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Deadline Extended for 2015 R&D 100 Award Entries

April 20, 2015 1:53 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | News | Comments

The editors of R&D Magazine have announced a deadline extension for the 2015 R&D 100 Awards entry process until May 18, 2015. The R&D 100 Awards have a 50 plus year history of awarding the 100 most technologically significant products of the year.

Biofuel Struggles with Economics and the Environment

April 17, 2015 2:31 pm | by Tim Studt | Articles | Comments

Immediately following the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007,...

Science Connect: Positive Energy: Sustaining a Great Lab Environment

April 17, 2015 1:33 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Videos | Comments

The design of laboratories for sustainable construction and operation has become a major driver...

Beyond the lithium ion

April 17, 2015 11:58 am | by Jeanne Galatzer-Levy, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago | News | Comments

The race is on around the world as scientists strive to develop a new generation of batteries...

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Improving rechargeable batteries with MoS2 nano “sandwich”

April 17, 2015 9:00 am | by Jennifer Tidball, Kansas State Univ. | News | Comments

The key to better cell phones and other rechargeable electronics may be in tiny "sandwiches" made of nanosheets, according to mechanical engineering research from Kansas State Univ. The research team are improving rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The team has focused on the lithium cycling of molybdenum disulfide, or MoS2, sheets, which Singh describes as a "sandwich" of one molybdenum atom between two sulfur atoms.

Major advance in artificial photosynthesis poses win-win for the environment

April 16, 2015 12:43 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A potentially game-changing breakthrough in artificial photosynthesis has been achieved with the development of a system that can capture carbon dioxide emissions before they are vented into the atmosphere and then, powered by solar energy, convert that carbon dioxide into valuable chemical products, including biodegradable plastics, pharmaceutical drugs and even liquid fuels.

Electrolyte genome could be battery game-changer

April 16, 2015 8:27 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new breakthrough battery, one that has significantly higher energy, lasts longer and is cheaper and safer, will likely be impossible without a new material discovery. And a new material discovery could take years, if not decades, since trial and error has been the best available approach.

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Cobalt film a clean-fuel find

April 16, 2015 7:51 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

A cobalt-based thin film serves double duty as a new catalyst that produces both hydrogen and oxygen from water to feed fuel cells, according to scientists at Rice Univ. The inexpensive, highly porous material may have advantages as a catalyst for the production of hydrogen via water electrolysis. A single film far thinner than a hair can be used as both the anode and cathode in an electrolysis device.

Packing heat: New fluid makes untapped geothermal energy cleaner

April 16, 2015 7:43 am | by Frances White, PNNL | Videos | Comments

More American homes could be powered by the Earth's natural underground heat with a new, nontoxic and potentially recyclable liquid that is expected to use half as much water as other fluids used to tap into otherwise unreachable geothermal hot spots. The fluid might be a boon to a new approach to geothermal power called enhanced geothermal systems.

New “cool roof time machine” will accelerate cool roof deployment

April 15, 2015 8:36 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Cool roofs can help keep buildings cool, thus lowering the building’s energy use, while also mitigating the urban heat island effect by reflecting sunlight away from buildings and cities. But as cool roofs age and get soiled, how much of their reflectance do they lose?

DNA data set is potent, accessible tool

April 15, 2015 7:52 am | by Ron Walli, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists focused on producing biofuels more efficiently have a new powerful data set to help them study the DNA of microbes that fuel bioconversion and other processes. In a recently published paper, researchers describe methods and results for sequencing the Clostridium autoethanogenum bacterium. These and other microorganisms play important roles in biofuels, agriculture, food production, the environment, health and disease.

Material could boost batteries’ power, help power plants

April 13, 2015 7:43 am | by Paul Alongi, Clemson Univ. | News | Comments

You’re going to have to think very small to understand something that has the potential to be very big. A team of researchers developed a material that acts as a superhighway for ions. The material could make batteries more powerful, change how gaseous fuel is turned into liquid fuel and help power plants burn coal and natural gas more efficiently.

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Bullish on clean energy

April 10, 2015 12:50 pm | by Alvin Powell, Harvard Gazette | News | Comments

In a talk at the Kennedy School on Tuesday, physicist Amory Lovins outlined a path to a clean-energy future in the United States.

One step closer to renewable propane

April 10, 2015 12:02 pm | by Univ. of Manchester | News | Comments

Researchers at The Univ. of Manchester have made a significant breakthrough in the development of synthetic pathways that will enable renewable biosynthesis of the gas propane. This research is part of a program of work aimed at developing the next generation of biofuels.

Erupting electrodes

April 10, 2015 8:49 am | by Mary Beckman, PNNL | Videos | Comments

An eruption of lithium at the tip of a battery's electrode, cracks in the electrode's body and a coat forming on the electrode's surface reveal how recharging a battery many times leads to its demise. Using a powerful microscope to watch multiple cycles of charging and discharging under real battery conditions, researchers have gained insight into the chemistry that clogs rechargeable lithium batteries.

Research could usher in next generation of batteries, fuel cells

April 10, 2015 7:30 am | by Jeff Stensland, Univ. of South Carolina | News | Comments

Scientists have made a discovery that could dramatically improve the efficiency of batteries and fuel cells. The research involves improving the transport of oxygen ions, a key component in converting chemical reactions into electricity. The team studied a well-known material, gadolinium doped ceria, which transports oxygen ions and is currently in use as a solid-oxide fuel cell electrolyte.

Ordinary clay can save the day

April 9, 2015 11:12 am | by Norwegian Univ. of Science and Technology | News | Comments

Carbon capture will play a central role in helping the nations of the world manage and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Many materials are being tested for the purpose of capturing carbon dioxide. But now researchers led by the Norwegian Univ. of Science and Technology have found that ordinary clay can work just as effectively as more advanced materials.

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Shifts in electricity generation spur net job growth, but coal jobs decline

April 7, 2015 12:09 pm | by Tim Lucas, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

In the four years following the 2008 recession, the coal industry lost more than 49,000 jobs, while the natural gas, solar and wind industries together created nearly four times that amount, according to a new Duke Univ. study. A county-by-county geographical analysis of the losses and gains shows that few new jobs were added in regions hardest hit by coal’s decline, particularly counties in southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky.

Discovery may be breakthrough for hydrogen cars

April 7, 2015 8:10 am | by Zeke Barlow, Virginia Tech | News | Comments

A team of Virginia Tech researchers has discovered a way to create hydrogen fuel using a biological method that greatly reduces the time and money it takes to produce the zero-emissions fuel. This method uses abundantly available corn stover to produce the hydrogen. The team's new findings could help speed the widespread arrival of the hydrogen-powered vehicles in a way that is inexpensive and has extremely low carbon emissions.

Researchers discover N-type polymer for fast organic battery

April 6, 2015 11:46 am | by Jeannie Kever, Univ. of Houston | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Houston have reported developing an efficient conductive electron-transporting polymer, a long-missing puzzle piece that will allow ultrafast battery applications. The discovery relies upon a "conjugated redox polymer" design with a naphthalene-bithiophene polymer, which has traditionally been used for applications including transistors and solar cells.

Researchers create first metal-free catalyst for rechargeable zinc-air batteries

April 6, 2015 11:36 am | by Kevin Mayhood, Case Western Reserve Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have made what they believe is the first metal-free bifunctional electrocatalyst that performs as well or better than most metal and metal-oxide electrodes in zinc-air batteries. Zinc-air batteries are expected to be safer, lighter, cheaper and more powerful and durable than lithium-ion batteries common in mobile phones and laptops and increasingly used in hybrid and electric cars.

Aluminum battery offers safe alternative to conventional batteries

April 6, 2015 11:23 am | by Mark Shwartz, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Stanford Univ. scientists have invented the first high-performance aluminum battery that's fast-charging, long-lasting and inexpensive. Researchers say the new technology offers a safe alternative to many commercial batteries in wide use today.

Biofuel crops replace grasslands nationwide

April 2, 2015 11:27 am | by Kelly April Tyrrell, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

Clearing grasslands to make way for biofuels may seem counterproductive, but Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison researchers show in a study that crops, including the corn and soy commonly used for biofuels, expanded onto 7 million acres of new land in the U.S. over a recent four-year period, replacing millions of acres of grasslands.

Connecting vehicles

April 2, 2015 10:41 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Drivers trying to get to work or home in a hurry know traffic congestion wastes a lot of time, but it also wastes a lot of fuel. In 2011, congestion caused people in U.S. urban areas to travel an extra 5.5 billion hours and purchase an extra 2.9 billion gallons of fuel costing $121 billion. But despite the tangle of vehicles at busy intersections and interstate ramps, most of the country’s highways are open road.

Quick-charging hybrid supercapacitors

April 1, 2015 1:11 pm | by Shaun Mason, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

The dramatic rise of smartphones, tablets, laptops and other personal and portable electronics has brought battery technology to the forefront of electronics research. Even as devices have improved by leaps and bounds, the slow pace of battery development has held back technological progress. Now, researchers have successfully combined two nanomaterials to create a new energy storage medium.

Adding renewable energy to power grid requires flexibility

April 1, 2015 8:24 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

Solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles and other power sources are proliferating rapidly, but their reliable integration into the existing electric grid is another story. A new study offers a comprehensive reimagining of the power grid that involves the coordinated integration of small-scale distributed energy resources. The study, asserts that the proliferation of renewable energy must happen at the periphery of the power grid.

Battery bounce test often bounces off target

March 31, 2015 8:15 am | by John Sullivan, Office of Engineering Communications, Princeton Univ. | News | Comments

Don't throw away those bouncing batteries. Researchers at Princeton Univ. have found that the common test of bouncing a household battery to learn if it is dead or not is not actually an effective way to check a battery's charge. 

Electric vehicles may be more useful than previously thought

March 31, 2015 7:54 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

In the first study of its kind, scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory quantitatively show that electric vehicles (EVs) will meet the daily travel needs of drivers longer than commonly assumed. Many drivers and much prior literature on the retirement of EV batteries have assumed that EV batteries will be retired after the battery has lost 20% of its energy storage or power delivery capability.

Better traffic signals can cut greenhouse gas emissions

March 31, 2015 7:34 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Sitting in traffic during rush hour is not just frustrating for drivers; it also adds unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. Now a study by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology could lead to better ways of programming a city’s stoplights to reduce delays, improve efficiency and reduce emissions.

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