“Aluminum ‘superatoms’ hint at a new type of superconducting materials” – GizMag, 28 February 2015

Scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) are currently in the throes of uncovering new superconductor materials that could be very useful for the electronics, medical imaging, microscopy, and electric motors industries, amongst other markets.

In electronics, as electrons move through a circuit, they generate electrical resistance and emit waste energy in the form of heat, which is why, for instance, when our laptops overheat, the internal fan turns on and cools it down. Superconductors are helpful because they don’t create resistance and thus, don’t create waste energy, or heat. Currently, the superconductor materials that do exist don’t operate at high temperatures; instead, they bottom out at -210 °F, which doesn’t work for us when our electronics heat up.

However, the USC scientists’ new superconductor materials look promising, since they can work at higher temperatures. The team discovered that they need to utilize clusters of aluminum atoms called “superatoms,” rather than single atoms. Clusters become superconductive at greater temperatures.

Superconductivity can only occur when Cooper pairs take shape in the material. The electron pairs are only slightly bound together—two electrons are not typically attracted to each other. As a pair, the electrons trigger a process that allows the electrons to stay on their prescribed path and prevents them from wasting energy. External factors, such as heat, can disturb the electrons’ fragile balance, which is the reason why superconductors can only operate at low temperatures.

Aluminum superatoms work at temperatures as low as -280 °F; the hope is that using a diverse set of materials will yield a superconductor that functions at higher temperatures. The USC team believes that grouping different metals into superatoms, instead of just aluminum, could direct them to superconductors that will be optimal for electronic industries. Their discovery could allow our technology to operate more efficiently.

(From GizMag)

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

March 4, 2015

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Copyright 2014. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

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Novelis Sustainability Report 2013

In 2011, Novelis decided to strengthen their company by increasing their business’ sustainability and innovation. The most important component of their new vision is to use 80% recycled aluminum in all their products by 2020. Once they reach this goal, they will then halve their products’ embedded carbon.

In 2011, when Novelis set their intended goals, they used the average of fiscal years 2007-2009 as their standard. Some of their 2020 goals include:

  • Increase recycled metal content from the current 43% to 80%
  • Reduce energy usage by 39%, from the current 10 GJ/mt to 7.6
  • Reduce water usage by 25%, from the current 3.1 m3/mt to 2.7
  • Halve the absolute amount of GHG emissions, from the current 18 M mt to 11
  • Have zero landfill waste from the current 55.6 K mt

While the company is headquartered in Atlanta, George, there are also facilities in Sao Paulo, Zurich and Seoul, serving the beverage can, automotive and high-end specialty markets. There is a rising demand for aluminum in these markets, especially the automobile industry, since 2010 when Obama obligated car manufacturers to double their new-car average fuel economy by 2025. In 2013, the aluminum industry grew 25%, as aluminum allows for lightweighting vehicles, a crucial enabler in increasing fuel efficiency.

As mentioned before, another huge element of Novelis’ move to increase sustainability is to reduce the embedded carbon in their products, which can be done by boosting recycled content. By using more recycled materials and by creating fewer new materials, Novelis reduces their carbon footprint. They’ve recently invested almost $500 million in doubling their recycling space by opening two new recycling plants, one in South Korea and the other in Germany.

Novelis is directly addressing the global issue of climate change, particularly the current concern of the maximum safe limit for concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. The company’s method to decrease their GHG emissions can best be described as a life cycle approach, with a goal of reducing their emissions by 50% by 2020. This idea, coupled with increasing their recycled metal content to 80%, will help them reach their target.

Novelis has also incorporated supporting recycling education into their new vision, as well as advocating awareness and policy initiatives, which will escalate recycling rates and increase the company’s supply of post-consumer aluminum scrap. We at Phinix are huge proponents of all of the above, especially recycling education.

Take a look at Novelis’ website and the full report.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

January 28, 2014

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Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

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“How to Turn Your Old iPhone or iPad into a Security Camera” – NBC News, 9 September 2013

Instead of racking your brain, trying to figure out what to do with your old smartphones and tablets, reuse your devices with these apps:

Presence is a free app that acts as a security camera for your home. After you install the app on your old and new devices, it will use your WiFi to broadcast a remote monitor of your home to your new device. You can use it in any part of your home and watch it from anywhere.

Though not free like Presence, Google Chromecast is an accessory that plugs in to the HDMI port of your TV, allowing you to stream video content from your laptop, table or phone. Chromecast is only currently compatible with Netflix, YouTube, Google Play and Google’s web browser Chrome, with the promise of more companies joining Chromecast soon.

Kindle MatchBook, brought to you by Amazon, is a new service that lets you purchase an e-book version — either for a minimal price, or free — of whatever print edition you buy from MatchBook. This service also applies to any past print editions you may have purchased. In order for you to receive an e-book version, books have to be in the MatchBook program, but the program has thousands of books, dating all the way back from 1995.

Electronic waste is a growing, ugly global problem with no easy economical and environmental RECYCLING solutions. Our ever-growing consumerism makes it harder to REDUCE our appetite for new devices. New products and models are constantly introduced, with little to no interchangeability between and among brands – REUSING electronic devices may be the best option to practice the THREE R’s, while lowering our personal carbon footprint on planet earth.

This is a great way to incorporate the Three R’s into your lifestyle. Rather than throwing away your old devices, repurpose them with new apps and accessories.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

September 18, 2013

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Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

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“Better batteries could revolutionize solar, wind power” — USA Today, 12 May 2013

As the demand for electricity rises, and the need to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions becomes increasingly important, the US and other countries are exploring various areas of carbon-free renewable energy, like wind and solar power.

Batteries are vital to these renewables — they are capable of enabling electric cars, buses, homes and buildings by stocking solar and wind power for when the sun and wind are out of commission. Since renewables only generate energy sporadically, batteries can maintain a balance so consumers are able to use stored energy to power their homes 24/7.

The company American Vanadium has recently discovered the only-known vanadium mine in the US, in Nevada. Vanadium is a metal that is found in shale rock, and can be used to make highly durable batteries for cars, homes and utilities. Businesses across varying fields are utilizing this metal to advance certain technologies, such as personal electronics, cars, solar panels and wind farms.

The solar panel global market is predicted to skyrocket, from $200 million in 2012 to $19 billion by 2017. The price of renewables has been steadily decreasing — solar panel prices have dropped by almost 60% since 2011. Solar and wind power use in the US has soared as well: last year, US electric power from solar panels rose to 76%, while wind turbines rose to 28%.

Batteries are garnering more attention because they are all-purpose. Batteries can be used to store grid-scale energy, such as hydroelectric power, where water is transported to a reservoir and then sent to operate generators. Batteries can also be employed anywhere and are efficiently scalable — they can run something smaller like a car, and something bigger like a factory.

Though it will take some time for us to fully develop batteries to suit our needs, batteries are key to sustaining our environment and resisting the affects of climate change.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

July 3, 2013

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

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