Energy resources

  • Simulation show geothermal energy potential

    Researchers in four countries are using an Idaho National Laboratory (INL) modeling program to simulate the subsurface physics important for geothermal energy extraction. The Fracturing and Liquid CONvection (FALCON) code enables simulation which is faster, simpler, and more comprehensive than previous options. It is helping researchers evaluate geothermal energy site data, and it may soon be able to offer predictions that could help improve geothermal energy output.

  • Fracking in Ohio: tapping a valuable resource or invading the environment?

    A new study is examining methane and other components in groundwater wells, in advance of drilling for shale gas which is expected over the next several years in an Ohio region. A team of researchers spent a year doing periodic testing of groundwater wells in Carroll County, Ohio, a section of Ohio that sits along the shale-rich Pennsylvania-West Virginia borders. The study analyzed twenty-five groundwater wells at varying distances from proposed fracking sites in the rural, Appalachian, Utica Shale region of Carroll County.

  • Fracking does not cause quakes, but disposing water used in the process might: scientists

    Researchers say that human activity associated with oil and gas production may sometimes cause earthquakes, but the problem lies in the disposal of drilling fluids in the underground injection wells, not hydraulic fracturing. The vast majority of injection wells do not cause quakes.

  • U.S. to face an increased risk of severe thunderstorms

    Severe thunderstorms, often exhibiting destructive rainfall, hail and tornadoes, are one of the primary causes of catastrophic losses in the United States. In 2012, eleven weather disasters in the United States crossed the billion-dollar threshold in economic losses. Seven of those events were related to severe thunderstorms. New climate analyses indicate that global warming is likely to cause a robust increase in the conditions that produce these types of storms across much of the country over the next century.

  • Calculating emissions, costs of increased wind, solar in the West

    New research quantifies the potential impacts of increasing wind and solar power generation on the operators of fossil-fueled power plants in the West. To accommodate higher amounts of wind and solar power on the electric grid, utilities must ramp down and ramp up or stop and start conventional generators more frequently to provide reliable power for their customers — a practice called cycling.

  • Missed opportunities to save water, energy

    Water and wastewater managers are missing substantial opportunities to save energy and money, according to a new report.The report also identifies significant gaps in knowledge about the amount of water used to extract energy resources such as natural gas, oil, and coal, and to generate electricity.

  • Demonstrating bioenergy technology

    Researchers plan to demonstrate an innovative bioenergy technology that converts wastewater treatment plant byproducts into hydrogen gas to produce electricity. The demonstration project will start in mid-October, and in about a year the wastewater treatment plant will be processing one ton per day of wet biosolids and will be producing up to thirty kilowatts of electricity. The electricity, in turn, will be used to power select functions at the plant.

  • Extracting maximum energy from currents

    In the long sprint to find new sources of clean, low-cost power, slow and steady may win the race — the slow-moving water of currents and tides, that is. Just as wind turbines tap into the energy of flowing air to generate electricity, hydrokinetic devices produce power from moving masses of water.

  • World's first grid-scale isothermal compressed air energy storage system

    A New Hampshire company has completed construction and begun startup of the world’s first megawatt-scale isothermal compressed air energy storage (ICAES) system. The system stores and returns megawatts of electricity to provide long-term grid stability and support integration of renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Unlike chemical battery systems, ICAES performance does not degrade over its lifetime or need frequent replacement. No hazardous materials are used.

  • Calculating the cost of a ton of mountaintop removal coal

    To meet current U.S. coal demand through surface mining, an area of the Central Appalachians the size of Washington, D.C., would need to be mined every eighty-one days. This is about sixty-eight square miles — or roughly an area equal to ten city blocks mined every hour. A 1-year supply of coal would require converting about 310 square miles of the region’s mountains into surface mines.

  • Canada addresses environmental concerns over Keystone XL

    Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper sent a letter to President Barack Obama last month offering to participate in joint efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in order to win approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Harper’s offer may allow Obama to approve the project without having to confront environmental groups.

  • Calculating the energy required to store wind and solar power on the grid

    Renewable energy holds the promise of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. There are times, however, when solar and wind farms generate more electricity than is needed by consumers. Storing that surplus energy in batteries for later use seems like an obvious solution, but a new study from Stanford University suggests that might not always be the case.

  • Future of coal in Australia riskier than renewables

    Coal-fired electricity may have little or no economic future in Australia, even if carbon capture and storage becomes commercially available, a new analysis has found. The study shows that coal with carbon capture and storage scenarios are likely to struggle to compete economically with 100 percent renewable electricity in a climate-constrained world, even if carbon capture and storage is commercialized by 2030.

  • Shale gas threatens U.S. nuclear power industry

    The U.S. nuclear industry is facing a new enemy, and it is not anti-nuclear peacenicks. It is the shale gas boom, which on Tuesday claimed yet another victim when Entergy Corporation said it would close its Vermont Yankee reactor ahead of schedule. It is the fourth U.S nuclear plant to be closed this year, as utilities have concluded that investing in refurbishing older reactors is no longer economically viable.

  • New reactor design makes nuclear power competitive with natural gas

    San Diego-based General Atomics has applied for funding of several hundred millions from the U.S Department of Energy to commercialize a nuclear reactor which, the firm claims, could cut the cost of nuclear power by as much as 40 percent. The new design replaces water with helium as a coolant, allowing the plant to operate at higher temperatures, thus increasing the efficiency of the power plan and reducing the amount of waste needing storage.