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A guiding light for new directions in energy production
Date:9/11/2011

t follows the sun's path by changing the angle of the water's refraction, and then distribute the sunlight throughout the building through light pipes or fibre optic cables to the ceilings of office spaces, indoor solar panels, or even microfluidic air filters. Using sunlight to drive a microfluidic air filter or aliment an indoor solar panelwhich would be protected from the elements and last longeris a novel way to use solar energy to supplement non-renewable resources.

In such a system, it would be essential to deviate from the secondary devices such as air filtrage and solar panels to maintain a comfortable constant light source for ceiling lightingthe flickering of the light source due to a cloud passing over would be intolerable. In order to modulate these different channels to maintain a constant light source, a system using electrowetting could deviate light from one channel into another both easily and inexpensively. A droplet of water sits on the outer surface of light tube. A small current excites the ions in the water, pushing them to the edge of the droplet and expanding it just enough for it to touch the surface of another tube. This expanded droplet then creates a light bridge between the two parallel light tubes, effectively moderating the amount of light streaming through either one.

Up-scaling for industrial use

"The main challenge optofluidics faces in the energy field is to maintain the precision of nano and micro light and fluid manipulation while creating industrial sized installations large enough to satisfy the population's energy demand," explains David Erickson, professor at Cornell University and visiting professor at EPFL. "Much like a super computer is built out of small elements, up-scaling optofluidic technology would follow a similar modelthe integration of many liquid chips to create a super-reactor."

Since most reactions in liquid channels happen at the point of contact between the liquid and the catalyst
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Contact: Michael Mitchell
michael.mitchell@epfl.ch
41-798-103-107
Ecole Polytechnique Fdrale de Lausanne
Source:Eurekalert  

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