The estimated half-million garbage pickers in Brazil, known as catadores, turn trash into gold: they sort out recyclable items in the country’s dumps, then sell their findings to recycling companies. But the process of getting the recyclables to their final destination involves fleets of fuel-consuming vehicles. Now—with help from some MIT students—the catadores have a less-expensive and environmentally friendly fuel option: recycled cooking oil.
The sun provides more than enough energy for all our needs, if only we could harness it cheaply and efficiently. Solar energy could provide a clean alternative to fossil fuels, but the high cost of solar cells has been a major barrier to their widespread use. Stanford researchers have found that adding a single layer of organic molecules to a solar cell can increase its efficiency three-fold and could lead to cheaper, more efficient solar panels.
Novel green chemical technologies will play a key role helping society move towards the elimination of waste while offering a wider range of products from biorefineries, according to a Univ. of York scientist.
Researchers at Rochester Institute of Technology are developing biodiesel from microalgae grown in wastewater. The project is doubly “green” because algae consume nitrates and phosphates and reduce bacteria and toxins in the water. The end result: clean wastewater and stock for a promising biofuel.
When a team of scientists drilling near an Icelandic volcano hit magma in 2009, they had to abandon their planned experiments on geothermal energy. But the mishap could point the way to an alternative source of geothermal power.
How does a Michigan State Univ. scientist fuel his enthusiasm for chemistry after 60 years? By discovering a new energy source, of course. SiGNa Chemistry Inc. unveiled its new hydrogen cartridges, which provide energy to fuel cells designed to recharge cell phones, laptops, and GPS units. The green power source is geared toward outdoor enthusiasts as well as residents of the Third World, where electricity in homes is considered a luxury.
UC Davis agreed to help the U.S. Navy find new ways to use less energy and to derive more of the energy it does use from renewable sources such as the sun and wind, instead of oil and coal.
Geologists drilling an exploratory geothermal well in 2009 in the Krafla volcano in Iceland were forced to stop when they encountered a surprise visitor: a magma flow at 6,900 feet underground. Given the opportunity to experiment, researchers now believe steam rising from above the magma could power turbines and offer a new energy source.
A new study from the Univ. of Illinois concludes that very high biomass prices would be needed in order to meet the ambitious goal of replacing 30% of petroleum consumption in the U.S. with biofuels by 2030.
Bioethanol from new lines of native perennial prairie grass could become less costly because of plant engineering by The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and fermentation research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Coating a lattice of tiny wires called Nanonets with iron oxide creates an economical and efficient platform for the process of water splitting, an emerging clean fuel science that harvests hydrogen from water, Boston College researchers report.
Researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory in partnership with an analyst at Gartner, Inc. have developed a new and more instructive approach to calculate the lifetime cost for a solar-generated energy system for comparison to other energy systems.
Ever wonder how much fuel you can save by avoiding stop-and-go traffic, closing your window, not using air conditioning or coasting toward stops? Research at the Univ. of California, Riverside's College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) can give you the answers.
Every time a car brakes, energy is generated. At present this energy is not used, but new research shows that it is possible to save it for later use in the form of compressed air. It can then provide extra power to the engine when the car is started and save fuel by avoiding idle operation when the car is at a standstill.
Microwires made of silicon have a wide range of possible uses, including the production of solar cells that can harvest much more sunlight for a given amount of material than a conventional solar cell made from a thin wafer of silicon crystal. Now researchers from MIT and Penn State have found a way of producing such wires in quantity in a highly controlled way that could be scaled up to an industrial-scale process, potentially leading to practical commercial applications.
Electricity isn't always a plug away in much of the developing world. That's why Abdrahamane Traoré, and adult from Michigan, and an engineering student from the Univ. of Michigan developed the Emerald, a personal solar panel the size of a paperback.
When it comes to breaking down plant matter and converting it to energy, the cow has it all figured out. Its digestive system allows it to eat more than 150 pounds of plant matter every day. Now researchers report that they have found dozens of previously unknown microbial enzymes in the bovine rumen that contribute to the breakdown of switchgrass, a renewable biofuel energy source.
Argonne National Laboratory has licensed its cathode technology to Envia Systems, based in Newark, Calif. The deal marks the fifth licensing agreement for the Argonne-developed cathode technology.
A team from Brigham Young Univ. suspected that a common protein could potentially react with sunlight and harvest its energy—similar to what chlorophyll does during photosynthesis. The story of how they proved it sounds as colorful as the legend of the leprechaun who hid his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Although full-spectrum solar cells have been made, none yet have been suitable for manufacture at a consumer-friendly price. Now, a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory team has demonstrated a solar cell that not only responds to virtually the entire solar spectrum, it can also readily be made using one of the semiconductor industry’s most common manufacturing techniques.
Charles Meneveau, a Johns Hopkins University fluid mechanics and turbulence expert, working with a colleague in Belgium, has devised a new formula through which the optimal spacing for a large array of wind turbines can be obtained. The results show that current spacing standards are not as efficient as they could be.
The water-repellent eyes of moths are among the least reflective surfaces in nature. A team of Japanese researchers have emulated the film that covers a moth’s eye and applied it to photovoltaic cells in Tokyo and Phoenix, Arizona. They found a 5-6% improvement in cell performance.
Engine experts and biofuels researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are working on a project that aims to modify an endophytic fungus so that it will produce fuel-type hydrocarbons for transportation purposes.
Using a common metal most famously found in self-cleaning ovens, Sossina Haile hopes to change our energy future. The metal is cerium oxide—or ceria—and it is the centerpiece of a promising new technology developed by Haile and her colleagues that concentrates solar energy and uses it to efficiently convert carbon dioxide and water into fuels.