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The Lead

Perovskites provide big boost in silicon solar cells

January 22, 2015 1:04 pm | by Mark Shwartz, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Stacking perovskites, a crystalline material, onto a conventional silicon solar cell dramatically improves the overall efficiency of the cell, according to a new study led by Stanford Univ. scientists. The researchers describe their novel perovskite-silicon solar cell in Energy & Environmental Science.

Perovskites provide big boost to silicon solar cells

January 16, 2015 8:05 am | by Mark Shwartz, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Stacking perovskites onto a conventional silicon solar cell dramatically improves the overall...

“Smart windows” have potential to keep heat our, save energy

January 15, 2015 9:53 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Windows allow brilliant natural light to stream into homes and buildings. Along with light comes...

New material, technique efficiently produce hydrogen, syngas fuel feedstock

January 15, 2015 8:00 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

A team of chemical engineering researchers has developed a technique that uses a new catalyst to...

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Crush those clinkers while they’re hot

January 14, 2015 7:48 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Making cement is a centuries-old art that has yet to be perfected, according to researchers at Rice Univ. who believe it can be still more efficient. Former Rice graduate student Lu Chen and materials scientist Rouzbeh Shahsavari calculated that fine-tuning the process by which round lumps of calcium silicate called clinkers are turned into cement can save a lot of energy.

Glass for battery electrodes

January 13, 2015 11:51 am | by ETH Zurich | News | Comments

For some time now, energy experts have been adamant that we will need much more clean energy in the future if we are to replace fossil fuel sources and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. For example, electric cars will need to replace the petrol-powered cars driving on our roads.

Solar cell polymers with multiplied electrical output

January 13, 2015 8:52 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

One challenge in improving the efficiency of solar cells is some of the absorbed light energy is lost as heat. So scientists have been looking to design materials that can convert more of that energy into useful electricity. Now a team from Brookhaven National Laboratory and Columbia Univ. has paired up polymers that recover some of that lost energy by producing two electrical charge carriers per unit of light instead of the usual one.

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One step closer to a next-generation electric car battery

January 12, 2015 11:22 am | by Nick Manning, Univ. of Waterloo | News | Comments

An ultra-thin nanomaterial is at the heart of a major breakthrough by Univ. of Waterloo scientists who are in a global race to invent a cheaper, lighter and more powerful rechargeable battery for electric vehicles. Their discovery of a material that maintains a rechargable sulphur cathode helps to overcome a primary hurdle to building a lithium-sulphur battery.

NYC to ban Styrofoam in green move

January 9, 2015 8:30 am | by Jonathan Lemire, Associated Press | News | Comments

New York City will move to the forefront of a growing environmental trend by banning food establishments from using plastic foam containers starting this summer, Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration announced. De Blasio's mayoral ban will fulfill an initiative begun by his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, who first suggested banning the material in his final State of the City address, in 2013.

Cheap asphalt provides “green” carbon capture

January 7, 2015 10:29 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

The best material to keep carbon dioxide from natural gas wells from fouling the atmosphere may be a derivative of asphalt, according to Rice Univ. scientists. The Rice laboratory of chemist James Tour followed up on last year’s discovery of a “green” carbon capture material for wellhead sequestration with the news that an even better compound could be made cheaply in a few steps from asphalt.

Researchers create successful predictions of combustion reaction rates

January 6, 2015 8:22 am | by Jared Sagoff, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers have demonstrated, for the first time, a method to successfully predict pressure-dependent chemical reaction rates, an important breakthrough in combustion and atmospheric chemistry that is expected to benefit auto and engine manufacturers, oil and gas utilities and other industries that employ combustion models.

New concept of fuel cell for efficiency, environment

January 5, 2015 11:35 am | by Institute for Basic Science | News | Comments

The Center for Nanoparticle Research at the Institute for Basic Science has succeeded in proposing a new method to enhance fuel cell efficiency with the simultaneous removal of toxic heavy metal ions. The direct methanol fuel cell (DFMC) has been a promising energy conversion device for electrical vehicles and portable devices. However, the inevitable carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is one of the main factors reducing its performance.

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Drive-by heat mapping

January 5, 2015 11:09 am | by Rob Matheson, MIT News Office | News | Comments

In 2007, Google unleashed a fleet of cars with roof-mounted cameras to provide street-level images of roads around the world. Now Massachusetts Institute of Technology spinout Essess is bringing similar “drive-by” innovations to energy efficiency in homes and businesses.

Computational clues into the structure of a promising energy conversion catalyst

December 19, 2014 8:08 am | News | Comments

Hydrogen fuel is a promising source of clean energy that can be produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen gas. The reaction is difficult but achievable with the help of a catalyst. However, current catalysts lack the efficiency required for water splitting to be commercially competitive. Recently, however, scientists have identified one such catalyst, iron-doped nickel oxide.

Website highlights renewable energy resources

December 18, 2014 3:11 pm | News | Comments

A team from the University of Arizona and eight Southwestern electric utility companies has built a pioneering web portal that provides insight into renewable energy sources and how they contribute to the region’s electricity grid.                         

New conversion process turns biomass “waste” into lucrative chemical products

December 17, 2014 2:58 pm | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | Videos | Comments

A new catalytic process is able to convert what was once considered biomass waste into lucrative chemical products that can be used in fragrances, flavorings or to create high-octane fuel. A team of researchers from Purdue Univ.'s Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels, or C3Bio, has developed a process that uses a chemical catalyst and heat to spur reactions that convert lignin into valuable chemical commodities.

A Zero-Net-Energy Teaching Laboratory

December 16, 2014 2:01 pm | by Jacob Knowles, LEED AP, Director of Sustainable Design, BR+A Consulting Engineers and James Moses, AIA, LEED AP, Director, Sasaki Associates | Articles | Comments

The 50,000-sf New Technology and Learning Center for Bristol Community College, Fall River, Mass., brings together disparate programs—chemistry, biology, medical and dental education—holding energy-dense uses, including 18 fume hoods, high plug loads and specific ventilation and lighting requirements.

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Steps Toward Sustainable High-Containment Laboratories

December 16, 2014 12:24 pm | by Jeff Serle, SVP and GM Germfree Laboratories Inc., Ormond Beach, Fla. | Articles | Comments

With the recent news about Ebola, MERS, extremely drug-resistant TB and other emerging and re-emerging diseases, the world-wide need for high-containment laboratories is at an all-time high. These laboratories are highly complex buildings that serve as a barrier between the dangerous pathogens handled in the laboratory and the surrounding environment.

Carbon-trapping “sponges” can cut greenhouse gases

December 16, 2014 8:56 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

In the fight against global warming, carbon capture is gaining momentum, but standard methods are plagued by toxicity, corrosiveness and inefficiency. Using a bag of chemistry tricks, Cornell Univ. materials scientists have invented low-toxicity, highly effective carbon-trapping “sponges” that could lead to increased use of the technology.

All-electric cars may be worse for environment

December 16, 2014 8:02 am | by Associated Press, Seth Borenstein | News | Comments

People who own all-electric cars where coal generates the power may think they are helping the environment. But a new study finds their vehicles actually make the air dirtier, worsening global warming. Ethanol isn't so green, either. The study examines environmental costs for cars' entire lifecycle, including where power comes from and the environmental effects of building batteries.

The Next Big Things

December 15, 2014 3:38 pm | by Paul Livingstone | Articles | Comments

The Internet is a massive place, linking billions of devices which share data that should exceed the zettabyte mark by 2016. Even as data transfer grows, the number of devices connected to the Internet will soon experience a geometric rise as well.

Local market conditions, policies strongly influence solar PV pricing

December 15, 2014 2:03 pm | by Allan Chen, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Differences in local market conditions and policies, and other factors, particularly the size of the system, can lead to wide disparities in what consumers across the U.S. pay to install solar energy systems on their homes or small businesses, according to a recent study published by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. This translates into thousands of dollars difference in the price of comparable solar energy systems around the U.S.

Seed grants awarded for innovative energy research

December 12, 2014 10:37 am | by Mark Shwartz and Mark Golden, Stanford University | News | Comments

Stanford University's Precourt Institute for Energy, Precourt Energy Efficiency Center and TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy have awarded eight seed grants totaling about $1.5 million for promising new research in clean technology and energy efficiency.

New form of ice could explore avenues for energy production and storage

December 11, 2014 8:01 am | News | Comments

The discovery of a new form of ice could lead to an improved understanding of our planet’s geology, potentially helping to unlock new solutions in the production, transportation and storage of energy. Ice XVI, the least dense of all known forms of ice, has a highly symmetric cage-like structure that can trap gaseous molecules to form compounds known as clathrates or gas hydrates.

‘Smart windows’ have potential to keep heat out, save energy

December 10, 2014 2:07 pm | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Scientists are developing a new kind of “smart window” that can block out heat when the outside temperatures rise. The advance could one day help consumers better conserve energy on hot days and reduce electric bills.       

Revving Up Energy Solutions Innovation

December 8, 2014 5:02 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Articles | Comments

During the 2014 R&D 100 Awards event, R&D Magazine expanded the banquet to hold four technology panels during the day. The last panel of the day focused on energy/environmental solutions and the innovation behind four R&D 100-winning technologies and the complexity of bringing such technologies to the market.

Researchers to use algae to clean up mine water

December 5, 2014 10:04 am | by Univ. of Bristol | News | Comments

A groundbreaking research project by the GW4 Alliance aims to clean up water from a Cornish tin mine, using algae to harvest the precious heavy metals and produce biofuel at the same time. GW4 brings together the South West and Wales’ four leading, research-intensive universities: Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter.

Nanoparticle network could bring fast-charging batteries

December 4, 2014 7:46 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A new electrode design for lithium-ion batteries has been shown to potentially reduce the charging time from hours to minutes by replacing the conventional graphite electrode with a network of tin-oxide nanoparticles. Batteries have two electrodes, called an anode and a cathode. The anodes in most of today's lithium-ion batteries are made of graphite.

Low-grade waste heat regenerates ammonia battery

December 3, 2014 3:49 pm | by A'ndrea Elyse Messer, Penn State Univ. | News | Comments

An efficient method to harvest low-grade waste heat as electricity may be possible using reversible ammonia batteries, according to Penn State Univ. engineers. Low-grade waste heat is an artifact of many energy-generating methods. In automobiles, waste heat generated in winter is diverted to run the vehicle heating system, but in the summer, that same waste heat must be dissipated to the environment.

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