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Tesla charges into home battery market despite challenges

May 1, 2015 2:04 am | by Michael Liedtke And Jonathan Fahey, AP Business Writers, Associated Press | News | Comments

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.

Schematic of NSTX tokamak at PPPL with a cross-section showing perturbations of the plasma profiles caused by instabilities. Without instabilities, energetic particles would follow closed trajectories and stay confined inside the plasma (blue orbit). With

An improvement to the global standard for modeling fusion plasmas

April 30, 2015 2:35 pm | by Raphael Rosen, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory | News | Comments

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.

The 2014 Hydropower Market Report provides comprehensive data and trends useful for industry and policymakers.

ORNL scientists generate landmark DOE hydropower report

April 30, 2015 2:26 pm | by Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

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.

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Artificial photosynthesis could help make fuels, plastics and medicine

April 30, 2015 8:15 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

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.

The electric sail is a new space propulsion concept which uses the solar wind momentum for producing thrust. Courtesy of space artist Antigravite/Szames

Electric solar wind sail could make bidirectional manned Mars flights economically feasible

April 28, 2015 11:39 am | by Finnish Meteorological Institute | News | Comments

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.

Federal Rules on Hydrofracking are Good Start

April 28, 2015 8:47 am | by Stanford | News | Comments

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.

Simplified Electrolysis Produces Cheap Hydrogen

April 28, 2015 8:35 am | by EPFL | News | Comments

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.

Converter Accepts Different Power Sources

April 28, 2015 7:00 am | by Univ. of Arkansas | News | Comments

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.

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Cooling System Could Save U.S. $6.3B Per Year

April 28, 2015 7:00 am | by The Univ. of Alabama in Huntsville | News | Comments

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.  

X-ray images from recent National Ignition Facility implosion experiments compare two shots with different thickness ablators, demonstrating the improvement in shape. Both shots used deuterium-tritium fuel and were fired at 350 terawatts of ultraviolet la

Thinner capsules yield faster implosions

April 27, 2015 1:03 pm | by Charlie Osolin, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

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.

Flight is Greener than Driving

April 27, 2015 11:20 am | by Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

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.

In-line Holography Sheds Light on Fiery Fuels

April 27, 2015 10:11 am | by Sandia National Laboratories | News | Comments

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.

Using the photoactive zinc oxide material, scientists studied the formation and migration of so-called polarons. Courtesy of Patrick Rinke/Aalto University

Pseudoparticles travel through photoactive material

April 23, 2015 10:59 am | by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology | News | Comments

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.

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“Holey” graphene for energy storage

April 22, 2015 8:32 am | by Liezel Labios, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

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.

Engineered softwood could transform pulp, paper and biofuel industries

April 22, 2015 7:44 am | by Krista Eastman, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

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.

Study links swarm of quakes in Texas to natural gas drilling

April 21, 2015 12:05 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

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 used for green asphalt

April 21, 2015 10:25 am | by CNRS | News | Comments

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.

Better battery imaging paves way for renewable energy future

April 21, 2015 8:04 am | by Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

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.

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, 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.

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 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.

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 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.

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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