Making hydrogen easily and cheaply is a dream goal for clean, sustainable energy. Bacteria have been doing exactly that for billions of years, and now chemists at the Univ. of California, Davis and Stanford Univ. are revealing how they do it, and perhaps opening ways to imitate them.
Researchers at Purdue Univ. have developed prototypes of a water disinfection system to take advantage of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, which is plentiful in many areas where clean water is lacking. Their water disinfection system pumps water through a UV-transparent pipe placed on a parabolic reflector, effectively magnifying the effect of UV radiation, which damages microorganism DNA.
Amy Prieto, a chemist at Colorado State Univ. leads a start-up company with the goal of developing a lithium-ion battery that should be safer, cheaper, faster-charging, and more environmentally friendly than conventional batteries now on the market. The key to the technology is copper foam which is easy to manufacture and has high power density.
Researchers report that wood-biochar supercapacitors can produce as much power as today’s activated-carbon supercapacitors at a fraction of the cost, and with environmentally friendly byproducts. In wood-biochar supercapacitors, the wood’s natural pore structure serves as the electrode surface, eliminating the need for advanced techniques to fabricate an elaborate pore structure. Wood biochar is produced by heating wood in low oxygen.
A new physics model developed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute shows that changing air flows can transfer energy to wind turbines from both above and below the blades. According to the researchers, many wind turbine array studies overlook the fact that important airflow changes occur inside the array.
In waters off Long Beach, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach—some of the region's most popular surfing strands and tourist attractions—oil companies have used fracking at least 203 times at six sites in the past two decades. This discovery made from drilling records and interviews shows that offshore fracking is more widespread and frequent that state officials believed.
Inflate your tires. Accelerate slowly. Change the oil. Invest $1.1 million in advanced vehicle research at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Four ways to boost your mileage. While the first three methods boost fuel efficiency one vehicle at a time, the laboratory research by PNNL scientists could benefit millions vehicles and their owners, as well as move the nation toward greater energy efficiency and independence.
Materials in lithium ion battery electrodes expand and contract during charge and discharge. These volume changes drive particle fracture, which shortens battery lifetime. A group of scientists has quantified this effect for the first time using high-resolution 3D movies recorded using x-ray tomography at the Swiss Light Source.
Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have identified the key genes required for oil production and accumulation in plant leaves and other vegetative plant tissues. Enhancing expression of these genes resulted in vastly increased oil content in leaves, the most abundant sources of plant biomass—a finding that could have important implications for increasing the energy content of plant-based foods and renewable biofuel feedstocks.
In new research, scientists have demonstrated that the efficiency of all solar panel designs could be improved by up to 22% by covering their surface with aluminium studs that bend and trap light inside the absorbing layer. At the microscopic level, the studs make the surface of the solar panels look similar to the interlocking building bricks played with by children across the world.
Experts from the Univ. of Maryland and a leading university in Spain demonstrate in a new study which sectors could put the entire U.S. economy at risk when global oil production peaks. This multi-disciplinary team recommends immediate action by government, private and commercial sectors to reduce the vulnerability of these sectors.
Scientists have created a heat-resistant thermal emitter that could significantly improve the efficiency of solar cells. The novel component is designed to convert heat from the sun into infrared light, which can then be absorbed by solar cells to make electricity. Unlike earlier prototypes that fell apart at temperatures below 1,200 C, the new thermal emitter remains stable at temperatures as high as 1,400 C.
Research by Murdoch Univ., James Cook Univ. and the Univ. of Waterloo in Canada has revealed flaws in the way that the widely used Ångström-Prescott equation links solar radiation to sunshine duration. Ångström-Prescott equation is used extensively in providing radiation readings for agricultural, ecological, meteorological and hydrological models.
Congress should minimally modify—and not, as petroleum-related interests have increasingly lobbied for, repeal—the Renewable Fuel Standard (RSF), the most comprehensive renewable energy policy in the U.S., according to a new paper from two Univ. of Illinois researchers. In the study, the researchers argue that RFS mandates merely ought to be adjusted to reflect current and predicted biofuel commercialization realities.
Renewable sources like sun and wind aren’t always productive. But waves in the ocean are never still, prompting Georgia Institute of Technology scientists to find a way to produce energy by making use of contact electrification between a patterned plastic nanoarray and water. They have introduced an inexpensive and simple prototype of a triboelectric nanogenerator that could be used to produce energy and as a chemical or temperature sensor.
Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison researchers working at the intersection of basic and applied science focus on key factors like cost, environmental impacts and sometimes, color. Take, for example, asst. chemistry prof. Trisha Andrew: Researchers in her laboratory are developing next-generation solar cells using chromophores or, in lay terms, dyes.
Ford Motor Co. and the Univ. of Michigan are opening a new battery research and manufacturing laboratory that they hope will speed the development of batteries for electric and hybrid cars. The center, on the university's campus in Ann Arbor, will bring together battery makers, car companies and researchers who will test new batteries for prototype vehicles.
Chemists at Boston College have achieved a series of breakthroughs in their efforts to develop an economical means of harnessing artificial photosynthesis by narrowing the voltage gap between the two crucial processes of oxidation and reduction, according to their latest research, published in Angewandte Chemie.
The number of patents issued for renewable-energy technologies has risen sharply over the last decade, according to new research from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Santa Fe Institute. The study shows that investments in research and development, as well as in the growth of markets for these products, have helped to spur this dramatic growth in innovation.
A research team, led by the Univ. of California, Santa Cruz, developed a solar-microbial device that combines a microbial fuel cell (MFC) and a photoelectrochemical cell (PEC). In the MFC component, bacteria degrade organic matter in the wastewater, generating electricity. The biologically generated electricity is delivered to the PEC component to assist the solar-powered splitting of water that generates hydrogen and oxygen.
The head of the U.N. nuclear agency urged Japan to work harder to address international concerns about leaks of contaminated water at its crippled Fukushima nuclear plant and said his agency will jointly monitor radiation levels in the nearby ocean. IAEA chief Yukiya Amano told Japan's top nuclear regulator that it is crucial that the country share data with the international community about the safety of Japanese waters and marine life.
If you have stopped at a gas station recently, there is a good chance your auto has consumed fuel with ethanol blended into it. Yet the price of gasoline is not substantially affected by the volume of its ethanol content, according to a paper co-authored by an MIT economist. The study seeks to rebut the claim that widespread use of ethanol has reduced the wholesale cost of gasoline by $0.89 to $1.09 per gallon.
Six workers at Japan's crippled nuclear power plant have been accidentally doused with highly radioactive water, the plant operator said today, adding to a growing list of mishaps that are shaking confidence in the utility's ability to handle the crisis. The workers removed the wrong pipe from equipment at the plant, sending toxic water spilling onto them and the entire floor of the facility.
Scientists report in Nature Communications that they have engineered yeast to consume acetic acid, a previously unwanted byproduct of the process of converting plant leaves, stems and other tissues into biofuels. The innovation increases ethanol yield from lignocellulosic sources by about 10%.
Researchers at the Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin Institute for Silicon Photovoltaics have shown that graphene retains its impressive set of properties when it is coated with a thin silicon film. These findings have paved the way for entirely new possibilities to use in thin-film photovoltaics. Graphene has extreme conductivity and is completely transparent while being inexpensive and nontoxic.