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Energy

Renewable energy development relies on the circular battery economy

At an unprecedented pace, the green energy market is increasing. For the first time in 2020, renewables have produced more energy in the United Kingdom. Solar energy is the “least expensive electricity in history.” than fossil fuels, according to the International Energy Agency. But, although the renewable energy market’s potential is expanding, renewables only contribute just 11% of the globe’s primary energy. This is only twice the proportion given by renewables over 50 years earlier. The switch to renewables’ speed needs to be increased, with the United Nations anticipating an overshoot of goals of the Paris Agreement 2030, close to 32 billion metric tons of Carbon dioxide.

Several hurdles have delayed the green energy transformation. For years, economic hurdles have included non-renewable energy incentives, low oil prices, which have reduced investment in renewable energy, and infrastructure construction costs. External obstacles, including civic concerns over improvements to urban environments and disturbances to existing ways of life, have also limited development. International demand and recognition of the detrimental impacts of electricity generated from fossil fuels are catalyzing political policy to decarbonize the energy market. However, these obstacles are enduring. For example, the EU’s European Green Agreement lays out a roadmap for net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by the year 2050, and China is taking action to reach carbon neutrality by the year 2060. Renewables are attracting new funding, with politicians setting a path for transition.

In October, the Financial Times reported that stocks of hydrogen power equipment maker ITM Power had increased by 220%, while Dutch energy storage firm Alfen leaped by over 230%. In the meantime, in terms of stock market valuation, the Florida-based “clean energy” supplier NextEra Energy has overtaken the global oil and gas firm ExxonMobil, which once held the world’s highest share value.

Some major oil firms are now making investments in renewables. Total has agreed to a big solar plant in Qatar, while ENI SpA has vowed to reduce the emissions by 80% by 2050. Mercuria, a Swiss commodity trader, is now spending $1.5 billion with private equity investors in North American renewable energy ventures. And the decision of BP to write down properties worth about $17.5 billion on the grounds that they were “no longer economical” may be a turning point in the energy sector.

Despite these major strides forward, though, there is a fundamental technological barrier: energy storage. Chief executive of Aceleron, Amrit Chandan,  a lithium-ion battery tech firm, observes: “Renewables are sporadic, implying that they will need the assistance of batteries to preserve clean energy to be used when the sun is not shining as well as the wind is not blowing. Battery technology is vital.”

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Space

Traditions gave the crew heading for the lunar mission an opportunity to interact

The costumes gracing the floors leading to the crew members’ bedrooms one morning were evidence that one of them was celebrating a tradition. Apparently, a Slovakian, Michaela Musilova, the director of HI-SEAS, expressed her thanks to the crew according to the date they celebrate thanksgiving in their country. Michaela Musilova explained that it was always a surprise to her crew members when she would be celebrating her country’s traditions. The other crew members supported this to bring the vitality that comes with festivities. While the vice commander, James Ward, issued everyone a face mask with NASA logos, the chief science officer, Emily Seto, issued a Flipstick adhesive to create an atmosphere of festivities. 

Emily introduced the flipsticks to show everyone that the flipstick’s adhesive properties could be assigned to other electronics like phones by sticking them on surfaces. This move would enable the astronauts to continue with other operations like laboratory experiments and fieldwork. The other technology that the scientists are analyzing is the Lettuce Grow hydroponics system under the Sensoria M3 mission. Emily reached out to Lettuce Grow to widen the scope of foods from which the scientists and astronauts could select and evaluate its proficiency as a diet during the lunar mission. Moreover, the company’s products have displayed that they can grow properly under the LED lights maintaining the freshness and growth of the plants with the supplied temperature and humidity changes in the habitat. Additionally, the results of these plants may facilitate their selection as food in the upcoming space missions. 

The Lettuce Grow mini-greenhouse will be offering fresh food and at the same time serve as a Christmas tree habitat. The presents brought forward by the crew became their decorations for this lunar festive season coupled with a rubber chicken that made cocky noises. Musilova joked about using the squeaky chicken as a perfect alarm to wake the astronauts, and it was more efficient than an alarm clock. Additionally, she narrated that the chicken safeguards their ingredients to avoid wastage by the crew members considering that they have few ingredients for their meals. 

The team has been working consistently with morale, especially now that they are the only people roaming this part of the moon. The mission will be successful if the astronauts work as a team and not let their differences get the best of them. Musilova has always felt a tinge of happiness working with a crew for such a long time as they became familiar and related well with each other. 

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Space

NASA’s Astrophysics Division is gradually accepting the reality of CubeSats and smallsats

NASA’s Astrophysics Division smallsats lead programmer, Michel Garcia, revealed at the virtual American Geophysical Union conference that the agency would be choosing three Astrophysics Pioneers missions while supporting them with $20 million. Garcia explained that the agency developed the Astrophysics Pioneers initiative to conduct astrophysics science on a pilot-scale than going the traditional explorative way. Garcia articulated this at the NASA Astrophysics Committee nine months ago. Pioneers are ready to facilitate investigations capping $10 million for the Astrophysics Research and Analysis program, a Space Grant program’s Research and Opportunities subsidiary. 

The Pioneers missions can book rideshare opportunities on CubeSats larger than six portions, satellite constellations, small satellites, the International Space Station, or space vehicles that stay in the atmosphere for one month or more. The $20 million capital for Pioneers exclusive of the deployment costs. Lead engineers of the Pioneers missions suggested 24 missions to host the next-generation coronagraphs, versatile clocks, polarimeters, and radiofrequency meters. These missions will be heading for different orbits, including the cis-lunar space and the Lagrange Point 2. This year, NASA developed the Pioneers program to motivate researchers to utilize affordable satellite buses, developed balloon technology, and affordable space escorts to conduct their scientific research. 

Garcia outlined that the program is a great opportunity for the researchers to grow their bond with the commercial space services providers. The executive stated some of the commercial entities that were doing urging the cosmic scientists and researchers to take advantage of these opportunities while they are available. For instance, SpaceX intends to give rideshare opportunities to the 200-kilogram payloads heading to the sun-synchronous orbit for $1 million is an affordable alternative that any scientist with a CubeSat can utilize to conduct their experiment. Moreover, Garcia noted that York Space Systems would be offering a three-axis-stabilized satellite for astronomical studies. Such missions help scientists to conduct costly missions that would be costly when pursued independently. 

Garcia continued to outline the companies offering rideshare missions like Blue Canyon Technologies, undergoing acquisition by Raytheon Technologies, a versatile space bus. The advantage of this bus is that it can host a half-meter telescope. The NASA Astrophysics Division has been procuring CubeSat proposals for the last eight years to make the best of them while they are in space. Some of the CubeSats that the agency solicited include the Colorado Ultraviolet Transit Experiment (CUTE), which they will be deploying next year via the Landsat 9 Earth observation satellite. 

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Space

Isar Aerospace and Orbex generating capital to facilitate the development of small deployment vehicles

These two companies have garnered $115 million to enable them to resume the development of small launch vehicles that will launch in the next two years. Isar Aerospace, a German company, revealed that it had received $91 million in the Series B fundraiser. Europe’s Lakestar capital fund came first in this operation, with Vsquared Ventures and Earlybird following with their investments. Series A round witnessed Isar Aerospace receiving $17 million and is in the process of developing a deployment vehicle known as Spectrum that will deploy 1000 kilograms of payload in the low-Earth orbit. The company publicized the deal it had procured with the French space agency CNES to facilitate deployments from the spaceport in French Guiana. The CEO of Isar Aerospace, Daniel Metzler, stated that they have enough capital to meet the development and deployment of the small launch vehicles, with each test assuring the success of the missions. He boasted that this launch would be the first eventful deployment of a German spacecraft into the low-Earth orbit. 

Metzler explained that the spacecraft deployment would be happening in the next two years. The company has been adamant to reveal the customers who have applied for rideshare missions on the space vehicle. However, he outlined that the company has recorded contracts with customers looking for single payload deployment services while others require the launch of constellations of satellites. The company revealed that about all of its investors is European. Metzler articulated that they invited globally known investors before selecting the likes of Lakestar, who are known for developing multimillion-dollar companies like Spotify, which know the operations of the ecosystem in the international scenes. Metzler noted that the trend that investors are pursuing is the companies that have the expertise of venturing into deep technology. 

Stephen Nundy of Lakestar stated that Isar Aerospace would create a chance for Europe to remain in the lead when it comes to affordability and the procurement of launch activities for the satellite constellations undergoing development. He added that they intend to secure their position in the space ecosystem through investment to facilitate society’s advancement through technology. Moreover, Isar Aerospace has recieved support from the German government equivalent to 500000 euros through the European Space Agency. On the other hand, Orbex stated that new funding would facilitate the development of Prime vehicles in the next two years. The CEO of Orbex, Chris Larmour, said that they have raised about $70 million. The Prime vehicle is engineered to deploy 150 kilograms to the sun-synchronous orbit. 

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Space

New spacecraft fuel gauges could hold satellites operating for longer

As a spacecraft flies, it uses about 75-90% of the propellant to reach orbit. The residual fraction decides how long it will last up there, so it is no easy feat in zero gravity to calculate the amount of fuel that remains in the tank. Research teams at the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology now have a solution based on a sensor suite that measures the liquid’s capacitance within the fuel tank of a spacecraft and uses this data to recreate a three-dimensional map of the remaining fuel. The prototype model could allow satellites to work for longer, according to the team, while also helping to deter harmful end-of-life collisions.

Liquid propellants bind to the interior of fuel tank walls under zero-gravity environments due to surface friction as well as capillary effects. This volatile spatial distribution makes it impossible to determine fuel levels. Propellants are also free, none of which exists on Earth, to slosh around, float, and form bubbles. 

Several methods for calculating onboard spacecraft propellants have been developed. One of the most popular, known as the methodology of bookkeeping, includes calculating how much is consumed with each thrust as well as subtracting this from the amount of fuel remaining in the tank. At the outset of a task, but although this methodology is extremely precise, each calculation error carries over to another. It accrues with each thrust, explains team member Nick Dagalakis, a mechanical engineer. “The calculations become more like approximate guesses by the period a tank is close to zero and can miss the point by as much as 10 percent,” he says.

Satellite operators are in a dilemma, Dagalakis adds, without accurate fuel calculations. It is a waste of resources to delete a satellite while it still has a lot of fuel remaining, but leaving the tank to run empty could leave the satellite stuck, with no remaining fuel to avoid other craft or travel to a secure orbit. NASA technology transition chief Manohar Deshpande has developed a new fuel gauge based on a 3D imaging technology known as electrical capacitance volume tomography (ECVT). In general, tomography is a means of analyzing an object’s internal structure without destroying it; familiar examples comprise positron emission tomography (PET), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and routine hospital-based X-ray tomography.

ECVT is a more modern version that uses a variety of electromagnetic wave-emitting sensors. The other sensors in the array will sense these waves, and how far they are distributed relies on the capacitance of whatever lies between them. If there’s nothing, the transmission is going to be big. However, if an object is available, the transmission will decrease as some electromagnetic waves will be absorbed by the object. Therefore by positioning these sensors around a container and measuring the signal at several places, a 3D image of the container’s objects can be generated.

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Space

The Chang’e 5 spacecraft is ready to return the samples from the lunar orbit

The Chang’e-5 spacecraft is ready to deploy the samples collected from the lunar mission back to Earth for further analysis by scientists. The spacecraft coming from the Moon will be coming back to Earth with the samples gathered from this celestial body. The two spacecraft carrying these samples will make turns similar to those of the US missions in the 1960s and 1970s to prevent alteration of the samples during the spacecraft land on Earth. This mission will prove that China is ready to exploit the new technology that it has been working on in recent years., 

The technology will also be visible in the ZhengHe asteroid sample collection mission to retrieve samples from Mars. Nevertheless, the country is prepared to tackle any hitch in the test operations before they can deploy the spacecraft to the planet. The country has conducted several robotic and docking missions in the low-Earth orbit utilizing the Tiangong, Tianzhou, and Shenzhou, which was hosting passengers. This team’s challenge retrieving the samples from the Moon includes the distance between the Moon and Earth, over 400 kilograms that must be hosted by the spacecraft to Earth without succumbing to gravitational pull. 

Peng Jing, a senior designer of the Change-5 spacecraft at the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), explained that the mission must attain the highest accuracy in docking to secure the samples collected from the Moon with an error allowance of five centimeters. Experts articulated that they won’t have expectations for the country to air such a mission since they have proved time and again that they like their missions to remain confidential until they have confirmed its success or failure. 

Nevertheless, in other cases, the country has live-streamed its missions through its TV and YouTube channels to scare away the countries that pry on their operations. Dr. Lin Yangting of the Institute of Geology and Geophysics in Beijing explained that the docking area is apparent with the necessary facilities to keep the spacecraft coming in at the sweet landing spots. The official added that they would be observing the landing area to ensure the rocks can withstand the traction of gravity that will be pressing on the incoming cargo. 

A planetary geologist at the University of Lorraine, Jessica Flahaut, outlined that they have completed transferring the radar and spectrometer to the docking site for further flight landing tests and land observation. Finally, the engineers overseeing the docking have already tested the procedure through simulations and practically with a spacecraft prototype. China is hopeful that the scientists can pull through this mission successfully. 

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Energy

Surprising patterns that impact solar PV technology

The performance of solar PV technology has increased rapidly in recent years due to numerous variables, including technical innovation and cost reductions in materials. Nevertheless, according to Milicent Chidamba, JinkoSolar’s South Africa sales boss, all solar PV projects have something in common: a utility scale or a C&I plant and substantial R&D advances. This common denominator consists of three competing criteria, namely optimal efficiency, lowest cost, and reliable goods, that have to be met. Also, JP de Villiers, Managing Director of Soventix South Africa, emphasized that green energy systems’ status quo is that as little space as possible generates the most energy.

When evaluating current module technology, half-cut PERC cells are the most advanced and popular by far, says De Villiers. He adds: “We are seeing those for high-efficiency modules becoming more and more of the norm.” We’re going to have to look at the development of much larger wafers to enable modules to evolve even more. De Villiers added, but the market reaches the stage where advances and breakthroughs in cell biology are becoming more difficult to accomplish. This phase is currently ongoing. Beyond the package, producers should work. Although the high-efficiency panels cost is higher, they lead to more power per square meter, requiring fewer modules and space with lower BOS costs and less building, he said.

During a technological presentation at the Digital Energy Festival organized by ESI Africa, Chidamba took the crowd on a brief tour of how the product range of the business has developed over the previous 3 months in response to the PV industry’s development. The Tiger Pro Series is based on a 182-millimeter wafer, which is rapidly becoming an industry norm, Chidamba explained.  She figured out that both panels have a 12-year product power guarantee. Simultaneously, the mono face offers a “linear power guarantee of 25 years”, and they offer a 30-year linear power warranty for bifacial.

She accepted that the 78-cell module can achieve an overall power output of 580 watts but that it is only available as a bifacial with a transparent back sheet.” “The key technology we have used in this particular module is the tiling ribbon technology, that removes the cell gap and enables us to reach the optimum power output and also high efficiency for that system in that class,” she said. The product creation of the business aims to combine both of these three competing demands, according to Chidamba. The Pro series saves your device costs in terms of understanding these specifications, especially LCOE. In two dimensions, this is done. The first is the maximization of the power class; Tiger Pro Series modules will cross 540 watts on a 72 cell and 580 watts on a 78 cell,’ Chidamba said.

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Energy

Report on how ready the First Responders are for impromptu EVs Fires?

The passenger electric vehicle sales have registered a huge increase within a short time. For instance, the numbers have changed from 450,000 to 2.1 million between 2015 and 2019. That’s according to Bloomberg’s service in charge of primary research, Bloomberg NEF. Other findings are an increase in alternative fuel vehicles (AFV), including hybrid/electric vehicles. Forecasts show that more than half of passenger vehicles’ total sales will be electric by 2040.

However, there is a drawback: the unpreparedness of fire departments in case of burning lithium-ion batteries that might increase with the increase in EVs. According to a report from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, the training and equipment to deal with battery-related fires in many departments leave a lot to be desired.

Lithium-ion batteries existed way before the discovery of Electric Vehicles. They are used in laptops, cell phones, and e-cigarette. In some instances, they have exploded or caught fire, and the EVs are no exception. Such incidents occur if it faces a puncture, damage, or exposure to extreme heat. Some examples are a Tesla Model S in 2013 along a Seattle highway and a Porsche Taycan in February 2020 while in a Florida garage.

Fires are not new, which explains why emergency responders deal with trucks and cars among other highway vehicles that catch fire quite well. However, it is different when it comes to lithium –ion batteries since the variables and risks are not the same as those of similar fires.

For instance, a burning electric vehicle produces up to 100 organic compounds. Some of them are extremely dangerous, including hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide. Therefore, there is a need for responders to wear protective gear if they want to stay alive. Other concerns are re-ignition and the fact that typical fire extinguishing mechanisms don’t work when it comes to those fires.

The heat is high enough to produce a temperature of 5000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is way higher than gasoline fuel fire. Using foam or water is not an option because it could lead to flare-ups and electric shock in other cases. Therefore, it is understandable that firefighters, witnesses, passengers, and drivers may not be able to deal with it if it was to happen.

According to NTSB, training firefighters is essential, especially at such a time when electric vehicle fires seem to be increasing. A survey showed that out of 32 U.S. fire departments involved, 31 percent didn’t offer its crew special training. However, with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) help, training could be available for alternative fuel vehicles. Consequently, both the first and second responders would be better positioned in case of an outbreak.