UF/IFAS Process Can Convert Human-Generated Waste Into Fuel in Space

Who would've known human waste could be used to propel spacecraft from the moon back to Earth? UF/IFAS researchers responded to the call from NASA and came up with a process to convert waste to methane and propel spacecraft to Earth.

How to Save Billions of Gallons of Gasoline

Each year, the more than 2 million tractor-trailer trucks that cruise America's highways consume about 36 billion gallons of diesel fuel, representing more than 10 percent of the nation's entire petroleum use. That fuel consumption could be reduced by billions of gallons a year through the use of drag-reducing devices on trucks, according to studies by researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Discovery Sheds Light on Nuclear Reactor Fuel Behavior During a Severe Event

A new discovery about the atomic structure of uranium dioxide will help scientists select the best computational model to simulate severe nuclear reactor accidents.

Stony Brook Scientists Unveil First Structure Measurements of Molten Uranium Dioxide

Nuclear power is part of the worldwide energy mix, accounting for around 10% of global electricity supply. Safety is the paramount issue. Uranium dioxide (UO2) is the major nuclear fuel component of fission reactors, and the concern during severe accidents is the melting and leakage of radioactive UO2 as it corrodes through its protective containment systems. Understanding--in order to predict--the behavior of UO2 at extreme temperatures is crucial to improved safety and optimization of this electricity source.

Scientists Get to the Heart of Fool's Gold as a Solar Material

As the installation of photovoltaic solar cells continues to accelerate, scientists are looking for inexpensive materials beyond the traditional silicon that can efficiently convert sunlight into electricity. Theoretically, iron pyrite could do the job, but when it works at all, the conversion efficiency remains frustratingly low. Now, a University of Wisconsin-Madison research team explains why that is, in a discovery that suggests how improvements in this promising material could lead to inexpensive yet efficient solar cells.

A Billion Holes Can Make a Battery

Researchers at the University of Maryland have invented a single tiny structure that includes all the components of a battery that they say could bring about the ultimate miniaturization of energy storage components.

Good Vibrations Give Electrons Excitations That Rock an Insulator to Go Metallic

A team led by the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has made an important advancement in understanding a classic transition-metal oxide, vanadium dioxide, by quantifying the thermodynamic forces driving the transformation. The results are published in the Nov. 10 advance online issue of Nature.

Renewable Energy Support Programs: New Studies Examine How and When They Work

In a pair of new papers, University of Chicago Booth School of Business Professor John R. Birge, along with Ingmar Ritzenhofen and Professor Stefan Spinler of the WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management (Germany) have quantitatively analyzed the effects of various schemes to support renewable energy generation and, consequently, to reduce carbon emissions and end fossil fuel dependence.

Synthetic Fish Measures Wild Ride Through Dams

A synthetic fish is helping existing hydroelectric dams and new, smaller hydro facilities become more fish-friendly. The latest version of the Sensor Fish - a small tubular device filled with sensors that analyze the physical stresses fish experience - measures more forces, costs about 80 percent less and can be used in more hydro structures than its predecessor, according to a paper published in the journal Review of Scientific Instruments.

Story Tips From the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory November 2014

1) With the addition of a dash of a common solvent, researchers realized an efficiency gain of about 36 percent for organic solar cells. 2) An innovative computational tool could reduce uncertainties and the time required to decide where to drill for gas and oil. 3) The current source inverter takes direct current and converts it into alternating current, boosting the voltage by up to three times. 4) Batteries that boast higher energy for the same weight, lower cost and longer life.

New Process Transforms Wood, Crop Waste Into Valuable Chemicals

Scientists today disclosed a new method to convert lignin, a biomass waste product, into simple chemicals. The innovation is an important step toward replacing petroleum-based fuels and chemicals with biorenewable materials, says Shannon Stahl, an expert in "green chemistry" at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

A New Look at AC-DC

Feeding the world's energy appetite may take innovative approaches in the future. A book by Nilanjan Ray Chaudhuri, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at North Dakota State University, Fargo, is the first text of its kind to examine methods to bring offshore wind energy on shore to power industry, homes and businesses. "Multi-terminal Direct Current Grids: Modeling, Analysis, and Control," is published by the Wiley-IEEE Press.

"Reverse Engineering" Materials for More Efficient Heating and Cooling

If you've gone for a spin in a luxury car and felt your back being warmed or cooled by a seat-based climate control system, then you've likely experienced the benefits of a class of materials called thermoelectrics. Thermoelectric materials convert heat into electricity, and vice versa, and have many advantages over traditional heating and cooling systems. Recently, researchers have observed that the performance of some thermoelectric materials can be improved by combining different solid phases.

Super Stable Garnet Ceramics May Be Ideal for High-Energy Lithium Batteries

Scientists have discovered exceptional properties in a garnet material that could enable development of higher-energy battery designs.

A Global Natural Gas Boom Alone Won't Slow Climate Change

A new analysis of global energy use, economics and the climate shows that expanding the current bounty of inexpensive natural gas alone would not slow the growth of global greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, according to a study appearing today in Nature.

New ORNL Electric Vehicle Technology Packs More Punch in Smaller Package

Using 3-D printing and novel semiconductors, researchers have created a power inverter that could make electric vehicles lighter, more powerful and more efficient.

Beyond LEDs: Brighter, New Energy -Saving Flat Panel Lights Based on Carbon Nanotubes

Scientists from Tohoku University in Japan have developed a new type of energy-efficient flat light source based on carbon nanotubes with very low power consumption of around 0.1 Watt for every hour's operation--about a hundred times lower than that of an LED.

UW Fusion Reactor Concept Could Be Cheaper Than Coal

University of Washington engineers have designed a concept for a fusion reactor that, when scaled up to the size of a large electrical power plant, would rival costs for a new coal-fired plant with similar electrical output.

Researchers Pump Up Oil Accumulation in Plant Leaves

A series of detailed genetic studies points scientists to a new way to dramatically increase the accumulation of oil in plant leaves, an abundant source of biomass for fuel production.

Batteries Included: A Solar Cell that Stores its Own Power

Is it a solar cell? Or a rechargeable battery? Actually, the patent-pending device invented at The Ohio State University is both: the world's first solar battery.

Hide & Seek: Sterile Neutrinos Remain Elusive

The Daya Bay Collaboration, an international group of scientists studying the subtle transformations of subatomic particles called neutrinos, is publishing its first results on the search for a so-called sterile neutrino, a possible new type of neutrino beyond the three known neutrino "flavors," or types. The existence of this elusive particle, if proven, would have a profound impact on our understanding of the universe, and could impact the design of future neutrino experiments.

Stressed Out: Research Sheds New Light on Why Rechargeable Batteries Fail

Scientists have discovered that lithium ions stress and strain on battery materials. These changes may help explain why most anodes made of layered materials eventually fail.

Unexpected New Mechanism Reveals How Molecules Become Trapped in Ice

Expanding our knowledge of the way molecules interact with ice surfaces is a key goal not only for climate change but also a much wider range of other environmental, scientific and defense-related issues. Now, a team of researchers has discovered a new mechanism they call "stable energetic embedding" of atoms and molecules within ice. The work is described in The Journal of Chemical Physics.

New UT Dallas Technology May Lead to Prolonged Power in Mobile Devices

Researchers from the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science have created technology that could be the first step toward wearable computers with self-contained power sources or, more immediately, a smartphone that doesn't die after a few hours of heavy use

Sandia Magnetized Fusion Technique Produces Significant Results

Working with two magnetic fields and a laser, Sandia's Z machine has released an amount of neutrons surprisingly close to 'break-even' fusion.