ORNL Tool Puts Spotlight on Nation's Electricity Generation Capacity

A technology developed at ORNL could streamline and strengthen the process for siting power plants while potentially enhancing the nation's energy security.

'Mini-Cellulose' Molecule Unlocks Chemistry of Biofuel

A team of chemical engineers at UMass Amherst has discovered a small molecule that behaves like cellulose when converted to biofuel. Studying this 'mini-cellulose' molecule reveals the chemical reactions that take place in wood and prairie grasses during high-temperature conversion to biofuel.

ORNL Explores Proteins in Yellowstone Bacteria for Biofuel Inspiration

Studies of bacteria first found in Yellowstone's hot springs are furthering efforts at the Department of Energy's BioEnergy Science Center toward commercially viable ethanol production from crops such as switchgrass.

Researchers Develop Method to Examine Batteries--From the Inside

Researchers at Cambridge University, Stony Brook University, and New York University have developed methodology, based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to examine batteries without destroying them. Their technique creates the possibility of improving battery performance and safety by serving as a diagnostic of its internal workings.

Biosolar Breakthrough Promises Cheap, Easy Green Electricity

Barry D. Bruce, professor of biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is turning the term "power plant" on its head. The biochemist and a team of researchers have developed a system that taps into photosynthetic processes to produce efficient and inexpensive energy.

Researchers' Refinement Increases Solar Concentrator Efficiency

A team of UC Merced professors and students discovered that changing the shape of a solar concentrator significantly increases its efficiency, bringing its use closer to reality

The Great Gas Hydrate Escape

Computer simulations revealing how methane and hydrogen pack into gas hydrates could enlighten alternative fuel production and carbon dioxide storage industries.

Petrochemical Output from Biomass Boosted by 40 Percent

Chemical engineers at UMass Amherst, using a catalytic fast pyrolysis process that transforms renewable non-food biomass into petrochemicals, have developed a new catalyst that boosts the yield for five key "building blocks of the chemical industry" by 40 percent compared to previous methods.

Study Shows Sugarcane Ethanol Production Causes Air Pollution

UC Merced researchers show burning of sugarcane fields prior to harvest can create more pollution than previously thought, detracting from benefits of the alternative fuel source.

Small Reactors Could Figure Into U.S. Energy Future

A newly released study from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) concludes that small modular reactors may hold the key to the future of U.S. nuclear power generation.

Engineers Study How Hills, Nearby Turbines Affect Wind Energy Production

Iowa State University engineers are using wind tunnel tests to study how hills, valleys and the placement of wind turbines affect the performance of wind farms.

Affordable Solar: It's Closer Than You Think

The ultimate in renewable energy is on the verge of going mainstream, says Joshua Pearce.

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.