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    Story Tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge national Laboratory - April 2011

    Story Tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge national Laboratory - April 2011

    MILITARY -- H2O from diesel; ELECTRONICS -- Plasmonic sensors; SENSORS -- Thwarting tax evaders; CLIMATE -- Extreme cold still in forecast; ELECTRONICS -- Phase transitions breakthrough; VEHICLES -- "Just in time" .

    Economics, Physics Are Roadblocks for Mass-Scale Algae Biodiesel Production

    Economics, Physics Are Roadblocks for Mass-Scale Algae Biodiesel Production

    Companies looking to engineer an eco-friendly diesel fuel have more red lights in their path. According to Kansas State University researchers, making petroleum diesel completely green would not only bend the laws of physics, it would cost too much green.

    Nanoparticles Improve Solar Collector Efficiency

    Nanoparticles Improve Solar Collector Efficiency

    Using minute graphite particles 1000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, mechanical engineers at Arizona State University hope to boost the efficiency--and profitability--of solar power plants.

    Fast-Recharge, Lithium-Ion Battery Could be Perfect for Electric Cars

    Fast-Recharge, Lithium-Ion Battery Could be Perfect for Electric Cars

    The next-generation battery, like next-generation TV, may be 3-D, scientists reported at the 241st National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Anaheim, CA. They described a new fast-recharge lithium-ion (Li-on) battery, already available in a prototype version, with a three-dimensional interior architecture that could be perfect for the electric cars now appearing in auto dealer showrooms

    Waste Ash from Coal Could Save Billions in Repairing U.S. Bridges & Roads

    Waste Ash from Coal Could Save Billions in Repairing U.S. Bridges & Roads

    Coating concrete destined to rebuild America's crumbling bridges and roadways with millions of tons of underused flyash waste from burning coal could extend the life of the structures significantly, saving billions of dollars, scientists reported here.

    First Practical Nanogenerator Produces Electricity with Pinch of the Fingers

    First Practical Nanogenerator Produces Electricity with Pinch of the Fingers

    Scientists are reporting development of the first commercially viable nanogenerator, a flexible chip that can use body movements -- a finger pinch now en route to a pulse beat in the future -- to generate electricity. Their study will be presented at the American Chemical Society's 241th National Meeting in Anaheim.

    Key Plant Traits Yield More Sugar for Biofuels

    Key Plant Traits Yield More Sugar for Biofuels

    New clues about plant structure are helping researchers from the DOE's BioEnergy Science Center narrow down a large collection of poplar tree candidates and identify winners for future use in biofuel production.

    From Crankcase to Gas Tank: New Microwave Method Converts Used Motor Oil Into Fuel

    From Crankcase to Gas Tank: New Microwave Method Converts Used Motor Oil Into Fuel

    Scientists are reporting development of a quick, efficient method for recycling automotive waste oil into fuel. The new method could help dispose of the estimated 24 million tons of waste oil produced each year worldwide and provide a supplemental fuel source for an energy-hungry world. Scientists will describe the new method, the first to use microwaves to convert waste oil to fuel, at the 241st National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim.

    "Green" Cars Could be Made from Pineapples and Bananas

    "Green" Cars Could be Made from Pineapples and Bananas

    Your next car hopefully won't be a lemon. But it could be a pineapple, banana, or some other tropical fruit. That's because scientists in Brazil are reporting an advance toward the long-awaited "bio-automobile" .... developed a convenient way to turn fruit fibers into nanoparticles to improve the performance and eco-friendliness of automobile plastics, including bumpers and dashboards. Scientists will describe the new method and materials at the 241st National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, Calif.

    Debut of the First Practical "Artificial Leaf"

    Debut of the First Practical "Artificial Leaf"

    In a finding that could help meet the growing energy demands of billions of people worldwide in a simpler, more efficient and less-costly way, a noted scientist is reporting long-awaited development of the first practical "artificial leaf." The solar-powered device mimics the chemical process, called photosynthesis, that plants use to convert sunlight into fuel, said chemist Daniel Nocera. He will describe the device at the 241st National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim.

    Neutron Analysis Yields Insight Into Bacteria for Solar Energy

    Neutron Analysis Yields Insight Into Bacteria for Solar Energy

    Structural studies of some of nature's most efficient light-harvesting systems are lighting the way for new generations of biologically inspired solar cell devices.

    Discovery of Recycling Method to Advance Fuel Cell Practicality

    Discovery of Recycling Method to Advance Fuel Cell Practicality

    The use of hydrogen as a practical, widespread alternative fuel to gasoline took another step today as researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory and The University of Alabama announce a method for recycling a hydrogen fuel source.

    Iodine 131 Greatest Threat in Japanese Nuclear Disaster

    Bingham Cady is a professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University. He helped operate Cornell's now-closed on-campus nuclear reactor and has been a consultant for several nuclear energy companies.

    BESC Scores a First with Isobutanol Directly from Cellulose

    BESC Scores a First with Isobutanol Directly from Cellulose

    In the quest for inexpensive biofuels, cellulose proved no match for a bioprocessing strategy and genetically engineered microbe developed by researchers at the Department of Energy's BioEnergy Science Center.

    Sandia Seeds Culture of Nuclear Energy Safety and Security

    Sandia Seeds Culture of Nuclear Energy Safety and Security

    The growing interest among Middle Eastern nations in establishing nuclear power programs prompted a Sandia National Laboratories team to conceive and lead development of a new institute that will seed and cultivate a regional culture of responsible nuclear energy management.

    Story Tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory March 2011

    Story Tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory March 2011

    A project called the Scalable, Efficient, and Accurate Community Ice Sheet Model, or SEACISM, aims to use state-of-the-art simulation to predict the behavior of ice sheets under a changing climate. A process called gasification can turn carbonaceous fuels into syngas, a cleaner-burning fuel mix of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Alerts from an early warning system developed in part by DOE's ORNL could help protect forests across the U.S. from the threats of insects, disease and wildfire.

    Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Brayton Cycle Turbines Promise Giant Leap in Thermal-to-Electric Conversion Efficiency

    Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Brayton Cycle Turbines Promise Giant Leap in Thermal-to-Electric Conversion Efficiency

    Sandia National Laboratories researchers are moving into the demonstration phase of a novel gas turbine system for power generation, with the promise that thermal-to-electric conversion efficiency will be increased to as much as 50 percent -- an improvement of 50 percent for nuclear power stations equipped with steam turbines, or a 40 percent improvement for simple gas turbines. The system is also very compact, meaning that capital costs would be relatively low.

    Researchers Convert Algae to Butanol; Fuel Can be Used in Automobiles

    Researchers Convert Algae to Butanol; Fuel Can be Used in Automobiles

    A team of chemical engineers at the University of Arkansas has developed a method for converting common algae into butanol, a renewable fuel that can be used in existing combustible engines. The green technology benefits from and adds greater value to a process being used now to clean and oxygenate U.S. waterways by removing excess nitrogen and phosphorous from fertilizer in runoff.

    "Desert Development Corridor" Plan Accepted by Egypt's Government

    "Desert Development Corridor" Plan Accepted by Egypt's Government

    A visionary plan for a "Desert Development Corridor" in Egypt, researched and created by Boston University geologist Dr. Farouk El-Baz, has been adopted by the country's interim government as its flagship program. According to El-Baz, the plan - which includes the construction, along 1,200 kilometers, of a new eight-lane superhighway, a railway, a water pipeline, and a power line - would open new land for urban development, commerce, agriculture, tourism and related jobs.

    This Microbe's for You: Brewery Waste Becomes Scientific Fodder for Producing Liquid Biofuels

    Gaining new insight into how efficiently the microbes in large bioreactors produce methane from brewery waste, Cornell scientists hope to use their new knowledge to shape these microbial communities to produce liquid biofuels and other useful products.

    New Lignin 'Lite' Switchgrass Boosts Biofuel Yield by More than One-Third

    New Lignin 'Lite' Switchgrass Boosts Biofuel Yield by More than One-Third

    Bioethanol from new lines of native perennial prairie grass could become less costly because of plant engineering by The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and fermentation research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

    Energy Technology, Policy Tools to be Explored at Summer Institute for Top Grad Students

    Energy Technology, Policy Tools to be Explored at Summer Institute for Top Grad Students

    Graduate students pursuing careers in energy, policy, science and environmental matters are being encouraged to submit applications for Technology and Policy Tools for Energy in an Uncertain World, a week-long summer institute at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, Calif. The program will take place Aug. 7-12 and is open to U.S. citizens and foreign nationals.

    Research Yields New Way to Create Poly-Silicon as Competitor for Fossil Fuel Energy; Discovery to Cut Cost of Solar-Cell Production

    Research Yields New Way to Create Poly-Silicon as Competitor for Fossil Fuel Energy; Discovery to Cut Cost of Solar-Cell Production

    An engineering professor has developed a process for converting amorphous silicon into large-grain poly-crystalline silicon, which will decrease the cost of solar electricity to compete with fossil fuels.

    Report Identifies Materials Technologies That Address Critical Energy and Economic Challenges

    Second phase of a study commissioned by the DOE Industrial Technologies Program (ITP), funded through Oak Ridge National Laboratory and convened by TMS will be used to formulate a core MSE development portfolio focused on meeting current and future energy challenges, while also opening opportunities for job creation and economic growth.

    'Tall Order' Sunlight-to-Hydrogen System Works, Neutron Analysis Confirms

    'Tall Order' Sunlight-to-Hydrogen System Works, Neutron Analysis Confirms

    Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a biohybrid photoconversion system -- based on the interaction of photosynthetic plant proteins with synthetic polymers -- that can convert visible light into hydrogen fuel.