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The Race for Biofuel

Watchdog Sues EPA Over Renewable Fuel Mandate

October 23rd 2014

E85 Pump

A watchdog group is suing the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to release communications with the oil industry over the 2014 renewable fuel mandate.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a lawsuit on Wednesday over the agency’s response to a Freedom of Information Act request for records relating to the mandate, which sets the amount of biofuels refiners must blend into the nation’s fuel supply.

CREW cited a Reuters report that The Carlyle Group and Delta Airlines lobbied members of Congress and the administration to reduce the amount of ethanol and other biofuels that must be blended for 2014. The EPA denied a request for expedited review and has been slow to release the documents, CREW says. Read more ..


Ukraine on Edge

Russia Will Provide Natural Gas to Cash-Strapped Ukraine

October 19th 2014

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says his country will have natural gas from Russia this winter. Poroshenko said in an interview on Ukrainian television on October 18 that Russia and Ukraine must only agree on the price for that gas. He said the two sides have agreed that Ukraine will pay $385 per 1,000cubic meters for gas that was delivered through March 31.

Poroshenko -- who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin three times in Milan on October 17 -- said Kyiv had proposed to pay $325 per 1,000 cubic meters for gas used by Ukraine in May and June and to pay $385 for gas in the winter. He said Russia was insisting on the $385 per 1,000 cubic meters for all parts of the year. Read more ..


The Race for LEDs

LEDS Face Power-Saving Rival Based On Carbon Nanotubes

October 17th 2014

LED lights

Scientists from Tohoku University in Japan have developed a new type of energy-efficient flat light source based on carbon nanotubes with a low power consumption of around 0.1 Watt for every hour's operation which is about a hundred times lower than that of an LED. The researchers have detailed the fabrication and optimization of the device in the journal Review of Scientific Instruments, from AIP publishing.  The device is based on a phosphor screen and single-walled carbon nanotubes as electrodes in a diode structure. You can think of it as a field of tungsten filaments shrunk to microscopic proportions.

The scientists assembled the device from a mixture liquid containing highly crystalline single-walled carbon nanotubes dispersed in an organic solvent mixed with a soap-like chemical known as a surfactant. Then, the researchers 'painted' the mixture onto the positive electrode or cathode, and scratched the surface with sandpaper to form a light panel capable of producing a large, stable and homogenous emission current with low energy consumption. Read more ..


Oil Addiction

Oil Prices Continue to Define Geopolitics

October 16th 2014

Oil Barrels

Oil prices dropped steeply Oct. 14, with crude oil futures falling 4.6 percent to $81.84 per barrel -- the biggest decrease in more than two years. Brent crude dropped by more than $4 a barrel at one stage in the day, dipping below $85 for the first time since 2010. While these are relatively substantial drops, they are just one part of a continuing trend Stratfor has been tracking over the past few months. Factors behind the slump include weak demand, a surfeit of supply and the fact that many large Middle Eastern producers are reluctant to reduce their output.

In light of today's developments, we are republishing the following diary from Oct. 2, which details the reasons behind the falling prices and how the drops could affect oil-dependent countries around the world.

The global oil benchmark, Brent crude, fell Thursday to about $92 per barrel before rebounding to finish the day at around $94 per barrel, the lowest price since mid-2012. The latest sell-off follows one of the sharpest declines in a quarter in recent years, in which the price of oil slid about 16 percent. It may be premature to forecast sustained international oil prices lower than $90 per barrel, but if the price of oil remains close to where it is now, many oil exporting countries will feel the pain after basing their budgets on previous price expectations. Read more ..


The Race for Solar

Solar Impulse 2 plane will Circumnavigate Earth in 2015

October 15th 2014

Solar Impulse Airplane

Last year, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg became the first pilots to fly across America in a featherweight plane fueled only by the sun. The Swiss duo now plans to circumnavigate the world in a next-generation solar aircraft named the Solar Impulse 2. The March 2015 flight will start and finish in Abu Dhabi.

“We have chosen this location as being the best departure and return point for the round-the-world tour due to its climate, infrastructure and commitment to clean technologies,” Borschberg said in a press release.

“It’s a country that fits with our message,” added Piccard, “…an oil-producing country that invests a lot for renewable energy knowing that oil will not be forever. We don’t fight against oil — we just show that we can diversify and be more energy-efficient.”

The pair believes that oil should be used to produce new materials, not power transportation. To that end, a team of 80 technological partners spent over a decade developing new products to support the mission to prove the potential of clean energy. Masdar, the United Arab Emirates-owned renewable energy company is part of the mostly Swiss development crew.

Collaboration fostered creation of systems with far-reaching application: electrolytes that permit increased energy density on batteries, the lightest carbon fibers ever manufactured, and super thin insulation that allows refrigerators to have more internal space. The team is working to produce oxygen with solar energy (not yet available for this flight), and NASA helped create a product that makes urine drinkable. The plane itself could someday be deployed as a satellite replacement – a sustainable high-altitude, unmanned research platform outfitted with cameras, communication technology or scientific research equipment.

The 2-seat plane consists of a carbon-fiber and honeycomb sandwich frame; its 72 meter wingspan (longer than a Boeing 747!) holds 17,200 monocrystalline silicon solar cells that supply four electric 17.5 CV motors with enough stored energy to power the plane through the night.  During daylight, the 2.3 ton plane ascends to 8,500 meters and descends to 1,500 meters at night to reduce energy consumption. The pilots expect 94% total efficiency flying between 36 km/h at sea level and 140 km/h at maximum altitude.

During their trip across the USA, the pilots flew up to 24 hours without stopping. Their world tour will need constant flight for up to 120 continuous hours due to ocean crossings; the men will trade-off shifts at the controls to stave off exhaustion. Pilots will use yoga, meditation and self-hypnosis to rest or stay alert as needed; techniques that include sleeping for no more than 20 minutes at a time a dozen times throughout the day. Medical specialists devised a personalized nutrition plan for each man and will offer support before and during the flight.

The trip will take about 25 days of flying over a period of four to five months, with stops in Asia, the USA and Southern Europe or North Africa before returning to Abu Dhabi, landing every five days to so that the pilots can switch places. Theoretically, the plane can fly forever through day and night due to its complex system of solar cells and lithium batteries.

The 3.8 cubic meter single-seat cockpit is unheated and unpressurized. It will contain oxygen supplies, food and survival equipment including parachutes and a life raft.  Seats double as reclining berths and toilets. High-density, thermal insulation in the cockpit and specially engineered flight suits will protect the men from extreme temperatures ranging from -40°C to +40°C. Learn more about the project in the video clip, below.

“Our goal is to show that it is now possible to achieve things considered impossible without fossil fuels,” says Piccard. “In today’s world we have to cultivate the pioneering spirit to liberate oneself from those certainties and habits that hold us prisoner to old ways of doing and thinking.”

Track their progress on the Solar Impulse 2 blog – link here.

- See more at: http://www.greenprophet.com/2014/10/solar-plane-will-circumnavigate-earth-in-2015/#sthash.vwgKnPUr.dpuf

Last year, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg became the first pilots to fly across America in a featherweight plane fueled only by the sun. The Swiss duo now plans to circumnavigate the world in a next-generation solar aircraft named the Solar Impulse 2. The March 2015 flight will start and finish in Abu Dhabi.

“We have chosen this location as being the best departure and return point for the round-the-world tour due to its climate, infrastructure and commitment to clean technologies,” Borschberg said in a press release.

“It’s a country that fits with our message,” added Piccard, “…an oil-producing country that invests a lot for renewable energy knowing that oil will not be forever. We don’t fight against oil — we just show that we can diversify and be more energy-efficient.”

The pair believes that oil should be used to produce new materials, not power transportation. To that end, a team of 80 technological partners spent over a decade developing new products to support the mission to prove the potential of clean energy. Masdar, the United Arab Emirates-owned renewable energy company is part of the mostly Swiss development crew.

Collaboration fostered creation of systems with far-reaching application: electrolytes that permit increased energy density on batteries, the lightest carbon fibers ever manufactured, and super thin insulation that allows refrigerators to have more internal space. The team is working to produce oxygen with solar energy (not yet available for this flight), and NASA helped create a product that makes urine drinkable. The plane itself could someday be deployed as a satellite replacement – a sustainable high-altitude, unmanned research platform outfitted with cameras, communication technology or scientific research equipment.

The 2-seat plane consists of a carbon-fiber and honeycomb sandwich frame; its 72 meter wingspan (longer than a Boeing 747!) holds 17,200 monocrystalline silicon solar cells that supply four electric 17.5 CV motors with enough stored energy to power the plane through the night.  During daylight, the 2.3 ton plane ascends to 8,500 meters and descends to 1,500 meters at night to reduce energy consumption. The pilots expect 94% total efficiency flying between 36 km/h at sea level and 140 km/h at maximum altitude.

During their trip across the USA, the pilots flew up to 24 hours without stopping. Their world tour will need constant flight for up to 120 continuous hours due to ocean crossings; the men will trade-off shifts at the controls to stave off exhaustion. Pilots will use yoga, meditation and self-hypnosis to rest or stay alert as needed; techniques that include sleeping for no more than 20 minutes at a time a dozen times throughout the day. Medical specialists devised a personalized nutrition plan for each man and will offer support before and during the flight.

The trip will take about 25 days of flying over a period of four to five months, with stops in Asia, the USA and Southern Europe or North Africa before returning to Abu Dhabi, landing every five days to so that the pilots can switch places. Theoretically, the plane can fly forever through day and night due to its complex system of solar cells and lithium batteries.

The 3.8 cubic meter single-seat cockpit is unheated and unpressurized. It will contain oxygen supplies, food and survival equipment including parachutes and a life raft.  Seats double as reclining berths and toilets. High-density, thermal insulation in the cockpit and specially engineered flight suits will protect the men from extreme temperatures ranging from -40°C to +40°C. Learn more about the project in the video clip, below.

“Our goal is to show that it is now possible to achieve things considered impossible without fossil fuels,” says Piccard. “In today’s world we have to cultivate the pioneering spirit to liberate oneself from those certainties and habits that hold us prisoner to old ways of doing and thinking.”

Track their progress on the Solar Impulse 2 blog – link here.

- See more at: http://www.greenprophet.com/2014/10/solar-plane-will-circumnavigate-earth-in-2015/#sthash.vwgKnPUr.dpuf

Last year, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg became the first pilots to fly across America in a featherweight plane fueled only by the sun. The Swiss duo now plans to circumnavigate the world in a next-generation solar aircraft named the Solar Impulse 2. The March 2015 flight will start and finish in Abu Dhabi.

“We have chosen this location as being the best departure and return point for the round-the-world tour due to its climate, infrastructure and commitment to clean technologies,” Borschberg said in a press release.

“It’s a country that fits with our message,” added Piccard, “…an oil-producing country that invests a lot for renewable energy knowing that oil will not be forever. We don’t fight against oil — we just show that we can diversify and be more energy-efficient.”

The pair believes that oil should be used to produce new materials, not power transportation. To that end, a team of 80 technological partners spent over a decade developing new products to support the mission to prove the potential of clean energy. Masdar, the United Arab Emirates-owned renewable energy company is part of the mostly Swiss development crew.

Collaboration fostered creation of systems with far-reaching application: electrolytes that permit increased energy density on batteries, the lightest carbon fibers ever manufactured, and super thin insulation that allows refrigerators to have more internal space. The team is working to produce oxygen with solar energy (not yet available for this flight), and NASA helped create a product that makes urine drinkable. The plane itself could someday be deployed as a satellite replacement – a sustainable high-altitude, unmanned research platform outfitted with cameras, communication technology or scientific research equipment.

The 2-seat plane consists of a carbon-fiber and honeycomb sandwich frame; its 72 meter wingspan (longer than a Boeing 747!) holds 17,200 monocrystalline silicon solar cells that supply four electric 17.5 CV motors with enough stored energy to power the plane through the night.  During daylight, the 2.3 ton plane ascends to 8,500 meters and descends to 1,500 meters at night to reduce energy consumption. The pilots expect 94% total efficiency flying between 36 km/h at sea level and 140 km/h at maximum altitude.

During their trip across the USA, the pilots flew up to 24 hours without stopping. Their world tour will need constant flight for up to 120 continuous hours due to ocean crossings; the men will trade-off shifts at the controls to stave off exhaustion. Pilots will use yoga, meditation and self-hypnosis to rest or stay alert as needed; techniques that include sleeping for no more than 20 minutes at a time a dozen times throughout the day. Medical specialists devised a personalized nutrition plan for each man and will offer support before and during the flight.

The trip will take about 25 days of flying over a period of four to five months, with stops in Asia, the USA and Southern Europe or North Africa before returning to Abu Dhabi, landing every five days to so that the pilots can switch places. Theoretically, the plane can fly forever through day and night due to its complex system of solar cells and lithium batteries.

The 3.8 cubic meter single-seat cockpit is unheated and unpressurized. It will contain oxygen supplies, food and survival equipment including parachutes and a life raft.  Seats double as reclining berths and toilets. High-density, thermal insulation in the cockpit and specially engineered flight suits will protect the men from extreme temperatures ranging from -40°C to +40°C. Learn more about the project in the video clip, below.

“Our goal is to show that it is now possible to achieve things considered impossible without fossil fuels,” says Piccard. “In today’s world we have to cultivate the pioneering spirit to liberate oneself from those certainties and habits that hold us prisoner to old ways of doing and thinking.”

Track their progress on the Solar Impulse 2 blog – link here.

- See more at: http://www.greenprophet.com/2014/10/solar-plane-will-circumnavigate-earth-in-2015/#sthash.vwgKnPUr.dpuf

Last year, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg became the first pilots to fly across America in a featherweight plane fueled only by the sun. The Swiss duo now plans to circumnavigate the world in a next-generation solar aircraft named the Solar Impulse 2. The March 2015 flight will start and finish in Abu Dhabi.

“We have chosen this location as being the best departure and return point for the round-the-world tour due to its climate, infrastructure and commitment to clean technologies,” Borschberg said in a press release.

“It’s a country that fits with our message,” added Piccard, “…an oil-producing country that invests a lot for renewable energy knowing that oil will not be forever. We don’t fight against oil — we just show that we can diversify and be more energy-efficient.”

The pair believes that oil should be used to produce new materials, not power transportation. To that end, a team of 80 technological partners spent over a decade developing new products to support the mission to prove the potential of clean energy. Masdar, the United Arab Emirates-owned renewable energy company is part of the mostly Swiss development crew.

Collaboration fostered creation of systems with far-reaching application: electrolytes that permit increased energy density on batteries, the lightest carbon fibers ever manufactured, and super thin insulation that allows refrigerators to have more internal space. The team is working to produce oxygen with solar energy (not yet available for this flight), and NASA helped create a product that makes urine drinkable. The plane itself could someday be deployed as a satellite replacement – a sustainable high-altitude, unmanned research platform outfitted with cameras, communication technology or scientific research equipment.

The 2-seat plane consists of a carbon-fiber and honeycomb sandwich frame; its 72 meter wingspan (longer than a Boeing 747!) holds 17,200 monocrystalline silicon solar cells that supply four electric 17.5 CV motors with enough stored energy to power the plane through the night.  During daylight, the 2.3 ton plane ascends to 8,500 meters and descends to 1,500 meters at night to reduce energy consumption. The pilots expect 94% total efficiency flying between 36 km/h at sea level and 140 km/h at maximum altitude.

During their trip across the USA, the pilots flew up to 24 hours without stopping. Their world tour will need constant flight for up to 120 continuous hours due to ocean crossings; the men will trade-off shifts at the controls to stave off exhaustion. Pilots will use yoga, meditation and self-hypnosis to rest or stay alert as needed; techniques that include sleeping for no more than 20 minutes at a time a dozen times throughout the day. Medical specialists devised a personalized nutrition plan for each man and will offer support before and during the flight.

The trip will take about 25 days of flying over a period of four to five months, with stops in Asia, the USA and Southern Europe or North Africa before returning to Abu Dhabi, landing every five days to so that the pilots can switch places. Theoretically, the plane can fly forever through day and night due to its complex system of solar cells and lithium batteries.

The 3.8 cubic meter single-seat cockpit is unheated and unpressurized. It will contain oxygen supplies, food and survival equipment including parachutes and a life raft.  Seats double as reclining berths and toilets. High-density, thermal insulation in the cockpit and specially engineered flight suits will protect the men from extreme temperatures ranging from -40°C to +40°C. Learn more about the project in the video clip, below.

“Our goal is to show that it is now possible to achieve things considered impossible without fossil fuels,” says Piccard. “In today’s world we have to cultivate the pioneering spirit to liberate oneself from those certainties and habits that hold us prisoner to old ways of doing and thinking.”

Track their progress on the Solar Impulse 2 blog – link here.

- See more at: http://www.greenprophet.com/2014/10/solar-plane-will-circumnavigate-earth-in-2015/#sthash.vwgKnPUr.dpuf

Last year, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg became the first pilots to fly across America in a featherweight plane fueled only by the sun. The Swiss duo now plans to circumnavigate the world in a next-generation solar aircraft named the Solar Impulse 2. The March 2015 flight will start and finish in Abu Dhabi. “We have chosen this location as being the best departure and return point for the round-the-world tour due to its climate, infrastructure and commitment to clean technologies,” Borschberg said in a press release.

“It’s a country that fits with our message,” added Piccard, “…an oil-producing country that invests a lot for renewable energy knowing that oil will not be forever. We don’t fight against oil — we just show that we can diversify and be more energy-efficient.” Read more ..


The Race for Solar

'Dark' Energy Harvesting Pushes Solar Efficiency

October 13th 2014

Dark Matter

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have developed a new method for harvesting the energy carried by particles known as ‘dark’ spin-triplet excitons with close to 100% efficiency. The development paves the way for hybrid solar cells which could surpass current efficiency limits.

The University of Cambridge team have harvested the energy of triplet excitons, an excited electron state whose energy in harvested in solar cells, and transferred it from organic to inorganic semiconductors. To date, this type of energy transfer had only been shown for spin-singlet excitons. The results are published in the journal Nature Materials. Read more ..


The Edge of Climate Change

China's Economic Boom Thwarts its Carbon Emissions Goals

October 6th 2014

Click to select Image

Efforts to reduce China’s carbon dioxide emissions are being offset by the country’s rampant economic growth, according to new research from the University of East Anglia (UEA). Research published in Nature Climate Change reveals how carbon efficiency has improved in nearly all Chinese provinces. But the country’s economic boom has simultaneously led to a growth in CO2-emitting activities such as mining, metal smelting and coal-fired electricity generation – negating any gains.

According to the study, China, the world’s largest producer of CO2 emissions, increased its carbon intensity by 3 per cent during a period of unprecedented economic growth. This was despite its pledge to reduce carbon intensity by up to 45 per cent by 2020 (relative to the 2005 level). Read more ..


The Race for Batteries

World’s First Solar Battery Promises Cost Savings

October 6th 2014

Batteries-small-assorted

Reporting the research in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers have combined a battery and a solar cell into a single hybrid device. Key to the innovation is a mesh solar panel, which allows air to enter the battery, and a special process for transferring electrons between the solar panel and the battery electrode. Inside the device, light and oxygen enable different parts of the chemical reactions that charge the battery.

The university will license the solar battery to industry, where Yiying Wu, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Ohio State, says it will help tame the costs of renewable energy. The state of the art is to use a solar panel to capture the light, and then use a cheap battery to store the energy, explained Wu. Weve integrated both functions into one device. Any time you can do that, you reduce cost. Read more ..


The Toxic Edge

Toxic Pits for Fracking Sludge

October 3rd 2014

Toxic Waste Barrels

Read more ..

The Oil Addiction

Energy Alone Cannot Improve Security in the Eastern Mediterranean

October 2nd 2014

Israeli oil drilling platform

It has become clear over the past few years that Israel’s relations with Cyprus and Greece have improved, and that trilateral cooperation has created an Eastern Mediterranean framework that is in part based on shared energy interests. The Levant Basin natural gas discoveries in 2009, 2010 and 2011, combined with the rupture in Israel-Turkey relations, paved the way for enhanced political, economic and military cooperation.

Recent developments, however, indicate that a new Eastern Mediterranean framework including Cyprus, Israel, Jordan and Egypt is forming, and while there is certainly a concrete basis for this new arena in Eastern Mediterranean energy politics, it is unlikely that it will produce a dynamic similar to that between Israel, Cyprus, and Greece. Read more ..


The Race for Solar

Solar Energy Could Dominate by 2050

October 2nd 2014

Sunrise or Sunset

Solar energy could be the top source of electricity by 2050, aided by plummeting costs of the equipment to generate it, a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the West's energy watchdog, said on Monday.

IEA Reports said solar photovoltaic (PV) systems could generate up to 16 percent of the world's electricity by 2050, while solar thermal electricity (STE) - from "concentrating" solar power plants - could provide a further 11 percent.

"The rapid cost decrease of photovoltaic modules and systems in the last few years has opened new perspectives for using solar energy as a major source of electricity in the coming years and decades," said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels constitute the fastest growing renewable energy technology in the world since 2000, although solar is still less than 1 percent of energy capacity worldwide. Read more ..


The Race for Fusion

High-Powered Lasers Push Fusion Energy Hopes

September 29th 2014

rural electric lines

The power of the sun has edged a little closer to Earth. Under x-ray assault, the rapid implosion of a plastic shell onto icy isotopes of hydrogen has produced fusion and, for the first time, 170 micrograms of this superheated fusion fuel released more energy than it absorbed. Experimental shots of the 192 lasers at the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have reproduced such fusion at least four times since September 2013. The advance offers hope that someday in the far future scientists might reliably replicate the power source of the sun and stars.
 
"This is closer than anyone's gotten before, and it's really unique to get out of the fuel as much energy as put in," says Livermore physicist Omar Hurricane, lead author of the paper presenting the results published in Nature. "We got more fusion energy out of the DT fuel than we put in to the DT fuel." (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.)
 
DT fuel stands for deuterium and tritium, the isotopes of hydrogen that encompass one proton and one neutron or one proton and two neutrons, respectively. One shot at Livermore’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) on November 19, 2013, that lasted less than 2 X 10^–8 seconds—less time than the blink of an eye—produced nearly twice as much energy as was applied, according to the new paper. Changing the timing of how the lasers put energy into the hohlraum, a tiny can that holds the fusion fuel pellet, proved key. The scientists concentrated more energy earlier in the shot to make conditions hotter earlier in the process, which seems to help hold the fuel pellet together longer as it implodes. Read more ..

The Battery Edge

Great Steps Made in Wearable Computers with Self-Contained Power Source

September 28th 2014

Researchers from The University of Texas at Dallas have created technology that could be the first step toward wearable computers with self-contained power sources or, more immediately, a smartphone that doesn’t die after a few hours of heavy use.

This technology, published online in Nature Communications, taps into the power of a single electron to control energy consumption inside transistors, which are at the core of most modern electronic systems.

Researchers from the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science found that by adding a specific atomic thin film layer to a transistor, the layer acted as a filter for the energy that passed through it at room temperature. The signal that resulted from the device was six to seven times steeper than that of traditional devices. Steep devices use less voltage but still have a strong signal.

“The whole semiconductor industry is looking for steep devices because they are key to having small, powerful, mobile devices with many functions that operate quickly without spending a lot of battery power,” said Dr. Jiyoung Kim, professor of materials science and engineering in the Jonsson School and an author of the paper. “Our device is one solution to make this happen.” Read more ..


The Race for Natural Gas

Growing Scrutiny of Environmental Impact of Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas

September 22nd 2014

Click to select Image

Greenhouse gas emissions from the production and use of shale gas would be comparable to conventional natural gas, but the controversial energy source actually faired better than renewables on some environmental impacts, according to new research. The UK holds enough shale gas to supply its entire gas demand for 470 years, promising to solve the country’s energy crisis and end its reliance on fossil-fuel imports from unstable markets. But for many, including climate scientists and environmental groups, shale gas exploitation is viewed as environmentally dangerous and would result in the UK reneging on its greenhouse gas reduction obligations under the Climate Change Act. Read more ..


The Bio-Fuel Edge

Plant Variants Accelerate Food-Plant By-Products as Fuel Sources

September 22nd 2014

Manufacturing biofuels from food crop by-products such as straw could be made quicker and cheaper thanks to the work of scientists in the UK and France.

Researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have discovered variant straw plants whose cell walls are more easily broken down to make biofuels, but which are not significantly smaller or weaker than regular plants.

The discovery could help ease pressure on global food security as biofuels from non-food crops become easier and cheaper to make.

The impact of carbon emissions on global warming is driving the need for carbon neutral biofuels. Many existing biofuels are produced from crops which can be used for food, and therefore have a negative impact on global food security. Read more ..


Fracking America

Fracking Natural Gas Wells Mean Too Many Hotel Rooms in Pennsylvania

September 19th 2014

Drilling in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale region led to a rapid increase in both the number of hotels and hotel industry jobs, but Penn State researchers report that the faltering occupancy rate may signal that there are now too many hotel rooms.

"Demand is still high in many of the counties in the Marcellus Shale region, but the occupancy rate is starting to come down," said Daniel Mount, an associate professor in hospitality management. "The case could be made that this is a sign that hotels were overbuilt."

Marcellus drilling operations generated approximately $685 million in hotel revenues and added an extra 1,600 new hotel jobs since 2006, according to the researchers, who report their findings in the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education Penn State Research Reports. However, the latest figures show that demand for rooms may be decreasing. For example, in 2012, demand was flat and occupancy was down 4.1 percent. Read more ..


The Edge of Climate Change

Debating the EPA's Clean Power Plan Proposal: Abandoning the Clean Power Plan is the Wrong Move for U.S. Climate Policy

September 17th 2014

Smokestacks

Phil Wallach’s latest post makes clear that no fix to EPA’s Clean Power Plan would address his concerns and that his real objection is to using existing legal authorities to tackle climate change. The Clean Air Act, he argues, is not "an adequate platform for the nation's climate policy -- legally, politically or economically." What is more, invoking the act is worse than doing nothing because it will only “disappoint“ those who care about climate change and “foreclose better options.” Wallach instead advocates sitting tight and waiting for a "broad and solid coalition" in support of legislation, which he believes would better reflect "democratic decision-making” than administrative measures under the act.

The Danger of Delay
Not surprisingly, Wallach provides no timetable for achieving this elusive legislative consensus and, as he surely knows, there is little reason for optimism on this score. Signs of bipartisan cooperation on climate emerged in the second George W. Bush term, with Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman joining forces to advance legislation, but the Obama years have only resulted in increased polarization. House passage of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill in 2010 occurred over nearly monolithic Republican opposition and, with the House now in Republican control, there is no foreseeable prospect of a new climate bill coming to the floor. This impasse is not a function of differing legislative approaches (for example, cap-and-trade vs. a carbon tax) but of deep-seated resistance to any congressional action at all. One hopes that this resistance will soften over time but, barring a major political realignment, climate legislation will remain a casualty of pervasive partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill. Read more ..


The Edge of Solar

Rwanda Solar Grid Capitalizes on Limited Sunshine

September 15th 2014

solar power plant

The biggest solar power plant in East Africa has just opened in Rwanda. It is the first grid level solar plant in the region - a 21-hectare field covered with panels.  Rwanda might not seem an obvious place to put it, as the country averages only about five hours of sunshine per day, and not much more where the plant is located. However, sunshine is not the whole story.

Until last month, South Africa was the only country in sub-Saharan Africa to have a substantial amount of solar power feeding into its grid. Ghana has great plans for solar energy, but cloudy Rwanda has overtaken the West Africans by actually completing a large scale photovoltaic (PV) solar park.

The one that just opened at the Agahozo Shalom village in eastern Rwanda has peak capacity of 8.5 megawatts, nearly seven percent of capacity on the national grid.  The government has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) to pay for that electricity over 25 years. So why is Rwanda seizing the lead on solar power in East Africa? Owner and chief operating officer of Afritech, the firm that built the plant, Dan Klinck suggests some reasons.    Read more ..


The Race for Batteries

New Light on Why Batteries Go Bad

September 14th 2014

Battery

A comprehensive look at how tiny particles in a lithium ion battery electrode behave shows that rapid-charging the battery and using it to do high-power, rapidly draining work may not be as damaging as researchers had thought – and that the benefits of slow draining and charging may have been overestimated.

The results challenge the prevailing view that "supercharging" batteries is always harder on battery electrodes than charging at slower rates, according to researchers from Stanford University and the Stanford Institute for Materials & Energy Sciences (SIMES) at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

They also suggest that scientists may be able to modify electrodes or change the way batteries are charged to promote more uniform charging and discharging and extend battery life.

"The fine detail of what happens in an electrode during charging and discharging is just one of many factors that determine battery life, but it's one that, until this study, was not adequately understood," said William Chueh of SIMES, an assistant professor at Stanford's Department of Materials Science and Engineering and senior author of the study. "We have found a new way to think about battery degradation." Read more ..


Oil Addiction

Iowa Politics Behind Obama's Ethanol Moves

September 12th 2014

E85 Pump

Prominent oil lobby the American Petroleum Institute (API) said the Obama administration will likely boost the amount of biofuels refiners must blend into the nation's fuel supply to help out a Democrat in a tight Senate race.

Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley is running against Republican Joni Ernst for the open Senate seat left by retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D) in Iowa, and the two are neck and neck.

If the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ups the levels of ethanol and other biofuels it requires refiners to blend in its final 2014 rule, it may be enough to push Braley ahead in the race, the oil lobby said. "It's clearly politics," said Bob Greco, director of API's downstream operations. "There is a strong linkage to what's going on in the Iowa Senate race."

"I think you are starting to see the political calculations. We are very concerned that the signals we are seeing from the administration is that the political calculations are outweighing sound fuels policy," Greco added. When the EPA proposed the 2014 renewable fuel mandate late last year, it retreated on the amount of biofuels that must be blended in the U.S. fuel supply, a clear victory for the oil industry, which fiercely opposes the mandate. Read more ..


Oil Addiction

PUMP Changes Everything About Fuel Addiction

September 10th 2014

Pump

Submarine Deluxe, in association with Fuel Freedom Foundation and iDeal Film Partners, have announced the limited theatrical release of PUMP this fall. The film will open in select cities on Friday, September 12th, 2014, and will expand to additional markets on September 19th.

see the PUMP trailer

Directed by Joshua Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell, and narrated by Jason Bateman, PUMP is an inspiring, eye-opening documentary that tells the story of America's addiction to oil, from its corporate conspiracy beginnings to its current monopoly today, and explains clearly and simply how we can end it – and finally win choice at the pump.

see the PUMP website

Today oil is our only option of transportation fuel at the pump. Our exclusive use of it has drained our wallets, increased air pollution and sent our sons and daughters to war in faraway lands. PUMP shows us how through the use of a variety of replacement fuels, we will be able to fill up our cars – cheaper, cleaner and American made - and in the process, create more jobs for a stronger, healthier economy.

The film features notable experts such as John Hofmeister, former President of Shell Oil US; Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors; Peter Goldmark, former president of the Rockefeller Foundation; bestselling author Edwin Black, and other noteworthy figures who share their passionate views and knowledge. An important film for anyone who drives or owns a car, PUMP will inform the audience how to change their lives for the better: save money, create jobs and improve the environment. Read more ..


The Race for EVs

Why Electromobility Lags Behind Expectations

September 10th 2014

Electric car Israel

Has electromobility arrived in everyday live? Or better: Why is this not the case? Researchers of the Frankfurt University of Applied Science have questioned users of electric vehicles. Though the poll was conducted exclusively among German users, the results provide interesting insights into how e-card are used and why are the great break-through is still some time away.


Despite significant technological progress, the registration figures for electric vehicles stagnated at a low level, explains Dr.-Ing Petra K. Schaefer, manager of the specialized group New Mobility at the Frankfurt University of Applied Science. The most striking reasons for this lack of acceptance are the "infrastructural challenges", as Schaefer puts it. Other obstacles include high prices and a lack of perception in every day life. Read more ..


The Race for Solar

Sun-Powered Desalination for Villages in India

September 8th 2014

tap water

Around the world, there is more salty groundwater than fresh, drinkable groundwater. For example, 60 percent of India is underlain by salty water — and much of that area is not served by an electric grid that could run conventional reverse-osmosis desalination plants.

Now an analysis by MIT researchers shows that a different desalination technology called electrodialysis, powered by solar panels, could provide enough clean, palatable drinking water to supply the needs of a typical village. The study, by MIT graduate student Natasha Wright and Amos Winter, the Robert N. Noyce Career Development Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, appears in the journal Desalination.

Winter explains that finding optimal solutions to problems such as saline groundwater involves "detective work to understand the full set of constraints imposed by the market." After weeks of field research in India, and reviews of various established technologies, he says, "when we put all these pieces of the puzzle together, it pointed very strongly to electrodialysis" — which is not what is commonly used in developing nations. Read more ..


Oil Addiction

Nebraska High Court Hears Keystone Case

September 6th 2014

Keystone Pipeline

Proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline urged the Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday to reject a challenge from landowners fighting the project's route through the state.

Deputy Attorney General Katherine Spohn argued on behalf of Nebraska's Gov. Dave Heineman (R) and other state officials, claiming that the landowners have no standing to challenge a law that gives the governor authority to approve the pipeline’s route.

A lower court sided with the landowners and ruled that a 2012 law allowing Heineman to greenlight Keystone’s route was unconstitutional. That decision invalidated the pipeline’s path, forcing state officials to appeal the case to Nebraska’s high court. The lower court said a state agency should instead decide the route.

In her legal arguments, Spohn argued that Keystone XL is an "interstate" not "intrastate" pipeline, and that the lower court’s decision to label it a “common carrier” was a mistake. That designation led the lower court grant authority over the pipeline route to Nebraska’s public service commission. Read more ..


The Race for Natural Gas

Inside the Israel-Jordan: Natural Gas Agreement

September 5th 2014

Tamar-gas

With the start of a new millennium Israel had taken steps to secure a dependable supply of natural gas and end the nation's dependence on coal-fired plants.  The problem seemed resolved once Egypt began to produce natural gas from offshore fields found north of Port Said.  Egypt constructed a pipeline to move natural gas across the northern Sinai Peninsula to El Arish, located on the Mediterranean coast and very near the Gaza strip. 

Once that was completed, it was no great feat to construct an undersea pipeline to the coast of Israel north of Gaza.  The result was of dual benefit:  The gas provided a substantial economic return to Egypt, and it halved the Israeli cost for energy per kilowatt-hour.  While the Egypt natural gas pipeline is owned and administered by GASCO, its Israel length has been operated by the East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG), an Egyptian-Israeli company.  In 2005 GASCO and EMG signed a 20-year deal which would provide Israel a continuous and dependable supply of natural gas. Read more ..


The Race for Alternative Fuel

Renewable Fossil Fuel Using Bacteria

September 2nd 2014

Cyanobacteria

Researchers have engineered the harmless gut bacteria E. coli to generate renewable propane

The development is a step towards commercial production of a source of fuel that could one day provide an alternative to fossil fuels.

Propane is an appealing source of cleaner fuel because it has an existing global market. It is already produced as a by-product during natural gas processing and petroleum refining, but both are finite resources. In its current form it makes up the bulk of LPG (liquid petroleum gas), which is used in many applications, from central heating to camping stoves and conventional motor vehicles.

In a new study, the team of scientists from Imperial College London and the University of Turku in Finland used Escherichia coli to interrupt the biological process that turns fatty acids into cell membranes. The researchers used enzymes to channel the fatty acids along a different biological pathway, so that the bacteria made engine-ready renewable propane instead of cell membranes. Read more ..


The Race for Nuclear

Regulators Lift Nuke Plant Licensing Morotorium

September 1st 2014

Small Nuclear reactor

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) voted Tuesday to end a moratorium on issuing plant licenses that it had imposed while it considered nuclear waste storage issues.

The commission also voted to adopt a new rule reiterating that spent fuel rods can be stored at closed nuclear plants for long periods of time, the NRC said in a statement.

The NRC had voted in 2012 to stop issuing new reactor licenses, license renewals and spent fuel licenses. The vote followed a federal court decision ruling that the NRC should consider the possibility that the federal government will never establish a permanent nuclear waste storage facility. The court said NRC should analyze the environmental impact of permanently storing spent fuel at closed plants, including the possibilities of spent fuel pool leaks and fires.

The analysis adopted Tuesday through a rule concluded that “spent fuel can be safely managed in ... dry casks during the short-term, long-term and indefinite timeframes.” It reiterated the NRC’s previous position on spent fuel storage. Tuesday’s action did not itself approve any licenses. Read more ..


The Race for Natural Gas

To Recycle Fracking Water

August 30th 2014

Water Supply

Scientists have performed a detailed analysis of water produced by hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking) of three gas reservoirs and suggested environmentally friendly remedies are needed to treat and reuse it.

Rice University researchers performed a detailed analysis of “produced” water from three underground shale gas formations subject to hydraulic fracturing.

More advanced recycling rather than disposal of “produced” water pumped back out of wells could calm fears of accidental spillage and save millions of gallons of fresh water a year, said Rice chemist Andrew Barron. He led the study that appeared this week in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts. The amount of water used by Texas drillers for fracking may only be 1.5 percent of that used by farming and municipalities, but it still amounts to as much as 5.6 million gallons a year for the Texas portion of the Haynesville formation and 2.8 million gallons for Eagle Ford. That, Barron said, can place a considerable burden on nearby communities. Read more ..


Oil Addiction

Fracking the Antifracking Movement (Part 2)

August 29th 2014

Fracking gas well

While science was moving slowly, the Park Foundation moved quickly. By simultaneously funding an interlocking triangle of sympathetic scientists, anti-fracking nonprofits and media outlets, Park helped move along the idea that natural gas is environmentally unfriendly from the activist fringe to the mainstream. The foundation has continued to provide numerous grants (in the range of $50,000-$60,000) directly to Howarth and his research colleagues. And the Howarth argument–fracking releases methane gasses at a rate that makes shale gas extraction more dangerous than coal–despite its dismissal by scientists of various ideological stripes, has taken on immortal life among many progressive organizations that are supported by Park.

The foundation’s mostly unknown ties to scientists, journalists and activist groups were on display last September in the brouhaha over a methane gas and fracking study that contradicted Howarth’s claims. Researchers at the University of Texas-Austin released a study done in cooperation with the Environmental Defense Fund that found that the national rate of leakage of methane during natural gas production was equivalent to four tenths of one percent of total U.S. extraction, vastly lower than Howarth’s claims. This was the most comprehensive shale-gas emissions study ever undertaken, covering 190 well pads around the country. Read more ..


The Race for Bicycles

The Smart Bicycle is Coming

August 28th 2014

crash test dummy

Emergency call, stolen vehicle localisation, predictive maintenance - these electronic bells and whistles known from the automotive industry could soon conquer the bicycle market. At the Eurobike trade fair in Friedrichshafen (Germany), bike manufacturer Canyon and Deutsche Telekom introduced a high-tech bike equipped with the abovementioned features.


The two-wheeler is equipped with a GPS-based e-call system that detects a crash, and in the case the rider is unable to act, it automatically transmits the request for medical assistance and the location of the bicycle to a service station. During normal operation, the electronics unit communicates with the driver through a smartphone app which processes and displays data as to performance and status of wear parts. The centrepiece of the solution is a communication unit (on-board unit) that fits into the hollow space within the vehicle's frame. The unit contains a SIM card that identifies it for mobile communications, a microcontroller, a motion sensor and a GPS module. Read more ..


Oil Addiction

Fracking and the Antifracking Movement (Part 1)

August 26th 2014

Hydrolic Fracking pollution

Dan Fitzsimmons remembers that blustery day in March 2011 when he traveled to the offices of the Park Foundation in Ithaca, New York, asking for help. He was hopeful and a little desperate. The landowners he represented in the southern tier of the state were in the grip not only of the Great Recession but of New York state’s long, suffocating economic decline. There was, however, one reason for hope, Fitzsimmons and his neighbors believed. Deep underneath the rolling hills of upstate New York lay a massive sheet of untapped wealth in the form of shale gas. They had witnessed their neighbors just over the border in Pennsylvania experience a remarkable economic recovery because of that state’s decision to tap its gas. Vast reserves existed under their property as well, but New York was—and is—in policy gridlock.

Fitzsimmons was hoping to get backing for an education campaign for homeowners interested in responsibly leasing their property, so any extraction could be done in accord with the wishes of the local community. It seemed in line with what he knew Park Foundation founder Roy Hampton Park had always supported—smart conservation that honored private enterprise and respected property values. Read more ..


The Race for Solar

New Solar Concentrator Offers Solar Energy that Doesn't Block the View

August 20th 2014

A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window.

It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a clear surface.
And, according to Richard Lunt of MSU’s College of Engineering, the key word is “transparent.”

Research in the production of energy from solar cells placed around luminescent plastic-like materials is not new. These past efforts, however, have yielded poor results – the energy production was inefficient and the materials were highly colored. Read more ..


Oil Addiction

Silliness Quadrupled: The Center for American Progress on Keystone XL

August 18th 2014

Keystone Pipeline

Referencing a "new scientific paper," Emily Atkin at ThinkProgress argues that construction of the Keystone XL pipeline "could" result in "carbon" emissions "up to four times greater than the U.S. State Department estimated."

Put aside the use of the term "carbon," a central example of the political propaganda so beloved throughout the climate industry. Carbon dioxide is not "carbon"; the alternative phrase "greenhouse gases" would be both scientifically accurate and far less emotive and misleading.

And put aside the dreadful economic analysis underlying the conclusions derived in the "new scientific paper." The authors assume that construction of Keystone XL, by substituting cheaper pipeline transport in place of rail transport, somehow would reduce world crude oil prices. That is incorrect: It would increase the prices (net of transport costs) received by the Canadian producers; total world crude oil supply would remain essentially unchanged because the Canadian oil will be produced regardless of how it is transported. The purported reduction in prices derived by the authors is driven by their (incorrect) assumption that Keystone XL would yield an outward expansion of global oil supply attendant upon the Canadian production; but even in that analytic framework, oil investment, production and consumption are substitutable over time. Accordingly, it is straightforward to predict ancillary reductions in oil output elsewhere because of the assumed price decline: The Canadian oil would substitute for production elsewhere in both the short- and long runs. Therefore, even in their analytic framework, the magnitude of the assumed price decline and therefore the size of the assumed increases in consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are biased upward, a reality that the authors, and Atkin, simply do not understand. Read more ..


Oil Addiction

Oil Wealth Attracts Businesses to North Dakota

August 16th 2014

Oil Shale plant

The state of North Dakota has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, thanks to a glut of jobs created by the oil boom in the western part of the state, which rests on one of the largest shale oil deposits in the country. The job market keeps growing as more businesses relocate to North Dakota, attracted by the promise of profits -- but not without challenges.

The once-sleepy town of Williston, North Dakota, is now a booming hub of business, thanks to new ways to extract oil from shale deposits in the region. And everyone wants a piece of the action.

“Williston right now is the fastest growing micropolitan in the nation -- that’s cities under 50,000,” said Shawn Wenko, the Assistant Director of the Williston Economic Development Office. He admitted his organization -- and the state of the North Dakota -- are having a hard time keeping up with the number of people and businesses pouring in to the region.

“You just see the construction that is going vertical is phenomenal. We’ve done over $1.2 billion in permit valuations in the last year in the city of Williston,” he said.

Vactor Manufacturing received one of those permits. The Illinois-based business makes large industrial vacuum systems mounted on trucks. Typically used by municipalities as way to clear out sewers and storm drains, Vactor’s equipment also can be used at oil rigs and storage tanks -- increasing the demand for its products in North Dakota’s oil fields. Read more ..


The Race for Batteries

Tattoo Biobatteries Produce Power from Sweat

August 15th 2014

Researchers University of California San Diego have designed a sensor in the form of a temporary tattoo that can both monitor a person’s progress during exercise and the tattoo biobatteries can also produce power from the perspiration. The research team described their work at the 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). The device works by detecting and responding to lactate, which is naturally present in sweat. Lactate is a very important indicator of how you are doing during exercise, explained Wenzhao Jia, Ph.D.

In general, the more intense the exercise, the more lactate the body produces. During strenuous physical activity, the body needs to generate more energy, so it activates a process called glycolysis. Glycolysis produces energy and lactate, the latter of which scientists can detect in the blood. Professional athletes monitor their lactate levels during performance testing as a way to evaluate their fitness and training program. Read more ..


The Oil Addiction

Russia Gets a Helping Hand from Washington Lobbyists

August 15th 2014

Click to select Image

Russia's largest privately held gas producer has turned to a Washington, D.C., public relations firm to lobby the administration and Congress after one of its largest shareholders, an associate of Russian president Vladimir Putin, was targeted for sanctions by the United States.

OAO Novatek, the Moscow-based gas company, in July hired QorvisMSL LLC, which assigned two of its lobbyists to the account, according to a lobbying disclosure statement filed Aug. 11 with the Senate. On its website, Qorvis says it “crafts stories that need to be heard, champions issues that need to be debated, and manages reputations for corporations, governments and individuals.” Among its other clients are Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Sri Lanka and Bahrain. The news was first reported by the National Journal. Read more ..


The Nano Edge

Nanotubular Material Opens New Energy Harvesting Opportunities

August 14th 2014

Test Tubes

Researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California claim to have made a material that is 10 times stronger and stiffer than traditional aerogels of the same density opens new energy harvesting opportunities and support energy storage and conversion applications. The ultralow-density, ultrahigh surface area bulk material with an interconnected nanotubular makeup could be used in energy storage and conversion, thermal insulation, shock energy absorption and high energy density physics.

The three-dimensional nanotubular network architecture developed by the team also opens new opportunities in the fields of energy harvesting, catalysis, sensing and filtration by enabling mass transport through two independent pore systems separated by a nanometer-thick 3D membrane. Read more ..


Oil Addiction

New Concerns Raised over Content of 'Fracking' Fluids

August 13th 2014

Click to select Image

As the oil and gas drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking") proliferates, a new study on the contents of the fluids involved in the process raises concerns about several ingredients. The scientists presenting the work today at the 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) say that out of nearly 200 commonly used compounds, there's very little known about the potential health risks of about one-third, and eight are toxic to mammals.

The meeting features nearly 12,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics and is being held here through Thursday by ACS, the world's largest scientific society.

William Stringfellow, Ph.D., says he conducted the review of fracking contents to help resolve the public debate over the controversial drilling practice. Fracking involves injecting water with a mix of chemical additives into rock formations deep underground to promote the release of oil and gas. It has led to a natural gas boom in the U.S., but it has also stimulated major opposition and troubling reports of contaminated well water, as well as increased air pollution near drill sites. Read more ..


The Race for Alt Energy

American Southerners Have a Different Take on Energy's Environmental Impact

August 13th 2014

Click to select Image

Southerners are less likely than Americans in other parts of the country to believe that energy affects the environment by at least a fair amount, according to the latest findings of the University of Michigan Energy Survey.

A joint effort of the U-M Energy Institute and Institute for Social Research, the quarterly survey gauges consumer perceptions and beliefs about key energy-related concerns including affordability, reliability and impact on the environment.

When asked if energy affects the environment, "not at all," "a little," "a fair amount" or "a lot," 69 percent of Southerners chose the latter two answers. The choices of "a fair amount" or "a lot" were given by 77 percent of consumers in the Midwest, 79 percent in the West and 82 percent in the Northeast. Read more ..


Alternative Energy Edge

New Catalyst Process Turns Stinky Gas into Useable Energy

August 12th 2014

A new technique that transforms stinky, air-polluting landfill gas could produce the sweet smell of success as it leads to development of a fuel cell generating clean electricity for homes, offices and hospitals, researchers say. The advance would convert methane gas into hydrogen, an efficient, clean form of energy.

The researcher's report is part of the 248th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society.

The meeting, attended by thousands of scientists, features nearly 12,000 reports on new advances in science and other topics. It is being held here through Thursday.

Recently, hydrogen has received much attention as a clean alternative to fossil fuels, which release carbon dioxide — the main greenhouse gas — when burned. Hydrogen, however, only emits water vapor when it is burned. For this reason, some companies are developing hydrogen fuel cells for automobiles and homes.

One way to do this is to convert methane, another greenhouse gas, to hydrogen by reacting it with carbon dioxide. And smelly landfills are excellent sources of these gases — microbes living in the waste produce large amounts of methane and carbon dioxide as by-products. Read more ..



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