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The Lead

National Lab Scientist Gets Five Years for Spying

January 28, 2015 3:00 pm | by Associated Press, Russell Contreras | News | Comments

A former Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist who pleaded guilty to trying to help Venezuela develop a nuclear weapon was sentenced today to five years in prison and three years of supervised release. According to a 22-count indictment, he told an undercover agent that he could help Venezuela develop a nuclear bomb within 10 years.

Oversight of Gas Pipelines Has Systemic Flaws

January 28, 2015 7:00 am | by Associated Press, Joan Lowy | News | Comments

Three powerful accidents in recent years show systemic weaknesses in how natural gas providers...

Bulletproof Batteries May Stop Plane Fires

January 27, 2015 3:00 pm | by Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

A Kevlar membrane can enable more durable batteries that adapt to various environments. The...

Tool Plots Future of Solar-fuel Refineries

January 23, 2015 3:00 pm | by Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

The process of converting the sun’s energy into liquid fuels requires a sophisticated,...

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Westinghouse Atom Smasher to Be Preserved

January 22, 2015 7:00 am | by Associated Press | News | Comments

A developer has knocked over the Westinghouse atom smasher east of Pittsburgh but plans to preserve the structure no matter what happens to the property it was on. The brick building at the base of the five-story, light bulb-shaped atom smasher was in too much disrepair to save.

Report Evaluates Solar Lanterns

January 21, 2015 7:00 am | by MIT, Lauren McKown | News | Comments

When a person lives on less than $2 a day— as some 2.7 billion people around the world do— there isn’t room for a product like a solar lantern or a water filter to fail. With so many products on the market, how do you choose the right one? Now, researchers have released a report that could help answer that question through a new framework for technology evaluation.

Solar Plane Pioneers Plan Global Route

January 20, 2015 3:00 pm | by Associated Press, Adam Schreck | News | Comments

The team behind a solar-powered aircraft that is attempting to fly around the world says the clean-energy plane will stop in India, China and the U.S. in a historic journey. The lightweight Solar Impulse 2, a larger version of a single-seat prototype that first flew five years ago, is aiming to become the first plane ever to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun to drive its four propellers.

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Study Looks to Improve Fuel Cells for Emissions-free Cars

January 16, 2015 7:00 am | by Univ. of Delaware | News | Comments

Hydrogen fuel cells may be the best option for powering zero-emission vehicles. But these fuel cells require an electrocatalyst— a platinum surface— to increase the reaction rate, and the cost of the precious metal makes it hard for hydrogen fuel cells to compete economically with the internal combustion engine.

Method Produces Hydrogen, Syngas Fuel Feedstock

January 16, 2015 7:00 am | by North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

A team of chemical engineering researchers has developed a technique that uses a new catalyst to convert methane and water into hydrogen and a fuel feedstock called syngas with the assistance of solar power. The catalytic material is more than three times more efficient at converting water into hydrogen gas than previous thermal water-splitting methods.

July 16, 1945 Started Current Epoch

January 15, 2015 3:00 pm | by Univ. of Leicester | News | Comments

Humans are having such a marked impact on the Earth that they are changing its geology, creating new and distinctive strata that will persist far into the future. Scientists have proposed a start date for the dawn of the Anthropocene— a new chapter in the Earth's geological history. It began July 16, 1945: the day of the world’s first nuclear test.

Zinc Oxide, Aluminum Nitride Key to Tiny Energy Tech

January 13, 2015 3:00 pm | by American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

New research helps pave the way toward highly energy-efficient zinc oxide-based micro energy harvesting devices with applications in portable communications, healthcare and environmental monitoring and more. They discovered that inserting aluminum nitride insulating layers into the devices led to a significant improvement in performance.

Environmental Concerns, Not Money, Inspire People to Save Energy

January 13, 2015 7:00 am | by UCLA | News | Comments

What would inspire you to cut your electricity use: finding out how much money you could save, or knowing how much cancer-causing air pollution you could eliminate? A multidisciplinary study has shown that eliminating pollution is the more powerful motivator.

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Solar Material has Twin Charges on Molecule

January 12, 2015 3:00 pm | by Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

One challenge in improving the efficiency of solar cells is that some of the absorbed light energy is lost as heat. So, scientists have been looking to design materials that can convert more of that energy into useful electricity. Now, a team has paired up polymers that recover some of that lost energy by producing two electrical charge carriers per unit of light instead of the usual one.

GM to Release Affordable 200-mile e-Car in 2017

January 12, 2015 8:41 am | by Associated Press, Tom Krisher | News | Comments

General Motors plans to start selling an affordable electric car in 2017 that will be able to go 200 miles on a single charge. A concept version of the car is being unveiled today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Pipeline Challenge Thrown Out

January 9, 2015 3:00 pm | by Associated Press, Grant Schulte | News | Comments

Nebraska's highest court threw out a challenge today to a proposed route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, even though a majority of judges agreed the landowners who sued should have won their case. The decision removes a major roadblock for the $7 billion cross-continental project Republicans have vowed to make a key part of their 2015 agenda in Congress.

Prototype Plant Turns Waste into 500 Liters of Fuel a Day

January 9, 2015 7:00 am | by Investigación y Desarrollo | News | Comments

From waste generated in the processing of cereals, scientists in Mexico have produced bioenergy in the form of ethanol, and designed a prototype plant that generates 500 liters of bioethanol a day.

Some Fuels Must Be Grounded to Limit Climate Change

January 8, 2015 7:00 am | by Univ. College London | News | Comments

A third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and over 80 percent of current coal reserves globally should remain in the ground and not be used before 2050 if global warming is to stay below the 2 C target agreed by policy makers.

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Speeding Cyanobacteria Growth ‘Brightens’ Biofuel’s Future

January 2, 2015 7:00 am | by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

Rapidly growing bacteria that live in the ocean and can manufacture their own food hold promise as host organisms for producing chemicals, biofuels and medicine. Now, researchers are closely studying one of these photosynthetic species of fast-growing cyanobacteria using advanced tools to determine the optimum environment that contributes to record growth and productivity.

Controversial Energy Program Finally Yielding Successes

December 30, 2014 7:00 am | by Associated Press, Henry Jackson | News | Comments

Development is booming in tiny Hugoton, a Kansas town of roughly 3,900 people. The town is the site of a new cellulosic ethanol refinery that was funded in part by a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. The same program funded high-profile flops like Solyndra, the California-based solar company that filed for bankruptcy and led to hearings over the Obama administration's backing of unproven green energy projects.

Soybeans Beneath Wind Turbines May Boost Power

December 22, 2014 9:40 am | by Inside Science News Service, Chris Gorski | News | Comments

Numerous factors influence how much power wind turbines generate. Now, researchers have described how much of an effect they believe the crops planted below the turbines matter. Corn, a tall crop, slows down the wind more than soybeans, which are shorter.

Physics of Champagne Key to Meeting Future Energy Needs

December 18, 2014 2:00 pm | by American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Uncork a bottle of champagne, and as the pressure of the liquid is abruptly removed, bubbles immediately form and then rapidly begin the process of "coarsening," in which larger bubbles grow at the expense of smaller ones. This fundamental non-equilibrium phenomenon is also seen in a wide range of scientific systems including spin systems, foams and metallic alloys and can be observed in a power-generating turbine.

All-electric Cars May Be Worse for Environment

December 16, 2014 7:00 am | by Associated Press, Seth Borenstein | News | Comments

People who own all-electric cars where coal generates the power may think they are helping the environment. But, a new study finds their vehicles actually make the air dirtier, worsening global warming. Ethanol isn't so green, either.

Nuclear Power Key to Protecting Biodiversity

December 15, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Adelaide | News | Comments

Leading conservation scientists from around the world have called for a substantial role for nuclear power in future energy-generating scenarios in order to mitigate climate change and protect biodiversity. In an open letter to environmentalists with more than 60 signatories, the scientists ask the environmental community to weigh up the pros and cons of different energy sources.

Exxon Foresees Abundant Oil, Gas

December 10, 2014 7:00 am | by Associated Press, Jonathan Fahey | News | Comments

North America, once a sponge that sucked in a significant portion of the world's oil, will instead be supplying the world with oil and other liquid hydrocarbons by the end of this decade, according to ExxonMobil's annual long-term energy forecast.

Burying Hydrogen Could Offer Energy Security

December 10, 2014 7:00 am | by Sandia National Laboratories | News | Comments

Large-scale storage of low-pressure, gaseous hydrogen in salt caverns and other underground sites for transportation fuel and grid-scale energy applications offers several advantages over above-ground storage.

Societal Diversity Key to Climate Change Research

December 8, 2014 3:20 pm | by Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

There is cloud hanging over climate science, but one Cornell Univ. expert on communication and environmental issues says he knows how to help clear the air. Jonathon Schuldt, assistant professor of communication, argues that only by creating a “science of climate diversity” can climate science and the larger climate change movement overcome a crippling lack of ethnic and racial diversity.

Quantum Dots Move Us Closer to Spray-on Solar Cells

December 8, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Toronto | Videos | Comments

Pretty soon, powering your tablet could be as simple as wrapping it in cling wrap. Researchers have just invented a new way to spray solar cells onto flexible surfaces using miniscule light-sensitive materials known as colloidal quantum dots– a major step toward making spray-on solar cells easy and cheap to manufacture.

Research Key to Safer Nuclear Power, Cleaner Kettles

December 4, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Leeds | News | Comments

Taking inspiration from nature, researchers have created a versatile model to predict how stalagmite-like structures form in nuclear processing plants– as well as how lime scale builds up in kettles.

Nanoparticle Network Key to Fast-charging Batteries

December 4, 2014 7:00 am | by Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A new electrode design for lithium-ion batteries has been shown to potentially reduce the charging time from hours to minutes by replacing the conventional graphite electrode with a network of tin-oxide nanoparticles.

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