New 13-year Study Tracks Impact of Changing Climate on a Key Marine Food Source
October 20, 2016 03:08 PM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

A new multiyear study from scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has shown for the first time how changes in ocean temperature affect a key species of phytoplankton. The study, published in the October 21 issue of the journal Science, tracked levels of Synechococcus—a tiny bacterium common in marine ecosystems—near the coast of Massachusetts over a 13-year period. As ocean temperatures increased during that time, annual blooms of Synechococcus occurred up to four weeks earlier than usual because cells divided faster in warmer conditions, the study found.

Move over, solar: The next big renewable energy source could be at our feet
October 20, 2016 02:56 PM - Will Cushman

Flooring can be made from any number of sustainable materials, making it, generally, an eco-friendly feature in homes and businesses alike.

Now, however, flooring could be even more “green,” thanks to an inexpensive, simple method developed by University of Wisconsin–Madison materials engineers that allows them to convert footsteps into usable electricity.

Safe new storage method could be key to future of hydrogen-powered vehicles
October 20, 2016 01:38 PM - University of Cambridge

Hydrogen is often described as the fuel of the future, particularly when applied to hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles. One of the main obstacles facing this technology – a potential solution to future sustainable transport – has been the lack of a lightweight, safe on-board hydrogen storage material.

Discovery of Carbon Storage Signaling Mechanism in Algae Offers New Potential for Sustainable Biofuel Production
October 19, 2016 03:44 PM - Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

James Umen, Ph.D., associate member at Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and colleagues have discovered a way to make algae better oil producers without sacrificing growth. The findings were published September 6, in a paper titled, “Synergism between inositol polyphosphates and TOR kinase signaling in nutrient sensing, growth control and lipid metabolism in Chlamydomonas,” in The Plant Cell. Umen and his team including lead author Inmaculada Couso, Ph.D., and collaborators Bradley Evans Ph.D., director, Proteomics & Mass Spectrometry and Doug Allen, Ph.D., USDA Research Scientist at the Danforth Center identified a mutation in the green alga Chlamydomonas which substantially removes a constraint that is widely observed in micro-algae where the highest yields of oil can only be obtained from starving cultures.

Unraveling the Science Behind Biomass Breakdown
October 18, 2016 04:39 PM - Rachel Harken via Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Lignocellulosic biomass—plant matter such as cornstalks, straw, and woody plants—is a sustainable source for production of bio-based fuels and chemicals. However, the deconstruction of biomass is one of the most complex processes in bioenergy technologies. Although researchers at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) had already uncovered information about how woody plants and waste biomass can be converted into biofuel more easily, they have now discovered the chemical details behind that process.

Wave energy researchers dive deep to advance clean energy source
October 13, 2016 07:25 AM - Sandia National Laboratories

One of the biggest untapped clean energy sources on the planet — wave energy — could one day power millions of homes across the U.S. But more than a century after the first tests of the power of ocean waves, it is still one of the hardest energy sources to capture.

While global methane emissions are up, study says fossil fuels not the culprit
October 12, 2016 01:26 PM - Susan Phillips

A new study from NOAA, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, puts a new twist on a tricky question about the impact of increased oil and gas production on greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists have detected increased rates of methane emissions globally since 2007. That uptick corresponds to the rapid boom in U.S. shale gas and shale oil production, and some hypothesized that the two could be connected. But it turns out that the correlation may not necessarily be a cause.

Pew: Renewable energy enjoys wide support while fossil fuels divide national opinion
October 12, 2016 12:39 PM - Robert Walton

Pew Research's "Politics of Climate" survey is a mixed bag for energy industry watchers, revealing a solid chunk of Americans support expanded fossil fuel use, while almost everyone supports renewables.

"One spot of unity in an otherwise divided environmental policy landscape is that the vast majority of Americans support the concept of expanding both solar and wind power," the think tank said in a blog post. "The public is more closely divided when it comes to expanding fossil fuel energies such as coal mining, offshore oil and gas drilling, and hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas."

Airlines to Test Alternative Fuel
October 12, 2016 06:35 AM - Anum Yoon, Triple Pundit

As the world turns its attention to addressing global warming, the airline industry, too, is researching ways to do its part and lower greenhouse gas emissions. One option is investing more into the development and integration of alternative fuels. Biofuels made from vegetable oil, corn and even household garbage are all very real possibilities.

Turning Sunlight into Fuel
October 11, 2016 03:57 PM - Renee Cho via Columbia University Earth Institute.

In one hour, the Earth receives enough energy from the sun to meet all of mankind’s energy needs for one year. Yet the world uses little more than one percent of the sun’s energy for our electricity needs. A major obstacle to being able to tap into the full potential of solar energy is that it is intermittent—we cannot get a steady supply of solar energy because the sun doesn’t always shine.

In order for renewable energy to take hold on the scale necessary to help combat climate change, an efficient and economical way to store the sun’s energy is needed for times when the sun doesn’t shine. But even when that technology becomes available, we will still need to find a way to use renewable energy to power the transportation sector, one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

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