Energy Science

Even with well-established forms of energy development like oil and gas, the science on impacts to the environment can be hard to quantify and harder to predict. The challenge for sectors like the wind industry – comparatively new in its current form – are even higher given the lack of operational data, but as in other areas, the wind business is sprinting to get ahead.

A number of wind energy industry leaders joined several years ago with major environmental groups to form the American Wind Wildlife Institute, which plays several roles but represents an early effort by the sector to be certain wind energy development remains attractive while assuaging or minimizing concerns about impacts on wildlife. Keep reading →

In the presence of recently nominated new Obama Administration energy secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz, MIT Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems, former Governor Bill Richardson stated that science should play an important role in politics.

The country needs scientists to be more involved in politics and find ways to collaborate in the policy making and review process. Richardson also recognized the path started by Obama in this direction by appointing Dr. Steven Chu to energy secretary during his first term, but he said more initiatives need to be taken to facilitate scientist involvement. Keep reading →

At a well-attended 2013 MIT Energy Conference, an expert panel explored the “big picture” questions surrounding climate change providing updated insights on pros and cons of available actions.

While Sandy has made clear the critical state of the environment – more so than 4 years worth of IPCC reports, notes Dr. Kerry Emanuel (Professor of Atmospheric Science, MIT) – international and domestic efforts to enact policies against climate change continue to stall. Keep reading →

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 →

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 →

Everyone across the political spectrum talks about the need to wean the US from foreign oil. But when it comes to the details-how to actually make America more energy independent-the political posturing begins.

Recently, a Congressional dust-up dogged the national Renewable Fuel Standard. The year has also seen fights over the Keystone XL pipeline and the Pentagon’s renewable fuels efforts. And despite widespread support from Americans-and strong support from the auto industry itself-some still object to the 54.5 mpg by 2025 standard expected out later this summer. Keep reading →

A man works on the factory floor at Quadrant, a high end plastic processor on October 19, 2011 in Reading, Pennsylvania. Quadrant, a 70 year old company, employs more than 2000 people in 20 countries and is one of the few remaining manufacturers in the area to still provide stable jobs in an uncertain economy.

Modern manufacturing is not your grandfather’s factory, and the same traditional education and immigration policies are forming barriers to keeping manufacturing in the US. Keep reading →

View of the Torresol Energy Gemasolar thermasolar plant in Fuentes de Andalucia near Sevilla, southern Spain, taken on October 4, 2011. Gemasolar is the first commercial-scale plant to apply central tower receiver and molten salt heat storage technology.

Electricity is a hoarder’s worst nightmare. It is difficult to capture and store on a large scale and within seconds of being created it disappears. Keep reading →

Like your typical garden flower, this tulip captures heat from the sun for energy. But unlike most flowers, this one is 115 feet tall and uses a combination of gas and mirrored heliostats to spin a gas turbine that creates electricity.

AORA‘s concentrated solar power (CSP) systems – designed in southern Israel where sunlight is abundant and water is scarce – uses pressurized air, rather than water, to spin a conventional gas turbine. If the air momentarily cools, from cloud cover for example, the tower automatically reroutes the air through a combustion chamber that can use anything from biogas and methane to natural gas and diesel to heat the air and spin the turbine. Keep reading →

Fuel cells’ prospects of becoming a significant energy source are growing as costs decline and technology advances, helping the two leading players in the US industry, FuelCell Energy, and Bloom Energy.

In a signal of growing confidence in the full cell business, Bloom Energy is the subject of speculation that it will go public this year, said Sam Jaffe, research manager at IDC Energy Insights. Keep reading →

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