(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)
Researchers have identified a metal that conducts electricity without conducting heat – an incredibly useful property that defies our current understanding of how conductors work.
The metal, found in 2017, contradicts something called the Wiedemann-Franz Law, which basically states that good conductors of electricity will also be proportionally good conductors of heat, which is why things like motors and appliances get so hot when you use them regularly.
But a team in the US showed this isn’t the case for metallic vanadium dioxide (VO2) – a material that’s already well known for its strange ability to switch from a see-through insulator to a conductive metal at the temperature of 67 degrees Celsius (152 degrees Fahrenheit).
“This was a totally unexpected finding,” said lead researcher Junqiao Wu from Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division back in January 2017.
“It shows a drastic breakdown of a textbook law that has been known to be robust for conventional conductors. This discovery is of fundamental importance for understanding the basic electronic behavior of novel conductors.”
Not only does this unexpected property change what we know about conductors, it could also be incredibly useful – the metal could one day be used to convert wasted heat from engines and appliances back into electricity, or even create better window coverings that keep buildings cool.
Researchers already knew of a handful of other materials that conduct electricity better than heat, but they only display those properties at temperatures hundreds of degrees below zero, which makes them highly impractical for any real-world applications.
Vanadium dioxide, on the other hand, is usually only a conductor at warm temperatures well above room temperature, which means it has the ability to be a lot more practical.
To uncover this bizarre property, the team looked at the way that electrons move within vanadium dioxide’s crystal lattice, as well as how much heat was being generated.
Surprisingly, they found that the thermal conductivity that could be attributed to the electrons in the material was 10 times smaller than that amount predicted by the Wiedemann-Franz Law.
The reason for this appears to be the synchronised way that the electrons move through the material.
“The electrons were moving in unison with each other, much like a fluid, instead of as individual particles like in normal metals,” said Wu.
“For electrons, heat is a random motion. Normal metals transport heat efficiently because there are so many different possible microscopic configurations that the individual electrons can jump between.”
“In contrast, the coordinated, marching-band-like motion of electrons in vanadium dioxide is detrimental to heat transfer as there are fewer configurations available for the electrons to hop randomly between,” he added.
Interestingly, when the researchers mixed the vanadium dioxide with other materials, they could ‘tune’ the amount of both electricity and heat that it could conduct – which could be incredibly useful for future applications.
For example, when the researchers added the metal tungsten to vanadium dioxide, they lowered the temperature at which the material became metallic, and also made it a better heat conductor.
That means that vanadium dioxide could help dissipate heat from a system, by only conducting heat when it hits a certain temperature. Before that it would be an insulator.
Vanadium dioxide also has the unique ability of being transparent to around 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), but then reflects infrared light above 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit) while remaining transparent to visible light.
So that means it could even be used as a window coating that reduces the temperature without the need for air conditioning.
“This material could be used to help stabilize temperature,” said one of the researchers, Fan Yang.
“By tuning its thermal conductivity, the material can efficiently and automatically dissipate heat in the hot summer because it will have high thermal conductivity, but prevent heat loss in the cold winter because of its low thermal conductivity at lower temperatures.”
A lot more research needs to be done on this puzzling material before it’s commercialized further, but it’s pretty exciting that we now know these bizarre properties exist in a material at room temperature.
The research was published in Science in 2017.
A version of this article was first published in January 2017.
The Turkish Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EPDK) announced Tuesday raising consumer electricity prices by 14.9 percent, knowing that the prices witnessed an equal raise in July.
After the new increase, users would pay starting October TRY71.22 (around USD14) for 100 kilowatt-hours. EPDK said, in a statement, that a key factor for increasing prices was the Electricity Distribution Co. changing its wholesale prices with the unit-cost of electricity inching up to 35 kurus.
The new move caused a withering criticism of the government on social media, with citizens expressing anger expressed anger at the power price rises which would increase burdens on Turkish households.
Earlier, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development issued a report pointing out that the electricity prices in Turkey rose by 307 percent since 2003, when the government of Justice and Development Party became in charge under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Last August, the government imposed a new increase in natural gas prices for the fourth time in less than one year by 15 percent for houses and 14 percent for industrial usage.
Economists criticized the new roadmap to implement the economic program, adding that the three goals announced by Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak are “unrealistic”.
Albayrak laid out on Monday Turkey’s targets in the New Economic Program (NEP) covering the 2020-2022 period. He stated that they trimmed the inflation forecast for the end of this year to 12 percent, from the current year’s predictions of 15.1 percent, and to 8.5 percent for 2020, 6 percent in 2021 and 4.9 percent in 2022.
“Growth in 2019 will be 0.5 percent…After closing 2019 with an unemployment rate of 12.9 percent, we aim to reduce the figure to 11.8 percent next year, 10.6 percent in 2021 and 9.8 percent in 2022,” the minister said.
Economist Ugur Gurses commented on Albayrak’s roadmap, saying that he presented it to persuade his father-in-law (Erdogan) and not the people. The official target of growth is 5 percent by 2022 but the presented target for inflation is 12 percent for 2019, 8.5 percent, 6 percent and 4.9 percent for the three coming years respectively.
Former Turkish Central Bank Governor Durmus Yilmaz said that the budget deficit estimates in 2020-2022 of 2.9, 2.5, and 1.5 percent are based on taxes collection, which in their turn will be provided by an anticipated growth of 5 percent in the coming three years.
Initially, the line would import 500 megawatts of electricity to its overstretched grid by 2020 and in competitive Gulf market prices, revealed the Iraqi Electricity Ministry.
The 300-kilometer transmission line would run from Kuwait to Iraq’s southern port of Faw and be financed by the GCC IA, according to the ministry.
Electricity Minister Luay al-Khateeb signed the deal, which comes amid other agreements signed with huge western firms under the strategy adopted by the ministry to reform and develop the sector, which has been suffering from a deteriorating power supply.
Iraq partly fills its power shortages by importing both electricity and natural gas from Iran.
Musab al-Mudarres, the spokesperson for the Iraqi Electricity Ministry, told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that Iraq seeks to become a promising market for energy by networking with the Gulf system and importing 500 megawatts by 2020, and being the link between the Gulf energy system and Europe’s.
Mudarres stressed that the ministry is working on a road map set to revitalize the energy sector, which depends on the assistance of giant firms such as General Electric (GE) and Siemens.
As for the volume of generated electricity and the target output of the ministry, the spokesperson said that Iraq has a power capacity of around 18,000 megawatts, including the amount imported through Iranian lines. But the ministry aims for 30,000 megawatts in the coming three to four years.
On Saturday, the ministry signed deals with Siemens and Orascom Construction to rebuild two power plants. Also, GE signed a new agreement with Mass Energy Group Holding (MGH) to help boost electricity generation to 4.5 megawatts.
China Eastern Airlines released a permanent electronic luggage tag at Hongqiao airport on Tuesday that allows travelers to check-in and trace luggage using their mobile phones.
The carrier plans to release the first batch of 4,000 tags to its passengers on flights between Shanghai and Beijing.
The tag has a screen to show the passenger and flight information after coming in contact with a passenger’s electronic tags
smartphone. A chip embedded in the tag lets passengers follow the progress of their luggage on the phone.
“The new tag is convenient and I no longer need to remove the traditional paper tags often stuck tightly on the luggage,” said Li Rui who was one of the first travelers with an electronic tag on a Shanghai-Beijing flight during a trial period.
“It will be better if other carriers can also recognize the tag,” he added.
Some passengers expressed concern. “What if the tag goes missing during transportation,” said a passenger from Beijing surnamed Liu. “The traditional paper tag is difficult to remove but also hard to get lost,” she added.
“It will be better if other carriers can also recognize the tag,” said Li Rui who was among the first batch of travelers experienced the electronic tag on a Shanghai-Beijing flight.
China Eastern platinum card holders can apply for the electronic tag at ticket counters. Other passengers can apply through the airline’s app from Thursday. Frequent travelers between Shanghai and Beijing will have priority.
The service will be expanded to other flights and mainly the hub airports in the future, said Shen Chenyi, general manager of the airline’s luggage control center.
The airline also plans to make bespoke luggage tags for passengers, he added.
The electronic tags were in use during the first test run at Beijing’s new mega airport on July 20 as the sprawling air hub gears up for its opening in September. China Eastern, Shanghai Airlines and China United Airlines operated 12 simulated flights and opened 16 check-in counters at the Daxing International Airport for the exercise.
Previously, China Southern also announced the release of its electronic luggage tags to replace traditional paper tags.
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