Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Batteries that Recharge in Seconds

A team of researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have managed to make battery electrodes that can be 90% recharged within 2 minutes. If the method can be commercialised it could lead to laptops that recharge in minutes or mobile phones that can charge in 30 seconds.

The method used to make these ultrafast electrodes is compatible with many different types of batteries and the researchers have also used them to make nickel-metal-hydride batteries, the kind used in hybrid and electric cars.

The rate at which a battery can be charged up is normally limited by how fast ions and electrons can move from one end to the other. The researchers have used a nanostructured materials to try and find a way to decrease recharge time, and have now made progress using a highly porous metal "foam", coated with battery materials.

The Lithium-ion battery foam. (Credit: Paul Braun)

The method used for making these batteries, although it is complex should be easily applicable for the types of batteries commonly used in laptops and electric cars, and could be found in electrical appliances relatively soon.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

SpaceX to launch the most powerful rocket since the Apollo era

This is a bit of a follow up from my last post, which was only a video.

The new rocket, called Falcon 9-Heavy, will have a lift off power of 17 meganewtons, which makes it the most powerful rocket since Saturn V, the "Moon Rocket". The rocket should be capable of putting 53 metric tonnes of payload into orbit, which is more than twice that of the space shuttle.

The CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk has also said that the rocket would be made safe enought to launch people. It is for example designed to meet NASA human rating safety standards. It has structural safety margins that are 40% above the actual flight loads.
The performance of the rocket could make more ambitious space missions beyond the ISS possible, although SpaceX has stressed that an even bigger rocket would be needed for any manned missions to Mars, as the equipment required for any such mission is far heavier.

The Falcon 9-Heavy. (Image Credit: SpaceX)

The first flight will take place in 2013 from Vandenberg Air Force Base with future missions also planned at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

 Animation of the Falcon 9-Heavy.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

No real blog post today, but I would like to show you guys this video.
It's a "trailer" for an anouncement by SpaceX, one of the most sophisticated of the space companies that are expected to take over the development of new spacecraft from NASA.
I am very excited about where SpaceX is going with their programme.

Friday, 1 April 2011

LED-Monitors affect Sleeping Pattern

More and more people spend their time in front of a computer screen, often at night while there are no other light sources around. A large number of these monitors have LED (Light Emitting Diode) backlights, which strongly emitt light at a wavelength of around 464 nanometres. This corresponds to blue light.

Light at those wavelengths influences the concentrations of the sleep hormone melatonin, and thereby can influence productivity and cognitive ability late at night.
Now scientists from the University of Basel have shown that test subjects in front of LED screens were less sleepy than those that were not. In comparison the subjects aged from 19 - 34, showed up to 20% faster reaction times. They were both objectively and subjectively more awake and also performed better in a memory test.

This works by supressing the sleep hormone melatonin for longer periods of time, meaning that they could concentrate longer.

The researchers have suggested developing monitors that can be programmed to emitt a number of wavelengths, so that the sleeping pattern is not disturbed when using computers in the evening.