“How can we make items on the spot?”
Advances in manufacturing have corresponded with paradigm shifts in human capability, whether it be the introduction of metals early in human society or industrialization later. But we may be on the cusp of another. Additive Manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, promises to bring more change by taking a 3D software object file and realize it in reality by adding layers upon layers of material.
Inkjet Solar Cell
“How can we print solar cells?”
To secure energy independence and security, solar cells need to be manufactured at an incredible rate. Part of this includes an initiative to print solar cells known as inkjet solar cells. This will allow for an exponential increase in the number of usable solar, and can result in a massive energy transition.
“How can radiation pass through a material?”
When radiation strikes an object, much of is reflected off or absorbed by the material. However, sometimes part of it is able to go through everything unimpeded! This value is known as the transmissivity of an object and is an inherent property of a material.
Von Mises Stress
“How can we more accurately predict an object’s failure?”
One of the most important duties of a design engineer is to ensure that objects do not fail. However, classical failure theory does not always suffice. Instead, we must use more advanced concepts. One example of this is the Von Mises Stress, which is characterized by a superposition of all of the stresses on the object. If the Von Mises Stress is greater than the yield stress, then failure will occur. The formula for Von-Mises Stress is given by sigma_v = sqrt (sigma_1^2+sigma_2^2+sigma_3^2-sigma_1*sigma_2-sigma_2*sigma_3-sigma_1*sigma_3), where sigma_v is the Von Mises Stress and sigma_1,sigma_2, and sigma_3 are all stress superposition values. The Von Mises Stress can be visualized as an ellipse in 2 and 3 dimensions.
Copper in Renewable Energy Transmission
“What role does copper play in renewable energy transmission?”
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would know that renewable energy such as solar and wind are rising at catastrophic rates. And with this rise comes the need to safely, efficiently, and cleanly transport all of this energy. So how can we use our engineering mindset to solve this problem? Well, if we think back to fundamental principles, we know that the type of conductor used for transmission will greatly affect how electricity is expended. So logically thinking, we should use a material that does not lose much current to friction. A perfect candidate for this would be copper, due to its high conductivity and plentiful supply.
A Device to Pull Water Straight From Thin Air
“Is it possible to pull water straight from thin air?”
Water is one of the most vital components to many natural and industrial processes, whether it be keeping humans hydrated, running HVAC systems, or growing food. However, in many desert areas, water is extremely hard to come by. So how can we use our scientific mindset to solve this problem? Well, a team of chemists at UC Berkeley and MIT recently used a class of porous materials known as metal-organic frameworks to build a sheet that can absorb water vapor during the night, hold it during the day, and use the sun’s rays to release some vapor and siphon it to a condenser to create usable water! This system uses 3 liters of water per day for every kilogram of sponge-like absorber it contains and holds much promise to revolutionize access to basic drinking water.
The Problem with Battery-Powered Planes
“What do we need to overcome before we make battery-powered planes?”
Although promising, battery-powered planes have a major hurdle to overcome before they make any major traction. As it stands, electrochemical batteries have only 1/60th the energy density of conventional plane fuels. This is further compounded by the fact that such batteries are heavier to equip, meaning more weight on the aircraft and a reduced ability to fly. However, if we can overcome these problems, whether it be through a new type of battery or improved electrical motors, then battery-powered planes are poised to disrupt the entire aviation industry!