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The electric sail is a new space propulsion concept which uses the solar wind momentum for producing thrust. Courtesy of space artist Antigravite/Szames

Electric solar wind sail could make bidirectional manned Mars flights economically feasible

April 28, 2015 11:39 am | by Finnish Meteorological Institute | News | Comments

By opening up the possibility of economical asteroid water mining, the electric solar wind sail (E-sail) enables frequent and affordable manned Mars flights. The E-sail is a novel propellantless technology that was invented in Finland in 2006. The E-sail utilizes long, charged tethers to convert natural solar wind momentum flux into spacecraft thrust.

Cooling System Could Save U.S. $6.3B Per Year

April 28, 2015 7:00 am | by The Univ. of Alabama in Huntsville | News | Comments

A patented passive cooling system for computer processors that's undergoing optimization could...

Converter Accepts Different Power Sources

April 28, 2015 7:00 am | by Univ. of Arkansas | News | Comments

Engineering researchers have invented a novel electrical power converter system that...

Pseudoparticles travel through photoactive material

April 23, 2015 10:59 am | by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Researchers ohave unveiled an important step in the conversion of light into storable energy:...

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Microalgae used for green asphalt

April 21, 2015 10:25 am | by CNRS | News | Comments

Microalgae offer a highly promising alternative to petroleum products without competing for resources used in the food industry. They have now been used, for the first time, to make asphalt. Researchers have recently proved the viability of bioasphalt, demonstrating its close similarity to the "real" asphalt used to pave roads.

Science Connect: Positive Energy: Sustaining a Great Lab Environment

April 17, 2015 1:33 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Videos | 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. These days, most lab clients are looking for sustainable design approaches at a minimum—and third-party certification, such as LEED, in many cases.

Major advance in artificial photosynthesis poses win-win for the environment

April 16, 2015 12:43 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A potentially game-changing breakthrough in artificial photosynthesis has been achieved with the development of a system that can capture carbon dioxide emissions before they are vented into the atmosphere and then, powered by solar energy, convert that carbon dioxide into valuable chemical products, including biodegradable plastics, pharmaceutical drugs and even liquid fuels.

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Cobalt film a clean-fuel find

April 16, 2015 7:51 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

A cobalt-based thin film serves double duty as a new catalyst that produces both hydrogen and oxygen from water to feed fuel cells, according to scientists at Rice Univ. The inexpensive, highly porous material may have advantages as a catalyst for the production of hydrogen via water electrolysis. A single film far thinner than a hair can be used as both the anode and cathode in an electrolysis device.

Packing heat: New fluid makes untapped geothermal energy cleaner

April 16, 2015 7:43 am | by Frances White, PNNL | Videos | Comments

More American homes could be powered by the Earth's natural underground heat with a new, nontoxic and potentially recyclable liquid that is expected to use half as much water as other fluids used to tap into otherwise unreachable geothermal hot spots. The fluid might be a boon to a new approach to geothermal power called enhanced geothermal systems.

New “cool roof time machine” will accelerate cool roof deployment

April 15, 2015 8:36 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Cool roofs can help keep buildings cool, thus lowering the building’s energy use, while also mitigating the urban heat island effect by reflecting sunlight away from buildings and cities. But as cool roofs age and get soiled, how much of their reflectance do they lose?

Quick-charging hybrid supercapacitors

April 1, 2015 1:11 pm | by Shaun Mason, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

The dramatic rise of smartphones, tablets, laptops and other personal and portable electronics has brought battery technology to the forefront of electronics research. Even as devices have improved by leaps and bounds, the slow pace of battery development has held back technological progress. Now, researchers have successfully combined two nanomaterials to create a new energy storage medium.

Adding renewable energy to power grid requires flexibility

April 1, 2015 8:24 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

Solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles and other power sources are proliferating rapidly, but their reliable integration into the existing electric grid is another story. A new study offers a comprehensive reimagining of the power grid that involves the coordinated integration of small-scale distributed energy resources. The study, asserts that the proliferation of renewable energy must happen at the periphery of the power grid.

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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 available source of water, seawater, may help satisfy a growing global population thirsty for fresh water for drinking, farming, transportation, heating, cooling and industry. But desalination is an energy-intensive process, which concerns those wanting to expand its application.

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 kind of solar cell that combines two different layers of sunlight-absorbing material in order to harvest a broader range of the sun’s energy. The development could lead to photovoltaic cells that are more efficient than those currently used in solar-power installations, the researchers say.

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 quickly in the atmosphere hence their lifetimes are considerably shorter. That is why they do not add nearly as much to the greenhouse gas effect as their stable predecessors. 

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.

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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.

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.

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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