RNA Technology to Erase Age-related Wrinkles

A team of researchers led by The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has developed a novel delivery system for messenger RNA (mRNA) using extracellular vesicles (EVs). The new technique has the potential to overcome many of the delivery hurdles faced by other promising mRNA therapies.
In the study, published today in Nature Biomedical Engineering, the researchers use EV-encapsulated mRNA to initiate and sustain collagen production for several months in the cells of photoaged skin in laboratory models. It is the first therapy to demonstrate this ability and represents a proof-of-concept for deploying the EV mRNA therapy.

This is an entirely new modality for delivering mRNA,” said corresponding author Betty Kim, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Neurosurgery. “We used it in our study to initiate collagen production in cells, but it has the potential to be a delivery system for a number of mRNA therapies that currently have no good method for being delivered.
The genetic code for building specific proteins is contained in mRNA but delivering mRNA within the body is one of the largest hurdles facing clinical applications of many mRNA-based therapies. The current COVID-19 vaccines, which marked the first widespread use of mRNA therapy, use lipid nanoparticles for delivery, and the other primary delivery systems for genetic materials so far have been viral based. However, each of these approaches comes with certain limitations and challenges.

Extracellular vesicles are small structures created by cells that transport biomolecules and nucleic acids in the body. These naturally occurring particles can be modified to carry mRNAs, which gives them the benefit of innate biocompatibility without triggering a strong immune response, allowing them to be administered multiple times. Additionally, their size allows them to carry even the largest human genes and proteins.

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Solar Electric Vehicle Available in 2023 for $25,000

Germany company Sono Motors says it will bring a solar-powered electric vehicle to market in Europe in mid-2023. Sono has brought the car, called the Sion, on a tour throughout the U.S., in anticipation of its eventual domestic release. Priced at $25,000, the car is more affordable than most EVs on the U.S. market. It features 465 integrated solar half-cells throughout the exterior of the carroof, doors, fenders, hood and all. The company estimates that solar power alone can fuel about 70 miles (113 km) of driving per week. For longer trips though, the Sion has a lithium iron phosphate battery with a 190-mile (306 km) range, made by Chinese electric vehicle and battery giant BYD.

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Cheap High Performance Li-ion Batteries

Li-ion batteries (LIBs) are one of the most used batteries that support modern ITC society, including smartphones and EVs. LIBs are repeatedly charged and discharged by Li-ions passing back and forth between the positive and negative electrodes, with the Li-ion electrolyte acting as a passageway for the ions.

Normally, organic electrolytes such as liquid ethylene carbonate (EC) and their gels have been used as the Li-ion electrolyte due to their voltage resistance and ionic conductivity. However, as liquids and gels are flammable, a switch to safer polymeric solid electrolytes is preferable.

Polymeric solid electrolytes such as polyethylene glycol (PEG) have been proposed as impact-resistant Li-ion electrolytes. However, PEG-based polymer electrolytes crystallize near room temperature, resulting in a significant drop in Li-ion conductivity to around 10-6 S/cm at room temperature. To solve this problem, a research group has invented a new type of polymeric solid electrolyte by combining a porous polymer membrane with several micron pores and a photo-cross-linkable polyethylene glycol PEG-based polymer electrolyte.

This polymeric solid electrolyte not only shows high performance as an electrolyte but is also expected to be effective in deterring the formation of Li dendrites (dendritic crystals), which can cause ignition, due to the inclusion of a porous membrane. Through the realization of safe, high-performance LIBs, this achievement will contribute to the realization of a sustainable energy supply, which is the seventh goal of the SDGs.

Source: https://www.tohoku.ac.jp/

Chinese EV Battery With One-Charge Range of 1,000 Kms (620 miles)

The Chinese company Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd (CATL)  unveiled an electric-car battery it said has a range of over 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) on a single charge and is 13% more powerful than one planned by Tesla Inc., a major customer.

CATL, as the world’s biggest maker of electric-car batteries is known, will start manufacturing the next-generation “Qilin” next year, according to a video the Chinese company streamed online Thursday. The battery charges faster than existing cells, and is safer and more durable, CATL said.

The company claims that the EV battery, the Qilin, has a “record-breaking volume utilisation efficiency of 72% and an energy density of up to 255 Wh/kg – achieving “the highest integration level worldwide so far” and is capable of delivering a range of 1,000 kilometres,

The Qilin battery – named after a legendary creature in Chinese mythology – supposedly offers breakthroughs in the core process, algorithm, and materials.

Source: https://thedriven.io/
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https://www.bloomberg.com/

Mercedes-Benz Unveils 1,000 km-per-Charge Battery

Mercedes-Benz (DAIGn.DE) on Monday took the wraps off its battery-powered VISION EQXX prototype which it says will have a range of more than 1,000 kilometres (km) per charge, taking a big stride in its electric vehicle (EV) ambitions.

Daimler, soon to be rebranded Mercedes-Benz, announced plans in 2021 to invest more than 40 billion euros ($45 billion) by 2030 to take on Tesla (TSLA.O) in an all-electric car market, including building eight battery plants. From 2025, all its new vehicle platforms will only make EVs, it has said.

The VISION EQXX, dubbed the most-efficient Mercedes-Benz ever built, will have energy consumption of less than 10 kilowatt hours (kWh) per 100 km, said DaimlerTesla‘s (TSLA.O) Model S 60 currently consumes 18.1 kWh over the same distancedata on its website shows.

The Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX is how we imagine the future of electric cars,” Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Kaellenius said.

Daimler will test-drive the prototype before the middle of the year on various types of terrain, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Markus Schaefer told journalists.

Some components of the prototype would be available in Mercedes-Benz vehicles within two to three years, Schaefer said. However, the CTO declined to specify when the 1,000 km-range battery would be market-readyWhen such a vehicle would go on sale is a “market decision” to be determined once the carmaker had established how much range customers expected and what they would be willing to pay, he said.

Ultrathin, Lightweight Solar Panels

A race is on in solar engineering to create almost impossibly-thin, flexible solar panels. Engineers imagine them used in mobile applications, from self-powered wearable devices and sensors to lightweight aircraft and electric vehicles. Against that backdrop, researchers at Stanford University have achieved record efficiencies in a promising group of photovoltaic materials. Chief among the benefits of these transition metal dichalcogenides – or TMDs – is that they absorb ultrahigh levels of the sunlight that strikes their surface compared to other solar materials.

Transition metal dichalcogenide solar cells on a flexible polyimide substrate

Imagine an autonomous drone that powers itself with a solar array atop its wing that is 15 times thinner than a piece of paper,” said Koosha Nassiri Nazif, a doctoral scholar in electrical engineering at Stanford and co-lead author of a study published in the Dec. 9 edition of Nature Communications. “That is the promise of TMDs.”

The search for new materials is necessary because the reigning king of solar materials, silicon, is much too heavy, bulky and rigid for applications where flexibility, lightweight and high power are preeminent, such as wearable devices and sensors or aerospace and electric vehicles.

Silicon makes up 95 percent of the solar market today, but it’s far from perfect. We need new materials that are light, bendable and, frankly, more eco-friendly,” said Krishna Saraswat, a professor of electrical engineering and senior author of the paper. While TMDs hold great promise, research experiments to date have struggled to turn more than 2 percent of the sunlight they absorb into electricity. For silicon solar panels, that number is closing in on 30 percent. To be used widely, TMDs will have to close that gap.

The new Stanford prototype achieves 5.1 percent power conversion efficiency, but the authors project they could practically reach 27 percent efficiency upon optical and electrical optimizations. That figure would be on par with the best solar panels on the market today, silicon included.

Moreover, the prototype realized a 100-times greater power-to-weight ratio of any TMDs yet developed. That ratio is important for mobile applications, like drones, electric vehicles and the ability to charge expeditionary equipment on the move. When looking at the specific power – a measure of electrical power output per unit weight of the solar cell – the prototype produced 4.4 watts per gram, a figure competitive with other current-day thin-film solar cells, including other experimental prototypes. “We think we can increase this crucial ratio another ten times through optimization,” Saraswat said, adding that they estimate the practical limit of their TMD cells to be a remarkable 46 watts per gram.”

Source: https://news.stanford.edu/

The Rise of the Hydrogen Electric Car

The race is on for car manufacturers to bring out their own range on electric vehicles (EV). But what if the new kid on the block ends up taking over? Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota are among the major firms now testing out hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) in their production lines to see which proves the most successful.

FCEVs have been criticized for being less efficient as only around 55 percent of the hydrogen energy created through electrolysis is usable, compared to between 70 and 80 percent in battery-electric cars. However, there are several advantages to fuel cells, including low recharge times – just a matter of minutes, and long-range. But several practical obstacles stand in the way of hydrogen FCEVs, such as the lack of charging infrastructure in contrast to the ever-expanding EV infrastructure. For example, at the beginning of 2021 there were only 12 hydrogen fuelling stations in the U.K., not surprising as only two brands of FCEV were on the market – the Toyota Mirai and the Hyundai Nexo.

In addition, hydrogen is currently much more expensive than electric fuel, costing around £60 for a 300-mile tank. Moreover, much of the hydrogen on the market comes from the excess carbon produced from fossil fuels by using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. Yet, the disadvantages of battery EVs should not be overlooked. After years of investment, it is unlikely that we will see major advances in battery technology any time soon. Not to forget that lithium-ion batteries are heavy, making them near-impossible to use in freight and aviation. The metals used in existing battery production, such as cobalt and nickel, are also problematic due to ethical mining concerns as well a high costs adding to the overall price of price of EVs.
Source: https://oilprice.com/

New Battery Charges Ten Times Faster than a Lithium-ion Battery

It is difficult to imagine our daily life without lithium-ion batteries. They dominate the small format battery market for portable electronic devices, and are also commonly used in electric vehicles. At the same time, lithium-ion batteries have a number of serious issues, including: a potential fire hazard and performance loss at cold temperatures; as well as a considerable environmental impact of spent battery disposal.

According to the leader of the team of researchers, Professor in the Department of Electrochemistry at St Petersburg University Oleg Levin, the chemists have been exploring redox-active nitroxyl-containing polymers as materials for electrochemical energy storage. These polymers are characterised by a high energy density and fast charging and discharging speed due to fast redox kinetics. One challenge towards the implementation of such a technology is the insufficient electrical conductivity. This impedes the charge collection even with highly conductive additives, such as carbon.

Looking for solutions to overcome this problem, the researchers from St Petersburg University synthesised a polymer based on the nickel-salen complex (NiSalen). The molecules of this metallopolymer act as a molecular wire to which energy-intensive nitroxyl pendants are attached. The molecular architecture of the material enables high capacitance performance to be achieved over a wide temperature range.

We came up with the concept of this material in 2016. At that time, we began to develop a fundamental project “Electrode materials for lithium-ion batteries based on organometallic polymers”. It was supported by a grant from the Russian Science Foundation. When studying the charge transport mechanism in this class of compounds, we discovered that there are two keys directions of development. Firstly, these compounds can be used as a protective layer to cover the main conductor cable of the battery, which would be otherwise made of traditional lithium-ion battery materials. And secondly, they can be used as an active component of electrochemical energy storage materials,‘ explains Oleg Levin.

A battery manufactured using our polymer will charge in seconds — about ten times faster than a traditional lithium-ion battery. This has already been demonstrated through a series of experiments. However, at this stage, it is still lagging behind in terms of capacity — 30 to 40% lower than in lithium-ion batteries. We are currently working to improve this indicator while maintaining the charge-discharge rate,’ says Oleg Levin.

Source: https://english.spbu.ru/

 

 

New Composite Material Boosts Electric Vehicles

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ONRL) used new techniques to create a composite that increases the electrical current capacity of copper wires, providing a new material that can be scaled for use in ultra-efficient, power-dense electric vehicle traction motors.

The research is aimed at reducing barriers to wider electric vehicle adoption, including cutting the cost of ownership and improving the performance and life of components such as electric motors and power electronics. The material can be deployed in any component that uses copper, including more efficient bus bars and smaller connectors for electric vehicle traction inverters, as well as for applications such as wireless and wired charging systems.

To produce a lighter weight conductive material with improved performance, ORNL researchers deposited and aligned carbon nanotubes on flat copper substrates, resulting in a metal-matrix composite material with better current handling capacity and mechanical properties than copper alone.

Incorporating carbon nanotubes, or CNTs, into a copper matrix to improve conductivity and mechanical performance is not a new idea. CNTs are an excellent choice due to their lighter weight, extraordinary strength and conductive properties. But past attempts at composites by other researchers have resulted in very short material lengths, only micrometers or millimeters, along with limited scalability, or in longer lengths that performed poorly.

The ORNL team decided to experiment with depositing single-wall CNTs using electrospinning, a commercially viable method that creates fibers as a jet of liquid speeds through an electric field. The technique provides control over the structure and orientation of deposited materials, explained Kai Li, a postdoctoral researcher in ORNL’s Chemical Sciences Division. In this case, the process allowed scientists to successfully orient the CNTs in one general direction to facilitate enhanced flow of electricity.

The team then used magnetron sputtering, a vacuum coating technique, to add thin layers of copper film on top of the CNT-coated copper tapes. The coated samples were then annealed in a vacuum furnace to produce a highly conductive Cu-CNT network by forming a dense, uniform copper layer and to allow diffusion of copper into the CNT matrix.

Using this method, ORNL scientists created a copper-carbon nanotube composite 10 centimeters long and 4 centimeters wide, with exceptional properties. Researchers found the composite reached 14% greater current capacity, with up to 20% improved mechanical properties compared with pure copper.

By embedding all the great properties of carbon nanotubes into a copper matrix, we are aiming for better mechanical strength, lighter weight and higher current capacity. Then you get a better conductor with less power loss, which in turn increases the efficiency and performance of the device. Improved performance, for instance, means we can reduce volume and increase the power density in advanced motor systems,” said Tolga Aytug, lead investigator for the project.

The findings are reported in the journal ACS Applied Nano Materials.

Source: https://www.ornl.gov/

How To Take Delivery Door To Door By Droid

As an automotive supplier specialized in developing electric, autonomous and connected vehicle technologies, Valeo is presenting its autonomous, electric delivery droid prototype, Valeo eDeliver4U, at CES 2020 in Las Vegas. Valeo developed the technology in partnership with Meituan Dianping, China’s leading e-commerce platform for services, which operates popular food delivery service Meituan Waimai. The two groups signed a strategic cooperation agreement at last year’s CES to develop a last-mile autonomous delivery solution.

At 2.80m long, 1.20m wide and 1.70m tall, the droid can deliver up to 17 meals per trip, autonomously negotiating dense and complex urban environments at about 12 km/h without generating any pollutant emissions. With a range of around 100km, this prototype gives us a glimpse of what home delivery could look like in the near future, especially in the ever‑growing number of zero-emissions zones that are being created around the world. Meituan Dianping’s connected delivery locker allows for safe delivery to the end customer, who can book through a smartphone application.

The droid’s autonomy and electric power are delivered by Valeo technologies that are already series produced and aligned with automotive industry standards, thereby guaranteeing a high-level of safety. The droid operates autonomously using perception systems including algorithms and sensors. It is equipped with four Valeo SCALA® laser scanners (the only automotive LiDAR already fitted to vehicles in series production), a front camera, four fisheye cameras, four radar devices and twelve ultrasonic sensors, coupled with software and artificial intelligence. The electrified chassis features a Valeo 48V motor and a Valeo 48V inverter, which acts as the system’s “brain” and controls the power, a speed reducer, a 48V battery, a DC/DC converter and a Valeo 48V battery charger, as well as electric power steering and braking systems.

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

“This delivery droid illustrates Valeo’s ability to embrace new forms of mobility using its technological platforms. The modularity of the platforms means our technologies can just as easily be fitted to cars, autonomous shuttles, robotaxis and even droids,” said Jacques Aschenbroich, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Valeo. “These new markets will allow us to further consolidate our leadership around the world in vehicle electrification, driver assistance systems and autonomous driving.”

Source: https://www.valeo.com/