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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: Sun, 01 Feb 2015 12:43:03 EST

Last Build Date: Sun, 01 Feb 2015 12:43:03 EST


Renewable energy policies drive production of Southern wood pellets for bioenergy

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:28:45 EST

Policies in the European Union and elsewhere requiring the use of renewable and low greenhouse gas-emitting energy are driving demand for wood pellets used to generate bioenergy. This demand could provide new markets for US timber exports, increase wood prices, and lead to increases in forestland area.(image)

Water purification: Running fuel cells on bacteria

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 08:15:35 EST

Researchers in Norway have succeeded in getting bacteria to power a fuel cell. The "fuel" used is wastewater, and the products of the process are purified water droplets and electricity. This is an environmentally-friendly process for the purification of water derived from industrial processes and suchlike. It also generates small amounts of electricity – in practice enough to drive a small fan, a sensor or a light-emitting diode. In the future, the researchers hope to scale up this energy generation to enable the same energy to be used to power the water purification process, which commonly consists of many stages, often involving mechanical and energy-demanding decontamination steps at its outset.(image)

New technique for growing high-efficiency perovskite solar cells

Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:16:19 EST

Researchers have revealed a new solution-based hot-casting technique that allows growth of highly efficient and reproducible solar cells from large-area perovskite crystals. The researchers fabricated planar solar cells from pervoskite materials with large crystalline grains that had efficiencies approaching 18%.(image)

Solar chip monitors windows

Thu, 29 Jan 2015 09:42:10 EST

A new kind of radio chip is intended to warn when windows are left open. This way, you can avoid having the heat go out the window on cold days. The sensor also detects break-in attempts early on. The key: This maintenance-free chip powers up with energy supplied by solar power.(image)

Researchers produce two bio-fuels from a single algae

Wed, 28 Jan 2015 17:01:59 EST

A common algae commercially grown to make fish food holds promise as a source for both biodiesel and jet fuel, according to a new study.(image)

Economic trade-offs of owning versus leasing a solar photovoltaic system

Tue, 27 Jan 2015 11:10:29 EST

Two new reports examine the economic options customers face when deciding how to finance commercial or residential solar energy systems. Analysts found that businesses that use low-cost financing to purchase a photovoltaic (PV) system and homeowners who use solar-specific loans can save up to 30 percent compared with consumers who lease a PV system through a conventional third-party owner.(image)

Do green roofs, solar panels work well together?

Tue, 27 Jan 2015 09:59:31 EST

A new study examines whether solar electricity panels and green roofs can work well in tandem. With ongoing urbanization, which reduces the variety of species found in cities, green roofs can increase biological diversity, and also provide insulation, bringing energy benefits to building owners who will save money on heating and cooling, authors say.(image)

Converting olive mash into cash

Mon, 26 Jan 2015 08:38:18 EST

An experimental system to create heat and power with waste from olive oil processing is up-and-running in Spain. The system shows a promising way forward for reducing environmental damage and converting organic waste to energy, scientists say.(image)

Calculating the future of solar-fuel refineries

Fri, 23 Jan 2015 11:07:54 EST

A team of engineers has developed a new tool to help engineers better gauge the overall yield, efficiency and costs associated with scaling solar-fuel production processes up into large-scale refineries.(image)

New technique helps probe performance of organic solar cell materials

Fri, 23 Jan 2015 11:07:52 EST

Researchers have developed a technique for determining the role that a material's structure has on the efficiency of organic solar cells, which are candidates for low-cost, next generation solar power. The researchers used the technique to determine that materials with a highly organized structure at the nanoscale are not more efficient at creating free electrons than poorly organized structures -- a finding which will guide future research and development efforts.(image)

New technique for producing cheaper solar energy suggested by research

Fri, 23 Jan 2015 11:07:50 EST

Pioneering new research could pave the way for solar energy to be converted into household electricity more cheaply than ever before. The global PV market has experienced rapid growth in recent years due to renewable energy targets and CO2 emission controls.(image)

Surprising insights into effects of wood fuel burning

Thu, 22 Jan 2015 15:48:49 EST

The harvesting of wood to meet the heating and cooking demands for billions of people worldwide has less of an impact on global forest loss and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than previously believed, according to a new study.(image)

California's policies can significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions through 2030

Thu, 22 Jan 2015 13:28:51 EST

A new model of the impact of California’s existing and proposed policies on its greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals suggests that the state is on track to meet 2020 goals, and could achieve greater emission reductions by 2030, but the state will need to do more to reach its 2050 climate goals, experts say.(image)

Decorative and flexible solar panels become part of interior design and the appearance of objects

Wed, 21 Jan 2015 08:45:34 EST

Scientists have developed and utilized a mass production method based on printing technologies allowing the manufacturing of decorative, organic solar panels. Design freedom improves the range of applications of the panels on the surfaces of interior and exterior building spaces. Researchers are also studying the feasibility of printing technology in the mass production of solar panels made from inorganic perovskite materials. The new mass production method enables to create interior design elements from organic solar panels (OPV, organic photovoltaics) harvesting energy from interior lighting or sunlight for various small devices and sensors that gather information from the environment. The panels can, for example, be placed on windows and walls and on machines, devices and advertisement billboards.(image)

First public lighting system that runs on solar and wind energy

Tue, 20 Jan 2015 08:58:19 EST

Scientists have developed the first autonomous industrialized public lighting system that works with solar and wind energy.(image)

Making waves with lasers could enhance solar cell efficiency

Tue, 20 Jan 2015 08:45:39 EST

Laser processing produces deep ripples in silicon over a wide area — something that could enhance solar cell efficiency.(image)

Perovskites provide big boost to silicon solar cells

Thu, 15 Jan 2015 16:35:44 EST

Stacking perovskites onto a conventional silicon solar cell dramatically improves the overall efficiency of the cell, according to a new study.(image)

Environmental health benefits inspire people to cut back on electricity

Mon, 12 Jan 2015 15:46:00 EST

Telling people how much pollution they could prevent inspires them to save more energy than touting cost savings, researchers report. The study also found that the environmental message was especially effective in changing the behavior of people with children living in the home -- they reduced their electricity use a whopping 19 percent through the exercise of the study.(image)

Flexible methane production from electricity and bio-mass

Fri, 09 Jan 2015 04:55:44 EST

Interlinkage of the power and gas grids is planned to make electricity supply sustainable and robust in the future. Fluctuating amounts of wind and solar power, for instance, might be stored in the form of the chemical energy carrier methane. Now researchers have now proved that this is technically feasible.(image)

Emissions-free cars get closer

Thu, 08 Jan 2015 12:59:57 EST

Hydrogen fuel cells -- possibly the best option for emission-free vehicles -- require costly platinum. Nickel and other metals work but aren't nearly as efficient. New findings help pin down the basic mechanisms of the fuel-cell reaction on platinum, which will help researchers create alternative electrocatalysts.(image)

Wave energy integration costs should compare favorably to other energy sources

Wed, 07 Jan 2015 14:08:11 EST

A new analysis suggests that large-scale wave energy systems developed in the Pacific Northwest should be comparatively steady, dependable and able to be integrated into the overall energy grid at lower costs than some other forms of alternative energy, including wind power.(image)

Which fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground to avoid dangerous climate change?

Wed, 07 Jan 2015 13:14:01 EST

A third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and over 80% of current coal reserves globally should remain in the ground and not be used before 2050 if global warming is to stay below the 2°C target agreed by policy makers, according to new research.(image)

Time to reactivate nuclear energy in Mexico?

Fri, 02 Jan 2015 07:15:57 EST

A Mexican scientist has argued that nuclear energy is a real alternative to mitigate climate change damage from fossil fuel combustion in the country.(image)

Quantum world without queues could lead to better solar cells

Fri, 19 Dec 2014 10:40:33 EST

Scientists have used new technology to study extremely fast processes in solar cells. The research results form a concrete step towards more efficient solar cells.(image)

Glimpsing pathway of sunlight to electricity

Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:45:48 EST

Four pulses of laser light on nanoparticle photocells in a spectroscopy experiment has opened a window on how captured sunlight can be converted into electricity. The work, which potentially could inspire devices with improved efficiency in solar energy conversion, was performed on photocells that used lead-sulfide quantum dots as photoactive semiconductor material.(image)

Getting bot responders into shape

Thu, 18 Dec 2014 09:09:29 EST

Scientists are tackling one of the biggest barriers to the use of robots in emergency response: energy efficiency. They are developing technology that will dramatically improve the endurance of legged robots, helping them operate for long periods while performing the types of locomotion most relevant to disaster response scenarios.(image)

New conversion process turns biomass 'waste' into lucrative chemical products

Wed, 17 Dec 2014 15:40:23 EST

A new catalytic process is able to convert what was once considered biomass waste into lucrative chemical products that can be used in fragrances, flavorings or to create high-octane fuel for racecars and jets. A team of researchers has developed a process that uses a chemical catalyst and heat to spur reactions that convert lignin into valuable chemical commodities.(image)

Researchers' recipe: Cook farm waste into energy

Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:36:52 EST

Researchers are studying how to make biofuels from farm waste, especially 'wet' waste, such as corn husks, tomato vines and manure, that is typically difficult to use. They have developed a fairly simple procedure, pressure cooking, to transport waste and produce energy from it. Cooking farm waste yields compact, easily transportable material that will not degrade and can be used in energy-producing plants, they say.(image)

Global carbon dioxide emissions increase to new all-time record, but growth is slowing down

Wed, 17 Dec 2014 07:44:42 EST

2013 saw global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use and cement production reach a new all-time high. This was mainly due to the continuing steady increase in energy use in emerging economies over the past ten years.  However, emissions increased at a notably slower rate (2%) than on average in the last ten years (3.8% per year since 2003, excluding the credit crunch years).(image)

Comparing state solar policies to determine equation for solar market success

Tue, 16 Dec 2014 11:30:29 EST

Scientists have used statistical analyses and detailed case studies to better understand why solar market policies in certain states are more successful. Their findings indicate that while no standard formula for solar implementation exists, a combination of foundational policies and localized strategies can increase solar photovoltaic installations in any state.(image)

Cost of cloud brightening for cooler planet revealed

Mon, 15 Dec 2014 20:30:29 EST

Scientists have identified the most energy-efficient way to make clouds more reflective to the sun in a bid to combat climate change. Marine Cloud Brightening is a reversible geoengineering method proposed to mitigate rising global temperatures. It relies on propelling a fine mist of salt particles high into the atmosphere to increase the albedo of clouds -- the amount of sunlight they reflect back into space.(image)

Switching to vehicles powered by electricity from renewables could save lives

Mon, 15 Dec 2014 18:53:56 EST

Driving vehicles that use electricity from renewable energy instead of gasoline could reduce the resulting deaths due to air pollution by 70 percent. This finding comes from a new life cycle analysis of conventional and alternative vehicles and their air pollution-related public health impacts. The study also shows that switching to vehicles powered by electricity made using natural gas yields large health benefits.(image)

Techniques for minimizing environmental impacts of fracking

Mon, 15 Dec 2014 10:16:57 EST

Natural gas power plants emit less carbon dioxide than coal power plants, but must be carefully managed to prevent air and water pollution.(image)

Neighborhood designs can cut carbon emissions, electric costs

Mon, 15 Dec 2014 10:15:44 EST

Researchers find that by clustering trees and homes on smaller lots, homeowners and developers can save money and improvement the environment.(image)

Nuclear should be in the energy mix for biodiversity

Mon, 15 Dec 2014 09:41:55 EST

Leading conservation scientists from around the world have called for a substantial role for nuclear power in future energy-generating scenarios in order to mitigate climate change and protect biodiversity.(image)

Energy efficient homes linked to asthma

Thu, 11 Dec 2014 10:20:18 EST

The drive for energy efficient homes could increase asthma risks, according to new research that has found that a failure by residents to heat and ventilate retrofitted properties could lead to more people developing the respiratory condition.(image)

New technique could harvest more of the sun's energy

Tue, 09 Dec 2014 10:18:55 EST

As solar panels become less expensive and capable of generating more power, solar energy is becoming a more commercially viable alternative source of electricity. However, the photovoltaic cells now used to turn sunlight into electricity can only absorb and use a small fraction of that light, and that means a significant amount of solar energy goes untapped. A new technology represents a first step toward harnessing that lost energy.(image)

Storing hydrogen underground could boost transportation, energy security

Tue, 09 Dec 2014 09:18:54 EST

Large-scale storage of low-pressure, gaseous hydrogen in salt caverns and other underground sites for transportation fuel and grid-scale energy applications offers several advantages over above-ground storage, says a recent study.(image)

Is natural gas a 'bridge' to a hotter future?

Mon, 08 Dec 2014 14:57:10 EST

Natural gas power plants produce substantial amounts of gases that lead to global warming. Replacing old coal-fired power plants with new natural gas plants could cause climate damage to increase over the next decades, unless their methane leakage rates are very low and the new power plants are very efficient.(image)

Wind farms to do not affect property values, study finds

Mon, 08 Dec 2014 14:56:14 EST

Wind turbine developments have no effect on property values of nearby homes and farms, according to new Canadian research. Researchers analyzed more than 7,000 home and farm sales in Melancthon Township and 10 surrounding townships in Dufferin, Grey, Simcoe and Wellington counties. Melancthon, located about 100 kilometres northwest of Toronto, is home to one of Ontario's first and largest wind farms; 133 wind turbines were erected between 2005 and 2008.(image)

In world first, researchers convert sunlight to electricity with over 40 percent efficiency

Sun, 07 Dec 2014 09:16:48 EST

Australia's solar researchers have converted over 40 percent of the sunlight hitting a solar system into electricity, the highest efficiency ever reported. A key part of the prototype's design is the use of a custom optical bandpass filter to capture sunlight that is normally wasted by commercial solar cells on towers and convert it to electricity at a higher efficiency than the solar cells themselves ever could.(image)

China agrees to enhance its role in global climate change mitigation: Turning the massive 'coal ship' around won’t be easy, experts say

Thu, 04 Dec 2014 07:40:28 EST

A rapid process of urbanization and an expanding middle class with increasingly western tastes will keep energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions in China at high levels over the next 20 years. However, changes are unfolding in China that offer promise and opportunities for cutting emissions and for promoting sustainable energy and climate policies.(image)

Toward a low-cost 'artificial leaf' that produces clean hydrogen fuel

Wed, 03 Dec 2014 11:11:34 EST

For years, scientists have been pursuing 'artificial leaf' technology, a green approach to making hydrogen fuel that copies plants' ability to convert sunlight into a form of energy they can use. Now, one team reports progress toward a stand-alone system that lends itself to large-scale, low-cost production. They created a nanowire mesh design.(image)

Atmospheric carbon dioxide used for energy storage products

Tue, 02 Dec 2014 14:06:39 EST

Researchers have discovered a fascinating new way to take some of the atmospheric carbon dioxide that's causing the greenhouse effect and use it to make an advanced, high-value material for use in energy storage products.(image)

Missing ingredient in energy-efficient buildings: Trained people

Tue, 02 Dec 2014 13:24:03 EST

More than one-third of new commercial building space includes energy-saving features, but without training or an operator's manual many occupants are in the dark about how to use them.(image)

Matched 'hybrid' systems may hold key to wider use of renewable energy

Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:42:43 EST

The use of renewable energy in the United States could take a significant leap forward with improved storage technologies or more efforts to 'match' different forms of alternative energy systems that provide an overall more steady flow of electricity, researchers say in a new report.(image)

High-tech mirror beams heat away from buildings into space

Wed, 26 Nov 2014 13:38:21 EST

Engineers have invented a material designed to help cool buildings. The material reflects incoming sunlight, and it sends heat from inside the structure directly into space as infrared radiation.(image)

Researchers find way to turn sawdust into gasoline

Tue, 25 Nov 2014 09:11:12 EST

Researchers have successfully converted sawdust into building blocks for gasoline. Using a new chemical process, they were able to convert the cellulose in sawdust into hydrocarbon chains. These hydrocarbons can be used as an additive in gasoline, or as a component in plastics.(image)

Nuclear reactor fuel behavior during a severe event

Thu, 20 Nov 2014 18:34:36 EST

A new discovery about the atomic structure of uranium dioxide will help scientists select the best computational model to simulate severe nuclear reactor accidents.(image)

Lean times ahead: Preparing for an energy-constrained future

Wed, 19 Nov 2014 10:17:04 EST

Some time this century, the era of cheap and abundant energy will end, and Western industrial civilization will likely begin a long, slow descent toward a resource-limited future characterized by "involuntary simplicity."(image)

Clean energy 'bio batteries' a step closer

Wed, 19 Nov 2014 08:47:39 EST

Researchers are a step closer to enhancing the generation of clean energy from bacteria. A new report shows how electrons hop across otherwise electrically insulating areas of bacterial proteins, and that the rate of electrical transfer is dependent on the orientation and proximity of electrically conductive ‘stepping stones’. It is hoped that this natural process can be used to improve ‘bio batteries’ which could produce energy for portable technology such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops – powered by human or animal waste.(image)

Scientists get to the heart of fool's gold as a solar material

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 18:25:00 EST

As the installation of photovoltaic solar cells continues to accelerate, scientists are looking for inexpensive materials beyond the traditional silicon that can efficiently convert sunlight into electricity. Theoretically, iron pyrite could do the job, but when it works at all, the conversion efficiency remains frustratingly low. Now, a research team explains why that is, in a discovery that suggests how improvements in this promising material could lead to inexpensive yet efficient solar cells.(image)

Using sewage sludge to obtain bioenergy

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 09:16:11 EST

Researchers have found a way to increase biomass production by using sewage sludge as energy crop fertilizers. The usage of sewage sludge to fertilize energy crops could be an opportunity to release residues since these plantations are not intended for food industry.(image)

Revolutionary solar-friendly form of silicon shines

Mon, 17 Nov 2014 13:06:13 EST

Silicon is the second most-abundant element in the earth's crust. When purified, it takes on a diamond structure, which is essential to modern electronic devices -- carbon is to biology as silicon is to technology. Scientists have synthesized an entirely new form of silicon, one that promises even greater future applications.(image)

EPA's Clean Power Plan: Economic strengths, weaknesses

Thu, 13 Nov 2014 14:19:58 EST

Thirteen top economists analyze the Obama Administration's main climate policy in a new article. The analysis studied specific cost-effective actions that could be further supported.(image)

Switching on a dime: How plants function in shade, light

Thu, 13 Nov 2014 07:51:21 EST

Plants grow in environments where the availability of light fluctuates quickly and drastically, for example from the shade of clouds passing overhead or of leaves on overhanging trees blowing in the wind. Plants thus have to rapidly adjust photosynthesis to maximize energy capture while preventing excess energy from causing damage. So how do plants prevent these changes in light intensity from affecting their ability to harvest the energy they need to survive? The response has to be extremely swift.(image)

Detecting leaks in biogas plants by laser

Wed, 12 Nov 2014 08:41:24 EST

Servicing biogas plants is challenging. Leaks from which methane escapes are particularly problematic – from a security, a technical, an economic as well as an environmentally friendly perspective. Researchers are working on a technique that helps to better detect leaks. In this process, a laser discovers the leaks from several meters away.(image)

Biochemistry detective work: Algae at night

Mon, 10 Nov 2014 11:07:20 EST

In low-oxygen conditions, some organisms such as the single-cell alga Chlamydomonas are able to generate cellular energy from the breakdown of sugars without taking up oxygen. They do this using a variety of fermentation pathways, similar to those used by yeast to create alcohol. Although critical to the survival of organisms that are found all over the planet, many of the details regarding this low-oxygen energy creation process were poorly understood.(image)

New materials yield record efficiency polymer solar cells

Mon, 10 Nov 2014 11:04:24 EST

Researchers have found that temperature-controlled aggregation in a family of new semi-conducting polymers is the key to creating highly efficient organic solar cells that can be mass produced more cheaply.(image)

Detroit's first comprehensive greenhouse gas inventory completed

Mon, 10 Nov 2014 11:01:02 EST

Energy use in buildings accounts for nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated in Detroit, while exhaust from cars, trucks and buses is responsible for about 30 percent of the total, according to a new citywide inventory compiled by student researchers.(image)