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.

Engineers Develop Higher-energy Liquid-transportation Fuel from Sugar

Reporting in the June 21 issue of the journal Nature, University of Wisconsin-Madison chemical and biological engineering Professor James Dumesic and his research team describe a two-stage process for turning biomass-derived sugar into 2,5-dimethylfuran (DMF), a liquid transportation fuel with 40 percent greater energy density than ethanol.

Sugar Can Fuel Tomorrow's Vehicles

Researchers at Virginia Tech, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and the University of Georgia propose using polysaccharides, or sugary carbohydrates, from biomass to directly produce low-cost hydrogen for the new hydrogen economy. The vision is for the ingredients to be mixed in the fuel tank of your car to power a fuel cell.

Higher Gas Prices Leave Many Workers Running on Empty

Few have been unaffected by the rapidly increasing price of gas, which has inched its way up toward $4 a gallon in some parts of the United States. And consumers aren't feeling those effects just in their wallets, a Florida State University professor in Tallahassee, Fla., has found.

Meeting the Ethanol Challenge: Scientists Use Supercomputer to Target Cellulose Bottleneck

Termites and fungi already know how to digest cellulose, but the human process of producing ethanol from cellulose remains slow and expensive. The central bottleneck is the sluggish rate at which the cellulose enzyme complex breaks down tightly bound cellulose into sugars, which are then fermented into ethanol.

Cheap, Efficient Solar Power: What's Needed Now to Get There?

If solar power is going to play a significant role in the energy equation of the future, there must be advances in technologies to store that power and more investment by manufacturers, concludes a new federally funded study by University of Massachusetts Amherst scientist Erin Baker.

New Nanoscale Engineering Breakthrough Points to Hydrogen-powered Vehicles

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have developed an advanced concept in nanoscale catalyst engineering "" a combination of experiments and simulations that will bring polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells for hydrogen-powered vehicles closer to massive commercialization.

Researchers Find Substantial Wind Resource Off Mid-Atlantic Coast

The wind resource off the Mid-Atlantic coast could supply the energy needs of nine states from Massachusetts to North Carolina, plus the District of Columbia--with enough left over to support a 50 percent increase in future energy demand--according to a study by researchers at the University of Delaware and Stanford University.

Relief at Pump Spurs Hike in Florida Consumer Confidence This Month

Lower gas prices have given low-income customers a break and fueled a seven-point increase in consumer in October to 90, its highest level in seven months, University of Florida economists report.

The World Is Not Running Out of Oil, Scientist Says

The foremost myth about resource geology is that the world is running out of oil, a University of Washington geologist says, and he wants to dispel that and other false notions about mineral resources.

Developing Alternatives to Fossil Fuels

Virginia Commonwealth University researchers have developed a new storage system to hold large quantities of hydrogen fuel that may one day power cars in a more cost-effective and consumer-friendly way.

New Process Makes Diesel Fuel and Industrial Chemicals from Simple Sugar

James Dumesic, a University of Wisconsin-Madison chemical and biological engineering professor, reports in the June 30 issue of the journal Science on a better way to make a chemical intermediate called HMF (hydroxymethylfurfural) from fructose - fruit sugar. HMF can be converted into plastics, diesel-fuel additive, or even diesel fuel itself, but is seldom used because it is costly to make.

Ultrasonics Boosts Release Rates of Corn Sugars for Ethanol Production

A team of Iowa State researchers has used ultrasonic pretreatment of corn in laboratory experiments to increase the corn's release rates of sugars by nearly 30 percent. That could mean each bushel of corn that goes into an ethanol plant could more efficiently produce ethanol for your car's fuel tank.

Study of 1,200 Consumers Shows Higher Gas Prices Alter Car Buying Decisions

As the price of gasoline continues to climb, consumers are beginning to reevaluate their criteria for purchasing new vehicles, according to a survey of 1,200 people conducted by the University of Maine. As gas prices rise, people are less likely to purchase a truck, just as likely to purchase an SUV.

Heat or Eat: A Tradeoff When Energy Costs Increase?

UC Berkeley Haas School of Business Professor Catherine Wolfram finds some households cut spending when energy costs rise.