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Power shift: University of Toronto researcher applies AI to monitor city's electrical grid

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 08:12:00 EST

From indoor lighting to outdoor street lamps, our world is made brighter by artificial light. But the light that we perceive to be constant, actually fluctuates.A University of Toronto computer scientist and researchers from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology are studying electrical grids for cities, creating a camera that records the city's lights at a slower speed to get more accurate readings of changing voltages at particular locations.(image)



3D imaging of surface chemistry in confinement

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 15:35:00 EST

EPFL researchers have developed an optical imaging tool to visualize surface chemistry in real time. They imaged the interfacial chemistry in the microscopically confined geometry of a simple glass micro-capillary. The glass is covered with hydroxyl (-OH) groups that can lose a proton – a much-studied chemical reaction that is important in geology, chemistry and technology. A 100-micron long capillary displayed a remarkable spread in surface OH bond dissociation constant of a factor of a billion. The research has been published in Science.(image)



NASA Looks to Solar Eclipse to Help Understand Earth's Energy System

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 15:04:00 EST

It was midafternoon, but it was dark in an area in Boulder, Colorado on Aug. 3, 1998. A thick cloud appeared overhead and dimmed the land below for more than 30 minutes. Well-calibrated radiometers showed that there were very low levels of light reaching the ground, sufficiently low that researchers decided to simulate this interesting event with computer models. Now in 2017, inspired by the event in Boulder, NASA scientists will explore the moon’s eclipse of the sun to learn more about Earth’s energy system.On Aug. 21, 2017, scientists are looking to this year’s total solar eclipse passing across America to improve our modelling capabilities of Earth’s energy. Guoyong Wen, a NASA scientist working for Morgan State University in Baltimore, is leading a team to gather data from the ground and satellites before, during and after the eclipse so they can simulate this year’s eclipse using an advanced computer model, called a 3-D radiative transfer model. If successful, Wen and his team will help develop new calculations that improve our estimates of the amount of solar energy reaching the ground, and our understanding of one of the key players in regulating Earth’s energy system, clouds.(image)



Shading and Lighting Retrofits Slash Energy Use in New York ''Living Lab'' Office Demonstration

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 14:30:00 EST

By using advanced lighting and automated shades, scientists from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) found that occupants on one floor of a high-rise office building in New York City were able to reduce lighting energy usage by nearly 80 percent in some areas.The dramatic results emerged at a “living laboratory” set up to test four sets of technologies on one 40,000 square-foot floor of a building.(image)



Berkeley Lab to Lead Multimillion-Dollar Geothermal Energy Project

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 14:23:00 EST

The Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) will lead a new $9 million project aimed at removing technical barriers to commercialization of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), a clean energy technology with the potential to power 100 million American homes.Berkeley Lab will partner with seven other DOE national labs and six universities to develop field experiments focused on understanding and modeling rock fractures, an essential element of geothermal systems. Scientists will use the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in South Dakota to create small-scale fracture networks in crystalline rock 1,500 meters below ground.(image)



United States' Electric Grid Remains Vulnerable to Natural Disasters, Cyber and Physical Attacks; Actions Needed to Improve Resiliency of the Power System

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 14:02:00 EST

With growing risks to the nation’s electrical grid from natural disasters and as a potential target for malicious attacks, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should work closely with utility operators and other stakeholders to improve cyber and physical security and resilience, says a new congressionally mandated report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.  The grid remains vulnerable to diverse threats that can potentially cause extensive damage and result in large-area, prolonged outages that could cost billions of dollars and cause loss of life, the report found. The committee that conducted the study and wrote the report recommended ways to make the grid more resilient through the development and demonstration of technologies and organizational strategies that minimize the likelihood that outages will happen, reduce the impacts and speed recovery if they do, all the while developing mechanisms for continual improvements based on changing threats.(image)



Thawing permafrost releases old greenhouse gas

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 10:18:00 EST

The thawing permafrost soils in the Arctic regions might contribute to the greenhouse effect in two ways: On the one hand rising temperatures lead to higher microbial methane production close to the surface. On the other hand deeper thawing opens new pathways for old, geologic methane. This is shown in a study in the Mackenzie Delta (Canada), conducted by scientists from the German Research Centre for Geosciences GFZ, the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) and partners in the US. The study is published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.(image)