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A new kind of light bulb

March 26, 2015 8:25 am | by Univ. of Southern California | News | Comments

How many researchers does it take to change a light bulb? And how many lives could they save by changing it? The answer to both questions is larger than you might expect. In the developing world, light bulbs might as well be insect magnets. The light they emit, particularly the blue wavelengths of LED lights, is attractive to a range of insects, drawing them out from the night and straight to people's homes.

Copper atoms bring a potential new battery material to life

March 26, 2015 8:03 am | by Laura Mgrdichian, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Lithium-ion batteries are an important component of modern technology, powering phones, laptops, tablets and other portable devices when they are not plugged in. They even power electric vehicles. But to make batteries that last longer, provide more power, and are more energy efficient, scientists must find battery materials that perform better than those currently in use.

Desalination with nanoporous graphene membrane

March 26, 2015 7:53 am | by Dawn Levy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Less than 1% of Earth’s water is drinkable. Removing salt and other minerals from our biggest available source of water, seawater, may help satisfy a growing global population thirsty for fresh water for drinking, farming, transportation, heating, cooling and industry. But desalination is an energy-intensive process, which concerns those wanting to expand its application.

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Algae from clogged waterways could serve as biofuels, fertilizer

March 25, 2015 11:31 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Water-borne algal blooms from farm fertilizer runoff can destroy aquatic life and clog rivers and lakes, but scientists will report today that they are working on a way to clean up these environmental scourges and turn them into useful products. The algae could serve as a feedstock for biofuels, and the feedstock leftovers could be recycled back into farm soil nutrients.

Manufacturing process could yield better solar cells, faster chips

March 25, 2015 10:57 am | by Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering | Videos | Comments

Computer chips, solar cells and other electronic devices have traditionally been based on silicon, the most famous of the semiconductors, that special class of materials whose unique electronic properties can be manipulated to turn electricity on and off the way faucets control the flow of water. There are other semiconductors. Gallium arsenide is one such material and it has certain technical advantages over silicon.

Battery boost

March 25, 2015 8:14 am | by Christopher R. Samoray, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are commonly found in portable electronics such as cell phones and notebook PCs. They’re also gaining popularity in electric vehicles, where their compact, lightweight build and high-energy storage potential offers a more efficient and environmentally safe alternative to nickel metal hydride and lead-acid batteries traditionally used in vehicles.

New kind of “tandem” solar cell developed

March 25, 2015 7:41 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford Univ. have developed a new kind of solar cell that combines two different layers of sunlight-absorbing material in order to harvest a broader range of the sun’s energy. The development could lead to photovoltaic cells that are more efficient than those currently used in solar-power installations, the researchers say.

Searching for traces in the atmosphere

March 24, 2015 10:27 am | by SWISS FEDERAL LABORATORIES FOR MATERIALS SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (EMPA) | News | Comments

The latest generation of halogenated coolants is a big step forward: these substances decay more quickly in the atmosphere hence their lifetimes are considerably shorter. That is why they do not add nearly as much to the greenhouse gas effect as their stable predecessors. 

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Processing tech converts packing peanuts to battery components

March 23, 2015 7:53 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have shown how to convert waste packing peanuts into high-performance carbon electrodes for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that outperform conventional graphite electrodes, representing an environmentally friendly approach to reuse the waste.

Mapping redox switches in cyanobacteria advances use as biofuel

March 20, 2015 8:19 am | by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

Chemical reactions involving reduction and oxidation, or redox, play a key role in regulating photosynthesis in plants and metabolism in animals and humans, keeping things running on an even keel. Now, in a recently published study, a team of scientists shed light on the role redox plays in cyanobacteria, tiny organisms with the potential to produce a lot of energy.

Study holds great promise for advancing sustainable energy

March 19, 2015 12:56 pm | by Rutgers Univ. | News | Comments

New research published by Rutgers Univ. chemists has documented significant progress confronting one of the main challenges inhibiting widespread utilization of sustainable power: Creating a cost-effective process to store energy so it can be used later.

Researchers create fast-growing trees that are easier to turn into fuel

March 19, 2015 7:50 am | by James Hataway, Univ. of Georgia | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Georgia have discovered that manipulation of a specific gene in a hardwood tree species not only makes it easier to break down the wood into fuel, but also significantly increases tree growth. In a paper, the researchers describe how decreasing the expression of a gene called GAUT12.1 leads to a reduction in xylan and pectin.

A better way of scrubbing carbon dioxide

March 17, 2015 12:46 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A means by which the removal of carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants might one day be done far more efficiently and at far lower costs than today has been discovered by a team of researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. By appending a diamine molecule to the sponge-like solid materials known as MOFs, the researchers were able to more than triple the carbon dioxide-scrubbing capacity of the MOFs.

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Graphene membrane could lead to better fuel cells, water filters

March 17, 2015 12:32 pm | by Walt Miss, Penn State Univ. | Videos | Comments

An atomically thin membrane with microscopically small holes may prove to be the basis for future hydrogen fuel cells, water filtering and desalination membranes, according to a group of 15 theorists and experimentalists. The team tested the possibility of using graphene as a separation membrane in water and found that naturally occurring defects allowed hydrogen protons to cross the barrier at unprecedented speeds.

Clean energy future

March 17, 2015 8:16 am | by Deborah Smith, Univ. of New South Wales | News | Comments

Univ. of New South Wales Australia scientists have developed a highly efficient oxygen-producing electrode for splitting water that has the potential to be scaled up for industrial production of the clean energy fuel, hydrogen. The new technology is based on an inexpensive, specially coated foam material that lets the bubbles of oxygen escape quickly.

Supercomputers help solve puzzle-like bond for biofuels

March 16, 2015 4:25 pm | by Jorge Salazar, TACC | News | Comments

One of life's strongest bonds has been discovered by a science team researching biofuels with the help of supercomputers. Their find could boost efforts to develop catalysts for biofuel production from non-food waste plants.

New insights into radiation damage evolution

March 16, 2015 3:02 pm | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | News | Comments

Two reports from Los Alamos National Laboratory in Scientific Reports are helping crack the code of how certain materials respond in the highly damaging radiation environments within a nuclear reactor. The goal of these efforts is to understand at an atomistic level just how materials develop defects during irradiation, and how those defects evolve to determine the ultimate fate of the material.

A better method for making perovskite solar cells

March 16, 2015 2:33 pm | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Research led by a Brown Univ. graduate student has revealed a new way to make light-absorbing perovskite films for use in solar cells. The new method involves a room-temperature solvent bath to create perovskite crystals, rather than the blast of heat used in current crystallization methods.

Fusion researchers make breakthrough on ELMs mitigation

March 13, 2015 2:36 pm | by John Greenwald, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers from General Atomics and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory have made a major breakthrough in understanding how potentially damaging heat bursts inside a fusion reactor can be controlled. Scientists performed the experiments on the DIII-D National Fusion Facility, a tokamak operated by General Atomics in San Diego.

Carbon emissions stabilize despite growing economy

March 13, 2015 1:48 pm | by Associated Press | News | Comments

Global energy emissions stayed stable last year even though the economy grew, according to data released Friday that could boost chances for a landmark climate accord later this year. The rising use of renewable energy, particularly in China, played a role in keeping emissions from the energy sector to 32.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide last year, the same as in 2013, the International Energy Agency said.

Researchers discover new catalysts to generate renewable fuels

March 13, 2015 11:17 am | by Brita Bell, Communications Office, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

For the last seven years, Yale Univ. graduate student Staff Sheehan has been working on splitting water. Now, a paper published in Nature Communications reveals how one of the methods he and his team have uncovered for this process, using a specific iridium species as a water oxidation catalyst, could aid in the development of renewable fuels.

Unique proteins found in heat-loving organisms bind well to plant matter

March 13, 2015 8:36 am | by Mick Kulikowski, North Carolina State Univ. News Services | News | Comments

Unique proteins newly discovered in heat-loving bacteria are more than capable of attaching themselves to plant cellulose, possibly paving the way for more efficient methods of converting plant matter into biofuels. The unusual proteins, called tapirins, bind tightly to cellulose, a key structural component of plant cell walls, enabling these bacteria to break down cellulose.

Using proteomics to profile switchgrass

March 12, 2015 10:43 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

If advanced biofuels are to replace gasoline, diesel and jet fuel on a gallon-for-gallon basis at competitive pricing, we’re going to need a new generation of fuel crops. Researchers with the Joint BioEnergy Institute have demonstrated the power of a new ally in this effort: proteomics.

New material captures carbon at half the energy cost

March 12, 2015 7:43 am | by Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Univ. of California, Berkeley chemists have made a major leap forward in carbon-capture technology with a material that can efficiently remove carbon from the ambient air of a submarine as readily as from the polluted emissions of a coal-fired power plant. The material then releases the carbon dioxide at lower temperatures than current carbon-capture materials.

Silk: A new green material for next-gen batteries?

March 11, 2015 10:10 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Lithium-ion batteries have enabled many of today’s electronics, from portable gadgets to electric cars. But much to the frustration of consumers, none of these batteries last long without a recharge. Now scientists report in ACS Nano the development of a new, “green” way to boost the performance of these batteries: with a material derived from silk.

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