News, Renewable Energy, Technology

Stanford scientists split water with device that runs on an ordinary AAA battery

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Researchers from Stanford have found a way to split water into oxygen and hydrogen using very little energy; the hydrogen they obtain could be used to power fuel cells in zero-emissions vehicles. I’m quite excited for cars that run on hydrogen, which are set to hit the market in 2015; but while they are always presented as “zero emission cars”, many of the hydrogen cars will actually use hydrogen obtained with natural gas – which is still a fossil fuel and still has considerable emissions. Hopefully, that will only be a temporary stage, and pretty soon, manufacturers will move on to greener, more sustainable solutions – like this project from Stanford University….

News, Renewable Energy

Wind Turbine Syndrome? Legal courts aren’t buying it

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After digging around on several articles and editorials, I still haven’t found an exact, concise definition of what Wind Turbine Syndrome is. It is not recognized by any international disease classification system and does not appear in any title or abstract in the massive US National Library of Medicine’s PubMed database. From what I could find, it has no scientific basis, and the idea that it exists is mostly spread by people who claim to be suffering from it. Alleged symptoms include physiological problems such as insomnia, headaches, tinnitus, vertigo and nausea. But judges aren’t buying it; the Energy and Policy Institute, a clean energy advocacy group, reviewed rulings from 49 lawsuits and…

Chemistry, Green Living, News, Renewable Energy

New insights on photosynthesis bring us one step closer to solar fuels

Scientists have determined the exact structure of an important photosynthesis complex at a crucial stage. Photo: Shutterstock

For billions of years, nature has been harnessing the energy from the sun through photosynthesis. This way, plants, algae and cyanobacteria use sunlight to split water and produce energy-rich chemical compounds from carbon dioxide (CO2). This energy is then transferred to animal that eat these plants, and animals that eat plant-eating animals, including us humans. It’s clear that without photosynthesis, there would be no life as we know it.  A photosynthesis dream Society today is highly dependent on energy, so why not profit from a process that’s been evolutionary refined for billions of years? Synthetic photosynthesis is a hot trend in biotech right now, but while scientists have known the basic…

News, Renewable Energy, World Problems

Chinese coal consumption just fell for first time this century

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We’re used to reporting year after year how China’s coal consumption is increasing and how they are polluting more and more. But this is the first year in over 2 decades when the number hasn’t increased. Could China’s coal boom be over? While positive signs have been emerging from China for well over a year, it appears the ‘war on pollution‘ is not just talk. To make things even more interesting, even though the coal consumption didn’t rise any more, the GDP continued to grow (though slower) – that means that coal consumption and GDP appear to have finally decoupled. The growth of coal imports (mostly from the US) almost…

News, Renewable Energy

One single scrap car battery could be turned into solar cells that power 30 homes

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Lead-acid car batteries used to be the norm, but luckily we’re seeing a massive shift towards more efficient and environmentally friendly alternatives like lithium-ion. Still, there are fleets of hundreds of millions of cars that still employ these archaic and toxic batteries. Typically, manufacturers try to have car owners bring their old lead-acid batteries, which are then converted into more environmentally friendly new batteries. The vast majority of them go into landfills, tough. Researchers at MIT present a remarkable alternative: using old car batteries to power a new generation of dirt cheap and efficient solar cells, based on perovskite. One single used battery could be employed as a prime material…

News, Renewable Energy

Why Australia’s biggest oil discovery in 30 years doesn’t matter

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I was reading this morning how excited some journalists were in reporting “the biggest oil discovery in decades”, and I got a little curios: how big is it? According to US oil company Apache, the field could have potentially up to 300 million barrels of oil in place – Australia gets a lot of oil, stock prices for Apache surge, nobody in Australia cares about global warming anymore, so everybody wins, right? But when you start to dissect things and put them into perspective, you see that things aren’t quite as good as Australia and Apache are making them seem. Volleyballs and ping pong balls – Peak Oil is upon us…

News, Renewable Energy

Germany gets record 31% of its energy from renewables in first half of 2014

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Even though coal is still Germany’s number one energy source, renewable energy is developing incredibly fast, with wind and solar energy catching up fast. If the trend continues, they will soon become the dominant energy source….

News, Renewable Energy

California could go 100% renewable by 2050, Stanford study says

Solar energy could play the most important role in Californian energy. Image via The Leaf Exchange.

A new study conducted by Stanford Researchers demonstrates a practical “roadmap” for converting California’s all-purpose energy infrastructure over to renewable sources by 2050. The paper proposes running the state on a mixture of wind, water and sunlight (WWS). To make things even more interesting, the paper does it all with available technologies – of course, it is extremely likely that as years pass, renewable energy technology will become cheaper and more effective, which makes this paper even more admirable – California could go 100% renewable with today’s technology! The paper also takes into consideration population growth and other likely social trends. Lead author Mark Z Jacobson, has previously outlined similar…

News, Renewable Energy

Spray-coated solar cells bring solar power to every corner

An artist's impression of spray-coating glass with the polymer to create a solar cell. Image: Energy and Environmental Science

Researchers at University of Sheffield demonstrate a perovskite spray-on solar cell for the first time. Also, this is the first time rated efficiency for a spray-on solar cell tops two figures in efficiency, marking an important milestone and breakthrough in the field….