Posts

July 17, 2014

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12:57 AM | Linear is Beautiful: a simple relationship provides guidance for optimal battery design
It isn’t often that simple relationships are found for complex problems in physics, but scientists pay attention when they are discovered.  This is especially true in the field of materials design, in which researchers try to create materials with specific … Continue reading →

Liu, Y., Wang, Y., Yakobson, B. & Wood, B. (2014). Assessing Carbon-Based Anodes for Lithium-Ion Batteries: A Universal Description of Charge-Transfer Binding, Physical Review Letters, 113 (2) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.113.028304

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July 16, 2014

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7:46 PM | Hawaii: Climate Wipeout
By Rocky Kistner The sea-level rise that comes along with climate change won’t only swallow far-flung, exotic islands such as Kirabiti and the Maldives. The rising waters, fueled by melting icecaps, will also inundate our fiftieth state—the land of hula skirts, mai tais, and most importantly, Hawaiians. “I like to think about the islands as they once were … peopled by some of the most fearless and skilled ocean voyagers on the […]
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2:20 PM | I Brake for Humpbacks, West Nile Season, the Chillest Commute Ever
By Jason Bittel All systems go?: Japan is getting ready to flick a nuclear power plant back on for the first time since the Fukushima disaster. The 2011 meltdown led to the country shutting down 54 reactors and with them about a quarter of its energy supply. Japan's nuclear regulator says two reactors have met safety approval and are ready to send 1.78 gigawatts to the grid. The next step is to get public approval, which ... will be a tough sell. In a […]

July 15, 2014

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7:00 PM | EWEA Releases European Offshore Wind Industry Statistics
According to the report, on the first six months of 2014, Europe fully grid connected 224 offshore wind turbines in 16 commercial wind farms and one offshore demonstration site with a combined capacity totaling 781 MW.
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5:41 PM | Cheaper Platinum-Yttrium Fuel Cell Catalyst Developed
Researchers at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) report that they have developed a platinum-yttrium fuel cell catalyst which is stable, more active and less expensive than the existing platinum catalysts.

Patricia Hernandez-Fernandez, Federico Masini, David N. McCarthy, Christian E. Strebel, Daniel Friebel, Davide Deiana, Paolo Malacrida, Anders Nierhoff, Anders Bodin, Anna M. Wise, Jane H. Nielsen, Thomas W. Hansen, Anders Nilsson, Ifan E. L. (2014). Mass-selected nanoparticles of PtxY as model catalysts for ​oxygen electroreduction, Nature Chemistry, Other:

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4:32 PM | Oil consumption in US outpaces China for #1 spot
Looks like recession is ending and leading to increased oil use in the US.. or could be just because of the shale oil boom? http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20140714/americas-oil-consumption-rising-not-falling-outpacing-chinas Rühl said the rise in U.S. oil demand stemmed from industrial users of petrochemicals and other … Continue reading →
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3:40 PM | EIA: Fuel Economy Improvements Exhibit Diminishing Returns in Savings
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), fuel economy improvements show diminishing returns when it comes to fuel savings.
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2:18 PM | Save the Moon!, Baltimore's Clean Machine, Giant Snails Go on a Picnic
By Jason Bittel Beetle battle: More than a century ago, people planted tamarisk trees in the American West as a way to prevent erosion. Today the invasive tamarisks are a water-sucking scourge, with a single tree drinking up to 200 gallons a day. Efforts to combat the trees' spread have included bonfires, bulldozers, and its most fearsome enemy, the tamarisk beetle. The beetles kill tamarisks like whoa, but some locals worry the insects will turn on native […]
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2:06 PM | New Magnetic Materials Make Electric Motors More Efficient
Scientists at the University of Adelaide in Australia have used two emerging magnetic materials to make electric motors and generators more efficient.
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12:19 PM | The event that connects like the web
Last week, Matt, Ben, and I attended SciPy 2014, the 13th annual scientific computing with Python conference. On a superficial level, it was just another conference. But there were other elements, brought forth by the organizers and participants (definitely not just attendees) and slowly revealed over the week. Together, the community created the conditions for a truly remarkable experience. Immutable accessibility By design, the experience starts before the event, and continues […]

July 14, 2014

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7:51 PM | KIT Commissions Germany’s Largest Solar Power Storage Park
On the occasion of the Baden-Württemberg Sustainability Days, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) has commissioned what it claims is the Germany’s largest solar power storage park.
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6:39 PM | Engineering Professor Designs Energy Efficient Cooking Pan
A novel energy-efficient cooking pan based on research by University of Oxford Professor of Engineering Thomas Povey has been launched by Lakeland, a chain of kitchenware stores in the United Kingdom.
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5:38 PM | Scientists Find Worst Possible Place for Great Lakes Oil Spill
According to a new University of Michigan study commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation, the Straits of Mackinac, a narrow waterway that separates Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas, would be the “worst possible place for an oil spill in the Great Lakes.”
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4:05 PM | FLEXLAB Energy Efficiency Test Bed for Buildings Opens for Business
Department of Energy’s FLEXLAB—an advanced energy efficiency test bed for buildings at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)—was launched on July 10 by U.S. Department of Energy Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman.
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2:17 PM | GOP Raises Stink Over Eco Toilets, Peak Protection, Canada's Big Blemish
By Jason Bittel Shout it from the mountaintops: The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday when it concluded that the new review process for mountaintop removal permits was well within the agency’s authority under the Clean Water Act. West Virginia and Kentucky had argued that the new rules made acquiring mountaintop mining permits too difficult. (Uh, guys, that’s kind of the point.) The […]
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12:51 AM | Photosynthesis in action: new technique resolves atomic changes in undamaged photosystems
All life on Earth begins and ends with photosynthesis, the super-efficient method adopted by plants to convert light energy into its more useful sugar form, with oxygen as the serendipitous byproduct (for us, anyway).  But for so ubiquitous a phenomenon, we … Continue reading →

Kupitz, C., Basu, S., Grotjohann, I., Fromme, R., Zatsepin, N., Rendek, K., Hunter, M., Shoeman, R., White, T., Wang, D. & James, D. (2014). Serial time-resolved crystallography of photosystem II using a femtosecond X-ray laser, Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature13453

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July 11, 2014

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8:10 PM | 7/11/2014 This Week in Energy: Beyond Headlines
Here’s a bit of energy news that didn’t make it into our daily coverage during the past week. In this review, we collected some of less big, but nonetheless interesting news, of the week that went by, from the world of energy science and technology.
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7:14 PM | Carbon-Based Catalyst for Batteries, Fuel Cells Developed
Chemists at the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany, have developed a carbon-based catalyst for water electrolysis and hydrogen combustion.

Masa, J., Xia, W., Sinev, I., Zhao, A., Sun, Z., Grützke, S., Weide, P., Muhler, M. & Schuhmann, W. (2014). Mn O /NC and Co O /NC Nanoparticles Embedded in a Nitrogen-Doped Carbon Matrix for High-Performance Bifunctional Oxyg, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, DOI: 10.1002/anie.201402710

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5:48 PM | X-Rays Help Study Chemical Reactions in Fuel Cells
Using high-brilliance X-rays, scientists studied the chemical process that hydrogen fuel cells use to produce electricity.

Feng, Z., El Gabaly, F., Ye, X., Shen, Z. & Chueh, W. (2014). Fast vacancy-mediated oxygen ion incorporation across the ceria–gas electrochemical interface, Nature Communications, 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5374

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4:18 PM | Geophysics at SciPy 2014
Wednesday was geophysics day at SciPy 2014, the conference for scientific Python in Austin. We had a mini-symposium in the afternoon, with 4 talks and 2 lightning talks about posters. All the talks Here's what went on in the session... Matt Hall — Modelr seismic models Patrick Cole — PyGMI grav-mag modeling Joe Kington, Chevron — 3D seismic viz in Python Leo Uieda, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro — Fatiando poster preview (full 2013 talk) Rowan Cockett, UBC and […]
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4:09 PM | Weekend Reads: Skunk Baby Boom, Farming Without Water, In Plankton We Trust
By Jason Bittel The Next BreadbasketCould the fields of Sub-Saharan Africa feed the world? Foreign investors think so, and the land grab is already on. But according to Joel K. Bourne, Jr., bringing a green revolution to Africa is a double-edged spade for the people who live there. For some, sustainable agriculture means new technology and more food. For others, it means surrendering family farms and working under deplorable conditions. National […]
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3:05 PM | EIA: Hydropower Limited by Money, Not Resources
According to the projections made by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the growth of hydropower electricity generating capacity is limited by economics, not by the hydroelectric power potential.
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2:12 PM | Water and Ice in Hydrogen Fuel Cells Directly Imaged
Scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) have, for the first time, directly imaged the distribution of liquid water and ice in a hydrogen fuel cell.

Biesdorf, J., Oberholzer, P., Bernauer, F., Kaestner, A., Vontobel, P., Lehmann, E., Schmidt, T. & Boillat, P. (2014). Dual Spectrum Neutron Radiography: Identification of Phase Transitions between Frozen and Liquid Water, Physical Review Letters, 112 (24) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.112.248301

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1:33 PM | Save the Snot Otter! Stop Bankrolling Big Oil!, Polar Vortex: Summer Edition
By Jason Bittel Cruel summer: The same fluctuation of the jet stream that caused multiple polar vortices this winter will give the Midwest and East Coast a blast of cooler-than-normal air next week—which ironically will bring a lot of hot air from the mouths of certain conservative radio hosts. Remember everyone, a few cold snaps (no matter the time of year) don’t mean global warming isn’t happening. “This winter was a temporary cold […]

July 10, 2014

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7:43 PM | Scientists Take Snapshots of Photosynthetic Water Oxidation
An international collaboration of scientists led by researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has taken detailed “snapshots” of the four photon-step cycle for water oxidation in photosystem II, a large protein complex in green plants.

Kern, J., Tran, R., Alonso-Mori, R., Koroidov, S., Echols, N., Hattne, J., Ibrahim, M., Gul, S., Laksmono, H., Sierra, R. & Gildea, R. (2014). Taking snapshots of photosynthetic water oxidation using femtosecond X-ray diffraction and spectroscopy, Nature Communications, 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5371

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6:11 PM | Laser Helps Understand Inner Workings of Solar Panels
Believe it or not we don’t totally understand how solar cells work, particularly organic thin-film photovoltaics. But scientists Canada, London and Cyprus have recently used lasers to shed some light into the process, which could help make more efficient solar panels tomorrow.

Provencher, F., Bérubé, N., Parker, A., Greetham, G., Towrie, M., Hellmann, C., Côté, M., Stingelin, N., Silva, C. & Hayes, S. & (2014). Direct observation of ultrafast long-range charge separation at polymer–fullerene heterojunctions, Nature Communications, 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5288

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5:32 PM | Maine Is the New Florida
By Miriam Wasser Here we are, right in the thick of summer—it’s hot, it’s humid, and you break into a sweat the moment you step out of the air-conditioning. I feel for you, friend. But just imagine what it’s going to be like as climate change continues to heat things up over the coming decades. Well, now you don't have to! This infograph from Climate Central shows us how much hotter 1,001 U.S. cities are going to be in the summer […]
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5:04 PM | Night-Time Lights Intensity Indicates Regional Favoritism
Researchers at Monash University and the University of St Gallen have used satellite data on night-time light intensity and information about the birthplaces of political leaders in 126 countries to pinpoint regional favoritism.

Hodler, R. & Raschky, P. (2014). Regional Favoritism, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 129 (2) 995-1033. DOI: 10.1093/qje/qju004

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2:27 PM | EPIA Publishes Global Solar Energy Market Outlook 2014-2018
The European Photovoltaic Industry Association has just published its “Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics 2014-2018” report. The report includes solar photovoltaic market figures for 2013 and a forecast for the 2014-2018 period.
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2:22 PM | Tweety Gets Neonic-ed, Kermit Gets a Second Chance, Marvin the Martian Goes Mining
By Jason Bittel Hope for hoppers: Lab tests have revealed that when some frogs are exposed to the deadly chytrid fungus and then given a chance to heal, they develop resistance to the disease. Scientists are now optimistic that it might be possible to develop a vaccine, possibly saving hundreds of amphibian species across the world from extinction. New York Times The birds and the bees: Plenty of studies have come out in recent years showing how bad […]
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