🌞 SOLAR: A Midwest collaboration has resulted in a new smart window that could generate energy while also adjusting to the user’s preferences.
Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee contributed to the design, which uses solar cell technology to convert sunlight to electricity. The project aimed to balance energy capture with design — a challenge for previous smart windows.
- The prototype is made from dozens of layers of materials, including perovskite and a nanophotonic coating that control the amount and frequency of light that is allowed to pass through. It also controls the amount of solar energy converted to electricity.
- The prototype optimizes design to overcome difficulties in other smart window models, namely balancing indoor light preferences, building temperature, and energy harvesting goals across seasonal changes.
- “Rather than focusing only on the amount of electricity produced by the solar cell, we consider the entire building’s energy consumption to see how we can best use solar energy to minimize it,” Wei Chen, an engineering professor at Northwestern, said in a news release. “Additionally, the sunlight that doesn’t pass through is captured by the solar cell in the smart window and converted into electricity.”
- Future work could involve making a flexible smart window that could be retrofitted to cover existing traditional windows.
🔋 ENERGY STORAGE: The U.S. Department of Energy is seeking input on the newly released Energy Storage Grand Challenge Draft Roadmap. The roadmap outlines a strategy to accelerate energy storage technology development.
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- A Purdue University engineering professor is developing predictive models to estimate the impact that climate change will have on cities’ electricity and water use.
- A Michigan State University biologist is on a team studying how climate change could alter plants’ metabolic processes. The research explores how plants adapt to environmental conditions, which has implications for crop resilience and human nutrition.
- Research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory indicates the need for better recycling options for solar photovoltaic modules, which have a 30-year lifespan, because no comprehensive end-of-life management plan or standard currently exists.
- Two startups in Chicago and one in Kansas City, Missouri, are among the 10 to receive a combined $1 million from Chicago-based Exelon to develop new climate change mitigation and resilience technologies. Greenprint Partners works on green stormwater infrastructure, NETenergy creates thermal energy storage, and Dynamhex developed an energy consumption tracking software platform.
- The Nebraska Environmental Trust awarded $1.9 million worth of grants to 21 University of Nebraska-Lincoln projects running the gamut from improving water quality to increasing recycling efficiency.
- The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in Missouri received a three-year, $1.4 million grant from the National Institute for Food and Agriculture and the National Science Foundation to develop FieldDock, a smart farming platform to boost energy efficiency and reduce water and fertilizer use in farming without compromising production. FieldDock will run on renewable energy and have a zero-carbon footprint.
- Arden Hills, Minnesota-based Land O’Lakes is partnering with Microsoft to develop agricultural innovations that boost sustainable farming practices, enhance the supply chain, and close the rural broadband gap.
- The 2020 Sustainable Agronomy Conference will be virtual this year and will occur August 18-20. A key focus is implementing sustainable farming innovations and techniques.
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