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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: Wed, 01 Apr 2015 23:43:17 EDT

Last Build Date: Wed, 01 Apr 2015 23:43:17 EDT


How to make a profit from rotting garbage

Tue, 31 Mar 2015 10:08:59 EDT

Landfills can make a profit from all their rotting waste and a new patent explains exactly how to make the most out of the stinky garbage sites. Decomposing trash produces methane, a landfill gas that can be used to produce electricity or heat. Since methane is a greenhouse gas and most landfills don't produce enough of it to make energy production worthwhile, many dumpsites burn, or flare, the methane away so that the harmful gas does not escape into the atmosphere. But a new process shows how landfills can up their methane production to turn a profit.(image)

Stormy weather ahead for wind farms?

Mon, 30 Mar 2015 16:24:17 EDT

Researchers will study the vibrations of wind turbines at a large Chilean wind farm along with health impacts on nearby residents. The goal is to make wind turbines more acceptable. Currently, scientists lack sufficient understanding of wind turbines' noise and best ways to mitigate the effects, they say.(image)

Do biofuel policies seek to cut emissions by cutting food?

Fri, 27 Mar 2015 20:17:10 EDT

A new study found that government biofuel policies rely on reductions in food consumption to generate greenhouse gas savings.(image)

Green roofs: Passive cooling for buildings

Fri, 27 Mar 2015 09:07:53 EDT

Researchers have found that green roofs with high vegetation density are 60% more efficient than non-green roofs.(image)

New kind of 'tandem' solar cell: Two types of photovoltaic material combined to make a cell that harnesses more sunlight

Tue, 24 Mar 2015 12:08:24 EDT

Researchers 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. The new cell uses a layer of silicon -- which forms the basis for most of today's solar panels -- but adds a semi-transparent layer of a material called perovskite, which can absorb higher-energy particles of light. Unlike an earlier "tandem" solar cell reported by members of the same team earlier this year -- in which the two layers were physically stacked, but each had its own separate electrical connections -- the new version has both layers connected together as a single device that needs only one control circuit.(image)

Engineers develop new yeast strain to enhance biofuel and biochemical production

Tue, 24 Mar 2015 08:48:12 EDT

Researchers use metabolic engineering and directed evolution to develop a new, mutant yeast strain that could lead to a more efficient biofuel production process.(image)

Discovery could yield more efficient portable electronics, solar cells

Mon, 23 Mar 2015 16:21:57 EDT

A team of chemists has set the stage for more efficient and sturdier portable electronic devices and possibly a new generation of solar cells based on organic materials.(image)

Geoengineering proposal may backfire: Ocean pipes 'not cool,' would end up warming climate

Thu, 19 Mar 2015 14:33:37 EDT

There are a variety of proposals that involve using vertical ocean pipes to move seawater to the surface from the depths in order to reap different potential climate benefits. One idea involves using ocean pipes to facilitate direct physical cooling of the surface ocean by replacing warm surface ocean waters with colder, deeper waters. New research shows that these pipes could actually increase global warming quite drastically.(image)

Electronic waste has energy value

Wed, 18 Mar 2015 13:44:46 EDT

Using discarded electronic boards, researchers have developed a system for obtaining clean hydrogen that can be used as fuel. The researchers have already registered the patent of the process in Japan.(image)

Towards 'printed' organic solar cells and LEDs

Wed, 18 Mar 2015 10:08:20 EDT

Flexible optoelectronic devices that can be produced roll-to-roll -- much like newspapers are printed -- are a highly promising path to cheaper devices such as solar cells and LED lighting panels. Scientists have now created prototype flexible solar cell modules as well as novel silver-based transparent electrodes that outperform currently used materials.(image)

Substitute for natural gas generated from waste

Tue, 17 Mar 2015 16:22:18 EDT

Scientists have managed to obtain biogas from "garbage or organic waste", having replaced part of the natural gas used by the Pilgrim's company in the state of Querétaro, which produces chicken, and in Xaquixe, a company dedicated to the development of glass art in the state of Oaxaca.(image)

Clean energy future: New cheap and efficient electrode for splitting water

Tue, 17 Mar 2015 09:31:48 EDT

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. Unlike other water electrolyzers that use precious metals as catalysts, the electrode is made entirely from two non-precious and abundant metals -- nickel and iron.(image)

A new method for making perovskite solar cells

Mon, 16 Mar 2015 13:56:02 EDT

Researchers have come up with a new way of making thin perovskite films for solar cells. The method forms perovskite crystals at room temperature, which could be helpful in mass production settings. The technique is especially well suited to make ultra-thin, semitransparent films, which could be used in photovoltaic windows.(image)

Scientists move closer to 'two for one deal' on solar cell efficiency

Mon, 16 Mar 2015 13:54:42 EDT

The underlying mechanism behind an enigmatic process called 'singlet exciton fission,' which could enable the development of significantly more powerful solar cells, has been identified by scientists in a new study.(image)

Solar could meet California energy demand three to five times over

Mon, 16 Mar 2015 13:51:52 EDT

In the face of global climate change, increasing the use of renewable energy resources is one of the most urgent challenges facing the world. New work finds that the amount of energy that could be generated from solar equipment constructed on and around existing infrastructure in California would exceed the state's demand by up to five times.(image)

Unique proteins found in heat-loving organisms attach to plant matter

Thu, 12 Mar 2015 15:41:39 EDT

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.(image)

Solar cells: Increased pressure creates a happy union

Thu, 12 Mar 2015 14:25:24 EDT

By tailoring the interface between the two sections of a solar cell, researchers have produced a high-performance solar cell from the abundant and cheap materials of copper (II) oxide and silicon.(image)

When it comes to nuclear disaster, safety really is in numbers

Wed, 11 Mar 2015 12:43:42 EDT

The safety of nuclear plants, as well as the medical management of acute radiation syndrome, could soon be dramatically improved thanks to a new mathematical equation.(image)

New approach combines biomass conversion, solar energy conversion

Tue, 10 Mar 2015 12:30:10 EDT

A new approach to combine solar energy conversion and biomass conversion has been presented by researchers. These are two important research areas for renewable energy, they say.(image)

Benefits of adding a second, smaller rotor to wind turbines

Mon, 09 Mar 2015 17:45:13 EDT

Aerospace engineers are developing dual-rotor technology to improve the energy harvest of wind turbines. The idea to look for better performance by adding a second rotor to wind turbines came from a previous study. The researchers used wind tunnel tests to see how hills, valleys and the placement of turbines affected the productivity of onshore wind farms.(image)

Biofuel proteomics: Researchers use proteomics to profile switchgrass

Mon, 09 Mar 2015 14:57:29 EDT

Researchers used an advanced proteomic techniques to identify 1,750 unique proteins in shoots of switchgrass, a native prairie grass viewed as one of the most promising of all the plants that could be used to produce advanced biofuels.(image)

Tsunami on demand: Nanoscale rogue waves research sheds light on power to harness catastrophic events

Mon, 09 Mar 2015 12:41:19 EDT

A new study features a nano-optical chip that makes possible generating and controlling nanoscale rogue waves. The innovative chip was developed by an international team of physicists and is expected to have significant applications for energy research and environmental safety.(image)

Urine power to light camps in disaster zones

Fri, 06 Mar 2015 11:19:05 EST

A toilet, conveniently situated near the Student Union Bar at the University of the West of England, is proving that urine can generate electricity.(image)

Miscanthus-based ethanol boasts bigger environmental benefits, higher profits

Wed, 04 Mar 2015 19:00:15 EST

A recent study simulated a side-by-side comparison of the yields and costs of producing ethanol using miscanthus, switchgrass, and corn residue. The fast-growing energy grass miscanthus was the clear winner. Models predict that miscanthus will have higher yield and profit, particularly when grown in poor-quality soil. It also outperformed corn residue and switchgrass in its ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.(image)

Metabolic path to improved biofuel production

Wed, 04 Mar 2015 15:26:43 EST

Researchers have found a way to increase the production of fuels and other chemicals from biomass fermented by yeast without the need of environmentally harsh pre-treatments or expensive enzyme cocktails.(image)

New models yield clearer picture of emissions' true costs

Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:04:02 EST

New models calculate and compare the true costs of various fuels to health, climate and the environment. Viewed this way, a gallon of gas costs $3.80 more than the pump price. The social cost of a gallon of diesel is about $4.80 more than the pump price; the price of natural gas more than doubles; and coal-fired electricity more than quadruples. Solar and wind power, on the other hand, become cheaper than they initially seem.(image)

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions with a more effective carbon capture method

Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:03:54 EST

Trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants and various industries could play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the future. But current materials that can collect CO2 -- from smokestacks, for example -- have low capacities or require very high temperatures to work. Scientists are making progress toward a more efficient alternative that could help make carbon capture less energy intensive.(image)

Where you live could mean 'greener' alternatives do more harm than good

Wed, 04 Mar 2015 10:43:54 EST

Engineers propose a new 600-ton threshold that could indicate when switching to 'low carbon' alternatives may actually increase emissions. Although regions may welcome "green" technology like electric vehicles, high-speed rail and geothermal heating, they aren't green if the electricity to power them creates even more carbon emissions than their oil-driven counterparts, researchers say.(image)

Solar cells to get growth boost, price cut

Wed, 04 Mar 2015 07:52:14 EST

Researchers have found that growing a type of film used to manufacture solar cells in ambient air gives it a growth boost. The finding could make manufacturing solar cells significantly cheaper.(image)

What happens if we all drive electrical vehicles?

Wed, 04 Mar 2015 07:52:12 EST

The technology behind the design of electric vehicles is ever improving and the EU predicts that these vehicles could be in mass production by 2020. By developing a completely new way of using information from GPS and location data shown by GSM, the EU DATA SIM project simulated the consequences of a massive switch to electric vehicles, and studied the impact on mobility and electricity distribution networks.(image)

New tech could significantly cut carbon dioxide emissions

Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:33:27 EST

A provisionally patented technology could revolutionize carbon dioxide capture and help significantly reduce pollution worldwide.(image)

Researchers discover new material to produce clean energy

Tue, 03 Mar 2015 14:17:38 EST

Researchers have created a new thermoelectric material, intended to generate electric power from waste heat -- from a vehicle tailpipe, for example, or an industrial smokestack -- with greater efficiency and higher output power than currently available materials.(image)

First in-depth look at solar project completion timelines

Tue, 03 Mar 2015 12:39:19 EST

The Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory has gathered and analyzed data for more than 30,000 solar photovoltaic installations across the United States to better understand how interconnection regulations align with actual project completion timelines. The findings indicate that interconnection process delays are common, and can range from several days to months. Streamlining the application review and final authorization processes can ultimately benefit utilities and solar consumers by reducing the time and cost associated with going solar.(image)

Advancing solar power in Hawaii

Tue, 03 Mar 2015 12:39:17 EST

Inverter load rejection overvoltage tests have proven so successful in Hawaii that a testing partner, Hawaiian Electric Companies, has proposed to double its hosting capacity for solar energy.(image)

Blend of polymers could one day make solar power lighter, cheaper and more efficient

Mon, 02 Mar 2015 10:52:01 EST

Scientists are reporting advances on how to one day make solar cells stronger, lighter, more flexible and less expensive when compared with the current silicon or germanium technology on the market.(image)

The biobattery: Turning sewage sludge into electricity and engine oil

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 11:25:39 EST

Sewage sludge, green waste, production residue from the food industry, straw or animal excrement – with the biobattery‘s modular concept a much larger range of biomass can be utilized for energy recovery than previously. Researchers show that they can convert organic residues into electricity, heat, purified gas, engine oil and high quality biochar using this process.(image)

Wind-powered freighters

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 08:45:59 EST

To make ships more eco-efficient, engineers have been working with alternative fuels. A Norwegian engineer is currently pursuing a new approach: With VindskipTM, he has designed a cargo ship that is powered by wind and gas. Software will ensure an optimum use of the available wind energy at any time.(image)

'Ecosystem services' help assess ocean energy development

Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:49:30 EST

Environmental scientists suggest that the way to fill vast gaps in knowledge about the ecological and socioeconomic impacts of ocean energy development is to consider how the benefits provided by ocean ecosystems change before and after the placement of ocean energy infrastructure.(image)

First direct observation of carbon dioxide's increasing greenhouse effect at Earth's surface

Wed, 25 Feb 2015 13:21:03 EST

Scientists have observed an increase in carbon dioxide's greenhouse effect at Earth's surface for the first time. They measured atmospheric carbon dioxide's increasing capacity to absorb thermal radiation emitted from Earth's surface over an 11-year period at two locations in North America. They attributed this upward trend to rising carbon dioxide levels from fossil fuel emissions.(image)

New technology could make treatment of oil and gas wastewater simpler, cheaper

Wed, 25 Feb 2015 12:27:39 EST

Oil and gas operations in the United States produce about 21 billion barrels of wastewater per year. The saltiness of the water and the organic contaminants it contains have traditionally made treatment difficult and expensive.(image)

Electric-car driving range and emissions depend on where you live

Wed, 25 Feb 2015 11:43:25 EST

Many car buyers weighing whether they should go all electric to help the planet have at least one new factor to consider before making the switch: geography. Based on a study of a commercially available electric car, scientists report that emissions and driving range can vary greatly depending on regional energy sources and climate.(image)

Magnetic nanoparticles enhance performance of solar cells

Wed, 25 Feb 2015 11:43:17 EST

Magnetic nanoparticles can increase the performance of solar cells made from polymers -- provided the mix is right. Adding about one per cent of such nanoparticles by weight makes the solar cells more efficient, according to new findings.(image)

Researchers enable solar cells to use more sunlight

Wed, 25 Feb 2015 09:41:30 EST

Scientists report progress in photovoltaic research: they have improved a component that will enable solar cells to use more energy of the sun and thus create a higher current.(image)

Novel pretreatment could cut biofuel costs by 30 percent or more

Tue, 24 Feb 2015 13:13:41 EST

Researchers have invented a novel pretreatment technology that could cut the cost of biofuels production by about 30 percent or more by dramatically reducing the amount of enzymes needed to breakdown the raw materials that form biofuels.(image)

Detecting defects at the nanoscale will profit solar panel production

Tue, 24 Feb 2015 10:28:45 EST

New research may lead to major efficiency gains and cost savings in the manufacture of flexible solar panels. The goal is to develop new technologies for the detection, cleaning and repair of micro and nanoscale defects in thin films that are vital in products such as printed electronics and solar panels.(image)

Renewable energy obtained from wastewater

Tue, 24 Feb 2015 08:31:14 EST

Researchers have devised an efficient way to obtain electrical energy and hydrogen by using a wastewater treatment process. The proposed system uses bacteria which consumes the organic material and produces electricity which allows producing hydrogen, the energetic vector of the future. The results point to further developments of this technology at industrial scale.(image)

System to turn wastewater into fresh water developed

Fri, 20 Feb 2015 11:08:32 EST

A professor has shown that improving wastewater treatment and saving energy are not only essential, but they’re also compatible.(image)

Cheap solar cells made from shrimp shells

Wed, 18 Feb 2015 19:17:24 EST

Researchers have successfully created electricity-generating solar-cells with chemicals found the shells of shrimps and other crustaceans for the first time.(image)

Gear technology helps lower cost of wave energy farming

Wed, 18 Feb 2015 09:21:39 EST

A Swedish company has cracked the challenge of scaling up wave energy, with the help of new technology. CorPower Ocean's new wave energy system, which uses a gearbox design, generates five times more energy per ton of device, at one third of the cost when compared to competing state-of-the art technologies. Energy output is three to four times higher than traditional wave power systems.(image)

New desalination technology could answer state drought woes

Tue, 17 Feb 2015 14:42:46 EST

Could desalination be the answer to California’s drought? As parts of the state become drier, scientists are looking at ways to turn seawater into drinkable water.(image)

Going negative with carbon

Sat, 14 Feb 2015 18:45:15 EST

A growing number of scientists warn that low-carbon technologies might not be enough to curb global warming. The solution, they say, could require a new suite of carbon-negative technologies that actually remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.(image)

Bionic leaf: Researchers use bacteria to convert solar energy into liquid fuel

Mon, 09 Feb 2015 16:14:23 EST

Solar energy can be harnessed using electricity from photovoltaic cells to yield hydrogen that can be stored in fuel cells. But hydrogen has failed to catch on as a practical fuel for cars or for power. Converting solar energy into liquid fuel could accelerate its adoption as a power source.(image)

Combine solar thermal energy with biomass gasification for natural gas substitute

Mon, 09 Feb 2015 13:07:36 EST

A new study examining the financial viability of solar-heated biomass gasification technologies that produce a natural gas substitute product concludes that combining these renewable resources can make economic sense.(image)

Electricity from biomass with carbon capture could make western US carbon-negative

Mon, 09 Feb 2015 13:07:32 EST

Biomass conversion to electricity combined with technologies for capturing and storing carbon, which should become viable within 35 years, could result in a carbon-negative power grid in the western US by 2050. That prediction comes from an analysis of various fuel scenarios. Bioenergy with carbon capture and sequestration may be a better use of plant feedstocks than making biofuels.(image)

Fishing vessel transformed into a wave power plant

Mon, 09 Feb 2015 09:49:40 EST

Researchers are demonstrating that it is possible for a redundant fishing vessel to be used as a power plant. The first vessel of its kind is now anchored offshore in the Stadthavet area west in Norway, with the aim of generating electricity from the natural forces of the sea.(image)

Chances of saving with solar energy greater for Indiana farms than homes

Thu, 05 Feb 2015 12:31:45 EST

The probability of saving money by using solar energy rather than standard grid electricity is 92 percent for Indiana farm businesses and about 50 percent for homes, energy economists find.(image)

High efficiency concentrating solar cells move to the rooftop

Thu, 05 Feb 2015 12:31:21 EST

Ultra-high efficiency solar cells similar to those used in space may now be possible on your rooftop thanks to a new microscale solar concentration technology developed by an international team of researchers.(image)

Closer look at flawed studies behind policies used to promote 'low-carbon' biofuels

Thu, 05 Feb 2015 12:27:37 EST

Nearly all of the studies used to promote biofuels as climate-friendly alternatives to petroleum fuels are flawed and need to be redone, according to a researcher who reviewed more than 100 papers published over more than two decades.(image)

Using solar energy to improve desalination process

Thu, 05 Feb 2015 11:15:21 EST

 A new process to decompose waste desalination brine using solar energy, which neutralizes ocean acidity and reduces environmental impact, has been proposed.(image)

Preventing greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere

Thu, 05 Feb 2015 08:37:00 EST

A novel class of materials that enable a safer, cheaper, and more energy-efficient process for removing greenhouse gas from power plant emissions has been developed by a multi-institution team of researchers. The approach could be an important advance in carbon capture and sequestration.(image)