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.

Rural Mainstreet Index Nosedives: Drought Impacting Ethanol/Biodiesel Production

Latest results from the monthly Rural Mainstreet Index indicate the drought is taking its toll on famers and ethanol/biodiesel plants.

Amount Of "Green" Advertising Depends on Health of Economy

The volume of "green" advertising rises and falls in conjunction with key indicators of economic growth. That's the finding from a study of 30 years of environmental ads in National Geographic Magazine.

Hot Nuclear Matter Featured in Science

Prelude to new RHIC / LHC findings to be presented at Quark Matter 2012.

New Ultracapacitor Delivers a Jolt of Energy at a Constant Voltage

A researcher from the University of West Florida has designed an ultracapacitor that maintains a near steady voltage. The novel constant-voltage design may one day help ultracapacitors find new uses in low-voltage electric vehicle circuits and handheld electronics.

Making "Renewable" Viable: Drexel Engineers Develop New Technology for Grid-Level Electrical Energy Storage

A team of researchers from Drexel University's College of Engineering has developed a new method for quickly and efficiently storing and discharging large amounts of energy. Their "electrochemical flow capacitor," which is fully scalable, could be the key to a more efficient integration of renewable resources into the energy grid.

Natural Gas Is a Much-Needed Tool in the Battle to Slow Global Warming

No matter how you drill it, using natural gas as an energy source is a smart move in the battle against global climate change and a good transition step on the road toward low-carbon energy, according to a new study by Cornell Professor Lawrence M. Cathles published in the most recent edition of the peer-reviewed journal Geochemistry, Geophysics and Geosystems.

Smart Grid Technology May Help Sustain Vital Social Services During Blackouts

An analysis of the costs and benefits associated with implementing a distributed generation system to improve security and reduce a regional blackout's impacts finds key advantages.

BESC Researchers Tap Into Genetic Reservoir of Heat-Loving Bacteria

The identification of key proteins in a group of heat-loving bacteria by researchers at the Department of Energy's BioEnergy Science Center could help light a fire under next-generation biofuel production.

Plasma Startup Creates High-Energy Light to Make Smaller Microchips

A pair of scientists working on fusion energy -- harnessing the energy-generating mechanism of the sun -- may have found a way to etch the next generation of microchips.

ORNL/UTK Team Maps the Nuclear Landscape

An Oak Ridge National Laboratory and University of Tennessee team has used the Department of Energy's Jaguar supercomputer to calculate the number of isotopes allowed by the laws of physics.

Bringing Down the Cost of Fuel Cells

A new catalyst material developed at UW-Milwaukee could dramatically reduce the cost of producing microbial fuel cells.

Modeling Biofuel Fitness for the Sea

With the help of a $2 million grant from the U.S. Office of Naval Research, mechanical engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will develop a tool to characterize the performance of a new class of alternative fuels that could be used in maritime vehicles such as submarines and aircraft carriers.

Everyone Knows It's Windy . . .

And now they have the data to prove it. The middle of Lake Michigan is a vast, untapped reservoir of wind energy. The next step will be to find out if it can be harvested economically without harming the environment.

University of Tennessee Professors Take Big Step to Develop Nuclear Fusion Power

University of Tennessee researchers have successfully developed a key technology in developing an experimental reactor that can demonstrate the feasibility of fusion energy for the power grid. Nuclear fusion promises to supply more energy than the nuclear fission used today but with far fewer risks.

New Twist on Old Chemical Process Could Boost Energy Efficiency

An unappreciated aspect of chemical reactions on the surface of metal oxides could be key in developing more efficient energy systems, including more productive solar cells or hydrogen fuel cells efficient enough for automobiles.

New Small Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Reaches Record Efficiency

A new solid oxide fuel cell system developed by PNNL can achieve a record of up to 57 percent efficiency and is designed to be scaled up to generate electricity for individual homes or neighborhoods.

High-Speed Method to Aid Search for Solar Energy Storage Catalysts

Writing this week in the journal Angewandte Chemie, a Wisconsin group describes a new high-throughput method to identify electrocatalysts for water oxidation.

New Model of Geological Strata May Aid Oil Extraction, Water Recovery and Earth History Studies

Sandia modeling study contradicts a long-held belief of geologists that pore sizes and chemical compositions are uniform throughout a given strata, which are horizontal slices of sedimentary rock. By understanding the variety of pore sizes and spatial patterns in strata, geologists can help achieve more production from underground oil reservoirs and water aquifers. Better understanding also means more efficient use of potential underground carbon storage sites, and better evaluations of the possible movement of radionuclides in nuclear waste depositories to determine how well the waste will be isolated.

Discovery of Plant Proteins May Boost Agricultural Yields and Biofuel Production

Salk and Iowa State researchers identify three proteins involved in plant fatty acids, the key components of seed oils.