• Improve cybersecurity in energy delivery

    Cyber networks support many important functions within energy delivery systems, from sending data between a smart meter and utility to controlling oil or gas flow in a pipeline. However, they are vulnerable to disturbances. According to the ICS-CERT Monitor, a publication of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a third of the 245 reported cyber incidents in industrial control systems that happened in 2014 occurred in the energy sector. The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) initiative awards $28.1million to a consortium of eleven universities and research organizations, with the goal of improving computer/communication networks for energy delivery systems like power grids and pipelines.

  • Protecting the U.S. power grid from cyberattacks

    In the first half of Fiscal Year 2015, the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT), part of the Department of Homeland Security, responded to 108 cyber incidents impacting critical infrastructure in the United States. As in previous years, the energy sector led all others with the most reported incidents. Researchers from Florida International University’s (FIU) College of Engineering and Computing have teamed up with four other universities and a utility company to help safeguard the nation’s power utilities from cyberattacks.

  • U Warwick, U.K. National Grid expand £1.5 million partnership

    Last week the University of Warwick and the U.K. National Grid have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to extend the strategic alliance they have operated for last two years. To date that alliance has engaged in over £1.5 million worth of research and student scholarships in areas such as electricity transmission asset management, gas transmission, micro-tunneling, and cyber security.

  • Sea level rise dooms Miami, New Orleans

    Say goodbye to Miami and New Orleans. No matter what we do to curb global warming, these and other beloved U.S. cities will sink below rising seas, according to a new study. “In our analysis, a lot of cities have futures that depend on our carbon choices but some appear to be already lost,” says one of the study’s authors. “And it is hard to imagine how we could defend Miami in the long run.” An online tool shows which U.S. cities may face “lock-in dates beyond which the cumulative effects of carbon emissions likely commit them to long-term sea-level rise that could submerge land under more than half of the city’s population,” said the study.

  • Instant water heater offers energy, cost savings

    Traditional water heaters take time to reach preferred temperatures, thus wasting water and energy. A new instant hot water solution, developed through the EU-funded RAPIDHEAT project, successfully optimized heating and control technologies to develop a lightweight low thermal mass heater that provides full temperature output within two seconds of switch-on.

  • Cost-effective, non-polluting enhanced geothermal systems

    Tapping the natural heat of the earth may be more cost-effective and clean thanks to a research into a new area of geothermal energy, called enhanced geothermal systems. These systems are designed to enable power production in areas where conventional geothermal techniques do not work. Unlike typical geothermal systems, which rely on porous rock, enhanced geothermal systems have much greater potential to tap the energy of geothermal hot spots in areas of otherwise impermeable bedrock. The potential could be especially high in the western United States, including New Mexico.

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  • NSF awards $74.5 million to 257 interdisciplinary cybersecurity research projects

    The NSF the other day announced the awarding $74.5 million in research grants through the NSF Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program. In total, the SaTC investments include a portfolio of 257 new projects to researchers in thirty-seven states. The largest, multi-institutional awards include research better to understand and offer reliability to new forms of digital currency known as cryptocurrencies, which use encryption for security; invent new technology to broadly scan large swaths of the Internet and automate the detection and patching of vulnerabilities; and establish the “science of censorship resistance” by developing accurate models of the capabilities of censors.

  • Cyber vulnerability of civil nuclear facilities underestimated

    The risk of a serious cyberattack on civil nuclear infrastructure is growing, as facilities become ever more reliant on digital systems and make increasing use of commercial off-the-shelf software, according to a new report. The report finds that the trend to digitization, when combined with a lack of executive-level awareness of the risks involved, means that nuclear plant personnel may not realize the full extent of their cyber vulnerability and are thus inadequately prepared to deal with potential attacks.

  • Understanding monsoons for better predictions of Indian weather

    Summer, or southwest, monsoons are moisture-soaked seasonal winds that bring critical rainfall to the Indian subcontinent during the June-September wet season. An abundant season provides sustaining rainfall that replenishes water reservoirs and reaps bountiful crop harvests. By contrast, a weak season could lead to drought, soaring food prices and a battered economy. Better to understand global weather patterns and increase scientific collaboration between the United States and India, researchers have completed a month-long cruise studying summer monsoon conditions in the Bay of Bengal.

  • Water security test bed to focus on bolstering municipal water security

    Water is the foundation for life. People use water every single day to meet their domestic, industrial, agricultural, medical, and recreational needs. After the September 2001 terrorist attacks, water system security became a higher priority in the United States. The Water Security Test Bed (WSTB) at Idaho national Laboratory can be used for research related to detecting and decontaminating chemical, biological, or radiological agents following an intentional or natural disaster. The WSTB will focus on improving America’s ability to safeguard the nation’s water systems, and respond to contamination incidents and to natural disasters.

  • Climate change will soon make atolls in the Pacific, Indian oceans uninhabitable

    More than half a million people live on atolls throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans. A new study shows that the combined effect of storm-induced wave-driven flooding and sea level rise on island atolls may be more severe and happen sooner than previous estimates of inundation predicted by passive “bathtub” modeling for low-lying atoll islands, and especially at higher sea levels forecasted for the future due to climate change.

  • Fusion energy is economically viable: Study

    Fusion energy offers the tantalizing possibility of clean, sustainable, and almost limitless energy.  But can it be an economically viable option? A team of researchers have calculated the cost of building, running, and decommissioning a fusion power station and how this compares to current fission nuclear power plants. They concluded that a fusion power plant could generate electricity at a similar price to a fission plant.

  • Animals have returned to Chernobyl

    In 1986, after a fire and explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant released radioactive particles into the air, thousands of people left the area, never to return. Now, researchers have found that the Chernobyl site looks less like a disaster zone and more like a nature preserve, teeming with elk, roe deer, red deer, wild boar, and wolves. The findings are a reminder of the resilience of wildlife.

  • Eight dead, thousands stranded as South Carolina hit by “once in a millennium” floods

    In what Governor Nikki Haley described as a “once-in-a-millennium” flood, a downpour has inundated large parts of South Carolina, causing at least eight deaths. By early Sunday, the storm had dumped more than eighteen inches of rain in parts of central South Carolina, and the state climatologist forecast another 2 to 6 inches through Monday as the rainfall began to weaken. After state police and emergency crews had to rescue hundreds of motorists and passengers from vehicles which stalled in high water, Haley announced all interstate highways in and around Columbia would be closed, and ordered to deployment of 600 national guardsmen to help with rescues and evacuations.

  • Price of solar energy in U.S. has fallen to 5¢/kWh on average

    Solar energy pricing is at an all-time low, according to a new report. Driven by lower installed costs, improved project performance, and a race to build projects ahead of a reduction in a key federal incentive, utility-scale solar project developers have been negotiating power sales agreements with utilities at prices averaging just 5¢/kWh. These prices reflect receipt of the 30 percent federal investment tax credit, which is scheduled to decline to 10 percent after 2016, and would be higher if not for that incentive. By comparison, average wholesale electricity prices across the United States ranged from 3 to 6 cents/kWh in 2014, depending on the region.