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Study: Forward osmosis desalination not energy efficient

July 24, 2014 7:37 am | by Alissa Mallinson | MIT Dept. of Mechanical Engineering | News | Comments

In a recent study published in the Journal of Membrane Science, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology team reported that, contrary to popular support, forward osmosis desalination of seawater is significantly less energy efficient, compared to reverse osmosis. In forward osmosis, water is drawn from the seawater into a concentrated salt solution, known as a draw solution.

NIST test house exceeds goal; ends year with energy to spare

July 2, 2014 9:34 am | News | Comments

Despite five months of below-average temperatures...

Electricity use slashed with efficiency controls for heating, cooling

May 23, 2014 1:13 pm | News | Comments

Commercial buildings could cut their heating and...

A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

April 17, 2014 3:11 pm | News | Comments

The solar lamp developed by a start-up in...

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Oak Ridge study pegs fuel economy costs of common practices

April 9, 2014 3:07 pm | News | Comments

People who pack their cars and drive like Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s “Vacation” pay a steep penalty when it comes to fuel economy, according to a report by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Researchers tested vehicles at a variety of speeds with different configurations of load and tire inflation. While the findings were not unexpected, they serve as a reminder of how drivers can save money by taking simple measures.

Researchers design trees that make it easier to produce paper

April 4, 2014 9:43 am | by UBC | News | Comments

Researchers have genetically engineered trees that will be easier to break down to produce paper and biofuel, a breakthrough that will mean using fewer chemicals, less energy and creating fewer environmental pollutants.                 

Americans used more energy in 2013

April 3, 2014 8:47 am | by Anne M. Stark, LLN | News | Comments

Americans used more renewable, fossil and even nuclear energy in 2013, according to the most recent energy flow charts released by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.                                   

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Hybrid vehicles more fuel efficient in India, China than in U.S.

March 31, 2014 4:14 pm | News | Comments

What makes cities in India and China so frustrating to drive in makes them ideal for saving fuel with hybrid vehicles, according to new research by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Heavy traffic, aggressive driving style and few freeways allow hybrids in these countries to deliver as much as a 50% increase in fuel savings over conventional internal combustion vehicles.

NIST zero-energy house gives back to the grid

March 14, 2014 7:50 am | News | Comments

Over the first six months in their special, new, four-bedroom home in suburban Maryland, the Nisters, a prototypical family of four, earned about $40 by exporting 328 kW-h of electricity into the local grid, while meeting all of their varied energy needs. These virtual residents of the Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF) on the campus of NIST didn't have to skimp the creature comforts of 21st century living, either.

Study indicates improvements needed in handling methane emissions

February 19, 2014 7:23 am | News | Comments

A new study led by the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis says that the total impact of switching to natural gas depends heavily on leakage of methane during the natural gas life cycle, and suggests that more can be done to reduce methane emissions and to improve measurement tools which help inform policy choices.

Research reveals give-and-take of urban temperature mitigating technologies

February 13, 2014 1:41 pm | News | Comments

Greenhouse-gas induced warming and megapolitan expansion are both significant drivers of our warming planet, but how well adaptation technologies, such as cool roofs and green roofs, perform remains uncertain. Now, a team of researchers has begun exploring the relative effectiveness of some of the most common adaptation technologies aimed at reducing warming from urban expansion.

Fire ants inspire new process for storing and dissipating energy

February 7, 2014 10:49 am | News | Comments

U.S. Army-sponsored researchers have discovered a process for simultaneously storing and dissipating energy within structures that could lead to design rules for new types of active, reconfigurable materials. The study method was derived from an examination of how a species of South American fire ant collectively entangle themselves to form an active structure capable of changing state from a liquid to a solid when subject to applied loads.

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Modeling buildings by the millions: Building codes in China tested for energy savings

January 31, 2014 8:50 am | News | Comments

According to a study by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, China can build its way to a more energy efficient future by improving the rules regulating these structures like houses, apartments and retail stores. The scientists created a unique model that projects how much energy can be saved with changes to China's building energy codes, and those savings were significant.

Suburban sprawl cancels carbon-footprint savings of dense urban cores

January 6, 2014 4:56 pm | by Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

According to a new study by Univ. of California, Berkeley researchers, population-dense cities contribute less greenhouse-gas emissions per person than other areas of the country, but these cities’ extensive suburbs essentially wipe out the climate benefits. Suburbs account for about 50% of all household emissions in the United States.

Emissions pricing revenues could overcompensate profit losses of fossil fuel owners

November 5, 2013 4:43 pm | News | Comments

According to a study published by scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the strategy of assigning a price to global carbon nanotubes emissions could generate a revenue of $32 trillion over the 21st century, exceeding by far the $12 trillion of lost profits from fossil fuel owners.

A toolbox for carbon dioxide-free buildings

November 5, 2013 4:32 pm | News | Comments

A set of new building technologies introduced by an alliance of Swiss companies makes it possible to heat and cool buildings without the emission of carbon dioxide. One initial key element of the system is a hybrid collector, built into the roof construction, that serves as a photovoltaic system delivering both solar power and heat that is fed to an underground accumulator.

Researchers address economic dangers of “peak oil”

October 16, 2013 3:08 pm | News | Comments

Experts from the Univ. of Maryland and a leading university in Spain demonstrate in a new study which sectors could put the entire U.S. economy at risk when global oil production peaks. This multi-disciplinary team recommends immediate action by government, private and commercial sectors to reduce the vulnerability of these sectors.

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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.

AC demand in developing countries could put chill on energy supply

August 12, 2013 10:35 am | News | Comments

The U.S. uses more energy for air conditioning (AC) than all other countries combined; but its status as the world's largest AC energy hog may soon be in jeopardy, said a Univ. of Michigan researcher. A study shows that if the rest of the world adopts the same AC usage patterns found in the U.S., and more and more countries certainly are, eight nations have the potential to surpass the American yardstick of high air-conditioning use.

Lifelike cooling for sunbaked windows

July 30, 2013 12:07 pm | News | Comments

Sun-drenched rooms make for happy residents, but large glass windows also bring higher air-conditioning bills. Now a bioinspired microfluidic circulatory system for windows developed by researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University could save energy and cut cooling costs dramatically—while letting in just as much sunlight.

Americans continue to use more renewable energy sources

July 18, 2013 1:58 pm | by Anne M. Stark, LLNL | News | Comments

Each year, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory releases energy flow charts that track the nation's consumption of energy resources. According to the most recent charts, Americans used more natural gas, solar panels and wind turbines and less coal to generate electricity in 2012.

NREL research earns three prestigious R&D 100 Awards

July 10, 2013 9:52 am | News | Comments

A new energy-efficient approach to building occupancy detection, a better way to detect heat loss in electric-vehicle batteries and a high-efficiency silicon solar cell—all developed or advanced at the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE)’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)—have been named among this year’s most significant innovations by R&D Magazine.

Policy issues plague hydropower as wind power backup

June 27, 2013 2:11 pm | by A'ndrea Elyse Messer, Penn State University | News | Comments

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.

Prototype provides pedestrian power

May 8, 2013 7:44 am | News | Comments

A group of Rice University mechanical engineering students are getting a charge out of having the coolest new shoes on campus. As their capstone project that is required for graduation, four seniors created a way to extract and store energy with every step. Their PediPower shoes turn motion into juice for portable electronics and, perhaps someday, for life-preserving medical devices.

Researchers estimate a cost for universal access to energy

May 3, 2013 7:54 am | News | Comments

New research reports that universal access to modern energy could be achieved with an investment of between $65 and 86 billion a year up until 2030. The proposed investments are higher than previous estimates but equate to just 3 to 4% of current investments in the global energy system.

Living in a material world

April 4, 2013 8:03 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A new report finds that the global manufacturing sector has made great strides in energy efficiency: The manufacturing of materials such as steel, cement, paper, and aluminum has become increasingly streamlined, requiring far less energy than when these processes were first invented. However, despite more energy-efficient manufacturing, the researchers found that such processes may be approaching their thermodynamic limits: There are increasingly limited options available to make them significantly more efficient.

Scientist, federal panel advise DOD on green building

April 3, 2013 9:40 am | News | Comments

New recommendations by a National Research Council (NRC) expert panel on green and sustainable building performance could lead to a revolution in building science by creating the first large building performance database, says panel member Paul Fisette, a nationally recognized sustainable building expert at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Study: Waste heat may economize CO2 capture

March 29, 2013 7:30 am | by Jane Boyd, Rice University | News | Comments

In some of the first results from a federally funded initiative to find new ways of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-fired power plants, Rice University scientists have found that CO2 can be removed more economically using “waste” heat—low-grade steam that cannot be used to produce electricity. The find is significant because capturing CO2 with conventional technology is an energy-intensive process that can consume as much as one-quarter of the high-pressure steam that plants use to produce electricity.

Study reveals potential for deep cuts to petroleum use, emissions

March 19, 2013 4:16 pm | News | Comments

The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory this week announced the release of the Transportation Energy Futures study, an assessment of avenues to reach deep cuts in petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. The project suggests opportunities for 80% reductions by 2050

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