Highlights from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show

Alternative Energy

Close-up look of PNNL’s concentrating solar power system

Solar power holds the promise of clean, limitless energy, but it currently suffers from high costs and an inherent disadvantage of not working when the sun isn't shining. The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is taking a best-of-both-worlds approach by developing a hybrid solar/gas system that increases the efficiency and reduces the carbon footprint of natural gas power plants.  Read More

Test flights of the Vienna University of Technology/EADS thermoelectric Energy Harvesting ...

A European project to develop self-powered sensors for monitoring aircraft integrity is off the ground, with EADS Innovation Works and Vienna University of Technology reporting that the first test flights of the thermoelectric Energy Harvesting Modules have been carried out on an Airbus aircraft.  Read More

Spectrolab has achieved a record 37.8 percent efficiency with a new multi-junction solar c...

Spectrolab, a Boeing subsidiary known for the manufacture of solar cells for satellites and spacecraft, has in recent years turned its attention to terrestrial solar cells to tap into the expanding alternative energy market. Now the California-based company has claimed a new solar cell efficiency record of 37.8 percent for a ground-based multi-junction cell without solar concentration.  Read More

Oxide heterostructures could be used to produce solar cells in which light is converted in...

Researchers from the Vienna University of Technology, together with colleagues from the U.S. and Germany, have used computer simulations to show how the unique electrical properties of a new class of materials known as layered oxide heterostructures can potentially be used to create a new type of efficient, ultra-thin solar cell.  Read More

Research conducted at Princeton and Rutgers Universities offers hope of synthetic catalyst...

Hydrogen is often hailed as a promising environmentally-friendly fuel source, but it is also relatively expensive to produce. However, new research conducted at Princeton University and Rutgers University poses the opportunity to produce hydrogen from water at a lower cost and more efficiently than previously thought possible.  Read More

Spherical silicon nanoparticles about 10 nanometers in diameter that can generate hydrogen...

Researchers at the University of Buffalo have created spherical silicon nanoparticles they claim could lead to hydrogen generation on demand becoming a “just add water” affair. When the particles are combined with water, they rapidly form hydrogen and silicic acid, a nontoxic byproduct, in a reaction that requires no light, heat or electricity. In experiments, the hydrogen produced was shown to be relatively pure by successfully being used to power a small fan via a small fuel cell.  Read More

Researchers have found an inexpensive and efficient catalyst that can produce hydrogen for...

Hydrogen has been hailed as the fuel of the future, but producing it cleanly using platinum as a catalyst is simply too costly to service the world's energy needs. On the flipside, producing hydrogen with fossil fuels not only releases CO2 as a byproduct, but is unsustainable, negating hydrogen's green potential. However, hydrogen may yet make good on its promise thanks to a group of scientists at the University of Cambridge.  Read More

Pavegen was installed at the London 2012 Olympic Games, with people generating energy with...

"Create electricity, just by walking" is an evocative statement, and one which surely warrants some attention in these eco-efficient times when the need to seek alternative energy sources is well understood. Pavegen – a system for harvesting kinetic energy from foot traffic, and which the catchy soundbite belongs to – is now being put forward for crowd-funding through Kickstarter with the aim of raising enough money to fund two school projects, one in the U.S. and one in the U.K.  Read More

Graduate student Zachary Baer works with a fermentation chamber to separate acetone and bu...

Researchers at the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) are generating bio fuels from renewable sources, such as sugar and starch, using a process that could be commercialized in as little as five to ten years. Although the fuels are currently more expensive to produce than those made from petroleum, they contain more energy per gallon than ethanol and the researchers say that, if adopted, could help to cut greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.  Read More

The front and west side of completed Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility that will b...

The opening of a suburban house doesn’t usually warrant a ribbon-cutting ceremony, but a new house constructed in Gaithersburg, Maryland, is special. Built for the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the typical-looking suburban home is designed to provide researchers with a place to test various high-efficiency and alternative energy systems, materials and designs. As a result, the Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF), as it is known, is expected, over the course of a year, to generate as much energy as a family of four living in it would consume in that period.  Read More

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