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Posts

April 08, 2014

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8:44 PM | Dynamic geology at AAPG
Brad Moorman stands next to his 48 inch (122 cm) Omni Globe spherical projection system on the AAPG exhibition floor, greeting passers by drawn in by its cycling animations of dynamic plate reconstructions. His map-lamp projects evolutionary visions of geologic processes like a beacon of inspiration for petroleum explorers. I've attended several themed sessions over the first day and a half at AAPG and the ones that have stood out for me have had this same appeal. Computational […]
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8:21 PM | Study Reveals Causes of Dye-Sensitized Solar Cell Degradation
Researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) have made a surprising discovery about the degradation of dye-sensitized solar cells that could help pave the way to prolonging the lifetime of these cells. Read more »

Ono, L., Schulz, P., Endres, J., Nikiforov, G., Kato, Y., Kahn, A. & Qi, Y. (2014). Air-Exposure-Induced Gas-Molecule Incorporation into Spiro-MeOTAD Films, The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, 1374-1379. DOI:

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6:09 PM | Gold Coating to Reduce Glare From Solar Panels
A new work by UC Irvine scientists could reduce glare from solar panels and electronic displays and dull dangerous glints on military weapons. Read more »

Toma, M., Loget, G. & Corn, R. (2013). Fabrication of Broadband Antireflective Plasmonic Gold Nanocone Arrays on Flexible Polymer Films, Nano Letters, 13 (12) 6164-6169. DOI:

Toma, M., Loget, G. & Corn, R. (2014). Flexible Teflon Nanocone Array Surfaces with Tunable Superhydrophobicity for Self-Cleaning and Aqueous Droplet Patterning, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2147483647. DOI:

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4:22 PM | Report Shows Ways for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles to Save Fuel
Expanding the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel and greater use of aerodynamic devices on trailers are among the strategies recommended by a new National Research Council report for reducing fuel consumption by tractor-trailers, transit buses, commercial vehicles, trucks, and other medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Read more »
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3:10 PM | Statoil: “There Is a Pressing Need to Change Europe’s Energy Policy”
According to a press-release by Statoil, there is a pressing need to change Europe’s energy policy framework to make it more predictable and market oriented. Read more »
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2:46 PM | Pebble Mine Hits Rock Bottom
By Susan Cosier Plans to dig a massive open-pit gold and copper mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay continue to falter. Yesterday, the latest axe fell when mining goliath Rio Tinto joined other major investors in deciding to withdrawal its 19 percent share from the project.If built (which looks increasing less likely—yay!), Pebble Mine would span 186 square miles, the size of 90,000 football fields, and threaten the most productive salmon fishery on […]
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2:24 PM | El Niño Es Mucho Big-o, Pebble Mine Pull-Out, Water Ain't Never Looked So Good
By Jason Bittel Another one bites the dust: Yet another major investor in Alaska’s controversial Pebble Mine project has pulled out this week. Rio Tinto says it will divest its 19 percent stake and donate its shares to the Alaska Community Foundation and the Bristol Bay Native Corporation Education Foundation. Could this mean Pebble Mine has finally hit rock bottom? Let's hope so. OnEarthBetter safe than sorrier?: In the aftermath of Japan’s […]

April 07, 2014

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8:54 PM | Hacking logs
Over the weekend, 6 intrepid geologist-geeks gathered in a coworking space in the East Downtown area of Houston. With only six people, I wasn't sure we could generate the same kind of creative buzz we had at the geophysics hackathon last September. But sitting with other geoscientists and solving problems with code works at any scale.  The theme of the event was 'Doing cool things with log data'. There were no formal teams and no judging round. Nonetheless, some paired up in loose […]
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6:53 PM | Researchers Use Sun to Make Solar Energy Materials
Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered a way to tap the sun not only as a source of power, but also to directly produce the solar energy materials that make this possible. Read more »

Kim, K., Oleksak, R., Pan, C., Knapp, M., Kreider, P., Herman, G. & Chang, C. (2014). Continuous synthesis of colloidal chalcopyrite copper indium diselenide nanocrystal inks, RSC Advances, 4 (32) 16418. DOI:

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5:58 PM | New Electrolyte to Enable Fast-Charging Li-Ion Batteries
Scientists in Japan have developed an innovative electrolyte that may be the key to the next great breakthrough in advanced lithium-ion batteries. Read more »

Yamada, Y., Furukawa, K., Sodeyama, K., Kikuchi, K., Yaegashi, M., Tateyama, Y. & Yamada, A. (2014). Unusual Stability of Acetonitrile-Based Superconcentrated Electrolytes for Fast-Charging Lithium-Ion Batteries, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 136 (13) 5039-5046. DOI:

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4:42 PM | ‘The Facts Are Not Enough’
By Jeff Turrentine A week ago the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its most recent report on the wide-ranging impacts of global warming. The general tone, suffice it to say, wasn’t cheerful, relying on descriptions of troubling real-life phenomena that, until recently, seemed the province of dystopian science fiction. But even amidst all the doom and gloom, there’s reason for optimism, says Katharine Hayhoe. She’s a […]
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4:41 PM | Multi-Gene Engineering Could Boost Seed Oil Content in Oilseed Crops
A team of researchers from Rothamsted Research, one of the oldest agricultural research institutions in the world, have published the first study to target multiple genes that control a series of important steps in the pathway for seed oil production (see footnote). Read more »

van Erp, H., Kelly, A., Menard, G. & Eastmond, P. (2014). Multi-gene engineering of triacylglycerol metabolism boosts seed oil content in Arabidopsis, PLANT PHYSIOLOGY, DOI:

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3:00 PM | Startup to Bring Ultra-Low-Power Batteryless Sensors to Market
PsiKick, an ultra-low-power wireless sensor company co-founded by a University of Michigan professor, has completed Series A, or first-round, funding. Read more »
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2:29 PM | RIP Peter Matthiessen, Bison NOT Fleeing Yellowstone, Best Late Excuse Ever: 'Sorry...Had to Midwife for a Shark'
By Jason Bittel Fracking fumes: Thanks to the Clean Air Act, environmental regulators have gotten really good at checking the air for toxins. Problem is the tests they use either gather data over 24-hour cycles or average the results taken over several days, and according to a new study, such tests may miss the sporadic emission spikes that last only an hour or a matter of minutes. Such spikes are more typical of fracking operations and might account for […]

April 04, 2014

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6:12 PM | New Thin Film Solar Cell Efficiency Record Announced
Japanese company Solar Frontier announced a new world record conversion efficiency for thin-film-photovoltaic technologies at the 5th International Workshop on CIGS Solar Cell Technology organized by Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB). Read more »
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5:14 PM | Weekend Reads: West Virginia Is FUBAR, Bill Nye Rises Again, Prairies ... More than Just Grass
By Jason Bittel Chemical ValleyEver since Freedom Industries allowed a cocktail of coal-washing chemicals to contaminate West Virginia’s water supply in January, we’ve learned one horrifying detail after another about the state’s relationship with big business. Now Evan Osnos has assembled them all on a timeline, and tthe story that emerges is like something out of House of Cards. Dig in for a wild, sad ride full of backroom deals, […]
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3:44 PM | Clean Edge: Solar Deployment Exceeds Wind in 2013
More new solar photovoltaic (PV) generating capacity was added throughout the globe than wind energy in 2013, according to the Clean Energy Trends 2014 report issued by clean-tech research and advisory firm Clean Edge, Inc. Read more »
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2:07 PM | Beefalo Trample the Grandest Canyon, Polluters Pay Up Big Time, Freaky Frog Friday!
By Jason Bittel Book, thrown: The Justice Department is forcing Anadarko Petroleum, a company with its fingers in everything from wood treatment to rocket fuel processing, to shell out $5.15 billion to clean up the mess it’s made across the United States over the last 85 years. The environmental cash settlement is the largest in history, and it is well deserved by these ne're-do-wells. Anadarko’s rap sheet includes radioactive waste piles in […]
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1:55 PM | Analysis: U.S. Energy Use Increased in 2013
Americans used more renewable, fossil and even nuclear energy in 2013, according to the most recent energy flow charts released by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Read more »

April 03, 2014

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8:13 PM | Greenpeace Ranks Internet Companies by Clean Energy Use
In its new report called “Clicking Clean: How Companies are Creating the Green Internet,” Greenpeace uses information provided by the internet companies to determine whether those companies are using dirty or clean energy. Read more »
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7:21 PM | Scientists Determine Most Favorable Wind Turbine Positioning
A team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) has developed a new way to study wake effects that takes into account the airflow both within and around a wind farm and challenges the conventional belief that turbines arrayed in checker board patterns produce the highest power output. Read more »

Stevens, R., Gayme, D. & Meneveau, C. (2014). Large eddy simulation studies of the effects of alignment and wind farm length, Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, 6 (2) 23105. DOI:

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6:48 PM | Looking forward to AAPG
Today we're en route to the AAPG Annual Convention & Exhibition (the ACE) in Houston. We have various things going on before it and after it too, so we're in Houston for 10 days of geoscience. Epic! The appetizers On Friday we're hosting a 'learning geoscience programming' bootcamp at START, our favourite Houston coworking space. Then we roll straight into our weekend programming workshop — Rock Hack — also at START. Everyone is welcome — programming newbies, […]
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5:11 PM | Chicago-Style Petcoke Politics
By Susan Cosier On windy days in the Windy City (which happen a lot, as you might imagine), an oily dust wafts into the air and settles on rooftops, patio furniture, and playgrounds all across Chicago’s Southeast Side. When wiped away, the dust leaves a dark smear. This is not a natural phenomenon. The residue comes from petroleum coke, or petcoke, a byproduct of refined oil (particularly tar sands oil) that energy companies like KCBX, owned by the […]
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4:39 PM | New Anode and Cathode Materials to Improve Li-Ion Batteries
Researchers at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering have improved the performance and capacity of lithium batteries by developing better-performing, cheaper anode and cathode materials for use in anodes and cathodes (negative and positive electrodes, respectively). Read more »

Ge, M., Lu, Y., Ercius, P., Rong, J., Fang, X., Mecklenburg, M. & Zhou, C. (2014). Large-Scale Fabrication, 3D Tomography, and Lithium-Ion Battery Application of Porous Silicon, Nano Letters, 14 (1) 261-268. DOI:

Rong, J., Ge, M., Fang, X. & Zhou, C. (2014). Solution Ionic Strength Engineering As a Generic Strategy to Coat Graphene Oxide (GO) on Various Functional Particles and Its Application in High-Performance Lithium–Sulfur (Li–S) Batteries, Nano Letters, 14 (2) 473-479. DOI:

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4:29 PM | The Redeemers
By Lynell George On the outskirts of Los Angeles’s Chinatown, in an industrial neighborhood of low-slung, graffiti-bombed buildings made of cinderblock and corrugated steel, three men are hard at work inside a warehouse. Though they’re surrounded by all manner of computer, communications, and video technology—keyboards and cell phones and screens are everywhere—not one of them is typing a word or crunching any numbers. If it’s […]
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3:16 PM | Iron, Carbon May Replace Platinum as PEM Fuel Cell Catalysts
A research team from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) has discovered a new type of iron and carbon-based catalyst, which is stable and active in both acidic and alkaline media, and may even eliminate the need for platinum in catalysts and thus revolutionize the proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell industry. Read more »

Hu, Y., Jensen, J., Zhang, W., Cleemann, L., Xing, W., Bjerrum, N. & Li, Q. (2014). Inside Back Cover: Hollow Spheres of Iron Carbide Nanoparticles Encased in Graphitic Layers as Oxygen Reduction Catalysts (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 14/2014), Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 53 (14) 3749-3749. DOI:

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2:41 PM | A Sinking City, a Seaside Peepshow, Hello Eagle Cam! (Goodbye Productivity)
By Jason Bittel Pipeline prosecution: A natural gas pipeline burst in a San Francisco neighborhood about four years ago, killing eight people and injuring dozens more. This week, a court ruled that the pipeline’s owner, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., was responsible for the blast and charged the company with 12 felony violations of federal pipeline safety laws. While the fines only come to around $6 million, the charges are viewed by most as an […]

April 02, 2014

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9:34 PM | Nanoporous silicon a promising material for next-generation lithium-ion batteries
Tiny batteries for your cell phone or camera that can hold days of charge?  Although it may seem like fantasy, this is the goal for researchers looking into new materials for lithium (Li) – ion batteries.  Current state-of-the-art technology uses … Continue reading →

Ge, M., Lu, Y., Ercius, P., Rong, J., Fang, X., Mecklenburg, M. & Zhou, C. (2014). Large-Scale Fabrication, 3D Tomography, and Lithium-Ion Battery Application of Porous Silicon, Nano Letters, 14 (1) 261-268. DOI:

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7:30 PM | Using More Wood for Construction Can Reduce Fossil Fuel Consumption
A Yale University-led study has found that using more wood and less steel and concrete in building and bridge construction would substantially reduce fossil fuel consumption and global carbon dioxide emissions. Read more »

Oliver, C., Nassar, N., Lippke, B. & McCarter, J. (2014). Carbon, Fossil Fuel, and Biodiversity Mitigation With Wood and Forests, Journal of Sustainable Forestry, 33 (3) 248-275. DOI:

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5:46 PM | March, 2014: This Month in Energy
Energy experts react to the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea; the EU seeks to reduce its dependence on Russian natural gas imports; two studies show that wind energy can become, or already is, a viable alternative to fossil fuels; new technologies switch the focus away from conventional onshore natural gas production. We have collected all these stories and more of the most important energy news of the past month conveniently in one place for you to read. Read more »
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