It's abundantly clear that we need to get off fossil fuels for various reasons (try Googling "oil spill"), but our infrastructures are far better tuned for the hydrocarbon fuels of the past century than the renewables of the next. So why don't we just make fuels that work in our existing technology from renewable energy?
When we think of farming energy, we generally think of feedstocks like corn that can be processed into ethanol, or perhaps other plant life we can culture and harvest like algae. But don't underestimate the livestock; we've recently seen methane-trapping schemes that can power farms and giant cattle treadmills that turn idle dairy drones into power-producing machines.
Algae has been floated again and again as a possible means of biofuel production, usually through chemical processes that extract sugars or other organic compounds that can be processed into fuel. But what if we could simply steal electricity from algae, no processing or chemical wizardry necessary? We can, says a team of researchers who recently stole electrons directly from algae for the very first time
While IBM is primarily known for its information technology products, the company has recently begun expanding into the alternative energy market. So far, that change has mainly taken the form of a new ad campaign. But IBM is now backing those words up with action, by unveiling a groundbreaking solar cell, 40 percent more efficient than any similar cells.
An interesting report from CNN over the weekend: a tabletop hydrogen fuel cell recharging station could bring hydrogen power to the individual home, allowing portable devices and eventually automobiles to charge up on the universe's most abundant element cleanly from the comfort of home.
With the need for a cheap and abundant alternative to fossils fuels more important than ever before, the field of fusion energy is getting hotter. Really, really hot. 6 million degrees hot. Yes, the National Ignition Facility, the Department of Energy's pet fusion project, has finally fired up its 192 lasers and zapped something, moving us one step closer to the day of clean, nearly free, fusion energy.
We know how to convert biomass to biodiesel, but the economics of doing so makes many prevailing methods of doing so expensive and unfeasible, keeping an alternative-fueled future just out of reach. But a collaboration between the DOE and private firm LS9 has found a way to coax a strain of E. coli bacteria to produce biodiesel from biomass without further chemical processes, a breakthrough that could pave the way for cheaper, more abundant biofuels.
Militaries have a tough, often messy job to do, and as such taking steps to polish their green credentials generally isn’t a high priority. But the potential cost savings – not to mention the tactical advantages – of going green are not lost on U.S. Armed Forces’ top brass. The Army has pursued “zero footprint” base camps, and the Air Force is looking into a variety of alternative propellants that could be turned into jet fuel. Now the Navy is going green, signing a memorandum of understanding with the USDA to demo a Green Strike Group of biofuel- and nuclear-powered vessels by 2012.
Turbine Contrails:Clouds form in the wake of the front row of wind turbines at the Horns Rev offshore wind farm near Denmark. Aeolus
Clouds stream in the wake of wind turbines arrayed at the Horns Rev offshore wind farm in this stunning photo. But David MacKay, a physicist at the University of Cambridge in the UK, sees the image as illustrating the common problem of back-row wind turbines losing power relative to the front row.
Today's solar power plants work either through photovoltaics or heated steam. If Enviromission gets its way, tomorrow's plants will combine wind and solar, with acre-sized mirrors and multi-thousand-foot-tall chimneys generating turbine-spinning gusts. The technology's called solar updraft, and a $750 million, 200-megawatt project may just bring Enviromission's future into the present.
After nearly four days, 1,860 miles, and lots of baking Australian sun, a team from Japan's Tokai University edged out 31 other competitors to bring home a solar victory in the 2009 Global Green Challenge
A team of solar-car scientists from Japan's Tokai University turned the intense rays of central Australia into victory in the 2009 Global Green Challenge. The team covered nearly 1,860 miles over four days in their solar-powered Tokai Challenger to claim first place among the Challenge's solar-vehicle field.
After nearly four days, 1,860-miles and lots of baking Australian sun, a team from Japan's Tokai University edged out 31 other competitors to bring home a solar victory in the 2009 Global Green Challenge
A team of solar-car scientists from Japan's Tokai University turned the intense rays of central Australia into victory in the 2009 Global Green Challenge. The team covered nearly 1,860-miles over four days in their solar-powered Tokai Challenger to claim first place among the Challenge's solar-vehicle field.
Imagine millions of plug-in vehicle owners returning home from work on a hot summer day, plugging in their cars at the same time, and melting down an overtaxed, outdated, and otherwise atrophied electrical grid. But the geniuses at Google say averting a disaster scenario could be as simple as a few lines of code (well, a few more than just a few).
As a fuel for cars, compressed natural gas hasn't exactly exploded in the US. Of all the major automakers, only Honda offers a CNG-powered car, buyers of which are eligible for a tax rebate and get a free pass on the carpool lane in most states. But proponents of CNG say the fuel that's common for buses and fleet vehicles is not only good for commuter cars, but for flamboyant customs as well.
Electric-vehicle startup Myers Motors already builds a one-seat electric car with three wheels. Now, the company says a new model is on the way with something extra novel -- a passenger seat. Dubbed the NMG2 (the first model is called NMG), the part-car-part-motorcycle will also get more storage space, creature comforts like air conditioning and a 60-mile range on a charge of its lithium-ion battery.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.