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The Lead

Water used for hydraulic fracturing varies widely across United States

July 1, 2015 7:00 am | by American Geophysical Union | News | Comments

The amount of water required to hydraulically fracture oil and gas wells varies widely across the country, according to the first national-scale analysis and map of hydraulic fracturing water usage detailed in a new study.

X-Rays and electrons join forces to map catalytic reactions in real-time

June 30, 2015 11:03 am | by Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new technique reveals atomic-scale changes during catalytic reactions in real time and under...

Optimizing shale gas production from well to wire

June 26, 2015 6:43 am | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

“Hydraulic fracturing” (or fracking) and “environmentally friendly” often do not appear in the...

New formula to speed development of modern materials

June 23, 2015 8:10 am | by Jeannie Kever, Univ. of Houston | News | Comments

Researchers from the Univ. of Houston have devised a new formula for calculating the maximum...

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How owls could help make wind turbines, planes quieter

June 22, 2015 7:56 am | by Sarah Collins, Univ. of Cambridge | News | Comments

A newly designed material, which mimics the wing structure of owls, could help make wind turbines, computer fans and even planes much quieter. Early wind tunnel tests of the coating have shown a substantial reduction in noise without any noticeable effect on aerodynamics.

Mold unlocks new route to biofuels

June 19, 2015 10:38 am | by Univ. of Manchester | News | Comments

Scientists at The Univ. of Manchester have made an important discovery that forms the basis for the development of new applications in biofuels and the sustainable manufacturing of chemicals. Based at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, researchers have identified the exact mechanism and structure of two key enzymes isolated from yeast molds that together provide a new, cleaner route to the production of hydrocarbons.

Hematite “re-growth” smoothes rough edges for clean energy harvest

June 16, 2015 8:16 am | by Boston College | News | Comments

Finding an efficient solar water splitting method to mine electron-rich hydrogen for clean power has been thwarted by the poor performance of hematite. But by “re-growing” the mineral's surface, a smoother version of hematite doubled electrical yield, opening a new door to energy-harvesting artificial photosynthesis.

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Leaving on a biofueled jet plane

June 16, 2015 7:55 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

The problem is simple to understand. Molecules of carbon and other greenhouse gases absorb heat. The more greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere, the warmer the atmosphere becomes, exacerbating global climate change. Solving the problem is not so simple, especially with regards to aviation.

NREL, Clemson collaborate on wind energy testing facilities

June 9, 2015 2:31 pm | by NREL | News | Comments

Two of our nation's most advanced wind energy research and test facilities have joined forces to help the wind energy industry improve the performance of wind turbine drivetrains and better understand how the turbines can integrate more effectively with the electrical grid. Through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Clemson University will partner...

American energy use up slightly

May 21, 2015 8:00 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

Americans' energy use continued to grow slowly in 2014, fueled by increases in the use of natural gas, wind and solar, according to the most recent energy flow charts released by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). Each year, the LLNL releases charts that illustrate the nation's consumption and use of energy. Overall, Americans used 0.9 quads BTUs more in 2014 than the previous year, an increase of about 1%.

Tiny grains of lithium dramatically improve performance of fusion plasma

May 20, 2015 11:37 am | by DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists have discovered a phenomenon that helps them to improve fusion plasmas, a finding that may quicken the development of fusion energy. They found that when they injected tiny grains of lithium into a plasma undergoing a particular kind of turbulence then, under the right conditions, the temperature and pressure rose dramatically. High heat and pressure are crucial to fusion...

Once the turbines are built, their embedded sensors are connected and the data gathered from them is analyzed in real time, which allows operators to monitor performance from data across turbines, farms or even entire industry fleets. The data provides in

GE Launches the Next Evolution of Wind Energy Making Renewables More Efficient, Economic: the Digital Wind Farm

May 19, 2015 11:49 am | by GE | News | Comments

GE has announced the launch of its Digital Wind Farm, a dynamic, connected and adaptable wind energy ecosystem that pairs world-class turbines with the digital infrastructure for the wind industry. The technology boosts a wind farm’s energy production by up to 20 percent and could help generate up to an estimated $50 billion of value for the wind industry.

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Electricity generation and distribution infrastructure in the Western United States must be “climate-proofed” to diminish the risk of future power shortages, according to research by two Arizona State University engineers.  Expected increases in extreme h

U.S. West's power grid must be prepared for effects of climate change

May 19, 2015 10:43 am | by Arizona State University | News | Comments

Electricity generation and distribution infrastructure in the Western United States must be “climate-proofed” to diminish the risk of future power shortages, according to research by two Arizona State University engineers. Expected increases in extreme heat and drought events will bring changes in precipitation, air and water temperatures, air density and humidity.

The measured plasma pressure profile and the particle dynamics relating to the loss of axial momentum loss.

Towards high performance electrodeless electric propulsion in space

May 15, 2015 12:07 pm | by Tohoku University | News | Comments

A part of the performance degradation mechanism of the advanced, electrodeless, helicon plasma thruster with a magnetic nozzle, has been revealed. An electric propulsion device is a main engine, and a key piece of technology for space development and exploration. Charged particles are produced by electric discharge and accelerated. Thrust force is equivalent to the momentum exhausted by the device, and spacecraft can thus be propelled.

Sustainable phosphorus recovery from wastewater

May 6, 2015 11:12 am | by Ken Doyle, American Society of Argonomy | News | Comments

A new approach to wastewater treatment may be key in efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Moreover, it can be profitable. Phosphorus is an essential element for human nutrition. It plays multiple roles in the human body, including the development of bones and teeth. Fertilizer with phosphorus, applied to crops or lawns, enables healthy growth. Without it, the basic cells of plants and animals, and life itself, would not exist.

Schematic of NSTX tokamak at PPPL with a cross-section showing perturbations of the plasma profiles caused by instabilities. Without instabilities, energetic particles would follow closed trajectories and stay confined inside the plasma (blue orbit). With

An improvement to the global standard for modeling fusion plasmas

April 30, 2015 2:35 pm | by Raphael Rosen, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory | News | Comments

The gold standard for modeling the behavior of fusion plasmas may have just gotten better. Mario Podestà has updated the worldwide computer program known as TRANSP to better simulate the interaction between energetic particles and instabilities—disturbances in plasma that can halt fusion reactions. The updates could lead to improved capability for predicting the effects of some types of instabilities in future facilities.

The 2014 Hydropower Market Report provides comprehensive data and trends useful for industry and policymakers.

ORNL scientists generate landmark DOE hydropower report

April 30, 2015 2:26 pm | by Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

For the first time, industry and policymakers have a comprehensive report detailing the U.S. hydropower fleet’s 2,198 plants that provide about 7 percent of the nation’s electricity. The report is a resource that describes key features of the nation’s hydro resources and systematically tracks trends that have influenced the industry in recent years.

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The electric sail is a new space propulsion concept which uses the solar wind momentum for producing thrust. Courtesy of space artist Antigravite/Szames

Electric solar wind sail could make bidirectional manned Mars flights economically feasible

April 28, 2015 11:39 am | by Finnish Meteorological Institute | News | Comments

By opening up the possibility of economical asteroid water mining, the electric solar wind sail (E-sail) enables frequent and affordable manned Mars flights. The E-sail is a novel propellantless technology that was invented in Finland in 2006. The E-sail utilizes long, charged tethers to convert natural solar wind momentum flux into spacecraft thrust.

X-ray images from recent National Ignition Facility implosion experiments compare two shots with different thickness ablators, demonstrating the improvement in shape. Both shots used deuterium-tritium fuel and were fired at 350 terawatts of ultraviolet la

Thinner capsules yield faster implosions

April 27, 2015 1:03 pm | by Charlie Osolin, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

In National Ignition Facility (NIF) inertial confinement fusion (ICF) experiments, the fusion fuel implodes at a high speed in reaction to the rapid ablation, or blow-off, of the outer layers of the target capsule. To reach the conditions needed for ignition, the fuel must implode symmetrically at a peak velocity of about 350 kilometers per second—without producing hydrodynamic instabilities that can dampen the fusion reactions.

Deadline Extended for 2015 R&D 100 Award Entries

April 20, 2015 1:53 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | News | Comments

The editors of R&D Magazine have announced a deadline extension for the 2015 R&D 100 Awards entry process until May 18, 2015. The R&D 100 Awards have a 50 plus year history of awarding the 100 most technologically significant products of the year.

Biofuel Struggles with Economics and the Environment

April 17, 2015 2:31 pm | by Tim Studt | Articles | Comments

Immediately following the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, much research interest focused on the development of bio-based renewable energy sources (biofuels). EISA mandated increased production and use of biofuels for the long term. There also appeared to be substantial long-term government support for the implementation of a biofuel-based industry.

Cobalt film a clean-fuel find

April 16, 2015 7:51 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

A cobalt-based thin film serves double duty as a new catalyst that produces both hydrogen and oxygen from water to feed fuel cells, according to scientists at Rice Univ. The inexpensive, highly porous material may have advantages as a catalyst for the production of hydrogen via water electrolysis. A single film far thinner than a hair can be used as both the anode and cathode in an electrolysis device.

Bullish on clean energy

April 10, 2015 12:50 pm | by Alvin Powell, Harvard Gazette | News | Comments

In a talk at the Kennedy School on Tuesday, physicist Amory Lovins outlined a path to a clean-energy future in the United States.

One step closer to renewable propane

April 10, 2015 12:02 pm | by Univ. of Manchester | News | Comments

Researchers at The Univ. of Manchester have made a significant breakthrough in the development of synthetic pathways that will enable renewable biosynthesis of the gas propane. This research is part of a program of work aimed at developing the next generation of biofuels.

Discovery may be breakthrough for hydrogen cars

April 7, 2015 8:10 am | by Zeke Barlow, Virginia Tech | News | Comments

A team of Virginia Tech researchers has discovered a way to create hydrogen fuel using a biological method that greatly reduces the time and money it takes to produce the zero-emissions fuel. This method uses abundantly available corn stover to produce the hydrogen. The team's new findings could help speed the widespread arrival of the hydrogen-powered vehicles in a way that is inexpensive and has extremely low carbon emissions.

Analysis sees many promising pathways for solar photovoltaic power

March 26, 2015 12:07 pm | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

In a broad new assessment of the status and prospects of solar photovoltaic technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers say that it is “one of the few renewable, low-carbon resources with both the scalability and the technological maturity to meet ever-growing global demand for electricity.”

Agricultural waste could be used as biofuel

March 26, 2015 10:55 am | by Univ. of East Anglia | News | Comments

Straw-powered cars could be a thing of the future thanks to new research from the Univ. of East Anglia. A new study pinpoints five strains of yeast capable of turning agricultural by-products, such as straw, sawdust and corncobs, into bioethanol. It is estimated that more than 400 billion litres of bioethanol could be produced each year from crop wastage.

Searching for traces in the atmosphere

March 24, 2015 10:27 am | by SWISS FEDERAL LABORATORIES FOR MATERIALS SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (EMPA) | News | Comments

The latest generation of halogenated coolants is a big step forward: these substances decay more quickly in the atmosphere hence their lifetimes are considerably shorter. That is why they do not add nearly as much to the greenhouse gas effect as their stable predecessors. 

Study holds great promise for advancing sustainable energy

March 19, 2015 12:56 pm | by Rutgers Univ. | News | Comments

New research published by Rutgers Univ. chemists has documented significant progress confronting one of the main challenges inhibiting widespread utilization of sustainable power: Creating a cost-effective process to store energy so it can be used later.

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