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— Science

Hybrid solar system boosts natural gas powerplant efficiency by 20 percent

By - April 17, 2013 3 Pictures
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
— Environment

Record setting small-scale solid oxide fuel cell could power neighborhoods

By - May 31, 2012 2 Pictures
A new, small-scale solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) system developed at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (DoE PNNL) could be used for household and neighborhood power generation. Fueled by methane, the system achieves an efficiency of up to 57 percent, improving on the 30 to 50 percent efficiencies seen previously in SOFC systems of similar size. The PNNL researchers say the pilot system they have built generates enough electricity to power the average American home, and can be scaled up to provide power for 50 to 250 homes. Read More
— Urban Transport

Giant plug for sealing off subway tunnels in a hurry

By - March 27, 2012 3 Pictures
What’s the best way to plug a giant hole? Why with a giant plug, of course. That’s the thinking of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), which has created just such a giant plug to contain flooding or dangerous gases in mass transit tunnels. Measuring roughly 32 feet (9.7 m) long and with a diameter of 16 feet (4.9 m), the giant plug is an enormous inflatable cylinder that can be filled with air or water in minutes to quickly seal off a section of tunnel in the event of an accident, natural disaster or terrorist attack. Read More
— Electronics

Breakthrough in development of bio-batteries

By - May 26, 2011 2 Pictures
The development of practical microbial fuel cells took a big step forward this week. Research conducted by a team of scientists from England’s University of East Anglia was published on Monday (May 23), in which they revealed that they had discovered “the exact molecular structure of the proteins which enable bacterial cells to transfer electrical charge.” Scientists possessing this knowledge can now start working on technology for tethering bacteria directly to electrodes, which could lead to much more efficient microbial fuel cells – also known as bio-batteries. Read More
— Electronics

Wax and soap could help build a better rechargeable battery

By - August 12, 2010 1 Picture
Rechargeable lithium ion batteries are used in everything from mobile phones to cars. Most of the batteries available today are designed with an oxide of metal such as cobalt, nickel, or manganese, which adds to their cost. Researchers looking for lower-priced alternatives to existing lithium ion-metal oxide batteries have discovered that a little wax and soap can help build electrodes and will allow battery developers to explore lower-priced alternatives to the lithium ion-metal oxide batteries currently on the market. Read More
— Science

Nanostructure coatings remove heat four times faster

By - June 10, 2010 1 Picture
In a finding that could well revolutionize cooling technology as we know it, researchers at Oregon State University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have discovered a way to achieve near-optimal heat dissipation by applying a nanostructured coating. Because of performance, versatility and economy of materials used, their method could soon lead to better electronics, heating and air conditioning. Read More
— Science

Brighter, whiter clouds could fight global warming

By - February 22, 2010 1 Picture
Scientists in the US have been cloud-spotting over shipping lanes and have noticed something more interesting than teddy-bear shapes and faces. They have detected that rising steam from passing ships has caused brightening in the clouds which they theorize alters the reflectivity of the cloud and prevents the energy from reaching the Earth. They propose that if this could be achieved artificially via geoengineering it could be an effective defense against global warming. Read More
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