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Nanostructures to realize hydrogen's energy potential

August 15, 2012 6:40 am | News | Comments

For the first time, engineers at the University of New South Wales have demonstrated that hydrogen can be released and reabsorbed from a promising storage material, overcoming a major hurdle to its use as an alternative fuel source. The researchers have synthesized nanoparticles of a commonly overlooked chemical compound called sodium borohydride and encased these inside nickel shells.

An intriguing twist in the structure of a cobalt oxide catalyst

August 15, 2012 5:41 am | by David Lindley | News | Comments

Hydrogen is a clean fuel, producing only water vapor when it burns. But generating hydrogen in large quantities and in a "green" fashion is not straightforward. Biological photosynthesis includes an efficient reaction step that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen with the help of catalysts that have been used as models for synthetic catalysts. Working at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, a team of scientists has determined the structure of one such catalyst, a complex cobalt oxide.

Physics researcher develops nanoparticle coating for solar panels

August 13, 2012 11:37 am | News | Comments

A University of Houston researcher has developed a nanoparticle coating for solar panels that makes it easier to keep the panels clean, which helps maintain their efficiency and reduces the maintenance and operations costs. The coating has successfully undergone testing at the Dublin Institute for Technology and will undergo field trials being conducted by an engineering firm in North Carolina.

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Advance made in generating electricity from wastewater

August 13, 2012 9:43 am | News | Comments

Engineers at Oregon State University have made a breakthrough in the performance of microbial fuel cells that can produce electricity directly from wastewater, opening the door to a future in which waste treatment plants not only will power themselves, but will sell excess electricity.

Energy storage system helps control fluctuation of renewable energies

August 9, 2012 9:11 am | News | Comments

At Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, several pilot plants of solar cells, small wind power plants, lithium-ion batteries, and power electronics are under construction to demonstrate how load peaks in the grid can be balanced and what regenerative power supply by an isolated network may look like in the future.

SPI Solar completes two projects in Greece

August 9, 2012 3:53 am | News | Comments

SPI Solar announced that it has completed construction and successfully interconnected two large-scale solar energy facility (SEF) projects in Greece. A 2-MW development in Evros and a 4.4-MW SEF in Orestiada were completed and interconnected by July 26th.

Study finds correlation between injection wells and small earthquakes

August 7, 2012 6:58 am | News | Comments

The Barnett Shale is a geological formation in North Texas bearing a large amount of natural gas that was difficult to recover prior to recent technological advances such as hydraulic fracturing. A geophysicist at the University of Texas at Austin analyzed seismic data over a two-year period and has found that while proving any one earthquake was caused by drilling is impossible, a connection between earthquake frequency and fracking does exist.

NREL study shows renewable energy potential in every state

August 2, 2012 5:35 am | News | Comments

A new study of renewable energy’s technical potential finds that every state in the nation has the space and resource to generate clean energy. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory produced the study, which looks at available renewable resources in each state and establishes an upper-boundary estimate of development potential.

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X-rays pave way for low cost, large scale carbon capture

August 1, 2012 4:17 am | News | Comments

Current techniques for post-combustion carbon capture filter out carbon dioxide from a power plant’s flue gases as they travel up a chimney. These methods can prevent 80 to 90% of a power plant’s carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere, but researchers in the U.K. are trying to improve on that, using their nation’s synchrotron to determine the mechanism for the use of calcium oxide-based material as carbon dioxide sorbents.

Off-shore use of vertical-axis wind turbines gets a closer look

July 31, 2012 8:34 am | News | Comments

The economics of offshore windpower are different from land-based turbines, due to installation and operational challenges. Vertical axis wind turbines could offer the best solution thanks to several factors, including a lower center of gravity and a bottom-mounted drivetrain. But Sandia National Laboratories engineers are looking how to scale up product of the turbines’ curved blades, which are difficult to manufacture.

Success Story: Innovation Speeds Solar Cell Tests

July 27, 2012 6:56 am | Articles | Comments

Engineers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have developed a way to assess the quality of solar cells at a speed that is orders-of-magnitude faster than previous methods.

Rivers flowing into the sea offer vast potential as electricity source

July 26, 2012 8:57 am | News | Comments

A recent episode of the Global Challenges series of podcasts from the American Chemical Society highlights work being done by a professor from Yale University and a colleague to adapt a little-known process called pressure-retarded osmosis to create electricity from the difference in saltiness between freshwater and seawater.

Measurement advance could speed innovation in solar devices

July 25, 2012 8:44 am | News | Comments

A new versatile measurement system devised by researchers at NIST accurately and quickly measures the electric power output of solar energy devices, capabilities useful to researchers and manufacturers working to develop and make next-generation solar energy cells.

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Scientists use microbes to make 'clean' methane

July 24, 2012 12:49 pm | News | Comments

Most methane comes from natural gas, a fossil fuel. Stanford University and Penn State University scientists are taking a greener approach using microbes that can convert renewable electricity into carbon-neutral methane.

Research shows feasibility for capturing carbon dioxide directly from air

July 24, 2012 6:44 am | News | Comments

With a series of papers published in chemistry and chemical engineering journals, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have advanced the case for extracting carbon dioxide directly from the air using newly developed adsorbent materials.

Researchers seek to improve drought-resistance of biofuels grasses

July 23, 2012 9:18 am | News | Comments

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a five-year, $12.1 million grant to a multi-institutional effort to develop drought-resistant grasses for use in biofuels. The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis will lead the initiative with researchers from the Carnegie Institution for Science, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Minnesota, and Washington State University.

Experts: Some fracking critics use bad science

July 23, 2012 4:58 am | by Kevin Begos, Associated Press | News | Comments

Shale gas drilling has attracted national attention because advances in technology have unlocked billions of dollars of gas reserves, leading to a boom in production, jobs, and profits, as well as concerns about pollution and public health. In the debate over natural gas drilling, the companies are often the ones accused of twisting the facts. But scientists say opponents sometimes mislead the public, too.

Scientists use X-ray imaging to observe running batteries in action

July 18, 2012 6:25 am | News | Comments

Using high-power X-ray imaging of an actual working battery, a Stanford University-SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory team discovered that sulfur particles in the cathode largely remain intact during discharge. Their results could help scientists find new way to develop commercially viable lithium-sulfur batteries for electric vehicles.

Toughened silicon sponges may make tenacious batteries

July 17, 2012 3:36 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Rice University and Lockheed Martin reported this month that they've found a way to make multiple high-performance anodes from a single silicon wafer. The process uses simple silicon to replace graphite as an element in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, laying the groundwork for longer-lasting, more powerful batteries for such applications as commercial electronics and electric vehicles.

Caution needed with new greenhouse gas emission standards

July 16, 2012 3:50 am | News | Comments

Policy makers need to be cautious in setting new 'low-carbon' standards for greenhouse gas emissions for oil sands-derived fuels as well as fuels from conventional crude oils University of Calgary and University of Toronto researchers say. The researchers, using for the first time confidential data from actual oil sands operations, did a 'well-to-wheel' lifecycle analysis of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels produced by Alberta oil sands operations compared with conventional crude oils.

Physicists invent spintronic LED

July 13, 2012 5:16 am | News | Comments

University of Utah physicists invented a new "spintronic" organic light-emitting diode (OLED) that promises to be brighter, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly than the kinds of LEDs. The prototype OLED produces an orange color, and the team expects it will be possible within two years to use the technology to produce red and blue as well.

One step closer to new thermoelectric 'heat engine'

July 11, 2012 10:26 am | News | Comments

Researchers who are studying a new magnetic effect that converts heat to electricity have discovered how to amplify it a thousand times over—a first step in making the technology more practical.

New biofuel process improves energy recovery

July 10, 2012 10:04 am | News | Comments

A new biofuel production process created by Michigan State University researchers produces energy more than 20 times higher than existing methods. The results showcase a novel way to use microbes to produce biofuel and hydrogen, all while consuming agricultural wastes.

Utilities leading the way to grid security with new assessment tool

June 28, 2012 8:26 am | News | Comments

A first-of-its-kind self-evaluation model and survey will provide utilities with a way to benchmark and measure their cybersecurity readiness. Announced by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the Electricity Sector Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model, or ES-C2M2, and evaluation survey will help utilities assess their own level of cybersecurity.

Researchers develop paintable battery

June 28, 2012 6:04 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Rice University have developed a lithium-ion battery that can be painted on virtually any surface. The rechargeable battery created in the laboratory of Rice materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan consists of spray-painted layers, each representing the components in a traditional battery.

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