Energy resources

  • Weatherizing U.S. homes to uniform standard to save $33 billion a year

    The U.S. residential sector — 113 million homes — uses about 23 percent of total U.S. source energy annually (source energy includes site energy, the energy consumed by buildings for heating and electricity, as well as the raw energy required to transmit, deliver and produce it). A new study finds that upgrading buildings’ airtightness to a uniform level could achieve as much as $33 billion in annual energy savings.

  • U.S. formulates strategy for a new Arctic landscape

    U.S. national security officials have become increasingly concerned about the national security implications of an ice-free Arctic. The Arctic will become ice-free during the summer by mid-decade. In a strategy document, the Pentagon says: “Melting sea ice in the Arctic may lead to new opportunities for shipping, tourism, and resource exploration, but the increase in human activity may require a significant increase in operational capabilities in the region in order to safeguard lawful trade and travel and to prevent exploitation of new routes for smuggling and trafficking.”


  • U.S. nuclear power industry facing growing challenges

    The U.S. nuclear industry is scaling back expectations on the future of the industry, expectations which only a few were soaring. The availability of cheaper energy alternatives, a growing trend toward energy conservation, and renewed safety and health worries as a result of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plantaccident, are all reasons for why active nuclear plants are being forced to close, and why fewer energy companies are investing in new nuclear plants or upgrading existing ones.

  • Renewable fuel standard: mend it, don’t end it

    Congress should minimally modify — and not, as petroleum-related interests have increasingly lobbied for, repeal — the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the most comprehensive renewable energy policy in the United States, according to a new paper. The paper argues that RFS mandates merely ought to be adjusted to reflect current and predicted biofuel commercialization realities.

  • Sea power: extracting energy from ocean waves

    As sources of renewable energy, sun and wind have one major disadvantage: it is not always sunny or windy. Waves in the ocean, on the other hand, are never still. Researchers are now aiming to use waves to produce energy by making use of contact electrification between a patterned plastic nanoarray and water.

  • Research investments, growing markets drive rise in energy patents

    Innovation in energy technology is booming, according to a new paper which examines what factors set the pace for energy innovation. The study finds that investments in research and development, as well as in the growth of markets for these products, have helped to spur this dramatic growth in innovation.

  • Radioactive shale gas contaminants seep into a Pennsylvania creek

    Researchers examined the quality of shale gas wastewater from hydraulic fracturing and the stream water above and below the disposal site in western Pennsylvania. Elevated levels of radioactivity, salts, and metals have been found in river water and sediments at a site where treated water from oil and gas operations is discharged into a creek.

  • Harnessing lightning power to charge a mobile phone

    Scientists from the University of Southampton have collaborated with Nokia on ground-breaking, proof-of-concept research into harnessing the power of lightning for personal use, an industry first that could potentially see consumers tap one of nature’s significant energy sources to charge their devices in a sustainable manner.

  • 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.