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.

Dow Kokam, ORNL Sign Agreement to Boost Lithium Ion Battery Performance

Dow Kokam and the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory are working together to enhance the Michigan-based company's capabilities to develop and commercialize advanced lithium ion batteries.

ORNL Microscopy Generates New View of Fuel Cells

A novel microscopy method is helping scientists probe the reactions that limit widespread deployment of fuel cell technologies.

Researchers Find High Energy Output From Algae-Based Fuel, But 'No Silver Bullet'

Algae-based fuel is one of many options among the array of possible future energy sources. New University of Virginia research shows that while algae-based transportation fuels produce high energy output with minimal land use, their production could come with significant environmental burdens.

A New Catalyst for Ethanol Made from Biomass

Researchers in the Pacific Northwest have developed a new catalyst material that could replace chemicals currently derived from petroleum and be the basis for more environmentally friendly products including octane-boosting gas and fuel additives, bio-based rubber for tires and a safer solvent for the chemicals industry.

Climate Models Get Energy Balance Wrong

Data from NASA's Terra satellite shows that when the climate warms, Earth's atmosphere is apparently more efficient at releasing energy to space than models used to forecast climate change have been programmed to "believe."

Novel Gene Increases Yeast's Appetite for Plant Sugars

For thousands of years, bakers and brewers have relied on yeast to convert sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Yet, University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers eager to harness this talent for brewing biofuels have found when it comes to churning through sugars, these budding microbes can be picky eaters.

Protein Complex Found to Regulate Plant Growth

Farmers and other astute observers of nature have long known that crops like corn and sorghum grow taller at night. But the biochemical mechanisms that control this nightly stem elongation, common to most plants, have been something of a mystery to biologists--until now.

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

1) Nanoscale robots that can flow through blood may yet be a possibility. 2) Making Industry Part of the Climate Solution. 3) New band magnetism. 4) Clean energy production. 5) Thermochemical degradation of plant materials.

Ambient Energy Harnessed for Small Electronic Devices

Researchers have discovered a way to capture energy transmitted by such sources as radio and television transmitters and cell phone networks. By scavenging this ambient energy from the air around us, the technique could provide a new way to power networks of wireless sensors or other devices.

Researchers Image Electron Clouds on Graphene Surface

University at Buffalo chemists have used synchrotron light sources to observe the electron clouds on the surface of graphene, producing a series of images that reveal how folds and ripples in the remarkable material can harm its conductivity.

Model Helps Pinpoint Cyanobacterial Genes That Capture the Sun's Energy

A new model of the single-celled marine cyanobacterium Cyanothece could help researchers use blue-green algae to make renewable energy by predicting which of its genes are central to capturing energy from sunlight.

Researchers Create Tool to Put the Lid on Solar Power Fluctuations

How does the power output from solar panels fluctuate when the clouds roll in? And can researchers predict these fluctuations? UC San Diego Professor Jan Kleissl and Matthew Lave, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the Jacobs School, have found the answer to these questions. They also have developed a software program that allows power grid managers to easily predict fluctuations in the solar grid caused by changes in the cloud cover. The program uses a solar variability law Lave discovered.

Self-Cleaning Anodes Facilitate Coal-Fired Fuel Cells

Using barium oxide nanoparticles, researchers have developed a self-cleaning technique that could allow solid oxide fuel cells to be powered directly by coal gas at operating temperatures as low as 750 degrees Celsius. The technique could provide an alternative for generating electricity from the nation's vast coal reserves.

ORNL Neutrons, Simulations Reveal Details of Bioenergy Barrier

A first of its kind combination of experiment and simulation at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory is providing a close-up look at the molecule that complicates next-generation biofuels.

The Heat Is on for Sodium-Manganese Oxide Rechargeable Batteries

By adding the right amount of heat, researchers have developed a method that improves the electrical capacity and recharging lifetime of sodium ion rechargeable batteries, which could be a cheaper alternative for large-scale uses such as storing energy on the electrical grid.

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

1) Researchers are working alongside state troopers to test and validate screening technologies that can automatically detect problems as a vehicle enters the weigh station; 2) High-resolution subsurface exploration could get a boost with innovative approaches that take advantage of the underlying dynamics of atomic force microscopy; 3) Climate models still provide useful information that should be considered by civil engineers and planners making decisions about infrastructure.

Stamping Out Low Cost Nanodevices

A team of Vanderbilt engineers have developed a rapid and low-cost imprinting process that can stamp out a variety of devices that have unique optical, electrical, chemical and mechanical properties.

Code Green: Energy-Efficient Programming to Curb Computers' Power Use

A new system called EnerJ helps computer programmers go green, letting them cut a program's energy consumption by as much as 50 percent.

SUNY-ESF Produces 'Next Generation of Biofuels'

Researchers are making biobutanol from a sustainable resource: wood.

Journal Article Examines Effectiveness of State-Level Energy Policies

Sanya Carley, an assistant professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, examines the state-level policies and assesses their effectiveness for meeting energy and policy goals in the current issue of Review of Policy Research.