What if you could charge your mobile phone without conventional electricity, but with a bottle of hot water instead? Space thermoelectric technology could soon make this sustainable solution a reality.
Thermoelectric devices are made from materials that can convert a temperature difference into electricity. Previous researches have suggested that thermoelectric devices can harvest wasted heat and produce electrical energy to back up the battery on spacecraft.
Chinese scientists are now hoping to take advantage of space thermoelectric technology to benefit people's daily life.
Researchers at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, one of the country's rocket makers, have developed a type of insulated water bottle equipped with a thermoelectric chip that can turn water heat into electricity to charge a mobile phone.
As mobile phones have gotten more powerful processors and larger touch screen interfaces, their power requirement has correspondingly increased. However, people often face the problem of charging their phones, especially when traveling on trains or camping in mountains, said lead researcher Ma Wei.
"Our solution to this problem is a water bottle-based thermoelectric device, a heat source to generate electricity," Ma said, adding that the invention does not require any electrical sources.
A demonstration video showed that the thermoelectric device was embedded in the bottle cap, which has a USB charging port on it. When a researcher connected an iPhone to the bottle with a cable, the battery icon on the screen appeared green with a lightning bolt indication in the middle.
"We have found that the water bottle can provide 20 to 30 minutes of electricity after we poured 300 to 500 milliliters of boiling water into it," said Sheng Jiang, a member of the research team.
The bottle can also provide electricity for laptops, cameras and other low-power household appliances.
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Researchers are now seeking to forge cooperation with enterprises to market the concept. The product is likely to be priced from 150 yuan (about 23 US dollars) to 200 yuan.
A thermoelectric chip might make the bottle 200 grams heavier than the same size product on the market, but Sheng said it would be easy to carry as researchers have reduced the bottle weight by the use of a light heat insulation material, originally created for spacecraft, to replace stainless steel container.
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Emphasising the safety of the invention, Sheng said it produces low voltage and has no risk of short circuit.
Scientists at Shahjalal University of Science & Technology (SUST) have sequenced the genome of the Novel Coronavirus found in 2 districts of Sylhet division, Vice Chancellor Farid Uddin Ahmed disclosed at a press briefing Tuesday.
As part of a research project, COVID-19 samples were collected from different areas of 4 districts in Sylhet, to sequence their genome and study how the virus is mutating in the region, besides its spread, origins and variants. From them 10 genome sequences of the area were submitted to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Database (GISAID), which published them on 31st December, 2020.
According to the analysis, similarities with Italy, UK, USA, Finland, Germany, Russia, and a previously found strain in Bangladesh was detected in the Sylhet samples. Any UK mutant (P681H) was not found but a variant (P681R) with a different mutation in the same position was found. Another completely new mutation (Genome: 27862: Del: ATCAT ) was found in the genome of 2 viruses.
"As the Coronavirus spread was increasing, SUST’s Genetic & Biotechnology Department of Life Sciences faculty established the self-financed specialized COVID-19 detection lab where a team of researchers voluntarily started detecting the disease. Along with that, the team started researching the virus, financed by SUST research center," it was announced at the press briefing.
Also read: Sylhet coronavirus cases reach 9,369
In addition, the specialized lab was founded last May spending Tk 1,10,00,000 from SUST's own fund to fight the Coronavirus spread. Currently a team of 25 members work in the lab everyday led by Professor Shamsul Haque Prodhan, head of Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology dept. of the varsity.
Chinese ground crews are standing by for the return of a lunar probe bringing back the first fresh samples of rock and debris from the moon in more than 45 years.
The Chang’e probe is expected to land in the Siziwang district of the vast Inner Mongolia region late Wednesday or early Thursday.
It fired its engines early Wednesday to put it on course before the orbiter separates from the return vehicle, with all systems functioning as expected, the China National Space Administration said.
Recovery of the return vehicle will be complicated by its small size, darkness and heavy snow, state media reported.
Plans call for it to perform an initial bounce off the Earth’s atmosphere to reduce its speed before passing through and floating down on parachutes, making it difficult to precisely calculate where it will land, the official Xinhua News Agency quoted Bian Hancheng, a leader of the recovery crew, as saying.
State broadcaster CCTV showed four military helicopters standing by Wednesday morning at a base on the snow-covered grasslands. Crews in vehicles on the ground will also seek to hone in on signals. While sprawling in size, the area is relatively familiar because of its use as a landing site for China’s Shenzhou crewed spaceships.
Chang'e 5 set down on the moon on Dec. 1 and collected about 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of samples by scooping them from the surface, and by drilling 2 meters (about 6 feet) into the moon’s crust. The samples were deposited in a sealed container that was carried back to the return module by an ascent vehicle.
Flying a Chinese flag, the lander ceased functioning soon after it was used as a launching pad for the ascender, which was ejected from the orbiter after transferring the samples and came to rest on the moon’s surface.
The spacecraft’s return will mark the first time scientists have obtained fresh samples of lunar rocks since the former Soviet Union’s Luna 24 robot probe in 1976.
Chang’e 5 blasted off from a launch base in China's southern island province of Hainan on Nov. 23 on a mission expected to last 23 days.
It marks China’s third successful lunar landing but the only one to lift off again from the moon. Its predecessor, Chang’e 4, became the first probe to land on the moon’s little-explored far side and continues to send back data on conditions that could affect a future extended stay by humans on the moon.
The moon has been a particular focus of the Chinese space program, which says it plans to land humans there and possibly construct a permanent base. No timeline or other details have been announced.
SpaceX launched its shiny, bullet-shaped, straight-out-of-science fiction Starship several miles into the air from a remote corner of Texas on Wednesday, but the 6 1/2-minute test flight ended in an explosive fireball at touchdown.
It was the highest and most elaborate flight yet for the rocketship that Elon Musk says could carry people to Mars in as little as six years. Despite the catastrophic finale, he was thrilled.
“Mars, here we come!!” he tweeted.
This latest prototype — the first one equipped with a nose cone, body flaps and three engines — was shooting for an altitude of up to eight miles (12.5 kilometers). That’s almost 100 times higher than previous hops and skimming the stratosphere.
Starship seemed to hit the mark or at least come close. There was no immediate word from SpaceX on how high it went.
The full-scale, stainless steel model — 160 feet (50 meters) tall and 30 feet (9 meters) in diameter — soared out over the Gulf of Mexico. After about five minutes, it flipped sideways as planned and descended in a free-fall back to the southeastern tip of Texas near the Mexican border. The Raptor engines reignited for braking and the rocket tilted back upright. When it touched down, however, the rocketship became engulfed in flames and ruptured, parts scattering.
The entire flight — as dramatic and flashy as it gets, even by SpaceX standards — lasted six minutes and 42 seconds. SpaceX broadcast the sunset demo live on its website; repeated delays over the past week and a last-second engine abort Tuesday heightened the excitement among space fans.
Musk called it a “successful ascent” and said the body flaps precisely guided the rocket to the landing point. The fuel tank pressure was low, however, when the engines reignited for touchdown, which caused Starship to come down too fast.
“But we got all the data we needed!” he tweeted.
Musk had kept expectations low, cautioning earlier this week there was “probably” 1-in-3 chance of complete success.
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who founded the Blue Origin rocket company, offered swift congratulations.
“Anybody who knows how hard this stuff is is impressed by today’s Starship test.”
Two lower, shorter SpaceX test flights earlier this year from Boca Chica, Texas — a quiet coastal village before SpaceX moved in — used more rudimentary versions of Starship. Essentially cylindrical cans and single Raptor engines, these early vehicles reached altitudes of 490 feet (150 meters). An even earlier model, the short and squat Starhopper, made a tiny tethered hop in 2019, followed by two increasingly higher climbs.
Wednesday’s test followed SpaceX’s latest space station supply run for NASA by three days, and the private company’s second astronaut flight by less than a month from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.
Starship is actually the upper stage of Musk’s envisioned moon- and Mars-ships. It will launch atop a mega booster still in development known as the Super Heavy. The entire vehicle will tower 394 feet (120 meters) — 31 feet (9.4 meters) taller than NASA’s Saturn V rocket that hurled men to the moon a half-century ago.
SpaceX intends to use Starship to put massive satellites into orbit around Earth, besides delivering people and cargo to the moon and Mars. Earlier this year, SpaceX was one of three prime contractors chosen by NASA to develop lunar landers capable of getting astronauts on the moon by 2024.
Right before Wednesday’s launch, NASA announced the 18 U.S. astronauts who will train for the Artemis moon-landing program.
While accepting an award in Berlin last week, Musk said he’s “highly confident” of a human flight to Mars in six years — “if we get lucky, maybe four years.” But Musk is the first to admit his timelines can be overly optimistic.
A small capsule containing asteroid soil samples that was dropped from 220,000 kilometers (136,700 miles) in space by Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft landed as planned in the Australian Outback on Sunday. After a preliminary inspection, it will be flown to Japan for research. The extremely high precision required to carry out the mission thrilled many in Japan, who said they took pride in its success. The project’s manager, Yuichi Tsuda of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, called the capsule a (asterisk)treasure box.(asterisk) The AP explains the significance of the project and what comes next.
WHAT IS THE HAYABUSA2 MISSION?
Launched on Dec. 3, 2014, the unmanned Hayabusa2 spacecraft touched down twice on the asteroid Ryugu, more than 300 million kilometers (190 million miles) away from Earth. The asteroid’s extremely rocky surface forced the mission’s team to revise landing plans, but the spacecraft successfully collected data and soil samples during the 1½ years it spent near Ryugu after arriving there in June 2018.
In its first touchdown in February 2019, the spacecraft collected surface dust samples, similar to NASA’s recent touch-and-go grab by Osiris REx on the asteroid Bennu. Hayabusa2 later blasted a crater into the asteroid’s surface and then collected underground samples from the asteroid, a first for space history. In late 2019, Hayabusa2 left Ryugu. That yearlong journey ended Sunday.
Japan hopes to use the expertise and technology used in the Hayabusa2 in the future, perhaps in its 2024 MMX sample-return mission to a Martian moon.
WHY AN ASTEROID?
Asteroids orbit the sun but are much smaller than planets. They are among the oldest objects in the solar system and therefore may contain clues into how Earth evolved. Scientists say that requires studying samples from such celestial objects.
Ryugu in Japanese means “Dragon Palace,” the name of a sea-bottom castle in a Japanese folk tale.
Japan’s research into asteroids also may contribute to resource development and to finding ways to protect Earth from collisions with big meteorites, said Hitoshi Kuninaka, JAXA’s vice president.
WHAT’S INSIDE THE CAPSULE?
The pan-shaped capsule, about 40 centimeters (15 inches) in diameter, contains soil samples taken from two different sites on the asteroid. Some gases might also be embedded in the samples. The preliminary inspection at a lab in Australia was to extract and analyze the gas. The capsule is due to return to Japan on Tuesday. It will be taken to JAXA’s research center in Sagamihara, near Tokyo.
WHAT CAN ASTEROID SAMPLES TELL US?
Scientists say the samples, especially ones taken from under the asteroid’s surface, contain data from 4.6 billion years ago unaffected by space radiation and other environmental factors. They are particularly interested in studying organic materials in the samples to learn about how they are distributed in the solar system and if or how they are related to life on Earth. JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa said he believes analysis of the samples may help explain the origins of the solar system and how water helped to bring life to Earth. Fragments brought back from Ryugu can also tell its collision and thermal history.
After about a year, some of the samples will be shared with NASA and other international scientists. About 40% of them will be stored for future research. JAXA mission manager Makoto Yoshikawa said just 0.1 gram of the sample can be enough to conduct the planned research, though he said more would be better.
WHY IS HAYABUSA SUCH A BIG DEAL FOR JAPAN?
Hayabusa2 is a successor of the original Hayabusa mission that Japan launched in 2003. After a series of technical setbacks, it sent back samples from another asteroid, Itokawa, in 2010. The spacecraft was burned up in a failed re-entry but the capsule made it to Earth.
Many Japanese were impressed by the first Hayabusa spaceship’s return, which was considered a miracle given all the troubles it encountered. JAXA’s subsequent Venus and Mars missions also were flawed. Tsuda said the Hayabusa2 team used all the hard lessons learned from the earlier missions to accomplish a 100 times better than “perfect” outcome. Some members of the public who watched the event shed tears as the capsule successfully entered the atmosphere, briefly flaring into a fireball.
About an hour after separating from the capsule at 220,000 kilometers (136,700 miles) from Earth, Hayabusa2 was sent on another mission to the smaller asteroid, 1998KY26. That is an 11-year journey one-way. The mission is to study possible ways to prevent big meteorites from colliding with Earth.