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New metabolic pathway more efficiently converts sugars into biofuels

October 1, 2013 8:41 am | News | Comments

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.

NREL calculates emissions, costs of power plant cycling for wind, solar expansion

September 25, 2013 9:20 am | News | Comments

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.

Fuel-efficient cars, planes cheaper with magnesium drawn from ocean

September 20, 2013 8:20 am | News | Comments

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.

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Research determines best arrangement of tidal sails device

September 17, 2013 1:09 pm | News | Comments

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.

Study: Methane leaks from gas drilling not huge

September 17, 2013 1:02 pm | by Kevin Begos and Seth Borenstein, Associated Press | News | Comments

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.

Scientists create new hydrogen fuel safety app

September 16, 2013 8:17 am | News | Comments

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.

Hydroelectric power makes big comeback at U.S. dams

September 12, 2013 9:20 am | by David Pitt, Associated Press | News | Comments

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.

GIEC signs MOU with Pakistan universities to enhance scientific cooperation

September 11, 2013 11:52 am | News | Comments

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.

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Researchers plan to demonstrate bioenergy technology

September 11, 2013 10:42 am | News | Comments

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.

Arizona State, Sandia Labs sign renewable energy agreement

September 3, 2013 4:36 pm | News | Comments

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.

How to get fresh water out of thin air

September 3, 2013 8:19 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

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.

Hydrogen produced from water using carbon/charcoal powder

August 29, 2013 12:16 pm | News | Comments

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.

A New Take on Butanol

August 28, 2013 10:05 am | Award Winners

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.

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Study suggests costs gap for western renewables could narrow by 2025

August 28, 2013 9:06 am | News | Comments

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.

Miss. nuclear waste plan sparks early opposition

August 26, 2013 9:19 pm | by JEFF AMY - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

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.

X-rays give a push to Moore’s Law

August 26, 2013 12:05 pm | News | Comments

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.

One-pot to prep biomass for biofuels

August 14, 2013 8:14 am | News | Comments

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.

Minn. utility seeks to acquire ND wind project

August 13, 2013 1:15 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

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.

Study finds price of wind energy in the U.S. near all-time low

August 7, 2013 7:30 am | News | Comments

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.

Localized wind power blowing more near homes

August 6, 2013 10:11 am | News | Comments

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.

Researchers receive grant to “cooperate with nature” for energy solutions

August 1, 2013 8:20 am | News | Comments

A team of Univ. of Michigan researchers has been awarded a $2 million federal grant to identify and test naturally diverse groups of green algae that can be grown together to create a high-yield, environmentally sustainable and cost-effective system to produce next-generation biofuels.

Clean, green high-performance biofuels from carbon dioxide

July 25, 2013 8:24 am | News | Comments

Could there come a time in which the carbon dioxide emitted from coal-burning power plants is harvested and used to produce clean, green and renewable liquid transportation fuels? A pathway to that possibility has been opened by a team of researchers with the Joint BioEnergy Institute who have engineered a microbe now being used to produce biodegradable plastic into a strain that can produce a high-performance advanced biofuel.

NETL pens MOU with Brazilian Coal Association

July 24, 2013 12:13 pm | News | Comments

On June 6, 2013, the U.S. Dept. of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and the Brazilian Coal Association (BCA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on carbon capture and storage (CCS) in Florianopolis, Brazil. By signing the MOU, both parties agree to work together over the next five years to assess the potential of CCS in fossil fuel–based systems.

Environmentally friendly battery made from wood

July 24, 2013 12:01 pm | News | Comments

Taking inspiration from trees, scientists have developed a battery made from a sliver of wood coated with tin that shows promise for becoming a tiny, long-lasting, efficient and environmentally friendly energy source. The device, developed at the Univ. of Maryland, is 1,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper.

Americans continue to use more renewable energy sources

July 22, 2013 9:12 am | News | Comments

Americans used more natural gas, solar panels and wind turbines and less coal to generate electricity in 2012, according to the most recent U.S. energy charts released by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Natural gas use is up in the electricity generation sector, where it has basically substituted directly for coal, while sustained low natural gas prices have prompted a shift from coal to gas in the electricity generating sector.

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