Photovoltaics in space, thermal batteries and the common limpet
What if photovoltaic farms were placed in space? According to employees of the universities of Surrey and Swansea, this will soon be possible. For the last six years, they have been observing the operation of a satellite launched into space, which collected sunlight and generated energy. Ultra-light photovoltaic panels have demonstrated resistance to thermal and vacuum conditions in space. This opens the way to photovoltaics in space – becoming independent from weather conditions and saving space on Earth.
Antora Energy Inc., a thermal battery startup, plans to build its first large-scale production facility in California. The company’s battery design resembles a steel shipping container filled with solid carbon blocks that can maintain high temperatures for many hours and days. Renewable energy, stored this way, as heat can be used in industrial production. Thermal battery modules that can be expanded will help heavy industry transition from fossil fuels and reduce its carbon footprint.
Scientists from, among others, the University of Portsmouth are exploring the secrets of the strongest naturally occurring material to use its advantages in engineering solutions. The radula, a chitinous fold at the bottom of the throat of the salt pan, a sea snail inhabiting the coast of Western Europe, allows it to feed on algae and scrape marks in rocks. The tensile strength of the radula – the greatest stress the material can withstand without cracking – is approximately 5 GPa.