Citing concerns over domestic shortages of rare earths and other materials critical to U.S. energy security, the Department of Energy is creating a research team led by Iowa’s Ames Laboratory to develop solutions.

DOE will invest up to $120 million over a five-year period to develop a new research center, which will be named the Critical Materials Institute (CMI), that bring together leading researchers from academia, four Department of Energy national laboratories, as well as the private sector. Keep reading →

Accenture’s research highlights six key questions #energy companies need to ask on business process management http:// Accenture

On Saturday October 6th, the New York Times wrote an editorial that criticized the mission, effectiveness, and budget of the National Ignition Facility (NIF), an experimental laser at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California. This editorial followed an article from the prior week noting scientific challenges in the NIF’s mission and airing division among scientists about the facility’s future.

The NIF consists of 192 lasers, each of which is among the largest and most energetic in the world. It was built between 1997 and 2009 for the purposes of conducting experiments with fusion energy. Keep reading →

In efforts to transition to a new energy economy, the US federal government has been loaning money to solar and wind companies. It has also been pouring money into research and development.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado has been around for over 30 years, but funding for the government-owned lab–dedicated exclusively to R&D, commercialization and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies–has been boosted in recent years. In 2002, the lab received $215.8 million in federal funding. In 2010, the lab received $536.5 million. Keep reading →

One of the keenest areas of solar power research these days is into how nature turns the sun’s rays into energy for growth. While MIT researchers have devised what they call an “artificial solar leaf” – essentially a silicon solar cell with different catalytic materials bonded to each side that allow it to split a water molecule into oxygen and hydrogen – a group of scientists from around the world says that by mimicking natural photosynthesis and using tiny molecular circuits, harvesting and transporting solar power could be made far more efficient.

This theory comes from Graham Fleming at UC Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory; Gregory Scholes of the University of Toronto; Alexandra Olaya-Castro from London’s University College; and Rienk van Grondelle of the University of Amsterdam. Together they authored “Lessons from nature about solar light harvesting” in the journal Nature Chemistry. Keep reading →