A humble soil bacterium called Ralstonia eutropha has a natural tendency, whenever it is stressed, to stop growing and put all its energy into making complex carbon compounds. Now scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have taught this microbe a new trick: They've tinkered with its genes to persuade it to make fuel—specifically, a kind of alcohol called isobutanol that can be directly substituted for, or blended with, gasoline.
For the first time, engineers at the University of New South Wales have demonstrated that hydrogen can be released and reabsorbed from a promising storage material, overcoming a major hurdle to its use as an alternative fuel source. The researchers have synthesized nanoparticles of a commonly overlooked chemical compound called sodium borohydride and encased these inside nickel shells.
A new study of renewable energy’s technical potential finds that every state in the nation has the space and resource to generate clean energy. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory produced the study, which looks at available renewable resources in each state and establishes an upper-boundary estimate of development potential.
According a California Institute of Technology microbiologist, there are hundreds of species of microbes in termite guts found nowhere else in nature. And he’s interested in a particular substance called pyruvate that is an intermediary in termites’ wood conversion ability. If we can learn how this works, he says, we could recover a tremendous amount of wasted energy from woody plant materials.
A recent episode of the Global Challenges series of podcasts from the American Chemical Society highlights work being done by a professor from Yale University and a colleague to adapt a little-known process called pressure-retarded osmosis to create electricity from the difference in saltiness between freshwater and seawater.
Policy makers need to be cautious in setting new 'low-carbon' standards for greenhouse gas emissions for oil sands-derived fuels as well as fuels from conventional crude oils University of Calgary and University of Toronto researchers say. The researchers, using for the first time confidential data from actual oil sands operations, did a 'well-to-wheel' lifecycle analysis of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels produced by Alberta oil sands operations compared with conventional crude oils.
With the help of a $2 million grant from the U.S. Office of Naval Research, mechanical engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will develop a tool to characterize the performance of a new class of alternative fuels that could be used in maritime vehicles such as submarines and aircraft carriers.
Scientists have revealed an advance toward a long-sought economical process that could turn algae into a sustainable source of biodiesel and other "green" fuels. The researchers describe the efforts toward a simple process that would extract the fatty molecules called lipids used to make biodiesel from algae and transform them into usable fuel in one fell swoop.
The idea of "supersizing" is no longer embraced when it comes to what we eat. But when it comes to creating renewable fuels, supersizing can be a very good thing. Recently, a team of scientists from Cobalt Technologies assembled at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to supersize their process for making renewable butanol.
Overturning two long-held misconceptions about oil production in algae, scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory show that ramping up the microbes' overall metabolism by feeding them more carbon increases oil production as the organisms continue to grow. The findings may point to new ways to turn photosynthetic green algae into tiny "green factories" for producing raw materials for alternative fuels.
A research team at the Freiburg Materials Research Center in Germany has developed a new system for producing methanol that uses carbon dioxide and hydrogen. The key to helping make their process more efficient is the use of the metal oxides of copper, zinc, and zirconium dioxide as catalysts, enabling the reaction to happen at lower temperatures. Ionic salts may also play a role.
A recent study by two scientists reveals that calculations of greenhouse gas emissions from bioenergy production are neglecting crucial information about carbon dioxide and nitrogen emissions that has led to the overestimation of the benefits of biofuels compared to fossil fuels. They claim the life cycle analysis models of bioenergy production are flawed as a result.
Scientists from SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University, and Germany have figured out a key part of the industrial process for making methanol. It’s an important step toward improving the process—and eventually realizing the goal of turning a potent greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, into fuel.
Hydrogen gas offers one of the most promising sustainable energy alternatives to limited fossil fuels. But traditional methods of producing pure hydrogen face significant challenges in unlocking its full potential. Now, scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a new electrocatalyst that addresses one of these problems by generating hydrogen gas from water cleanly and with much more affordable materials.
In a post-Solyndra, budget-constrained world, the transition to a decarbonized energy system faces great hurdles. Overcoming these hurdles will require smarter and more focused policies. Two Stanford writers outline their visions in a pair of analyses.
Equipped with a fuel cell by Clarkson University engineers, a snail was able to regenerate glucose consumed by biocatalytic electrodes, and, upon feeding and relaxing, produce a new portion electrical energy. The world's first "electrified snail" joins menagerie of cockroaches, rats, rabbits, and other animals previously implanted with biofuel cells that generate electricity.
As the world moves toward greater use of low-carbon and zero-carbon energy sources, a possible bottleneck looms, according to a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology study: The supply of certain metals needed for key clean-energy technologies.
For the first time, University of Florida researchers have developed plant-based technology that could reduce America's dependence on foreign oil and may also help treat cancer. Known as lignin nanotubes, these cylindrical containers are smaller than viruses and tiny enough to travel through the body, carrying cancer patients' medicine.
Imagine being able to use electricity to power your car—even if it's not an electric vehicle. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have for the first time demonstrated a method for converting carbon dioxide into liquid fuel isobutanol using electricity.
In a new world record for stationary applications, a planar solid oxide fuel cell built at Jülich Institute of Energy and Climate Research in Germany has exceeded an operating lifetime of 40,000 hours. Powered by hydrogen, the cell functioned for the equivalent of five years at 64% electricity conversion efficiency.
Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory and collaborators have developed a new catalyst that reversibly converts hydrogen gas and carbon dioxide to a liquid under very mild conditions. The work could lead to efficient ways to safely store and transport hydrogen for use as an alternative fuel.
Hydrogen fuel cells, like those found in some "green" vehicles, have a lot of promise as an alternative fuel source, but making them practical on a large scale requires them to be more efficient and cost effective. A research team from the University of Central Florida may have found a way around both hurdles.
The tiny, plant-like Heterosigma akashiwo is too small to see with the naked eye, but the microscopic algae may pack a big environmental punch. University of Delaware researchers are studying whether the species can neutralize harmful smokestack emissions—and also serve as a source of eco-friendly biofuel.
University of California, San Diego electrical engineers are building a forest of tiny nanowire trees in order to cleanly capture solar energy without using fossil fuels and harvest it for hydrogen fuel generation. The team says nanowires also offer a cheap way to deliver hydrogen fuel on a mass scale.
A University of Toronto research team has developed a process to analyze the behavior of bitumen in reservoirs using a microfluidic chip. The process may reduce the cost and time of analyzing bitumen-gas interaction in heavy oil and bitumen reservoirs.