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Energy News Stories

Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on energy from reliable news media sources. If any link fails to function, a paywall blocks full access, or the article is no longer available, try these digital tools.

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Sempra agrees to major refund for energy crisis
2010-04-29, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2010-05-03 20:38:08

Sempra Energy has agreed to pay about $410 million to settle claims that it played Enron-style games with California's electricity market during the 2000-01 energy crisis, state officials said. Houston's Enron, as well as other companies, used a variety of tactics to create the appearance of congested power lines in some instances and energy shortages in others. Electricity prices soared, and rolling blackouts rippled across the state. Enron traders were caught on audio tape bragging about how much their trading schemes were costing "Grandma Millie," their derisive term for the California utility customer. The crisis forced the state to buy expensive long-term power contracts that Californians are still paying off, month by month, on their utility bills. Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the state's largest utility, tumbled into bankruptcy as a result of soaring wholesale power prices. And Gov. Gray Davis lost his job in a recall election fueled by public anger over his handling of the crisis. Since then, the state government has reached 39 settlement agreements with energy companies for a total of $3.2 billion.

Note: To see how blatant the corruption is, watch the tapes of Enron traders laughing at causing traffic accidents at this link. For many more examples of corporate corruption reported by reliable, verifiable sources, click here.

Europe Finds Clean Energy in Trash, but U.S. Lags
2010-04-13, New York Times
Posted: 2010-04-26 00:08:04

The lawyers and engineers who dwell in an elegant enclave here are at peace with the hulking neighbor just over the back fence: a vast energy plant that burns thousands of tons of household garbage and industrial waste, round the clock. Far cleaner than conventional incinerators, this new type of plant converts local trash into heat and electricity. Dozens of filters catch pollutants, from mercury to dioxin, that would have emerged from its smokestack only a decade ago. In that time, such plants have become both the mainstay of garbage disposal and a crucial fuel source across Denmark, from wealthy exurbs like Horsholm to Copenhagens downtown area. Their use has not only reduced the countrys energy costs and reliance on oil and gas, but also benefited the environment, diminishing the use of landfills and cutting carbon dioxide emissions. The plants run so cleanly that many times more dioxin is now released from home fireplaces and backyard barbecues than from incineration. Across Europe, there are about 400 plants, with Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands leading the pack in expanding them and building new ones. By contrast, no new waste-to-energy plants are being planned or built in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency says even though the federal government and 24 states now classify waste that is burned this way for energy as a renewable fuel, in many cases eligible for subsidies.

Note: Why isn't the US implementing this clean technology? For lots more from major media sources on promising new clean energy developments, click here.

Navy Submarine Runs Eternally on Thermal Power from Ocean Currents
2010-04-08, Popular Science magazine
Posted: 2010-04-26 00:06:04

A Navy-funded thermal engine bobbing off the coast of Hawaii is accomplishing a rare feat -- it produces more energy than it consumes. Though it's not quite a perpetual motion machine, it could provide scientists or the Navy with a perpetual presence on the seas. The engine is attached to an unmanned underwater vessel, called SOLO-TREC, and uses the energy of the ocean to derive a practically limitless energy supply. SOLO-TREC is outfitted with a series of tubes full of waxy phase-change materials. As the float encounters warm temperatures near the ocean's surface, the materials expand; when it dives and the waters grow cooler, the materials contract. The expansion and contraction pressurizes oil, which drives a hydraulic motor. The motor generates electricity and recharges the batteries, which power a pump. The pump can change the float's buoyancy, allowing it to move up and down the water column. "In theory what you have now is unlimited endurance for something that has this type of engine," said Thomas Swean Jr., team leader for ocean engineering and marine systems at the Office of Naval Research, which funded the project. "Other things can break, but as far as the energy source, it will only stop working if the ocean ran out of energy, which is unlikely to happen."

Note: For lots more from major media sources on promising new energy inventions, click here.

On the Biodiesel Bandwagon
2005-07-10, San Francisco Chronicle (Leading newspaper of San Francisco)
Posted: 2010-04-18 23:54:11

Economists have predicted that 2005 is the year of the "global oil- production peak," when the world produces the most oil it will ever produce. And so ends the era of cheap fossil fuels, taking with it everything we've associated with modern American living: cheap groceries, cheap electricity, cheap construction, cheap beer, cheap everything. Because without cheap fossil fuel, nothing is cheap; and without cheap stuff, our society will soon be a very, very different place. A better place. At least for Ben Jordan. "The sooner we get rid of fossil fuels," explains Jordan, "the sooner we can have alternatives like biodiesel." Using vegetable oil as fuel isn't new; in fact, it's what the diesel engine was originally intended to run on. When Rudolf Diesel first showcased his engine at the 1900 World's Fair in Paris, he used peanut oil. Diesel engines -- operating solely on vegetable oils -- got an average of 30 percent more miles per gallon than traditional combustion engines, and soon became the standard for buses, trucks, freightliners and marine craft. In the 1920s, impressed by the efficiency of the engine and eager to control the diesel market, oil companies forced car manufacturers to modify diesel engines to run off their huge supplies of cheap, low-grade petroleum diesel. And the world's cities have been clogged with sooty, black, highly polluting diesel exhaust ever since.

Note: For many promising reports on new energy developments, click here.

Fusion's Ups and Downs
2010-03-23, MSNBC
Posted: 2010-04-04 23:44:35

This week, scientists gathered at the American Chemical Society's spring meeting in San Francisco to turn the spotlight on a highly unorthodox path: the effect known as cold fusion. This year's session featured nearly 50 presentations - including reports on batteries and bacteria that appear to exhibit the cold-fusion effect. Back in 1989, cold fusion was heralded as a simple, inexpensive way to get a power-generating fusion reaction on a desktop. But when the experimental results couldn't be reproduced, the researchers were driven into obscurity [and] the term "cold fusion" became synonymous with quackery. Chemists, however, have kept up their interest in the effect. Rick Nebel [has headed] up a handful of researchers following the less-traveled path to fusion at EMC2 Fusion Development Corp. EMC2 recently created a buzz in the fusion underground by reporting on its Web site that it successfully completed a series of experiments to "validate and extend" earlier results. The company is now using a $7.9 million contract from the U.S. Navy to build a bigger test machine. Nebel and his colleagues are now seeking contributions to fund the development of what they say would be a 100-megawatt fusion plant - a "Phase 3" effort projected to cost $200 million and take four years. "Successful Phase 3 marks the end of fossil fuels," the Web site proclaims.

Note: For a powerful, reliable documentary showing how promising results from cold fusion were strongly suppressed, click here. For lots of reports from reliable sources of new energy developments, click here.

New Reactor Uses Sunlight to Turn Water and Carbon Dioxide Into Fuel
2009-11-23, Popular Science
Posted: 2010-03-15 22:35:35

Scientists at Sandia National Labs, seeking a means to create cheap and abundant hydrogen to power a hydrogen economy, realized they could use the same technology to "reverse-combust" CO2 back into fuel. Researchers still have to improve the efficiency of the system, but they recently demonstrated a working prototype of their "Sunshine to Petrol" machine that converts waste CO2 to carbon monoxide, and then syngas, consuming nothing but solar energy. The device, boasting the simple title Counter-Rotating-Ring Receiver Reactor Recuperator (we'll go with "CR5") sets off a thermo-chemical reaction by exposing an iron-rich composite to concentrated solar heat. The composite sheds an oxygen molecule when heated and gets one back as it cools, and therein lies the eureka. The cylindrical metal CR5 is divided into hot and cold chambers. Solar energy heats the hot chamber to a scorching 2,700 degrees, hot enough to force the iron oxide composite to lose oxygen atoms. The composite is then thrust into the cool chamber, which is filled with carbon dioxide. As it cools, the iron oxide snatches back its lost oxygen atoms, leaving behind carbon monoxide.

Note: For many inspiring reports on promising new energy developments, click here.

The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough?
2010-02-18, CBS 60 Minutes
Posted: 2010-03-03 23:04:52

In the world of energy, the Holy Grail is a power source that's inexpensive and clean, with no emissions. Over 100 start-ups in Silicon Valley are working on it. One of them, Bloom Energy, is about to make public its invention: a little power-plant-in-a-box they want to put literally in your backyard. You'll generate your own electricity with the box and it'll be wireless. The idea is to one day replace the big power plants and transmission line grid. K.R. Sridhar ... says he knows it works because he originally invented a similar device for NASA. He really is a rocket scientist. He invented a new kind of fuel cell, which is like a very skinny battery that always runs. Sridhar feeds oxygen to it on one side, and fuel on the other. The two combine within the cell to create a chemical reaction that produces electricity. There's no need for burning or combustion, and no need for power lines from an outside source. "It's cheaper than the grid, it's cleaner than the grid." Twenty large, well-known companies have quietly bought and are testing Bloom boxes in California. The first customer was Google. Four units have been powering a Google datacenter for 18 months. They use natural gas, but half as much as would be required for a traditional power plant. John Donahoe, eBay's CEO, says its five boxes were installed nine months ago and have already saved the company more than $100,000 in electricity costs. eBay's boxes run on bio-gas made from landfill waste, so they're carbon neutral. "In five to ten years, we would like to be in every home." [Sridhar] said a unit should cost an average person less than $3,000.

Note: To watch the fascinating 60 Minutes video clip of this amazing invention, click here. For other CBS videos clips on the Bloom Box, click here. For astounding news on other new energy sources and inventions, click here and here.

On different wavelengths over EMFs
2010-02-15, Los Angeles Times
Posted: 2010-02-23 13:31:08,0,33...

Three years ago, at the age of 48, Camilla Rees had to leave her apartment in downtown San Francisco. Not because of the rent, she says, but because of the radiation. Her personal radiation meter -- yes, such things exist -- spiked after a lawyer couple moved in next door. Rees says she quickly lost her ability to think clearly. "I was unfocused, as if I had suddenly come down with ADHD. I would wake up dizzy in the morning. I'd collapse to the floor. I had to leave to escape that nightmare." Rees asked the neighbors if they had installed a new Wi-Fi router, and sure enough they had, on the wall near Rees' bed. Since then, Rees, a former investment banker, has been on a crusade against low-level electromagnetic fields, or EMFs, of all types, including the microwave radiation that flows from cellphones and cellphone towers. She co-wrote the 2009 book Public Health SOS: The Shadow Side of the Wireless Revolution, one of many recent books to warn against the dangers of EMFs, and founded the website

Note: For many key reports from major media sources on health issues, click here.

Obama Acts to Ease Way to Construct Reactors
2010-01-30, New York Times
Posted: 2010-02-07 22:26:17

The Obama administration [has] moved vigorously on two fronts ... to promote nuclear power, proposing a tripling of federal loan guarantees for new projects and appointing a high-level commission to study what to do with nuclear waste. Administration officials confirmed that their 2011 federal budget request next week would raise potential loan guarantees for the projects to more than $54 billion, from $18.5 billion. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has been saying for weeks that the administration would seek a greater amount of guarantees; commercial investment has been hard to come by because there is so much uncertainty about the cost and schedule for building plants. When President Obama said in his State of the Union address on [January 27] that the country should build a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants, it was one of the few times he got bipartisan applause. Opponents have complained that loan guarantees for projects that cannot attract commercial investment amounted to nuclear socialism.

Note: The US administration is allocating billions in loan guarantees for risky nuclear power plants in 2010, yet only $320 million for solar energy research, which is on track to become cheaper than fossil fuel energy generation before long. Could corporate largess have an influence in this? For lots more, click here.

Research in a Vacuum: DARPA Tries to Tap Elusive Casimir Effect for Breakthrough Technology
2009-10-12, Scientific American
Posted: 2010-02-07 22:13:39

The Casimir effect governs interactions of matter with the energy that is present in a vacuum. Success in harnessing this force could someday help researchers develop low-friction ballistics and even levitating objects that defy gravity. For now, the U.S. Defense Department's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched a two-year, $10-million project encouraging scientists to work on ways to manipulate this quirk of quantum electrodynamics. Vacuums generally are thought to be voids, but Hendrik Casimir believed these pockets of nothing do indeed contain fluctuations of electromagnetic waves. He suggested [that] as the boundaries of a region of vacuum move, the variation in vacuum energy (also called zero-point energy) leads to the Casimir effect. Recent research done at Harvard University, Vrije University Amsterdam and elsewhere has proved Casimir correct and given some experimental underpinning to DARPA's request for research proposals.

Note: Debunkers of the new energy movement have long claimed that zero point energy is a theoretical construct which cannot have practical applications. This article shows that attitudes are now shifting. For lots more reliable information on what's still hidden from the public on the new energy front, click here.

One quarter of US grain crops fed to cars - not people, new figures show
2010-01-22, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2010-02-01 19:31:54

One-quarter of all the maize and other grain crops grown in the US now ends up as biofuel in cars rather than being used to feed people, according to new analysis which suggests that the biofuel revolution launched by former President George Bush in 2007 is impacting on world food supplies. The 2009 figures from the US Department of Agriculture shows ethanol production rising to record levels driven by farm subsidies and laws which require vehicles to use increasing amounts of biofuels. "The grain grown to produce fuel in the US [in 2009] was enough to feed 330 million people for one year at average world consumption levels," said Lester Brown, the director of the Earth Policy Institute, a Washington thinktank ithat conducted the analysis. According to Brown, the growing demand for US ethanol derived from grains helped to push world grain prices to record highs between late 2006 and 2008. In 2008, the Guardian revealed a secret World Bank report that concluded that the drive for biofuels by American and European governments had pushed up food prices by 75%, in stark contrast to US claims that prices had risen only 2-3% as a result. Since then, the number of hungry people in the world has increased to over 1 billion people, according to the UN's World Food programme.

VW May Produce 282 MPG Two-Seat Car
2008-07-02, US News & World Report
Posted: 2010-01-25 13:31:59

Volkswagen has a new car in pre-production that, the automaker estimates, could get up to 282 mpg. That's not a misprint. Autoblog explains, "A few years back, Volkswagen introduced a concept vehicle," known as the VW 1L, "which derived its name from its stated goal of using just one liter of fuel per one-hundred kilometers traveled." The concept "actually beat its lofty goal rather handily as it managed to achieve a miserly 282 miles per gallon in testing. Much of its amazing fuel-saving capability stemmed from its 660 pounds (300 kilograms) curb weight. The concept also featured a single cylinder engine and a 1+1 seating arrangement down the center of the car." The U.K.'s Car Magazine reports, "At the time the chairman of VW's supervisory board predicted that the super-economical two-seater would go into productionin 2012. Now the VW 1L will hit the market two years ahead of schedule, in 2010." Whether the 1L would be sold in the U.S. market isn't yet clear.

Note: Any bets on whether this car will actually go into production and be promoted? Check out what happened to the Eco Spirit, which got over 100 mpg at this link.

Could This Lump Power the Planet?
2009-11-14, Newsweek magazine
Posted: 2009-11-21 18:04:39

When I meet [Edward] Moses [at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory], the 60-year-old scientist ... shows me a tiny pellet ... and swears it will provide an endless supply of safe, clean energy. The pellet Moses holds is a model, but the real version will contain a few milligrams of deuterium and tritium, isotopes of hydrogen that can be extracted from water. If you blast the pellet with a powerful laser, you can create a reaction like the one that takes place at the center of the sun. Harness that reaction, and you've created a star on earth, and with the heat from that star you can generate electricity without creating any pollution. Forget about nuke plants, coal, oil, or wind and solar. "This is the real solar power," says Moses. What Moses is talking about is controlled nuclear fusion. Instead of splitting the nucleus of an atom, you're trying to force a deuterium nucleus to merge, or fuse, with a tritium nucleus. When that happens, you produce helium and throw off energy. Scientists have been trying to produce energy with fusion for decades. So far, they keep failing. The joke is that fusion energy is only 40 years away, and will always be only 40 years away. Moses believes, however, that his lab, which is called the National Ignition Facility, or NIF, has cracked the problem. The big challenge fusion has faced is lack of power. NIF's laser ... can produce 60 times more energy than any other laser ever built. Right now it's still being tested. But next year Moses and his scientists will fire it up with a full load of deuterium-tritium fuel, and Moses feels confident it will achieve "ignition," meaning a controlled burn in which you get out more energy than you put in.

Note: For many reports from reliable sources of promising new energy developments, click here and here.

Chrysler drops three electric vehicles despite having touted them to get billions in government bailout cash
2009-11-09, USA Today
Posted: 2009-11-16 22:58:51

If you believed all the talk from Chrysler about how our tax dollars would help finance its fast-track electric-vehicle future, you're in for a big disappointment. Chrysler has disbanded the engineering team that was trying to bring three electric models to market as a rush job. Chrysler [had] cited its devotion to electric vehicles as one of the key reasons why the Obama administration and Congress needed to give it $12.5 billion in bailout money. The change of heart on electric vehicles has come under Fiat. At a marathon presentation of Chrysler's five-year strategy, CEO Sergio Marchionne talked about just about everything on Chrysler's plate ... except its earlier electric-car plans. With the group's disbanding, Chrysler's electric plans will be melded into Fiat's. Marchionne is apparently no fan of electric power. He says electrics will only make up 1% or 2% of Fiat sales by 2014 and that he doesn't put a lot of faith in the technology until battery developments are pushed forward. As a result, Chrysler won't have an electric car on sale as soon as next year, such as the Dodge Circuit sports car concept it had unveiled. The change has come so fast that Chrysler's website has been still featuring pictures of the electric vehicles. As late as August, Chrysler took $70 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a test fleet of 220 hybrid pickup trucks and minivans, vehicles now scrapped in the sweeping turnaround plan for Chrysler.

Note: For reports from reliable sources on promising new developments in electric automobile technologies, click here.

'Magnetic electricity' discovered
2009-10-14, BBC News
Posted: 2009-10-29 19:22:32

Researchers have discovered a magnetic equivalent to electricity: single magnetic charges that can behave and interact like electrical ones. The work is the first to make use of the magnetic monopoles that exist in special crystals known as spin ice. Writing in Nature journal, a team showed that monopoles gather to form a "magnetic current" like electricity. The phenomenon, dubbed "magnetricity", could be used in magnetic storage or in computing. Magnetic monopoles were first predicted to exist over a century ago, as a perfect analogue to electric charges. In September this year, two research groups independently reported the existence of monopoles - "particles" which carry an overall magnetic charge. But they exist only in the spin ice crystals. These crystals are made up of pyramids of charged atoms, or ions, arranged in such a way that when cooled to exceptionally low temperatures, the materials show tiny, discrete packets of magnetic charge. Now one of those teams has gone on to show that these "quasi-particles" of magnetic charge can move together, forming a magnetic current just like the electric current formed by moving electrons. The team ... showed that when the spin ice was placed in a magnetic field, the monopoles piled up on one side - just like electrons would pile up when placed in an electric field.

Fossils From Animals And Plants Are Not Necessary For Crude Oil And Natural Gas, Swedish Researchers Find
2009-09-12, Science Daily
Posted: 2009-10-29 15:42:28

Researchers at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm have managed to prove that fossils from animals and plants are not necessary for crude oil and natural gas to be generated. The findings are revolutionary since this means, on the one hand, that it will be much easier to find these sources of energy and, on the other hand, that they can be found all over the globe. Using our research we can even say where oil could be found in Sweden, says Vladimir Kutcherov, a professor at the Division of Energy Technology at KTH. Together with two research colleagues, Vladimir Kutcherov has simulated the process involving pressure and heat that occurs naturally in the inner layers of the earth, the process that generates hydrocarbon, the primary component in oil and natural gas. According to Vladimir Kutcherov, the findings are a clear indication that the oil supply is not about to end, which researchers and experts in the field have long feared. He adds that there is no way that fossil oil, with the help of gravity or other forces, could have seeped down to a depth of 10.5 kilometers in the state of Texas, for example, which is rich in oil deposits. As Vladimir Kutcherov sees it, this is further proof, alongside his own research findings, of the genesis of these energy sources that they can be created in other ways than via fossils. This has long been a matter of lively discussion among scientists. There is no doubt that our research proves that crude oil and natural gas are generated without the involvement of fossils. All types of bedrock can serve as reservoirs of oil, says Vladimir Kutcherov.

Note: The research work of Kutcherov and others on this topic was recently published in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience. For more reports from reliable sources on key new energy discoveries, click here.

Energy crisis is postponed as new gas rescues the world
2009-10-11, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2009-10-17 18:35:55

Advances in technology for extracting [natural] gas from shale and methane beds have quickened dramatically, altering the global balance of energy faster than almost anybody expected. Tony Hayward, BP's chief executive, said proven natural gas reserves around the world have risen to 1.2 trillion barrels of oil equivalent, enough for 60 years' supply and rising fast. "There has been a revolution in the gas fields of North America. Reserve estimates are rising sharply as technology unlocks unconventional resources," he said. The breakthrough has been to combine 3-D seismic imaging with new technologies to free "tight gas" by smashing rocks, known as hydro-fracturing or "fracking" in the trade. The US is leading the charge. Texas A&M University said US methods could increase global gas reserves by nine times to 16,000 TCF (trillion cubic feet). Shale gas is undoubtedly messy. Millions of gallons of water mixed with sand, hydrochloric acid and toxic chemicals are blasted at rocks. This is supposed to happen below the water basins but accidents have been common. Pennsylvania's [environmental authorities] have shut down a Cabot Oil & Gas operation after 8,000 gallons of chemicals spilled into a stream. The claims of BP ... are so extraordinary that we may need to rewrite the geo-strategy textbooks for the next half century.

Note: For more on the risks associated with fracking, click here. For lots more from reliable sources on new energy developments, click here.

Have a Nice Day
2009-09-16, New York Times
Posted: 2009-09-22 12:12:50

Applied Materials is one of the most important U.S. companies youve probably never heard of. It makes the machines that make the microchips that go inside your computer. The chip business, though, is volatile, so in 2004 Mike Splinter, Applied Materialss C.E.O., decided to add a new business line to take advantage of the companys nanotechnology capabilities making the machines that make solar panels. The other day, Splinter gave me a tour of the companys Silicon Valley facility, culminating with a visit to its war room, where Applied maintains a real-time global interaction with all 14 solar panel factories its built around the world in the last two years. Not a single one is in America. Lets see: five are in Germany, four are in China, one is in Spain, one is in India, one is in Italy, one is in Taiwan and one is even in Abu Dhabi. The reason that all these other countries are building solar-panel industries today is because most of their governments have put in place the three prerequisites for growing a renewable energy industry: 1) any business or homeowner can generate solar energy; 2) if they decide to do so, the power utility has to connect them to the grid; and 3) the utility has to buy the power for a predictable period at a price that is a no-brainer good deal for the family or business putting the solar panels on their rooftop. Regulatory, price and connectivity certainty, that is what Germany put in place, and that explains why Germany now generates almost half the solar power in the world today and, as a byproduct, is making itself the world-center for solar research, engineering, manufacturing and installation. With more than 50,000 new jobs, the renewable energy industry in Germany is now second only to its auto industry.

Note: For lots more from reliable sources on promising new energy developments, click here.

New virus-built battery could power cars, electronic devices
2009-04-02, MIT News
Posted: 2009-08-29 22:25:12

For the first time, MIT researchers have shown they can genetically engineer viruses to build both the positively and negatively charged ends of a lithium-ion battery. The new virus-produced batteries have the same energy capacity and power performance as state-of-the-art rechargeable batteries being considered to power plug-in hybrid cars, and they could also be used to power a range of personal electronic devices, said Angela Belcher, the MIT materials scientist who led the research team. The new batteries ... could be manufactured with a cheap and environmentally benign process: The synthesis takes place at and below room temperature and requires no harmful organic solvents, and the materials that go into the battery are non-toxic. In a traditional lithium-ion battery, lithium ions flow between a negatively charged anode, usually graphite, and the positively charged cathode, usually cobalt oxide or lithium iron phosphate. Three years ago, an MIT team led by Belcher reported that it had engineered viruses that could build an anode by coating themselves with cobalt oxide and gold and self-assembling to form a nanowire. In the latest work, the team focused on building a highly powerful cathode to pair up with the anode. Cathodes are more difficult to build than anodes because they must be highly conducting to be a fast electrode. Most candidate materials for cathodes are highly insulating (non-conductive). To achieve that, the researchers ... genetically engineered viruses that first coat themselves with iron phosphate, then grab hold of carbon nanotubes to create a network of highly conductive material.

Note: For many reports from major media sources on promising new energy technologies, click here.

Scientists explore how the humble leaf could power the planet
2009-08-11, The Guardian (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
Posted: 2009-08-20 21:53:21

It is one of evolution's crowning achievements - a mini green power station and organic factory combined and the source of almost all of the energy that fuels every living thing on the planet. Now scientists developing the next generation of clean power sources are working out how to copy, and ultimately improve upon, the humble leaf. The intricate chemistry involved in photosynthesis, the process where plants use sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide into sugar, is the most effective solar energy conversion process on Earth. And researchers believe that mimicking parts of it could be the ticket to a limitless supply of clean power. The untapped potential for using the sun's rays is huge. All human activity for a whole year could be powered by the energy contained in the sunlight hitting the Earth in just one hour. Harnessing even a small amount of this to make electricity or useful fuels could satisfy the world's increasing need for energy, predicted to double by 2050, without further endangering the climate. Most solar power systems use silicon wafers to generate electricity directly. But although costs are coming down, these are still too expensive in many cases when compared with fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas. Scientists are keen to develop more efficient and cheaper alternatives sources of energy. At Imperial College London, researchers have embarked on a 1m project to study, and eventually mimic, photosynthesis. Part of a project called the "artificial leaf", involves working out exactly how leaves use sunlight to make useful molecules. The team then plans to build artificial systems that can do the same to generate clean fuels such as hydrogen and methanol. These would then be used in fuel cells to make electricity or directly to power super-clean vehicles..

Note: For more reports from reliable sources on exciting new energy developments, click here.

Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.