Liquid-metal wire stretches eight times its original length

Publication: NBC News   Date: December 18, 2012   View Article

For those times when you need extra length in your headphones or phone charger, there’re now super-stretchable wires. In the not-too distant future, they could be woven into fabrics – think gym clothes with an embedded heart rate monitor to help you burn off the holiday fat.

The wire “has perfect electrical properties without compromising the mechanical properties at all,” Michael Dickey, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at North Carolina State University, told NBC News.

African girls’ pee-powered generator raises questions

Publication: NBC News   Date: November 8, 2012   View Article

A urine-powered generator presented by a group of school-age girls at an innovation fair in Africa is generating buzz as a world-changing breakthrough, but a reality-check with the expert who invented the contraption at the heart of the technology might flush those expectations down the drain.

The contraption in question is an electrolytic cell that converts urea — the main compound in urine besides water — into nitrogen, water and hydrogen.

Smarter electric grids could help us weather stormy future

Publication: NBC News   Date: October 30, 2012   View Article

As of Tuesday morning, Sandy was blamed for power outages affecting more than 8 million people. Although of little help to people in the dark today, so-called smart-grid technologies being installed around the country will make the electric grid more resilient to future storms, according to an industry expert.

One caveat: “It is economically unfeasible to storm-proof your system, and by storm-proof I mean resilient to anything that could happen,” Dean Oskvig, president of engineering consulting firm Black & Veatch’s global energy business, told NBC News Tuesday.

Electricity from wastewater gets a salty boost

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: March 2, 2012   View Article

Microbes that digest wastewater in a fuel cell to produce electricity are getting a boost from a technology that captures energy from the difference between salt and fresh water, scientists report in a new study.

“It is like putting another battery into a flashlight, you get more voltage and power out,” Bruce Logan, an environmental engineer at Pennsylvania State University, told me Thursday.

The technology could lead to wastewater treatment plants that generate electricity, instead of consuming it.

Ocean motion could produce 9 percent of U.S. electricity

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 31, 2012   View Article

Next-generation technologies that harvest electricity from ocean waves and tides sloshing along the U.S. coasts could provide about 9 percent of the nation’s demand by 2030, according to a pair of recent studies.

The findings, which include maps of these ocean energy resources, should help guide companies looking to develop them.

Biofuel cells may turn cockroaches into cyborgs

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 6, 2012   View Article

The sugars in a cockroach’s belly have been harnessed by a fuel cell and converted into electricity, a big step toward turning insects into cyborgs, scientists are reporting.

Once miniaturized to the point that the fuel cells are non-invasive to the cockroaches, they can be implanted to power sensors or recording devices, for example.

New Year’s Resolution: Get fit, make electricity

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: December 31, 2011   View Article

A new generation of workout machines that generate electricity as you work up a sweat are poised to invade fitness centers and help you keep your New Year’s resolution to trim down your waistline.

The electricity generated by the machines is fed back into the grid, helping the gym save on its utility bills.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach