Wind Surpasses Hydroelectric as Top U.S. Renewable Energy Source
February 10, 2017 02:57 PM - Yale E360
For decades, hydroelectric dams served as the United States’ top source of renewable energy. But last year, wind power took the top spot, according to a new report by the American Wind Energy Association, an industry trade group. It is now the fourth largest source of energy in the U.S., behind natural gas, coal, and nuclear.
Newly engineered material can cool roofs, structures with zero energy consumption
February 9, 2017 03:03 PM - University of Colorado
A team of University of Colorado Boulder engineers has developed a scalable manufactured metamaterial — an engineered material with extraordinary properties not found in nature — to act as a kind of air conditioning system for structures. It has the ability to cool objects even under direct sunlight with zero energy and water consumption.
Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
February 9, 2017 09:33 AM - University of Bonn
Those who take long showers use a great deal of water and energy. Yet people who enjoy taking long showers do not usually realize to what extent they are damaging the environment. However, if a clever measuring system shows current consumption, this immediately leads to increased efficiency. The consumption information available on the display is incentive enough to reduce water and energy consumption when showering on average by 22 per cent. This was shown by a study conducted by the Universities of Bonn and Bamberg, as well as ETH Zurich. The results have initially been published online in the journal Management Science. The print edition will be published soon.
Svalbard's electric power could come from hydrogen
February 8, 2017 02:06 PM - SINTEF
The energy supply to Longyearbyen, midway between continental Norway and the North Pole, is a hot topic in the climate debate.
Longyearbyen is the largest settlement and the administrative centre of Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. Today, Longyearbyen obtains its electric power and district heating from its coal power plant, the only one in Norway.
Recycling yogurt waste to produce electricity, nutrients and more dairy foods
February 8, 2017 01:47 PM - American Chemical Society
America’s appetite for Greek yogurt has skyrocketed over the past decade. But for every container of Greek yogurt consumed, you could fill two or three more with the acid whey it produces. The cover story in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, takes a look at the interesting ways scientists are making use of the byproduct.
NREL Research Pinpoints Promise of Polycrystalline Perovskites
February 8, 2017 11:25 AM - National Renewable Energy Laboratory
A team of scientists from the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) determined that surface recombination limits the performance of polycrystalline perovskite solar cells.
Considerable research into perovskites at NREL and elsewhere has proved the material's effectiveness at converting sunlight into electricity, routinely topping 20 percent efficiency. The sunlight creates mobile electrons whose movement generates the power but upon encountering defects can slip into a non-productive process. Known as a recombination, this process reduces the efficiency of a solar cell. For the cell to be the most efficient, the recombination must occur slowly.
What Happened to the Sun over 7,000 Years Ago?
February 7, 2017 10:47 AM - Nagoya University
An international team led by researchers at Nagoya University, along with US and Swiss colleagues, has identified a new type of solar event and dated it to the year 5480 BC; they did this by measuring carbon-14 levels in tree rings, which reflect the effects of cosmic radiation on the atmosphere at the time. They have also proposed causes of this event, thereby extending knowledge of how the sun behaves.
When the activity of the sun changes, it has direct effects on the earth. For example, when the sun is relatively inactive, the amount of a type of carbon called carbon-14 increases in the earth's atmosphere. Because carbon in the air is absorbed by trees, carbon-14 levels in tree rings actually reflect solar activity and unusual solar events in the past. The team took advantage of such a phenomenon by analyzing a specimen from a bristlecone pine tree, a species that can live for thousands of years, to look back deep into the history of the sun.
Campus natural gas power plants pose no radon risks
February 7, 2017 10:13 AM - David Kubarek via Penn State
When Penn State decided to convert its two power plants from their historic use of coal as a source of energy to natural gas, there was concern about radon emissions. Although radon is known to exist in natural gas, now Penn State research indicates that it does not escape from these two power plants in harmful amounts.
By converting the West Campus Steam Plant on the University Park Campus, Penn State reduced its greenhouse gas emissions at the plant by nearly 40 percent, but the University wanted to make sure that the conversion was not causing a significant increase of radon levels in the atmosphere. Penn State also operates a second power plant on the East end of campus near its football stadium.
Low-Cost Imaging System Detects Natural Gas Leaks in Real Time
February 6, 2017 11:17 AM - The Optical Society
Researchers have developed an infrared imaging system that could one day offer low-cost, real-time detection of methane gas leaks in pipelines and at oil and gas facilities. Leaks of methane, the primary component of natural gas, can be costly and dangerous while also contributing to climate change as a greenhouse gas.
Flipping the switch on ammonia production
February 3, 2017 10:43 AM - University of Utah
Nearly a century ago, German chemist Fritz Haber won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for a process to generate ammonia from hydrogen and nitrogen gases. The process, still in use today, ushered in a revolution in agriculture, but now consumes around one percent of the world’s energy to achieve the high pressures and temperatures that drive the chemical reactions to produce ammonia.
Today, University of Utah chemists publish a different method, using enzymes derived from nature, that generates ammonia at room temperature. As a bonus, the reaction generates a small electrical current. The method is published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition.