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The Lead

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.

Desalination with nanoporous graphene membrane

March 26, 2015 7:53 am | by Dawn Levy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Less than 1% of Earth’s water is drinkable. Removing salt and other minerals from our biggest...

New kind of “tandem” solar cell developed

March 25, 2015 7:41 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford Univ. have developed a new...

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...

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Processing tech converts packing peanuts to battery components

March 23, 2015 7:53 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have shown how to convert waste packing peanuts into high-performance carbon electrodes for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that outperform conventional graphite electrodes, representing an environmentally friendly approach to reuse the waste.

Solar Plane Sets Out on Historic World Trip

March 9, 2015 8:36 am | by Associated Press, Aya Batrawy | News | Comments

With its wings stretched wide to catch the sun's energy, a Swiss-made solar-powered aircraft took off from Abu Dhabi just after daybreak today in a historic first attempt to fly around the world without a drop of fossil fuel.

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.

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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.

New technology could make treatment of oil and gas wastewater simpler, cheaper

February 26, 2015 9:05 am | by Univ. of Colorado at Boulder | News | Comments

Oil and gas operations in the U.S. produce about 21 billion barrels of wastewater per year. The saltiness of the water and the organic contaminants it contains have traditionally made treatment difficult and expensive. Engineers at the Univ. of Colorado Boulder have invented a simpler process that can simultaneously remove both salts and organic contaminants from the wastewater, all while producing additional energy.

ORNL, Whirlpool to develop new energy-efficient refrigerator

February 26, 2015 8:20 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Whirlpool Corp. are collaborating to design a refrigerator that could cut energy use by up to 40% compared with current models. The goal of the CRADA is to make a next-generation household refrigerator more energy efficient by using WISEMOTION, an innovative linear compressor manufactured by Embraco, and other novel technologies and materials.

Electric car driving range, emissions depend on where you live

February 25, 2015 10:35 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Many car buyers weighing whether they should go all electric to help the planet have at least one new factor to consider before making the switch: geography. Based on a study of a commercially available electric car, scientists report in Environmental Science & Technology that emissions and driving range can vary greatly depending on regional energy sources and climate.

New flow battery to keep big cities lit, green and safe

February 25, 2015 10:27 am | by Frances White, PNNL | Videos | Comments

Ensuring the power grid keeps the lights on in large cities could be easier with a new battery design that packs far more energy than any other battery of its kind and size. The new zinc-polyiodide redox flow battery, described in Nature Communications, uses an electrolyte that has more than two times the energy density of the next-best flow battery used to store renewable energy and support the power grid.

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Seven reasons to attend the Lab Design Conference

February 25, 2015 9:38 am | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | News | Comments

The 2015 Laboratory Design Conference is open for registration. Your opportunity to learn, network and participate in discussions about current and future trends in lab design is coming to Atlanta, April 27-29th. The countdown to the conference has begun, and here’s a countdown of reasons why you should be there.

Asphaltene analysis takes a giant step

February 24, 2015 7:46 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. researchers have developed an easy and accurate technique to detect and quantify the amount of asphaltene precipitated from crude oils, which bedevils the oil industry by clogging wells and flow lines. Asphaltene is a complex of hydrocarbon molecules found in crude. As the name suggests, it has uses as the source of asphalt for road construction and can also be made into waterproofing and roofing materials and other products.

Air Filter Could Help Beijing Breathe Easily

February 19, 2015 2:00 pm | by Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

A professor and his students have turned a material commonly used in surgical gloves into a low-cost, highly efficient air filter. It could be used to improve facemasks and window screens, and maybe even scrub the exhaust from power plants.  

THERMal analysis aids in energy efficiency

February 17, 2015 10:08 am | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Articles | Comments

It’s a well-known fact that labs consume four times more energy per square foot than a typical office building. And while ventilation and plug loads account for much of this energy use, proper design and detailing of building envelopes can have a significant impact on the energy demands of lab buildings.

Sustaining a Laboratory Environment

February 13, 2015 1:00 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Articles | Comments

The design of laboratories for sustainable construction and operation has become a major driver in the A/E/C industry over the past 10 to 15 years. Most large academic, government and corporate laboratory clients are looking for sustainable design approaches at a minimum, and third-party certification, such as LEED, in many cases.

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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.

Flipping the switch

February 10, 2015 10:11 am | by Christopher R. Samoray, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Inadequate insulation is one of the largest causes of wasted energy, quickly allowing comfortable heating or cooling to disperse air outside. That’s why researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are collaborating with industry to develop a high-performance material that nearly doubles the performance of traditional insulators without a high cost premium.

Battery startup promises safe lithium batteries

February 10, 2015 9:53 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory battery scientist Nitash Balsara has worked for many years trying to find a way to improve the safety of lithium-ion batteries. Now he believes he has found the answer in a most unlikely material: a class of compounds that has mainly been used for industrial lubrication.

Direct measurement of key molecule will increase accuracy of combustion models

February 6, 2015 7:50 am | by Patti Koning, Sandia National Laboratories | News | Comments

Sandia National Laboratories researchers are the first to directly measure hydroperoxyalkyl radicals, a class of reactive molecules denoted as “QOOH”, that are key in the chain of reactions that controls the early stages of combustion. This breakthrough has generated data on QOOH reaction rates and outcomes that will improve the fidelity of models used by engine manufacturers to create cleaner and more efficient cars and trucks.

Preventing greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere

February 5, 2015 7:41 am | by Caroline Perry, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

A novel class of materials that enable a safer, cheaper and more energy-efficient process for removing greenhouse gas from power plant emissions has been developed by a multi-institution team of researchers. The approach could be an important advance in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).

Understanding air pollution from biomass burners used for heating

February 4, 2015 2:37 pm | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

As many places in the U.S. and Europe increasingly turn to biomass rather than fossil fuels for power and heat, scientists are focusing on what this trend might mean for air quality and people’s health. One study on wood-chip burners’ particulate emissions, which can cause heart and lung problems, appears in Energy & Fuels. The scientists say the findings could help manufacturers reduce the negative impact of this fuel in the future.

State drilling panel weighs disclosure of fracking chemicals

February 2, 2015 7:19 pm | by Dan Elliott, Associated Press | News | Comments

Gov. John Hickenlooper's task force on oil and gas discussed proposals Monday that would force energy companies to disclose all the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing and give local governments more of a say on where wells can be drilled. The task force is winnowing down a list of 56 suggestions from members before making its recommendations to Hickenlooper on ways to resolve disputes over local control and landowner rights.

Light-converting materials point to cheaper, more efficient solar power, LEDs

January 30, 2015 7:50 am | by Marit Mitchell, Senior Communications Office, Univ. of Toronto | News | Comments

Engineers are shining new light on an emerging family of solar-absorbing materials that could clear the way for cheaper and more efficient solar panels and LEDs. The materials, called perovskites, are particularly good at absorbing visible light, but had never been studied in their purest form: as perfect single crystals.

Carbon nanoballs can greatly contribute to sustainable energy supply

January 28, 2015 9:07 am | by Johanna Wilde, Chalmers Univ. of Technology | News | Comments

Researchers at Chalmers Univ. of Technology have discovered that the insulation plastic used in high-voltage cables can withstand a 26% higher voltage if nanometer-sized carbon balls are added. This could result in enormous efficiency gains in the power grids of the future, which are needed to achieve a sustainable energy system.

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 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.

“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 heat that, in warm weather, we often counter with energy-consuming air conditioning. Now 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.

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