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The Lead

U.S. Pledges to Cut Emissions in Global Treaty

March 31, 2015 3:00 pm | by Associated Press, Josh Lederman | News | Comments

The U.S. pledged today to cut its greenhouse gas emissions up to 28 percent as part of a global treaty aimed at preventing the worst effects of climate change. The Obama administration's contribution to the treaty, which world leaders expect to finalize in December, codifies a commitment the president made late last year in Beijing, when he announced a joint U.S.-China climate deal.

Technology Fails to See Inside Fukushima

March 27, 2015 3:00 pm | by Associated Press, Yuri Kageyama | News | Comments

Cutting-edge technology was billed as a way to decipher where exactly the morass of nuclear fuel...

Gasoline Use Hits 30 Year Low

March 25, 2015 3:00 pm | by Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Average fuel consumption by American drivers is at its lowest level in at least 30 years. A...

Problematic Algae May Aid Biofuels, Farm Soil

March 25, 2015 3:00 pm | by ACS | News | Comments

Water-borne algal blooms from farm fertilizer runoff can destroy aquatic life and clog rivers...

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Computers to Heat Homes

March 24, 2015 3:00 pm | by Associated Press | News | Comments

An energy company is joining forces with a tech startup to harness computing power to heat homes in the Netherlands. A Dutch-based energy company with more than 2 million customers said today it is installing "e-Radiators" in five homes in a trial to see if their warmth could be a commercially viable alternative for traditional radiators.

Packing Peanuts May Soon Pack Energy

March 23, 2015 7:00 am | by ACS | Videos | Comments

They’re in just about every box you get in the mail, and they almost immediately get thrown in the trash. Now, one group of scientists wants to turn those packing peanuts into power. Researchers have shown how to convert waste-packing peanuts into high-performance carbon electrodes for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that outperform conventional graphite electrodes, representing an environmentally friendly approach to reuse the waste.

Science is Not Just About Facts: Readers React

March 23, 2015 7:00 am | by Michelle Taylor, Editor-in-Chief | Blogs | Comments

Earlier this month, I wrote an editorial based on the release of a study that revealed stark differences between the general public and scientists on science-related issues. It received a lot of attention, garnering comments and sparking debate. Here are a few of the best comments and reaction to them.

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Massive Amounts of Glacial Melt Pouring into Gulf of Alaska

March 20, 2015 8:39 am | by Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Incessant mountain rain, snow and melting glaciers in a comparatively small region of land that hugs the southern Alaska coast and empties fresh water into the Gulf of Alaska would create the sixth largest coastal river in the world if it emerged as a single stream, a recent study shows.

Scientists Invent New Way to Control Light

March 19, 2015 3:03 pm | by University of Central Florida | News | Comments

A device resembling a plastic honeycomb yet infinitely smaller than a bee's stinger can steer light beams around tighter curves than ever before possible, while keeping the integrity and intensity of the beam intact. The work introduces a more effective way to transmit data rapidly on electronic circuit boards by using light.

Study Sharpens Nanoscale Microscopy Even More

March 19, 2015 2:58 pm | by Joint Quantum Institute | News | Comments

A new study has shown how to sharpen nanoscale microscopy (nanoscopy) even more by better locating the exact position of the light source.

Electronic Waste Has Energy Value

March 18, 2015 2:31 pm | by University of the Basque Country | News | Comments

Researchers developed a system for obtaining clean hydrogen that can be used as fuel.

Natural Climate Change, Humans Drive Ecosystem Changes

March 17, 2015 1:59 pm | by NOAA | News | Comments

Scientists in the Gulf of Mexico now have a better understanding of how naturally occurring climate cycles- as well as human activities- can trigger widespread ecosystem changes that ripple through the Gulf food web and the communities dependent on it.

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Efficient Water-splitting Electrode Boosts Clean Energy

March 17, 2015 9:09 am | by Univ. of New South Wales | News | Comments

Scientists have developed a highly efficient oxygen-producing electrode for splitting water that has the potential to be scaled up for industrial production of the clean energy fuel, hydrogen. The new technology is based on an inexpensive, specially coated foam material that lets the bubbles of oxygen escape quickly.

Solar Energy Could Power California Five Times Over

March 16, 2015 3:00 pm | by Carnegie Institution | News | Comments

In the face of global climate change, increasing the use of renewable energy resources is one of the most urgent challenges facing the world. New research has found that the amount of energy that could be generated from solar equipment constructed on and around existing infrastructure in California would exceed the state's demand by up to five times.

Diesel Pollution Linked to Respiratory Distress

March 16, 2015 7:00 am | by European Lung Foundation | News | Comments

Researchers have shown how exhaust pollution from diesel engines is able to affect nerves within the lung. Air pollution is a significant threat to health, they say, and identifying potential mechanisms linking exposure to diesel exhaust and the exacerbation of respiratory diseases may lead to treatments for those affected.

Tilting Trees Yield Better Biofuel

March 13, 2015 7:00 am | by Imperial College London | News | Comments

Researchers have used medical imaging techniques to explore why making willow trees grow at an angle can vastly improve their biofuel yields. Using micro-CT scans, the team showed that the trees respond to being tilted by producing a sugar-rich, gelatinous fiber, which helps them stay upright.

Pollution-generating Recycling Plant Closes

March 12, 2015 3:00 pm | by Associated Press | News | Comments

An LA County battery recycling plant with a long history of violations of air pollution and hazardous waste laws will close under an agreement with federal prosecutors. The deal will result in the immediate and permanent shuttering of the Exide Technologies plant. The agreement is designed to ensure money is available to cover tens of millions of dollars in cleanup costs.  

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The Broad Use of Nanoparticles: Spectroscopy, Medicine and Whisky

March 12, 2015 2:59 pm | by Michelle Taylor, Editor-in-Chief | Articles | Comments

Naomi Halas honored the International Year of Light, shed light (pun intended) on plasmonic nanostructures and addressed what she called “unmet needs in energy and sustainability” in her Keynote speech at Pittcon 2015 in New Orleans.

Silk Key to Next-gen Batteries

March 12, 2015 7:00 am | by ACS | News | Comments

Lithium-ion batteries have enabled many of today’s electronics, from portable gadgets to electric cars. But, much to the frustration of consumers, none of these batteries last long without a recharge. Now, scientists have developed of a new, “green” way to boost the performance of these batteries— with a material derived from silk.

Solar Plane Sets Out on Historic World Trip

March 9, 2015 8:35 am | by Associated Press, Aya Batrawy | News | Comments

With its wings stretched wide to catch the sun's energy, a Swiss-made solar-powered aircraft took off from Abu Dhabi just after daybreak today in a historic first attempt to fly around the world without a drop of fossil fuel.

Cheap Lamp Key to Energy Storage

March 9, 2015 8:00 am | by Univ. of British Columbia | Videos | Comments

Researchers wanted to find a better way to make coatings that can be painted onto surfaces to conduct electricity or convert electricity into hydrogen fuels. Instead, they found a new way to make state-of-the-art materials for energy storage using a cheap lamp from the hardware store.

Green Wall, Translucent Solar Panels Team Up

March 9, 2015 8:00 am | by Univ. of Cambridge | News | Comments

Green wall technology and semi-transparent solar panels have been combined to generate electrical current from a renewable source of energy both day and night. A prototype “green bus shelter” that could eventually generate enough electricity to light itself, has been built by a collaboration of university researchers and eco-companies.  

Chemical Protects Crops from Radiation in Soil

March 6, 2015 7:00 am | by RIKEN | News | Comments

Almost four years after the accident at the Fukushima’s nuclear plant in Japan, farmland remains contaminated with higher-than-natural levels of radiocesium, with cesium-134 and cesium-137 being the most troublesome because of the slow rate at which they decay. In a study, scientist have identified a chemical compound that prevents plants from taking up cesium, thus protecting them— and us— from its harmful effects.

‘Pee-power’ Toilet Brings Light to Disaster Zones

March 6, 2015 7:00 am | by Univ. of the West of England | Videos | Comments

A toilet, conveniently situated near the Student Union Bar at a university, is proving pee can generate electricity. The prototype urinal is the result of a partnership between the school and Oxfam. It is hoped the “pee-power” technology will light cubicles in refugee camps, which are often dark and dangerous places, particularly for women.

Technique Could Power Life on Mars

March 6, 2015 7:00 am | by Univ. of Northumbria | News | Comments

Martian colonists could use an innovative new technique to harvest energy from carbon dioxide. New research proposes a new kind of engine for producing energy based on the Leidenfrost effect– a phenomenon which happens when a liquid comes into near contact with a surface much hotter than its boiling point.  

High-tech Cloth May Replace Batteries in Wearables

March 5, 2015 7:00 am | by ACS | News | Comments

Wearable electronics are gaining traction among consumers, but these gadgets' versatility is still held back by the stiff, short-lived batteries that are required. The limitations, however, could soon be overcome. Scientists are reporting the first durable, flexible cloth that harnesses human motion to generate energy.

Researchers Find More Effective Carbon Capture Method

March 4, 2015 3:00 pm | by ACS | News | Comments

Trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants and various industries could play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the future. But current materials that can collect CO2— from smokestacks, for example— have low capacities or require very high temperatures to work.

Airlines Won't Ship Rechargeable Batteries for Fear of Fires

March 3, 2015 3:00 pm | by Associated Press, Joan Lowy | News | Comments

Some of the world's largest airlines are banning bulk shipments of rechargeable batteries in the face of mounting evidence of their potential to cause catastrophic in-flight fires. Citing safety concerns, United Airlines has become the second major U.S. airline to announce it will no longer accept bulk shipments of lithium-ion batteries, which are used to power everything from smartphones to laptops to power tools.

Cheap Catalyst Performs as Well as Traditional

February 27, 2015 3:00 pm | by Case Western Reserve Univ. | News | Comments

For nearly half a century, scientists have been trying to replace precious metal catalysts in fuel cells. Now, for the first time, researchers have shown that an inexpensive metal-free catalyst performs as well as costly metal catalysts at speeding the oxygen reduction reaction in an acidic fuel cell.

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