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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

Exxon's CEO: Climate, energy fears overblown

June 27, 2012 12:58 pm | by Jonathan Fahey, AP Energy Writer | News | Comments

In a speech Wednesday, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson said fears about climate change, drilling, and energy dependence are overblown. He acknowledged that burning of fossil fuels is warming the planet, but said society will be able to adapt and dependence on other nations for oil is not a concern as long as access to supply is certain.

ORNL home to new battery manufacturing R & D facility

June 26, 2012 9:04 am | News | Comments

Future automotive batteries could cost less and pack more power because of a new manufacturing research and development facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The $3 million Department of Energy facility allows for collaboration with industry and other national labs while protecting intellectual property of industrial partners.

Scientists spark new interest in the century-old Edison battery

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

Stanford University scientists have breathed new life into the nickel-iron battery, a rechargeable technology developed by Thomas Edison more than a century ago. The team has created an ultrafast nickel-iron battery that can be fully charged in about 2 min and discharge in less than 30 sec.

Bringing down the cost of fuel cells

June 22, 2012 5:56 am | News | Comments

Engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee have identified a catalyst that provides the same level of efficiency in microbial fuel cells as the currently used platinum catalyst, but at 5% of the cost. Since more than 60% of the investment in making microbial fuel cells is the cost of platinum, the discovery may lead to much more affordable energy conversion and storage devices.

Modeling biofuel fitness for the sea

June 21, 2012 6:03 am | News | Comments

With the help of a $2 million grant from the U.S. Office of Naval Research, mechanical engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will develop a tool to characterize the performance of a new class of alternative fuels that could be used in maritime vehicles such as submarines and aircraft carriers.

Ocean energy development with less sound

June 21, 2012 3:48 am | News | Comments

The rise of ocean infrastructure development to tap energy sources such as tides, offshore wind, and natural gas will require more pile driving. But pile driving creates loud, underwater booms that can harm fish and other marine animals. New research indicates that if an individual blow to a pile rises above a particular sound level, fish can be irreparably harmed. This finding has led scientists to recommend the first-ever sound threshold for pile driving based on fish responses.

Cheaper fuel from algae

June 20, 2012 8:11 am | News | Comments

Scientists have revealed an advance toward a long-sought economical process that could turn algae into a sustainable source of biodiesel and other "green" fuels. The researchers describe the efforts toward a simple process that would extract the fatty molecules called lipids used to make biodiesel from algae and transform them into usable fuel in one fell swoop.

NREL helps supersize butanol production

June 20, 2012 7:29 am | News | Comments

The idea of "supersizing" is no longer embraced when it comes to what we eat. But when it comes to creating renewable fuels, supersizing can be a very good thing. Recently, a team of scientists from Cobalt Technologies assembled at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to supersize their process for making renewable butanol.

Research: Sorghum should be in the mix as a biofuel crop

June 19, 2012 7:07 am | News | Comments

Sweet and biomass sorghum would meet the need for next-generation biofuels to be environmentally sustainable, easily adopted by producers, and take advantage of existing agricultural infrastructure, a group of researchers led by Purdue University scientists believes.

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