Energy

Technique turns ash into hydrogen gas

Publication: NBC News   Date: April 11, 2013   View Article

Piles of ash leftover from incinerated trash may be a viable source of hydrogen gas that can be used to generate electricity and power cars, suggests a process pioneered in a research lab.

The trick? Just add water, which reacts with residual metallic aluminum in the ash, explained Aamir Ilyas, a water resource engineer at Lund University in Sweden, who developed the technique.

Whey cool: Dairy waste turned into electricity

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 15, 2013   View Article

Get a whiff of this: Milky rinse water flowing from Wisconsin cheese factories will soon be used to generate enough electricity for 3,000 homes, thanks to an innovative solution to a growing wastewater problem.

For years, the milky rinse water was spread on farmland as a low-grade fertilizer, but the practice was curtailed in the face of more stringent environmental regulations to limit runoff pollution, especially in the winter months when spraying on frozen ground was outlawed.

Whiz kid grows algae under her bed, wins Intel science fair

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 13, 2013   View Article

Sara Volz, 17, from Colorado Springs, Colo., joined the quest for practical alternatives to petroleum-based fuels in the seventh grade. Now a high school senior, she may have found an answer in the oily pond scum growing under her bed.

“I was trying to use guided evolution, so artificial selection, to isolate populations of algae cells with abnormally high oil content,” she told NBC News.

The result is a population of algae that produces so much oil, so efficiently, that it bagged the grand prize Tuesday night in the Intel Science Talent Search, an elite science fair. The prize comes with a $100,000 scholarship.

Stretchable batteries are here! Power to the bendy electronics

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 26, 2013   View Article

The next frontier in electronics are the flexible, stretchable kind. Yes, that means a rubber, bouncy smartphone (eventually), but it also means heart monitors threaded into cardiac tissue. For devices like that to work, they require flexible, stretchable batteries. And such batteries are here, according to researchers who just published their work.

Sunlight forecasts to benefit electric utilities and … NASCAR

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 21, 2013   View Article

Race car drivers are likely to benefit from a newly-launched $4.1 million U.S. government-funded program to improve 36-hour forecasts of incoming energy from the sun.

Cloud cover impacts racetrack temperature, which in turn affects how well tires grip the pavement, researchers working on the program explained.

‘Nano-shish-kebabs’ are a recipe for better lithium-ion batteries

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 20, 2013   View Article

Powerful energy storage devices of the future may trace their roots back to a research lab that cooked up “nano-shish-kebabs” out of germanium sulfide, a semiconductor material.

Unlike the skewered meats and assorted veggies grilled on backyard barbeques, these kebabs are single, three-dimensional structures that consist of sheets of the semiconductor material grown along a nanowire. Each wire is about 100 nanometers long.

Wind-powered car crosses Australia on $15

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 8, 2013   View Article

A lightweight carbon-fiber car packing high-tech lithium-ion batteries and a portable wind turbine cruised 3,000 miles across Australia using just $15 worth of electricity from the grid. For an added boost, the drivers used a giant kite to pull the car down the road when the wind blew in the right direction.

“They were able to supplement their lithium-ion battery power with kite power about 10 to 15 percent of the time,” Bill Bunting, a senior scientist with Evonik Industries in New Jersey, told NBC News.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach