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Researchers develop new design for concentrator solar cell

November 8, 2012 9:02 am | News | Comments

Engineers in Israel have created a radically new design for a concentrator solar cell that, when irradiated from the side, generates solar conversion efficiencies which rival, and may eventually surpass, the most efficient photovoltaics. The design, the developers say, can exceed 40% conversion efficiency at intensities of 10,000 suns.

Dealing with power outages more efficiently

November 7, 2012 2:58 pm | News | Comments

The recent hurricane that struck the Northeast of the U.S. forced utility companies, public officials, and emergency services to work together quickly. But we aren’t alone in suffering widespread outages. Researchers in Germany have created a new planning software product that they believe will enable all participants responding to outages in that country be better prepared for emergency situations.

Biofuel breakthrough: Quick cook method turns algae into oil

November 5, 2012 9:55 am | News | Comments

Mother Nature requires a multimillion-year process to produce crude oil. Is she wasting her time? Researchers in Michigan can "pressure-cook" algae for as little as a minute and transform an unprecedented 65% of the green slime into biocrude. The process closely emulates the natural production of crude oil.

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Jupiter Fuels licenses Louisiana Tech tech, establishes development office

October 30, 2012 1:45 pm | News | Comments

In an effort to continue working closely with faculty and researchers at Louisiana Tech, Jupiter Fuels, which has licensed natural gas-to-liquid fuel conversion technology from the university,  announced this week the establishment of a Jupiter Fuels development office located in Louisiana Tech's Humana Enterprise Center.

Report: U.S. shale gas drives up coal exports

October 29, 2012 11:24 am | News | Comments

U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from domestic energy have declined by 8.6% since a peak in 2005, the equivalent of 1.4% per year. However, researchers warn that more than half of the recent emissions reductions in the power sector may be displaced overseas by the trade in coal.

Building a better battery for renewable energy storage

October 29, 2012 10:49 am | by Glenn Roberts Jr., SLAC | News | Comments

Solar, wind and other renewable energy sources reduce consumption of fossil fuels but also pose challenges to the electrical grid because their power generation fluctuates. A team of researchers at Stanford and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has developed a mix of materials that shows promise as a cost-effective alternative to standard batteries—able to quickly and efficiently charge and discharge their energy over thousands of charges, with no energy loss after 1,000 charges.

Reports: Marcellus reserves larger than expected

October 23, 2012 9:42 am | by Kevin Begos, Associated Press | News | Comments

There's been plenty of debate over the Marcellus Shale natural gas field, but new research adds a twist that could impact political and environmental battles. Two independent financial firms say the Marcellus isn't just the biggest natural gas field in the country—it's the cheapest place for energy companies to drill.

New class of power inverter developed

October 18, 2012 12:20 pm | News | Comments

With a laboratory breakthrough once thought impossible, an Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis assistant professor has invented a new class of power inverter that could put cheaper and more efficient renewable energy products on the market.

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Food vs. fuel: Is there surplus land for bioenergy?

October 18, 2012 8:37 am | News | Comments

Increasing demand for bioenergy feedstock is generating land-use conflicts and food vs. fuel controversies. An team of 11 scientists from seven European countries and the United States have recently published a study that gives scientific background to the debate. It supports a reassessment of the land available for bioenergy feedstock production.

Engineers to design affordable carbon dioxide thickener to augment oil extraction

October 16, 2012 1:48 pm | News | Comments

Crude oil extraction could be improved significantly and accessible domestic oil reserves could be expanded with an economical carbon dioxide thickener being developed by University of Pittsburgh engineers, thanks to a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Evolving microbes help turn bio-oil into advanced biofuels

October 15, 2012 1:09 pm | News | Comments

The bacteria and microalgae typically used to ferment biofuels don’t react well to bio-oil produced by fast pyrolysis. The result of this thermochemical process is a thick, molasses-like oil that is toxic to the microbes. Researchers at Iowa State University, however, have adopted a hybrid approach that incorporates a biochemical conversion path to improve the microbes’ tolerance to contaminants.

Laser pulses elevate efficiency of black silicon solar cells

October 9, 2012 11:49 am | News | Comments

Because conventional solar cells lose all of the energy available from the infrared portion of the solar spectrum, researchers have been investigating photovoltaics that can convert this lost energy. Black silicon is one material which can do this, researchers in Germany have recently managed to double the efficiency of black silicon solar cells by modifying the shape of the laser pulse used to irradiate the silicon.

Plasma laboratory awarded $12 million grant for fusion research

October 9, 2012 8:42 am | News | Comments

A center based at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory has won a highly competitive $12.25 million grant to develop computer codes to simulate a key component of the plasma that fuels fusion energy. The five-year U.S. Department of Energy award could produce software that helps researchers design and operate facilities to create fusion as a clean and abundant source of energy for generating electricity.

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New technique reveals lithium in action

October 8, 2012 11:50 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT | News | Comments

Exactly what goes inside advanced lithium-air batteries as they charge and discharge has always been impossible to observe directly. Now, a new technique developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers promises to change that, allowing study of this electrochemical activity as it happens.

Researchers develop new way to determine amount of charge remaining in battery

October 8, 2012 11:09 am | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique that allows users to better determine the amount of charge remaining in a battery in real time. Using the researchers' new technique, models are able to estimate remaining charge within 5%.

A one-of-a-kind energy grid simulator

October 3, 2012 7:38 am | News | Comments

A one-of-a-kind, high-tech modeling tool designed to simulate different situations on the electric power grid will be on display at the White House. The result of a multi-year funding effort, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers will joining Energy Secretary Steven Chu to demonstrate how GridLAB-D can help power system operators, industry, innovators, and entrepreneurs understand how making a change to one part of the power system impacts other parts on the grid.

Agreement will lead to commercialization of batteries for renewable energy storage

October 2, 2012 1:50 pm | by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

A Washington state firm with a 27,000 square foot manufacturing and design facility in Mukilteo has signed a license agreement with Battelle to further develop and commercialize a type of advanced battery that holds promise for storing large amounts of renewable energy and providing greater stability to the energy grid.

Restricting nuclear power has little effect on the cost of climate policies

October 2, 2012 9:03 am | News | Comments

Applying a global energy-economy computer simulation that fully captures the competition between alternative power supply technologies, a team of scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the University of Dayton, Ohio, analyzed trade-offs between nuclear and climate policies. They found that incremental costs due to policy options restricting the use of nuclear power do not significantly increase the cost of even stringent greenhouse-gas emissions reductions.

Georgia Tech awarded $6 million to improve safety of nuclear reactors

October 1, 2012 10:39 am | News | Comments

The Georgia Institute of Technology has won a $6 million federal grant to design improvements that strengthen the performance and safety of nuclear systems beyond today's capabilities. The three-year project will engage universities, industry partners, and international organizations to develop a novel concept of a light water reactor with inherent safety features.

Nickelblock: An element's love-hate relationship with battery electrodes

September 27, 2012 12:30 pm | News | Comments

Anyone who owns an electronic device knows that lithium-ion batteries could work better and last longer. Now, scientists examining battery materials on the nanoscale reveal how nickel forms a physical barrier that impedes that shuttling of lithium ions in the electrode, reducing how fast the materials charge and discharge. The research also suggest a way to improve the materials.

Scientists bring the heat to refine biofuel production

September 27, 2012 9:02 am | News | Comments

Perhaps inspired by Arizona's blazing summers, Arizona State University scientists have developed a new method that relies on heat to improve the yield and lower the costs of high-energy biofuels production, making renewable energy production more of an everyday reality.

Research yields promising advance in solar cells based on nanocarbon

September 27, 2012 4:04 am | News | Comments

An exciting advance in solar cell technology developed at the University of Kansas has produced the world's most efficient photovoltaic cells made from nanocarbons, materials that have the potential to drop the costs of PV technology in the future.

Hotter might be better at energy-intensive data centers

September 26, 2012 4:43 am | News | Comments

As data centers continue to come under scrutiny for the amount of energy they use, researchers at University of Toronto Scarborough have a suggestion: turn the air conditioning down. Their latest research suggests that turning up the temperature could save energy with little or no increased risk of equipment failure.

Plastic solar cells pave way for clean energy industry

September 20, 2012 3:41 am | News | Comments

A Flinders University researchers has been developing a cheaper and faster way of making large-scale plastic solar cells using a lamination technique, paving the way for a lucrative new clean energy industry. The method is a promising alternative to the expensive fabrication techniques currently used in the renewable energy sector, and would make the commercialization of plastic solar cell technology more viable.

Dry-run experiments verify key aspect of Sandia nuclear fusion concept

September 17, 2012 4:18 am | News | Comments

Magnetically imploded tubes called liners, intended to help produce controlled nuclear fusion at scientific "break-even" energies or better within the next few years, have functioned successfully in preliminary tests, according to a Sandia National Laboratories research paper accepted for publication by Physical Review Letters .

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