Tesla CEO Elon Musk is trying to steer his electric car company's battery technology into homes and businesses as part of an elaborate plan to reshape the power grid with millions of small power plants made of solar panels on roofs and batteries in garages. Musk announced Tesla's expansion into the home battery market amid a party atmosphere at the company's design studio near Los Angeles International Airport.
The gold standard for modeling the behavior of fusion plasmas may have just gotten better. Mario Podestà has updated the worldwide computer program known as TRANSP to better simulate the interaction between energetic particles and instabilities—disturbances in plasma that can halt fusion reactions. The updates could lead to improved capability for predicting the effects of some types of instabilities in future facilities.
For the first time, industry and policymakers have a comprehensive report detailing the U.S. hydropower fleet’s 2,198 plants that provide about 7 percent of the nation’s electricity. The report is a resource that describes key features of the nation’s hydro resources and systematically tracks trends that have influenced the industry in recent years.
The global industrial sector accounts for more than half of the total energy used every year. Now scientists are inventing a new artificial photosynthetic system that could one day reduce industry’s dependence on fossil fuel-derived energy by powering part of the sector with solar energy and bacteria.
By opening up the possibility of economical asteroid water mining, the electric solar wind sail (E-sail) enables frequent and affordable manned Mars flights. The E-sail is a novel propellantless technology that was invented in Finland in 2006. The E-sail utilizes long, charged tethers to convert natural solar wind momentum flux into spacecraft thrust.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management recently revamped 25-year-old rules for oil and gas drilling on federal and Indian lands to deal with environmental concerns about hydraulic fracturing. Both sides of the environmental debate are on the attack.
Scientists have developed a simplified and reliable device that should enable hydrogen production at low cost. Researchers were able to perform water electrolysis without using the expensive membrane placed between the electrodes in conventional systems.
Engineering researchers have invented a novel electrical power converter system that simultaneously accepts power from a variety of energy sources and converts it for use in the electrical grid system. Innovations in this field are critical as the U.S. moves toward integration of renewable energy sources to the national power grid.
A patented passive cooling system for computer processors that's undergoing optimization could save U.S. consumers more than $6.3 billion per year in energy costs associated with running their computer cooling fans. Imagine what it could do if in global use.
In National Ignition Facility (NIF) inertial confinement fusion (ICF) experiments, the fusion fuel implodes at a high speed in reaction to the rapid ablation, or blow-off, of the outer layers of the target capsule. To reach the conditions needed for ignition, the fuel must implode symmetrically at a peak velocity of about 350 kilometers per second—without producing hydrodynamic instabilities that can dampen the fusion reactions.
Flying in a plane is not only safer than driving a car, it's also better for the environment. In follow-up research from last year, a study found that it takes twice as much energy to drive than to fly.
Transportation accidents, such as trucks crashing on a highway or rockets failing on a launch pad, can create catastrophic fires. It’s important to understand how burning droplets of fuel are generated and behave in those extreme cases, so researchers have developed 3-D measurement techniques based on digital in-line holography.
Researchers ohave unveiled an important step in the conversion of light into storable energy: They studied the formation of so-called polarons in zinc oxide. The pseudoparticles travel through the photoactive material until they are converted into electrical or chemical energy at an interface.
Engineers at the Univ. of California, San Diego have discovered a method to increase the amount of electric charge that can be stored in graphene. The research may provide a better understanding of how to improve the energy storage ability of capacitors for potential applications in cars, wind turbines and solar power.
Scientists have demonstrated the potential for softwoods to process more easily into pulp and paper if engineered to incorporate a key feature of hardwoods. The finding could improve the economics of the pulp, paper and biofuels industries and reduce those industries' environmental impact.
With real-time monitors, scientists have linked a swarm of small earthquakes west of Fort Worth, Texas, to nearby natural gas wells and wastewater injection. In 84 days from November 2013 to January 2014, the area around Azle, Texas, shook with 27 magnitude 2 or greater earthquakes, while scientists at Southern Methodist Univ. and the U.S. Geological Survey monitored the shaking.
Microalgae offer a highly promising alternative to petroleum products without competing for resources used in the food industry. They have now been used, for the first time, to make asphalt. Researchers have recently proved the viability of bioasphalt, demonstrating its close similarity to the "real" asphalt used to pave roads.
In a move that could improve the energy storage of everything from portable electronics to electric microgrids, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison and Brookhaven National Laboratory researchers have developed a novel x-ray imaging technique to visualize and study the electrochemical reactions in lithium-ion rechargeable batteries containing a new type of material, iron fluoride.
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.
Immediately following the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, much research interest focused on the development of bio-based renewable energy sources (biofuels). EISA mandated increased production and use of biofuels for the long term. There also appeared to be substantial long-term government support for the implementation of a biofuel-based industry.
The design of laboratories for sustainable construction and operation has become a major driver in the A/E/C industry over the past 10 to 15 years. These days, most lab clients are looking for sustainable design approaches at a minimum—and third-party certification, such as LEED, in many cases.
The race is on around the world as scientists strive to develop a new generation of batteries that can perform beyond the limits of the current lithium-ion based battery. Researchers at the Univ. of Illinois at Chicago have taken a significant step toward the development of a battery that could outperform the lithium-ion technology used in electric cars such as the Chevy Volt.
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.
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.
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.