pressure is the benefit it provides both on-board the vehicle and off-board at the station. On the vehicle, low pressure reduces the tank attributes along with the other components. At the station, low pressure reduces the compressor stages along with the attributes of other components.’

Implanted into the brain or spinal column, they can transmit drugs, light, and electrical signals.

MIT multimodal fibers 01

The human brain’s complexity makes it extremely challenging to study — not only because of its sheer size, but also because of the variety of signaling methods it uses simultaneously. Conventional neural probes are designed to record a single type of signaling, limiting the information that can be derived from the brain at any point in time. Now researchers at MIT may have found a way to change that.

By producing complex multimodal fibers that could be less than the width of a hair, they have created a system that could deliver optical signals and drugs directly into the brain, along with simultaneous electrical readout to continuously monitor the effects of the various inputs. The new technology is described in a paper appearing in the journal Nature Biotechnology, written by MIT’s Polina Anikeeva and 10 others. An earlier paper by the team described the use of similar technology for use in spinal cord research.

The Quantum Materials program at SIMES addresses outstanding questions in the field of Condensed Matter and Materials Physics (CMMP) related to the collective behavior of strongly correlated and magnetic materials. Largely stimulated by the discoveries of new forms of order and rich phenomena in correlated materials, these questions are at the heart of the Basic Energy Science grand challenge to understand the emergence of collective phenomena.

Emergence: Strange Behavior

 nanosolar_dots_and_wires.jpgUsing exotic particles called quantum dots as the basis for a photovoltaic cell is not a new idea, but attempts to make such devices have not yet achieved sufficiently high efficiency in converting sunlight to power. A new wrinkle added by a team of researchers at MIT — embedding the quantum dots within a forest of nanowires — promises to provide a significant boost.

Photovoltaics (PVs) based on tiny colloidal quantum dots have several potential advantages over other approaches to making solar cells: They can be manufactured in a room-temperature process, saving energy and avoiding complications associated with high-temperature processing of silicon and other PV materials. They can be made from abundant, inexpensive materials that do not require extensive purification, as silicon does. And they can be applied to a variety of inexpensive and even flexible substrate materials, such as lightweight plastics.

MIT engineers have created a new polymer film that can generate electricity by drawing on a ubiquitous source: water vapor.

The new material changes its shape after absorbing tiny amounts of evaporated water, allowing it to repeatedly curl up and down. Harnessing this continuous motion could drive robotic limbs or generate enough electricity to power micro- and nanoelectronic devices, such as environmental sensors.

Solar_Diagram.pngPrinceton researchers have found a simple and economical way to nearly triple the efficiency of organic solar cells, the cheap and flexible plastic devices that many scientists believe could be the future of solar power.

The researchers, led by electrical engineer Stephen Chou, were able to increase the efficiency of the solar cells 175 percent by using a nanostructured "sandwich" of metal and plastic that collects and traps light. Chou said the technology also should increase the efficiency of conventional inorganic solar collectors, such as standard silicon solar panels, although he cautioned that his team has not yet completed research with inorganic devices.

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