Scientists from the UK’s University of Bristol have developed a lab-made nuclear diamond that can generate electricity and is made from radioactive waste. The diamond battery has an incredible lifetime, and will only be half used up by the year 7746.  As most people know, a severe downside of the nuclear fission process is the creation of dangerous radioactive waste, which ultimately deposits in the graphite core that it is housed in. Today, this nuclear contamination is safely stored away until it stops being radioactive, and with a half-life of 5,730 years, that takes quite a while. The scientists found a way to heat the radioactive graphite to release most of the radioactivity in a gaseous form. The gas is subjected to high temperature and low pressures that turn it into a man-made diamond. When these diamonds are placed near a radioactive field, they generate a small electrical current. The developers enclosed the diamond battery in another non-radioactive diamond to absorb the harmful emissions, which in turn allowed for the generation of even more electricity, making the battery nearly 100% efficient. The development also presents an efficient way to treat radioactive waste. Within the past 40 years, for example, the US has amassed 76,430 metric tons (84,250 tons) of this waste. Tom Scott, Professor of Materials at Bristol said:

“We envision these batteries to be used in situations where it is not feasible to charge or replace conventional batteries. Obvious applications would be in low-power electrical devices where long life of the energy source is needed, such as pacemakers, satellites, high-altitude drones or even spacecraft.”

 

Here is the outcome of the OPEC agreement earlier this week.

Saudi Arabia must reduce its output by 486,000 barrels per day (bpd), to 10.05 bpd. The Saudis will continue to produce nearly one-third of total OPEC crude oil output.

OPEC agreed to use Iran’s production of 3.97 million bpd in the final quarter of 2015 — that country’s highest level in 16 years — as the base for calculating any cuts. Iran can increase current production by 90,000 bpd and still comply with the OPEC accord.

Despite general statements about cutting production, Russia has not provided any concrete details of what actions it might take in support of OPEC. As a result, we will not know what the country will do until we hear the results of the December 10th meeting in Vienna between OPEC and non-OPEC members.

Even if the agreement is successful in moving world crude oil prices towards $60 a barrel, it will be of little help to Angola, Nigeria and Venezuela. Their government revenues are in desperate shape since world prices collapsed from $100 two years ago and they don’t have the deep pockets to help temper their ongoing social and economic turbulence and their growing piles of international debt.

Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, BMW, Daimler and Ford have agreed to jointly invest in thousands of ultra-fast electric car charging sites across Europe to boost acceptance of EVs. The automakers are planning a joint venture to fund the creation of new charging sites starting next year. By 2020 they expect their customers to have access to thousands of new charging points. The network will have ultra-fast power levels of up to 350 kilowatt-hours. The six companies have asked other competitors to participate in the project, adding the joint venture will cooperate with regional partners.

German automaker Daimler announced plans to invest up to 10 billion euros ($11 billion) in developing electric vehicles. By 2025 the company wants to have 10 electric cars based on the same architecture. Three of the models will be Smart cars with cruising ranges up to 700 kilometers (434 miles.)  In addition it will add at least six electric car models to compete with Tesla and Volkswagen’s Audi.

OP Financial Group, one of the largest financial companies in Finland, is starting an electric car leasing service. Private individuals and small firms in Helsinki can rent an EV for a monthly fee. The cheapest full electric Renault model can be leased for just under 500 euros a month, while a top-of-the-range Tesla comes at more than 1,000 euros monthly. Customers must agree to a minimum two-year leasing agreement.

Currently, the countries leading the adoption of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are South Korea and Japan, with the United States, China, and Germany following closely behind. The South Korean government recently announced plans to bring some 10,000 fuel cell vehicles to the country and build more than 100 hydrogen refilling stations by 2020. Japan has similar plans.

Solaris Bus & Coach has entered into a long-term agreement with Ballard Power Systems for the sale and supply of fuel cell modules to support the sale of Solaris fuel cell buses in Europe. An initial order has been placed for 10 FCveloCity®-HD fuel cell modules, with deliveries planned to start in 2017. These modules will be powering Solaris Trollino articulated trolley buses in the Latvian city of Riga.

Russia will have its first offshore wind park to be located off the coast of Karelia in northeastern Russia. The White Sea park will have a capacity of 60 megawatt-hours and is planned to be built in the period 2017-2020. Currently the Republic of Karelia is dependent of its hydro power generation and energy imports from the neighboring regions of Murmansk and Leningrad Oblast. Russia has only a handful of wind power projects and none offshore.

India has opened the world’s largest solar plant. The 648 megawatt project in Kamuthi, Tamil Nadu is largely self-maintaining, with a host of solar-powered robots that clean the solar panels, keeping efficiency rates high and human effort to a minimum. Once the plant is fully operational, it is expected to generate enough electricity to power 150,000 households. The facility contains 2.5 million individual solar cells and spans across 1,270 acres in southern India.

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