Home Back Issues December 2011 Next: heat energy

Next: heat energy

| Print |  Email
Articles - December 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011

By Linda Baker

1211_NextChemistry is like cooking. Except instead of tenderizing a pork roast with lime, spices and soy sauce, a chemist might mix up a batch of indium cobalt antimony, sink the concoction in copper oxide and then nuke the results in the microwave. Or at least that’s what materials science professor Mas Subramanian and his post-doctoral researchers did recently in their Oregon State University lab. The goal was to produce a “skutterudite,” a type of compound that’s very good at solving an age-old problem: converting excess heat into useful electricity. Waste heat, be it car or factory exhaust, is considered an abundant source of electric power. It is also underutilized, in part because making materials such as skutterudites is a time-consuming undertaking. So like any harried chef, Subramanian took advantage of the microwave’s efficiencies to reduce the amount of time from a couple of days to just a few minutes. “It really speeds up the process,” says Subramanian, adding that the team is now looking for industrial collaborators to help scale up the research, an effort that could lead to more efficient factories and cars. So how did the team decide to zap a metal mixture? “It was mainly curiosity,” says Subramanian. The serendipitous outcome was classic “kitchen chemistry,” he adds. “Like making a pizza.”

 

More Articles

True Blood

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE

Antibiotics really aren’t magic bullets.


Read more...

The Diaspora

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LEE VAN DER VOO

Former newspaper journalists move into brand journalism.


Read more...

Buyer's Remorse

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Parents and students paying for college today are like homeowners who bought a house just before the housing bubble burst.


Read more...

Knight Vision

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY

Travis Knight wants to release a movie a year. Can he pull it off?


Read more...

Constant Contact

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

To prevent burnout, companies are banning email and after-hours communications. But is the 24-hour workday here to stay?


Read more...

Gender Code

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD

Janice Levenhagen-Seeley reprograms tech.


Read more...

A Good Leap Forward

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Agriculture businesses ramp up to meet international demand as workforce and succession challenges loom.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS