MIT Energy Research Council

MIT

Here is an excertp from Wired Magazine.

Below are some examples of the MIT research projects the Energy Research Council will be sponsoring and developing:

  • Spinach solar power: Tapping the secrets of photosynthesis — engineering proteins from spinach — to make organic solar cells whose efficiency could outstrip the best silicon photovoltaic arrays today.
  • Silicon superstrings: A novel approach to manufacturing conventional silicon photovoltaic arrays by pulling the chips in stringy ribbons out of a molten stew like taffy rather than slicing them from silicon ingots.
  • Laptop-powered hybrids: Using a new generation of lithium-based batteries (which power most portable electronics today) to cut the price and charge-time of hybrid and electric car batteries.
  • Tubular battery tech: Using “supercapacitors” made from carbon nanotubes to store charge — rather than the chemical reactions that power most batteries — resulting in a lightweight, high-capacity battery that could someday give even the laptop battery a run for its money.
  • Hold the A/C: Optimizing air and heat flow on a new computer-aided design system, before a building’s construction begins, allowing for the building’s air conditioning costs to be cut by as much as 50 percent.
  • Hybrid without the hybrid: Turbocharging an automobile engine with plasma from a small ethanol tank (which would need to be refilled about as often as the oil needs changing), reportedly increasing fuel efficiency almost to the level of a hybrid — but only adding $500-$1,000 to the car’s sticker price.
  • More light than heat: Generating a car’s electricity photoelectrically (using a gas-powered light and a small, specially designed solar panel) rather than mechanically (using an alternator), substantially increasing fuel efficiency.
  • Coal-powered biofuels: Bubbling exhaust from a coal-fired power plant through a tank of algae that’s been bred to siphon off much of the exhaust’s carbon dioxide — in the process, fattening the algae that can then be harvested as biodiesel.

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