Story Tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, October 2012

1) When a storm knocks out power. 2) My trip calculator. 3) Refining a microscope. 4) Next generation lighting source.

Dry-Run Experiments Verify Key Aspect of Sandia Nuclear Fusion Concept

Magnetically imploded tubes, intended to help produce controlled nuclear fusion at scientific "break-even" energies or better within the next few years, have functioned successfully in preliminary tests.

Sandia and OurEnergyPolicy.org Release "Goals of Energy Policy" Poll That Suggests Call for Ambitious Agenda

U.S. energy policy should simultaneously pursue security of its energy supply, economic stability and reduced environmental impacts, says a national poll of energy professionals jointly prepared by Sandia National Laboratories and OurEnergyPolicy.org. The findings of the national poll, "The Goals of Energy Policy," show that the vast majority -- more than 85 percent -- of the 884 energy professionals surveyed prefer policymaking that pursues all three goals at once.

Researchers Calculate Maximum Energy Potential From Wind

Wind turbines could power half the world's future energy demands with minimal environmental impact, according to new research published by University of Delaware and Stanford University scientists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

September 2012 Story Tips

Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Oklahoma's ClimateMaster Inc. have collaborated to develop a ground source heat pump that can reduce a homeowner's electric bill by up to 60 percent. Owners of electric cars could kiss that cumbersome cord goodbye without losing efficiency because of a proprietary technology developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. With the first demonstration of a dual-fuel advanced combustion cycle in a modified multi-cylinder engine, researchers have moved closer to delivering on the promise of increased fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.

Spinach Power Gets a Big Boost

Spinach power has just gotten a big boost. Vanderbilt researchers have combined the photosynthetic protein that converts light into electrochemical energy in spinach with silicon, the material used in solar cells, in a fashion that produces substantially more electrical current than has been reported by previous "biohybrid" solar cells.

Researchers Develop New Low Cost, High Efficiency Solar Technology

Researchers at RTI International have developed a new solar technology that could make solar energy more affordable, and thus speed-up its market adoption.

Microwave Ovens May Help Produce Lower Cost Solar Energy Technology

The same type of microwave oven technology that most people use to heat up leftover food has found an important application in the solar energy industry, providing a new way to make thin-film photovoltaic products with less energy, expense and environmental concerns.

ORNL Researchers Probe Invisible Vacancies in Fuel Cell Materials

Knowing the position of missing oxygen atoms could be the key to cheaper solid oxide fuel cells with longer lifetimes. New microscopy research from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory is enabling scientists to map these vacancies at an atomic scale.

Biorefinery Makes Use of Every Bit of a Soybean

Scientists today unveiled new technology intended to move soybeans, second only to corn as the top food crop in the U.S., along the same use-to-all path of corn and crude oil as a raw material for a wider portfolio of products. They described it - a new integrated soybean biorefinery - at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, being held here through Thursday.

ORNL Technology Moves Scientists Closer to Extracting Uranium From Seawater

Fueling nuclear reactors with uranium harvested from the ocean could become more feasible because of a material developed by a team led by the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Self-Charging Power Cell Converts and Stores Energy

Researchers have developed a self-charging power cell that directly converts mechanical energy to chemical energy, storing the power until it is released as electrical current. The development eliminates the need to convert mechanical energy to electrical energy for charging a battery.

New Solar Panels Made with More Common Metals Could Be Cheaper and More Sustainable

With enough sunlight falling on home roofs to supply at least half of America's electricity, scientists today described advances toward the less-expensive solar energy technology needed to roof many of those homes with shingles that generate electricity. Their report was part of a symposium on sustainability at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, being held here this week.

Advances in Decades-Old Dream of Mining Seawater for Uranium

Scientists today reported progress toward a 40-year-old dream of extracting uranium for nuclear power from seawater, which holds at least 4 billion tons of the precious material. They described some of the most promising technology and an economic analysis. Their reports were part of a symposium at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, being held here through Thursday.

Cleaner Fuel for Cruise Ships and Other Big Vessels From Ingredients in Detergents, Medicines

Scientists today described development of a new fuel mixture to ease the major air pollution and cost problems facing cruise ships, oil tankers and container ships. These vessels tend to burn the cheapest and most highly polluting form of diesel fuel. Their report was part of the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, being held here this week.

Ecologist: Genetically Engineered Algae for Biofuel Pose Potential Risks That Should Be Studied

Algae are high on the genetic engineering agenda as a potential source for biofuel, and they should be subjected to independent studies of any environmental risks that could be linked to cultivating algae for this purpose, two prominent researchers say.

Fueling the Future with Renewable Gasoline and Diesel

A new process for converting municipal waste, algae, corn stalks and similar material to gasoline, diesel and jet fuel is showing the same promise in larger plants as it did in laboratory-scale devices, the developers reported here today. It was part of the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, which continues through Thursday.

New Biorefinery Finds Treasure in Starbucks' Spent Coffee Grounds and Stale Bakery Goods

With 1.3 billion tons of food trashed, dumped in landfills and otherwise wasted around the world every year, scientists today described development and successful laboratory testing of a new "biorefinery" intended to change food waste into a key ingredient for making plastics, laundry detergents and scores of other everyday products. They described the research at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

As Smart Electric Grid Evolves, Virginia Tech Engineers Show How to Include Solar Technologies

An economically feasible way to store solar energy in existing residential power networks is the subject of an award winning paper written by two Virginia Tech electrical engineers and presented at an international conference.

Sunflowers Inspire More Efficient Solar Power System

A field of young sunflowers will slowly rotate from east to west during the course of a sunny day, each leaf seeking out as much sunlight as possible as the sun moves across the sky through an adaptation called heliotropism. It's a clever bit of natural engineering that inspired imitation from a UW-Madison electrical and computer engineer, who has found a way to mimic the passive heliotropism seen in sunflowers for use in the next crop of solar power systems.

Iowa State Researchers Feed Pigs, Chickens High-Protein Fungus Grown on Ethanol Leftovers

An Iowa State University research team is feeding fungi grown on the leftovers of ethanol production to pigs and chickens. The feed-production process also cleans water used to make ethanol, boosting the amount of water that can be recycled back into biofuels.

Major Advance Made in Generating Electricity From Wastewater

Engineers at Oregon State University have made a breakthrough in the performance of microbial fuel cells that can produce electricity directly from wastewater, opening the door to a future in which waste treatment plants not only will power themselves, but will sell excess electricity.

Increased Productivity, Not Less Energy Use, Results From More Efficient Lighting

More light, rather than lower costs, should be the result of increased efficiencies of LED lighting. But productivity will increase.

Researchers Find Substantial Water Pollution Risks From "Fracking" to Recover Natural Gas

Study recommends consideration of additional regulations to protect drinking water and encourages future research efforts into disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing.

Research Could Lead to Improved Oil Recovery, Better Environmental Cleanup

Researchers have taken a new look at an old, but seldom-used technique developed by the petroleum industry to recover oil, and learned more about why it works, how it could be improved, and how it might be able to make a comeback not only in oil recovery but also environmental cleanup.