As biofuel production has increased—particularly ethanol derived from corn—a hotly contested competition for feedstock supplies has emerged between the agricultural grain markets and biofuel refineries. This competition has sparked concern for the more fundamental issue of allocating limited farmland resources, which has far-reaching implications for food security, energy security, and environmental sustainability.
According to a recent report from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, U.S. commercial building owners could save an average of 38% on their heating and cooling bills if they installed a handful of energy efficiency controls that make their heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems more energy efficient.
In new findings, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have introduced what appears to be a universal technique to reduce the work function of a conductor. The technique works where they spread a very thin layer of a polymer on the conductor's surface to create a strong surface dipole, which turns air-stable conductors into efficient, low-work function electrodes.
A new study from the University of Illinois concludes that learning-by-doing, stimulated by increased ethanol production, played an important role in inducing technological progress in the corn ethanol industry. It also suggests that biofuel policies, which induced ethanol production beyond the free-market level, served to increase the competitiveness of the industry over time.
SustainX, a grid-scale developer of energy storage solutions, is commercializing isothermal compressed air energy storage, which is typically accomplished using underground caverns. However, this new technology, licensed from the University of Minnesota, uses pipe-type air storage, which makes it possible to store energy in more places.
IBM announced it has teamed with ZSE, the largest distributor and supplier of electricity in Slovakia, on a smart energy "feasibility" study that will help prepare the capital city Bratislava for electric vehicles (EVs).
According to findings by the U.S. Geological Survey, the rate of earthquakes in the United States’ midsection has jumped six-fold from the late 20th century through last year, and the changes are "almost certainly man-made." Most of the earthquakes resulting from drilling activities are relatively mold, falling into the magnitude 3 range on the Richter scale.
As the world moves toward greater use of low-carbon and zero-carbon energy sources, a possible bottleneck looms, according to a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology study: The supply of certain metals needed for key clean-energy technologies.
West Midlands scientists have created and studied new materials set to make low-carbon energy technologies like fuel cells cheaper and more efficient to run. Collaborative research efforts involving the University of Warwick and University of Birmingham have paved the way for improved efficiency in fuel cells to be used anywhere where isolated forms of power generation are required.
Producing hydrogen from non-fossil fuel sources is a problem that continues to elude many scientists, but University of Delaware's Erik Koepf thinks he may have discovered a solution. He has designed a novel reactor that employs highly concentrated sunlight and zinc oxide powder to produce solar hydrogen, a truly clean, sustainable fuel with zero emissions.
It took Thomas Edison two years and over 3,000 experiments to develop a marketable light bulb. It has taken 10 times that long and who-knows-how-many experiments to develop a system that is far more complicated: The inner workings of a reliable, marketable hydrogen fuel cell. Now a Michigan Technological University research team is nearing development of a mathematical model that will slash that R&D time and effort.
A new study done on Massachusetts Institute of Technology buildings reveals some data that could help designers and building managers, on campuses or in the commercial sector, optimize energy usage, and suggests a template for conducting more research on the subject.
A recently published paper moves scientists closer to understanding the complex process plants use to harness the sun's energy by showing the importance of a hydrogen-bonding water network in the portion of the photosynthetic machinery known as photosystem II.
The Great Lakes currently have no offshore wind turbines, but several plans to install them are in the works. Both federal and state governments are about to announce an agreement to speed up approval of the farms, which have been delayed by cost concerns and public opposition.
The University of Connecticut's Center for Clean Energy Engineering has developed a new manufacturing process for fuel cells that could make highly efficient, fuel cell-powered vehicles a viable commercial option in the next 10 years and possibly sooner.
Sandia National Laboratories is using its Ion Beam Laboratory to study how to rapidly evaluate the tougher advanced materials needed to build the next generation of nuclear reactors and extend the lives of current reactors.
Joint BioEnergy Institute researchers have developed a dynamic sensor-regulator system that can detect metabolic changes in microbes during the production of fatty acid-based fuels or chemicals and control the expression of genes affecting that production. The result in one demonstration was a threefold increase in the microbial production of biodiesel from glucose.
Researchers at Montana State University have developed a protein that can be expressed in oilseed crops to increase the oil yield by as much as 40%, a development that could have an impact on the biodiesel industry. Patents on this technology have been issued and research is ongoing.
Airbus, Boeing, and Embraer signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together on the development of drop-in, affordable aviation biofuels. The collaboration agreement supports the industry's multi-pronged approach to continuously reduce the industry's carbon emissions.
A new assessment of wind energy in India by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has found that the potential for on-shore wind energy deployment is far higher than the official estimates—about 20 times and up to 30 times greater than the current government estimate of 102 GW.
It turns out you can be too thin—especially if you're a nanoscale battery. A team of researchers built a series of nanowire batteries to demonstrate that the thickness of the electrolyte layer can dramatically affect the performance of the battery, effectively setting a lower limit to the size of the tiny power sources.
While the costs associated with storing nuclear waste and the possibility of it leaching into the environment remain legitimate concerns, they may no longer be obstacles on the road to cleaner energy. A recent paper showcases Thorium Borate-1 as a crystalline compound that can be tailored to safely absorb radioactive ions from nuclear waste streams.
High-gain nuclear fusion could be achieved in a preheated cylindrical container immersed in strong magnetic fields, according to a series of computer simulations performed at Sandia National Laboratories. The simulations show the release of output energy that was many times greater than the energy fed into the container's liner.
Using a sophisticated weather model, environmental engineers at Stanford University have defined optimal placement of a grid of four wind farms off the United States East Coast. The model successfully balances production at times of peak demand and significantly reduces costly spikes and zero-power events.
A new study by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows that there is enough capacity in deep saline aquifers in the United States to store at least a century's worth of carbon dioxide emissions from the nation's coal-fired power plants. Though questions remain about the economics of systems to capture and store such gases, this study addresses a major issue that has overshadowed such proposals.