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May 7, 2021

First nanoscale look at a reaction that limits the efficiency of generating clean hydrogen fuel

Posted by in categories: economics, energy, nanotechnology

Transitioning from fossil fuels to a clean hydrogen economy will require cheaper and more efficient ways to use renewable sources of electricity to break water into hydrogen and oxygen.

But a key step in that process, known as the or OER, has proven to be a bottleneck. Today it’s only about 75% efficient, and the precious metal catalysts used to accelerate the reaction, like platinum and iridium, are rare and expensive.

Now an international team led by scientists at Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has developed a suite of advanced tools to break through this bottleneck and improve other energy-related processes, such as finding ways to make lithium-ion batteries charge faster. The research team described their work in Nature today.

May 6, 2021

Graphene aluminum ion batteries with ultra-fast charging

Posted by in categories: energy, materials

The “graphene revolution” is almost here. Australian scientists specializing in aluminum-ion batteries are now working with Brisbane-based Graphene Manufacturing Group to commercialize a technology that could transform energy storage.

May 6, 2021

Coal is losing the price war to wind and solar faster than anticipated

Posted by in categories: economics, energy

Coal is a highly polluting and expensive way to generate electricity. This analysis shows that we have economic alternatives to continuing to burn coal for power in the US. Furthermore, analyses such as “The 2035 Report” show that we can fully retire coal, stop building other fossil fuel plants (namely gas), and still reliably meet electricity demand, while providing a host of environmental and societal benefits. There are existing policies that can help policymakers closely examine the cost burden of generation resources used today, procure cheaper and cleaner generation resources going forward, and address current assets on the books. The continuation and intensification of the coal cost crossover demands attention from policymakers and consumers alike.


The costs of most existing US coal-fired power plants are now more expensive than the total costs of wind and solar.

Continue reading “Coal is losing the price war to wind and solar faster than anticipated” »

May 6, 2021

Record-Breaking Laser Pulses Allow Astrophysical Phenomena to Be Studied in the Lab

Posted by in categories: energy, space

Researchers have demonstrated a record-high laser pulse intensity of over 1023 W/cm2 using the petawatt laser at the Center for Relativistic Laser Science (CoReLS), Institute for Basic Science in the Republic of Korea. It took more than a decade to reach this laser intensity, which is ten times that reported by a team at the University of Michigan in 2004. These ultrahigh intensity light pulses will enable exploration of complex interactions between light and matter in ways not possible before.

The powerful laser can be used to examine phenomena believed to be responsible for high-power cosmic rays, which have energies of more than a quadrillion (1015) electronvolts (eV). Although scientists know that these rays originate from somewhere outside our solar system, how they are made and what is forming them has been a longstanding mystery.

“This high intensity laser will allow us to examine astrophysical phenomena such as electron-photon and photon-photon scattering in the lab,” said Chang Hee Nam, director of CoReLS and professor at Gwangju Institute of Science & Technology. “We can use it to experimentally test and access theoretical ideas, some of which were first proposed almost a century ago.”

Continue reading “Record-Breaking Laser Pulses Allow Astrophysical Phenomena to Be Studied in the Lab” »

May 4, 2021

LUMILOR — Electric Paint That Lights Up at The Flip of a Switch

Posted by in category: energy

LumiLor is an electroluminescent coating system which allows anything coated with it to function as a light. Electroluminescence simply means that an object is capable of emitting light when an electrical current passes through it.

The lifespan of LumiLor is dependent on how much power is applied and the native LumiLor color used. More power equals brighter light but a shorter half life.

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May 4, 2021

Meet Manta, a sea-cleaning sailboat that feeds on plastic waste

Posted by in categories: energy, sustainability

Excellent! Technology is available to make real change. Support efforts to clean the seas and use renewable energy sources.


Tired of hitting these floating objects during his races and seeing heavenly places turn into landfills, a French ocean adventurer Yvan Bourgnon decided to fight against this global scourge. He and his team have designed Manta, a giant, plastic-eating catamaran powered by renewable energy. The sea vessel literally scoops up plastic garbage and converts it into fuel to help power the boat.

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May 3, 2021

New Metal-Air Battery Design Offers a Potential Boost to Electric Vehicles

Posted by in categories: energy, sustainability, transportation

Billy Hurley, Digital Editorial Manager.

Metal-air batteries are light, compact power sources with a high energy density, but they have had a major limitation: They corrode.

A new design from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology uses oil to reduce the corrosion and extend the shelf life of single-use metal-air batteries.

May 1, 2021

World’s largest compressed air grid “batteries” will store up to 10GWh

Posted by in categories: energy, sustainability

California is set to be home to two new compressed-air energy storage facilities – each claiming the crown for the world’s largest non-hydro energy storage system. Developed by Hydrostor, the facilities will have an output of 500 MW and be capable of storing 4 GWh of energy.

As the world shifts towards renewable energy, grid-scale storage is becoming ever more crucial. Getting carbon emissions to net-zero will require a patchwork of technologies to smooth out unpredictable and inconvenient generation curves, with pumped hydro, huge lithium-ion batteries, tanks full of molten salt or silicon, thermal bricks, or heavy blocks stacked up in towers or suspended in mineshafts all in the mix.

Continue reading “World’s largest compressed air grid ‘batteries’ will store up to 10GWh” »

Apr 30, 2021

Vera Rubin’s Monster 3200-Megapixel Camera Takes its First Picture (in the Lab)

Posted by in categories: energy, space

The powerful image sensors at the heart of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory have just undergone successful testing. First light scheduled for 2022.


The Vera C. Rubin Observatory has taken another step towards first light, projected for some time in 2022. Its enormous 3200 megapixel camera just took its first picture during lab testing at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The camera is the largest ever built, and its unprecedented power is the driving force behind the Observatory’s ten year Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST).

When paired with the 8.4 meter primary mirror, the camera is an impressive, data-producing monstrosity. Its focal plane contains 189 separate charge-coupled devices (CCDs) that each capture 16 megapixels. Each 3200 megapixel image would take 378 4K ultra-high-definition TV screens to display.

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Apr 30, 2021

These strange salt ‘creatures’ could help unclog power plant pipes

Posted by in category: energy

Modifying the surface of power plant pipes to make it easier to prevent the build up of salt.


Behold the salt monsters. These twisted mineral crystals—formed from the buildup of slightly salty water in power plant pipes—come in many shapes and sizes. But the tiny monsters are a big problem: Each year, they cost the world’s power plants at least $100 billion, as workers have to purge the pipes and scrub them from filters.

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