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US Department of Energy

Back in 2009, the US Department of Energy issued its SuperTruck Challenge. The program provided funding for truck manufacturers to design and build a prototype vehicle that was at least 50 percent more freight-efficient than a baseline 2009 truck. Daimler Trucks North America recently unveiled its response – the Freightliner SuperTruck. It goes beyond the 50 percent figure, with a claimed efficiency increase of 115 percent. Read More
Dendrites – thin conductive filaments that form inside lithium batteries – reduce the life of these cells and are often responsible for them catching fire. Scientists working at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) of the US Department of Energy claim to have produced a new electrolyte for lithium batteries that not only completely eliminates dendrites, but also promises to increase battery efficiency and vastly improve current carrying capacity. Read More
It stands to reason that if you had a big enough 3D printer, one of the first things you would do is print a replica of a vintage 1965 Shelby Cobra sportscar, and that's what the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) did for the 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The result of a project that took only six weeks from conception to finished product, the vehicle not only celebrates the Shelby Cobra's 50th anniversary, but also acts as a demonstration of modern additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping technology. Read More
The key factor when it comes to solar power plant efficiency – be they of the photovoltaic or concentrated solar power variety – is the amount of light that can be captured by the light-absorbing material and converted into electricity or heat. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have developed a new nanoparticle-based material that promises to improve the efficiency of CSP plants with its ability to absorb and convert over 90 percent of the sunlight it captures into heat. Read More
Researchers at Ohio State University (OSU) have created a dye-sensitized solar cell that stores its own power by "breathing" air to decompose and re-form lithium peroxide. Its creators believe the device, which effectively combines a battery and a solar cell in one, could reduce renewable energy costs by 25 percent. Read More
Suppose you were a first responder, who got called out to investigate a suspicious substance found in a public place. Instead of having to transport that material back to the lab, wouldn't it be better if you could just take a microscope image of it with your smartphone, email that image off to a remote lab, then receive the analysis within just a few minutes while you were still on location? Thanks to a very inexpensive new phone attachment developed at the US Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), that could soon be possible. Read More
In what may be one of the most mind-bogglingly surreal experiments ever floated, scientists at the US Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) will attempt to discover if the universe is "real" or merely a holographic 3-D illusion that we just think is real. Using high-powered lasers, the scientists intend to determine if space-time is a quantum system made up of countless tiny bits of information. Read More
There may soon be a new use for discarded tires ... besides turning them into mattresses for cows, that is. Researchers from the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have devised a method of harvesting the carbon black from them, and using it to make anodes for better-performing lithium-ion batteries. Read More
The three main components of a battery's makeup: the anode, cathode and the ion-conducting electrolyte, have been long understood to serve separate, independent functions. A team of researchers at the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is seeking to challenge this theory, experimenting with a dual functioning electrolyte that supplements the cathode to significantly improve the capacity and longevity of long-life batteries. Read More
For the past 26 years, the US Department of Energy (DOE), in partnership with the North American auto industry, has sponsored Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs) to provide the next generation of automotive engineers with a practical learning experience. The previous EcoCAR Challenge saw students convert and massage GM Malibus into super-efficient models, and this time for EcoCAR 3, teams are tasked with updating the iconic Chevrolet Camaro muscle car into a hybrid-electric vehicle. Read More