Renewable sources like sun and wind aren’t always productive. But waves in the ocean are never still, prompting Georgia Institute of Technology scientists to find a way to produce energy by making use of contact electrification between a patterned plastic nanoarray and water. They have introduced an inexpensive and simple prototype of a triboelectric nanogenerator that could be used to produce energy and as a chemical or temperature sensor.
The number of patents issued for renewable-energy technologies has risen sharply over the last decade, according to new research from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Santa Fe Institute. The study shows that investments in research and development, as well as in the growth of markets for these products, have helped to spur this dramatic growth in innovation.
A research team, led by the Univ. of California, Santa Cruz, developed a solar-microbial device that combines a microbial fuel cell (MFC) and a photoelectrochemical cell (PEC). In the MFC component, bacteria degrade organic matter in the wastewater, generating electricity. The biologically generated electricity is delivered to the PEC component to assist the solar-powered splitting of water that generates hydrogen and oxygen.
If you have stopped at a gas station recently, there is a good chance your auto has consumed fuel with ethanol blended into it. Yet the price of gasoline is not substantially affected by the volume of its ethanol content, according to a paper co-authored by an MIT economist. The study seeks to rebut the claim that widespread use of ethanol has reduced the wholesale cost of gasoline by $0.89 to $1.09 per gallon.
Scientists report in Nature Communications that they have engineered yeast to consume acetic acid, a previously unwanted byproduct of the process of converting plant leaves, stems and other tissues into biofuels. The innovation increases ethanol yield from lignocellulosic sources by about 10%.
Univ. of California, Los Angeles chemical engineering researchers have created a new synthetic metabolic pathway for breaking down glucose that could lead to a 50% increase in the production of biofuels. The new pathway is intended to replace the natural metabolic pathway known as glycolysis, a series of chemical reactions that nearly all organisms use to convert sugars into the molecular precursors that cells need.
New research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has quantified the potential impacts of increasing wind and solar power generation on operators of fossil-fueled power plants in the West. To accommodate higher amounts of wind and solar power on the electric grid, utilities must ramp down and ramp up or stop and start conventional generators more frequently to provide reliable power for their customers—a practice called cycling.
A lightweight metal that reduces fuel use in cars and planes could be extracted from the ocean through a unique process being developed at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The process could ultimately make fuel-efficient transportation more affordable and expand the American magnesium market.
Just as wind turbines tap into the energy of flowing air to generate electricity, hydrokinetic devices produce power from moving masses of water. Engineers in Spain have performed a computer simulation to determine the optimal configuration of a system produced by a Norwegian company to enable it to extract the maximum amount of energy from any given current.
According to research published this week drilling and fracking for natural gas don't seem to spew immense amounts of the greenhouse gas methane into the air, as has been feared. The study, mostly funded by energy interests, doesn't address other fracking concerns about potential air and water pollution, but does generally with government estimates.
Engineers and scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed an app that focuses on hydrogen safety. The Hydrogen Tools app comes at a time when the use of fuel cells is growing. Fuel cells generate electricity by driving electrochemical reactions using hydrogen and air, producing power with dramatically reduced emissions compared to traditional hydrocarbon-based fuels. The only byproducts are heat and water.
In the 1980s and 1990s, hydroelectric development stagnated as environmental groups lobbied against it and a long regulatory process required years of environmental study. But for the first time in decades, power companies are proposing new projects to take advantage of government financial incentives, policies that promote renewable energy over fossil fuels and efforts to streamline the permit process.
Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion, Chinese Academy of Sciences (GIEC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Univ. of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan and the Univ. of Engineering & Technology Lahore, Pakistan in Lahore to enhance scientific cooperation and the exchange of scientists, young scholars and technicians between the two sides.
Researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Florida-based Chemergy Inc. plan to demonstrate an innovative bioenergy technology that converts wastewater treatment plant byproducts into hydrogen gas to produce electricity. The $1.75 million project will demonstrate an integrated system on a limited industrial scale at the Delta Diablo Sanitation District facility in Antioch, Calif.
A formal partnership agreement to encourage collaborative research, build educational and workforce development programs and inform policy endeavors regarding renewable energy efforts has been signed by Sandia National Laboratories and Arizona State Univ. The move will facilitate multidisciplinary collaborations and help them secure research funding.
In some of this planet’s driest regions, where rainfall is rare or even nonexistent, a few specialized plants and insects have devised ingenious strategies to provide themselves with the water necessary for life: They pull it right out of the air, from fog that drifts in from warm oceans nearby. Now researchers are seeking to mimic that trick on a much larger scale, potentially supplying significant quantities of clean, potable water.
In the latest advance in efforts to find an inexpensive way to make hydrogen from ordinary water, scientists are reporting that powder from high-grade charcoal and other forms of carbon can free hydrogen from water illuminated with laser pulses.
Butanol is good drop-in fuel and surpasses ethanol with its higher heating value, its compatibility with current gasoline engines and its existing gasoline distribution infrastructure. However, for any biofuel to have a positive economic and environmental impact, production must be efficient, scalable and have a small carbon footprint. Industrial Technology Research Institute has developed a butanol production technology, called ButyFix, which is designed to meet the above requirements.
A new Department of Energy study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory indicates that by 2025 wind and solar power electricity generation in the western U.S. could become cost-competitive without federal subsidies, if new renewable energy development occurs in the most productive locations. The report is now available.
The Mississippi Energy Institute is pushing for more exploration of storing and reprocessing used nuclear fuel in the state at the same time that one of the its congressmen is coming out against it. Leaders of the institute, which promotes energy development, pitched ideas to the state Senate Economic Development Committee.
In recent years, thermoelectric materials have enabled the re-use of otherwise wasted thermal energy as electrical power. But this ability is limited to materials, typically complex crystals, exhibiting high electrical conductivity and low thermal conductivity. Scientists have now discovered a way of suppressing thermal conductivity in sodium cobaltate, opening new paths for energy scavenging.
The advantages of the one-stop shop have long been recognized in the retailing and services industries. Similar advantages would also be realized for the biofuels industry with the development of a “one-pot” processing system in which sugars could be extracted from biomass and turned into fuels in a single vat. A major step forward in this goal has now been achieved by Joint BioEnergy Institute researchers.
A Minneapolis utility says it plans to take over a proposed 150-MW wind farm near the Canadian border in north-central North Dakota. Xcel Energy Inc. announced Tuesday that it is seeking approval from North Dakota regulators to acquire the permit for the Border Winds project in Rolette County.
Annual wind power additions in the U.S. achieved record levels in 2012, while wind energy pricing is near an all-time low. Roughly 13.1 GW of new wind power capacity were connected to the U.S. grid in 2012, well above the previous high in 2009, and motivated by the scheduled expiration of federal tax incentives at the end of 2012.
Americans are increasingly installing wind turbines near their homes, farms and businesses to generate their own energy, concludes a new report released by the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE). The 2012 Market Report on Wind Technologies in Distributed Applications is the first comprehensive analysis on a growing field called distributed wind.