Japan is moving a step closer to restarting nuclear reactors as utilities are set to ask for safety inspections at their idled reactors, the clearest sign of Japan's return to nuclear energy nearly two and a half years after the Fukushima disaster. With all but two of its 50 reactors off line since the crisis, Japan has been without nuclear energy that once supplied about a third of its power.
Researchers in the Pacific Northwest are testing and evaluating a new power storage system that could help store excess electricity generated by the region's many wind farms. The system announced Monday at south-central Washington's Nine Canyon Wind Project includes lithium-ion batteries that can store 500 kilowatt-hours of power—enough energy to meet the demand of about a dozen homes for at least half a day.
Theoretically, hydropower can step in when wind turbines go still, but barriers to this non-polluting resource serving as a backup are largely policy- and regulation-based, according to recent research. Hydroelectric dams are controlled by guide curves that account for drinking water and droughts. They cannot simply release water to meet some electricity demand or hold back water when electricity is in low demand.
Hydrogen fuel cells are already powering mobile lighting systems, forklifts, emergency backup systems and light-duty trucks, among other applications. Now, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have found that hydrogen fuel cells may be both technically feasible and commercially attractive as a clean, quiet and efficient power source for ships at berth, replacing on-board diesel generators.
A nuclear power plant on Thursday received the first shipment of reprocessed reactor fuel to arrive in Japan since the 2011 Fukushima disaster, although it will not be used until the facility gets government approval to restart its reactors. The fuel, a mixture of uranium and plutonium oxide called MOX, arrived aboard a freighter from France at the Takahama nuclear power station on the Sea of Japan coast in western Japan.
America is slowly moving toward cleaner sources of energy and using less of it overall. President Barack Obama's plan to fight climate change will accelerate those trends. The plan aims to reduce power-plant emissions of carbon dioxide, increase America's reliance on natural gas and renewables and make trucks, homes and businesses more efficient.
Theoretically, hydropower can step in when wind turbines go still, but barriers to this non-polluting resource serving as a backup are largely policy- and regulation-based, according to Penn State Univ. researchers. The U.S. Dept. of Energy recently examined the feasibility of producing 20% of U.S. electricity from wind by 2030.
It's a dilemma for drivers: Do they choose a gasoline that's cheaper and cleaner even if, as opponents say, it could damage older cars and motorcycles? That's the peril and promise of a high-ethanol blend of gasoline known as E15. The fuel contains 15% ethanol, well above the current 10% norm sold at most U.S. gas stations.
Univ. of Delaware chemist Joel Rosenthal is driven to succeed in the renewable energy arena. Rosenthal and his team have developed an inexpensive catalyst that uses the electricity generated from solar energy to convert carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, into synthetic fuels for powering cars, homes and businesses.
Improved methods for breaking down cellulose nanofibers are central to cost-effective biofuel production and the subject of new research from Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. Scientists are investigating the unique properties of crystalline cellulose nanofibers to develop novel chemical pretreatments and designer enzymes for biofuel production from cellulosic—or non-food—plant derived biomass.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemical engineers have devised a cheaper way to synthesize a key biofuel component, which could make its industrial production much more cost effective. The compound, known as gamma-valerolactone (GVL), is attractive because of its versatility. It has more energy than ethanol and could be used on its own or as an additive to other fuels.
Cheaper clean-energy technologies could be made possible thanks to a new discovery. A Penn State Univ. research team has found that an important chemical reaction that generates hydrogen from water is effectively triggered—or catalyzed—by a nanoparticle composed of nickel and phosphorus, two inexpensive elements that are abundant on Earth.
Making cars more fuel-efficient is great for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but rather than promoting sales of electric and other alternative-fuel vehicles, policymakers should turn their focus to cutting emissions in other energy sectors—from oil wells and power plants to farms and forests affected by biofuels production—says a Univ. of Michigan researcher.
A team of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists have developed the first fully integrated microfluidic testbed for evaluating and optimizing solar-driven electrochemical energy conversion systems. This test-bed system has already been used to study schemes for photovoltaic electrolysis of water, and can be readily adapted to study proposed artificial photosynthesis and fuel cell technologies.
A new study finds that utilities aren't rewarded for adopting energy-efficiency programs, and that reforms are needed to make energy efficiency as attractive as renewables. The article examines key differences between energy-efficiency projects and renewable resources and outlines ways to increase the amount of energy utilities save each year through efficiency programs.
Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have designed a new type of nanostructured-carbon-based catalyst that could pave the way for reliable, economical next-generation batteries and alkaline fuel cells, providing for practical use of wind- and solar-powered electricity, as well as enhanced hybrid electric vehicles.
Univ. of Calgary scientists are investigating how 'Alberta-grown' biomass—such as straw and wood left over from agricultural and forestry operations—could be used to clean up chemical contaminants in water from oilsands operations. This research project received $57,500 from the Climate Change and Emissions Management (CCEMC) Corp. though the Biological Greenhouse Gas Management Program.
Biofuel is often obtained from starchy plants—but this places fuel production in competition with food production. At the Vienna Univ. of Technology, genetically modified mold fungi are created, which have the ability to break down long cellulose and xylan chains into smaller sugar molecules. This could make the production of biofuel a lot cheaper.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists have discovered and demonstrated a new technique to remove and store atmospheric carbon dioxide while generating carbon-negative hydrogen and producing alkalinity, which can be used to offset ocean acidification.
One of America's corporate giants is investing billions of dollars in the new boom of oil and gas drilling, or fracking. General Electric Co. is opening a new laboratory in Oklahoma, buying up related companies, and placing a big bet that cutting-edge science will improve profits for clients and reduce the environmental and health effects of the boom.
A new analysis shows that the nation's land and water resources could likely support the growth of enough algae to produce up to 25 billion gallons of algae-based fuel a year in the United States, one-twelfth of the country's yearly needs. The findings come from an in-depth look at the water resources that would be needed to grow significant amounts of algae in large, specially built shallow ponds.
A new study has identified two unique methods for storing energy using wind power. A team from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Bonneville Power Administration has located two sites in Washington that could serve as multi-megawatt facilities. They say power for about 85,000 homes each month could be stored in porous rocks deep underground for later use.
In the wake of the sobering news that atmospheric carbon dioxide is now at its highest level in at least three million years, an important advance in the race to develop carbon-neutral renewable energy sources has been achieved. Scientists with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have reported the first fully integrated nanosystem for artificial photosynthesis.
The California Energy Commission has awarded $1.7 million to a partnership between Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Cool Earth Solar Inc. to conduct a community-scale renewable energy integration demonstration project at the Livermore Valley Open Campus.
U.S. Department of Energy Joint BioEnergy Institute researchers have developed an enzyme-free ionic liquid pretreatment of cellulosic biomass that makes it easier to recover fermentable sugars for biofuels and to recycle the ionic liquid.