Slicing Solar Power Costs with New Wafer-Cutting Method

University of Utah engineers devised a new way to slice thin wafers of the chemical element germanium for use in the most efficient type of solar power cells. They say the new method should lower the cost of such cells by reducing the waste and breakage of the brittle semiconductor.

Researchers Look for Ways to Bring Hydrogen Technology Home

You probably won't be able to drive down the highway in your own non-polluting vehicle that runs on hydrogen power any time soon. And don't start making plans to power your whole house with expensive hydrogen-based technology in the coming years. But, some day in the not-too-distant future, you might own a cell phone equipped with a hydrogen-powered fuel cell instead of a battery.

Researcher Closes in On Ethanol Breakthrough that Reduces Need to Use Corn to Make Ethanol

A yeast geneticist on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) is close to developing mutant yeast for ethanol production that would reduce or eliminate the need to use corn to make the alternative fuel.

A Better Way to Make Hydrogen from Biofuels

Researchers here have found a way to convert ethanol and other biofuels into hydrogen very efficiently. A new catalyst makes hydrogen from ethanol with 90 percent yield, at a workable temperature, and using inexpensive ingredients.

Can Biofuels be Sustainable?

With oil prices skyrocketing, the search is on for efficient and sustainable biofuels. Research published this month in Agronomy Journal examines one biofuel crop contender: corn stover. Corn stover is made up of the leaves and stalks of corn plants that are left in the field after harvesting the edible corn grain. Corn stover could supply as much as 25% of the biofuel crop needed by 2030.

Algae: Biofuel of the Future?

Algae are tiny biological factories that use photosynthesis to transform carbon dioxide and sunlight into energy so efficiently that they can double their weight several times a day, producing oil in the process "" 30 times more oil per acre than soybeans, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Like soybean oil, the algae oil can be burned directly in diesel engines or further refined into biodiesel.

Researchers Analyze Material with 'Colossal Ionic Conductivity'

A new material characterized at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory could open a pathway toward more efficient fuel cells.

Cool! Nanoparticle Research Points to Energy Savings

NIST experiments with varying concentrations of nanoparticle additives indicate a major opportunity to improve the energy efficiency of large industrial, commercial, and institutional cooling systems known as chillers.

Good News About $4 Gas? Fewer Traffic Deaths

An analysis of yearly vehicle deaths compared to gas prices found death rates drop significantly as people slow down and drive less. If gas remains at $4 a gallon or higher for a year or more, traffic fatalities could drop by more than 1,000 per month nationwide, according new findings by a University of Alabama at Birmingham researcher.

Chemists Get Scoop on Crude "~Oil' from Pig Manure

Researchers have developed the first detailed chemical analysis revealing what processing is needed to transform pig manure derived 'crude oil' into fuel for vehicles or heating. Mass production of this type of biofuel could help consume a waste product overflowing at U.S. farms, but it will require a lot of refining.

Researchers Use Fungus to Improve Corn-to-ethanol Process

A team of researchers from Iowa State University and the University of Hawai'i are developing a process that cleans up and improves the dry-grind ethanol production process. The process uses fungus to reduce energy costs, allow more water recycling and improve a co-product that's used as livestock feed. The American Academy of Environmental Engineers recently awarded the project its 2008 Grand Prize for University Research.

New Source for Biofuels Discovered by Researchers

A newly created microbe produces cellulose that can be turned into ethanol and other biofuels, report scientists from The University of Texas at Austin who say the microbe could provide a significant portion of the nation's transportation fuel if production can be scaled up.

New Method Rapidly Produces Low-Cost Biofuels from Wood, Grass

A new method called catalytic fast pyrolysis turns plant biomass such as wood and grasses into "green gasoline" using one simple step. The process significantly reduces the cost and production time associated with making gasoline-range biofuels.

Key to Using Local Resources for Biomass May Include Waste

Key to Northwest biofuels may include waste among biomass resources.

Study Shows Hybrid Effect on Power Distribution

A growing number of plug-in hybrid electric cars and trucks could require major new power generation resources or none at all"" depending on when people recharge their automobiles. A recent ORNL study examined how an expected increase in ownership of hybrid electric cars and trucks will affect the power grid depending on what time of day or night the vehicles are charged.

Imports from Latin America May Help U.S. Meet Energy Goals

Latin American nations could become important suppliers of ethanol for world markets in coming decades, according to an Oak Ridge National Laboratory study released recently.

New Research Suggests Biofuel Blending is Often Inaccurate

While sampling blended biodiesel fuels purchased from small-scale retailers, researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution found that many of the blends do not contain the advertised amount of biofuel.

Costs of Solar Photovoltaic Panels Substantially Eclipse Benefits

Despite increasing popular support for solar photovoltaic panels in the United States, their costs far outweigh the benefits, according to a new analysis by Severin Borenstein, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business and director of the UC Energy Institute.

Researchers Give New Hybrid Vehicle Its First Test-Drive in the Ocean

Taking a page out of a science fiction story, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Webb Research Corporation (Falmouth, Mass.) have successfully flown the first environmentally powered robotic vehicle through the ocean. The new robotic "glider" harvests heat energy from the ocean to propel itself across thousands of kilometers of water.

Biogenic Natural Gas Linked to Climate Change, Renewable Energy

Deposits of natural gas in Michigan were created rapidly by bacteria during the last ice age, indicating the possibility of making natural gas a renewable resource. Some of the gas was released when ice retreated, contributing to interglacial methane spikes in the atmosphere, a finding that can be used in current climate models.

Researchers Investigate Supercritical Method of Converting Chicken Fat and Tall Oil Fatty Acid into Biodiesel

Chemical engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas have investigated supercritical methanol as a method of converting chicken fat into biodiesel fuel. The new study also successfully converted tall oil fatty acid into biodiesel at a yield of greater than 90 percent, significantly advancing efforts to develop commercially viable fuel out of plentiful, accessible and low-cost feedstocks and other agricultural by-products.

Improving Fuel Cell Durability Starts with Failures

Researchers in the Georgia Tech Research Institute's (GTRI) Center for Innovative Fuel Cell and Battery Technologies believe that understanding how and why fuel cells fail is the key to both reducing cost and improving durability. The problems they are addressing include chemical attack of the membrane, carbon corrosion and platinum instability.

Researchers Examine World's Potential to Produce Biodiesel

What do the countries of Thailand, Uruguay and Ghana have in common? They all could become leading producers of the emerging renewable fuel known as biodiesel, says a study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.

Cellulose-Munching Microbe at Heart of New Bioethanol Company

The search for alternatives to fossil fuels has led to a major investment in a microbe that converts plant matter into ethanol. Noted for its appetite for all things cellulose, the bacterium efficiently converts biomass to ethanol in a carbon-neutral process that doesn't require the additional enzyme treatments usually accompanying bioethanol production.

New Catalyst May Revolutionize Biodiesel Production

Victor Lin, a chemistry professor at Iowa State University, has developed a catalyst that he thinks will revolutionize biodiesel production. Lin has founded a company in Ames, Catilin Inc., to develop and market that technology.