The unrepeatability of the Fleischmann–Pons experiment in the 1980s soured the world on cold fusion as a possible energy source for decades, but recent fusion reactor breakthroughs seem to indicate that the world will soon have an abundant supply of cheap, clean energy. Read the rest
Trump's about to make a bunch of whales, turtles, and dolphins go deaf.
The Trump administration is about to take a preliminary step toward oil and natural gas drilling off the Atlantic shore, by approving requests from energy companies to conduct “deafening seismic tests that could harm tens of thousands of dolphins, whales and other marine animals,” reports the Los Angeles Times. Read the rest
“This is a pivotal moment for California, for the country, and the world.”
On Tuesday, California state lawmakers passed SB100, a major bill that would commit to making the state’s electricity supply completely emissions-free by the year 2045. SB100 passed 43-32. Read the rest
Even what's billed as the world's largest lemon battery can only generate enough juice to charge a small battery cell, so Mark Rober tries a few other fun power generators with a bunch of young scientists-to-be. Read the rest
Improved super-thin solar panels and nuclear fission are all in development to handle the massive logistical problems of meeting power needs in space. Fraser Cain takes viewers through the newest developments, including NASA's new Kilopower Reactor. Read the rest
Yesterday, I saw a demo of the Homebiogas bioreactor: it's essentially an artificial stomach that uses colonies of microbes to digest your home food waste (it can do poop, too, but people tend to be squeamish about this), providing enough clean-burning biogas to cook your next meal, heat your house, or run a generator -- what's left behind is excellent fertilizer.
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After Digiconomist's analysis of the total energy consumption of the Bitcoin transactions on the blockchain went viral, Timothy Lee at Ars Technica provides a much-needed reality check in the form of some technical detail and nuance about what that energy consumption means, and where it might go.
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Nuclear energy produces less carbon dioxide than any other any source (including solar, wind, and geothermal). But nuclear waste is extremely poisonous, and leaks are inevitable. Wendover productions looks at the problems surrounding what to do with the byproducts of nuclear power plants. Read the rest
When the wind is blowing, the great plains could generate enough power to supply all of America, but storing and moving energy to supply those places where the wind isn't blowing, the sun isn't shining and the tide isn't coming in is a significant technological challenge that we're still figuring out.
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A brand manager at Dong Energy finally convinced them that their company name might be getting in the way of their messaging. They will be Ørsted from here out. Read the rest
Skycool Systems is a Stanford spin-out that uses panels composed of "layers of silicon dioxide and hafnium oxide on top of a thin layer of silver" to convert the waste-heat from air-conditioners' heat exchangers into 8-13 micrometer radiation, which passes through the atmosphere and radiates into space. Read the rest
The oil industry is mired in a recruiting crisis because its workforce is aging out and millennials don't want to work for an industry that is destroying the planet they were hoping to live on. Read the rest
Olivia P. Judson's paper in Nature, The energy expansions of evolution, presents a novel, beautifully written and presented frame for looking at the history of life on Earth: as a series of five epochs in which energy became more abundant and available to lifeforms, allowing them to scale up in complexity and fecundity: geochemical energy, sunlight, oxygen, flesh and fire. Read the rest
These SolarGaps prototypes are interesting ways to harness sunlight as it's being blocked. Note: the video is heavy on the promotion and light on the tech specs, but it's a neat idea. Read the rest
The Kentucky Coal Museum in Benham, KY, spends $2,100 a month on electricity; to save money, they're putting in 80 solar panels, which will save them $8,000/year. Read the rest
Trump made a big deal about saving the dying coal industry. “[We’re] bringing back jobs, big league. We’re bringing them back at the plant level. We’re bringing them back at the mine level. The energy jobs are coming back.”
But in recent weeks, owners of two coal-fired power plants announced they were going to cease operations, including the largest coal-fired facility in the western United States. They can't compete with natural gas price, which "have made it more expensive to produce electricity at the facility than to purchase it from cheaper sources," according to the Washington Post. It reminds me of my friend who sells novelty items on his website, but stopping because Amazon's retail price of the same items is usually less than the price he pays to buy the items from manufacturers.
Trump’s ability to save the Navajo plant and others like it is limited, despite his rhetoric. Even if his administration follows through on its promises to relax regulations on the coal industry, those changes aren’t likely to change coal’s fading market.
And if the owners of coal-fired plants lose money when they operate their facilities, keeping them running makes little economic sense.
For some reason, Trump's energy plan makes no mention of solar, "an industry that just added 51,000 jobs." Maybe he could issue an executive order requiring solar panels to have coal burners on them to belch smoke. Read the rest
Scientific American summarized five of Donald Trump's "major moves many see as hostile toward science." They are:
• Trump’s pick for head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has actively battled its mission
"To lead the EPA, Trump appointed Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general who has long opposed environmental regulations and has questioned the science behind climate change."
• He chose former Texas Gov. Rick Perry for Energy Secretary
"It is a science-heavy department, and one that (climate change skeptic) Perry—who is not a scientist—had advocated dismantling during his 2012 presidential bid."
• He chose an energy company executive for secretary of State
"Trump tapped former ExxonMobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State."
• He met with a vaccine critic while planning a commission on autism
"(Robert Kennedy, Jr) has repeatedly promoted discredited arguments that link vaccines to autism."
• His transition team sought information about Energy Department staff associated with climate change
"In December Trump’s team asked the DoE for the names of employees who have worked on issues related to climate change."
"Trump's 5 Most 'Anti-Science” Moves (Scientific American) Read the rest