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Latest Energy News | World News

  • Boeing Begins New Biofuel Project Using Cooking Oil

    Published: 23 October 2014

    Boeing and the Chinese airplane manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corp. (COMAC) are working together on a biofuel project that would turn China’s rivers of used cooking fat, known as “gutter oil,” into nearly 2 billion liters of jet fuel a year.Reusing cooking oil is nothing new. Oil, after all, is combustible, whether it’s made from vegetables or long-dead animal life, and environmental news is full of stories about tinkers who buy a few gallons of used oil from a fast-food joint to fuel their refitted jalopies.In this case, though, Boeing and COMAC have set up a plant in Hangzhou, in southeastern…

  • Silicon Stretching Could Mean Much Cheaper Solar Energy

    Published: 23 October 2014

    Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have developed a commonsense way to lower the cost of solar panels, focusing on their most expensive component: silicon.“We’re using less expensive raw materials and smaller amounts of them [and] we have fewer production steps and our total energy consumption is potentially lower,” Fredrik Martinsen and Ursula Gibson of NTNU’s Department of Physics said in a statement.Gibson and Martinsen say they’ve developed a processing technique that produces solar cells from silicon 1,000 times less pure than what’s now considered essential for making the panels. As a result, the silicon is…

  • Solar Could Compete With Gas On Price By As Early As 2025

    Published: 23 October 2014

    Credi: ShutterstockThe price of utility-scale solar power is 59 percent below where analysts thought it would be at this point back in 2010.That’s the word from a new report out of the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). Furthermore, between 2012 and 2013 alone, the price of a solar system your neighbor or your local businesses owner might install on their roof dropped 12 to 15 percent. And depending on where it’s located and the shape of the market, it could fall another 3 to 12 percent by the end of 2014.Within the…

  • Compact Fusion Reactor Within A Decade, Says Lockheed Martin

    Published: 22 October 2014

    Lockheed Martin says it’s within a decade of producing a fusion reactor that’s 90 percent smaller than previous designs.The stakes are high, and so is the enthusiasm and skepticism about Lockheed’s announcement. After all, fusion could generate much more energy much more cleanly than today’s power plants that rely on nuclear fission.But fusion reactors are elusive. So far, no researcher has been able to wring more energy from a fusion reactor than is needed to power it up.Related: Is France’s Love Affair with Nuclear Over?Most efforts to create a fusion reactor have focused on containing hot plasma, a highly ionized…

  • Cleaning Up The Fracking Process

    Published: 22 October 2014

    Researchers at MIT and in Saudi Arabia say they have found an economical solution to cleaning out the biggest pollutant from hydraulic fracturing oil and gas wells. The pollutant is salt in the water used to fracture the rock, that’s much saltier than seawater, after leaching salts from deep below the surface.The boom in oil and gas produced through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is also a boon for meeting U.S. energy needs. The team’s new analysis appears this week in the journal Applied Energy, in a paper co-authored by MIT professor John Lienhard, postdoc Ronan McGovern, and four others.Hydraulic Fracturing…

  • Magnesium-Ion Batteries Could Be The Future Of Energy Storage

    Published: 21 October 2014

    Lithium-ion batteries are ubiquitous today, but our future, especially our automotive future, will need a different battery, one that has greater energy density, lower cost and is less prone to overheating.In the worldwide scramble to find an alternative to the lithium-ion battery, one group of researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a division of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), has focused on magnesium.The Berkeley Labs scientists believe magnesium is promising alternative because it’s based on what’s known as a “multivalent ion.” Lithium-ion (Li-ion) has a charge of +1, meaning it has only a single electron for an electrical…

  • Everyday Americans Can Now Invest In Solar Power Like Germans

    Published: 21 October 2014

    Photo Credit: ShutterstockOn top of new storage-plus-solar deals for businesses, lease-to-own models, and business partnerships, SolarCity has just cooked up a new way for everyday Americans to invest in the solar power it provides.The country’s biggest solar services firm and its leading installer of rooftop solar systems, SolarCity announced on Wednesday that it’s now offering bonds online to everyday investors, the New York Times reported. Bonds are a form of debt: the purchaser pays the bond seller a fixed amount, then the seller pays back the amount over a pre-determined amount of time (maturity) along with interest. It’s a way…

  • Britons Face Power Shortages As Two Nuclear Plants Cut Production

    Published: 20 October 2014

    Two nuclear power plants in central England that have been shut down since the summer for safety reasons will resume operations shortly, but at reduced output to limit the risk of cracks in its boilers.After a routine inspection in August found cracks in one boiler tower at Haysham 1 on England’s west coast, officials ordered the twin reactors there and at Hartlepool on the country’s east coast to shut down. When they’re restarted, they’ll run only at 75 to 80 percent capacity to prevent further cracks, according to the British utility that operates them, EDF Energy.The two plants have met…

  • New Catalyst Could Mean Cheaper Biofuels Production

    Published: 20 October 2014

    Biofuels are renewable and clean alternatives to fossil fuels, but they can be difficult to produce because their source, biomass, contains a fair amount of oxygen. That makes them less stable, too viscous and less efficient than the fuels they’re meant to replace.Using iron as a catalyst to remove the oxygen is inexpensive, but the water in organic biomass can rust the iron, canceling its effectiveness. Another metal, palladium, is rust resistant, but it’s not as efficient as iron in removing the oxygen, and it’s far more expensive than plentiful iron.So researchers at Washington State University (WSU) and the U.S.…

  • Fusion Power Race Heats Up

    Published: 20 October 2014

    "Right now, this design has the greatest potential of producing economical fusion power of any current concept," says Thomas Jarboe. (Credit: University of Washington) Fusion energy almost sounds too good to be true—zero greenhouse gas emissions, no long-lived radioactive waste, a nearly unlimited fuel supply.Perhaps the biggest roadblock to adopting fusion energy is that the economics haven’t penciled out. Fusion power designs aren’t cheap enough to outperform systems that use fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas.University of Washington engineers hope to change that. They have designed a concept for a fusion reactor that, when scaled up to the…