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Energy

Environment

Hybrid system could clean up coal power

Even though 2015 saw the biggest decline in coal usage around the world on record according to Greenpeace, the use of the material is still thriving globally. In fact, according to the US Energy Information Administration, global coal consumption was at about eight billion short tons in 2012 (around 7.2 billion tonnes), the most recent year for which the agency provides statistics. So if coal isn't going away any time soon, what is there to do about the fuel source that is often blamed for pollution and global warming due to carbon emissions? Make it more efficient. And that's exactly what a new hybrid energy system out of MIT could do.Read More

Materials

Material that recycles sunlight could be next big leap for solar cells

If the rest of us have to recycle things like our milk cartons, junk mail and beer bottles, shouldn't solar cells have to abide by the same rules? That's part of the thinking in new research that's just come out of the University of Cambridge. Researchers there have discovered that a certain material can actually recycle photons from light, which could lead to solar cells that are orders of magnitude more efficient than anything currently in use.Read More

Energy

Kinetic energy-harvesting shoes a step towards charging mobile devices on the go

Through energy harvesting tiles, backpacks and insoles, there has been much talk about harnessing our kinetic energy to power mobile devices and other electronics. A team of researchers is claiming to have made a big breakthrough in the collective effort to turn human motion into usable energy, developing a new method of producing useful amounts of electricity from our footsteps.Read More

Energy

Germany's Wendelstein 7-X fusion reactor produces its first flash of hydrogen plasma

Experimentation with Germany's newest fusion reactor is beginning to heat up, to temperatures of around 80 million degrees Celsius, to be precise. Having fired up the Wendelstein 7-X to produce helium plasma late last year, researchers have built on their early success to generate its first hydrogen plasma, an event they say begins the true scientific operation of the world's largest fusion stellarator.Read More

Environment

Plant openings signal "birth of large-scale solar in Australia"

According to the Energy Supply Association of Australia, Australia boasts the highest rate of household solar panel installation in the world. But despite much of the continent being seemingly perfect for large scale solar, it has been slow in coming to the sun-drenched country. That could be set to change with the official opening of two plants that AGL Energy managing director and CEO Andy Vesey says "signals the birth of large-scale solar in Australia".

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Science

Standout science and technology in 2015

The blistering advance of technology we are experiencing in the 21st century is nothing short of mind-boggling, and the rate of change being exponential, 2015 was by definition the busiest year yet. So before the Gregorian calendar keels over into 2016, let's take a wander through some of the year's most significant, salutary and attention-grabbing examples of scientific achievement, technological innovation and human endeavor.
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Energy

First plasma from Wendelstein 7-X fusion reactor

Testing of the Wendelstein 7-x stellarator has started with a bang, albeit a very very small one, with researchers switching on the experimental fusion reactor to produce its first helium plasma at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Greifswald, Germany. After almost a decade of construction work and more than a million assembly hours, the first tests have gone according to plan with the researchers to shift focus to producing hydrogen plasma after the new year.Read More

Environment

Metal makes for a promising alternative to fossil fuels

Clean fuels come in many forms, but burning iron or aluminum seems to be stretching the definition – unless you ask a team of scientists led by McGill University, who see a low-carbon future that runs on metal. The team is studying the combustion characteristics of metal powders to determine whether such powders could provide a cleaner, more viable alternative to fossil fuels than hydrogen, biofuels, or electric batteries.Read More

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