August 11/18, 2008




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Perspective

"A Tier 5 electricity customer in California, presently paying 37 cents a unit (and going up) would not agree that grid electricity is cheap. Photovoltaics is already a cheaper option in situations like this."
-Martin Green, UNSW


News

RESEARCH

Cheap catalyst boosts solar hydrogen prospects

An inexpensive catalyst that extracts oxygen from water is a key step toward making solar water splitting an economically viable way to mass-produce hydrogen for fuel. [more]

RESEARCH

Materials dramatically drop fuel cell temps

Force a pair of dissimilar materials together and you can lower the operating temperature of solid oxide fuel cells to near room temperature, potentially lowering the cost of utility-scale fuel cells that can run on renewable fuels. [more]

RESEARCH

Plastic-Goretex combo drives fuel cell

Coat Goretex with a thin layer of electrically conducting plastic and you get an efficient, inexpensive cathode that could make vehicle fuel cells economically viable. [more]

RESEARCH

Miscanthus beats switchgrass for ethanol

Corn is not an efficient feedstock for making ethanol because it takes a lot of energy and chemicals to produce. Researchers have been looking at switchgrass as a more efficient alternative. It turns out that another plant, miscanthus, is even better. [more]

RESEARCH

Biomass-to-biofuel simplified

The main challenge to using cellulosic biomass -- agricultural waste, wood, etc. -- to make biofuels is coming up with efficient ways to break down cellulose. A new approach sidesteps the problem and converts cellulose directly to a biofuel precursor. [more]

FUNDING

Caltech-MIT solar hydrogen project lands $20m

The National Science Foundation has kicked the Caltech-MIT Powering the Planet solar fuel project into high gear with $20 million in phase II funding over the next five years. [more]

FUNDING

UK funds hydrogen storage project

The UK government's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has awarded Gavin Walker and David Grant of the University of Nottingham £442,190 (about $845,000)... [more]

FUNDING

NSF funds solar fuels, solar cell projects

The National Science Foundation has funded an international plastic solar cell project and awarded $1.2 million for four solar fuels projects. [more]


Features

Q&As


Special Report
Energy in transition: researchers talk about Obama and our future

The return of science, the enormous task, the Apollo-like effort required, and ideas for remaking the nation's energy infrastructure.

Eric on Energy

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Costs and markets

The recurring theme in this issue of ERN is lowering the cost of renewable energy: cheaper catalysts for water splitting and fuel cells, more biofuel per acre of biomass, and simpler chemistry for turning biomass into biofuel. [more]

Features

Q&As

Special Report
Energy in transition: researchers talk about Obama and our future

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News and views from elsewhere

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Better Batteries Charge Up

Scientific American
Gas-Free Horizon--An Update on Plug-In Cars

Green Car Congress
Portland General Electric Developing Network of Charging Stations for Plug-ins

The Guardian
Giant kites to tap power of the high wind

Wall Street Journal
Green Dragon: China’s Clean-Energy Revolution

Earth2Tech
Top 10 Alternative Energy Lobbying Groups in 2008


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