Researchers at the University of Rochester have produced a material that is superconductive at room temperature, the holy grail of materials development that holds the potential to revolutionize virtually every aspect of modern technology—all without the need for bulky refrigeration equipment required to cool the material low enough to produce
Defense contractor Lockheed Martin was recently awarded a patent for a novel design of compact nuclear fusion reactor, a device presumably small enough to be housed in a standard shipping container. According to earlier promotional material released by the company, the reactor’s compact design could be used not only for commercial energy-generating applications, but also incorporated into ocean-going ships and aircraft to vastly extend the vehicles’ ranges. In terms of generating electricity for commercial use, the device could also be used to replace not only nuclear waste-producing fission reactors, but also fossil fuel-based electrical generators, dramatically reducing the carbon footprint of our civilization’s thirst for energy.
A joint team of researchers with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and private company Commonwealth Fusion Systems is predicting that they will have a viable nuclear fusion reactor generating electricity and attached to the electrical grid within the next fifteen years.
A recent breakthrough in superconductor technology that involves the use of steel tape coated with a compound called yttrium-barium-copper oxide (YBCO) allows reactor designers to shrink the size of the magnets that contain the super-hot plasma fuel within the reactor, making them more powerful, and thus lowering the amount of energy required to run the reactor.
A study led by engineers at Michigan State University says that the use of transparent solar cells could potentially fulfill roughly 40 percent of the United States’ energy demands, the equivalent of the potential for bulkier rooftop solar units, if applied to the abundant area of glass available in the US.