Energy

Berkeley Lab to Lead Multimillion-Dollar Geothermal Energy Project
July 20, 2017 02:23 PM - DOE / Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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.

United States' Electric Grid Remains Vulnerable to Natural Disasters, Cyber and Physical Attacks; Actions Needed to Improve Resiliency of the Power System
July 20, 2017 02:02 PM - National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

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.

Thawing permafrost releases old greenhouse gas
July 20, 2017 10:18 AM - GFZ GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Helmholtz Centre

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.

Bringing neural networks to cellphones
July 19, 2017 06:07 PM - Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

In recent years, the best-performing artificial-intelligence systems — in areas such as autonomous driving, speech recognition, computer vision, and automatic translation — have come courtesy of software systems known as neural networks.

But neural networks take up a lot of memory and consume a lot of power, so they usually run on servers in the cloud, which receive data from desktop or mobile devices and then send back their analyses.

Battery500's first seedling projects awarded nearly $6 million
July 19, 2017 12:00 PM - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The advanced batteries that will power tomorrow's electric vehicles are closer to being a reality thanks to more than $5.7 million in funding awarded to 15 different projects through the Department of Energy's Battery500 consortium.

The new projects are the first to be funded through the consortium, which is led by DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and involves multiple partners at universities and other national labs. The new seedling projects were announced July 12 as part of a larger unveiling of a total of $19.4 million in new DOE funding for vehicle technologies research.

Developing new technology for cheaper biofuel
July 19, 2017 08:47 AM - University of Saskatchewan

PhD chemistry student Leila Dehabadi has developed a new way to separate water from ethanol, the key component in alcoholic beverages and biofuel, using starch-based materials such as corn. The method could reduce costs because it doesn’t involve using additional energy to isolate the ethanol.

“Compared to distillation, this new approach based on green chemistry and engineering will be a significant saving to biofuel and alcohol production in Saskatchewan and globally by changing the way water is separated from ethanol mixtures,” said Lee Wilson, U of S chemistry professor and Dehabadi’s supervisor. 

Non-toxic alternative for next-generation solar cells
July 18, 2017 03:54 PM - University of Cambridge

Researchers have demonstrated how a non-toxic alternative to lead could form the basis of next-generation solar cells.

Climate impacts of super-giant oilfields go up with age
July 18, 2017 03:10 PM - Stanford University

Even oilfields aren’t immune to the ravages of time: A new study finds that as some of the world’s largest oilfields age, the energy required to keep them operating can rise dramatically even as the amount of petroleum they produce drops.

Climate impacts of super-giant oilfields go up with age
July 18, 2017 03:10 PM - Stanford University

Even oilfields aren’t immune to the ravages of time: A new study finds that as some of the world’s largest oilfields age, the energy required to keep them operating can rise dramatically even as the amount of petroleum they produce drops.

Harnessing the right amount of sunshine
July 17, 2017 01:59 PM - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Photosynthesis, which allows energy from the sun to be converted into life-sustaining sugars, can also be hazardous to green plants. If they absorb too much sunlight, the extra energy destroys their tissue.

To combat this, green plants have developed a defense mechanism known as photoprotection, which allows them to dissipate the extra energy. Researchers from MIT and the University of Verona have now discovered how the key protein in this process allows moss and green algae to protect themselves from too much sun.

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