UNLV scientists on cutting edge of energy transmission research
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - UNLV physics is on the cutting edge of energy research. The groundbreaking work they are doing now could one day help solve the nation’s energy crisis. The Nevada Extreme Conditions Lab at the school is moving the ball forward, getting closer every day to creating a way to send energy from one point to another with no loss of power.
“We are on the precipice of the massive discovery that is going to transform the global energy economy,” asserted Keith Lawler, Assistant Director of the Nevada Extreme Conditions Laboratory.
They are making breakthroughs in superconductivity, the ability to conduct electricity with no resistance.
“Resistance is when you run current through a wire, it will heat up on you,” Lawler explained. That results in a loss of energy in things like power lines.
“About five percent of our transmission of power across lines every year is lost to this resistance, is lost to this heat, and that comes out to about 30 billion dollars of excess,” Lawler revealed.
The team at UNLV aims to create a new material, one that doesn’t generate heat, known as a superconductor. They made a breakthrough in 2020.
“We were part of a team that proved the room temperature conductivity was even capable of being done... For a long-time, people were debating if it was even possible,” Lawler shared. Now the scientists have made another jump forward.
“It’s the gift that keeps on giving,” said Lawler. The UNLV team has reproduced the feat, chemically synthesizing a mix of carbon, sulfur, and hydrogen, at the lowest pressure ever recorded.
“The largest naturally occurring pressure at the bottom of the Mariana Trench is about .1 GPA, we sometimes work on hundreds of GPAs,” stated UNLV Graduate Student Alexander Smith. Smith explained their research is tedious and time-consuming work.
“Our samples are maybe a tenth of the thickness of a human hair… and hundreds of hours... We work if we are awake,” Smith said. The material being created now could one day revolutionize how energy is transported.
“If you think of like a puzzle, we have got all the corners and we have got the edges in place now and now we just have to put together and see what the final picture is,” Lawler contended.
When the puzzle is complete, green energy produced in Southern Nevada with solar could be transmitted across the country, possibly even the world.
“For the Department of Energy, a room temperature superconductor is the holy grail of energy efficiency… We are very close to making this a reality,” Lawler stated.
Not only could the work being done at UNLV revolutionize how energy, people, and goods are transported, it could change how everyday tech devices from laptops to MRI machines are powered.
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