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.”  


Decreasing purchasing power pushes Turks toward ‘Syrian gold’

An employee displays gold bars at a Korea Gold Exchange shop in Seoul on July 30, 2020. Virus uncertainty combined with China-US tensions has sent gold soaring nearly 30 percent this year. (AFP)
Updated 8 min 10 sec ago

Decreasing purchasing power pushes Turks toward ‘Syrian gold’

  • Economist Umit Kumcuoglu said the increasing use of lower-alloy “Syrian gold” mainly derives from the need to preserve status and tradition, and would not produce a significant impact on the local economy because it was not a counterfeit product

ANKARA: The escalating price of gold in Turkey, in tandem with the global market and the decrease of purchasing power, has led to an influx of lower quality products from Syria.
One, an imitation known as “Syrian gold” due to its popularity with Syrian jewelers, has gone mainstream, having emanated from the jewelry markets of the southern city of Hatay on the Syrian border.
One gram of gold currently costs 437 lira ($62) in Turkey, up by almost two-fifths since January. Having reached near unaffordable levels, the prices have pushed people to turn toward metals with lower values for things such as wedding ceremonies, where pinning 22-karat gold coins and sets of gold jewelry on couples is a Turkish tradition.
Economist Umit Kumcuoglu said the increasing use of lower-alloy “Syrian gold” mainly derives from the need to preserve status and tradition, and would not produce a significant impact on the local economy because it was not a counterfeit product.
“In southeastern tribes, buying gold for wedding ceremonies is an established tradition, and people are inclined to continue this practice amid decreasing purchasing power due to the coronavirus disease outbreak and devaluation conditions in the country,” he told Arab News.
However, according to Kumcuoglu, the ongoing economic challenges, and especially skyrocketing inflation, could push some people to produce counterfeit gold in the future.
Turkey’s central bank became the world’s biggest official-sector buyer of gold in June, according to International Monetary Fund figures. In a bid to support the Turkish lira amid currency concerns, the bank increased its reserves by 890,000 ounces to a record level of 21.28 million in May.
As per the figures published by the World Gold Council, total central bank gold purchases were 139 tons in the first four months of 2020, with the lion’s share of these, 111 tons, coming from Turkey.