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.”  

Lufthansa to cut more jobs as it loses €500m a month

Updated 22 September 2020

Lufthansa to cut more jobs as it loses €500m a month

  • The largest German airline says it now plans to reduce its fleet by 150 planes by 2025

FRANKFURT: Lufthansa said Monday it will slash more jobs on top of 22,000 previously announced cuts and put more planes out of service with current losses running at some €500 million ($590 million) a month.

With demand set to be lower than expected through winter as the coronavirus pandemic continues to severely curtail travel, the airline said it now plans to reduce its fleet by 150 planes by 2025.

It had previously estimated it would have to scrap 100 aircraft in response to the unprecedented crisis in the aviation sector.

Lufthansa, which received a government bailout worth €9 billion in June, said it would have to book 1.1 billion in impairment over its fleet decision.

And “the previously announced personnel surplus amounting to 22,000 full-time positions will increase as a result of the decisions taken,” it said.

The group did not give a figure for further job cuts, but said it would engage in talks with labor representatives to “limit the number of necessary redundancies.”

Managers will also be hit, with one in five management positions to go in the first quarter of 2021.

A resurgence in infections across Europe meant that after a brief uptick in demand over the summer months, Lufthansa’s previous assumption that demand could reach half of last year’s “no longer seems realistic.”

Germany is also planning new rules from October, requiring travelers arriving from risk zones to go into quarantine for at least five days before taking a test.

That would essentially rule out intra-Europe weekend city hops — something which had resumed over the summer months.

“The continuing high level of uncertainty in global air traffic makes short-term adjustments to the current market situation unavoidable for the foreseeable future,” said the group.

As part of its fleet reduction, the airline said it has been forced to put its eight remaining A380s as well as 10 A340-600s into deep storage.

Six A380s had already been taken out of service earlier this year.