Christian Ridley for Newsweek: Algal biofuels are in trouble. This alternative fuel source could help reduce overall carbon emissions without taking land from food production, like many crop-based biofuels do. But several major companies including Shell and ExxonMobil are seemingly abandoning their investments in this environmentally friendly fuel. So why has this promising technology failed to deliver, and what could be done to save it?
Algae are photosynthetic organisms related to plants that grow in water and produce energy fromcarbon dioxide and sunlight. Single-celled microalgae can be used to produce large amounts of fat, which can be converted into biodiesel, the most common form of biofuel. There are many possible ingredients for making biofuels, from corn to used cooking oil. But algae are particularly interesting because they can be grown rapidly and produce large amounts of fuel relative to the resources used to grow them (high productivity). Cont'd...
CPH Post: Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have discovered a natural process they are calling ‘reverse photosynthesis’. They have observed how the energy in solar rays breaks down rather than builds up plant material, as happens in photosynthesis.
Sunlight is collected by chlorophyll, and when combined with a specific enzyme the energy breaks down plant biomass. The resulting product can then be used as a biofuel.
By increasing production speed while reducing pollution, the discovery has the potential to revolutionise industrial production.
“This is a game-changer, one that could transform the industrial production of fuels and chemicals, thus serving to reduce pollution significantly,” said Claus Felby, the University of Copenhagen professor who headed up the research.
“It has always been right under our noses,” he said. “Photosynthesis by way of the sun doesn’t just allow things to grow – the same principles can be applied to break plant matter down, so that the immense energy in solar light can be used so that processes can take place without additional energy inputs.” Cont'd...
Anna Hirtenstein for Bloomberg Business: If you’re a power plant developer, chances are you’ll be selling renewables in a developing nation in the decades ahead -- even with fossil fuel prices bumping along historic lows.
That’s been the conclusion for some time of the International Energy Agency and independent researchers such as Bloomberg New Energy Finance. A report out Thursday from the United Nations Environment Program using BNEF data gives more statistical backing for the trends.
For the first time in 2015, more investment went into renewables than fossil fuels, and most of the money went to emerging markets. BNEF is hosting a conference in New York starting April 4 to bring together executives and bankers attempting to generate value from the boom.
Chelsea Harvey for The Washington Post: On Friday, United Airlines will launch a new initiative that uses biofuel to help power flights running between Los Angeles and San Francisco, with eventual plans to expand to all flights operating out of LAX. It's the first time an American airline will begin using renewable fuel for regular commercial operations, and the occasion is part of a bigger movement when it comes to clean transportation in the U.S.
The renewable fuel used to power United's planes will be coming from a Los Angeles refinery operated by AltAir Fuels, which is using the facility to produce both renewable jet fuel and diesel fuel using a technology developed by Honeywell UOP, a major supplier and technology licenser in the petroleum industry. Back in 2013, AltAir and United announced their partnership, in which United will purchase up to 15 million gallons of biofuel over a three-year period.
Friday's launch will be the first application of that agreement. The flights will use a mixture of 30 percent biofuel and 70 percent traditional fuel, and United says that the biofuel will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 60 percent compared with regular fuel. Cont'd...
Adele Peters for Co-Exist: Less than a year after Tesla unveiled its Powerwall battery for storing electricity at home, a startup has designed a much cheaper alternative that you can plug in yourself, without an electrician.
The modular batteries, called Orison, can be hung on the wall or set on the ground to double as an LED lamp. If you want more power, you just add the units together.
"Think of Orison like Legos," says co-founder and CEO Eric Clifton. "The 2.2 kilowatt-hour unit is really just one piece, so you can actually add as many as you need." The 2.2 kilowatt-hour version is as large as the company could make one unit and keep it under 40 pounds, so it could be easily shipped and moved.
With one unit, if your power went out in a storm, you could keep an energy-efficient refrigerator running for about two days. If you want to back up everything in your house, you'd connect a long series of batteries together.
For someone with solar panels on the roof, the batteries can store power to use at night. Right now, most people can sell extra solar power back to the grid when they're not using it, but many state laws are about to change so people will make less money. Batteries can help solar homeowners save money by making use of the power they've generated. Cont'd...
Oliver Milman for The Guardian: A bipartisan group of governors from 17 states has pledged to accelerate their efforts to create a green economy in the US by boosting renewables, building better electricity grids and cutting emissions from transport.
An accord signed by the governors states that the US must “embrace a bold vision of the nation’s energy future” by reducing emissions, transitioning to clean energy sources and ensuring that infrastructure isn’t risked by extreme weather events such as floods and wildfires.
The agreement sets out commitments to expand renewable energy and energy efficiency and integrate solar and wind generation into electricity grids. These grids will be “modernized”, the accord states, to improve energy reliability. Cont'd...
Tina Casey for CleanTechnica: The algae biofuel market is still in play even though the global petroleum market shows no real signs of lifting itself out of the doldrums, as two examples from different ends of the Earth illustrate. Over in Australia, researchers have come up with a new, low cost way to raise algae for biofuel, and here in the US the Department of Energy is moving forward with a new grant program to fund commercially viable algae production. Cont'd...
Overcoming the First Cost Barrier to Ground Source Heat Pump Technology: The Utility Ground Loop Service Provider Concept
Peter Dockrill for ScienceAlert: Urban environments are often hotter than rural areas due to the way city structures trap and generate excess heat. This phenomenon, called urban heat islands, was first observed in the 1800s, but a new way of gauging it could help us make the most of this untapped source of geothermal energy.
Scientists in Germany and Switzerland have developed a means of estimating groundwater temperature hidden under the surface of our cities, based on surface temperatures and the density of buildings as measured by satellites.
A range of factors, including population density, vegetation levels, surface sealing, industrial structures, and transport all contribute to why cities are often hotter than the country.
But while scientists have long used satellites to measure heat on the surface, the relationship between ground temperatures and underground temperatures has not been fully explored. Cont'd...
Records 16 to 30 of 94