Energy

Frack Quietly, Please: Sage Grouse Is Nesting

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Officials are considering putting the greater sage grouse on the endangered-species list — a move that could significantly affect both fossil-fuel and renewable-energy operations across the bird’s 165 million-acre range. “The sage grouse issue may finally put the brakes on the fossil-fuel industry in a way that no other factor has been able to,” says wildlife biologist Erik Molvar.

‘Microbe sniffer’ could point the way to advanced biorefining

Read the full story in Ethanol Producer Magazine.

A new biosensor invented at the University of British Columbia could help optimize biorefining processes that produce fuels, fine chemicals and advanced materials by sniffing out naturally occurring bacterial networks that are genetically wired to break down wood polymer…

The findings validating the screening were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The work was funded by Genome Canada, Genome BC and the Tula Foundation.

USDA and DOE Fund Ten New Projects in 2014 for Biomass Genomics Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced the selection of 10 projects that are being awarded funding aimed at accelerating genetic breeding programs to improve plant feedstocks for the production of biofuels, biopower, and biobased products. The investment is part of the Obama Administration’s broader effort to diversify the nation’s energy portfolio and accelerate development of new clean energy technologies designed to decrease dependence on foreign oil, providing a more secure future for America’s energy needs and enhancing rural economies.

“Innovative research is a critical link to stimulating rural economies and creating jobs across America,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “These awards are part of the Obama Administration’s ‘all of the above’ energy policy. These projects will not only support our efforts to provide a sustainable and domestic energy source for the nation, but also improve the lives of rural residents.”

“Biofuels and bio-based products offer the potential of homegrown American resources that can reduce our dependence on imported oil and also cut carbon emissions,” said Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. “This advanced research is helping us to lay the groundwork for biomass as an important part of the low-carbon future.”

The $12.6 million in research grants are awarded under a joint DOE-USDA program that began in 2006 focused on fundamental investigations of biomass genomics, with the aim of harnessing nonfood plant biomass for the production of fuels such as ethanol or renewable chemical feedstocks. Dedicated feedstock crops tend to require less intensive production practices and can grow on poorer quality land than food crops, making this a critical element in a strategy of sustainable biofuels production that avoids competition with crops grown for food.

The projects are located in California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Texas, and Virginia. DOE’s Office of Science will provide $10.6 million in funding for eight projects, while USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will award $2 million to fund two projects. Initial funding will support research projects for up to three years. The full list of awardees and project descriptions can be found online at: http://genomicscience.energy.gov/research/DOEUSDA/index.shtml.

New projects to be funded this year will build upon gains in genetic and genomic resources for bioenergy and biofuels. The projects will accelerate the breeding of optimized dedicated bioenergy feedstocks through a better understanding of complex interactions between bioenergy feedstock plants and their environment, allowing the development of new regionally-adapted bioenergy feedstock cultivars with maximal biomass or seed oil yield and traits leading to more sustainable production systems, such as minimal water usage and nutrient input requirements.

Google and EDF join to expose gas leaks under U.S. streets

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Thanks to a partnership with Google Earth Outreach, EDF has mapped thousands of natural gas leaks beneath three American cities — Boston, Indianapolis and New York City’s borough of Staten Island. Using three of the company’s famous Street View cars equipped with special sensors, we gathered millions of data points over thousands of miles of neighborhood streets.

The maps are available here, with many more to come.

How to brew beer better: Less water, less energy, more innovation

In the latest P2 Impact column for GreenBiz, Paula Del Giudice highlights the changes that breweries are making to reduce their environmental footprint.

You can view previous P2 Impact columns here.

 

ISU helps develop electricity rate database

Read the full story in the Bloomington Pantagraph.

Electricity rates from nearly 3,500 utilities across the country are now available in a free online database developed by Illinois State University in conjunction with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Getting a charge out of water droplets

Read the full story from MIT.

Last year, MIT researchers discovered that when water droplets spontaneously jump away from superhydrophobic surfaces during condensation, they can gain electric charge in the process. Now, the same team has demonstrated that this process can generate small amounts of electricity that might be used to power electronic devices.

The new findings, by postdoc Nenad Miljkovic, associate professor of mechanical engineering Evelyn Wang, and two others, are published in the journal Applied Physics Letters.

Rutgers Chemists Develop Technology to Produce Clean-Burning Hydrogen Fuel

Read the full story from Rutgers University.

Rutgers researchers have developed a technology that could overcome a major cost barrier to make clean-burning hydrogen fuel – a fuel that could replace expensive and environmentally harmful fossil fuels.

The new technology is a novel catalyst that performs almost as well as cost-prohibitive platinum for so-called electrolysis reactions, which use electric currents to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The Rutgers technology is also far more efficient than less-expensive catalysts investigated to-date…

In a recent scientific paper published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Asefa and his colleagues reported that their technology, called “noble metal-free nitrogen-rich carbon nanotubes,” efficiently catalyze the hydrogen evolution reaction with activities close to that of platinum. They also function well in acidic, neutral or basic conditions, allowing them to be coupled with the best available oxygen-evolving catalysts that also play crucial roles in the water-splitting reaction.

 

DOE loan guarantee program targets biofuels, waste-to-energy

Read the full story in Ethanol Producer Magazine.

The U.S. Department of Energy has officially opened a loan guarantee solicitation, making up to $4 million available for innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects located in the U.S. that avoid, reduce or sequester greenhouse gases. The DOE announced its intention to open the Section 1703 loan guarantee solicitation in April…

The program solicitation provides a detailed description of the application process. The DOE has announced five application schedule rounds, and noted additional rounds may be announced at a later date. The application process contains two primary parts. The Part I deadline for the first round is Oct. 1, with the Part I deadline for the fifth round on Dec. 2, 2015. The first round Part II deadline is Jan. 14, 2015, with the round five Part II deadline set for March 2, 2016.

Additional information on the solicitation and application process is available on the DOE website.

Pumping Efficiency Into Electrical Motors

Read the full story from the University of Adelaide.

University of Adelaide researchers are using new magnetic materials to develop revolutionary electrical motors and generators which promise significant energy savings.

They have used the new motors to develop patented highly efficient water pump systems with potential widespread application.