Physicists Light "Magnetic Fire" to Reveal Energy's Path

NYU physicists have uncovered how energy is released and dispersed in magnetic materials in a process akin to the spread of forest fires, a finding that has the potential to deepen our understanding of self-sustained chemical reactions.

Geologists Study Mystery of 'Eternal Flames'

"Eternal flames" fueled by hydrocarbon gas could shine a light on the presence of natural gas in underground rock layers and conditions that let it seep to the surface, according to research by Indiana University geologists.

Microwave Oven Cooks Up Solar Cell Material

University of Utah metallurgists used an old microwave oven to produce a nanocrystal semiconductor rapidly using cheap, abundant and less toxic metals than other semiconductors. They hope it will be used for more efficient photovoltaic solar cells and LED lights, biological sensors and systems to convert waste heat to electricity.

Researchers Find That Some 'Green' Hot Water Systems Fail to Deliver on Promises

Two researchers affiliated with the Virginia Tech College of Engineering have published a paper which reports that hot water recirculating systems touted as "green," actually use both more energy and water than their standard counterparts. The research found that the "so-called green" hot water recirculation systems used more net water than the conventional systems after accounting for water needed to produce the extra energy.

Recipe for Low-Cost, Biomass-Derived Catalyst for Hydrogen Production

In a paper to be published in an upcoming issue of Energy & Environmental Science (now available online), researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory describe details of a low-cost, stable, effective catalyst that could replace costly platinum in the production of hydrogen. The catalyst, made from renewable soybeans and abundant molybdenum metal, produces hydrogen in an environmentally friendly, cost-effective manner, potentially increasing the use of this clean energy source.

Technique Unlocks Design Principles of Quantum Biology

University of Chicago researchers have created a synthetic compound that mimics the complex quantum dynamics observed in photosynthesis and may enable fundamentally new routes to creating solar-energy technologies.

Key Ingredient in Mass Extinctions Could Boost Food, Biofuel Production

In low doses, hydrogen sulfide, a substance implicated in several mass extinctions, could greatly enhance plant growth, leading to a sharp increase in global food supplies and plentiful stock for biofuel production, new University of Washington research shows.

ORNL Leading Study Focused on Afterlife of Electric Vehicle Batteries

Once they've finished powering electric vehicles for hundreds of thousands of miles, it may not be the end of the road for automotive batteries, which researchers believe can provide continued benefits for consumers, automakers and the environment.

A Solar Booster Shot for Natural Gas Power Plants

A new system reduces carbon emissions and fuel usage at natural gas power plants by 20 percent by injecting solar energy into natural gas.

New Report: California Lags in Fracking Regulations

A new report on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in California warns of possible water contamination and seismic activity near drilling sites, unless the oil-extraction method is tightly regulated.

Cost-Saving Measure to Upgrade Ethanol to Butanol -- A Better Alternative to Gasoline

Scientists today reported a discovery that could speed an emerging effort to replace ethanol in gasoline with a substantially better fuel additive called butanol, which some experts regard as "the gasoline of the future." Their report on this discovery, which holds potential to reduce the costs of converting ethanol factories to production of butanol, came at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Understanding the Life of Lithium Ion Batteries in Electric Vehicles

Scientists today answered a question that worries millions of owners and potential owners of electric and hybrid vehicles using lithium-ion batteries: How long before the battery pack dies, leaving a sticker-shock bill for a fresh pack or a car ready for the junk heap? Their answer, presented here at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), being held here this week, may surprise skeptics.

'Artificial Leaf' Gains the Ability to Self-Heal Damage and Produce Energy From Dirty Water

Another innovative feature has been added to the world's first practical "artificial leaf," making the device even more suitable for providing people in developing countries and remote areas with electricity, scientists reported here today. It gives the leaf the ability to self-heal damage that occurs during production of energy.

Lithium-Ion Battery Technology Topic of Dozens of New Scientific Reports This Week

With lithium-ion batteries in the news for grounding the Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet -- and as a fixture in many consumer electronics products -- li-ion technology is the topic of dozens of potentially newsworthy scientific reports that begin here today. The presentations are part of the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Engineering Algae to Make the 'Wonder Material' Nanocellulose for Biofuels and More

Genes from the family of bacteria that produce vinegar, Kombucha tea and nata de coco have become stars in a project -- which scientists today said has reached an advanced stage -- that would turn algae into solar-powered factories for producing the "wonder material" nanocellulose. Their report on advances in getting those genes to produce fully functional nanocellulose was part of the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society, being held here this week.

Enzymes From Horse Feces Could Hold Secrets to Streamlining Biofuel Production

Stepping into unexplored territory in efforts to use corn stalks, grass and other non-food plants to make biofuels, scientists today described the discovery of a potential treasure-trove of candidate enzymes in fungi thriving in the feces and intestinal tracts of horses.

Turning Trash into Cash . . . and Saving Energy

Most people view an empty milk jug as yet another chunk of plastic to chuck in the garbage. For Joshua Pearce, it's raw material for all manner of useful things, courtesy of the 3D printing revolution.

Trees Used to Create Recyclable, Efficient Solar Cell

Georgia Institute of Technology and Purdue University researchers have developed efficient solar cells using natural substrates derived from plants such as trees. Just as importantly, by fabricating them on cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) substrates, the solar cells can be quickly recycled in water at the end of their lifecycle.

Paint-on Plastic Electronics: Aligning Polymers for High Performance

Semiconducting polymers are an unruly bunch, but University of Michigan engineers have developed a new method for getting them in line that could pave the way for cheaper, greener, "paint-on" plastic electronics.

Researchers Building Stronger, Greener Concrete with Biofuel Byproducts

A group of Kansas State University civil engineers are adding bioethanol byproducts to cement to reduce concrete's carbon footprint and make it stronger.

As Brazil Ramps Up Sugarcane Production, Researchers Foresee Regional Climate Effects

Conversion of large swaths of Brazilian land for sugar plantations will help the country meet its needs for producing cane-derived ethanol, but it also could lead to important regional climate effects, according to a team of researchers from Arizona State University, Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science.

Neutron Scattering Provides Data on Ion Adsorption

Researchers have demonstrated the use of a technique known as small angle neutron scattering (SANS) to study the effects of ions moving into nanoscale pores. The study is believed to be the first application of the SANS technique for studying ion surface adsorption in-situ.

Synthetic Molecule First Electricity-Making Catalyst to Use Iron to Split Hydrogen Gas

To make fuel cells more economical, engineers want a fast and efficient iron-based molecule that splits hydrogen gas to make electricity. Online Feb. 17 at Nature Chemistry, researchers report such a catalyst. It is the first iron-based catalyst that converts hydrogen directly to electricity. The result moves chemists and engineers one step closer to widely affordable fuel cells.

New Coal Technology Harnesses Energy Without Burning, Nears Pilot-Scale Development

A new form of clean coal technology reached an important milestone recently, with the successful operation of a research-scale combustion system at Ohio State University.

'Zoomable' Map of Poplar Proteins Offers New View of Bioenergy Crop

Researchers seeking to improve production of ethanol from woody crops have a new resource in the form of an extensive molecular map of poplar tree proteins.