Tag Archives: alternative energy

Flow batteries: For when the wind don’t blow and the sun don’t shine

The Harvard prototype organic flow battery….Credit: SEAS A team of scientists and engineers at Harvard tackled the problem of storing electricity from short term or irregular energy sources, such as wind mills or solar panels by looking to improve on a type of battery technology known as a flow battery. As published in the journal […]
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Cellulosic ethanol: A production chimera?

On paper, it seems logical that as a source for a replacement to gasoline, woody type material should be ideal. After all, there are a lot of plants with woody material – trees (all kinds of trees), bushes, and reeds – in short, the most visible bulk of plant life on this planet. Then too, […]
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Fusion energy: Update on the Big Tokamak

ITER fusion generator site, Cadarache, France…Credit ITER For those who thought the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland was a BIG engineering project, it is literally dwarfed by the construction of the world’s first fusion reactor – ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor or, alternatively, The Big Tokamak). This is one of those projects so big that […]
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Black plasmonic metals: Add to the list of potential solar cell improvement

To be flippant about it, it seems like new materials for solar cells are a dime a dozen. Meanwhile the old-fashioned silicon continues to beat the newbies on sheer manufacturing clout and price. However, not necessarily forever. There are some new materials with good research pedigrees. Case in point, a newly announced black plasmonic metal […]
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Citigroup: Solar energy profit-ready for large consumer companies

The research paths toward better solar conversion. Credit: NREL (Wikimedia commons) According to a proprietary investor’s report from the mega-bank, Citigroup (New York USA) large consumer electronic brands are about to enter the solar energy market. This was the news slipping by on the business crawl Thursday February 28, 2013. It wasn’t big news. Known […]
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One voice: Paul Krugman, fracking and solar energy

At best, when an individual such as Paul Krugman (International Trade Economist, Nobel Prize winner in economics and columnist for the New York Times) opine in a public forum, it’s an insightful piece of analysis, a useful expression of sentiment, or an effective way of providing sorely needed background on important issues. Occasionally, however, important […]
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Synthetic biology: Improve photosynthesis

Eighteen blue-ribbon scientists from all over the world agree: We need to improve on Mother Nature. Oh? Well, yes. Nature only extracts energy from the Sun in a couple of band gaps (otherwise known as colors), mostly green, some blue. We can do better than that. We can engineer plants to absorb photons from the […]
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New solar heat technology: Make electricity and hot water

Solar panels that directly capture energy from the sun and convert it into electrical energy are well known and recognized as a major source of alternative energy. Solar panels that make hot water are popular in some parts of the world (China, Europe, Brazil, India) and the technology is well known. Solar panels that use […]
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Fuel cell technology: Fuel from an ‘artificial leaf’

Visions of catchy titles danced in my head: “Alternative energy turns over a new leaf,” for example. It sounds like a perfect story for a world growing ever more skittish about the future of energy. (As Fukushima continues to radiate danger and fuel prices head into economy busting territory.) The idea is to produce energy […]
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Fukushima Meltdown

As I write this, daylight has overtaken Japan on Tuesday morning, there has been a third explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant; this time in the second reactor. It appears that some kind of core containment breach has occurred, which will mean at minimum more released radioactivity. The staff has been evacuated, at least […]
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