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The Lead

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...

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...

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 “...

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.”

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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.

Clean energy future

March 17, 2015 8:16 am | by Deborah Smith, Univ. of New South Wales | News | Comments

Univ. of New South Wales Australia scientists have developed a highly efficient oxygen-producing electrode for splitting water that has the potential to be scaled up for industrial production of the clean energy fuel, hydrogen. The new technology is based on an inexpensive, specially coated foam material that lets the bubbles of oxygen escape quickly.

Researchers discover new catalysts to generate renewable fuels

March 13, 2015 11:17 am | by Brita Bell, Communications Office, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

For the last seven years, Yale Univ. graduate student Staff Sheehan has been working on splitting water. Now, a paper published in Nature Communications reveals how one of the methods he and his team have uncovered for this process, using a specific iridium species as a water oxidation catalyst, could aid in the development of renewable fuels.

Unique proteins found in heat-loving organisms bind well to plant matter

March 13, 2015 8:36 am | by Mick Kulikowski, North Carolina State Univ. News Services | News | Comments

Unique proteins newly discovered in heat-loving bacteria are more than capable of attaching themselves to plant cellulose, possibly paving the way for more efficient methods of converting plant matter into biofuels. The unusual proteins, called tapirins, bind tightly to cellulose, a key structural component of plant cell walls, enabling these bacteria to break down cellulose.

Just Released A Product At Pittcon? Enter It Into the R&D 100 Awards

March 11, 2015 8:42 am | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | News | Comments

The editors of R&D Magazine have announced an eligibility extension for products to be entered into the 2015 R&D 100 Awards. The 2015 R&D 100 Awards will honor products, technologies and services that have been introduced to the market between January 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015.

New approach combines biomass conversion, solar energy conversion

March 11, 2015 8:21 am | by Libby Dowdall, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

In a study published in Nature Chemistry, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison chemistry Prof. Kyoung-Shin Choi presents a new approach to combine solar energy conversion and biomass conversion, two important research areas for renewable energy. For decades, scientists have been working to harness the energy from sunlight to drive chemical reactions to form fuels such as hydrogen, which provide a way to store solar energy for future use.

Research Key to Artificial Photosynthesis, 'Solar Fuels'

March 10, 2015 7:00 am | by Caltech | News | Comments

Scientists, inspired by a chemical process found in leaves, have developed an electrically conductive film that could help pave the way for devices capable of harnessing sunlight to split water into hydrogen fuel. When applied to semiconducting materials such as silicon, the nickel oxide film prevents rust buildup and facilitates an important chemical process in the solar-driven production of fuels.

Green Wall, Translucent Solar Panels Team Up

March 9, 2015 8:00 am | by Univ. of Cambridge | News | Comments

Green wall technology and semi-transparent solar panels have been combined to generate electrical current from a renewable source of energy both day and night. A prototype “green bus shelter” that could eventually generate enough electricity to light itself, has been built by a collaboration of university researchers and eco-companies.

Breakthrough in energy harvesting could power life on Mars

March 5, 2015 9:15 am | by Northumbria Univ. | Videos | Comments

Martian colonists could use an innovative new technique to harvest energy from carbon dioxide thanks to research pioneered at Northumbria Univ. The research proposes a new kind of engine for producing energy based on the Leidenfrost effect, a phenomenon which happens when a liquid comes into near contact with a surface much hotter than its boiling point.

Study could change nuclear fuel

March 4, 2015 11:44 am | by David Goddard, UT Knoxville | News | Comments

The adverse effects of radiation on nuclear fuel could soon be better controlled thanks to research involving Univ. of Tennessee at Knoxville's College of Engineering. Maik Lang, an assistant nuclear engineering professor, is part of a team of researchers that has studied how specific properties of materials involved in nuclear energy production, and their performance, can change their response to radiation.

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