Friday, August 7, 2020

New Transparent Spray-on Coating For Windows Can Block Heat And Conduct Electricity For Cheap Smart Solution

After the Empire State Building in New York reported installing smart glass windows, they cut energy usage by $2.4 million and their carbon emissions by 4,000 metric tons, but smart windows are costly.

That’s why news of a new transparent spray-on coating that is much more cost-effective—while providing similar performance—is worth shouting from the tops of skyscrapers.

The simple method for adding a clear coating to existing windows to block heat and  also conduct electricity could radically cut the cost of energy-saving smart windows and heat-repelling glass.

The spray-on coatings developed by researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, are ultra-thin, and rival the performance of current industry standards for transparent electrodes.

Transparent electrodes combine the best properties of glass and metals in a single component, which is a highly conductive clear coating that allows visible light through. Those coatings—key components of smart windows, touchscreen displays, LED lighting and solar panels—are currently made through time-consuming processes that rely on expensive raw materials.

The new spray-on method is fast, scalable and based on cheaper materials that are readily available. The method could simplify the fabrication of smart windows, which can be both energy-saving and dimmable, as well as low-emissivity glass, where a conventional glass panel is coated with a special layer to minimize ultraviolet and infrared light.

Lead investigator Dr Enrico Della Gaspera said the pioneering approach could be used to substantially bring down the cost of energy-saving windows and potentially make them a standard part of new builds and retrofits.

“Smart windows and low-E glass can help regulate temperatures inside a building, delivering major environmental benefits and financial savings, but they remain expensive and challenging to manufacture,” said Della Gaspera, a senior lecturer and Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow at RMIT.

“The ultimate aim is to make smart windows much more widely accessible, cutting energy costs and reducing the carbon footprint of new and retrofitted buildings.”

The new method can also be precisely optimized to produce coatings tailored to the transparency and conductivity requirements of the many different applications of transparent electrodes.

How the tech works

The standard approach for manufacturing transparent electrodes is based on indium, a rare and expensive element, and vacuum deposition methods, which are bulky, slow and costly. This makes transparent electrodes a major cost in the production of any optoelectronic device.

In the new study, published August 5 in Advanced Materials Interfaces, researchers in RMIT’s School of Science made transparent electrodes using the far cheaper material tin oxide, spiked with a special combination of chemicals to enhance conductivity and transparency.

The standard approach for manufacturing transparent electrodes is based on indium, a rare and expensive element, and vacuum deposition methods, which are bulky, slow and costly. This makes transparent electrodes a major cost in the production of any optoelectronic device.

In the new study, published August 5 in Advanced Materials Interfaces, researchers in RMIT’s School of Science made transparent electrodes using the far cheaper material tin oxide, spiked with a special combination of chemicals to enhance conductivity and transparency.

When the solution hits the hot layer a chemical reaction is triggered, decomposing the precursor into a solid residue that is deposited as an ultra-thin coating. All the by-products of the reaction are eliminated as vapors, leaving a pure coating with the desired composition.

Global demand for smart glazing

The global market size for smart glass and smart windows is expected to reach $6.9 billion by 2022, while the global low-E glass market is set to reach an estimated $39.4 billion by 2024.

Eureka Tower in Melbourne features a dramatic use of smart glass in its “Edge” tourist attraction, a glass cube that projects 3m out of the building and suspends visitors 300m over the city. The glass is opaque as the cube moves out over the edge of the building and becomes clear once fully extended.

First author Jaewon Kim, a PhD researcher in Applied Chemistry at RMIT, said the next steps in the research were developing precursors that will decompose at lower temperatures, allowing the coatings to be deposited on plastics and used in flexible electronics, as well as producing larger prototypes by scaling up the deposition.

“The spray coater we use can be automatically controlled and programmed, so fabricating bigger proof-of-concept panels will be relatively simple,” he said.



Thursday, August 6, 2020

Red Lobster employee saves rare blue lobster from becoming dinner

This crustacean is now living her best life at the Akron Zoo.


A stunning blue lobster has one shell of a story.

Instead of ending up as someone’s dinner, Clawdia the crustacean was recently sent to live out her days at a zoo in Akron, Ohio — and she owes it all to an unlikely person: an employee at a Red Lobster.

“At first, the lobster just looked a little off,” Michelle Falconer, the general manager at the Red Lobster in Cuyahoga Falls where Clawdia was found, told TODAY Food. “But when we put her in our tank, she was this beautiful, brilliant color.”

According to the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute, only an estimated one out of every 2 million lobsters are blue and the coloration comes from a genetic defect. The rarest of all lobsters are white, which is seen in just one out of every 100 million lobsters.

Falconer contacted the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California (Red Lobster is connected to the famous facility through the sustainability organization Seafood Watch) and the aquarium then reached out to the Akron Zoo.

On Friday, Clawdia, was carefully transported to her new home.

“Shortly after we introduced Clawdia to her aquarium, she started moving rocks around to create her own cave. That was a good sign, it means she’s doing well,” Vince Jeffries, director of marketing and public relations for the Akron Zoo, told TODAY.

Jeffries noted that it’s important for Clawdia to take it easy after her move and said staff members have been monitoring her carefully.

“We want to make sure that she has a successful molt in September or October,” Jeffries said. In order for a lobster to grow, it must shed its shell.

Though Clawdia is currently living in isolation — the zoo quarantines animals for up to 90 days for safety reasons — she will eventually move into a visible habitat area near the Stripe-leg slipper lobsters. Since Clawdia is a cold water lobster, she will remain in her own tank.

“We’ve really been pampering her,” Jeffries said. “She actually just enjoyed a shrimp feast!”

Clawdia was originally named Clawde by Red Lobster crew members. However, after determining that she was a female, a veterinarian at the Akron Zoo gave her name a feminine update.



Wednesday, August 5, 2020

41 States Have Reduced Their Carbon Emissions While Growing Their Economies

Reducing carbon emissions while increasing gross domestic product is not only possible, but is already happening in almost every state in America, according to a new report.

Things like market investment in renewable energy companies or projects, and the development of storage technology, have helped propel this transition in 41 U.S. states and DC.

All major regions in the U.S. from 2005 to 20017 were found to have increased real GDP, a common marker for economic productivity, while simultaneously cutting the growth of, or reversing, greenhouse gas emissions.

The nonprofit World Resources Institute (WRI) also credits “improvements in vehicle emissions standards, increases in lighting and appliance efficiency, a shift from coal to natural gas in the power sector, [and] the rapid deployment of wind and solar power.”

The five that cut their local carbon emissions the most, despite federal policy, while still growing their economies were Maryland (38%), New Hampshire (37%), the District of Columbia (33%), Maine (33%), and Alaska (29%).

Massachusetts and New York businesses and homes cut their emissions by 25% while simultaneously growing their GDP by 26% and 21% respectively, proving that being green doesn’t always cost you green.

The nine states that did not reduce emissions while growing GDP were Louisiana, Texas, Washington, Arkansas, Mississippi, South Dakota, North Dakota, Idaho, and Nebraska.

The renewable energy industry in America generated, according to WRI “$238 billion in revenues in 2018, and the sector’s 11% growth in 2018 was almost four times the growth of the U.S. economy overall.”

Furthermore, the United States “is second only to China in total clean energy investments.” Investors across the world have been breaking records, but particularly in the United States, where a green domestic record of $78.3 billion was tallied last year.

Even though Americans’ wallets are squeezed this year and the nation is a consumer driven economy, the long-term drivers for financial sector investment in clean energy remain strong, and could likely persevere through the COVID-19 economic downturn. It’s simply too expensive in most countries to try and finance, produce, or run a coal plant, due to the rapid increase in renewables technology and replacement of coal plants by natural gas plants.

“It is encouraging that 41 U.S. states and the District of Colombia reduced their energy-related CO2 emissions while increasing real GDP in recent years. The decoupling trend shows that a huge swath of the nation is creeping in the right direction.”



Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Grants Available for Eligible St. Lucie County Small Businesses

Help is here for St. Lucie County small businesses hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. Grants are available for eligible businesses that were economically injured, mandated to close or curtail operations due to the pandemic.

The grants are intended to be used to cover operational and working capital expenses such as reopening costs, costs for safety measures, mortgage, rent, utility and insurance premium costs.

The grant application period begins August 3, 2020 and ends August 28, 2020 or until the funds are depleted. Grant requirements:

  • Must have 10 or fewer employees

  • Total revenue of less than $1 million

  • Be physically located in St. Lucie County




The EDC’s Partner “WeVenture” hosted a webinar to help educate business owners on the application process.  Watch the webinar Here

Monday, August 3, 2020

DeSantis extends Florida eviction and foreclosure moratorium until Sept. 1

Homeowners facing foreclosure and renters facing eviction cannot be removed until Sept. 1 after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a third moratorium extension.


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday night extended the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures until Sept. 1 in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic that has wreaked havoc on the economy.

The ban, which was initially signed in April, was going to expire Aug. 1, but DeSantis extended it for the third time in as many months. Last month, the governor waited until four hours before it was set to expire before extending it.

If it was not extended, thousands of Floridians could have become homeless in days because landlords have been filing paperwork in court to boot non-paying tenants once the ban ends.

Advocates for low-wage tourism workers and others have been calling for the governor to extend the moratorium to prevent an avalanche of homelessness in Florida.

State Rep. Ana Eskamani, D-Orlando, tweeted the news late Wednesday: “BREAKING – Eviction and foreclosure moratorium has been extended for another month.”

As was the case last month, the governor issued the executive order extending the order without comment. On June 30, DeSantis dodged a question about the issue at a news conference earlier in the day only to send out the order via email hours later that night.

Florida’s jobless rate fell to 10.4% in June, but tourism-dependent Orlando, where coronavirus infections and deaths are rising, remains the worst region in the state at 16.5%.

More than a third of adults in Florida reported that they missed June’s rent or mortgage payment, or said they won’t be able to pay July’s, according to the U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey.



Friday, July 31, 2020

Grants up to $7,500 available to St. Lucie County small businesses from CARES Act funds

About $4 million of the $28 million received as St. Lucie County’s share of federal COVID-19 relief funding is being made available to small businesses in the county that are struggling to stay in operation during the viral pandemic.

Grants of up to $5,000 are available to small businesses with up to three employees, and grants of up to $7,500 are available to businesses with 4-10 employees. The funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis, but businesses that have not already received government funding will be given priority.

Business owners can apply for the grants starting Aug. 3 at the county’s Recover St. Lucie website.

In order to qualify for the grants, business must be physically located in St. Lucie County and must have been deemed “nonessential” by government order. Total annual revenues may not exceed $1 million. Grants must be used to cover operational and working capital expenses incurred during a forced closure or slowdown, between March 1 and December 30, 2020. Businesses may not use the funds to replace lost revenue, or to cover losses already covered by insurance or reimbursed by any federal program.

Qualifying expenses include:

• Mortgage, rent, utilities, and insurance premium costs incurred while the business is closed.

• Reopening costs, such as business interruption resulting from limited accessibility to the public, and the costs for signage announcing requirements such as directional floor markings.

• Costs for personal protective equipment required for the safety of employees and the public.

• Businesses may also use these funds to cover payroll during a closure.

The grants are open to nonessential business such as restaurants, bars, short-term lodging establishments and vacation rentals, and businesses covered under the State of Florida Safer at Home Guidance document, as well as any business subject to St. Lucie County’s Emergency Order.

Complete eligibility requirements and a list of the documents necessary for the application process are available online. The deadline to apply is Sept. 3. A committee will review the applications, and applicants will notified by email whether the application has been accepted or denied. Funding will be made by direct deposit.

A free webinar hosted by the St. Lucie County Economic Development Council (EDC) instructing businesses how to apply for the grants is scheduled for 9 a.m. July 31. Click here to register for the webinar.

“We want this critical infusion of capital in the hands of small business owners who need it the most,” said EDC President Pete Tesch. “Beyond this grant funding, we also have many other support programs for small business owners.”

The assistance is provided through the county’s Virtual Business Recovery Center. Workforce development and training services also are offered through the Florida Small Business Development Center at Indian River State College and CareerSource Research Coast, Tesch said.

For more information about COVID-19 consulting services and other programs for businesses, call 772-336-6285 or send an email.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Tim McGraw surprises nurses in COVID-19 unit with performance

The country crooner sang the praises of front-line workers and then belted out his new single for them.

There’s just no way to adequately thank front-line workers for the tremendous risks and sacrifices they’re making amid the coronavirus pandemic — but country music star Tim McGraw didn’t let that stop him from trying his best!

The 53-year-old hit-maker joined forces with Spotify for a new installment of the streaming series “The Drop In” to surprise a group nurses working in a COVID-19 unit by singing their praises before literally singing for them.

TODAY had a first look at the touching scene on Wednesday morning.  Check out the video here:


July 22, 2020 / Source: TODAY