There's so little good news about energy, this technology breakthrough is heartening.
Maybe in 50 years or so "clean coal" could become a reality, since the CO2 waste stream would facilitate carbon capture.
Nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes can be made in a single nontoxic step to be efficient catalysts that are cost-effective. This breakthrough will lead to next generation batteries and fuel cells an order of magnitude more efficient.
Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have designed a new type of nanostructured-carbon-based catalyst that could pave the way for reliable, economical next-generation batteries and alkaline fuel cells, providing for practical use of wind- and solar-powered electricity, as well as enhanced hybrid electric vehicles.
A high-resolution microscopic image of a new type of nanostructured-carbon-based catalyst developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory that could pave the way for reliable, economical next-generation batteries and alkaline fuel cells. (Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory) [emphasis mine]
"A lithium-air secondary battery, potentially the most-promising metal-air battery known, has an energy storage potential that is 10 times greater than a state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery. ..., the new catalyst makes possible the creation of economical lithium-air batteries that could power electric vehicles, or provide efficient, reliable energy storage for intermittent sources of green energy, such as windmills or solar panels." [emphasis mine]
A Harvard team has developed a flow battery from inexpensive organics. They anticipate having a commercial prototype in three years. This will be a game changer for solar and wind energy.
Vanadium is used in the most commercially advanced flow battery technology now in development, but its cost sets a rather high floor on the cost per kilowatt-hour at any scale.
The new flow battery developed by the Harvard team already performs as well as vanadium flow batteries, with chemicals that are significantly less expensive...
By the end of the three-year development period, Connecticut-based Sustainable Innovations, LLC, a collaborator on the project, expects to deploy demonstration versions of the organic flow battery contained in a unit the size of a horse trailer. The portable, scaled-up storage system could be hooked up to solar panels on the roof of a commercial building, and electricity from the solar panels could either directly supply the needs of the building or go into storage and come out of storage when there's a need.
Horray! Scientists finally found a negative climate change feedback.
... warming of the tropical Indian Ocean and tropical Western Pacific Ocean -- with resulting increased precipitation and water vapor there -- causes the opposite effect of cooling in the TTL region above the warming sea surface. Once the TTL cools, less water vapor is present in the TTL and also above in the stratosphere.
Since water vapor is a very strong greenhouse gas, this effect leads to a negative feedback on climate change. That is, the increase in water vapor due to enhanced evaporation from the warming oceans is confined to the near- surface area, while the stratosphere becomes drier. Hence, this effect may actually slightly weaken the more dire forecasted aspects of an increasing warming of our climate, the scientists say.
"As early as 2018, solar could be economically viable to power big cities. By 2040 over half of all electricity may be generated in the same place it's used. Centralised, coal-fired power is over"
This Guardian article about electricity generation in Australia is sparking hundreds of spirited comments... (and I do wonder how much of that is corporate astroturfing!) If only we could generate substantial electricity from internet vitriol! :-)
Designer carbon can improve battery and supercapacitor performance.
Electrical conductivity improved threefold compared to supercapacitor electrodes made of conventional activated carbon. "We also found that our designer carbon improved the rate of power delivery and the stability of the electrodes,"...
... Bao and her colleagues developed a new way to synthesize high-quality carbon using inexpensive -- and uncontaminated -- chemicals and polymers.
The result: designer carbon that can be fine-tuned for a variety of applications.
"We call it designer carbon because we can control its chemical composition, pore size and surface area simply by changing the type of polymers and organic linkers we use, or by adjusting the amount of heat we apply during the fabrication process," To said.
"Our designer carbon is simple to make, relatively cheap and meets all of the critical requirements for high-performance electrodes."
Thanks to expertise garnered building space telescopes powerful enough to see exoplanets, large wind turbines are now generating clean power without making a racket.
Last year, a European wind turbine maker found itself with an emergency: their new clean-energy turbines were efficient, effective and state-of-the-art – but they were too noisy.
It turned out that ESA’s advanced Darwin planet-hunter study provided a smart answer: using the same approach that keeps multiple telescope mirrors precisely aligned to cancel out turbine vibration before it becomes noise.
Good news roundup.
1. Scientists figured out how to cut cow methane emissions.
... 3-nitrooxypropanol (3NOP) ... affects only methane-producing microorganisms and not bacteria that helps with digestion.
... 3NOP reduced methane emissions from cows by 30 percent without risking the health or productivity of the animals, ...
2. Commercial buildings can be upgraded for big energy savings.
A retrofit at Pittsburgh’s U.S. Steel building resulted in $1 million worth of energy savings each year for the commercial building ... That company installed new pumps for the 64-story building’s water supply and new fans in its air circulation system.
Buildings account for 40 percent of the electricity used in the United States, so making them more efficient will go a long way towards reducing the country’s overall demand.
3. Clothes can be made out of recycled plastic bottles and designed to waste less fabric.
Repreve recycling center ... collects clear plastic bottles from processors around the country who first shred them into plastic flakes. ... and converts them into small pellets," said Hertwig. The pellets are then melted, extruded and spun into polyester yarn.
Designer Dan Vo is a proponent of the zero-waste movement within the fashion industry
...Dan Vo’s new range of wool jackets for men ... a precise method of design, where every part of the jacket has been cut exactly from a piece of fabric in a jigsaw pattern to ensure there is no waste of material in making it.
Vo... has designed a coat in which the uncut arms, collar, front, back, pockets and other sections all fit together perfectly on the piece of fabric. When they are cut out to make the jacket, she can then avoid wasting material, as is typically the case when conventional coats are made.
In many cases, when a piece of clothing is being cut at present, she said, between 15% and 30% of a piece of fabric can be wasted as the designer cuts.
Similar methods of exacting measurements to cut down on waste have also been used in house construction in recent years.
4. Six-pack rings can be made from edible brewery waste, so they don't strangle wildlife.
These six-pack rings are 100 percent biodegradable and edible—constructed of barley and wheat ribbons from the brewing process, this packaging can actually be safely eaten by animals that may come into contact with the refuse.
"The days of drilling into the ground in the search for fuel may be numbered, because if Daniel Nocera has his way, it'll just be a matter of looking for sunny skies."
Scientists have created a system that uses solar energy to split water molecules and hydrogen-eating bacteria to produce liquid fuels. The system can convert solar energy to biomass with 10 percent efficiency, far above the 1 percent seen in the fastest-growing plants.