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This is how UK is going to use rivers to heat millions of homes

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By Newsgram Staff Writer

Soon British rivers will be heating millions of homes. England’s Energy Secretary Ed Davey is trying to promote water-source heat pumps; carbon-free devices that extract thermal energy from waterways to heat water for radiators and showers.

The technology is already in use in Scandinavian countries where heat from nearby rivers and canals is pumped into houses.

He has identified more than 4,000 rivers, estuaries, coastal sites and canals with water warm and accessible enough to heat more than a million homes in the vicinity, the Independent reported.

The technology is not only clean and renewable but cheap too. It will allegedly slash power bills of Brits by 20%.

‘We need to make the most of the vast amount of clean, renewable heat that lays dormant and unused in our rivers, lakes and seas’ the Independent quoted the Secretary.

The heating systems used in Britain will be more effective than the ones used in the Scandinavian countries. The new systems developed by scientists at Mitsubishi and Mike Spenser-Morris, a London property developer and director of the Zero Carbon Partnership can create 45C heat and cover a wider area.

The system requires a network of pipes running 2 meters below the surface of the water where the temperature is about 8C to 10C. These pipes are filled with a solution of water and anti-freeze which is heated by the warmer water outside the pipe and pumped into the house.

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Your body could soon power wearable devices

The study described a small tab (1.5 centimetres long, by one centimetre wide). It delivered a maximum voltage of 124 volts, a maximum current of 10 microamps and a maximum power density of 0.22 millwatts per square centimetre.

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The tab consists of two thin layers of gold, with polydimethylsiloxane (also called PDMS — a silicon-based polymer used in contact lenses, Silly Putty and other products) sandwiched in between. Wikimedia Commons
The tab consists of two thin layers of gold, with polydimethylsiloxane (also called PDMS — a silicon-based polymer used in contact lenses, Silly Putty and other products) sandwiched in between. Wikimedia Commons

Researchers have developed a metallic tab which, when connected to a human body, is capable of generating electricity from bending a finger and other simple movements.

According to a research project led by the University at Buffalo, New York, and Institute of Semiconductors (IoP) at the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), the tab — a triboelectric nanogenerator — can convert mechanical energy into electrical energy for electronic devices.

“The human body is an abundant source of energy. We thought: ‘Why not harness it to produce our own power?’” said lead author Qiaoqiang Gan, associate professor at the University at Buffalo.

The tab was detailed in the journal Nano Energy. Triboelectric charging occurs when certain materials become electrically charged after coming into contact with a different material. Most everyday static electricity is triboelectric.

Also Read: Scientists Use Pocket-size Device to Map Human Genetic Code

The tab consists of two thin layers of gold, with polydimethylsiloxane (also called PDMS — a silicon-based polymer used in contact lenses, Silly Putty and other products) sandwiched in between.

The tab was detailed in the journal Nano Energy. Wikimedia Commons
The tab was detailed in the journal Nano Energy. Wikimedia Commons

One layer of gold is stretched, causing it to crumple upon release and create what looks like a miniature mountain range. When that force is reapplied, for example, from a finger bending, the motion leads to friction between the gold layers and PDMS.

“This causes electrons to flow back and forth between the gold layers. The more friction, the greater the amount of power is produced,” said Yun Xu, a professor at the IoP.

The study described a small tab (1.5 centimetres long, by one centimetre wide). It delivered a maximum voltage of 124 volts, a maximum current of 10 microamps and a maximum power density of 0.22 millwatts per square centimetre.

Also Read: Mitra: An Indian Robot That Greets You With A ‘Namaste’

That is not enough to quickly charge a smartphone, but it lit 48 red LED lights simultaneously. The team is planning to use larger pieces of gold, which when stretched and folded together are expected to deliver even more electricity.

The researchers are also working on developing a portable battery to store energy produced by the tab. They envision the system serving as a power source for various wearable and self-powered electronic devices. (IANS)