A fleet of DIY solar-powered, high-altitude research balloons have recorded a mysterious low-frequency sound high in the upper atmosphere that repeats a number of times each hour. The sound occurs in the infrasound range, meaning it’s below the threshold of human hearing, only occasionally spiking as high as 25
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.
In science’s quest to develop less polluting sources of energy, hydrogen gas has often been used as an example as a potential replacement for fossil fuels: aside from being the most abundant substance in the universe, it is also the most combustible natural substance known, and only produces pure water when burned with oxygen. Unfortunately, the chemical instability of its gaseous form means that storing it is inherently hazardous, and the extraction of the gas from hydrogen’s more stable forms, such as water or petroleum products, can be highly energy inefficient, or produce a disproportionate amount of waste pollutants.
An engineering research team in Japan has developed a new solar cell that may be able to raise the efficiency of photovoltaic cells above 50 percent, and theoretically as high as 63 percent under certain conditions. This is important as consumer-grade cells are hindered by a lower maximum efficiency of around 26 percent, with most cells on the market only boasting an efficiency of 12 to 18 percent. If that value can be improved, it will make for greater accessibility for consumers looking toward renewable energy sources, and drastically improve the output of commercial solar farms.