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Next generation of biofuels is still years away

November 14, 2013 12:54 pm | by Jonathan Fahey, Associated Press | News | Comments

The first trickle of fuels made from agricultural waste is finally winding its way into the nation's energy supply. But the full benefits of this fuel source remain many years away, and ethanol, which was meant to be a stop-gap until non-food sources of fuel were found, has been far more damaging to the environment than the government predicted.

Emissions pricing revenues could overcompensate profit losses of fossil fuel owners

November 5, 2013 4:43 pm | News | Comments

According to a study published by scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the strategy of assigning a price to global carbon nanotubes emissions could generate a revenue of $32 trillion over the 21st century, exceeding by far the $12 trillion of lost profits from fossil fuel owners.

A toolbox for carbon dioxide-free buildings

November 5, 2013 4:32 pm | News | Comments

A set of new building technologies introduced by an alliance of Swiss companies makes it possible to heat and cool buildings without the emission of carbon dioxide. One initial key element of the system is a hybrid collector, built into the roof construction, that serves as a photovoltaic system delivering both solar power and heat that is fed to an underground accumulator.

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EPFL's campus has the world's first solar window

November 5, 2013 4:08 pm | News | Comments

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne’s new convention center, opening in April 2014, is being equipped with a glass façade composed of dye solar cells. The project, a world’s first for an exterior window, leverages the potential of dye-sensitive solar cells known as Graetzel cells, which are indifferent to the angle of incidence of light that hits them.

Calif. finds more instances of offshore fracking

October 21, 2013 7:56 am | by Alicia Chang and Jason Dearen, Associated Press | News | Comments

In waters off Long Beach, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach—some of the region's most popular surfing strands and tourist attractions—oil companies have used fracking at least 203 times at six sites in the past two decades. This discovery made from drilling records and interviews shows that offshore fracking is more widespread and frequent that state officials believed.

Why lithium-ion-batteries fail

October 18, 2013 9:48 am | by Peter Rüegg, ETH Zurich | News | Comments

Materials in lithium ion battery electrodes expand and contract during charge and discharge. These volume changes drive particle fracture, which shortens battery lifetime. A group of scientists has quantified this effect for the first time using high-resolution 3D movies recorded using x-ray tomography at the Swiss Light Source.

Researchers address economic dangers of “peak oil”

October 16, 2013 3:08 pm | News | Comments

Experts from the Univ. of Maryland and a leading university in Spain demonstrate in a new study which sectors could put the entire U.S. economy at risk when global oil production peaks. This multi-disciplinary team recommends immediate action by government, private and commercial sectors to reduce the vulnerability of these sectors.

NREL calculates emissions, costs of power plant cycling for wind, solar expansion

September 25, 2013 9:20 am | News | Comments

New research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has quantified the potential impacts of increasing wind and solar power generation on operators of fossil-fueled power plants in the West. To accommodate higher amounts of wind and solar power on the electric grid, utilities must ramp down and ramp up or stop and start conventional generators more frequently to provide reliable power for their customers—a practice called cycling.

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NSF report details increase in business research and development

September 20, 2013 12:25 pm | News | Comments

According to a recent study published by the National Science Foundation (NSF), businesses spent more on research and development (R&D) in 2011 than they did in 2010. The figures revealed that during 2011, companies in manufacturing industries performed $201 billion, or 68%, of domestic R&D.

Research determines best arrangement of tidal sails device

September 17, 2013 1:09 pm | News | Comments

Just as wind turbines tap into the energy of flowing air to generate electricity, hydrokinetic devices produce power from moving masses of water. Engineers in Spain have performed a computer simulation to determine the optimal configuration of a system produced by a Norwegian company to enable it to extract the maximum amount of energy from any given current.

Study: Methane leaks from gas drilling not huge

September 17, 2013 1:02 pm | by Kevin Begos and Seth Borenstein, Associated Press | News | Comments

According to research published this week drilling and fracking for natural gas don't seem to spew immense amounts of the greenhouse gas methane into the air, as has been feared. The study, mostly funded by energy interests,  doesn't address other fracking concerns about potential air and water pollution, but does generally with government estimates.

Terahertz time-domain spectroscopy for oil and gas detection

September 12, 2013 9:49 am | News | Comments

Kerogen is a mixture of organic chemical compounds in sedimentary rocks that is a key intermediate of oil and natural gas. After five years of research, researchers in China have developed a terahertz time-domain spectroscopy method that effectively detects the generation of oil and gas from kerogen without contact or destruction of the sample material.

Hydroelectric power makes big comeback at U.S. dams

September 12, 2013 9:20 am | by David Pitt, Associated Press | News | Comments

In the 1980s and 1990s, hydroelectric development stagnated as environmental groups lobbied against it and a long regulatory process required years of environmental study. But for the first time in decades, power companies are proposing new projects to take advantage of government financial incentives, policies that promote renewable energy over fossil fuels and efforts to streamline the permit process.

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Sharing the risks and costs of biomass crops

September 4, 2013 4:09 pm | News | Comments

Farmers who grow corn and soybeans can take advantage of government price support programs and crop insurance, but similar programs are not available for those who grow biomass crops. A new study recommends a framework for contracts between growers and biorefineries to help spell out expectations and designate who will assume the risks and costs.

Toyota says new Prius, fuel cell car due in 2015

August 28, 2013 5:20 pm | by DEE-ANN DURBIN - AP Auto Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Toyota has two important vehicles coming in 2015: the next-generation Prius hybrid and the company's first hydrogen fuel cell car. Satoshi Ogiso, a top Toyota engineer who helped develop the original Prius 20 years ago, said Wednesday that the new Prius will get significantly better fuel economy...

Study suggests costs gap for western renewables could narrow by 2025

August 28, 2013 9:06 am | News | Comments

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.

Virtual control room helps nuclear operators, industry

August 8, 2013 11:37 am | News | Comments

A new facility at Idaho National Laboratory is helping nuclear power plant operators like Duke Energy embark on an upgrade projects for their control rooms. The new Human System Simulation Laboratory (HSSL) is a full-scale virtual nuclear control room that can test the safety and reliability of proposed technology replacements before they are implemented in commercial nuclear control rooms.

EU, U.S. to extend cooperation on measurements, standards

July 25, 2013 8:08 am | News | Comments

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the U.S. Dept. of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) this week agreed to expand their current scientific cooperation to include new areas of research, such as energy, health care and clinical measurements, and food safety and nutrition.

Americans continue to use more renewable energy sources

July 18, 2013 1:58 pm | by Anne M. Stark, LLNL | News | Comments

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.

New catalyst could replace platinum for automotive applications

July 3, 2013 9:46 am | News | Comments

The research team from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea has developed an inexpensive and scalable bio-inspired composite electrocatalyst, designed using iron phthalocyanine, a macrocyclic compound, anchored to single-walled carbon nanotubes. Under certain conditions, the new catalyst has a higher electrocatalytic activity than platinum-based catalysts, and better durability during cycling.

Bringing color to solar façades

July 2, 2013 12:21 pm | News | Comments

Designers of buildings typically have no choice but to use black or bluish-gray colored solar panels. With the help of thin-film technologies, however, researchers in Germany have now added color to solar cells. Optics specialists have changed physical thickness of the transparent conductive oxide layer, modifying its refractive index.

Policy issues plague hydropower as wind power backup

June 27, 2013 2:11 pm | by A'ndrea Elyse Messer, Penn State University | News | Comments

Theoretically, hydropower can step in when wind turbines go still, but barriers to this non-polluting resource serving as a backup are largely policy- and regulation-based, according to recent research. Hydroelectric dams are controlled by guide curves that account for drinking water and droughts. They cannot simply release water to meet some electricity demand or hold back water when electricity is in low demand.

Power for seaports may be the next job for hydrogen fuel cells

June 27, 2013 8:01 am | News | Comments

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.

High-octane bacteria could ease pain at the pump

June 25, 2013 1:28 pm | News | Comments

By rerouting the metabolic pathway that makes fatty acids in E. coli bacteria, researchers at Harvard University have devised a new way to produce a gasoline-like biofuel. According to the scientists, who are tweaking metabolic pathways in bacteria, new lines of engineered bacteria can tailor-make key precursors of high-octane biofuels that could one day replace gasoline.

Solar plane to help ground energy use

June 19, 2013 1:01 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

When it's in flight, there's no roar of engines. It's strangely quiet. And as it crisscrosses the U.S., the spindly plane doesn't use a drop of fuel. Ernest Moniz, who heads the U.S. Department of Energy, praised the efficiency of the Solar Impulse plane at a news conference Monday in Washington, where the plane landed early Sunday morning. He said the solar-powered aircraft highlighted a cleaner energy future for the nation.

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