Tag Archive | saving energy at home

How to Save Energy and Reduce Home Utility Bills

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average resident living in a home that was built in the 1980s consumed 77 million Btu of total energy. Those living in newer homes (built from 2000 to 2009) consumed 92 million Btu of energy in their household (19% more compared to residents who live in older homes).  #savingenergy #energyefficiency #energy #sustainability #climatechange #climate

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Lowering the heat makes new materials possible while saving energy

A low-temperature process has been developed that has opened a window on the ability to combine incompatible materials, such as ceramics and plastics, into new, useful compound materials.

A new technology developed by Penn State researchers, called Cold Sintering Process (CSP), has opened a window on the ability to combine incompatible materials, such as ceramics and plastics, into new, useful compound materials, and to lower the energy cost of many types of manufacturing.

Ceramics is the oldest known human-made material, dating back tens of thousands of years. Throughout that time most all ceramics have been made by heating them to high temperatures, either by firing in kilns or sintering ceramic powders in furnaces, both of which require large amounts of energy.

“In this day and age, when we have to be incredibly conscious of the CO2 budget, the energy budget, rethinking many of our manufacturing processes, including ceramics, becomes absolutely vital,” said Clive Randall, professor of materials science and engineering at Penn State who developed the process with his team. “Not only is it a low temperature process (room temperature up to 200 degrees Celsius), but we are also densifying some materials to over 95 percent of their theoretical density in 15 minutes. We can now make a ceramic faster than you can bake a pizza, and at lower temperatures.”

In a recent article in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, Randall and his coauthors describe the co-sintering of ceramic and thermoplastic polymer composites using CSP. Three types of polymer were selected to complement the properties of three types of ceramics, a microwave dielectric, an electrolyte and a semiconductor, in order to highlight the diversity of applicable materials. These composite materials demonstrate new possibilities for dielectric property design, and both ionic and electronic electrical conductivity design. These composites can be sintered to high density at 120 degrees C in a time frame of 15 to 60 minutes.

Just add water

According to the researchers, the process involves wetting ceramic powder with a few drops of water or acid solution. The solid surfaces of the particles decompose and partially dissolve in the water to produce a liquid phase at particle-particle interfaces. Adding temperature and pressure causes the water to flow and the solid particles to rearrange in an initial densification process. Then in a second process, clusters of atoms or ions move away from where the particles are in contact, which aids diffusion, which then minimizes surface free energy, allowing the particles to pack tightly together. The key is knowing the exact combination of moisture, pressure, heat and time required to capture the reaction rates so the material fully crystallizes and gets to very high density.

“I see cold sintering process as a continuum of different challenges,” Randall said. “In some systems, it’s so easy you don’t need pressure. In others you do. In some you need to use nanoparticles. In others, you can get away with a mixture of nanoparticles and larger particles. It really all depends on the systems and chemistries you are talking about.”

The Penn State team has begun building a library of the precise techniques required to use CSP on various materials systems, with 50 processes verified to-date. These include ceramic-ceramic composites, ceramic-nanoparticle composites, ceramic-metals, as well as the ceramic-polymers discussed in this paper.

Other areas that are now open to exploration by CSP include architectural materials, such as ceramic bricks, thermal insulation, biomedical implants and many types of electronic components.

“My hope is that a lot of the manufacturing processes that already exist will be able to use this process, and we can learn from polymer manufacturing practices,” Randall concluded.


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Materials provided by Penn State Materials Research Institute. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Steps to Energy Saving

Steps to Energy Saving

Since the economic downturn, people have been looking for ways to reduce their regular expenses, and one of the ready solutions has been to cut down their consumption of energy. This has been one of the easiest solutions to budget problems because it requires only minor adjustments to one’s daily routines.

Obvious Steps to Saving Energy

You may not realize it, but there are many things that you probably do on a daily basis that waste energy. By simply being more conscious about these things, you can significantly reduce unnecessary use of energy. Here are some examples:

– Turning Off Unused Lights: This is probably the mother of all obvious steps to saving energy. Unfortunately, many people still ignore this little helpful tip. True, lights, especially energy-efficient ones like LEDs and fluorescent lights, really don’t comsume much electricity compared to, say, air conditioners, TVs and the like. Still, you have to start small, and how much trouble could it be to turn off the lights in a room that you won’t be coming back to in the next 10 minutes?

– “Shut Down,” Not “Sleep”: With computers now able to “sleep,” or even “hibernate” in order to save energy when not in use, it seems that more and more people have taken these features for granted and hardly ever shut down their computers and laptops anymore. Unfortunately, even when in energy saving mode, such electronic devices still use up electricity.

Less Common Steps to Saving Energy

If you’re really serious about saving energy, then there are other things that you should consider doing:

– Switching to Alternative Energy: Although many people would like to be less dependent on the local power grid, they are reluctant to start using solar or wind energy because of the money they will have to spend initially. But if you can think long term, you will realize that having free access to renewable sources of energy like the sun and wind will save you a lot of money on energy bills, as well as make your home a more environmentally friendly place.

– Wise Use of Appliances: Don’t start the dishwasher until it’s stocked full of plates, cups, bowls, and utensils. Do the same with the washing machine and the dryer. Turn off the electric stove a little before the food is completely cooked, since the hot surface will continue to slowly cook the food. Make sure that you air conditioner is situated at the top of your room, near the ceiling, and that your heater is located near the floor.

– Downsizing Appliances: If you are serious about saving energy, then you should consider using a smaller TV, perhaps, or turning off your supped up sound system.

– Installing A Clock Thermostat: By using a clock thermostat, you can program your house to be the right temperature at the right timeHealth Fitness Articles, while making sure that you don’t consume energy needlessly by keeping your heater or air conditioner running even when there’s no one in the house.