Like people who approach geopolitics with the attitude of "If people would just talk to each other, we would all along", there are a lot of naïve assumptions about just dumping gasoline.
We know it causes emissions, and emissions are bad, we know a lot of the money paid for oil goes to fund Middle Eastern terrorism, and that is bad - those things should cause both the left and the right in America to want gasoline gone. And yet it is not gone. The reason is simple: gasoline is a lot more efficient than alternative energy proponents want to believe.
Most methane comes from natural gas - natural gas used to be loved but once it got popular it got lumped in with mean old fossil fuels so the search is on to find a new, green approach to methane, using microbes that can convert renewable electricity into carbon-neutral methane.
Researchers are raising colonies of microorganisms, called methanogens, which have the ability to turn electrical energy into pure methane, the key ingredient in natural gas. The scientists' goal is to create large microbial factories that will transform clean electricity from solar, wind or nuclear power into renewable methane fuel.
No one is asking the Department of Energy to play venture capitalist with taxpayer money again
, but basic research in dye-sensitized solar cells may bring the cost of solar down enough to allow for mainstream acceptance - primarily because dye-sensitized solar cells (also known as DSCs) are less fragile than panels that use crystalline silicon, also a benefit of thin-film panels, and don't require a clean room.
Microbes have been evolving for millions of years to efficiently digest organic material. Now researchers are tapping these natural processes to maximize energy output from the breakdown and use it to power farms and even waste facilities.
One process, developed by researchers at Michigan State University, mimics the natural mechanism of waste digestion and generates 20 times more energy than existing processes by creating ethanol and hydrogen for fuel cells.
No matter how much spin you hear and read from highly-paid lobbyists and clueless advocates, green energy is not viable. It will be, though science would get there faster if the Department of Energy would stop throwing money at solar panel companies and instead throw it at basic research, like battery technology.
After cost and efficiency, storage is the biggest obstacle preventing widespread use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. The ability to store energy when it is produced is an essential waypoint on the road to turning alternative energy into regular energy. The current U.S. energy grid system is used predominantly for distributing energy and allows little flexibility for storage of excess or a rapid dispersal on short notice.
Cyanobacteria are small organisms with huge importance. Ancient cyanobacteria created the oxygen atmosphere, and modern cyanobacteria produce a significant amount of the air we breathe. Now, these tiny organisms are helping us again by providing clues to improving biofuel production.
Because of their prolific photosynthesizing, cyanobacteria have great potential for solar-powered biofuel production. To tap into that potential, researchers from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences recently became the first to visualize and control the “biological electrical switch” that dictates how electrons flow through the bacterium.
Materials scientists at Harvard have demonstrated a solid-oxide fuel cell (SOFC) that converts hydrogen into electricity but can also store electrochemical energy like a battery. This fuel cell can continue to produce power for a short time after its fuel has run out.
The finding in Nano Letters will be most important for small-scale, portable energy applications, where a very compact and lightweight power supply is essential and the fuel supply may be interrupted.
Sometimes declaring bankruptcy is a good thing. In the case of Abound Solar Inc., a U.S. solar manufacturer that had American taxpayers on the hook for $400 million, the good thing is they closed the doors after only losing us $70 million in Department of Energy funds.
Chump change, I know, since we have committed $72 billion on alternative energy in the last few years, but $330 million here and $330 million there, and pretty soon we are talking about real money.
A new toilet system can turn human waste into electricity and fertilizers and even reduce the amount of water needed for flushing by up to 90 percent
The inventors in Singapore call it the No-Mix Vacuum Toilet and it has two chambers that separate the liquid and solid wastes. Using vacuum suction technology, like you find in airplane lavatories, flushing liquids requires only 0.2 liters of water while flushing solids require just one liter. The existing conventional commonly used in Singapore need 4 to 6 liters of water per flush so a single public toilet, that may be flushed 100 times a day, could save about 160,000 liters of water in a year – enough to fill a small pool.
Tapping ocean energy sources like tides and offshore wind sound fine to people who understand nothing about science (the Anything But Oil contingent) but in reality it requires pile driving, the practice of pounding long, hollow steel pipes called piles into the ocean floor to support energy turbines and other structures.
Pile driving creates loud, underwater booms that can harm fish and other marine animals so if you're thinking CO2 is better for the world, you are right.