GLIMPSES OF THE FUTURE – FEBRUARY 2021

World’s First Hydrogen Home Battery

To get off the grid with home solar or wind generation, you need to be able to generate energy when the Sun’s out or the wind is blowing, and store it for when it’s not.

Normally, people do this with lithium battery systems – Tesla’s Powerwall 2 is an example. But Australian company Lavo has built a surprisingly powerful cabinet that can sit on the side of your house and store your excess energy as hydrogen.

The Lavo Green Energy Storage System measures 1,680 x 1,240 x 400 mm (66 x 49 x 15.7 inches) and weighs a meaty 324 kg (714 lb), making it very unlikely to be pocketed by a thief. You connect it to your solar inverter (it has to be a hybrid one) and the mains water (through a purification unit), and sit back as it uses excess energy to electrolyze the water, releasing oxygen and storing the hydrogen in a patented metal hydride “sponge” at a pressure of 30 bar, or 435 psi.

It stores some 40 kilowatt-hours worth of energy (three times as much as Tesla’s current Powerwall 2) and enough to run an average home for two days. And when that energy is needed, it uses a fuel cell to deliver energy into the home, adding a small 5-kWh lithium buffer battery for instantaneous response. There’s Wi-Fi connectivity, and a phone app for monitoring and control, and businesses with higher power needs can run several in parallel to form an “intelligent virtual power plant.”

American Men are Selling Sperm Online Regardless Of Laws And Regulations

 U.S. men are flying all over the place shipping their sperm with new vial systems and taking the latest DNA tests because that is what women want now, according to a report in the New York Times.

Sure, they can talk on the phone, but they say it has to be quick because they are driving to Dallas or Kansas City or Portland, Maine, in time for an ovulation window. They would like to remind enquirers they have day jobs.

“People are fed up with sperm banks,” said Kyle Gordy, 29, who lives in Malibu, Calif. He invests in real estate but spends most of his time donating his sperm, free (except for the cost of travel), to women. He also runs a nearly 11,000-member private Facebook group, Sperm Donation USA, which helps women connect with a roster of hundreds of approved donors. His donor sperm has sired 35 children, with five more on the way, he said.

Steam-Powered Lunchbox Heats Food On The Go

 While having a hot lunch certainly is nice, it’s not always possible if you don’t have access to an electrical outlet or a microwave oven. That’s where the Dutch-designed Heatbox comes in, as it uses an integrated battery to steam-heat your food.

Users start by pouring 20 ml (0.7 oz) of water into the Heatbox, then adding its stainless-steel inner container, which contains their food. One lid is then placed on the inner container – sealing the food inside – and another lid (made of bamboo) is placed on the outside of the Heatbox, keeping the water contained. The whole thing can then be carried around, without anything leaking out.

Would You Like To Live On As A ‘Remembrance Chat Bot’?

 Microsoft has filed a patent which raises the intriguing possibility of digitally reincarnating people as a chat bot.

Instead of using the conventional method of training chatbots using conversations and material from a wide sample of users, the system would use “social data” such as “images, voice data, social media posts, electronic messages [and] written letters” to build a profile of a person.

“The social data may be used to create or modify a special index in the theme of the specific person’s personality,” the patent states. “The special index may be used to train a chatbot to converse and interact in the personality of a specific person.”

The chat bot could even sound like the real person. “In some aspects, a voice font of the specific person may be generated using recordings and sound data related to the specific person,” the patent claims.

 Boeing To Make Jets That Fly On 100% Biofuel

Boeing says it will begin delivering commercial airplanes capable of flying on 100% biofuel by the end of the decade, calling reducing environmental damage from fossil fuels the “challenge of our lifetime.”

Boeing’s goal – which requires advances to jet systems, raising fuel-blending requirements, and safety certification by global regulators – is central to a broader industry target of slashing carbon emissions in half by 2050, the US planemaker said.

“It’s a tremendous challenge, it’s the challenge of our lifetime,” Boeing’s director of sustainability strategy, Sean Newsum, told Reuters. “Aviation is committed to doing its part to reduce its carbon footprint.”

Commercial flying currently accounts for about 2% of global carbon emissions and about 12% of transport emissions, according to data cited by the Air Transport Action Group.

Fancy A Convertible Tesla Now?

 Unwilling to wait for the new Tesla Roadster, one car enthusiast demanded a Tesla convertible, immediately. And Italian design house Ares Design was more than happy to take on the challenge.

Slicing the roof and rear doors off the Model S, it turned sedan into Model S convertible. The new car packages Tesla’s unrivalled electric performance in a breezy open-top 2+2.

As the Model S is a four-door, Ares’ work wasn’t quite as simple as peeling the roof off. It could have converted the sedan into an awkward four-door convertible, but it instead chose to remove the rear doors and create a cleaner two-door drop-top.

After removing the roof, this involved cutting away the B pillars to make room for a longer pair of front doors. To compensate for the loss of the structural components, Ares reinforced the chassis below the cockpit and rear seating and at the sides.

Graphene Filter ‘Sandwich’ Produces Super-Clean Water

 Scientists at Brown University have demonstrated a promising new water purification technology that takes advantage of the tiny gaps in stacked sheets of graphene to filter out contaminants with great efficiency. The technology overcomes one of the key problems in this area of research, with the team behind it hopeful it can prove useful in a range of settings.

Graphene is a two-dimensional sheet of carbon measuring just a single atom in thickness and possesses a range of highly useful attributes. Among these is an ability to act as a water filtering tool, with the material able to be fashioned into membranes that allow the passage of water molecules while trapping impurities in the liquid.

This could include pulling salt from seawater, or cleaning contaminants from the water sources in heavily populated areas such as Sydney Harbour. The Brown University team were investigating how these types of technologies might be improved upon, and were investigating how stacks of graphene sheets could be manipulated in different ways to produce better results.

Vertical Fields Grow Veggies At Restaurants And Supermarkets

As well as requiring a fraction of the growing space, Vertical Farms (controlled-environment agriculture systems such as a hydroponics operations) can be much more efficient than traditional agriculture, are no longer bound by season or location, the growing-to-harvest cycle is reduced and crops could be produced all year. And with this ‘vertical field’ Copenhagen operation, they can be set up close to where the food is purchased or consumed.

The Vertical Field setup retains many of the advantages of hydroponic vertical farms, but instead of the plants growing in a nutrient-packed liquid medium, the container-based pods treat their crops to real soil, supplemented by a proprietary mix of minerals and nutrients. The company says that it opted for geoponic production “because we found that it has far richer flavour, colour, and quality.”