For this month’s focus on renewable energy, I turn my attention to advances in battery technology. Researchers at Kansas State University are working to improve the capacity and charge rate of lithium-ion batteries (such as the battery that is likely in your smart phone) by employing silicon-coated carbon nanofibers in the electrodes. Current technology uses simple carbon-based materials, and this improvement should increase overall capacity by 10-15% as well as speed up charge rates.
Engineers at Rensselaer Polytechnic University developed technology to recharge lithium ion batteries ten times faster by replacing traditional anodes with sheets of purposely defected graphene.
Researchers at Tokyo University created sodium ion batteries by employing hard carbon. This hard carbon is synthesized by heating sugar to very high temperatures. Sodium is an essentially limit-less resource with minimal environmental and health impacts versus lithium which is a limited element with serious environmental and health impacts. On top of that, these sugar batteries actually have 20% more storage capacity than current lithium batteries. You should expect to see sodium ion batteries on the market within the next five years.
And finally, are you an avid biker like me? If so, here is a fun gadget that will charge your phone or any device with a USB cable as well as provide you with a recharged LED light at night by EcoXPower. A pretty handy device especially if you ride to and from work daily!
- Socioeconomic factors have strong links to community health and in the state of Connecticut, health care providers have a powerful GIS tool that helps them establish and analysis these linkages. The ‘Health Equity Index’ is an online tool which seamlessly runs GIS analysis for its users. The index ranks a community on seven socioeconomic factors – civic involvement, community safety, economic security, education, employment, environmental quality and housing – with a score ranging from 1 to 10. Similar scores are then assigned to a community according to 13 health outcomes – including cancer, mental health and childhood illness – and finally the correlation between these socioeconomic and health scores is assessed.
- Have you ever been bored and Googled, “GIS and baseball”? Well I have! And if you look through the long list of items you come across, eventually you will find an Esri lesson entitled, “Play Ball! Spatial Analysis of Baseball Using GIS.” Leave it our friends at Esri to bring two of my favorite topics together in an encompassing spatial analysis. This lesson focuses on Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts and Coors Field in Denver, Colorado; and it covers multiple topics from demographic analysis to directional studies.
- Have you ever considered how much coal you use in a year? Well, most of us probably haven’t, but the size of the pile (as calculated by this blog) might surprise you. An average home in the Southeast US with air conditioning uses 4,870 pounds of coal – and that is just to power the AC unit! By installing a high-efficiency AC unit and completing several home improvements (such as sealing windows/cracks), you can reduce this pile to 2,000 pounds. As with any calculation such as this, the authors make a variety of assumptions that may or may not be true in your specific case. Therefore, you should check out the article to understand and evaluate the validity of these assumptions
- Sometimes, it seems like science just confirms what your gut instinct told you a long time ago; and here is a great example of that. A study completed by St. Michael’s Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences found a strong correlation between poor health and the walkability of a neighborhood – and as an avid walker and biker, this conclusion seems rather obvious. Specifically, the researchers looked at 1,239,262 residents of Toronto and found that residents living in highly walkable neighborhoods had a far lower chance of developing diabetes versus residents living in areas that were not walkable. In fact, the study found that a new resident living in an area that was less walkable was an astonishing 50% more likely to develop diabetes than residents in highly walkable areas. You can read more about the study’s findings and methodology here.
- Brock Adam McCarty
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