Algae are high on the genetic engineering agenda as a potential source for biofuel, and they should be subjected to independent studies of any environmental risks that could be linked to cultivating algae for this purpose, two prominent researchers say. The researchers argue that ecology experts should be among scientists given independent authority and adequate funding to explore any potential unintended consequences of this technological pursuit.
Engineers at a company co-founded by a University of Texas at Dallas professor have identified a material that can reduce the pollution produced by vehicles that run on diesel fuel. The material, from a family of minerals called oxides, could replace platinum, a rare and expensive metal that is currently used in diesel engines to try to control the amount of pollution released into the air.
A field of young sunflowers will slowly rotate from east to west during the course of a sunny day, each leaf seeking out as much sunlight as possible as the sun moves across the sky through an adaptation called heliotropism. It's a clever bit of natural engineering that inspired imitation from a University of Wisconsin-Madison electrical and computer engineer, who has found a way to mimic the passive heliotropism seen in sunflowers for use in the next crop of solar power systems.
Amid policy debate over potential liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the United States, a new paper from Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy predicts the long-term volume of exports from the U.S. will not likely be very large. The paper also argues that the impact on U.S. domestic natural gas prices will not be large if exports are allowed by the U.S government.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.