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The Lead

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.

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...

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-...

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...

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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.”

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

New material to produce clean energy

March 3, 2015 3:36 pm | by Jeannie Kever, Univ. of Houston | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Houston have created a new thermoelectric material, intended to generate electric power from waste heat with greater efficiency and higher output power than currently available materials. The material, germanium-doped magnesium stannide, has a peak power factor of 55, with a figure of merit of 1.4.

How to best harness solar power

March 2, 2015 10:48 am | by Dawn Fuller, Univ. of Cincinnati | News | Comments

A research partnership is reporting advances on how to make solar cells stronger, lighter, more flexible and less expensive when compared with the current silicon or germanium technology on the market. The researchers discovered how a blend of conjugated polymers resulted in structural and electronic changes that increased efficiency three-fold, by incorporating graphene in the active layer of the carbon-based materials.

Supersonic electrons could produce future solar fuel

March 2, 2015 10:38 am | by Lund Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from institutions including Lund Univ. have taken a step closer to producing solar fuel using artificial photosynthesis. In a new study, they have successfully tracked the electrons' rapid transit through a light-converting molecule. The ultimate aim of the present study is to find a way to make fuel from water using sunlight.

“Ecosystem services” help assess ocean energy development

February 27, 2015 7:47 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

With many projects under development in coastal regions such as New England, tidal power seems poised to join other U.S. commercial power sources. A new study finds that little is known of the impacts that tidal power projects may have on coastal environments and the people who depend on them, but that the perspective of “ecosystem services” could provide a promising framework for evaluating impacts.

Economic models provide insights into global sustainability challenges

February 27, 2015 7:40 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Using models that blend global economics, geography, ecology and environmental sciences is essential to understanding how changes in trade and natural systems in one part of the world affect those in another, a review concludes. An interdisciplinary team of experts determined how systems integration could shed insights on how activities in one part of the world can have significant impacts on distant regions.

Enabling solar cells to use more sunlight

February 25, 2015 9:21 am | by Britta Schlüter, Univ. of Luxembourg | News | Comments

Scientists of the Univ. of Luxembourg and of the Japanese electronics company TDK report progress in photovoltaic research: They have improved a component that will enable solar cells to use more energy of the sun and thus create a higher current. The improvement concerns a conductive oxide film which now has more transparency in the infrared region.

Renewable energy obtained from wastewater

February 24, 2015 10:41 am | by Univ. Autonoma de Barcelona | News | Comments

Currently, there are treatments in which wastewater can flow out to the river or sea without causing any environmental problems. These technologies however entail high energy costs, mainly in aeration and pumping, and an elevated economic cost in treating the sludge left over from the treatment process.

Researchers identify keys to improved polymer solar cells

February 23, 2015 8:38 am | by Bill Kisliuk, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

Paving the way for lighter and more flexible solar devices, Univ. of California, Los Angeles researchers have identified the key principles for developing high-efficiency polymer solar cells. Today’s commercially produced solar panels use silicon cells to efficiently convert sunlight to energy. But silicon panels are too heavy to be used for energy-producing coatings for buildings and cars, or flexible and portable power supplies.

New catalyst to create chemical building blocks from biomass

February 23, 2015 7:36 am | by Univ. of Tokyo | News | Comments

Univ. of Tokyo researchers have developed a novel selective catalyst that allows the creation of several basic chemicals from biomass instead of petroleum. This discovery may lead to the use of plant biomass as a basic feedstock for the chemical industry. The new catalyst enables selective cleaving (hydrogenolysis) of carbon-oxygen (C-O) single bonds in phenols and aryl methyl ethers, two of the main components of lignin.

Fiber-optic monitoring tools could help industry unlock geothermal energy

February 17, 2015 12:43 pm | by Scott Gordon, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison geoscientists and engineers are working with industry partners and the U.S. Dept. of Energy to develop a highly detailed monitoring system for geothermal wells. Man-made geothermal systems that emulate natural ones could, by some conservative estimates, produce a total of 100 gigawatts of cost-competitive electricity over the next 50 years.

Limitless Photovoltaic Future

February 13, 2015 12:27 pm | by Tim Studt, Editor-in-Chief | Articles | Comments

Researchers working with photovoltaic (PV) technologies and production processes have made great strides over the past several years, such that PV systems are now considered a viable and cost-competitive energy alternative to traditional fossil fuel energy sources. The number of installations continues to increase, while panel and system costs continue to decline.

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