The Rise of the Personal Power Plant

Smart and agile power systems will let every home and business generate, store, and share electricity

10 min read
Photo: Adam Voorhes; Prop Stylist: Robin Finley
Photo: Adam Voorhes; Prop Stylist: Robin Finley

energyOpenPhoto: Adam Voorhes; Prop Stylist: Robin Finlay

At first glance, downtown Fort Collins, Colorado, looks like a sweet anachronism. Beautifully preserved 19th-century buildings beckon from leafy streets. A restored trolley car ding-dings its way along Mountain Avenue. It’s safe and spotless, vibrant and unrushed.

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20 Teams to Compete for $10M Telerobot XPrize

Robots will explore remote physical embodiment in the ANA Avatar XPRIZE Finals

8 min read
A woman in a VR headset holding motion controllers stands next to a humanoid robotic torso on a mobile base

Ideally, autonomous robots would be capable enough to do everything we wanted them to do, and lots of people are working very hard towards that goal. Annoyingly, though, humans are extremely capable, and with the exception of tasks that require a very specific combination of strength or speed or precision, having a human in the loop is still a good way of making sure that you get the job done. But the physical meat-sack nature of humans is annoying as well, restricting us to using our talents and (equally importantly) having physical experiences in only one location at a time.

The ANA Avatar XPRIZE seeks to solve this by combining humans and robots by enabling physical, non-autonomous avatar systems that allow remote users to see, hear, touch, and interact in real time. This isn’t a new idea, but with $10 million up for grabs, this competition is the biggest push towards avatar robotics we’ve seen since the DARPA Robotics Challenge. And after a questionable start, the challenge evolved to (I would argue) better serve its purpose, with a final event coming up in November that will definitely be worth watching.

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AI Could Make Air Conditioners 10x Better

Hyperganic is using AI to design new heat exchangers that can be 3D printed in metal

3 min read
White steam curls out of an object composed of black pipes that twist helically. A cutaway shows a convoluted inner structure.

Hyperganic partnered with TRUMPF to algorithmically design this heat exchanger based on physical principles found in nature. They are now partnering with Krailling and Strata Manufacturing to build a more efficient residential air-conditioning system with 3D printed heat exchanger

Hyperganic

The energy we spend on cooling indoor spaces has tripled since 1990, and it’s going to triple again by 2050 as developing and middle-income countries embrace air-conditioning. Researchers are putting a lot of sweat into innovative cooling technologies that consume less energy, but none seem ready for prime time in the near future.

“Air-conditioning innovation is like nuclear fusion, always twenty years in the future,” says Lin Kayser, CEO of Hyperganic, an AI-based design software firm based in Munich.

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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
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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.