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.
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.
Chemical engineers have identified a new mechanism to convert natural gas into energy up to 70 times faster. The technique improves on chemical looping, in which a solid, oxygen-laden material—called an “oxygen carrier”—is put in contact with natural gas to cause combustion. The newly developed oxygen carrier shuttles oxygen atoms into the natural gas very efficiently.
Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have designed a low-cost, long-life battery that could enable solar and wind energy to become major suppliers to the electrical grid. The developers believe their new membrane-free battery, based on lithium and sulfur, may be the best yet designed to regulate alternative energies.
On Monday, scientists with IBM Research, Airlight Energy, and ETH Zurich officially launched plans to develop an affordable photovoltaic system capable concentrating solar radiation 2,000 times and converting 80% of the incoming radiation into useful energy. The system is based on a low-cost, large dish-like concentrator and micro-channel cooled high performance photovoltaic chips suitable for mass-production.
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.
Every year, millions of tons of environmentally harmful ash is produced worldwide, and is mostly dumped in landfill sites or, in some countries, used as construction material. The ash is what is left when rubbish has been burnt in thermal power stations. A researcher from Lund University in Sweden has now developed a technique to use the ash to produce useful hydrogen gas.
Using exotic particles called quantum dots as the basis for a photovoltaic cell is not a new idea, but attempts to make such devices have not yet achieved sufficiently high efficiency in converting sunlight to power. A new wrinkle added by a team of researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology—embedding the quantum dots within a forest of nanowires—promises to provide a significant boost.
An innovative new process that releases the energy in coal without burning—while capturing carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas—has passed a milestone on the route to possible commercial use, scientists are reporting. Their study in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels describes results of a successful 200-hour test on a sub-pilot scale version of the technology using two inexpensive but highly polluting forms of coal.
A technology that will allow widespread adoption of plug-in electric vehicles without negatively impacting the electrical grid is the subject of a commercial license agreement between Battelle and AeroVironment, Inc., of Monrovia, Calif. The technology may also ultimately result in lower costs for plug-in electric vehicle owners.
Silicon requires a surface coating before use in its given applications. The coating "passivates" the material, tying up loose atomic bonds to prevent oxidation that would ruin its electrical properties. But this passivation process consumes a lot of heat and energy, making it costly and limiting the kinds of materials that can be added to the devices. Now a team of researchers has found a way to passivate silicon at room temperature, which could be a significant boon to solar cell production and other silicon-based technologies.
The Alaskan Brewing Co. is going green, but instead of looking to solar and wind energy, it has turned to a very familiar source: beer. The Juneau-based beer maker has installed a unique boiler system in order to cut its fuel costs. It purchased a $1.8 million furnace that burns the company's spent grain—the waste accumulated from the brewing process—into steam which powers the majority of the brewery's operations.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Calico Energy Services announced that Calico has licensed a portfolio of advanced energy management intellectual property developed by PNNL. The technology was licensed by Battelle, which manages PNNL for the DOE.
A new, energy-efficient air chilling system could keep troops on the front lines cool while using about half as much diesel as current systems. The system's decreased fuel consumption could also save lives by reducing attacks on American soldiers who deliver fuel to field operations.
What if we could assess technologies for hidden environmental dangers before they hit the marketplace? And even better, what if the technology's positive impacts could be maximized and negative ones minimized before the technology is even deployed, as part of the development process? The Emerging Technology Assessment Team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is working to do just that, using energy and environmental analysis techniques to estimate potential impacts of early-stage technologies.
A device developed by engineers at The University of Manchester and EPL Composite Solutions Ltd. could increase the capacity of the U.K.'s electricity network, enabling rapid increases in renewable generation and lower bills for consumers.
Recent research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory finds utility customer-funded energy efficiency programs expanding across the United States. Spending on these programs, which are funded by mandatory charges on utility bills, will double to nearly $10 billion per year by 2025. Drivers for this growth include energy efficiency resource standards required of utilities.
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are known for their energy efficiency and durability, but the bluish, cold light of current white LEDs has precluded their widespread use for indoor lighting. Now, University of Georgia scientists have fabricated what is thought to be the world's first LED that emits a warm white light using a single light-emitting material, or phosphor, with a single emitting center for illumination.