Archive for December 2010
You are browsing the archives of 2010 December.
You are browsing the archives of 2010 December.
What’s shown here is the world’s smallest periodic table that’s been etched on a human hair. Created by the experts at the University of Nottingham’s Nanotechnology and Nanoscience Centre, the periodic table was etched on the hair using focused ion beams.
Researchers have developed a prototype device that directly converts sun rays into fuels that can be stored. The BBC reports that the devices uses a quartz window and cavity to focus sunlight into a cylinder lined with cerium oxide.
According to Gizmag, ceria is hygroscopic and will also absorb carbon dioxide. As the sunlight heats the ceria, it thermochemically breaks down the water and carbon dioxide pumped into the cylinder to produce carbon monoxide and hydrogen that can be converted to a liquid fuel.
The device was developed by researchers from the California Institute of Technology and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. They believe the technology could be applied in large scale applications since cerium is the most abundant rare earth element.
Several obstacles must be overcome, however, before large scale application is feasible. The largest obstacle being inefficiency. Currently, the fuel created in the prototype harnesses just 0.7-0.8 percent of the solar energy put into the device. Researchers attribute this to heat loss through the reactor’s wall or aperture.
“The chemistry of the material is really well suited to this process,” says Sossina Haile of Caltech. “This is the first demonstration of doing the full shebang, running it under (light) photons in a reactor.”
The paper was published in the last issue of the journal Science.
Apparently the DOE’s release of its first Critical Materials Strategy was one in a series of announcements about how various companies and countries are taking bigger steps to lock rare earth elements strategies in place.
• On Dec. 20, the Asian News Network reported that Molycorp will reopen its REE mine in Mountain Pass, Calif., in a matter of a few days using a capital infusion from Sumitomo Corp. The reports says Molycorp has supply agreements with Sumitomo (for seven years) and Mitsubishi Corp.:
“The mine’s redevelopment is costing the company US$531 million. Molycorp has procured funds by listing shares on the New York Stock Exchange, striking a $100 million [actually $130 - ed.] financing deal with Sumitomo and receiving loans from a major French bank. Molycorp aims to save costs by using advanced technology to purify salt water that gushes out during mining operations and to use the purified water. It also plans to generate power using natural gas. The firm hopes to produce about 3,000 tons of rare earths next year, and aims to increase production to about 20,000 by late 2012. It wants to raise the figure to 40,000 eventually.
“In mid-2012, when its rare-earth production is expected to go into full swing, Molycorp plans to maintain output costs at $2.77 per kilogram to better compete with China, where such production costs $5.58 per kilogram.”
• On Dec. 21, Reuters reported that Hitachi announced that it was also was in negotiations with Molycorp:
“Hitachi Metals said in a statement on Tuesday it and Molycorp, a U.S. rare-earth producer, would reach an accord during the first quarter of 2011 on setting up joint ventures to produce neodymium magnet alloys and nodymium magnets. Hitachi Metals and Molycorp will jointly aim to meet rising demand for neogymium magnets for gas-electric hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles, wind turbines and industrial motors, Hitachi Metals said.”
• Reuters also reported that Japanese conglomerate Sojitz Corp. had reached an agreement with Australian mining company Lynas, and that a branch of Toyota would be building and opening a REE processing plant in India in 2012.
The U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium, a research collaboration group composed of Chrysler, Ford and GM, announced $5.43 million in advanced battery development and technology assessment contracts to five firms.
The contracts are funded by the DOE and include a 50 percent cost-share from each of the contracted companies.
The press release states that USABC awarded the contracts to develop advanced energy storage technologies for hybrid-electric vehicles.
“We are pleased to announce the award of these contracts as part of USABC’s broad battery technology research and development programs,”says Steve Zimmer, executive director of the U.S. Council for Automotive Research. “These programs are essential to advance the technology needed to meet both near- and long-term goals that will enable a broad spectrum of vehicle electrification.”
The companies receiving advanced battery development contracts are:
Here’s another good holiday video sent to me. I thought it was a joke at first, but realized it’s pretty interesting rocket science. I have no idea about the safety concerns.
Check it out. As before, if you have seen other good related to the holidays, post a link in the comments.