Category Archives: Energy

A few “problem wells” source of greenhouse gas

Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

High levels of the greenhouse gas methane were found above shale gas wells at a production point not thought to be an important emissions source, according to a study jointly led by Purdue and Cornell universities. The findings could have implications for the evaluation of the environmental impacts from natural gas production.

The study, which is one of only a few to use a so-called “top-down” approach that measures methane gas levels in the air above wells, identified seven individual well pads with high emission levels and established their stage in the shale-gas development process.


Shift to green energy will be tiny brake on growth: U.N.

Read the full story from Planet Ark.

Many governments had complained that an earlier draft was not clear in its estimate of the costs of low-carbon energy, which include solar or wind, nuclear and fossil fuels whose greenhouse gas emissions are captured and buried underground.

The new draft, which is being edited by government officials and scientists in Berlin before publication on Sunday, indicates that world economic losses would be small compared to projected costs of heatwaves, floods, storms and rising sea levels.

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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Climate change, Renewable energy


Vilsack talks about USDA efforts to further advanced biofuels

Read the full story in Ethanol Producer Magazine.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack testified about the farm bill and the rural economy, during a U.S. House of Representatives Committee hearing. As part of that, he talked about the USDA’s work to create markets for advanced biofuels.

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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Biofuels


3 pathways to a clean energy future

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

In this final installment of our eLab Accelerator blog series (read part 1 and part 2), we are reviewing three teams who are focused on developing strategies to understand and achieve clean energy futures.

The increasing capability and affordability of renewables and distributed resources, the pressure to combat climate change, and the need for a more resilient electricity system are creating opportunities as well as challenges the likes of which our electricity system has never faced before. By working together, these teams recognize that successful solutions must address not only the technical but also the social and creative complexity facing the electricity system.


A new DOE proposal would cement a big leap in lighting efficiency, but Congress is preventing even bigger savings

Read the full post from ACEEE.

New energy-saving standards for certain types of incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs proposed by the Department of Energy (DOE) last Friday mark another important step in improving lighting efficiency in the United States. DOE’s proposal further advances strong standards completed in 2009. Together, the 2009 standards and the proposed increases announced last week dramatically improve reflector lamp and fluorescent tube lamp efficiency by 70% and 23% respectively. Unfortunately, a congressional budget rider prevents DOE from saving even more.

Friday’s proposal covers incandescent reflector lamps, the cone-shaped light bulbs used in track lighting and recessed light fixtures, and fluorescent tube lamps, which are ubiquitous in office buildings. The sheer number of these light bulbs in use means that even modest efficiency improvements will yield large national energy savings. DOE estimates that in 2012 manufacturers shipped about 80 million reflector lamps covered by standards. And based on DOE data, almost 20% of all commercial-sector electricity use goes to power fluorescent tube lamps.

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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Energy efficiency, Lighting


A funny thing happened on the way to Finance Forum: the WHEEL deal

Read the full post from ACEEE.

The moment we have been waiting for has arrived! The Warehouse for Energy Efficiency Loans (WHEEL), a financing platform that will open the market for energy efficiency investment to institutional investors, is open for business. WHEEL acts as a virtual financial warehouse for relatively small individual loans, holding them until there are enough loans to attract attention from large investment houses. These transactions will potentially grow the market and make it easier for homeowners to find lower-cost loans for energy efficiency improvements.

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Posted by on April 10, 2014 in Energy efficiency, Funding


Americans using more energy according to Lawrence Livermore analysis

Read the full post from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Energy use increased in the United States in 2013 as a fourth consecutive year of economic growth exerted its influence, but the longer-term trend shows the country operating with greater efficiency while also revealing the small but growing role of renewable sources like solar and wind.

The font for these insights is the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and its “energy flow chart,” an annual tally of U.S. energy consumption that colorfully connects energy sources with their end uses in the residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation sectors. There’s a hefty “rejected energy” component, as well, for energy that is consumed but not put to use, like waste heat. The recently released 2013 chart showed energy use at 97.4 quadrillion British thermal units, an increase of 2.3 quads over 2012.



5 eLab Accelerator programs drive change in clean energy

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

In this second installment of our eLab Accelerator blog series (read part 1), we explore how companies, organizations, states and communities are working to evolve utility business models, rate structures and regulatory structures so that renewable and distributed resources reliably and economically can be integrated into the energy system.

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Posted by on April 8, 2014 in Energy


Designed for Deconstruction: trees for easier pulping, papermaking

Read the full post at Smart Planet.

Lignin is a naturally-occurring polymer commonly found in wood. Housed in the cell walls, it keeps plants upright, but it makes wood hard to break down for a number of industrial processes — including biofuel production, pulping, and papermaking. Making lignin that’s easier to degrade means those huge, worldwide processes would generate less waste and require less energy, lower temperatures, and fewer chemicals.
Now, researchers say they’ve designed plant cell walls that fall apart, self-destructing under mild processing conditions. The work could slash the cost and energy needed to turn biomass into fuel.
To get rid of lignin, engineers typically heat biomass to 170 degrees Celsius (that’s over 500 degrees Fahrenheit) for several hours in the presence of alkaline compounds, Science reports. Its structure contains ether bonds that are difficult to degrade chemically; researchers have hoped to introduce weaker ester bonds into the lignin backbone. Previous work has suggested that the key may lie in the natural process of lignin assembly: from a pool of single molecules called monomers into a more complex polymer chain. The process could be engineered to incorporate new monomers that aren’t native to lignin — something new that could increase its degradability.
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Posted by on April 8, 2014 in Biofuels, Biomass, Pulp & paper


Energy breakthrough uses sun to create solar energy materials

Read the full story from Oregon State University.

Researchers have discovered a way to tap the sun not only as a source of power, but also to directly produce the solar energy materials that make this possible. This breakthrough could make the sun almost a ‘one-stop shop’ that produces both the materials for solar devices and the eternal energy to power them.

Citation for the research paper: Peter B. Kreider, Ki-Joong Kim, Chih-Hung Chang. “Two-step continuous-flow synthesis of CuInSe2 nanoparticles in a solar microreactor.” RSC Advances, 2014; 4 (27): 13827 DOI: 10.1039/C4RA00467A

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Posted by on April 7, 2014 in Publications, Solar


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