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The Lead

Q&A: Ioannis Ieropoulos and Power Harnessed from Waste

April 16, 2015 7:00 am | by Lily Barback, Associate Editor | News | Comments

Laboratory Equipment’s scientist of the week is Ioannis Ieropoulos from the Univ. of the West of England, Bristol. He and a team created a toilet that generates electricity from urine using microbial fuel cells. 

Big Data Pinpoints Perfect Locations for Hydro-power

April 14, 2015 7:00 am | by Univ. of Leicester | News | Comments

A technology has the potential to revolutionize the sourcing of renewable energy from rivers. A...

Calculator Could Choose Switzerland's Energy Future

April 13, 2015 8:40 am | by EPFL | News | Comments

EPFL’s Energy Center has developed an information platform on energy transition. In particular,...

Understanding Debris is Key to Improved Batteries

April 13, 2015 7:00 am | by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | Videos | Comments

An eruption of lithium at the tip of a battery's electrode, cracks in the electrode's body, and...

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Cleanup Effort at Deepwater Horizon Site Was More Toxic than Oil

April 10, 2015 7:00 am | by Temple Univ. | News | Comments

The dispersant used to remediate the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is more toxic to cold-water corals than the spilled oil, according to a study. The study comes just before the spill’s fifth anniversary, on April 20.

Materials Convert Heat to Electricity

April 9, 2015 3:00 pm | by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory | News | Comments

NASA has licensed patents on high-temperature thermoelectric materials that convert heat into electricity. For example, by using this technology, waste-heat from a car could potentially be fed back into the vehicle and used to generate electricity.

Lawmakers: What to Do with Nuclear Fuel?

April 9, 2015 3:00 pm | by Associated Press, Ken Ritter | News | Comments

Several members of Congress are heading to the mothballed site of a proposed radioactive waste dump in the Nevada desert amid new talk about a decades-old problem— where to dispose of spent nuclear fuel stored at commercial reactors around the U.S.

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Power Utility is Too Big to Be Safe

April 9, 2015 3:00 pm | by Associated Press, Ellen Knickmeyer | News | Comments

Repeated natural-gas accidents— including a 2010 pipeline explosion that killed eight people— suggest that California's largest power utility could be too big to operate safely, the state's top utility regulator says.

Gas Prices Forecast to Be 32% Lower This Summer

April 8, 2015 7:00 am | by Associated Press, Damian Troise | News | Comments

Drivers will see the lowest summer gasoline prices in about six years, according to the Energy Department. The national average price is forecast to fall 32 percent from a year ago to $2.45 a gallon between April and September, the period when Americans do most of their driving. That would mark the lowest seasonal average since 2009.

First Metal-free Catalyst Works in Zinc-air Batteries

April 7, 2015 7:00 am | by Case Western Reserve Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have made what they believe is the first metal-free bifunctional electrocatalyst that performs as well or better than most metal and metal oxide electrodes in zinc-air batteries.

Modi: Dirtiest Air Caused by Lifestyle Changes

April 6, 2015 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, Katy Daigle | News | Comments

Today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi blamed the changing lifestyles that have come with India's economic development for rising pollution levels that have given the country some of the world's dirtiest air. With his government rolling out a new air quality index to 10 of the nation's cities, Modi urged Indians to curtail waste and conserve resources even as they become wealthier.

Fuel Crops Replacing Grassland Nationwide

April 2, 2015 3:00 pm | by Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

Clearing grasslands to make way for biofuels may seem counterproductive, but researchers show in a study today that crops, including the corn and soy commonly used for biofuels, expanded onto 7 million acres of new land in the U.S. over a recent four-year period, replacing millions of acres of grasslands.

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Upgraded Equipment Leads to Lower Methane Emissions

April 1, 2015 7:00 am | by Washington State Univ. | News | Comments

Research has found that methane emissions from local natural gas distribution systems in cities and towns throughout the U.S. have decreased in the past 20 years with significant variation by region. Upgrades in metering and regulating stations, changes in pipeline materials, better instruments for detecting pipeline leaks as well as regulatory changes have led to methane emissions that are from 36 to 70 percent lower than EPA estimates.

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 might sit at the bottom of reactors in the Japanese power plant that went into multiple meltdowns four years ago. But the technology went wrong today during a simple demonstration for reporters. It’s a sobering reminder of the enormous challenges that lie ahead for the decommissioning of Fukushima Dai-ichi.

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 study found that gallons of gasoline consumed per person, driver, vehicle and household are below 1984 levels and down 14 percent to 19 percent from peak levels a little more than a decade ago (2003-2004).

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 and lakes, but scientists are working on a way to clean up these environmental scourges and turn them into useful products. The algae could serve as a feedstock for biofuels, and the feedstock leftovers could be recycled back into farm soil nutrients.

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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.

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.

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.

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