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Thor Balkhed and Abdellah Malti via Linkoping University
Thor Balkhed and Abdellah Malti via Linkoping University

This Eco-Friendly 'Power Paper' Can Store Energy, Charge in Seconds

Thor Balkhed and Abdellah Malti via Linkoping University
Thor Balkhed and Abdellah Malti via Linkoping University

Researchers from Sweden’s Linköping University have found a way to store energy in a flexible piece of organic paper [PDF]. The high-tech “power paper” is only a few tenths of a millimeter thick and can store as much energy as a supercapacitor. All it takes is a few seconds for the material to charge up, and it can be recharged hundreds of times in a day. 

The paper has already broken four world records: highest charge and capacitance in organic electronics, highest measured current in an organic conductor, highest capacity to simultaneously conduct ions, and highest transconductance in a transistor. That level of efficiency could have huge implications for the future of renewable energy, and the paper itself is environmentally friendly as well. It’s made from recyclable cellulose fibers, which were compressed by high-pressure water until broken down into sections as thin as 20 nanometers. The fibers were then coated in an an electrically charged polymer and shaped into a circular patch 15 centimeters in diameter. 

Thor Balkhed and Abdellah Malti via Linkoping University

In addition to being made without harmful chemicals, the material is incredibly strong and pliable. The researchers behind it folded it into an origami swan to test out its ability to retain its shape. The material shows potential for applications in bendable displays for smartphones, watches, and laptops. But before that can become a reality, the team must first face the challenge of producing the paper on a commercial scale. The researchers are hoping the grant of $4 million they received recently from the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research will help them to successfully develop a paper machine to manufacture the product. 

[h/t: The Daily Mail]

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The Most (and Least) Expensive States for Staying Warm This Winter
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It’s that time of year again: Temperatures outside have plummeted, while your monthly heating bill is on the rise. If you want an idea of how much heat will cost you this winter (perhaps you blocked out last year’s damage to your bank account), one reliable indicator is location.

Average energy expenses vary from state to state due to factors like weather, house size, and local gas prices. Using data from sources including the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, WalletHub calculated the average monthly utility bill totals for all 50 states plus Washington D.C. in 2017.

Source: WalletHub

The personal finance website looked at four energy costs: electricity, natural gas, car fuel, and home heating oil. After putting these components together, Connecticut was found to be the state with the highest energy costs in 2017, with an average of $380 in monthly bills, followed by Alaska with $332 and Rhode Island with $329.

That includes data from the summer and winter months. For a better picture of which state’s residents spend the most on heat, we have to look at the individual energy costs. Michigan, which ranks 33rd overall, outdoes every other state in the natural gas department with an average bill of $60 a month. Alaska is close behind with $59, followed by Rhode Island With $58.

People living in Maine prefer oil to heat their homes, spending $84 a month on the fuel source. All six New England states—Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts—occupy the top six spots in this category.

So which state should you move to if you want to see your heating bill disappear? In Florida, the average household spends just $3 a month on natural gas and $0 on heating oil. In Hawaii, on average, the oil bill is $0 as well, and slightly higher for gas at $4. Of course, they make up for it when it comes time to crank up the AC: Both states break the top 10 in highest electricity costs.


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science
Why Are Glaciers Blue?
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The bright azure blue sported by many glaciers is one of nature's most stunning hues. But how does it happen, when the snow we see is usually white? As Joe Hanson of It's Okay to Be Smart explains in the video below, the snow and ice we see mostly looks white, cloudy, or clear because all of the visible light striking its surface is reflected back to us. But glaciers have a totally different structure—their many layers of tightly compressed snow means light has to travel much further, and is scattered many times throughout the depths. As the light bounces around, the light at the red and yellow end of the spectrum gets absorbed thanks to the vibrations of the water molecules inside the ice, leaving only blue and green light behind. For the details of exactly why that happens, check out Hanson's trip to Alaska's beautiful (and endangered) Mendenhall Glacier below.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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