Sci/tech

Stronger turbine blades with molybdenum silicides
September 23, 2016 04:24 PM - National Institute for Materials Science via ScienceDaily

Researchers at Kyoto University have found that molybdenum silicides can improve the efficiency of turbine blades in ultrahigh-temperature combustion systems.

Gas turbines are the engines that generate electricity in power plants. The operating temperatures of their combustion systems can exceed 1600 °C. The nickel-based turbine blades used in these systems melt at temperatures 200 °C lower and thus require air-cooling to function. Turbine blades made out of materials with higher melting temperatures would require less fuel consumption and lead to lower CO2 emissions.

Inexpensive semiconducting organic polymers can harvest sunlight to split carbon dioxide into alcohol fuels
September 23, 2016 09:33 AM - University of Texas, Arlington via ScienceDaily

Chemists at The University of Texas at Arlington have been the first to demonstrate that an organic semiconductor polymer called polyaniline is a promising photocathode material for the conversion of carbon dioxide into alcohol fuels without the need for a co-catalyst.

"This opens up a new field of research into new applications for inexpensive, readily available organic semiconducting polymers within solar fuel cells," said principal researcher Krishnan Rajeshwar, UTA distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry and co-Director of UTA's Center for Renewable Energy, Science & Technology.

Renewables have the economic advantage over fossil fuels
September 16, 2016 11:00 AM - Alex Kirby, Ecologist

A new energy market analysis shows the average cost of electricity from renewables is already lower than from fossil fuels, writes Alex Kirby. And as renewables eat deeper into the 'market share' of coal and gas power plants, so the entire economics of fossil fuel power generation will unravel.

The cheapest way of generating energy today is to use renewable fuels - and the authors of a new analysis predict that renewables are set to enjoy even more of an advantage within a few years.

The study by the Carbon Tracker Initiative says renewable power generation costs are already lower on average worldwide than those of fossil fuels.

Green city in UAE desert has much to teach the world
September 14, 2016 02:19 PM - University of Birmingham

A new desert city in the United Arab Emirates without light switches or water taps has much to teach people around the world about saving energy and precious resources.

With its low-rise and energy efficient buildings, smart metering, excellent public transport - a personal transportation pod is pictured below - and extensive use of renewable energy, the 2,000 citizens of Masdar City, in Abu Dhabi, are living in a place which is a ‘green’ example to city planners around the globe.

New tools assess the future of wind power
September 14, 2016 11:29 AM - Carnegie Institution for Science via ScienceDaily

Using software tools developed by Near Zero, a research group hosted by the Carnegie Institution for Science's Department of Global Ecology, a team of researchers has completed the largest expert survey yet on any energy technology, in this case wind energy.

Near Zero conducts research and assessment of energy and climate issues, focusing on integrating quantitative analysis with expert judgment. In this way, they inform decision-making to accelerate the global transition to a near-zero emission energy system. To support this work, Near Zero has developed open-source software tools to examine where experts agree and disagree and why.

Free-swimming Ocean Gliders Help Scientists Understand Storm Intensity
September 13, 2016 10:52 AM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

A regional team from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Rutgers University, the University of Maine, the University of Maryland, and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute mobilized Friday in advance of post-Tropical Storm Hermine’s arrival in the Northeast to gather data from new ocean instruments that will help better predict the intensity and evolution of future tropical storms along the US East Coast.  

The team, part of the TEMPESTS program organized through the Cooperative Institute for the North Atlantic Region, is funded by the NOAA office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.

Carbon-coated iron catalyst structure could lead to more-active fuel cells
September 12, 2016 04:46 PM - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign via EurekAlert!

Fuel cells have long held promise as power sources, but low efficiency has created obstacles to realizing that promise. Researchers at the University of Illinois and collaborators have identified the active form of an iron-containing catalyst for the trickiest part of the process: reducing oxygen gas, which has two oxygen atoms, so that it can break apart and combine with ionized hydrogen to make water. The finding could help researchers refine better catalysts, making fuel cells a more energy- and cost-efficient option for powering vehicles and other applications.

Led by U. of I. chemistry professor Andrew Gewirth, the researchers published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Meet a Surprising Plastic Alternative: Milk
September 1, 2016 07:07 AM - s.e. smith, Care2

What if you could have your packaging and eat it too? We’ve seen rice paper packaging on Japanese candies, but edible plastic? Thanks to researchers at the USDA, it’s not too far in the future.

And it’s not just an edible and environmentally-friendly plastic alternative; it’s actually better at keeping food fresh than petroleum-based plastics. It’ll be a few years before you see the material on shelves — don’t start chomping down just yet — but it represents a big revolution in the way we view food packaging.

Waterloo chemists develop promising cheap, sustainable battery for grid energy storage
August 26, 2016 03:57 PM - University of Waterloo via EurekAlert!

Chemists at the University of Waterloo have developed a long-lasting zinc-ion battery that costs half the price of current lithium-ion batteries and could help enable communities to shift away from traditional power plants and into renewable solar and wind energy production.

Professor Linda Nazar and her colleagues from the Faculty of Science at Waterloo made the important discovery, which appears in the journal, Nature Energy.

New electrical energy storage material shows its power
August 24, 2016 06:17 PM - Northwestern University via EurekAlert!

A powerful new material developed by Northwestern University chemist William Dichtel and his research team could one day speed up the charging process of electric cars and help increase their driving range.

An electric car currently relies on a complex interplay of both batteries and supercapacitors to provide the energy it needs to go places, but that could change.

"Our material combines the best of both worlds -- the ability to store large amounts of electrical energy or charge, like a battery, and the ability to charge and discharge rapidly, like a supercapacitor," said Dichtel, a pioneer in the young research field of covalent organic frameworks (COFs).

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