Millions of homes in rural areas of Far Eastern countries are heated by charcoal burned on small, hibachi-style portable grills. Scientists in Japan are now reporting development of an improved "biomass charcoal combustion heater" that they say could open a new era in sustainable and ultra-high efficiency home heating.
Taking a chemical approach, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a two-step method to convert the cellulose in raw biomass into a promising biofuel. The process, which is described in the Wednesday, Feb. 11 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, is unprecedented in its use of untreated, inedible biomass as the starting material.
An in-depth study by Sandia National Laboratories and General Motors Corp. has found that plant and forestry waste and dedicated energy crops could sustainably replace nearly a third of gasoline use by the year 2030.
The ultrafine coal particles that are the residue of the coal cleaning process have been discarded into hundreds of impoundments. Now, a dewatering technology developed at Virginia Tech has succeeded in reducing the moisture content of ultrafine coal to less than 20 percent.
Firing bolts of lightning at expensive electrical equipment is all in a day's work at NEETRAC "" the National Electric Energy Testing Research and Applications Center. The goal for the lightning research and other testing done by the center is to improve reliability for the nation's electric energy transmission and distribution system.
Solarmer Energy Inc. is developing plastic solar cells for portable electronic devices that will incorporate technology invented at the University of Chicago. The company is on track to complete a commercial-grade prototype later this year.
Global yields of most biofuels crops, including corn, rapeseed and wheat, have been overestimated by 100 to 150 percent or more, suggesting many countries need to reset their expectations of agricultural biofuels to a more realistic level.
NIST researchers have developed a method to accelerate stability testing of biodiesel fuel made from soybeans and identified additives that enhance stability at high temperatures, work that could help overcome a key barrier to the practical use of biofuels.
Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed and demonstrated a new type of light emitting diode (LED) with significantly improved lighting performance and energy efficiency. The new polarization-matched LED exhibits an 18 percent increase in light output and a 22 percent increase in wall-plug efficiency.
The push for alternative energy has created a large demand for corn stover, a popular feedstock used to produce cellulosic ethanol, but utilizing these materials, rather than using it as compost, means a loss of soil organic carbon. Researchers have studied the effectiveness of alternative carbon augmentation practices and have reported positive results, as detailed in the November-December 2008 issue of Agronomy Journal.
Low-moving ocean and river currents could be a new, reliable and affordable alternative energy source. A University of Michigan engineer has made a machine that works like a fish to turn potentially destructive vibrations in fluid flows into clean, renewable power.
An Auburn University study sheds new light on just how valuable shade trees are in reducing homeowners' electricity bills during hot summer months.
With the high cost of gasoline and diesel fuel impacting costs for automobiles, trucks, buses and the overall economy, a simple device that attaches to a vehicle's fuel line near the fuel injector and creates an electrical field could boost gas efficiency as much as 20 percent.
A giant perennial grass used as a biofuels source has a much longer growing season than corn, and researchers think they've found the secret of its success. Their findings offer a promising avenue for developing cold-tolerant corn, an advance that would significantly boost per-acre yields.
University of Utah engineers devised a new way to slice thin wafers of the chemical element germanium for use in the most efficient type of solar power cells. They say the new method should lower the cost of such cells by reducing the waste and breakage of the brittle semiconductor.
You probably won't be able to drive down the highway in your own non-polluting vehicle that runs on hydrogen power any time soon. And don't start making plans to power your whole house with expensive hydrogen-based technology in the coming years. But, some day in the not-too-distant future, you might own a cell phone equipped with a hydrogen-powered fuel cell instead of a battery.
A yeast geneticist on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) is close to developing mutant yeast for ethanol production that would reduce or eliminate the need to use corn to make the alternative fuel.
Researchers here have found a way to convert ethanol and other biofuels into hydrogen very efficiently. A new catalyst makes hydrogen from ethanol with 90 percent yield, at a workable temperature, and using inexpensive ingredients.
With oil prices skyrocketing, the search is on for efficient and sustainable biofuels. Research published this month in Agronomy Journal examines one biofuel crop contender: corn stover. Corn stover is made up of the leaves and stalks of corn plants that are left in the field after harvesting the edible corn grain. Corn stover could supply as much as 25% of the biofuel crop needed by 2030.
Algae are tiny biological factories that use photosynthesis to transform carbon dioxide and sunlight into energy so efficiently that they can double their weight several times a day, producing oil in the process "" 30 times more oil per acre than soybeans, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Like soybean oil, the algae oil can be burned directly in diesel engines or further refined into biodiesel.
A new material characterized at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory could open a pathway toward more efficient fuel cells.
NIST experiments with varying concentrations of nanoparticle additives indicate a major opportunity to improve the energy efficiency of large industrial, commercial, and institutional cooling systems known as chillers.
An analysis of yearly vehicle deaths compared to gas prices found death rates drop significantly as people slow down and drive less. If gas remains at $4 a gallon or higher for a year or more, traffic fatalities could drop by more than 1,000 per month nationwide, according new findings by a University of Alabama at Birmingham researcher.
Researchers have developed the first detailed chemical analysis revealing what processing is needed to transform pig manure derived 'crude oil' into fuel for vehicles or heating. Mass production of this type of biofuel could help consume a waste product overflowing at U.S. farms, but it will require a lot of refining.
A team of researchers from Iowa State University and the University of Hawai'i are developing a process that cleans up and improves the dry-grind ethanol production process. The process uses fungus to reduce energy costs, allow more water recycling and improve a co-product that's used as livestock feed. The American Academy of Environmental Engineers recently awarded the project its 2008 Grand Prize for University Research.