Turn your car’s waste heat into energy

Scientists Produce New Thermoelectric Substance That Can Increase Mileage By 5-10%

Washington: A Northwestern University-led research team has identified a promising new material that could efficiently convert waste heat into electricity to help power cars and improve gas mileage.

The researchers discovered that adding two metals, antimony and lead, to the well-known semiconductor lead-telluride, produces a thermoelectric material that is found to be more efficient at high temperatures than existing materials.  “We cannot explain this 100%, but it gives us a new mechanism — and probably new science — to focus on as we try to raise the efficiency of thermoelectrics,” said Mercouri Kanatzidis, Charles and Emma Morrison Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

Current thermoelectric technology is only used in niche markets, such as solid-state refrigeration and cooling, because the materials are not very efficient.
With new materials and increased efficiency, devices based on thermoelectrics could find widespread use in the automotive industry, solar energy conversion and the conversion of waste heat from nuclear reactors, smokestacks and industrial equipment.

“It’s a big accomplishment to recover some of the heat or energy that would otherwise be lost and convert it into useful energy,” said Kanatzidis. “That’s what thermoelectrics can do, but we need to make them more efficient to really be practical,” he added.
A thermoelectric device, for example, could be attached to a car’s tailpipe. The side of the material in contact with the tailpipe would be the hot side, and the side exposed to the air would be the cold side. The temperature difference would be enough to generate electricity, which would be returned to the car’s engine for additional torque. Such devices also could be used in large industrial plants, such as those for power, chemical production and glass making. Researchers hope to raise mileage by 5 to 10% per gallon using thermoelectrics, which would be significant.

Source: Times of India

Abolition of homework. Fruitful in the Indian system?

A new school – Nottingham East Academy has decided to scrap homework and replace it with an extra lesson after school hours in activities such as sport and aircraft – modeling.

Well, as every coin has two sides to it, so does this idea of scrapping homework. Some believe it is a progressive idea and can be implemented even in India while others feel that it won’t work in India. Before you form your own conclusions, let us together speculate both the sides and then you could possible arrive at a conclusion which you feel would be appropriate.

It’s a Progressive idea

Homework serves little purpose as it only puts pressure on the parents instead of the pupils. Abolition of homework would prove to be good especially for students whose both parents are working, so that they need not break their heads with their child’s homework after a long, tiring day. Further, children from illiterate and poorer backgrounds are worse off in a system that emphasizes on homework.

Students especially of the primary classes could be put off by the very idea of school, if their tender shoulders are burdened with loads of homework – and this is quite prominent in India, when the children are on their vacations, supposedly enjoying their holidays.

Moreover, if students are saddled with hours of home tasks, they don’t tend to play outdoor (resulting in them watching television or playing computer games and becoming couch potatoes), socialize with peers, spend time with parents etc., all which play an important role in developing their life skills.

In India, teachers often teach new lessons and expect the students to attempt the exercises, which shift the onus onto parents who might not necessarily be fully equipped. This results in children being sent to tutorials at an early age and learning becomes a drab affair.

Now let us see why the scrapping of homework wouldn’t work in India.

The abolition of homework or rather, reducing it and fitting it into the daily school schedule after hours is an innovation being adopted by schools in UK. It is an interesting measure but all educational reforms may not be appropriate in every country. And we shouldn’t forget that it is yet to be seen whether this reform is successful in the UK, and even if it is, there are reasons as to why it must be wary of following suit in India.

The main reason why this new measure wouldn’t work in India is because of the educational system here in India. The educational system in India revolves around examinations and home assignments, effective means of ensuring that students are well prepared to compete in these examinations. And even after this, students scoring above 90 percent are unable to secure admission in the college or course of their choice, there is no logic in abolishing homework assignments, further handicapping the educational system. Moreover, this is one of the main reasons of Indian students’ success abroad. Anyway, parents’ involvement in a child’s development is essential and cannot be done away with. At the same time, there is no harm in taking a look at the homework system used in Indian schools and seeing if there is any room for improvement, but abolishing homework from India may prove to be a mistake, in my opinion.

What do you think?