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The Lead

Chip Can Up Battery Life, Save Energy in Cell Towers

October 29, 2014 7:00 am | by MIT, Rob Matheson | News | Comments

Stream video on your smartphone, or use its GPS for an hour or two, and you’ll probably see the battery drain significantly. As data rates climb and smartphones adopt more power-hungry features, battery life has become a concern. But, a new chip can essentially “switch gears” to adjust voltage supply to power amplifiers in smartphones as needed, cutting power loss to improve battery life.

Plasma Key to Power Grid Upgrades

October 28, 2014 2:00 pm | by American Physical Society | News | Comments

A proposed change could contribute to a more advanced and reliable electric grid and help lower...

Global Hydropower Boom Underway

October 24, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Copenhagen | News | Comments

An unprecedented boom in hydropower dam construction is underway, primarily in developing...

Software Finds Tiny Leaks in Natural Gas Pipelines

October 22, 2014 2:00 pm | by ACS | News | Comments

Major leaks from oil and gas pipelines have led to home evacuations, explosions, millions of...

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Chemists Tackle Battery Fires, Explosions

October 17, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Kentucky | News | Comments

New research will help batteries resist overcharging, improving the safety of electronics from cellphones to airplanes. This work focused on the design, synthesis and testing of organic compounds that can be incorporated into the electrolytes of lithium-ion batteries to improve their safety profiles.

Catalyst May Improve Biofuels

October 16, 2014 2:00 pm | by Washington State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a new catalyst, by mixing inexpensive iron with a tiny amount of rare palladium, which could lead to making biofuels cheaply and more efficiently.

Electric Vehicle Tech Packs Punch in Small Package

October 15, 2014 7:00 am | by Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Using 3-D printing and novel semiconductors, researchers have created a power inverter that could make electric vehicles lighter, more powerful and more efficient. At the core of this development is wide band gap material made of silicon carbide with qualities superior to standard semiconductor materials.


Design Key to Improved Nuclear Plants

October 14, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Cambridge | News | Comments

A university is playing a key role in an international project to develop a radical new type of nuclear power station that is safer, more cost-effective, more compact and much quicker and less disruptive to build than any previously constructed. Researchers are exploring whether the element thorium could help to meet the new design’s fuel needs.

Battery Charges in Two Minutes, Lasts 20 Years

October 14, 2014 7:00 am | by Nanyang Technology Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists have developed ultra-fast-charging batteries that can be recharged up to 70 percent in only two minutes. The new generation batteries also have a long lifespan of over 20 years, more than 10 times compared to existing lithium-ion batteries.

'Smart' Battery Warns of Fire Hazard

October 13, 2014 2:00 pm | by Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists have developed a "smart" lithium-ion battery that gives ample warning before it overheats and bursts into flames. The new technology is designed for conventional lithium-ion batteries now used in billions of cellphones, laptops and other electronic devices, as well as a growing number of cars and airplanes.

Material Brings Hybrid Solar Cells Closer

October 9, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Cambridge | News | Comments

A new method for transferring energy from organic to inorganic semiconductors could boost the efficiency of widely used inorganic solar cells. Researchers have developed a new method for harvesting the energy carried by particles known as dark spin-triplet excitons with close to 100 percent efficiency, clearing the way for hybrid solar cells that could far surpass current efficiency limits.

Fusion Reactor Could Be Cheaper than Coal

October 9, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

Engineers have designed a concept for a fusion reactor that, when scaled up to the size of a large electrical power plant, would rival costs for a new coal-fired plant with similar electrical output.


Method Pumps Up Oil in Plant Leaves

October 8, 2014 7:00 am | by Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Increasing the oil content of plant biomass could help fulfill the nation's increasing demand for renewable energy feedstocks. Now, a series of detailed genetic studies has revealed new ways to increase the accumulation of oil in leaves, an abundant source of biomass for fuel production.

Busted: Enzymes Don't Need Water

October 6, 2014 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Bristol | News | Comments

New research has challenged one of the key axioms in biology— that enzymes need water to function. The breakthrough could eventually lead to the development of new industrial catalysts for processing biodiesel.

Crumpled Graphene Key to Unconventional Energy Storage

October 6, 2014 7:00 am | by MIT, David Chandler | News | Comments

Researchers have found that crumpling a piece of graphene “paper”— a material formed by bonding together layers of the two-dimensional form of carbon— can yield new properties that could be useful for creating extremely stretchable supercapacitors to store energy for flexible electronic devices.

Researchers Aim for 'Perfect' Solar Absorber

September 30, 2014 7:00 am | by MIT, David Chandler | News | Comments

The key to creating a material that would be ideal for converting solar energy to heat is tuning the material’s spectrum of absorption just right. It should absorb virtually all wavelengths of light that reach Earth’s surface from the sun— but not much of the rest of the spectrum, since that would increase the energy that is reradiated by the material, and thus lost to the conversion process.

Research Yields Recyclable Battery

September 29, 2014 2:00 pm | by Uppsala Univ. | News | Comments

Present-day lithium batteries are efficient but involve a range of resource and environmental problems. Now, using materials from alfalfa and pine resin and a clever recycling strategy, researchers have come up with an interesting alternative.


Researchers Make Hydrogen Fuel Sans Rare Metals

September 29, 2014 7:00 am | by EPFL | Videos | Comments

By combining a pair of solar cells made with a mineral called perovskite and low cost electrodes, scientists have obtained a 12.3 percent conversion efficiency from solar energy to hydrogen, a record using earth-abundant materials as opposed to rare metals.

GE Invests $10 M in Natural Gas Research

September 26, 2014 7:00 am | by Associated Press, Kevin Begos | News | Comments

Penn State Univ. says that General Electric Co. will give the school up to $10 million to create a new center for natural gas industry research.

Natural Gas Use Will Do Little to Reduce Emissions

September 26, 2014 7:00 am | by UC Irvine | News | Comments

Abundant supplies of natural gas will do little to reduce harmful U.S. emissions causing climate change, according to researchers. They found that inexpensive gas boosts electricity consumption and hinders expansion of cleaner energy sources, such as wind and solar.

UC Signs Major Solar Deal

September 24, 2014 7:00 am | by Associated Press | News | Comments

The Univ. of California says it has made one of the largest ever solar energy purchases by a university system in the U.S. The UC system says the deal will provide enough solar power to offset 60 percent of the electricity use at five of the state's 10 campuses, as well as some university medical centers.

Wind May Power Los Angeles

September 24, 2014 7:00 am | by Associated Press | News | Comments

Four companies are proposing an $8 billion project to supply the Los Angeles area with large amounts of electricity from a wind farm in Wyoming via an energy storage facility in Utah.

Biofuel Research Leads to Human Gut

September 24, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Illinois | News | Comments

Scientists have scoured cow rumens and termite guts for microbes that can efficiently break down plant cell walls for the production of next-generation biofuels, but some of the best microbial candidates actually may reside in the human lower intestine.

Researchers Create Nano-sized Hydrogen Generator

September 22, 2014 7:00 am | by Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers have created a small-scale hydrogen generator that uses light and a two-dimensional graphene platform to boost production of the hard-to-make element. The research also unveiled a previously unknown property of graphene. The two-dimensional chain of carbon atoms not only gives and receives electrons, but can also transfer them into another substance.

California Teachers Invest in Clean Energy

September 19, 2014 2:09 pm | by Associated Press | News | Comments

The California State Teachers' Retirement System says it plans to increase its investments in clean energy and technology to $3.7 billion, from $1.4 billion, over the next five years.

Chevron Meets Voluntary Shale Drilling Rules

September 18, 2014 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, Kevin Begos | News | Comments

Chevron has become the first energy company to meet a new set of voluntary shale gas drilling standards that aim to go beyond existing state laws in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, the Pittsburgh-based Center for Sustainable Shale announced today.

Studies See Significant Drop in Rooftop, Utility-scale Solar Prices

September 18, 2014 2:00 pm | by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

The price of solar energy in the U.S. continues to fall substantially, according to the latest editions of two annual reports. A third report shows that local permitting and other regulatory procedures can significantly impact residential photovoltaic prices.

Researchers Take Step Toward Lithium-sulfur Batteries

September 18, 2014 7:00 am | by ACS | News | Comments

A fevered search for the next great high-energy, rechargeable battery technology is on. Scientists are reporting they have overcome key obstacles toward making lithium-sulfur batteries, which have the potential to leave today’s lithium-ion technology in the dust.

Study: Bad Wells, Not Fracking, Contaminate Groundwater

September 15, 2014 2:00 pm | by The Ohio State Univ. | News | Comments

A study has pinpointed the likely source of most natural gas contamination in drinking-water wells associated with hydraulic fracturing, and it’s not the source many people may have feared. What’s more, the problem may be fixable with improved construction standards for cement well linings and casings at hydraulic fracturing sites.

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