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A switch to battery electric vehicles is the best option for cleaner road transport, study finds

A switch to battery electric vehicles is the best option for cleaner road transport, study finds

January 25, 2021byThe widespread adoption of battery electric vehicles offers the greatest energy efficiency and potential for CO2 reduction, new analysis by Cambridge engineers has shown.But they warn that in order for the full potential of battery (BEVs) to be unlocked, grid improvements will be necessary to meet elevated electricity demand and work will need to be done to increase charging station availability to alleviate so-called "range-anxiety"—fear that occupants of BEVs will be left stranded due to insufficient range. Their findings are published in the journal Applied Energy.BEVs,...

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12h ago
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Tiny bio-inspired swarm robots for targeted medical interventions

Tiny bio-inspired swarm robots for targeted medical interventions

January 25, 2021by Ingrid Fadelli , Tech XploreMicro-sized robots could bring a new wave of innovation in the medical field by allowing doctors to access specific regions inside the human body without the need for highly invasive procedures. Among other things, these tiny robots could be used to carry drugs, genes or other substances to specific sites inside the body, opening up new possibilities for treating different medical conditions.Researchers at ETH Zurich and Helmholtz Institute Erlangen–Nürnberg for Renewable Energy have recently developed micro and nano-sized robots inspired by...

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12h ago
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Brave browser adds peer-to-peer IPFS protocol to combat censorship

Brave browser adds peer-to-peer IPFS protocol to combat censorship

January 20, 2021by Peter Grad , Tech XploreIn what might be the first salvo against the decades-long dominance of the HTTP protocol for internet data retrieval, an open source web browser devoted to privacy has introduced an option that allows for direct peer-to-peer transfers. This means that instead of relying on a massive network in which data are stored on dedicated servers, information can now rest on and be accessed from numerous nodes dispersed globally.The browser Brave this week issued an update that relies on IPFS—InterPlanetary File System—to collect data from a decentralized...

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5d ago
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Europe 2020 auto sales post record fall as virus hits

Europe 2020 auto sales post record fall as virus hits

January 19, 2021New car sales in Europe last year suffered a record fall of nearly 24 percent due to the coronavirus pandemic, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) said Tuesday."The EU passenger car contracted by 23.7 percent to 9.9 million vehicles as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic," the ACEA said in a statement."Containment measures—including full scale lockdowns and other restrictions throughout the year—had an unprecedented impact on car sales across the European Union," it said."2020 saw the biggest yearly drop in car demand since records began (in...

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5d ago
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Cheaper solar power means low-income families can also benefit – with the right kind of help

Cheaper solar power means low-income families can also benefit – with the right kind of help

January 19, 2021by Galen Barbose, Eric O'shaughnessy, and Ryan Wiser,Until recently, rooftop solar panels were a clean energy technology that only wealthy Americans could afford. But prices have dropped, thanks mostly to falling costs for hardware, as well as price declines for installation and other "soft" costs.Today hundreds of thousands of middle-class households across the U.S. are turning to . But households with incomes below the median for their areas remain less likely to go solar. These low- and moderate-income households face several roadblocks to solar adoption, including cash...

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6d ago
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New eco-friendly way to make ammonia could be boon for agriculture, hydrogen economy

New eco-friendly way to make ammonia could be boon for agriculture, hydrogen economy

January 20, 2021by Lachlan Gilbert,Ammonia has sustained humanity since the early 20th century, but its production leaves a huge carbon footprint. Now researchers have found a way to make it 100 percent renewable.Chemical engineers at UNSW Sydney and University of Sydney have found a way to make 'green' ammonia from air, water and renewable electricity that does not require the high temperatures, high pressure and huge infrastructure currently needed to produce this essential compound.And the new production method—demonstrated in a laboratory-based proof of concept—also has the potential to...

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6d ago
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An algorithm for optimizing the cost and efficiency of human-robot collaborative assembly lines

An algorithm for optimizing the cost and efficiency of human-robot collaborative assembly lines

January 15, 2021by Ingrid Fadelli , Tech XploreRobots are rapidly making their way into a variety of settings, including industrial and manufacturing facilities. So far, they have shown great potential for speeding up and automating a number of manufacturing processes by substituting or assisting human workers on assembly lines. To be adopted on a large scale, however, robots for manufacturing should be both efficient and relatively affordable.Researchers at Wuhan University of Science and Technology and University of Leicester have recently developed an optimization technique that could...

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Jan 15
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Experts reduce search times for novel high-entropy alloys 13,000-fold using Cuckoo Search

Experts reduce search times for novel high-entropy alloys 13,000-fold using Cuckoo Search

January 14, 2021byA major roadblock to computational design of high-entropy alloys has been removed, according to scientists at Iowa State University and Lehigh University. Engineers from the Ames Lab and Lehigh University's Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics have developed a process that reduces search time used for predictive design 13,000-fold.According to Ganesh Balasubramanian, an associate professor at Lehigh, the goal of the team's research was to accelerate the computational modeling of complex . The tools available for creating random distribution of atoms in...

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Jan 15
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Evolvable neural units that can mimic the brain's synaptic plasticity

Evolvable neural units that can mimic the brain's synaptic plasticity

January 14, 2021by Ingrid Fadelli , Tech XploreMachine learning techniques are designed to mathematically emulate the functions and structure of neurons and neural networks in the brain. However, biological neurons are very complex, which makes artificially replicating them particularly challenging.Researchers at Korea University have recently tried to reproduce the complexity of biological neurons more effectively by approximating the function of individual neurons and synapses. Their paper, published in Nature Machine Intelligence, introduces a of evolvable neural units (ENUs) that can...

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Jan 15
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Robot displays a glimmer of empathy to a partner robot

Robot displays a glimmer of empathy to a partner robot

January 11, 2021byLike a longtime couple who can predict each other's every move, a Columbia Engineering robot has learned to predict its partner robot's future actions and goals based on just a few initial video frames.When two primates are cooped up together for a long time, we quickly learn to predict the near-term actions of our roommates, co-workers or family members. Our ability to anticipate the actions of others makes it easier for us to successfully live and work together. In contrast, even the most intelligent and advanced robots have remained notoriously inept at this sort of...

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Jan 14
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Solar technology with the beauty of butterfly wings

Solar technology with the beauty of butterfly wings

January 11, 2021byPhotovoltaic and solar thermal systems are not always considered aesthetically enhancing to a building. The colored modules, however, being developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE are refreshingly challenging this perspective. Inspired by the phenomen that causes the shimmerings shades of blue or green of the wings of the morpho butterfly, the underlying mechanism of spectrally selective reflectance allows the finished modules to be a homogenously uniform color. Whether you want gorgeous bright tones or more subdued grays it is possible to design...

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Jan 14
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The compound that makes chili peppers spicy also boosts perovskite solar cell performance

The compound that makes chili peppers spicy also boosts perovskite solar cell performance

January 13, 2021byScientists in China and Sweden have determined that a pinch of capsaicin, the chemical compound that gives chili peppers their spicy sting, may be a secret ingredient for more stable and efficient perovskite solar cells. The research, published January 13 in the journal Joule, determined that sprinkling capsaicin into the precursor of methylammonium lead triiodide (MAPbI3) perovskite during the manufacturing process led to a greater abundance of electrons (instead of empty placeholders) to conduct current at the semiconductor's surface. The addition resulted in...

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Jan 14
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Machine learning accelerates discovery of materials for use in industrial processes

Machine learning accelerates discovery of materials for use in industrial processes

January 12, 2021byNew research led by researchers at the University of Toronto (U of T) and Northwestern University employs machine learning to craft the best building blocks in the assembly of framework materials for use in a targeted application.The findings, published today in Nature Machine Intelligence, demonstrated that the use of artificial intelligence (AI) approaches can help in proposing novel materials for diverse applications. One example is the separation of carbon dioxide from industrial combustion processes. AI approaches promise the acceleration of the design cycle for...

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Jan 14
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WhatsApp updates terms as moves to monetize app

WhatsApp updates terms as moves to monetize app

January 7, 2021The popular messaging app WhatsApp asked its some two billion users on Thursday to accept new terms that will allow it to share more information with its parent company Facebook and roll out advertising and e-commerce.The update sparked criticism among users as they must accept the changes or see their access to the service—which also allows encrypted voice and video calls—cut off from February 8.Facebook aims to monetise WhatsApp by allowing businesses to contact their clients via the platform, even sell them products directly using the service as they already do in...

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Jan 8
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UK car sales crash to almost 30-year low

UK car sales crash to almost 30-year low

January 6, 2021British new car sales crashed to the lowest level for almost three decades in 2020, with demand ravaged by chronic coronavirus fallout and Brexit uncertainty, industry data showed Wednesday.Sales tanked by 29.4 percent compared with 2019 to 1.63 million new vehicles, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said in a statement. That was the lowest level since 1992.The sector suffered a revenue loss of £20.4 billion ($27.7 billion, 22.6 billion euros), according to the industry organisation.Sales took a hit late last year also after the British government said it...

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Jan 7
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New research shows machine learning could lop a year off technology design cycle

New research shows machine learning could lop a year off technology design cycle

January 5, 2021byIf everything moved 40,000 times faster, you could eat a fresh tomato three minutes after planting a seed. You could fly from New York to L.A. in half a second. And you'd have waited in line at airport security for that flight for 30 milliseconds.Thanks to , designing materials for new, advanced technologies could accelerate that much.A research team at Sandia National Laboratories has successfully used machine learning— that improve themselves by learning patterns in data—to complete cumbersome materials science calculations more than 40,000 times faster than normal.Their...

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Jan 6
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Novel public-private partnership facilitates development of fusion energy

Novel public-private partnership facilitates development of fusion energy

December 30, 2020byThe U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) is collaborating with private industry on cutting-edge fusion research aimed at achieving commercial fusion energy. This work, enabled through a public-private DOE grant program, supports efforts to develop high-performance fusion grade plasmas. In one such project PPPL is working in coordination with MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) and Commonwealth Fusion Systems, a start-up spun out of MIT that is developing a tokamak fusion device called "SPARC."The goal of the project is to...

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Jan 4
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PSA and Fiat Chrysler investors approve mega-merger

PSA and Fiat Chrysler investors approve mega-merger

January 4, 2021by Taimaz Szirniks With Brigette Hagemann In MilanShareholders of the carmakers PSA and Fiat Chrysler gave their blessing Monday to a merger that catapults the new company, "Stellantis," into fourth place as the auto industry races to make the transition to cleaner cars.Approval for three merger resolutions tabled at PSA's annual shareholder meeting—held online—was nearly unanimous, PSA chief Carlos Tavares said.Fiat Chrysler shareholders later followed suit in their virtual vote, and a date for making the merger operational will be announced "very soon," said Tavares, who...

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Jan 4
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Designing approximate computation to save energy

Designing approximate computation to save energy

October 16, 2020byIf you think about computation, the words correctness, speed and precision probably come to mind. But the researchers of the OPRECOMP project beg to differ. They aim for developing a radically different, more flexible type of calculation called transprecision computing.Demolishing the 100% precision assumption, which underlies nearly all modern digital computing, is the overarching goal of the OPRECOMP research consortium led by IBM Research Europe in Zurich. In many applications, such precision is simply not necessary and uses too much energy. Instead, OPRECOMP will...

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Dec 31
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Extremely energy efficient microprocessor developed using superconductors

Extremely energy efficient microprocessor developed using superconductors

December 28, 2020by Akiko Tsumura, Yokohama National UniversityResearchers from Yokohama National University in Japan have developed a prototype microprocessor using superconductor devices that are about 80 times more energy efficient than the state-of-the-art semiconductor devices found in the microprocessors of today's high-performance computing systems.As today's technologies become more and more integrated in our daily lives, the need for more is ever increasing. Because of this increase, the of that increasing computational power is growing immensely. For example, so much energy is...

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Dec 29
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Future material demand for automotive lithium-based batteries

Future material demand for automotive lithium-based batteries

December 24, 2020by Thamarasee Jeewandara , Tech XploreAs the world shifts to electric vehicles to reduce climate change, it is important to quantify future demands for key battery materials. In a new report, Chengjian Xu, Bernhard Steubing and a research team at the Leiden University, Netherlands and the Argonne National Laboratory in the U.S. showed how the demands of a lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese oxide dominated battery will increase by many factors between 2020 to 2050. As a result, supply chains for lithium, cobalt and nickel will require significant expansion and likely...

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Dec 24
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Renewables offer savings for Philippine small islands

Renewables offer savings for Philippine small islands

December 23, 2020by SciDev.NetShifting to renewables in small islands and isolated areas can provide cheap, reliable energy to more than half of the Philippine population or around 50 million people, says a new report by the US-based"Access to reliable electricity is an important input to ensure healthcare and through cold storage of medication and food produce or fish," Sara Ahmed, author of the report, tells SciDev.Net.According to the report, published this month, if the -owned National Power Corporation's Small Power Utilities Group (NPC-SPUG) shifts away from subsidized diesel...

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Dec 24
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It's electrifying! This is how Earth could be entirely powered by sustainable energy

It's electrifying! This is how Earth could be entirely powered by sustainable energy

December 22, 2020byCan you imagine a world powered by 100% renewable electricity and fuels? It may seem fantasy, but a collaborative team of scientists has just shown this dream is theoretically possible—if we can garner global buy-in.The newly published research, led by Professor James Ward from the University of South Australia and co-authored by a team including Luca Coscieme from Trinity College Dublin, explains how a renewable future is achievable.The study, published in the international journal, Energies, explores what changes are needed in our mix and technologies, as well as in our...

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Dec 23
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High-flying Tesla joins S&P 500; skeptics say buyer beware

High-flying Tesla joins S&P 500; skeptics say buyer beware

December 21, 2020by Tom KrisherIn the middle of last year, Tesla's losses were piling up, sales weren't enough to cover expenses and big debt payments loomed. The situation was so bad that one influential Wall Street analyst raised the possibility that Tesla wouldn't be able to pay its bills and would have to be restructured financially.Since then, the electric car and solar panel maker's shares have skyrocketed, rising about 700% this year alone. Monday morning it joined the prestigious S&P 500 index with a market value of over $600 billion. It's the largest addition in the history of the...

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Dec 21
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New class of cobalt-free cathodes could enhance energy density of next-gen lithium-ion batteries

New class of cobalt-free cathodes could enhance energy density of next-gen lithium-ion batteries

December 19, 2020byOak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have developed a new family of cathodes with the potential to replace the costly cobalt-based cathodes typically found in today's lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles and consumer electronics.The new class called NFA, which stands for nickel-, iron- and aluminum-based cathode, is a derivative of lithium nickelate and can be used to make the positive electrode of a lithium-ion battery. These novel cathodes are designed to be fast charging, energy dense, cost effective, and longer lasting.With the rise in the...

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Dec 21
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