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Preview: ScienceDaily: Energy and the Environment News
Energy and the Environment News -- ScienceDaily

Energy and the Environment News -- ScienceDaily

Energy Sources. News and Research. Articles on everything from hydrogen powered cars and solar energy systems to nuclear reactors and fossil fuels.

Published: Fri, 01 Aug 2014 10:13:33 EDT

Last Build Date: Fri, 01 Aug 2014 10:13:33 EDT


Wildfires and other burns play bigger role in climate change

Thu, 31 Jul 2014 20:15:29 EDT

Research demonstrates that it isn't just the carbon dioxide from biomass burning that's the problem. Black carbon and brown carbon maximize the thermal impacts of such fires. They essentially allow biomass burning to cause much more global warming per unit weight than other human-associated carbon sources.(image)

All-in-one energy system offers greener power for off–grid homes, farms and businesses

Wed, 30 Jul 2014 09:38:35 EDT

An innovative ‘trigeneration’ system fuelled entirely by raw plant oils could have great potential for isolated homes and businesses operating outside grid systems.(image)

Worldwide water shortage by 2040

Tue, 29 Jul 2014 09:31:12 EDT

Water is used around the world for the production of electricity, but new research results show that there will not be enough water in the world to meet demand by 2040 if the energy and power situation does not improve before then.(image)

How sweet it is: Bioenergy advanced by new tool

Mon, 28 Jul 2014 11:33:57 EDT

Researchers have developed a powerful new tool that can help advance the genetic engineering of 'fuel' crops for clean, green and renewable bioenergy -- an assay that enables scientists to identify and characterize the function of nucleotide sugar transporters, critical components in the biosynthesis of plant cell walls.(image)

Steam energy from the sun: New spongelike structure converts solar energy into steam

Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:39:57 EDT

A new material structure generates steam by soaking up the sun. The structure -- a layer of graphite flakes and an underlying carbon foam -- is a porous, insulating material structure that floats on water. When sunlight hits the structure's surface, it creates a hotspot in the graphite, drawing water up through the material's pores, where it evaporates as steam. The brighter the light, the more steam is generated.(image)

How to power California with wind, water and sun

Thu, 24 Jul 2014 14:43:16 EDT

New research outlines the path to a possible future for California in which renewable energy creates a healthier environment, generates jobs and stabilizes energy prices.(image)

Self-cooling solar cells boost power, last longer

Tue, 22 Jul 2014 10:22:39 EDT

Scientists may have overcome one of the major hurdles in developing high-efficiency, long-lasting solar cells -- keeping them cool, even in the blistering heat of the noonday sun. By adding a specially patterned layer of silica glass to the surface of ordinary solar cells, a team of researchers has found a way to let solar cells cool themselves by shepherding away unwanted thermal radiation.(image)

Replacing coal, oil with natural gas will not help fight global warming, expert argues

Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:39:20 EDT

Both shale gas and conventional natural gas have a larger greenhouse gas footprint than do coal or oil, especially for the primary uses of residential and commercial heating. "While emissions of carbon dioxide are less from natural gas than from coal and oil, methane emissions are far greater. Methane is such a potent greenhouse gas that these emissions make natural gas a dangerous fuel from the standpoint of global warming over the next several decades," said the author of a new article.(image)

Fires are major cause of wind farm failure, according to new research

Wed, 16 Jul 2014 19:46:51 EDT

Fire is the second leading cause of accidents in wind turbines, after blade failure, according to research. Wind farming is one of the leading industries in the renewable energy sector. However, the industry faces a number of challenges, such as opposition by wind farm lobbyists. Today's research suggests that incidents of wind turbines catching fire are a big problem that is not currently being fully reported.(image)

Deep within spinach leaves, vibrations enhance efficiency of photosynthesis

Sun, 13 Jul 2014 15:55:02 EDT

Biophysics researchers have used short pulses of light to peer into the mechanics of photosynthesis and illuminate the role that molecule vibrations play in the energy conversion process that powers life on our planet.(image)

Solar energy gets a boost: 'Singlet fission' can increase solar cell efficiency by as much as 30 percent

Tue, 08 Jul 2014 13:21:46 EDT

Scientists have reviewed chemists' work on "singlet fission," a process in which a single photon generates a pair of excited states. This conversion process has the potential to boost solar cell efficiency by as much as 30 percent.(image)

Water bonus flows from climate change measures

Mon, 07 Jul 2014 09:27:03 EDT

The equivalent of one-third of Melbourne's water use could be saved each year through the implementation of efficiency measures that deal with climate change, according to a new study. Researchers analyzed the water-saving potential of 74 options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions identified in ClimateWorks Australia's award-winning Low Carbon Growth Plan for Australia.(image)

Consider water use in climate change policies: Energy efficient technologies can also save water at the same time

Thu, 03 Jul 2014 10:26:05 EDT

There’s more to trying to slow down climate change than just cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Technology, policies or plans that aim to do so should also take environmental factors such as water usage into account. A more integrated approach might make some options considerably more attractive than others, especially when implemented in arid countries such as Australia.(image)

Putting a price tag on the 2 degree Celsius climate target

Wed, 02 Jul 2014 11:10:03 EDT

Addressing climate change will require substantial new investment in low-carbon energy and energy efficiency -- but no more than what is currently spent on today's fossil-dominated energy system, according to new research. To limit climate change to 2 degrees Celsius, low-carbon energy options will need additional investments of about US $800 billion a year globally from now to mid-century, according to a new study.(image)

Net-zero energy test house exceeds goal; ends year with energy to spare

Tue, 01 Jul 2014 18:38:18 EDT

The NIST net-zero energy test house in suburban Washington, D.C., not only absorbed winter's best shot, it came out on top, reaching its one-year anniversary on July 1 with enough surplus energy to power an electric car for about 1,440 miles.(image)

Solar panels light the way from carbon dioxide to fuel

Tue, 01 Jul 2014 17:01:58 EDT

Researchers have devised an efficient method for harnessing sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into a potential alternative fuel known as formic acid. The transformation from carbon dioxide and water to formic acid was powered by a commercial solar panel.(image)

Capturing carbon dioxide emissions needed to meet climate targets

Thu, 26 Jun 2014 12:20:06 EDT

Technologies that are discussed controversially today may be needed to keep the future risks and costs of climate change in check. Combining the production of energy from fossil fuels and biomass with capturing and storing the carbon dioxide they emit can be key to achieving current climate policy objectives such as limiting the rise of the global mean temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius.(image)

Packing hundreds of sensors into a single optical fiber for use in harsh environments

Thu, 26 Jun 2014 12:20:00 EDT

By fusing together the concepts of active fiber sensors and high-temperature fiber sensors, a team of researchers has created an all-optical high-temperature sensor for gas flow measurements that operates at record-setting temperatures above 800 degrees Celsius. It's expected to find industrial sensing applications in harsh environments, such as deep geothermal drill cores or space missions.(image)

Cheap and enviromentally friendly: Tofu ingredient could revolutionize solar panel manufacture

Thu, 26 Jun 2014 12:18:52 EDT

The chemical used to make tofu and bath salts could also replace a highly toxic and expensive substance used to make solar cells, a new study has revealed. Cadmium chloride is currently a key ingredient in solar cell technology used in millions of solar panels around the world. This soluble compound is highly toxic and expensive to produce, requiring elaborate safety measures to protect workers during manufacture and then specialist disposal when panels are no longer needed.(image)

Scientists create new battery that's cheap, clean, rechargeable ... and organic

Wed, 25 Jun 2014 13:26:27 EDT

Scientists have developed a rechargeable battery that is all organic and could be scaled up easily for use in power plants where it can make the energy grid more resilient and efficient by creating a large-scale means to store energy for use as needed. The batteries could pave the way for renewable energy sources to make up a greater share of the nation's energy generation.(image)

Alternative energy evaluation: Net energy analysis should become a standard policy tool, scientists say

Wed, 25 Jun 2014 10:16:49 EDT

To be viable, wind farms, power plants and other energy technologies should deliver more energy than they consume. Net energy analysis allows researchers to evaluate the long-term sustainability of a technology by comparing how much energy it produces over its lifetime with the energy required to build and maintain it, say scientists.(image)

NOAA GOES-R satellite black wing ready for flight

Tue, 24 Jun 2014 17:23:03 EDT

The solar array that will provide power to NOAA's GOES-R satellite has been tested, approved and shipped to a facility where it will be incorporated on the spacecraft. The five sections of the solar array come together as one to resemble a giant black wing.(image)

New study uses blizzard to measure wind turbine airflow

Tue, 24 Jun 2014 14:24:03 EDT

A first-of-its-kind study using snow during a Minnesota blizzard is giving researchers new insight into the airflow around large wind turbines. This research is essential to improving wind energy efficiency, especially in wind farms where airflows from many large wind turbines interact with each other.(image)

Concentrating solar power: Study shows greater potential

Sun, 22 Jun 2014 14:22:34 EDT

Concentrating solar power could supply a large fraction of the power supply in a decarbonized energy system, shows a new study of the technology and its potential practical application.(image)

Safe water for the people in Tanzania

Fri, 20 Jun 2014 10:23:10 EDT

Hydraulic engineers and photovoltaics experts have developed a solar filtration system to produce high-quality drinking water from polluted brackish water and tested it successfully in Tanzania. The test results are currently being analyzed. The filter effectively separates undesired substances, bacteria, and viruses.(image)

Winds of change for the shipping sector

Wed, 18 Jun 2014 22:06:16 EDT

Wind propulsion such as kites and Flettner rotors could offer a viable route to help cut carbon dioxide emissions in the shipping sector, according to researchers.(image)

Finland to become a model country for sustainable transport by 2020

Wed, 18 Jun 2014 07:17:29 EDT

Roads in Finland in 2020 will hum to the sound of low-emission vehicles running on renewable energy, electricity, hydrogen and sustainable biofuels. The share of public transport and car pooling in densely populated urban areas will increase. Mobility arranged through easy-to-use services will become a viable alternative to buying a private car.(image)

Geothermal: Hunting for heat energy, deep within Earth

Tue, 17 Jun 2014 09:37:21 EDT

Capturing green energy from deep in the Earth will bring competitive electricity and district heating – with help from Norway. Ever since Jules Verne’s 1864 novel “ A Journey to the Centre of the Earth”, people have dreamt of capturing the heat of planet Earth. It exists in huge amounts, is completely renewable and emits no CO2.(image)

Quantum biology: Algae evolved to switch quantum coherence on and off

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 15:15:09 EDT

Scientists have discovered how algae that survive in very low levels of light are able to switch on and off a weird quantum phenomenon that occurs during photosynthesis. The function in the algae of this quantum effect, known as coherence, remains a mystery, but it is thought it could help them harvest energy from the sun much more efficiently. Working out its role in a living organism could lead to advances such as better organic solar cells.(image)

U.S. housing policies increase carbon output

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:03:45 EDT

Land use policies and preferential tax treatment for housing – in the form of federal income tax deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes – have increased carbon emissions in the United States by about 2.7 percent, almost 6 percent annually in new home construction, according to a new study.(image)

Wind turbine payback: Environmental lifecycle assessment of 2-megawatt wind turbines

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 09:33:17 EDT

Researchers have carried out an environmental lifecycle assessment of 2-megawatt wind turbines mooted for a large wind farm in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. They conclude that in terms of cumulative energy payback, or the time to produce the amount of energy required of production and installation, a wind turbine with a working life of 20 years will offer a net benefit within five to eight months of being brought online.(image)

Iberian Peninsula’s geothermal power can generate current electrical capacity five times over

Fri, 13 Jun 2014 08:44:23 EDT

About 500 power stations around the world use geothermal power to generate electricity, although there are yet to be any in Spain. The temperature increases by 30 ºC for every kilometer further underground. This thermal gradient, generated by the flow of heat from the inside of the Earth and the breakdown of radioactive elements in the crust, produces geothermal power.(image)

Costs and benefits of compliance with renewable portfolio standards estimated

Tue, 10 Jun 2014 20:55:22 EDT

A new report reviews estimates of the costs and benefits of compliance with Renewable Portfolio Standards in the United States and explores how costs and benefits may evolve over time. Based on a review and analysis of data from state compliance filings and other sources, the report finds that the estimated incremental RPS cost over the 2010-2012 period -- the cost above and beyond what would have been incurred absent the RPS -- was less than 1 percent of retail electricity rates on average.(image)

Up to 6-cent per kilowatt-hour extra value with concentrated solar power

Tue, 10 Jun 2014 20:55:20 EDT

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) projects would add additional value of 5 or 6 cents per kilowatt hour to utility-scale solar energy in California where 33 percent renewables will be mandated in six years, a new report has found.(image)

How solar wind can break through Earth's magnetic field

Mon, 09 Jun 2014 12:20:25 EDT

Space is not empty. A wind of charged particles blows outwards from the Sun, carrying a magnetic field with it. Sometimes this solar wind can break through the Earth’s magnetic field. Researchers now have an answer to one of the questions about how this actually occurs. When two areas with plasma (electrically charged gas) and magnetic fields with different orientations collide, the magnetic fields can be “clipped off” and “reconnected” so that the topology of the magnetic field is changed, they explain.(image)

Drastic cut in electricity bill for supermarket in Norway

Fri, 06 Jun 2014 09:15:39 EDT

A newly built mini-supermarket was opened last autumn in Norway by a government minister to the sound of a brass band. Throughout the winter, it used 30 per cent less electricity than four comparable stores in the capital of mid-Norway, where of course the outdoor temperature was the same for all of them.(image)

Current trends for forest biomass for energy in EU

Wed, 04 Jun 2014 09:35:39 EDT

The EU aims to get 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Renewables include wind, solar, hydro-electric and tidal power as well as geothermal energy and biomass. These ambitious targets set in the Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC) have led to concerns about the levels of woody biomass from forests which would need to be mobilized to meet them.(image)

Carbon-capture breakthrough: Recyclable material absorbs 82 percent of its weight in carbon dioxide

Tue, 03 Jun 2014 11:43:19 EDT

Scientists invent a porous material to capture carbon dioxide at natural gas wellheads. The recyclable material absorbs 82 percent of its weight in carbon dioxide and releases it as gas when the wellhead pressure is relieved.(image)

New look at old forests: Future growth of U.S. forests expected to decline

Tue, 03 Jun 2014 09:26:04 EDT

As forests age, their ability to grow decreases, because energy production (photosynthesis) and energy consumption (respiration) decrease with age, a new study has determined. Since most US forests are maturing from regeneration that began about 100 years ago when extensive clear-cutting occurred, the study suggests the future growth of US forests will decline.(image)

Supply of woody biomass for energy from privately owned forests in Europe overestimated

Tue, 03 Jun 2014 09:22:10 EDT

The European Commission expects the use of biomass for energy in the EU to increase significantly to meet a legally binding target of at least 20% of the EU’s total energy use from renewable sources in 2020. In response to the increased demand, the EU member states have estimated the direct supply of biomass from their forests to increase by 45% on a volume basis between 2006 and 2020. A new study shows for the first time that European private forest owners are not as ready to increase the supply of woody biomass for energy as assumed.(image)

Enhancing safety of domestic solar power storage

Tue, 03 Jun 2014 09:22:06 EDT

Lithium-ion battery-based energy storage systems have already demonstrated efficiency and reliability in commercial electric vehicles. These high standards now also have to be transferred to battery-based storage systems for private photovoltaics facilities.(image)

Microbes engineered for direct conversion of biomass to fuel

Mon, 02 Jun 2014 15:58:55 EDT

The promise of affordable transportation fuels from biomass -- a sustainable, carbon neutral route to American energy independence -- has been left perpetually on hold by the economics of the conversion process. Researchers have overcome this hurdle allowing the direct conversion of switchgrass to fuel. The study, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, documents the direct conversion of biomass to biofuel without pre-treatment, using the engineered bacterium Caldicellulosiruptor bescii.(image)

Rare chemical phenomenon that could be harnessed to harvest solar energy demonstrated by researchers

Mon, 02 Jun 2014 10:01:46 EDT

The chemical reaction responsible for propelling microscopic crystals to leap distances up to hundreds of times their own size when they are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light has been successfully unraveled by a team of international scientists. This popping effect, akin to the bursting of popcorn kernels at high temperatures, demonstrates the conversion of light into mechanical motion. It is the first instance of a “photosalient effect” driven by a photochemical reaction in solids to be reported.(image)

First real-time movies of the light-to-current conversion in an organic solar cell

Fri, 30 May 2014 12:44:31 EDT

Scientists have reported the first real-time movies of the light-to-current conversion process in an organic solar cell. Researchers show that the quantum-mechanical, wavelike nature of electrons and their coupling to the nuclei is of fundamental importance for the charge transfer in an organic photovoltaic device.(image)

Solar panel manufacturing is greener in Europe than China, study says

Thu, 29 May 2014 15:41:51 EDT

Solar panels made in China have a higher overall carbon footprint and are likely to use substantially more energy during manufacturing than those made in Europe, said a new study. The team performed a type of systematic evaluation called life cycle analysis to come up with these hard data. Life cycle analysis tallies up all the energy used to make a product -- energy to mine raw materials, fuel to transport the materials and products, electricity to power the processing factory, and so forth.(image)

Engineering professor hopes to improve carbon-capture with patented technology

Thu, 29 May 2014 14:22:18 EDT

Less than a year after patenting a process that could improve stripping greenhouse gasses from industrial emissions, a professor was recently granted another patent with a different solvent to accomplish the same goal. The newest method uses a form of liquid salt that could be swapped with chemicals currently used to scrub harmful emissions, such as carbon dioxide, or CO2, from industrial emissions.(image)

Diesel bus alternative: Electric school buses that power grid could save school districts millions

Thu, 29 May 2014 09:22:53 EDT

Electric school buses that feed the power grid could save school districts millions of dollars — and reduce children’s exposure to diesel fumes — based on recent research. A new study examines the cost-effectiveness of electric school buses that discharge their batteries into the electrical grid when not in use and get paid for the service. The technology, called vehicle-to-grid (V2G), was pioneered at UD and is being tested with electric cars in a pilot project.(image)

Streaming video more 'green' than DVDs? Billions of kilograms of carbon dioxide could be saved by scrapping discs, study shows

Wed, 28 May 2014 20:43:03 EDT

A new study has shown that streaming can be much better for the environment, requiring less energy and emitting less carbon dioxide, than some traditional methods of DVD renting, buying and viewing. The study's authors cite modern devices such as laptops and tablets as the reason for this improvement, as they are much more efficient than older, energy-sapping DVD players.(image)

A more Earth-friendly way to make bright white cotton fabrics

Wed, 28 May 2014 10:54:06 EDT

With a growing number of consumers demanding more Earth-friendly practices from the fashion world, scientists are developing new ways to produce textiles that could help meet rising expectations. One such method can dramatically reduce the amount of energy it takes to bleach cotton while improving the quality of the popular material.(image)

Wood-waste biofuel to cut greenhouse gas, transform shipping industry

Tue, 27 May 2014 11:45:07 EDT

A sustainable biofuel made from Norwegian forest wood waste could help transform the shipping industry and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. Alternative sustainable fuels are urgently needed in the marine transport sector due to stringent upcoming regulations demanding reduced sulphur and carbon content in diesels and oils from January 2015.(image)

Outdoor lighting using wind-solar hybrid renewable energy sources

Sun, 25 May 2014 20:47:34 EDT

As an outcome from the continuous hybrid renewable energy research, an innovative outdoor lighting system powered by a shroud-augmented wind turbine and a solar panel was installed in the Kuala Lumpur campus of University of Malaya (UM).(image)

Electricity use slashed with efficiency controls for heating, cooling

Fri, 23 May 2014 14:51:29 EDT

Commercial buildings could cut their heating and cooling electricity use by an average of 57 percent with advanced energy-efficiency controls, according to a year-long trial of the controls at malls, grocery stores and other buildings across the country.(image)

There is still hope for the climate: Regional cures for planetary fever

Thu, 22 May 2014 10:48:58 EDT

There is still hope for the climate, even if a world-wide climate accord proves to be unattainable. A new report shows that regional measures can hold the global rise in temperature within the two-degree limit.(image)

New, fossil-fuel-free process makes biodiesel sustainable

Wed, 21 May 2014 13:38:14 EDT

A new fuel-cell concept will allow biodiesel plants to eliminate the creation of hazardous wastes while removing their dependence on fossil fuel from their production process. The platform, which uses microbes to glean ethanol from glycerol and has the added benefit of cleaning up the wastewater, will allow producers to reincorporate the ethanol and the water into the fuel-making process.(image)

A new solution for storing hydrogen fuel for alternative energy

Wed, 21 May 2014 13:37:04 EDT

Turning the 'hydrogen economy' concept into a reality, even on a small scale, has been a bumpy road, but scientists are developing a novel way to store hydrogen to smooth out the long-awaited transition away from fossil fuels. A new solid, stable material can pack in a large amount of hydrogen, according to recent research.(image)

A new way to harness waste heat: Electrochemical approach has potential to efficiently turn low-grade heat to electricity

Wed, 21 May 2014 13:36:11 EDT

Vast amounts of excess heat are generated by industrial processes and by electric power plants; researchers around the world have spent decades seeking ways to harness some of this wasted energy. Now researchers have found a new alternative for low-temperature waste-heat conversion into electricity.(image)

Climate change brings mostly bad news for Ohio: Big algae bloom in Lake Erie, very dry 2015 forecast

Tue, 20 May 2014 12:01:35 EDT

Scientists delivered a mostly negative forecast for how climate change will affect Ohioans during the next year or so, and well beyond. But Ohio may fare better than its neighbors in one respect: its farmers will likely suffer less than those in the rest of the Corn Belt.(image)

Power plant emissions verified remotely at Four Corners sites, largest point source pollution in U.S.

Tue, 20 May 2014 10:05:27 EDT

Air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from two coal-fired power plants in the Four Corners area of northwest New Mexico, the largest point source of pollution in America, were measured remotely. The study is the first to show that space-based techniques can successfully verify international regulations on fossil energy emissions.(image)

Planting the 'seeds' of solar technology in the home

Tue, 20 May 2014 09:49:03 EDT

In an effort to better understand what persuades people to buy photovoltaic (PV) systems for their homes, researchers are gathering data on consumer motivations that can feed sophisticated computer models and thus lead to greater use of solar energy.(image)

Solar energy prospects are bright for Scotland, experts say

Mon, 19 May 2014 11:01:58 EDT

Installing state-of-the-art solar panels on a quarter of a million roofs could meet one-sixth of Scotland's electricity demands, experts say. Scientists say the strategy could ease the plight of one in three Scottish households, which currently struggle to provide themselves with adequate heat and hot water. Researchers, business leaders and public sector experts have contributed to a report which sets out how Scotland could benefit from solar power.(image)