The future of flight

MIT's future of flight

MIT’s AI Lab is a busy hub of practical inventions and idealistic passions. Recently, they showed off a new system of personal aircraft control they’ve created in conjunction with airplane manufacturer Boeing. One of MIT’s Graduate students, Peng Yu, displayed their vision of the future some 20-30 years down the road. Yu and his team developed a variety of ways for commuters with no airplane piloting knowledge to effectively control either a personal aircraft or a flying taxi. Using voice, keyboard input, tablet, and motion gestures, Yu showed how easily an average person could operate a remote-controlled airplane. Tablet –… read more

New Battery Could Enable Cheaper Energy Storage

New Battery Could Enable Cheaper Energy Storage

A new type of rechargeable flow battery engineered by MIT researchers, which doesn’t require costly membranes in order to store and generate electricity, may prove to be a key component in developing cost-effective large scale energy storage. The lack of affordable and efficient methods for storing both solar and wind energy during peak generation times, in order to later release it during periods of high demand, has often been touted as one of the stumbling blocks to further renewable energy penetration. But if the new rechargeable flow battery developed at MIT can be further refined and scaled up, it could… read more

Dirt Cheap Solar Cells Could Be Coming

Dirt Cheap Solar Cells Could Be Coming

With today’s solar panels typically retailing for around $.75 USD, it’s no wonder that home solar power systems aren’t more widespread, as it takes a considerable investment to install a home-scale solar array. But if you can imagine a world where access to solar power could be as cheap as $.10 to .20 USD per watt, it’s simple to see that installing solar power systems for buildings and homes would become more of the norm, enabling owners to not only save money, but to be somewhat self-sufficient in their energy systems. And that day could be coming, as a new… read more

New Power Storage System for Offshore Wind Uses Giant Underwater Spheres

Giant Wind Farm

The design for a new method of storing energy from offshore wind farms uses giant concrete spheres on the sea floor, which could both anchor floating wind turbines and smooth out power fluctuations to the grid. The new underwater storage design, from researchers at MIT, could be used to capture excess power from offshore wind turbines, and then release it on demand, helping to bridge the difference between generation and demand times for electricity. “Whenever the wind turbines produce more power than is needed, that power would be diverted to drive a pump attached to the underwater structure, pumping seawater… read more

MIT Solar Breakthrough Could Boost PV Efficiency by 25%

Photovoltaic Panels

A breakthrough at the labs of researchers at MIT may give a huge boost to photovoltaic panel technology by increasing their efficiency by as much as 25%. A current theory of the limit to the efficiency of solar cells, known as the Shockley-Queisser efficiency limit, states that for a single optimized semiconductor junction, the conversion efficiency can never go beyond 34%. But this latest discovery might retire that theory, as the new system is said to be able to double the amount of electrons produced for each photon that hits the cells. “In a standard photovoltaic (PV) cell, each photon… read more

Graphene Could Boost Solar Efficiency to 60%


Current solar cell technology, using silicon as the base, has a theoretical limit to its efficiency, which falls somewhere around 30%, but solar cells made with graphene may push that limit up to somewhere around 60%. The results of a study from researchers at the Institute of Photonic Sciences suggest that graphene might be the material of choice for the next generation of photovoltaic cells, as it is “highly efficient” at generating electrons from light. When hit by light, silicon generates just one electron for each photon absorbed, which is only a fraction of the potential energy in the photon…. read more

Solar Powered Sterilizer

Sterilized medical equipment

We all know that the sun generates massive amounts of heat, but who knew that it could be used as a sterilizer for medical equipment? In third-world countries, doctors don’t always have access to clean equipment, which means that patients put under the knife may come out of the procedure with infections and other diseases. Researchers at MIT’s science lab created a solution for this global problem, and it involves using natural elements as a sterilizer. This machine is called an autoclave, and it blasts medical equipment with 250-degree steam under pressure. Hospitals in the U.S. and other developed countries use… read more

Renewable Energy Storage

Storing renewable energy

As renewable energy technology has gotten better and experienced an increase in production, there has been a shift from developing the technology to generate energy to developing the technology to store the energy. Renewable energy storage is incredibly important, since the sun doesn’t always shine, the wind doesn’t always blow, wind speeds fluctuate, the amount of sunlight is dependent on cloud coverage, etc. However, the storage options up until now have only been theoretical, impractical, or too costly to produce. Fossil fuel plants are seen as too difficult to adjust to modern storage options, since it takes a long time retrofit the energy-producing power… read more