Energy resources

  • Using biological organisms to convert natural gas to liquid transportation fuel

    Researchers will use their expertise in protein expression, enzyme engineering, and high-throughput assays as part of a multiproject, $34 million effort by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) aimed at developing advanced biocatalyst technologies that can convert natural gas to liquid fuel for transportation.

  • DOE to resume transient testing of nuclear fuels and materials

    Transient testing of nuclear fuel involves placing fuel or material into the core of a nuclear reactor and subjecting it to short bursts of intense, high-power radiation in order to analyze the effects of the radiation. The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Transient Reactor Test Facility began operating on 23 February 1959 and was a principal reactor safety testing facility in the United States for thirty-five years. The U.S. Department of Energy invites the public to read and comment on a draft environmental assessment it has prepared for a proposal to resume transient testing of nuclear fuels and materials.

  • U.S. oil production exceeds imports for first time in two decades

    The United States is well on its way to energy independence, with the Obama administration announcing Wednesday that domestic oil production surpassed imports for the first time in nearly two decades. A report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) offers proof that the United States has managed both to increase domestic oil and gas drilling and reduce the nation’s carbon emissions, which have dropped to a 20-year low. Since 2008, U.S. crude oil output has increased 50 percent, while imports have fallen about 20 percent.

  • Drive-by charging: Advancing wireless power transfer for vehicles

    Researchers have developed new technology and techniques for transmitting power wirelessly from a stationary source to a mobile receiver — moving engineers closer to their goal of creating highway “stations” that can recharge electric vehicles wirelessly as the vehicles drive by.

  • Japan hopes off-shore wind turbines can replace shut-down nukes

    Japan inaugurated a floating offshore wind turbine on Monday, symbolizing the country’s effort to reduce its dependency on nuclear energy and fossil fuels and shift to renewable energy sources. The floating platform is anchored thirteen miles offshore from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which has been out of commission since the reactor’s meltdown disasterof March 2011. The platform is anchored to the seabed 400 feet below surface. It is the first project of its kind in Japan, and it aims to show that the country can exploit the country’s powerful offshore winds to create a sustainable energy source.

  • Climate scientists say renewables are not enough

    Some of the world’s top climatologists have declared their support for nuclear energy as a complementary energy source, alongside wind and solar as energy, which would cut fossil fuel pollution and reduce the growth of global warming. The scientists say that opposing fossil fuels and promoting renewable energy sources offer but a limited solution.

  • U.S. mix of fuels used for power generation is changing

    The mix of fuels used to generate the electricity in homes, factories, and businesses across the United States has changed in the past few years as coal, still the largest single fuel used for electricity, has lost some of its share of the generation market to natural gas and non-hydroelectric renewables.

  • Safe long-term CO2 storage possible

    Since 2004, the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) has led an international research network to investigate the geological storage of the greenhouse gas (CCS, for carbon capture and storage). GFZ’s scientists say that their work at the Ketzin site, 40 km west of Berlin, has shown that geological CO2 storage on a pilot scale can be done safely and reliably.

  • Wireless device converts wasted energy into electric power

    Using inexpensive materials configured and tuned to capture microwave signals, researchers have designed a power-harvesting device with efficiency similar to that of modern solar panels. The device wirelessly converts the microwave signal to direct current voltage capable of recharging a cell phone battery or other small electronic device.

  • Reducing volume of nuclear waste by 90 percent possible

    Engineers have developed a way significantly to reduce the volume of some higher activity wastes, which will reduce the cost of interim storage and final disposal. The researchers have shown that mixing plutonium-contaminated waste with blast furnace slag and turning it into glass reduces its volume by 85-95 percent. It also effectively locks in the radioactive plutonium, creating a stable end product.

  • Water shortage hobbles expansion of shale gas drilling

    Many point to the large reserves of shale gas as promising U.S. energy independence in the near future. Extracting shale gas, however, requires huge amounts of water, and growing water shortages have already led to conflicts over water use between shale gas developers and farmers. Such conflicts are only going to intensify.

  • “Hybrid” nuclear plants could make a dent in carbon emissions

    Combining nuclear with artificial geothermal, shale oil, or hydrogen production could help slow climate change, study shows. MIT’s Charles Forsberg proposes marrying a nuclear powerplant with another energy system, which he argues could add up to much more than the sum of its parts.

  • Scientists: Shale oil and gas may not be U.S. energy salvation

    After ten years of production, shale gas in the United States cannot be considered commercially viable, scientists say. They argue that while the use of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling for “tight oil” is an important contributor to U.S. energy supply, it is not going to result in long-term sustainable production or allow the United States to become a net oil exporter.

  • Urban underground water can be used for sustainable energy

    Vast energy sources are slumbering below big cities. Sustainable energies for heating in winter and cooling in summer may be extracted from heated groundwater aquifers. Researchers developed an analytical heat flux model and found that increasing heat in the underground is mainly caused by an increase in surface temperatures and heat release from buildings.

  • Russia to build floating nuclear power plants

    Global warming is opening the Arctic Ocean to shipping – and causing the rapid melting of Arctic ice. Russia says that ship-based nuclear power plants would allow it to provide power to remote cities in Siberia, and provide power to oil and gas drilling operations in the Arctic (about 30 percent of the world’s unclaimed natural gas is in the Arctic, and about, 60 percent of that unclaimed natural gas is in the Russian Arctic). Experts worry about the ability of ship-based nuclear reactor to withstand extreme weather events, or terrorist attacks. The U.S. Army deployed its own floating nuclear reactor – the Sturgis – in the Panama Canal Zone from 1968 to 1976.