Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Brayton Cycle Turbines Promise Giant Leap in Thermal-to-Electric Conversion Efficiency

Sandia National Laboratories researchers are moving into the demonstration phase of a novel gas turbine system for power generation, with the promise that thermal-to-electric conversion efficiency will be increased to as much as 50 percent -- an improvement of 50 percent for nuclear power stations equipped with steam turbines, or a 40 percent improvement for simple gas turbines. The system is also very compact, meaning that capital costs would be relatively low.

Researchers Convert Algae to Butanol; Fuel Can be Used in Automobiles

A team of chemical engineers at the University of Arkansas has developed a method for converting common algae into butanol, a renewable fuel that can be used in existing combustible engines. The green technology benefits from and adds greater value to a process being used now to clean and oxygenate U.S. waterways by removing excess nitrogen and phosphorous from fertilizer in runoff.

"Desert Development Corridor" Plan Accepted by Egypt's Government

A visionary plan for a "Desert Development Corridor" in Egypt, researched and created by Boston University geologist Dr. Farouk El-Baz, has been adopted by the country's interim government as its flagship program. According to El-Baz, the plan - which includes the construction, along 1,200 kilometers, of a new eight-lane superhighway, a railway, a water pipeline, and a power line - would open new land for urban development, commerce, agriculture, tourism and related jobs.

This Microbe's for You: Brewery Waste Becomes Scientific Fodder for Producing Liquid Biofuels

Gaining new insight into how efficiently the microbes in large bioreactors produce methane from brewery waste, Cornell scientists hope to use their new knowledge to shape these microbial communities to produce liquid biofuels and other useful products.

New Lignin 'Lite' Switchgrass Boosts Biofuel Yield by More than One-Third

Bioethanol from new lines of native perennial prairie grass could become less costly because of plant engineering by The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and fermentation research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Energy Technology, Policy Tools to be Explored at Summer Institute for Top Grad Students

Graduate students pursuing careers in energy, policy, science and environmental matters are being encouraged to submit applications for Technology and Policy Tools for Energy in an Uncertain World, a week-long summer institute at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, Calif. The program will take place Aug. 7-12 and is open to U.S. citizens and foreign nationals.

Research Yields New Way to Create Poly-Silicon as Competitor for Fossil Fuel Energy; Discovery to Cut Cost of Solar-Cell Production

An engineering professor has developed a process for converting amorphous silicon into large-grain poly-crystalline silicon, which will decrease the cost of solar electricity to compete with fossil fuels.

Report Identifies Materials Technologies That Address Critical Energy and Economic Challenges

Second phase of a study commissioned by the DOE Industrial Technologies Program (ITP), funded through Oak Ridge National Laboratory and convened by TMS will be used to formulate a core MSE development portfolio focused on meeting current and future energy challenges, while also opening opportunities for job creation and economic growth.

'Tall Order' Sunlight-to-Hydrogen System Works, Neutron Analysis Confirms

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a biohybrid photoconversion system -- based on the interaction of photosynthetic plant proteins with synthetic polymers -- that can convert visible light into hydrogen fuel.

Analyzing Long-Term Impacts of Biofuel on the Land

Scientists analyzed five classical long term experiments using a process-based carbon balance model. They simulated experiments to predict the potential of no tillage management to maintain soil organic carbon.

Researchers Draft "Genetic Road Map" of Biofuels Crop

The first rough draft of a "genetic road map" of the biomass crop, prairie cordgrass, is giving scientists an inside look at the genes of one of the crops that may help produce the next generation of biofuels.

No Longer Pining for Organic Molecules to Make Particles in the Air

Pine's fresh scent has helped scientists find missing sources of organic molecules in the air -- which, it might turn out, aren't missing after all. In work appearing in this week's PNAS Online, researchers found that particles containing compounds such as those given off by pine trees evaporate more than 100 times slower than expected by current air-quality models.

Study Yields Better Turbine Spacing for Large Wind Farms

For more efficient power generation, operators of large wind farms should space their turbines farther apart.

Report Examines Potential of Energy Storage Technologies for Next-Generation Electrical Grid

TM-DOE report shows material science advances could improve performance and lower costs of electrical energy storage devices for the future electrical grid.

New Method for Reporting Solar Data

A straightforward new way to calculate, compile, and graphically present solar radiation measurements in a format that is accessible to decision makers and the general public has been developed by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and is described in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy.

Trapped Sunlight Cleans Water

High energy costs are one drawback of making clean water from waste effluents. According to an article in the journal Biomicrofluidics, a new system that combines two different technologies proposes to break down contaminants using the cheapest possible energy source, sunlight.

Report: Policies to Spur Renewable Energy Can Lower Energy Costs

The South could pay less for its electricity in 20 years than is currently projected if strong public policies are enacted to spur renewable energy production and use, according to a report released today by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Duke University.

"Green Genes" in Yeast May Boost Biofuel Production

An effort to increase biofuel production has led scientists to discover genes in yeast that improve their tolerance to ethanol, allowing the production of more ethanol from the same amount of nutrients. This study shows how genetically altered yeast cells survive higher ethanol concentrations, addressing a bottleneck in the production of ethanol from cellulosic material (nonfood plant sources) in quantities that could compete economically with fossil fuels.

Champion Hydrogen-Producing Microbe

The cyanobacteria are famous for releasing the oxygen that made Earth the hospitable planet we know today, but some strains also have hidden talent for producing hydrogen gas. Washington University in St. Louis currently holds the gas-producing record for these versatile microbes.

The Challenges of Investing in Sustainable Energy

A USC Marshall MBA research team finds that global investment is being restricted by a range of factors, from policy to affordability.

World's Smallest Battery Created at CINT Nanotechnology Center

Realtime view of single nanowire anode offers information to improve lithium batteries.

Assessing the Seismic Hazard of the Central-Eastern United States

As the U.S. policy makers renew emphasis on the use of nuclear energy in their efforts to reduce the country's oil dependence, other factors come into play. One concern of paramount importance is the seismic hazard at the site where nuclear reactors are located.

Students Advise INdiana Sustainability Alliance on Green Economic Development

Mirroring an approach that Indiana has taken to the life sciences industry, the state's economic development efforts could capitalize on existing clusters of wind energy and automotive-related companies to foster a more sustainable and profitable business environment. That's the lead finding by a panel of second-year MBA students at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, who were asked to participate in a competitive project for the INdiana Sustainability Alliance (INSA).

Researchers Engineer New Methane-Production Pathway in Microorganism

A University of Arkansas researcher and his colleagues have created the first methane-producing microorganism that can metabolize complex carbon structures, which could lead to microbial recycling of waste products and their transformation into natural gas.

Researchers Fabricate More Efficient Polymer Solar Cells

Researchers from Iowa State University and the Ames Laboratory have developed a process for fabricating more efficient polymer solar cells. The result is a polymer solar cell that captures more light and produces more power.