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Testing smart energy systems

March 9, 2011 5:36 am | News | Comments

The Fraunhofer Institute in Germany has built a test lab, the SmartEnergyLab, to investigate how to network various electrical household appliances and operate them remotely. With a co-generation plant and photovoltaic simulator, researchers can analyze almost energy management system for controlling power and heat.

Sandia seeds culture of nuclear energy safety and security

March 7, 2011 5:29 am | News | Comments

The Gulf Nuclear Energy Infrastructure Institute has recently opened in Abu Dhabi with mission of preparing Emirati nuclear professionals for the responsibility of handling potentially threatening materials. The institute, which is backed by experts from Sandia National Laboratories, will not train plant operators; instead it will train executives and policymakers in broad concepts.

PNNL report looks at promising electrochemical energy storage systems

March 7, 2011 4:58 am | News | Comments

Future batteries used by the energy grid to store power from the wind and sun must be reliable, durable, and safe, but affordability is really the key to widespread deployment, according to a new report from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The report is one of the most comprehensive reviews of electrochemical energy storage to date.

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S-CO2 Brayton cycle turbines promise leap in thermal-to-electric conversion efficiency

March 4, 2011 3:37 am | News | Comments

Sandia National Laboratories researchers are moving into the demonstration phase of a gas turbine system for power generation, with the promise that thermal-to-electric conversion efficiency will be increased to as much as 50%.

Using nanotechnology to prolong machine and engine life

March 2, 2011 2:52 am | News | Comments

Guojun Liu has discovered a way to use nanotechnology to reduce friction in automobile engines and machines. The team prepared miniscule polymer particles that were dispersed in automobile engine base oils. When tested under metal surface contact conditions that simulated conditions found in automobile engines, these tiny particles were discovered to have an unprecedented friction reduction capability.

Scientists identify new implications of perennial bioenergy crops

March 1, 2011 5:57 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Arizona State University have shown that a conversion from annual to perennial bioenergy crops has broader implications than just the impacts on carbon. Regional climate can be influenced by large-scale modifications to the landscape, changing ground temperatures by a significant amount.

Brewery waste becomes scientific fodder for producing liquid biofuels

February 28, 2011 2:56 am | News | Comments

The new tagline could be: this microbe's for you. Cornell scientists took regular samples of bioreactor sludge from nine Budweiser brewing facilities over the course of a year and, using genome sequencing software, they analyzed gene sequences of the microbes in the sludge. Budweiser already harnesses these microbes for methane; researchers hope to re-purpose them for other fuels.

Enzyme cocktail could help eliminate a step in biofuel process

February 25, 2011 4:08 am | News | Comments

Conversion of biomass to fuel requires several steps: chemical pretreatment to break up the biomass, such as with dilute sulfuric acid; detoxification to remove the toxic chemicals; then microbial fermentation to convert the soluble sugars to fuels. Virginia Tech researchers have discovered an enzyme mixture that works in the presence of the toxin-infused liquid biomass, meaning that the detoxification step is unnecessary.

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Turning old oil into new mileage

February 24, 2011 3:10 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

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.

Researchers develop new technology for more efficient solar cells

February 22, 2011 3:19 am | News | Comments

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.

Green chemistry: The route towards zero-waste production

February 18, 2011 3:51 am | News | Comments

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.

Converting algae grown in wastewater to biodiesel

February 18, 2011 3:28 am | News | Comments

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.

Magma power for geothermal energy?

February 18, 2011 3:20 am | News | Comments

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.

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Hydrogen cartridges fuel laptops and phones

February 18, 2011 3:01 am | News | Comments

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.

Energy experts to help U.S. Navy get greener

February 17, 2011 7:13 am | News | Comments

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.

Scientists mull tapping Iceland volcano's molten rock for high-grade energy

February 16, 2011 7:53 am | News | Comments

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.

Research: A billion tons of biomass a viable goal

February 16, 2011 7:12 am | News | Comments

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.

Lignin 'lite' switchgrass boosts biofuel yield by more than one-third

February 15, 2011 4:05 am | News | Comments

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.

Nanonets: A promising platform for clean energy applications

February 10, 2011 3:21 am | News | Comments

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.

New instructive approach calculates lifetime solar energy cost

February 8, 2011 4:01 am | News | Comments

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.

Research helps drivers cut fuel use

February 7, 2011 11:52 am | News | Comments

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.

Normal air could halve fuel consumption

February 7, 2011 4:24 am | News | Comments

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.

A new way to grow microwires

February 4, 2011 4:11 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

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.

Personal solar panel provides light for developing countries

January 28, 2011 5:12 am | News | Comments

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.

Looking to the cow rumen for better biofuels enzymes

January 28, 2011 3:34 am | News | Comments

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.

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