Singapore scientists seek power from darkness through shadow energy

Dr. Swee Ching Tan tests the shadow effect generator device in his lab. (Reuters)
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Updated 09 July 2020

Singapore scientists seek power from darkness through shadow energy

  • The shadow-effect energy generator (SEG) is being developed by the National University of Singapore

SINGAPORE: Scientists in Singapore are hoping to perfect a new method of power generation driven largely by shadows that might one day help cities to power themselves.

The shadow-effect energy generator (SEG) has the potential to harness power as solar panels do but without needing open spaces with uninterrupted light.

To work effectively, the SEG being developed by the National University of Singapore requires both light and dark and, like solar panels, relies on light to shine on silicon to energise electrons.

But using panels that feature a thin layer of either gold, silver, platinum or tungsten, the difference in light intensity drives electrons from lit areas toward the shade, creating electricity in the shaded areas.

“Our shadow effect generator comes in handy. It can be placed in those areas to harvest obstructed light,” said research team leader Dr. Swee Ching Tan.

The research is still in its early stages yet Tan’s team is already thinking about the potential of establishing a company to make SEG available for home use.

The panels the team have been testing are about 6 sq cm in size and capable of producing just 0.25 volts, meaning about 20 are needed to power a light bulb.

The ideal environment for use would be cities, Tan said, with constantly shifting levels of light and shade throughout the day from clusters of tall buildings and the sun’s changing position in the sky.

“It’s not practical to place solar cells in such cities. So the device might come in handy in places like very densely populated cities, where skyscrapers are everywhere, where shadows are always persistent.”  


Virus sees Booking.com slash quarter of global staff

Updated 04 August 2020

Virus sees Booking.com slash quarter of global staff

  • The company warned that “up to 25 percent” of employees could go in what it called an “extremely difficult step”
  • Booking.com’s Amsterdam headquarters was expected to be among the sites affected

THE HAGUE: Online travel agency Booking.com said Tuesday it will cut up to a quarter of staff worldwide due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, leading to thousands of job losses.
The Amsterdam-based booking site, which employs around 17,500 people around the world, declined to give an exact number of posts that will be slashed, saying details would become clearer “in the coming weeks and months.”
But it warned that “up to 25 percent” of employees could go in what it called an “extremely difficult step.”
“The Covid-19 crisis has devastated the travel industry, and we continue to feel the impact as travel volumes remain significantly reduced,” the company said in a statement sent to AFP.
“While we have done much to save as many jobs as possible, we believe we must restructure our organization to match our expectation of the future of travel,” it added.
Booking.com’s Amsterdam headquarters was expected to be among the sites affected, Dutch media reports added.
Hard-hit by the slowdown in international travel resulting from the lockdown, Booking.com follows in the footsteps of other digital travel sites such as Airbnb and TripAdviser, which have also laid off around 25 percent of their workforce.
Booking.com applied in April for state support.
Last month it received some 61 million euros ($71.8 million) from the Dutch state, making it the third-largest recipient of support behind flagship airline KLM and Dutch Rail (NS), the ANP national news agency reported.
Founded in 1996, Booking.com has some 28 million listings on its website which is available in 43 languages.