Posted on 17 August 2015.
Research team designs nanochip that is capable of examining nanocatalysts within fuel cells
A team of researchers from UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute have developed a new tool that will be able to analyze how nanocatalysts foster chemical reactions to produce electrical power. These nanocatalysts are typically used in fuel cells, which consume hydrogen fuel in order to generate energy. Being able to analyze the chemical reactions occurring within a fuel cell could give researchers more insight into how to improve fuel cell technology, thereby making the energy systems less expensive and more efficient.
Modern observation methods are considered inefficient when measuring fuel cell activity
Current observation methods require large laboratory machines in order to adequately measure the chemical reactions that are occurring within a fuel cell. UCLA researchers have developed a nanoelectronic chip which will be able to conduct the same measurements in a more efficient fashion. During experiments, the nanochip proved to be more accurate in collecting and measuring data from fuel cells. This data can be analyzed to better understand the machinations of fuel cells and how they can be improved.
A better understanding of hydrogen fuel cells may help improve technology
Hydrogen fuel cells have become a very important tool within the renewable energy space. These energy systems can produce large quantities of electrical power without producing any harmful emissions. This has made them quite popular within the auto industry, but fuel cells still face many challenges that are barring their widespread success. One of the main challenges that fuel cells face is their high cost, largely due to their use of platinum. They are also somewhat inefficient when compared to other forms of renewable energy systems.
Nanochip may provide researchers with a way to produce better nanocatalysts
The new nanochip will also give researchers a chance to gain a better understanding of nanocatalysts and how they facilitate electrochemical reactions in fuel cell materials. These catalysts are considered somewhat more efficiency and less expensive than other types of catalysts, and forming a better understanding of how they operate may help significantly improve hydrogen fuel cell technology.
Posted in Featured News, Hydrogen Fuel Cell, Research
Posted on 01 August 2013.
Solar energy breakthrough achieved by UCLA researchers
Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) have made a major breakthrough in the field of solar energy. The team has been working on developing a new kind of solar cell that could change the way energy is harnessed from sunlight and open up more efficient options when it comes to tapping into this energy. Researchers have developed a transparent photovoltaic film that may be able to turn nearly any surface into a solar energy collector.
Transparent solar cells are gaining more notice
Transparent solar cells are relatively new to the field of clean energy. The concept behind these solar cells is simple as they are designed to collect sunlight without blocking the passage of this light. These solar cells could be affixed to windows, giving homes a new way to generate the electrical power they need throughout the day without blocking out light. While transparent solar cells have several attractive qualities, there are major challenges regarding efficiency that have yet to be overcome before these solar cells can be considered viable.
Solar cell is able to tap into a wider spectrum of light
The solar cell developed by UCLA researchers is comprised of two thin layers of a polymer material. Researchers suggest that their device is able to collect sunlight and generate electrical power more efficiently than conventional transparent solar cells. Part of the reason behind the solar cells higher efficiency has to do with its ability to collect a wider spectrum of light than its counterparts. Absorbing a wider spectrum of light allows the solar cell to generate more electrical power.
New solar cell is more efficient than previous iterations
UCLA researchers note that their solar cell is capable of converting sunlight into electrical power with 7.3% efficiency. In 2012, researchers were able to use their device to convert sunlight into electrical power with 4% efficiency. There are still many challenges that must be overcome before the transparent solar cell can be considered a viable solar energy system. One of these challenges has to do with scaling up the solar cell so that it can be used to produce large amounts of solar energy.
Posted in Alternative Energy, Featured News, Research, Science, Solar Energy, United States
Posted on 24 September 2012.
Policy paper calls for legislative action to support adoption of electric vehicles
A new policy paper from the UCLA and UC Berkeley Schools of Law has been released and highlights the legislative actions that should be taken to ensure the mass-adoption of electric vehicles. Electric vehicles had once been considered a novelty, but have proven their capabilities and prowess over the past several years. Now, electric vehicles are often considered a viable replacement for traditional cars, especially for those that are concerned for the environment. Though consumers have been showing interest in electric vehicles, lawmakers have been slow to stimulate long-terms growth in the adoption of such vehicles.
California boasts of strong position in national market
California accounts for 11% of the national market for electric vehicles. As such, it holds significant influence over the auto industry and the companies devoted to the production of such vehicles. Though California holds a prominent place in the market, there is little being done to incentivize the adoption of electric vehicles, a fact that could hurt the state’s market presence and make it unattractive for automakers. According to the policy paper, legislative action on the federal, state, and local level must be taken in order to ensure the mass-adoption of electric vehicles by 2025.
Challenges must be overcome through legislative action
The U.S. market, as a whole, faces significant challenges in ensuring the mass-adoption of electric vehicles. Though consumers have shown some interest in electric vehicles, the vast majority are unfamiliar with such cars and have no information concerning their performance. The lack of a comprehensive infrastructure is also a serious issue. The cost of electric vehicles has also driven many consumers away from the market. Most of the problems facing the market can be solved through legislative action, but only if lawmakers are willing to take such action.
Recommendations on improving appeal of electric vehicles
The policy paper offers some recommendations that could help facilitate the mass-adoption of electric vehicles. Educating consumers is among the most significant actions that can be taken in this effort. Reducing the fees and costs that consumers and automakers face in the market is also expected to produce promising results. Finally, developing an expansive, easy to use infrastructure will help ensure that consumers have little excuse to avoid electric vehicles.
Posted in Alternative Energy, Featured News, Industry, Political, Research, Transportation, United States
Posted on 23 July 2012.
Research team makes progress with solar energy technology
Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have made progress on the research and development of transparent solar cells. These types of solar cells have been growing in popularity within the science and technology communities because of their possible applications in creating solar energy systems. Because they are transparent, the cells could be affixed to windows, allowing for the passive generation of solar energy without the need for the common photovoltaic solar panels that are often associated with solar energy installations.
New transparent solar cells could have major implications for solar energy
The research and development of transparent solar cells has been going on for several years. Breakthroughs have been relatively uncommon, but UCLA researchers believe they have made promising progress in making transparent solar cells a reality. Researchers have developed a solar cell that is 70% invisible to the human eye and capable of producing electricity through the absorption of infrared light. Professor Yang Yang, director of the Nano Renewable Energy Center at the California NanoSystems Institute and leader of the research team, believes that this breakthrough could have promising implications to the world of solar energy.
Cells made of lightweight, cost effective materials
According to UCLA researchers, the new transparent solar cells are made of plastic-like materials that make them lightweight and flexible. These materials also mean that the solar cells can be produced in large quantities at an affordable price. Such a feature is expected to be a major boon for the solar cells if they should ever reach the commercial market. The UCLA research team has conducted studies concerning their transparent solar cell, the findings of which can be found in the journal ACS Nano.
Solar cells may make solar energy more popular
With solar energy beginning to garner more attention in the U.S. for its applications in the residential sector, efforts to make more efficient and effective solar energy technologies have begun to grow more serious. Transparent solar cells could help solar energy gain popularity as it would add more versatility to energy systems and provide consumers with greater variety.
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Posted in Alternative Energy, Featured News, Research, Science, Solar Energy, United States
Posted on 19 March 2012.
Researchers from UCLA have developed a new way to produce supercapacitors. Supercapacitors are the common term referring to electrochemical capacitors. These technologies are capable of storing massive electrical charges and can discharge this energy more quickly than batteries. Supercapacitors are often considered the best form of energy storage currently available, but their production is costly and time consuming. UCLA researchers believe they have solved the problem of cost by using graphene, an allotrope of carbon.
By using graphene, researchers have been able to construct affordable supercapacitors that are significantly more powerful than their previous incarnations. Researchers say that these graphene supercapacitors can charge and discharge electricity nearly one thousand times faster than conventional batteries. These capacitors are also able to store much more energy than their predecessors. UCLA believes that its new capacitors could be the key to reliable and efficient energy storage for sustainable power.
Researchers have a great deal of work left to do in order to determine the viability of their new capacitors. In the future, these capacitors could be used alongside alternative energies like hydrogen and solar power and may be capable of storing the electricity produced by these energy systems for years. This could be considered a major victory for the world of alternative energy, as renewable fuel has long been held back from commercialization due to issues with reliable and efficient storage.
Posted in Alternative Energy, Featured News, Hydrogen Fuel Storage, Research, Science, United States