Energy

The Future of Cities is Bright
July 4, 2016 10:46 AM - Tim Fleming, Triple Pundit

What does the “city of the future” look like?

In an era of rapid technological advancement and increasing urbanization, it’s a fair question. Eighty percent of the U.S. population already lives in large cities* – each with a smartphone, wearable or other device in hand.

As such, city officials are beginning to piece together how those bits of technology can connect with assets like energy meters, garbage cans, street lights, traffic lights, water pipes and more. But, how do we make it all work together? By building a truly smart city.

A truly smart city is one with seamless connectivity that solves local problems and provides its inhabitants with safety, cleanliness and the most efficient ways to get from Point A to Point B. It’s a city that optimizes how we use valuable resources to help improve quality of life, positively impact our planet and open new economic opportunities. A truly smart city provides tremendous opportunities for its citizens and beyond.

New technology could improve use of small-scale hydropower in developing nations
July 1, 2016 07:10 AM - Oregon State University via EurekAlert!

Engineers at Oregon State University have created a new computer modeling package that people anywhere in the world could use to assess the potential of a stream for small-scale, “run of river” hydropower, an option to produce electricity that’s of special importance in the developing world.

The system is easy to use; does not require data that is often unavailable in foreign countries or remote locations; and can consider hydropower potential not only now, but in the future as projected changes in climate and stream runoff occur.

Saved by the sun
June 29, 2016 12:21 PM - University of Alberta via EurekAlert!

A new twist on the use of renewable energy is saving children's lives in Africa. The innovation--a solar powered oxygen delivery system--is providing concentrated oxygen in hospital for children suffering from severe pneumonia.

The device created by Dr. Michael Hawkes, an assistant professor in the University of Alberta's Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, is the focus of a recently published study in The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease and is already in use in two hospitals in Uganda.

"Solar-powered oxygen is using freely available resources--the sun and air--to treat children with pneumonia in the most remote settings," says Hawkes. "It's very gratifying for a pediatrician doing research in a lower-resource setting to fill a clinical gap and save lives. It's what our work is all about."

Floating Solar: A Win-Win for Drought-Stricken Lakes in U.S.
June 29, 2016 09:17 AM - Philip Warburg via Yale Environment360

The Colorado River’s two great reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, are in retreat. Multi-year droughts and chronic overuse have taken their toll, to be sure, but vast quantities of water are also lost to evaporation. What if the same scorching sun that causes so much of this water loss were harnessed for electric power? 

Installing floating solar photovoltaic arrays, sometimes called “floatovoltaics,” on a portion of these two reservoirs in the southwestern United States could produce clean, renewable energy while shielding significant expandes of water from the hot desert sun. 

Building a better battery
June 28, 2016 03:14 PM - Texas A&M University via EurekAlert!

Forget mousetraps -- today's scientists will get the cheese if they manage to build a better battery.

An international team led by Texas A&M University chemist Sarbajit Banerjee is one step closer, thanks to new research published today (June 28) in the journal Nature Communications that has the potential to create more efficient batteries by shedding light on the cause of one of their biggest problems -- a "traffic jam" of ions that slows down their charging and discharging process.

All batteries have three main components: two electrodes and an intervening electrolyte. Lithium ion batteries work under the so-called rocking-chair model. Imagine discharging and charging a battery as similar to the back-and-forth motion of a rocking chair. As the chair rocks one way, using its stored energy, lithium ions flow out of one electrode through the electrolyte and into the other electrode. Then as the chair rocks the other way, charging the battery after a day's use, the reverse happens, emptying the second electrode of lithium ions.

Why the Increase in Solar-Powered Schools?
June 24, 2016 05:02 PM - Jake DiRe, Triple Pundit

Out of the 125,000 K-12 schools in the United States, over 3,700 are running on solar power. Three-thousands of these schools installed their solar power systems within the past six years, as solar technology continues to become less expensive and more sophisticated.

This trend in powering our schools reflects the growing recognition by district and state officials that photovoltaic electrical systems offer significant financial and environmental benefits. Here are four key reasons why more schools are making this transition.

Energy from sunlight: Further steps towards artificial photosynthesis
June 24, 2016 01:43 PM - University of Basel via EurekAlert!

Chemists from the Universities of Basel and Zurich in Switzerland have come one step closer to generating energy from sunlight: for the first time, they were able to reproduce one of the crucial phases of natural photosynthesis with artificial molecules. Their results have been published by the journal Angewandte Chemie (international edition).

Green plants are able to temporarily store electric charges after the absorption of sunlight by using a so-called molecular charge accumulator. The two research teams were able to observe this process in artificial molecules that they created specifically for this experiment.

Using Only Renewable Energy, Portugal Powered Its Entire Country for Four Days
June 21, 2016 05:50 PM - Susan Bird, Care2

Portugal just did something pretty amazing. In fact, it’s historic — something no other nation has ever done. Portugal just powered its entire country’s electricity needs for four consecutive days using nothing but renewable energy.

Using a combination of solar panels, wind turbines, biofuels, geothermal heat and hydroelectric power, Portugal powered everything requiring electricity for 107 hours between Saturday morning, May 7, 2016, and Wednesday evening, May 11, 2016. The country’s ZERO System Sustainable Land Association, in collaboration with the Portuguese Renewable Energy Association, released information about this impressive achievement on its website.

Chemists find new way to recycle plastic waste into fuel
June 21, 2016 05:00 PM - University of California – Irvine via EurekAlert!

A new way of recycling millions of tons of plastic garbage into liquid fuel has been devised by researchers from the University of California, Irvine and the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry (SIOC) in China.

"Synthetic plastics are a fundamental part of modern life, but our use of them in large volume has created serious environmental problems," said UCI chemist Zhibin Guan. "Our goal through this research was to address the issue of plastic pollution as well as achieving a beneficial outcome of creating a new source of liquid fuel."

How China can ramp up wind power
June 21, 2016 11:38 AM - Massachusetts Institute of Technology via ScienceDaily

China has an opportunity to massively increase its use of wind power -- if it properly integrates wind into its existing power system, according to a new study. The research forecasts that wind power could provide 26 percent of China's projected electricity demand by 2030, up from 3 percent in 2015.

Such a change would be a substantial gain in the global transition to renewable energy, since China produces the most total greenhouse gas emissions of any country in the world.

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