“How can we have windows that darken at command?”
One of the biggest consumers of energy in the built environment are HVAC systems. Although many people try to avoid this by putting blinds over their windows, many times it won’t do the job. So how can we use our engineering mindset to solve this problem? Well, what if we were to have a window that can darken at command? This is the idea behind Electrochromic Windows, whose material becomes darker when voltage is applied to it. Electrochromic windows can save large amounts of energy, but are also quite expensive to implement and have questionable long-term durability.
Image credit http://www.sageglass.com
The Physical Reason for Why Overheating Lowers Solar Panel Efficiency
“Why does physics dictate that overheated solar panels will have lower efficiencies?”
The amount of solar energy that can be created by a solar panel is dependent on the difference in voltage between the electrons at the rest state and the activated state. However, as a solar panel becomes hotter, the rest state will be pushed outwards while the active state will be held constant. This results in a decrease in voltage and by extension power output. This is The Physical Reason for Why Overheating Lowers Solar Panel Efficiency.
Cross Laminated Timber
“How can we make buildings quicker, more sustainably, and more resilient to fire?”
The built environment is going through a crisis. Not enough housing is being developed, the cement used in construction emits a voluminous amount of embodied carbon, and they are prone to destruction by fire. So how can we use our engineering mindset to solve this? Well, what if we were to take many thin wood planks, glue them together to make a series of squares, and then attach these squares perpendicular to each other with adhesives? Not only is this material extra durable, but is also tough against fires and feaster to build in comparison with cement. The added efficiencies add by Cross Laminated Timber can help with societal decarbonization and fixing the housing crisis.
Image credit images.adsttc.com
Why Tempered Glass is Used for Cooking Lids
“What type of glass is used for cooking lids?”
Cooking food is one of the most intricate parts of human life, whether it be meal-prepping for the week or dining with friends. And if one is using a pot then one of the most useful things is to see what is going on underneath. That way, we can monitor what processes are occurring and what to do if something goes wrong. Usually, translucent covers are made of glass. However, since cooking involves high changes in temperature and pressure, the glass needs to be extremely strong and sturdy. As a result, tempered glass with its thermal strength is used. This is why Tempered Glass is Used for Cooking Lids.
Why Airplane Windows are Round
“Why are airplane windows round?”
The low-pressure environment that airplanes fly at means that not only must they use a special glass but also a special shape. Because the internal pressure of the cabin is much higher than the external environment, the airplane will expand, inducing stress in the exterior. If square windows are used, then this stress will become overly concentrated and may break the plane. As a result, ovular windows must be used to ensure a smooth distribution of stress. This is Why Airplane Windows are Round.
What Type of Glass do Airplanes Use for Windows?
“Why are airplane windows so strong and lightweight?”
I don’t know about you, but looking out of the window is one of my favorite things to do while traveling. I get to see a whole variety of landscapes from a new perspective, whether it be the city I live in looking like a model replica or the vast open countryside. But this also gets me thinking about how the engineers have to design the glass. The glass that we use for our window buildings is quite fragile, one thrown object can completely shatter it! This is completely unsuitable for air travel, where the plane can be traveling at high speeds in high-pressure differences. If a single person breaks their plane window, the entire crew can be killed!
For this reason, aircraft windows are made of plexiglass. This allows them to be lightweight while strong and transparent. This glass is also slightly layered, with a little whole in the middle portion to get rid of condensation. This is exactly What Type of Glass do Airplanes Use for Windows.
Recycling Rare Earth Minerals
“How can we reuse rare earth minerals?”
Rare Earth Minerals are vital for the operation of distributed energy technologies. But their extraction process is extremely pollutive and their supply is limited. But what if were to simply reuse them from old products? This way, we can increase the availability of their supply and help create a circular economy. As a result Recycling Rare Earth Minerals can be of great use to the world.
Image credit https://climate.nasa.gov
“What is the second most common mineral in the world and why is it special?”
Minerals can be found all over the world. But the second most common one Quartz (SiO2) has some very special characteristics. Particularly, its crystalline arrangement exhibits piezoelectric properties, allowing for stress-induced electricity!
Image credit http://www.wikigempedia.com
“What is Clay?”
Many children around the world play with clay when they are young. But what exactly are they? Well, when natural rock or soil material is highly grounded, it can combine with a large amount of other elements overtime to make Clay. Clay’s flexibility and strength when hardened have made it useful in building materials and early writing utensils.