CAFE Standards Create Profit Incentive for Larger Vehicles

The current Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards create a financial incentive for auto companies to make bigger vehicles that are allowed to meet lower targets, according to a new University of Michigan study.

Story Tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, December 2011

1) Computer hackers could lose a huge advantage. 2) Solar and wind energy could become more viable. 3) Something odd happens when you expose the element gadolinium to a strong magnetic field. 4) Carefully combining materials that shrink when heated with materials that expand creates a material unaffected by extreme temperature.

Technion Researchers Find New Way to Charge Solar Cell Materials

Technion researchers have discovered a way to generate an electrical field inside inorganic crystals (also known as quantum dotsO, making them more suitable for building an energy-efficient nanocrystal solar cell.

Giant Piezoelectric Effect to Improve MEMS Devices

A new record-setting piezoelectric thin film material has been incorporated into silicon for energy harvesting and other MEMS applications.

Carbon Mitigation Strategy Uses Wood for Buildings First, Bioenergy Second

Carbon savings can be squeezed from trees when wood not suitable for long-term building materials is used for bioenergy: Depending on the process used, ethanol from woody biomass emits less greenhouse gas than an equivalent amount of gasoline, between 70 percent and a little over 100 percent less.

Scientists Genetically Increase Algae Biomass by More than 50 Percent

Research at Iowa State University has led to discovery of a genetic method that can increase biomass in algae by 50 to 80 percent. The breakthrough comes from turning on certain genes in algae that increase the amount of photosynthesis in the plant, which leads to more biomass.

Carbon Foam: The Key Ingredient of a Greener Battery?

The new electrical storage devices called asymmetric capacitors can be recharged thousands of times. Now, a new design could make them cheaper, greener and lighter--a big advantage for power tools and consumer electronics.

Increased Use of Bikes for Commuting Offers Economic, Health Benefits

Cutting out short auto trips and replacing them with mass transit and active transport would yield major health benefits, according to a study just published in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The biggest health benefit was due to replacing half of the short trips with bicycle trips during the warmest six months of the year, saving about $3.8 billion per year from avoided mortality and reduced health care costs for conditions like obesity and heart disease.

Zinc Oxide Microwires Improve the Efficiency of LEDs

Researchers have used zinc oxide microwires to significantly improve the efficiency at which gallium nitride light-emitting diodes (LED) convert electricity to ultraviolet light. The devices are believed to be the first LEDs whose performance has been enhanced by the piezo-phototronic effect.

First-of-a-Kind Tension Wood Study Broadens Biofuels Research

Taking a cue from Mother Nature, researchers at DOE's BioEnergy Science Center have undertaken a first-of-its-kind study of a naturally occurring phenomenon in trees to spur the development of more efficient bioenergy crops. Tension wood, which forms naturally in hardwood trees in response to bending stress, is known to possess unique features that render it desirable as a bioenergy feedstock.

National Biofuels Study Committee Issues Report

Controversial, complicated and crucial - the development of biofuels on a commercial scale in the US poses an enormous challenge. A National Research Council study committee including Michigan Tech Professor Kathleen Halvorsen has released a report that helps define the questions and next steps.

Improving the Physics of Grocery Store Display Cases to Save Energy

Aeronautical engineers are devising ways to boost the efficiency of open-air refrigerated cases, which are increasingly common in supermarkets. Results could lower the energy use of existing cases by up to 15 percent -- potentially saving $100 million in electricity costs nationally each year.

Researchers Unveil Innovative Solar Cooling Project

UC Merced Professor Roland Winston and his team of student researchers have designed and developed a system that gathers and concentrates sunlight onto specially made collector tubes. The heat generated can then be transformed using existing technology for cooling, heating and other potential uses.

Researchers Produce Cheap Sugars for Sustainable Biofuel Production

Iowa State researchers have developed technologies to efficiently produce, recover and separate sugars from the fast pyrolysis of biomass. That's a big deal because those sugars can be further processed into biofuels.

The Positive Fallout from Nuclear Deregulation: Increased Efficiency and Reduced CO2 Emissions

More than 10 years after electricity deregulation, the nuclear power industry has decreased greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 40 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and saved $2.5 billion a year as a result of operating more efficiently over the past decade, according to a new study.

Smartphone Battery Life Could Dramatically Improve with New Invention

A new "subconscious mode" for smartphones and other WiFi-enabled mobile devices could extend battery life by as much as 54 percent for users on the busiest networks.

Researchers Begin Testing of Promising New Nanomaterial for Hydrogen Storage

Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are working to optimize a promising new nanomaterial called nanoblades for use in hydrogen storage. During their testing of the new material, they have discovered that it can store and release hydrogen extremely fast and at low temperatures compared to similar materials. Another important aspect of the new material is that it is also rechargeable. These attributes could make it ideal for use in onboard hydrogen storage for next-generation hydrogen or fuel cell vehicles.

Fermentation with Transgenic Yeast Modifies Mycotoxins

Virginia Tech and U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers have shown that transgenic yeast used during fermentation of barley will help modify mycotoxin in the animal feed that is a byproduct of ethanol production.

ORNL New Material Possible Boon for Lithium Ion Batteries

Batteries could get a boost from a discovery that increases power, energy density and safety while dramatically reducing charge time.

Polymer from Brown Algae May Boost Battery Performance

By looking to Mother Nature for solutions, researchers have identified a promising new binder material for lithium-ion battery electrodes that could not only boost energy storage, but also eliminate the use of toxic compounds now used in manufacturing the components.

Switching from Coal to Natural Gas Would Do Little for Global Climate

Although the burning of natural gas emits far less carbon dioxide than coal, a new study by an NCAR researcher concludes that a greater reliance on natural gas would fail to significantly slow down climate change. Coal releases more carbon dioxide, but it also releases particles that cool the planet.

Cutting Soot Emissions: Fastest, Most Economical Way to Slow Global Warming

A new study of dust-like particles of soot in the air -- now emerging as the second most important -- but previously overlooked -- factor in global warming provides fresh evidence that reducing soot emissions from diesel engines and other sources could slow melting of sea ice in the Arctic faster and more economically than any other quick fix, a scientist reported here today.

Novel Alloy Could Produce Hydrogen Fuel from Sunlight

Scientists from the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville have determined that an inexpensive semiconductor material can be "tweaked" to generate hydrogen from water using sunlight.

Panda Poop May be a Treasure Trove of Microbes for Making Biofuels

Panda poop contains bacteria with potent effects in breaking down plant material in the way needed to tap biomass as a major new source of "biofuels" produced not from corn and other food sources, but from grass, wood chips and crop wastes, scientists reported today at the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

The First Nuclear Power Plants for Settlements on the Moon and Mars

The first nuclear power plant being considered for production of electricity for manned or unmanned bases on the Moon, Mars and other planets may really look like it came from outer space.