Posts

September 20, 2014

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5:52 PM | Solving the metal problem: new polymer used in organic solar cells to allow wide use of metal cathodes, improve efficiency
Organic solar cells (OSC) are an exciting next-generation option for photovoltaics.  The main advantage is that they’re cheap, easily processed using solution-based methods, which opens up many innovative applications – printable cells, even solar paint! The main issue holding OSCs back is … Continue reading →

Page, Z., Liu, Y., Duzhko, V., Russell, T. & Emrick, T. (2014). Fulleropyrrolidine interlayers: Tailoring electrodes to raise organic solar cell efficiency, Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1255826

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September 18, 2014

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8:31 PM | The Cost of Fixing Climate Change
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions could boost the economy rather than slow it, according to a new study by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. Better Growth, Better Climate: The New Climate Economy Report finds that roughly $90 trillion will be spent in the next 15 years on new infrastructure around the world. Adopting rules that redirect that…

September 17, 2014

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10:47 PM | Queensland survey reveals lukewarm view of coal seam gas
By Andrea Walton, CSIRO; Rod McCrea, CSIRO, and Rosemary Leonard, CSIRO Residents in Queensland’s Western Downs region have mixed feelings towards coal seam gas (CSG) development taking place in their midst, according to our CSIRO survey. More than two-thirds of locals described themselves as “tolerating” or “accepting” CSG, while only 22% had openly positive attitudes. […]
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4:55 PM | Photo Essay: Open House at Lamont-Doherty
Bend a rock. Channel your historic 'birthquake.' Check out rocks, fossils, sediment cores and more at Lamont's Open House on Saturday, October 11.
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3:34 PM | What Everyone Should Know About Climate Change
Climate scientist William D’Andrea of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory asked young scientists attending a symposium last October, "What do you wish everyone knew about climate change?" He turned the responses into this video, which covers the topic pretty well.
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2:54 PM | DARPA Asked This Grad Student To Design A Jetpack That Makes You Faster. He Delivered
Jason Kerestes is a graduate student studying engineering at Arizona State University. Not long ago, Jason was approached by a team from ASU’s Human Machine Integration Labs. They had heard that he owned his own welding business and wanted his help on a project they were working on designing robotic prosthetics to help amputees. The project was being funded in part by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the agency responsible for developing new […]
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12:00 AM | Betavoltaics: Water-Based Nuclear Battery Developed
We live in a battery world - just visit any airport and see people huddled around a wall outlet to witness our battery culture. Yet batteries haven't made any real improvements in decades and that holds back electric cars and solar energy and laptop computers. An old technology may finally have come of age that can help us enter the world of 21st century portable electricity - betavoltaics, a battery technology that generates power from radiation, has bee created using a water-based solution, […]

September 16, 2014

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11:11 PM | Breaking battery convention: new study indicates fast charging not necessarily detrimental to cycling lifetimes
It’s exciting in science when a conventional view is overthrown, as this opens the way for both new perspectives on old data and new experiments to design to test new theories.  A great example of this challenging of convention appears … Continue reading →

Li Y, El Gabaly F, Ferguson TR, Smith RB, Bartelt NC, Sugar JD, Fenton KR, Cogswell DA, Kilcoyne AL, Tyliszczak T & Bazant MZ (2014). Current-induced transition from particle-by-particle to concurrent intercalation in phase-separating battery electrodes., Nature materials, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25218062

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4:36 PM | faulty cement well casings cause of fracking related contamination
A new study finds that the well casing – the cement that seals the drill holes – to be the cause of fracking related water contamination.  It has been a little unclear if the well casings were the cause of … Continue reading →
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4:14 PM | The effects of windmills and other clean energy on birds
I’ve been collecting information on this topic for a while, and yesterday, I sat down to write a post that would clarify the question of the impacts of windmills on bird populations. It turns out, however, that I was totally unsatisfied with the available data on everything from windmills to building strikes to cats, so…
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8:00 AM | More Energy, Less Freedom
The writer and filmmaker Swain Wolfe spent his earliest years at a tuberculosis sanatarium near Colorado Springs, Colorado, where his father was the director. After World War II, the sanatarium closed, his parents divorced, and his mother moved Wolfe and his sister to a ranch in western Colorado and then, when Wolfe was a teenager, to Montana. […]
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8:00 AM | More Energy, Less Freedom
The writer and filmmaker Swain Wolfe spent his earliest years at a tuberculosis sanatarium near Colorado Springs, Colorado, where his father was the director. After World War II, the sanatarium closed, his parents divorced, and his mother moved Wolfe and his sister to a ranch in western Colorado and then, when Wolfe was a teenager, to Montana. […]

September 14, 2014

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3:00 PM | Using The Knapsack Problem To Cut The Carbon Cost Of The Cloud
"Nobody understands the cloud," shouts a character in a recent comedy about a couple trying to remove a private video from the Internet.  In reality, the cloud is completely understandable, and it's one of few areas in climate where the emissions costs are also. And because it is quantifiable it can benefit from combinatorial optimization. the famous rucksack problem where a traveler has to try and fit everything in without leaving anything behind.read more

September 12, 2014

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2:58 PM | Environmental Scientists Make The Environmental Case For Fracking
A strange thing happened during climate change policy debates: Advances in hydraulic fracturing - fracking - put trillions of dollars' worth of previously unreachable oil and natural gas within humanity's grasp, and using it led to reductions in CO2 in the United States.read more

September 11, 2014

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7:26 PM | U.N. Report: Carbon Dioxide Levels at Record Highs
The concentration and the rate of carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere are spiking, according to new analysis from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Scientists believe the record levels are not only the result of emissions but also of plants and oceans’ inability to absorb the excess amounts of CO2. “We know without any doubt that our climate…
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4:30 PM | Larry Gibson and the Lobster Boat
There are many brave people who recognize the climate crisis and are beginning to stand up and take personal risks to try to stop expansion of the fossil fuel industry, across the United States, in Canada, and in other nations. Their courage is remarkable and I hope it has an awakening effect.
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1:25 PM | Mountaintop removal mining: what it looks like and what it does to Appalachian streams
This semester I’m teaching Environmental Earth Science to a fantastic group of students at Kent State. In tomorrow’s class about fossil fuels, we’ll be talking about coal formation, use, and environmental consequences. A big one I think they should be … Continue reading →
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10:32 AM | What’s geology got to do with it? 5 – Scottish Independence Referendum
Flo summarises 5 geo-relevant policy issues that are likely to impact on the Scottish Independence Referendum. Sooooo apologies for the long blog holiday we’ve been on of late, Marion and I have had a fairly hectic summer, but fear not, we will be updating on a more regular basis from now on! Hitting the headlines […]
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1:30 AM | How To Get Renewable Energy Into The Grid - Without Losing Power
There are numerous methods for maintaining electricity supply when renewables are in the grid. Credit: Johan Douma/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SABy Anthony Vassallo, University of SydneyThe recent review of the Australian Renewable Energy Target has once again raised the issue of the “unreliability” of some renewable power sources such as wind and solar power. read more

September 10, 2014

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2:29 PM | Can Humans Get Used to Having a Two-Way Relationship with Earth’s Climate?
Can humans get used to having a two-way relationship with Earth's climate?
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1:00 PM | Turning Corn Cobs Into Car Fuel
Image credit:  FeeBeeDee via flickr http://bit.ly/1tyHJdD. Rights information: http://bit.ly/cGotEb. By: Laurel Hamers, Inside Science(Inside Science) -- Today, ethanol is routinely made from the kernels of corn. Eventually, though, it may be made from the husks.Starches like corn provide quick energy because they readily break down into simple sugars such as glucose. This structure also makes them easy to convert into bioethanol, an alternative to fossil fuels. read more
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2:27 AM | Climate Smart and Energy Wise
Climate Smart & Energy Wise: Advancing Science Literacy, Knowledge, and Know-How by Mark McCaffrey is a book written primarily for teachers, to give them the information and tools they need to bring the topic of climate change effectively to their classrooms. It addresses the Climate Literacy and Energy Literacy frameworks, designed to guide teaching this…

September 09, 2014

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12:57 PM | Plastics to Oil - Hype or Hope?
The Wall Street Journal had a video Q & A with Steve Russell, vice president of the American Chemistry Council regarding efforts to convert plastic waste and other elements of municipal wastestreams to oil. This process, know as Plastics-To-Oil (PTO), is done by anaerobic pyrolysis - heating the plastic up in an oxygen-free atmosphere to temperatures that degrade it to low molecular weight liquids. The technology is not all that new - I discussed it here over 2 years ago. If obviously works […]
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10:30 AM | Use Ocean Waves To Power Homes
By Karin Heineman, Inside Science (Inside Science TV) – From powering homes, to cars to phones, people across the world use vast amounts of energy. And that consumption is only growing.As energy needs increase, scientists are constantly on the hunt for new ways to meet the demand. A group of mechanical engineers may have found a new source: the ocean.“Wave energy has the potential in the U.S. to power 50 million homes," said Marcus Lehmann, a mechanical engineer at the […]

September 08, 2014

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1:00 PM | Copper Catalyst Could Make Solar Cells Cheaper
Solar cells are the future but for now they are resource-intensive, expensive and not very efficient - but the researchers in a new study can help with those first two. To make a solar cell, machines etch nanoscale spikes into a silicon wafer in order to maximize its surface area and the amount of sunlight that can reach it. Metal particles have been used as a catalyst in this process because etching is accelerated near metal particles. At first, gold was the metal of choice but that was […]
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1:00 PM | A New Study Clarifies Treatment Needs for Water from Fracked Gas and Oil Wells
A new analysis of water from fracked wells around the country clarifies treatment needs.

September 06, 2014

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6:00 PM | US opens first commercial plant that converts corn waste to fuel
The plant can produce over 750 tons of corn stover a day.

September 04, 2014

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9:45 PM | Hole no more: New perovskite solar cell design removes hole conducting layer to improve stability and decrease costs
More news on the perovskite solar cell front!  I’ve written a bit about these a bit in the past – they are the exciting newcomers to the photovoltaic scene.  At an early stage of development, they already show up to 17% efficiency, … Continue reading →

Mei, A., Li, X., Liu, L., Ku, Z., Liu, T., Rong, Y., Xu, M., Hu, M., Chen, J., Yang, Y. & Gratzel, M. (2014). A hole-conductor-free, fully printable mesoscopic perovskite solar cell with high stability, Science, 345 (6194) 295-298. DOI: 10.1126/science.1254763

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7:04 PM | EPA Considering Lower Ozone Standard, Methane Strategy
In its Policy Assessment for the Review of the Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards report—released Friday—the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests revising the health-based national ambient air quality standard for ozone. “Staff concludes that it is appropriate in this review to consider a revised primary [ozone] standard level within the range of 70 ppb [parts…
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11:55 AM | Charting connections: the next challenge for systems analysis
At a lecture for IIASA staff, mathematician Don Saari challenged researchers to think outside the box when it comes to systems analysis research. Continue reading →
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