Alternative Energy Sources



25 March 2014

Next-generation solar cell can also emit light


Scientists in Singapore have developed a photovoltaic material which, as well converting light to electricity, can also emit light too. According to the researchers, this new type of solar cell could be used to make display screens that also function as solar panels...

13 March 2014

Solar toilet locks-in greenhouse gases, increases crop yields


Developed with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a self-contained, waterless, solar-powered toilet heats human waste to a high enough temperature to sterilize it and create biochar, a highly porous charcoal used to both increase crop yields and sequester carbon dioxide...

8 January 2014

Rhubarb battery could finally free solar households from the electricity grid


Harvard scientists have developed a metal-free flow battery based on the electrochemistry of the naturally abundant, inexpensive, organic molecules that store energy in plants and animals. The new battery, which mimics rhubarb's energy storage mechanism, could finally provide the reliable and inexpensive storage mechanism needed for effective widespread renewable energy use...

10 November 2013

Electrosmog harvested to produce electricity


Using inexpensive materials configured and tuned to capture ambient signals from the electromagnetic spectrum, researchers have designed a power-harvesting device with efficiency similar to that of modern solar panels...

6 November 2013

Pop music boosts solar cell efficiency


The acoustic vibrations from pop and rock music can improve the performance of solar cells by as much as 40 percent, say scientists in the UK...

10 September 2013

Panda poop could be biofuel bonanza


The unusual microbes in panda feces might provide a solution for shifting the production of biofuels away from corn and other food crops, to corn cobs, stalks and other non-food plant material...

26 March 2013

Biofuels could be made directly from excess CO2 in the atmosphere, say scientists


Biotechnologists have modified a microorganism that normally lives in the super-heated ocean waters near geothermal vents so that it can feed on carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and in the process create a range of industrial chemicals...

24 February 2013

Nano-rod solar cell generates hydrogen


A new type of solar collector that uses nano-rods could convert sunlight into energy without many of the problems associated with traditional photovoltaic solar cells...

21 December 2012

Stanford announces peel-and-stick solar panels


Solar cells have traditionally been heavy, fixed panels, but Stanford scientists aim to change that with the development of flexible, decal-like photovoltaic panels that can be peeled off like band-aids and stuck to virtually any surface...

20 November 2012

Solar steam generator outshines photovoltaic solar cells


Using light-capturing nanoparticles, US researchers have achieved an impressive 82 percent conversion efficiency of sunlight directly into steam; a breakthrough they say will create highly cost-effective solutions for desalination, water purification and electricity generation...

12 October 2012

High voltage solar cell recharger developed for phones


A solar technology breakthrough by UK scientists means portable electronic devices such as phones, cameras, and e-book readers could soon have credit card-sized solar cells built-in, allowing them to be recharged on the move...

2 February 2012

Wireless highway charging proposed for electric cars


An innovative wireless system that charges electric cars while they are on the road could also be used to control driverless electric vehicles...

10 November 2011

"Green" biofuels anything but


A detailed new study on greenhouse gas emissions from oil palm plantations has calculated a more than 50 percent increase in levels of carbon dioxide emissions than previously thought - and warns that the Western world's demand for "green" biofuels could be costing the Earth...

1 September 2011

Solar power's dirty secret: skyrocketing lead pollution


Solar power has a dark side. In developing countries with less robust electrical grids, solar power is heavily reliant on traditional lead batteries for local electrical storage and experts say millions of tons of lead pollution may be a side-effect...

14 July 2011

Experimental wind-farm produces tenfold power increase


Caltech researchers say the power output of wind-farms can be increased by an order of magnitude - at least tenfold - simply by optimizing the placement of vertical wind turbines on a given plot of land...

17 May 2011

Much simpler catalyst could fast-track hydrogen economy


The black mineral stain commonly found on rocks turns out to be a very simple and effective catalyst for replicating what photosynthesis does - splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen...

12 May 2011

Biofuels' "green" credentials questioned


When a biofuel's origins are factored in - for example, whether the fuel is made from palm oil or grown in a clear-cut rainforest - conventional fossil fuels may turn out to be a much "greener" choice...

26 April 2011

Virus improves solar cell efficiency


Scientists have found a way to make significant improvements to the power-conversion efficiency of solar cells by utilizing viruses to perform assembly work on the solar cell at the microscopic level...

18 April 2011

Win-win for sugarcane biofuel crops


Agricultural cropping typically has a significant warming effect on local climates, but sugarcane biofuel crops in Brazil have been found to cool the local climate at around the same levels as natural vegetation...

20 April 2011

Novel solar cells utilize light's magnetic properties


Light has electric and magnetic components but scientists had always believed the effects of the magnetic field to be insignificant. Now, however, researchers have found that under the right circumstances, light can generate magnetic effects that are 100 million times stronger than previously expected, making magnetic solar cells a possibility...

30 March 2011

Salinity differential turns river mouths into power plants


Alternately using seawater and freshwater as the electrolyte, researchers have developed a battery that takes advantage of the difference in salinity to produce electricity. The development could see river mouths or estuaries used as electricity generating power plants...

8 March 2011

Novel CO2 turbine promises leap in generator efficiency


Turbines that utilize supercritical carbon dioxide for the generation of electricity could deliver a 50 percent improvement in efficiency compared to steam turbines...

27 September 2010

Artificial leaf generates electricity


Solar cells that mimic nature have been created at North Carolina State University where water-gel-based artificial leaves containing chlorophyll produce electricity...

6 September 2010

MIT scientists create self-assembling solar cell


One of the problems with common photovoltaic cells is that the sun's rays can be highly destructive to the materials used in the cell, leading to a gradual degradation of its performance. But plants have adopted an interesting strategy to address this issue: They constantly break down their light-capturing molecules and reassemble them from scratch, so the basic structures that capture the sun's energy are, in effect, always new and at optimum efficiency. Now, MIT scientists have succeeded in mimicking a key aspect of that process...

30 August 2010

Scientists revisit Tesla's electricity-from-air ideas


Harnessing the electrical power that is generated naturally when water vapor collects on microscopic particles of dust and other material in the air could provide an alternative to solar power and reduce the incidence of lightning strikes, say scientists...

14 April 2010

Electricity generated directly from photosynthesis


Scientists have "wired up" algae to harness a tiny electric current directly from the plant during photosynthesis; an achievement which could lead to the highly efficient generation of bioelectricity with no carbon byproducts...

19 February 2010

Electric cars to moonlight as distributed power stores


With electric car numbers set to grow rapidly, scientists are exploring the potential for these vehicles to act as "distributed" storage devices for electricity which can then be fed back into the grid to create a robust and efficient electric fuel infrastructure...

6 August 2009

Bioethanol's water requirements underestimated


At a time when water supplies are scarce in many parts of the world, scientists are reporting that production of bioethanol - regarded by many as the clean-burning fuel of the future - may consume up to three times more water than previously thought...

29 July 2009

Deep oil reserves created without organic matter?


Counter to traditional wisdom, experiments involving basic molecules subjected to extreme heat and pressure suggest that reserves of oil and gas could exist deep in the Earth and that their creation did not require organic matter...

24 June 2009

Researchers tickled by feathers' prodigious hydrogen storage capabilities


Carbonized chicken feather fibers are as efficient at storing hydrogen as carbon nanotubes and would add only $200 to the cost of a hydrogen powered car compared to nanotube storage which would add more than $5M...

3 June 2009

Ethanol production degrading soil productivity


Crop residues are viewed as a low cost and readily available source of material for ethanol production. But these residues are not simply a waste material as they play a pivotal role in sustaining levels of organic matter in soil...

3 March 2009

"Ethanol subsidies a poor investment economically and environmentally," study finds


To avoid creating greenhouse gases, it makes more sense to leave land unfarmed in conservation reserves than to plow it up for corn to make biofuel, finds a new Duke University-led study...

4 November 2008

'Shrooming down the road: rainforest fungus makes diesel


A novel fungus from the Patagonian rainforest that can make diesel compounds from cellulose could be a new source of green energy, say the scientists who discovered it...

20 April 2008

Harnessing The Coriolis Force


Created by the rotation of the Earth, the force that causes whirlpools to form in bathtubs could soon be used to boost traditional hydroelectric power generation by 27 percent, says the inventor of a new turbine...

13 April 2007

Renewables Provide A Ray Of Sunshine In Energy Debate


It's becoming increasingly common for policy makers to tout "clean" nuclear energy as the only viable alternative to fossil fuels. But this is ignoring the fact that important inroads are being made with renewable energy sources such as solar power. The question is: are alternative energies emerging fast enough to be considered a viable alternative to nuclear energy?

14 February 2008

New World Record For Solar Conversion Efficiency


Sandia National Laboratories have set a new solar-to-grid system conversion efficiency record by achieving a 31.25 percent net efficiency rate...

4 October 2007

Taking The Heat Off Inefficient Engines


Physicists are looking at how to harness the thermal energy that is wasted by hot internal combustion engines...

25 July 2007

Solar Cell Efficiency Approaching 50%


Researchers have achieved a record-breaking silicon solar cell efficiency of 43 percent under standard terrestrial sunlight conditions...

19 July 2007

Report Pooh-Poohs Corn Biofuels


Corn ethanol refining will not significantly offset fossil fuel consumption without unacceptable environmental and economic consequences, says a highly critical new report...

15 June 2007

Glucose Converted Directly To Faux Fossil Fuel


A big step towards viable biofuel refining was taken this week, with scientists claiming to have directly converted glucose into a surrogate for petroleum-based chemicals...

27 April 2007

Race On To Increase Biofuel Yields


Scientists are investigating plant enzymes and pre-treatment methods to make the production of ethanol from biomass more efficient...

24 April 2007

Laughing Gas Levels From Biodiesel Crops Not Funny


Rapeseed crops used to make biodiesel emit the highly potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, which could make biodiesel more of a greenhouse menace than conventional diesel...

18 April 2007

Ethanol Vehicles A Health Hazard


Higher levels of ozone pollution from ethanol powered vehicles may derail claims that the fuel is eco-friendly...

27 March 2007

Bacterium Fires-Up Plain Air Fuel Cell


Rather than platinum, a new kind of biofuel-cell uses bacterial enzymes to generate electricity from plain air mixed with a small amount of hydrogen...

16 February 2007

Organic Molecules Coaxed Into Thermoelectric Generation


Organic molecules trapped between metal nanoparticles have been used to produce electricity from heat...

18 October 2006

Look Ma, No Biofuel Cell!


Scientists have coaxed proteins to generate electricity in a biofuel cell without the infrastructure of a cell being present...

19 September 2006

Floating Wind Turbines Could Sink NIMBY Protests


An MIT researcher believes huge offshore wind turbines one hundred miles out to sea could solve all the problems that have beset wind power...

7 August 2006

Biofuels Under The Spotlight


Renewable energy advocates are calling for greater coordination among biofuel researchers in the development of alternative energy sources...

23 June 2006

Less Than Zero-Point Energy


"Matter seems to be solid, stable stuff that we, and the world, are made of. So maybe matter resists acceleration not because it possesses some innate thing called mass as Newton proposed, but because the zero-point field exerts a force whenever acceleration takes place." Welcome to the world of zero-point energy...

24 May 2006

Candy-Munching Bacteria Prodigious Hydrogen Producers


A test reactor that uses sugar-waste consuming bacteria to produce hydrogen could be a viable source of non-polluting energy in the future...

7 March 2006

MOF Power


Cars that run on hydrogen rather than gasoline are closer to becoming a reality, as researchers show how significant amounts of hydrogen fuel can be stored efficiently in a remarkable new material...

24 October 2005

Cost Breakthrough For Inorganic Solar Cells


A new method to manufacture photovoltaic cells using inorganic nanocrystals promises solar cells that are much cheaper and easier to make...

10 October 2005

Race Is On For Efficient Organic Solar Cells


Researchers are racing to develop organic solar cells that are as efficient as traditional silicon solar cells but much cheaper to produce...

30 September 2005

Solar Car Challenge: Three Wins In A Row for Dutch


According to organizers, the World Solar Car Challenge is supposed to be fuelled by the spirit of friendly competition, but it's hard to shake the feeling that the competitors are just as hot-blooded as their fuel-injected Formula One counterparts. As the race played out, the Dutch team's streamlined solar car, Nuna 3, led the way from start to finish, while breaking their previous world record time to boot...

29 August 2005

Shedding Light On The Hydrogen Economy


Chemists at Virginia Tech have developed a novel way of using light to directly power the chemical process that breaks water down into hydrogen and oxygen...

25 August 2005

Polymer Fuel Cell Breakthrough


A new chemical has been identified that allows polymer fuel cells to operate at much higher temperatures, opening the way for their use in cars and consumer electronic devices...

6 July 2005

Study Slams Economics Of Ethanol And Biodiesel


Turning biomass - plants like corn, soybeans and sunflowers - into fuel uses much more energy than the resulting ethanol or biodiesel generates...

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