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NYC to ban Styrofoam in green move

January 9, 2015 8:30 am | by Jonathan Lemire, Associated Press | News | Comments

New York City will move to the forefront of a growing environmental trend by banning food establishments from using plastic foam containers starting this summer, Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration announced. De Blasio's mayoral ban will fulfill an initiative begun by his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, who first suggested banning the material in his final State of the City address, in 2013.

Compact batteries enhanced by spontaneous silver matrix formations

January 9, 2015 7:40 am | by Justin Eure, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

In a promising lithium-based battery, the formation of a highly conductive silver matrix transforms a material otherwise plagued by low conductivity. To optimize these multi-metallic batteries, scientists needed a way to see where, when and how these silver, nanoscale "bridges" emerge. Now, researchers have used x-rays to map this changing atomic architecture and revealed its link to the battery's rate of discharge.

Emissions-free cars get closer

January 8, 2015 12:06 pm | by Andrea Boyle Tippett, Univ. of Deleware | News | Comments

A Univ. of Delaware research team is considering the important question of what it will take to create an affordable emissions-free car. Hydrogen fuel cells may be the best option for powering zero-emission vehicles: Toyota has just introduced a hydrogen-powered car in Japan and will make them available in the U.S. in 2015.

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Shedding light on why blue LEDs are so tricky to make

January 8, 2015 11:19 am | by Rebecca Caygill, Univ. College London | News | Comments

Scientists at Univ. College London, in collaboration with groups at the Univ. of Bath and the Daresbury Laboratory, have uncovered the mystery of why blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are so difficult to make, by revealing the complex properties of their main component—gallium nitride—using sophisticated computer simulations.

Argonne partners with industry on nuclear reactor work

January 8, 2015 7:54 am | by Greg Cunningham, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Argonne National Laboratory will work with three of the world's leading nuclear products and services companies on projects that could unlock the potential of advanced nuclear reactor designs, helping create a new generation of safer, more efficient reactors. 

Which fossil fuels must remain in the ground to limit global warming?

January 7, 2015 2:39 pm | by Bex Caygill, Univ. College London | News | Comments

A third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and over 80% of current coal reserves globally should remain in the ground and not be used before 2050 if global warming is to stay below the 2 C target agreed by policy makers, according to new research by the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources.

Wave energy integration costs should compare favorably to other energy sources

January 7, 2015 2:26 pm | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

A new analysis suggests that large-scale wave energy systems developed in the Pacific Northwest should be comparatively steady, dependable and able to be integrated into the overall energy grid at lower costs than some other forms of alternative energy, including wind power.

Cheap asphalt provides “green” carbon capture

January 7, 2015 10:29 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

The best material to keep carbon dioxide from natural gas wells from fouling the atmosphere may be a derivative of asphalt, according to Rice Univ. scientists. The Rice laboratory of chemist James Tour followed up on last year’s discovery of a “green” carbon capture material for wellhead sequestration with the news that an even better compound could be made cheaply in a few steps from asphalt.

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Researchers create successful predictions of combustion reaction rates

January 6, 2015 8:22 am | by Jared Sagoff, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers have demonstrated, for the first time, a method to successfully predict pressure-dependent chemical reaction rates, an important breakthrough in combustion and atmospheric chemistry that is expected to benefit auto and engine manufacturers, oil and gas utilities and other industries that employ combustion models.

New concept of fuel cell for efficiency, environment

January 5, 2015 11:35 am | by Institute for Basic Science | News | Comments

The Center for Nanoparticle Research at the Institute for Basic Science has succeeded in proposing a new method to enhance fuel cell efficiency with the simultaneous removal of toxic heavy metal ions. The direct methanol fuel cell (DFMC) has been a promising energy conversion device for electrical vehicles and portable devices. However, the inevitable carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is one of the main factors reducing its performance.

Drive-by heat mapping

January 5, 2015 11:09 am | by Rob Matheson, MIT News Office | News | Comments

In 2007, Google unleashed a fleet of cars with roof-mounted cameras to provide street-level images of roads around the world. Now Massachusetts Institute of Technology spinout Essess is bringing similar “drive-by” innovations to energy efficiency in homes and businesses.

Researchers synthesize lead sulfide nanocrystals of uniform size

January 5, 2015 10:26 am | by Massachusetts Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Lead sulfide nanocrystals suitable for solar cells have a nearly one-to-one ratio of lead to sulfur atoms, but Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers discovered that to make uniformly sized quantum dots, a higher ratio of lead to sulfur precursors—24 to 1—is better.

Plant genetic advance could lead to more efficient biofuel conversion

January 5, 2015 7:14 am | by Janet Lathrop, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst | News | Comments

Plant geneticists from the Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst and the Univ. of California, Davis have sorted out the gene regulatory networks that control cell wall thickening by the synthesis of the three polymers, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. The plant geneticists say that the most rigid of the polymers, lignin, represents “a major impediment” to extracting sugars from plant biomass that can be used to make biofuels.

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Speeding cyanobacteria growth “brightens” biofuel’s future

January 2, 2015 9:27 am | by Mary Beckman, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

Rapidly growing bacteria that live in the ocean and can manufacture their own food hold promise as host organisms for producing chemicals, biofuels and medicine. Researchers are closely studying one of these photosynthetic species of fast-growing cyanobacteria using advanced tools developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to determine the optimum environment that contributes to record growth and productivity.

Possible avenue to better electrolyte for lithium ion batteries

December 22, 2014 10:04 am | News | Comments

The lithium-ion batteries that mobilize our electronic devices need to be improved if they are to power electric vehicles or store electrical energy for the grid. Berkeley Lab researchers looking for a better understanding of liquid electrolyte may have found a pathway forward.

Research aims to improve rechargeable batteries by focusing on graphene oxide paper

December 19, 2014 8:19 am | News | Comments

A Kansas State University engineering team has discovered some of graphene oxide's important properties that can improve sodium- and lithium-ion flexible batteries.                               

Rice study fuels hope for natural gas cars

December 19, 2014 8:11 am | News | Comments

Cars that run on natural gas are touted as efficient and environmentally friendly, but getting enough gas onboard to make them practical is a hurdle. A new study led by researchers at Rice University promises to help.                    

Computational clues into the structure of a promising energy conversion catalyst

December 19, 2014 8:08 am | News | Comments

Hydrogen fuel is a promising source of clean energy that can be produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen gas. The reaction is difficult but achievable with the help of a catalyst. However, current catalysts lack the efficiency required for water splitting to be commercially competitive. Recently, however, scientists have identified one such catalyst, iron-doped nickel oxide.

Researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity

December 19, 2014 8:02 am | News | Comments

Four pulses of laser light on nanoparticle photocells in a spectroscopy experiment has opened a window on how captured sunlight can be converted into electricity. The work, which potentially could inspire devices with improved efficiency in solar energy conversion, was performed on photocells that used lead-sulfide quantum dots as photoactive semiconductor material. 

Website highlights renewable energy resources

December 18, 2014 3:11 pm | News | Comments

A team from the University of Arizona and eight Southwestern electric utility companies has built a pioneering web portal that provides insight into renewable energy sources and how they contribute to the region’s electricity grid.                         

Electron spin could be key to high-temperature superconductivity

December 18, 2014 3:00 pm | News | Comments

EPFL scientists take a significant step in our understanding of superconductivity by studying the strange quantum events in a unique superconducting material.                 

New conversion process turns biomass “waste” into lucrative chemical products

December 17, 2014 2:58 pm | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | Videos | Comments

A new catalytic process is able to convert what was once considered biomass waste into lucrative chemical products that can be used in fragrances, flavorings or to create high-octane fuel. A team of researchers from Purdue Univ.'s Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels, or C3Bio, has developed a process that uses a chemical catalyst and heat to spur reactions that convert lignin into valuable chemical commodities.

A Zero-Net-Energy Teaching Laboratory

December 16, 2014 2:01 pm | by Jacob Knowles, LEED AP, Director of Sustainable Design, BR+A Consulting Engineers and James Moses, AIA, LEED AP, Director, Sasaki Associates | Articles | Comments

The 50,000-sf New Technology and Learning Center for Bristol Community College, Fall River, Mass., brings together disparate programs—chemistry, biology, medical and dental education—holding energy-dense uses, including 18 fume hoods, high plug loads and specific ventilation and lighting requirements.

Steps Toward Sustainable High-Containment Laboratories

December 16, 2014 12:24 pm | by Jeff Serle, SVP and GM Germfree Laboratories Inc., Ormond Beach, Fla. | Articles | Comments

With the recent news about Ebola, MERS, extremely drug-resistant TB and other emerging and re-emerging diseases, the world-wide need for high-containment laboratories is at an all-time high. These laboratories are highly complex buildings that serve as a barrier between the dangerous pathogens handled in the laboratory and the surrounding environment.

Carbon-trapping “sponges” can cut greenhouse gases

December 16, 2014 8:56 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

In the fight against global warming, carbon capture is gaining momentum, but standard methods are plagued by toxicity, corrosiveness and inefficiency. Using a bag of chemistry tricks, Cornell Univ. materials scientists have invented low-toxicity, highly effective carbon-trapping “sponges” that could lead to increased use of the technology.

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