Shortwave Radiogram #190 2/6/2021 01:00UTC at 9955khz -Text-

Welcome to program 190 of Shortwave Radiogram.

I’m Kim Andrew Elliott in Arlington, Virginia USA.

Here is the lineup for today’s program, in MFSK modes as noted:

1:42 MFSK32: Program preview (now)
2:45 Super-light smart gel nets drinking water from air
6:35 MFSK64: Hybrid supercapacitor offers energy density
10:17 This week’s images
28:20 MFSK32: Closing announcements

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Twitter: @SWRadiogram



Super-light smart gel nets drinking water from air

Posted by National University of Singapore
February 2, 2021

Researchers have created an aerogel that extracts water from air
without any external power source.

In the Earth’s atmosphere, there is water that can fill almost
half a trillion Olympic swimming pools. But it has long been
overlooked as a source for drinking water.

To extract water from this underutilized source, the researchers
created a type of aerogel, a solid material that weighs almost
nothing. Under the microscope, it looks like a sponge, but it
does not have to be squeezed to release the water it absorbs from
the air. It also does not need a battery. In a humid environment,
one kilogram (2.2 lbs.) of it will produce 17 liters (4.5
gallons) of water a day.

The trick is in the long, snakelike molecules, known as polymers,
building up the aerogel. The special long-chain polymer consists
of a sophisticated chemical structure that can continuously
switch between attracting water and repelling water.

The “smart” aerogel autonomously gathers water molecules from the
air, condenses them into a liquid, and releases the water. When
there is sunshine, the smart structure can further boost the
water release by transitioning to a complete water-hating state.
And it’s very good at what it does: 95% of the water vapor that
goes into the aerogel comes out as water. In laboratory tests,
the aerogel gave water non-stop for months.

The researchers tested the water and found that it met World
Health Organization’s standards for drinking water.

Other scientists have previously devised ways to extract water
from air, but their designs had to be powered by sunlight or
electricity, and had moving parts that had to be opened and

A paper about the aerogel appears in the journal Science

The researchers are now looking for industry partners to scale it
up for domestic or industrial use. It could, for example, find a
place in endurance sports or survival kits.

“Given that atmospheric water is continuously replenished by the
global hydrological cycle, our invention offers a promising
solution for achieving sustainable freshwater production in a
variety of climatic conditions, at minimal energy cost,” says Ho
Ghim Wei, a professor in electrical and computer engineering
department at the National University of Singapore, who led the

Source: National University of Singapore

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Hybrid supercapacitor offers NiMH energy density, charges much

Loz Blain
February 02, 2021

Researchers at the Queensland University of Technology have added
another hybrid supercapacitor design to the mix, promising the
near-instant charge and discharge of a supercap with vastly
improved energy storage on par with NiMH batteries.

The key concepts to understand here are energy density (Wh/kg),
referring to the total amount of energy a device can store per
weight, and power density (W/kg), referring to how quickly the
device can move power in and out while charging and discharging.

Lithium batteries store energy in a chemical form, and are widely
used because they offer a relatively high energy density, but as
anyone who owns a smartphone or electric car knows, they charge
fairly slowly. Supercapacitors, on the other hand, store energy
statically rather than in a chemical form, meaning they can
charge and discharge much, much faster without degrading their
internal structures. Thus, they have a very high power density,
but this is offset by the fact that their energy density is much,
much lower than chemical batteries.

In recent times we’ve covered a number of devices that sit
somewhere in between the two: hybrid supercapacitors that lean
into the middle on both metrics, storing a lot more energy than a
regular supercapacitor, while charging almost as quickly. Your
car or phone battery won’t last as long with one of these on
board, but it’ll charge so fast that range might cease to be an

In new research published in Advanced Materials in December, the
QUT team describes a design that uses a capacitor-style titanium
carbide-based negative electrode and a battery-style
graphene-hybrid positive electrode. The result, says the team, is
a hybrid capacitor with a power density (and thus charging
capability) “about 10 times that of lithium batteries”, and an
energy density “close to that of nickel metal hydride batteries.”

The actual figures are a tested energy density up to 73 Wh/kg –
thus about 28 percent of what today’s state of the art EV
batteries offer – and a sky-high power density up to 1,600 W/kg,
where lithium batteries offer around 250-340 W/kg. So let’s say
you pop a pack like this in the Tesla Model S Plaid+. Instead of
a 520-mile (837-km) range, you’d be getting more like 145 miles
(233 km), but you’d be able to charge at least five times faster
if the infrastructure allows. And yes, infrastructure is a
bottleneck right now. Super-high-rate charge stations will get
into the megawatt range, placing extreme strain on the energy
grid unless they have huge energy storage capacity on site.

The more demented acceleration freaks among us would be pleased
to note that power density works both ways, meaning the battery
pack would provide no impediment to truly monstrous power
outputs. Where today’s Plaid+ Tesla makes a ridiculous 1,100-plus
horsepower, a hybrid supercap-based equivalent would have a
battery pack capable of feeding five times that power to the
motors. Completely impractical, but that’s never stopped
performance car lovers in the past.

The QUT team is pleased to note that these hybrid supercaps also
last about twice as long as lithium batteries on the test bench,
retaining 90 percent of their initial storage capacity after
10,000 full charge/discharge cycles.

These numbers are in the ballpark of what Kurt.Energy is finding
with the low-density hybrid powercapacitors it’s receiving from
Shenzen Toomen New Energy, what the Skeleton SuperBattery is
promising, and what Chinese/British researchers found with their
design last year. Thus, while not appearing to blow anything out
of the water, and without any immediate commercialization plans,
this news adds even more academic credibility to the hybrid
supercapacitor sector as a whole.

While electric car battery packs are an easy point of comparison
to current technology, hybrid supercaps are unlikely to replace
lithium batteries in the EV world, where range anxiety is still
such an issue for buyers. But as Skeleton points out, there are
plenty of other applications where these in-between solutions
will find their place. They may replace the lead-acid board net
batteries that are still required in today’s lithium-powered EVs.
They will be excellent for quick-response power-smoothing and
peak load management in industrial settings.

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