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Textured surface may boost power output of thin silicon solar cells

June 13, 2012 10:18 am | by David Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Highly purified silicon represents up to 40% of the overall costs of conventional solar-cell arrays—so researchers have long sought to maximize power output while minimizing silicon usage. Now, a team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has found a new approach that could reduce the thickness of the silicon used by more than 90% while still maintaining high efficiency.

Green fuel from carbon dioxide and hydrogen?

June 13, 2012 8:19 am | News | Comments

A research team at the Freiburg Materials Research Center in Germany has developed a new system for producing methanol that uses carbon dioxide and hydrogen. The key to helping make their process more efficient is the use of the metal oxides of copper, zinc, and zirconium dioxide as catalysts, enabling the reaction to happen at lower temperatures. Ionic salts may also play a role.

New energy source for future medical implants

June 13, 2012 3:49 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers have developed a fuel cell that runs on the same sugar that powers human cells: glucose. This glucose fuel cell could be used to drive highly efficient brain implants of the future, which could help paralyzed patients move their arms and legs again.

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Imec, Kaneka achieve solar cell breakthrough

June 12, 2012 6:14 am | News | Comments

Kaneka and imec report a large-area heterojunction silicon solar cell with a certified power conversion efficiency of 22.68% with an electroplated copper contact grid on top of the transparent conductive oxide layer.

Study: U.S. must encourage development of Canadian oil sands

June 12, 2012 5:03 am | News | Comments

To successfully reduce the United States' dependence on fuels from outside North America, the government must pursue policies that foster the diversion of Canadian oil sands crude to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries, according to a new study by Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Study: Environmental benefit of biofuels is overestimated

June 10, 2012 12:20 pm | News | Comments

A recent study by two scientists reveals that calculations of greenhouse gas emissions from bioenergy production are neglecting crucial information about carbon dioxide and nitrogen emissions that has led to the overestimation of the benefits of biofuels compared to fossil fuels. They claim the life cycle analysis models of bioenergy production are flawed as a result.

Researchers take big step to develop nuclear fusion

June 8, 2012 9:23 am | News | Comments

Imagine a world without man-made climate change, energy crunches, or reliance on foreign oil. It may sound like a dream world, but University of Tennessee, Knoxville, engineers have made a giant step toward making this scenario a reality. The researchers have successfully developed a key technology in developing an experimental reactor that can demonstrate the feasibility of fusion energy for the power grid.

'Nanocable' could be big boon for energy storage

June 7, 2012 11:43 am | News | Comments

Thanks to a little serendipity, researchers at Rice University have created a tiny coaxial cable that is about a thousand times smaller than a human hair and has higher capacitance than previously reported microcapacitors. The nanocable was produced with techniques pioneered in the nascent graphene research field and could be used to build next-generation energy storage systems.

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New twist on old chemical process could boost energy efficiency

June 7, 2012 10:17 am | News | Comments

Chemical reactions on the surface of metal oxides, such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, are important for applications such as solar cells that convert the sun's energy to electricity. Now University of Washington scientists have found that a previously unappreciated aspect of those reactions could be key in developing more efficient energy systems.

Photovoltaic cells tap underwater solar energy

June 7, 2012 5:56 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Electronics Science and Technology Division, dive into underwater photovoltaic research to develop high bandgap solar cells capable of producing sufficient power to operate electronic sensor systems at depths of 9 m.

Solar technology to convert greenhouse gas into fuel

June 7, 2012 5:47 am | News | Comments

An Israeli-Australian venture will use solar technology developed at the Weizmann Institute of Science to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of brown coal. The venture has been recently launched in Israel by NewCO2Fuels Ltd., a subsidiary of the Australian company Greenearth Energy Ltd., which has acquired an exclusive worldwide license for the solar technology from Yeda, the Weizmann Institute's technology transfer arm.

Fuel cells operating directly on ethanol

June 6, 2012 4:16 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Center for Energy Research at the University of California, San Diego recently demonstrated the best performance for solid oxide fuel cells operating directly on ethanol without external reformation.

Argonne sets sights on natural gas cars, trucks

June 5, 2012 12:23 pm | News | Comments

As the United States' natural gas reserves have sparked an interest in natural gas-powered vehicles, Argonne National Laboratory is hoping to use its automotive research facilities to lead the way in natural-gas vehicle testing.

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Energy-dense biofuel from cellulose close to economical

June 4, 2012 11:56 am | News | Comments

A new Purdue University-developed process for creating biofuels has shown potential to be cost-effective for production scale, opening the door for moving beyond the laboratory setting.

Nuclear, coal-fired electrical plants vulnerable to climate change

June 4, 2012 7:03 am | News | Comments

Warmer water and reduced river flows in the United States and Europe in recent years have led to reduced production, or temporary shutdown, of several thermoelectric power plants. A study by European and University of Washington scientists projects that in the next 50 years warmer water and low flows will lead to more such power disruptions.

Grid realities cancel out some of wind power's carbon savings

May 30, 2012 7:08 am | News | Comments

Wind energy lowers carbon emissions, but adding turbines to the current grid system does not eliminate emissions proportionally, according to a report by researchers at Argonne National Laboratory. To test how wind energy affects carbon dioxide emissions, Argonne scientists modeled the Illinois electric grid and tested how more wind power would affect the system.

Berkeley Lab, CalCEF announce partnership

May 29, 2012 10:24 am | News | Comments

CalCEF, which creates institutions and investment vehicles for the clean energy economy, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory announced a partnership to launch CalCharge, a consortium uniting California's emerging and established battery technology companies with critical academic and government resources.

Sandia technology used in Fukushima cleanup

May 29, 2012 4:34 am | News | Comments

A Sandia National Laboratories technology has been used to remove radioactive material from more than 43 million gallons of contaminated wastewater at Japan's damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Sandia researchers had worked around the clock following the March 2011 disaster to show the technology worked in seawater, which was pumped in to cool the plant's towers.

Physicists set new record for graphene solar cell efficiency

May 24, 2012 7:52 am | News | Comments

Doping may be a no-no for athletes, but researchers at the University of Florida say it was key in getting unprecedented power conversion efficiency from a new graphene solar cell created in their laboratory.

'Negative leakage' could be key to reducing carbon emissions

May 24, 2012 6:54 am | News | Comments

The unilateral efforts of a single country or region to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases could reduce exports, increase imports and lead to higher emissions elsewhere—what economists call "leakage." Unilateral efforts could, however, work better if other sources of energy were used as substitutes, thereby creating "negative leakage," according to research by University of Illinois energy policy experts.

New carbon dioxide-removing catalyst can take the heat

May 24, 2012 4:13 am | News | Comments

The current method of removing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the flues of coal-fired power plants uses so much energy that no one bothers to use it. So says Roger Aines, principal investigator for a team that has developed an entirely new catalyst for separating out and capturing carbon dioxide, one that mimics a naturally occurring catalyst operating in our lungs.

Morgan Crucible, Boston-Power sign joint development agreement

May 24, 2012 3:30 am | News | Comments

The Morgan Crucible Company plc announced the signing of a joint development agreement between its wholly owned subsidiary, MorganAM&T Inc., and Boston-Power Inc. to accelerate development and commercialization of MorganAM&T's advanced anode technologies based on metal-loaded carbon nanoparticles.

Coalition to develop world’s cleanest passenger train

May 22, 2012 12:57 pm | News | Comments

Plans to create the world's first carbon-neutral higher-speed locomotive were unveiled this week by the Coalition for Sustainable Rail, which has the goal of proving the viability of solid biofuel—torrefied biomass—and modern steam locomotive technology. The first step in those plans is to break the world speed record for steam trains.

Oxygen-separation membranes could aid in carbon dioxide reduction

May 21, 2012 3:34 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology are evaluating a system that efficiently eliminates nitrogen from the combustion process, delivering a pure stream of carbon dioxide after removing other combustion byproducts such as water and other gases.

Research focused on underground solution to greenhouse gas challenges

May 18, 2012 4:44 am | News | Comments

While many are focusing on atmospheric solutions to reduce greenhouse gases, some researchers are setting their sights on the ground—deep underground. Li Li, an assistant professor of energy and mineral engineering at Penn State University, is investigating geologic carbon sequestration as a way to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

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