Sci/tech

It May Not Cost You More To Drive Home In A Climate-Friendly Car
September 27, 2016 02:34 PM - NPR

It has been a common belief that low-emissions vehicles, like hybrids and electric cars, are more expensive than other choices. But a new study finds that when operating and maintenance costs are included in a vehicle's price, cleaner cars may actually be a better bet.

Could California's gridlock generate electricity for the grid?
September 27, 2016 02:05 PM - Yale Environment 360

California is testing whether its heavy traffic can produce not just emissions and air pollution, but electricity. The state’s Energy Commission says it will spend $2 million to examine the potential of using piezoelectric crystals embedded under asphalt as a way to send the energy created by moving cars to the grid.

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.

Spiders spin unique phononic material
July 25, 2016 01:50 PM - Rice University via EurekAlert!

New discoveries about spider silk could inspire novel materials to manipulate sound and heat in the same way semiconducting circuits manipulate electrons, according to scientists at Rice University, in Europe and in Singapore.

A paper in Nature Materials today looks at the microscopic structure of spider silk and reveals unique characteristics in the way it transmits phonons, quasiparticles of sound.

The research shows for the first time that spider silk has a phonon band gap. That means it can block phonon waves in certain frequencies in the same way an electronic band gap - the basic property of semiconducting materials - allows some electrons to pass and stops others.

The researchers wrote that their observation is the first discovery of a "hypersonic phononic band gap in a biological material."

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.

New material has potential to cut costs and make nuclear fuel recycling cleaner
June 13, 2016 11:00 AM - Mary Beckman via PNNL

Researchers are investigating a new material that might help in nuclear fuel recycling and waste reduction by capturing certain gases released during reprocessing. Conventional technologies to remove these radioactive gases operate at extremely low, energy-intensive temperatures. By working at ambient temperature, the new material has the potential to save energy, make reprocessing cleaner and less expensive. The reclaimed materials can also be reused commercially.

Provisional names announced for super heavy elements 113, 115, 117, and 118
June 8, 2016 02:45 PM - DOE/OAK RIDGE NATIONAL LABORATORY via EurekAlert!

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) Inorganic Chemistry Division has published a Provisional Recommendation for the names and symbols of the recently discovered superheavy elements 113, 115, 117, and 118.

The provisional names for 115, 117 and 118 -- originally proposed by the discovering team from the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Dubna, Russia; the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California; and Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee -- will now undergo a statutory period for public review before the names and symbols can be finally approved by the IUPAC Council.

Antarctic fossils show creatures wiped out by asteroid
May 27, 2016 06:03 AM - British Antarctic Survey

A study of more than 6,000 marine fossils from the Antarctic shows that the mass extinction event that killed the dinosaurs 66 million years ago was sudden and just as deadly to life in the Polar Regions.

Previously, scientists had thought that creatures living in the southernmost regions of the planet would have been in a less perilous position during the mass extinction event than those elsewhere on Earth.

How do trees sleep?
May 18, 2016 07:17 AM - Vienna University of Technology via EurekAlert!

Most living organisms adapt their behavior to the rhythm of day and night. Plants are no exception: flowers open in the morning, some tree leaves close during the night. Researchers have been studying the day and night cycle in plants for a long time: Linnaeus observed that flowers in a dark cellar continued to open and close, and Darwin recorded the overnight movement of plant leaves and stalks and called it "sleep". But even to this day, such studies have only been done with small plants grown in pots, and nobody knew whether trees sleep as well. Now, a team of researchers from Austria, Finland and Hungary measured the sleep movement of fully grown trees using a time series of laser scanning point clouds consisting of millions of points each.

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