Energy

Smallest Galaxies Give Insight Into Dark Matter
October 16, 2007 06:31 PM -

PASADENA, Calif.--An unusual population of the darkest, most lightweight galaxies known has shed new light on a cosmic conundrum. Astronomers used the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii to show that the recently uncovered dwarf galaxies each contain 99 percent of a mysterious type of matter known as dark matter. Dark matter has gravitational effects on ordinary atoms but does not produce any light. It accounts for the majority of the mass in the universe.

New observations of eight of these galaxies now suggest that the "Missing Dwarf Galaxy" problem--a discrepancy between the number of extremely small, faint galaxies that cosmological theories predict should exist near the Milky Way, and the number that have actually been observed--is not as severe as previously thought, and may have been solved completely.

World Bank appeals for aid to tackle climate change
October 16, 2007 12:32 PM - Lesley Wroughton, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The World Bank has called for more funding from donor countries to increase its work on climate change, as global development ministers prepare to meet this weekend to examine the bank's role in promoting clean energy, according to documents published ahead of the meetings.

The World Bank Development Committee, made up of development ministers from member countries, will meet on Sunday to examine the bank's global Clean Energy Investment Framework, which looks to improve access to clean energy while finding ways to finance low-carbon alternatives in developing countries.

Brazil urges Africa to join "biofuel revolution"
October 16, 2007 08:30 AM - Christian Tsoumou -Reuters

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has called on Africa to join the "biofuel revolution," saying it would help strengthen the world's poorest economies and fight global warming.

Speaking during an African tour, Lula said Brazil's experience with biofuels showed the environmental and economic benefits of mass producing ethanol and bio-diesel.

Virgin Atlantic 747 to Test Biofuel in Early 2008
October 15, 2007 10:47 PM - Al Yoon, Reuters

BOSTON (Reuters) - British billionaire Richard Branson said on Monday his Virgin Group hopes to produce clean biofuels by around the start of the next decade and early next year will test a jet plane on renewable fuel.

Virgin hopes to provide clean fuel for buses, trains and cars within three or four years, Branson told a Mortgage Bankers Association meeting in Boston.

In the meantime, Virgin will be conducting a test jet flight on renewable fuels. "Early next year we will fly one of our 747s without passengers with one of the fuels that we have developed," Branson told the annual conference.

Biofueling water problems
October 15, 2007 03:19 PM - Environmental Science and Technology

A new report from the U.S. National Research Council raises questions about the effects that homegrown fuels could have on water quality.

Environmental groups hit Toyota on fuel economy
October 12, 2007 03:13 PM - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Leading environmental groups pressed Toyota Motor Co on Thursday to drop its opposition to the tougher of two fuel economy proposals in Congress, calling the automaker's stance contradictory.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Leading environmental groups pressed Toyota Motor Co on Thursday to drop its opposition to the tougher of two fuel economy proposals in Congress, calling the automaker's stance contradictory.

In a letter to Shigeru Hayakawa, Toyota's chairman and chief executive of North American operations, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the National Environmental Trust and other organizations said Toyota should support the higher standard since it makes the best-selling gasoline-electric hybrid, the Prius.

EPA to develop rules for storing CO2 emissions
October 11, 2007 05:30 PM -

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday said it will develop new rules governing how coal-fired power plants and other industrial facilities sock away heat-trapping carbon dioxide gas in underground reservoirs.

Burying CO2 in underground reservoirs is not commercially available yet, but has emerged as one possible way to slow global warming's potentially catastrophic results including flooding, heat waves and severe storms.

The EPA said in a statement it will propose regulations next summer to "ensure there is a consistent and effective permit system under the Safe Drinking Water Act for commercial-scale geologic sequestration programs to help reduce the effects of climate change."

China and India biofuels could threaten food output
October 11, 2007 08:18 AM - Alister Doyle - Reuters

Plans by China and India to raise biofuels production from irrigated maize and sugarcane could aggravate water shortages and undermine food output, an international report said on Thursday.

The two countries, the most populous on the planet, might ease the projected water shortages by developing new biofuel technologies or boosting rain-fed crops such as sweet sorghum, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) said.

U.S. ethanol rush may harm water supplies: report
October 10, 2007 02:01 PM - Timothy Gardner, Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. ethanol rush could drain drinking water supplies in parts of the country because corn -- a key source of the country's alternative fuel -- requires vast quantities of water for irrigation, the National Research Council reported on Wednesday.

U.S. President George W. Bush has called for production of 35 billion gallons per year of alternative motor fuels including ethanol by 2017, as part of an effort to wean the country from foreign oil. U.S. capacity to make the fuel, believed to emit low levels of greenhouse gases, has spiked about 28 percent this year to nearly 7 billion gallons.

But the use of more corn to make ethanol could drain water supplies like the Ogallala, or High Plains, aquifer, which extends from west Texas up into South Dakota and Wyoming.

IAEA chief in India as worries rise on nuclear deal
October 10, 2007 10:13 AM - Alistair Scrutton -Reuters

The U.N. nuclear watchdog's head arrived on Wednesday in India's capital for talks with government leaders, as concern grew a prolonged row with communists could scupper a nuclear deal with the United States or spark snap elections.

Mohamed ElBaradei, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief, will meet Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee as part of a long-scheduled trip coinciding with threats from the leftists to withdraw crucial parliamentary support if the deal moves ahead.

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