Solar Storage When the Sun Goes Down

Read the full story from ASME.

That star at the center of our solar system, in addition to being the source of all life on the planet, may also be our best hope for clean, safe, and abundant energy. If we could just get the technology right it could power all our needs for the next five billion years or so. The only problem is that pesky shadow it casts on half the planet, called night; that and the clouds that dull its shine.

In short, the sun’s intermittency is holding us back. Systems using photovoltaic cells with lithium ion batteries or photosynthesis with hydrogen are inefficient and imperfect, unable to provide the uninterrupted power that modern life demands.

Now researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington may have solved that problem, at least at a small scale. Their solution essentially combines a redox flow battery, which uses a liquid electrolyte, and a solar cell. “Under light, the electrons will be stored inside the material, like in a rechargeable battery,” says Fuqiang Liu, a professor in the department of materials science and engineering at the university. “Then, when you switch to dark, those electrons will be released spontaneously.” This instant and efficient “electron storage reversibility” is the key to a seamless solar powered future.

 Hawaii’s Governor Dumps Oil and Gas in Favor of 100 Percent Renewables

Read the full story in The Nation.

At the Asia Pacific Resilience Innovation Summit held in Honolulu, Hawaii, this week, Governor David Ige dropped a bombshell. His administration will not use natural gas to replace the state’s petroleum-fueled electricity plants, but will make a full-court press toward 100 percent renewables by 2045. Ige’s decisive and ambitious energy vision is making Hawaii into the world’s most important laboratory for humankind’s fight against climate change. He has, in addition, attracted an unlikely and enthusiastic partner in his embrace of green energy—the US military.

Argonne researchers develop new non-precious-metal fuel cell catalyst with performance comparable to platinum

Read the full post at Green Car Congress.

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new fuel cell catalyst using earth-abundant materials with performance that is comparable to platinum in laboratory tests. The nanofibrous non-precious metal catalyst (NPMC) is synthesized by electrospinning a polymer solution containing a mixture of ferrous organometallics and metal-organic frameworks and then is thermally activated.

Here are some new tools to support local energy efficiency

Read the full post from ACEEE.

Each step of a home improvement project requires the right tool. If you are planning to put up a new set of cabinets, for example, the first step requires measuring tape, assembly of the cabinets may require a drill, and then, finally, a hammer would be needed to actually mount them. A variety of tools—the right tools—are needed to complete the task.

This logic is no different when applied to the planning, design, and implementation of energy efficiency policies. Tools can provide localities with the know-how to advance energy efficiency throughout their communities. Policymakers, for example, can be tasked with assessing what energy efficiency policies make the most sense for their community, or with identifying which local stakeholders they should engage. The extent to which communities are equipped to readily answer those questions will vary; yet, all communities stand to benefit from learning about effective policies and strategies being implemented across the country. With the addition of some new resources, ACEEE hopes to expand communities’ toolboxes and provide the tools that help them achieve lasting energy savings.

Energy Department Announces $10 Million to Advance Efficient, Environmentally-Friendly Highway Transportation Technologies

The Energy Department announced today $10 million for eight incubator projects to develop innovative solutions for efficient and environmentally-friendly vehicle technologies that will help reduce petroleum use in the United States. The funding will go toward projects that pursue breakthrough approaches to providing Americans with greater freedom of mobility and energy security, while lowering costs and reducing environmental impacts.

Through the incubator activity, the Energy Department supports innovative technologies and solutions that have the potential to help meet program goals but are not substantially represented in the current research portfolio. These projects bring a more diverse group of stakeholders and participants to address technical challenges in the vehicle research priorities. Eventually, successfully demonstrated technologies or approaches from the incubator activity may impact existing long-term technology plans and roadmaps.

Some awardees include:

  • Silatronix of Madison, Wisconsin will receive $1.3 million to develop advanced stable electrolytes for current and future high voltage (>5V) battery systems for automotive applications.
  • Polymer Plus of Valley View, Ohio will receive $1.4 million to develop multilayered film capacitors for advanced power electronics and electric motors for electric traction drives.
  • Intermolecular Inc., of San Jose, California will receive $2.5 million to develop a new family of lightweight high strength alloys for vehicle applications.
  • State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook University of Stony Brook, New York will receive $1.0 million to eliminate the need for two fuels to achieve the efficiency and emissions improvements of the reactivity controlled compression ignition (RCCI) advanced combustion by using a single fuel with onboard fuel reformation.

Read the full list of awardees.

The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. The Vehicle Technologies Office funds research and development for energy efficient and environmentally-friendly vehicle technologies. To learn more about the office, please visit the Vehicle Technologies Office website.

The price of wind energy in the U.S. hits an all-time low

Read the full story at Ensia.

States hoping to increase their share of renewable energy to achieve the emissions reduction goals set forth in the President’s recently-announced Clean Power Plan may have just received an unexpected boost from wind energy.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s “2014 Wind Technologies Market Report” released earlier this week, the prices offered by wind projects to utility purchasers in the U.S. dropped below 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first time in history.

 

Solar Decathlon: The Search for The Best Carbon-Neutral House

Read the full story in e360 Digest.

What’s the latest in well-designed, energy-efficient solar homes? The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has invited teams from colleges across the country to design and build solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The model houses designed by 15 collegiate teams will be on display and open for public tours this October in Irvine, California, where the DOE’s seventh Solar Decathlon will be taking place. In addition to functioning as comfortable homes — each must produce plenty of hot water, for example, and have working appliances for cooking, cleaning, and entertaining — the houses must produce at least as much energy as they consume. This year’s competition will, for the first time, also emphasize affordability. To earn the highest marks, each team is aiming to build a home that costs less than $250,000.