How to Blackout-Proof a City

Mumbai’s economic miracle threatens to overwhelm the power grid

10 min read
How to Blackout-Proof a City
A thicket of tangled wires brings electricity to shops at Crawford Market in Mumbai.
Photo: Eitan Iron

The squeals of children at play slice through the thrum of cars and powered rickshaws motoring by a high-rise apartment complex in Khar, a neighborhood of narrow, tree-lined lanes in west central Mumbai, the city formerly known as Bombay. This pulsating island of 18.2 million, the most populous city in India, is the economic engine that is propelling the country into the ranks of the developed world.

The cacophony of traffic noises, construction clatter, and cawing crows filters into the spacious one-bedroom apartment I’m staying in, where the clamor from the street melds with the sounds of modern electrical conveniences: the humming refrigerator, the shushing ceiling fan, the burbling water heater, the droning air conditioner, and the howling espresso machine.

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Superlattices Could Make Bulky Capacitors Obsolete

Researchers hope artificial antiferroelectric capacitors could help miniaturize electronics further

3 min read
A grid of arrows pointing in different directions

In artificial antiferroelectric structures, electric dipoles are normally arranged in ways that lead to zero electric polarization.

Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology/Science Advances

One roadblock to shrinking present-day electronics is the relatively large size of their capacitors. Now scientists have developed new "superlattices" that might help build capacitors as small as one-hundredth the size of conventional ones.

Whereas batteries store energy in chemical form, capacitors store energy in an electric field. Batteries typically possess greater energy densities than capacitors—they can store more energy for their weight. However, capacitors usually have greater power densities than batteries—they charge and discharge more quickly. This makes capacitors useful for applications involving pulses of power.

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No More Invasive Surgery—This Pacemaker Dissolves Instead

Temporary pacemakers are often vital but dangerous to remove when their jobs are done

3 min read
Animated gif of a device with a coil on one end dissolving between days 1 and 60.

The transient pacemaker, developed at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., harmlessly dissolves in the patient's body over time.

Northwestern University

After having cardiovascular surgery, many patients require a temporary pacemaker to help stabilize their heart rate. The device consists of a pulse generator, one or more insulated wires, and an electrode at the end of each wire.

The pulse generator—a metal case that contains electronic circuitry with a small computer and a battery—regulates the impulses sent to the heart. The wire is connected to the pulse generator on one end while the electrode is placed inside one of the heart’s chambers.

But there are several issues with temporary pacemakers: The generator limits the patient’s mobility, and the wires must be surgically removed, which can cause complications such as infection, dislodgment, torn or damaged tissues, bleeding, and blood clots.

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A Multiphysics Approach to Designing Fuel Cells for Electric Vehicles

White paper on fuel cell modeling and simulation

1 min read
Comsol Logo
Comsol

Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) often reach higher energy density and exhibit greater efficiency than battery EVs; however, they also have high manufacturing costs, limited service life, and relatively low power density.

Modeling and simulation can improve fuel cell design and optimize EV performance. Learn more in this white paper.