The Asian Development Bank and two U.N. agencies launched a hub this week to mobilize investments and innovation to bring clean energy to the Asia Pacific region, where more than 600 million people lack electricity and 1.8 billion use firewood and charcoal at home.
Energy demand is soaring in the region on the back of economic and population growth, and the ADB says that by 2035 developing countries in the region will account for 56 percent of global energy use, up from 34 percent in 2010. They will need more than $200 billion in energy investments by 2030.
EPFL scientists have developed a mathematical model to minimize the infrastructure and operational costs of the TOSA ultra-rapid rechargeable electric bus system.
Are electric buses that recharge themselves at bus stops the future of public transportation? For now they’re part of the arsenal deployed in the name of sustainable mobility. In Geneva, ABB Sécheron and its partners — TPG, SIG and OPI — have just concluded a successful pilot operation of their electric bus system TOSA. Instead of using overhead lines, the buses power up in just 15 seconds at specific stops and at the terminus station. How can this technology that frees trolleybuses from electric wires be integrated into the public transport network? ,br />Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/videos/2014/06/math-helps-keep-cost-electric-buses-down
The energy world is not keeping up with Elon Musk, so he’s trying to take matters into his own hands. Musk, chairman of the solar installer SolarCity, has announced that the company would acquire a solar panel maker and build factories “an order of magnitude” bigger than the plants that currently churn out panels. “If we don’t do this we felt there was a risk of not being able to have the solar panels we need to expand the business in the long term,” Musk said in a conference call.
Musk is also a founder and the CEO of the electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors, which is planning what it calls a “gigafactory” to supply batteries for its cars.In both cases, Musk’s goal is to make sure that the components critical to his vision of the future — electric cars and solar energy — are available and cheap enough to beat fossil fuels.
New research from the Univ. of Bath’s Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies shows that waste coffee grinds could be used to make biodiesel.
Oil can be extracted from coffee grounds by soaking them in an organic solvent, before being chemically transformed into biodiesel via a process called “transesterification.” The study, recently published in the ACS Journal Energy & Fuels, looked at how the fuel properties varied depending on the type of coffee used.
Washington State Univ. researchers have developed the first fuel cell that can directly convert fuels, such as jet fuel or gasoline, to electricity, providing a dramatically more energy-efficient way to create electric power for planes or cars.
Led by Profs. Su Ha and M. Norton in the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, the researchers have published the results of their work in Energy Technology. A second paper on using their fuel cell with gasoline has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Power Sources. The researchers have made coin-sized fuel cells to prove the concept and plan to scale it up.
A research project led by Biome Bioplastics, aided by research conducted by the Univ. of Warwick’s Centre for Biotechnology and Biorefining, has demonstrated the feasibility of extracting organic chemicals from lignin for the manufacture of bioplastics.
The results stem from a grant from the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, awarded to a consortium led by Biome Bioplastics in early 2013 to investigate lignin as a new source of organic chemicals for bioplastics manufacture, which could significantly reduce costs and increase performance of these sustainable materials.
Lignin is a complex hydrocarbon that helps to provide structural support in plants and trees. As a waste product of the pulp and paper industry, lignin is a potentially abundant and low-cost feedstock for the high performance chemicals that could provide the foundation for the next generation of bioplastics.
The explosions that damaged a crippled Japanese nuclear plant during a disaster that forced mass evacuations in 2011 show what can happen when nuclear fuel overheats.
In response to the Fukushima Dai-ichi accident, the U.S. government dramatically increased funding to develop tougher protective skins for nuclear fuel, hoping to spur innovation in designs that hadn’t changed much in years. While the U.S. Department of Energy was spending $2 million before the accident on future fuel designs, the funding reached as much as $30 million afterward.
A new video shows a synthetic opal, which is made using polystyrene spheres surrounded by even tinier polystyrene spheres around 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Harry Beeson, from the Univ. of Cambridge, explains how it’s important to look at nanoscale structures like this to improve the efficiency of solar cells.
“Currently, solar panels are usually built from some form of crystalline silicon, and achieve reasonable power conversion efficiencies. However, this crystalline silicon is relatively expensive to make and is rigid and heavy, reducing the portability of the solar cells. Alternative materials could counter these problems, but for the moment cannot achieve the same efficiency as silicon.
NASA’s first spacecraft dedicated to measuring carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere is in final preparations for a July 1 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission will provide a more complete, global picture of the human and natural sources of carbon dioxide, as well as their “sinks,” the natural ocean and land processes by which carbon dioxide is pulled out of Earth’s atmosphere and stored. Carbon dioxide, a critical component of Earth’s carbon cycle, is the leading human-produced greenhouse gas driving changes in Earth’s climate.
Some big food makers are getting serious about making sure farmers grow crops in ways that minimize damage to water, soil and the environment, according to a report released this week that calls for more companies to demand sustainable supplies.
Companies including Walmart, Coca-Cola, General Mills and Unilever have taken steps to work with suppliers on environmental improvements, the report says, but adds that measurable goals and firm deadlines are necessary to make real improvements.
The international climate community is focused on completing negotiations on a new global agreement to address climate change, which will be decided by the end of 2015. Unfortunately, all indications are that negotiators will seek to simply advance many of the tried-and-failed approaches of the previous decades. It’s time for a fundamentally new approach to global climate change; one that looks beyond the staid approaches of years past and directly attacks the core problem: making clean energy cheaper than fossil fuels through proactive clean energy innovation policy.
Think those flat, glassy solar panels on your neighbor’s roof are the pinnacle of solar technology? Think again.
Researchers in the Univ. of Toronto’s Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering have designed and tested a new class of solar-sensitive nanoparticle that outshines the current state of the art employing this new class of technology.
This new form of solid, stable light-sensitive nanoparticles, called colloidal quantum dots, could lead to cheaper and more flexible solar cells, as well as better gas sensors, infrared lasers, infrared light emitting diodes and more. The work, led by post-doctoral researcher Zhijun Ning and Prof. Ted Sargent, was published this week in Nature Materials.
Image of the Week: South China Sea is Case Study for Protecting Oceans
A west Australian marine ecologist’s method of gauging the health of Australia’s oceans has been adopted by the United Nations World Ocean Assessment — which is responsible for assessing global ocean environmental conditions.
Trevor Ward from Perth-based Greenwood Consulting and Sydney Univ. of Technology developed the “expert elicitation” process while steering the marine component of Australia’s National State of Environment reports in 2011.
Understanding how clouds affect the climate has been a difficult proposition. What controls the makeup of the low clouds that cool the atmosphere or the high ones that trap heat underneath? How does human activity change patterns of cloud formation? Now, the research of the Weizmann Institute’s Prof. Ilan Koren suggests we may be nudging cloud formation in the direction of added area and height. He and his team have analyzed a unique type of cloud formation; their findings, which appeared recently in Science indicate that in pre-industrial times, there was less cloud cover over areas of pristine ocean than is found there today.
Before Houston and its suburbs were built, a dense forest naturally purified the coastal air along a stretch of the Texas Gulf Coast that grew thick with pecan, ash, live oak and hackberry trees.
It was the kind of pristine woodland that was mostly wiped out by settlers in their rush to clear land and build communities. Now, one of the nation’s largest chemical companies and one of its oldest conservation groups have forged an unlikely partnership that seeks to recreate some of that forest to curb pollution.
The plan drafted by Dow Chemical and the Nature Conservancy is only in its infancy and faces many hurdles. But it envisions a day when expensive machines used to capture industrial pollutants might be at least partially replaced by restoring some of the groves of native trees that once filled the land.