Bionic leaves that could produce fuels from nothing more than sunlight, water and carbon dioxide, with no byproducts other than oxygen, represent an ideal alternative to fossil fuels but also pose numerous scientific challenges. In a major advance, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed a method by which molecular hydrogen-producing catalysts can be interfaced with a semiconductor that absorbs visible light.
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.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Universal Smart Window (USW) Coating, constructed from an advance nanocrystal conducting oxide-base electrochromatic material embedded in a transition-metal-oxide matrix, is the first window coating to maximize thermal glare that enables dynamic control over heat-producing near-infrared radiation (NIR) and visible light from the sun independent of each other.
Lithium-ion battery separators prevent the anode and cathode layers from contacting each other, allowing cell potential to be maintained and safe operation of the battery. The SYMMETRIX HPX-F polymer-ceramic composite separator, developed by Porous Power Technologies and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, achieves this functionality while improving safety over conventional polyolefin membranes.
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 worldwide market for portable electronic devices is quickly growing. These devices are predominantly battery-driven, and a challenge looms for maintaining, charging and disposing of these millions of batteries. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Bacteriophage Power Generator offers a potential alternative.
Computer models are used to inform policy decisions about energy, but existing models are generally “black boxes” that don’t show how they work, making it impossible for anyone to replicate their findings. Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a new open-source model and are sharing the data they put into it, to allow anyone to check their work.
Tennessee scientists are using one of Earth’s smallest creatures to solve some of the government’s biggest bioenergy problems. For the next three years, a $2.1 million grant is allowing researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to use a process called microbial electrolysis to transform plant biomass into hydrogen to produce energy-rich biofuel for use in combustion engines.
A fungus and E. coli bacteria have joined forces to turn tough, waste plant material into isobutanol, a biofuel that matches gasoline's properties better than ethanol. Univ. of Michigan research team members said the principle also could be used to produce other valuable chemicals such as plastics.
Lignin is a waste material that is produced when paper is manufactured from wood. Instead of disposing of the lignin, a research team at the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has learned how to take the material and convert it into powering a green battery.
As demand climbs for more fuel-efficient vehicles, knowledge compiled over several years about diesel engines and a new strategy known as “low-temperature combustion” (LTC) might soon lead auto manufacturers and consumers to broader use of cleaner diesel engines in the U.S.
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.
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.
Ethylene, now produced from petroleum, is one of the most important raw materials for everyday products. Researchers in China say they have identified a promising alternative to petroleum. Their proposal, a fluidized bed reactor, works by suspending the chemicals needed to make ethylene inside the walls of a chamber. Newly produced ethylene exits through a pipe, while the rest of the material remains to continue production.
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.
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.
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.
This revolutionary solar-powered plane is about to end a slow and symbolic journey across America by quietly buzzing the Statue of Liberty and landing in a city whose buildings often obscure the power-giving sun. But the Solar Impulse’s designers and flyers hope to grab attention in a surprising way: By being silent and consuming little energy.
Hydrogen fuel cells are already powering mobile lighting systems, forklifts, emergency backup systems and light-duty trucks, among other applications. Now, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have found that hydrogen fuel cells may be both technically feasible and commercially attractive as a clean, quiet and efficient power source for ships at berth, replacing on-board diesel generators.
A single advanced building control now in development could slash 18%—tens of thousands of dollars—off the overall annual energy bill of the average large office building, with no loss of comfort, according to a report by researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
A new database of building features and energy use data helps building managers, owners, real estate investors and lenders evaluate the financial results of energy efficiency investment projects and identify high- and low-performing buildings.
A team of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists have developed the first fully integrated microfluidic testbed for evaluating and optimizing solar-driven electrochemical energy conversion systems. This test-bed system has already been used to study schemes for photovoltaic electrolysis of water, and can be readily adapted to study proposed artificial photosynthesis and fuel cell technologies.
A new analysis shows that the nation's land and water resources could likely support the growth of enough algae to produce up to 25 billion gallons of algae-based fuel a year in the United States, one-twelfth of the country's yearly needs. The findings come from an in-depth look at the water resources that would be needed to grow significant amounts of algae in large, specially built shallow ponds.
A new study has identified two unique methods for storing energy using wind power. A team from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Bonneville Power Administration has located two sites in Washington that could serve as multi-megawatt facilities. They say power for about 85,000 homes each month could be stored in porous rocks deep underground for later use.
Most Michigan and Pennsylvania residents say fracking is good for the economy, but have concerns about chemicals used and other environmental risks, according to a University of Michigan survey. Fracking is the common term for hydraulic fracturing, which involves injecting a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals deep into the ground through encased wells at high pressure to create and expand fractures in the shale rock.