Lead engineers, Xiaobo Yin and Ronggui Yang.
Image credit: Glenn Asakawa/CU-Boulder

According to Forbes, engineers at the University of Colorado Boulder have created a new material that works like an air conditioning system for structures—cooling rooftops with zero energy consumption.

The material, about the same thickness as aluminum foil, is rolled across the surface of a rooftop, reflecting incoming solar energy back into space while simultaneously purging its own heat. Adding to its appeal, the material is adaptable and cost-effective for use in large-scale residential and commercial applications, as it can be manufactured on rolls. (more…)

It’s winter. And with that comes heavy coats, icy winds, and occasionally, below freezing temperatures: conditions not favorable for batteries.

Car batteries

Temperature extremes, in general, are not favorable to batteries. According to Lifewire, lead-acid batteries drop in capacity by about 20 percent in normal to freezing weather, and down to about 50 percent in temperatures that reach about -22 degrees Fahrenheit.

As a result, you may find your car battery giving out on any given winter morning. This is due to reduced capacity and increased draw from starter motors and accessories. This is because starter motors require a tremendous amount of amperage to get going: knocking out the capacity of even the newest batteries. (more…)

When it comes to growing crops, it’s a balancing act. You need just the right amount of sun, water, and soil composition to keep plants happy and blooming.

Researchers have recently discovered that light sensors might be able to help with that. According to New Food, the sensors work by actively measuring the various wavelengths of light coming off of crop leaves. These measurements are then used to calculate how much nitrogen crops need for optimal health. (more…)

Marshall Medoff shares his work with Lesley Stahl. Photo Credit: 60 Minutes

Marshall Medoff will make you think twice about what is possible. The 81-year-old took an interest in the environment 25 years ago and decided he was going to take it upon himself to stop global warming. With no science background or financial support, Medoff took it upon himself to “save the world.” For more than a decade, he worked alone out of a garage at a storage facility, educating himself and working towards his goal; his solution, transform inedible plant life into environmentally friendly transportation fuels in a clean, cost-effective alternative.

“Cellulose is everywhere. I mean, there’s just so much cellulose in the world and nobody had managed to use any of it,” explained Medoff, as he chatted with correspondent Lesley Stahl on 60 minutes. “I said, ‘Wow, if I can break through this, we can increase the resources of the world maybe by a third or more.’ Who knows?” (more…)

30 Under 30 in Energy

Perk up people, this is the Forbes list 30 under 30 in energy edition. According to Forbes, each year their reporters spend months combing through possible contestants. Questionnaires, online digging, contact recommendations, and a panel of expert judges all help sift through to the top remaining candidates.

This year, Forbes focused on the movers and shakers of the battery field. With a worldwide $200 billion a year investment in wind and solar power generation projects, the revolution in renewables, and the transition to low-carbon energy sources is undeniable. And for that reason, we highlight three—just the tip of the iceburg—from the top thirty list.

Meghana Bollimpalli

Meghana Bollimpalli/Credit: Forbes

I don’t know what you were doing when you were 17, but Meghana Bollimpalli, a student at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas was inspired by a seminar on energy storage. Bollimpalli began working towards figuring out a way to make supercapacitors from cheaper materials. She discovered a mixture of tea powder, molasses, and tannin, with a pinch of phosphorous and nitrogen, could achieve the same performance as a platinum-based electrode, for just $1 each, taking home the 2018 Intel Foundation Young Scientist award. Not bad for a high school student. (more…)

New energy system prototype from Chalmers University that can store the sun’s energy for up to 18 years. Image by: Chalmers University of Technology

According to Science Alert, scientists have recently figured out a way to store solar power for up to 18 years.

It’s made possible with a specialised fluid, called a solar thermal fuel, that’s catching the attention of numerous investors, according to the research team at the Chalmers University of Technology working on the project. (more…)

12 Years to Limit Climate Change

Twelve. That’s how many years scientists predict are left to further prevent the consequences of climate change, before each half degree leads to worsening conditions, including risks of drought, floods, and extreme heat, according to UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Devastating hurricanes in the U.S., record droughts in Cape Town, and forest fires in the Arctic are already revealing the current effects of global warming, the IPCC report says,  warning that every fraction of additional warming could worsen the impact.

(more…)

Wind turbines, the ideal alternative to burning fossil fuels: plentiful, renewable, clean energy. Or is it?

A recent study is forcing us to take a closer look at this green energy alternative, according to ScienceDaily. Extracting energy from large-scale wind farms has the potential to warm the Continental United States by 0.24 degrees Celsius, due to the wind turbine’s redistribution of heat in the atmosphere.

At the end of the day really, all large-scale energy systems have environmental impacts. But, the ability to compare the impacts of renewable energy sources is an important step in planning a future. Extracting energy from the wind causes climatic impacts that are small compared to current projections of 21st century warming, but large compared to the effect of reducing U.S. electricity emissions to zero with solar. (more…)

Hydrogen-Powered Trains Hit Tracks

 

Photo Credit: René Frampe, Alstrom

Last week, we told you about California’s commitment to go 100 percent carbon-free by 2045. Well, it turns out the Golden State is in good company. Germany has welcomed two of their first, state-of-the-art hydrogen-powered trains, according to Ars Technica.

The trains are built to run a total of 62-miles throughout the windswept hills of Northern Germany before refueling. These cutting-edge trains, known as  Coradia iLint trains, are the first of its kind — with 14 more hydrogen-powered trains expected to be delivered before 2021 by the French train-building company Alstom. A big step towards Germany’s goal to lower transportation-related emission. (more…)

Solar Panels: Dirty Air, Low Energy

According to Science News for Students, air pollution is taking a toll on solar energy.

Air contaminants are sticking to the surfaces of solar panels, preventing light from reaching the solar cells below, and reducing the production of electricity. Not only are these consequences costly environmentally, they’re also quite costly economically.

(more…)

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