Archive | Energy & Fuels

Bacteria Used to Power Simple Machines

ARGONNE, Ill., Dec. 16 (UPI) — U.S. Department of Energy scientists say they’ve used common bacteria to power simple machines, providing insight for creating bio-inspired energy production.

The researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory and Northwestern University said they discovered bacteria can turn microgears when suspended in a solution.

“The gears are a million times more massive than the bacteria,” said physicist Igor Aronson, who led the study. “The ability to harness and control the power of bacterial motions is an important requirement for further development of hybrid biomechanical systems driven by microorganisms.”

The scientists discovered the aerobic bacteria, Bacillus subtilis, appear to swim around the solution randomly, but occasionally the organisms will collide with the spokes of the gear and begin turning it in a definite direction. The researchers then added a few hundred bacteria which worked together to turn the gear.

When multiple gears are placed in the solution with the spokes connected, the bacteria will begin turning both gears in opposite directions and it will cause the gears to rotate in synchrony for a long time, the scientists said.

“Our discovery demonstrates how microscopic swimming agents, such as bacteria or man-made nanorobots, in combination with hard materials can constitute a ‘smart material’ which can dynamically alter its microstructures, repair damage or power microdevices,” Aronson said.

The research is reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Microorganisms0 Comments

Obama Seeks Incentives for Home Energy

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) — President Barack Obama Tuesday called on Congress to provide temporary incentives for U.S. homeowners who invest in energy-efficient retrofitting.

“The simple act of retrofitting these buildings to make them more energy-efficient … is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest things we can do to put America back to work while saving money and reducing harmful emissions,” Obama said during a visit to a Home Depot in Alexandria, Va., while ticking off retrofitting examples such as installing new windows and doors, insulation, roofing, correcting ceiling leaks and modernizing heating and cooling equipment.

He also noted energy-related investments made under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act put the nation on a pace “to upgrade the homes of half a million Americans by this time next year … boosting the economy, saving money on energy, creating clean energy jobs that can’t be outsourced.”

And there’s another reason to retrofit, Obama said to some chuckles — insulation is sexy.

“Here’s what sexy about it: saving money,” he said. “You put in the insulation, you — you weatherize your home now, you will make up that money in a year or two years or three years, and then everything after that is just gravy.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Buildings, Consumer Products, Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Energy Efficiency & Weatherization, Homes & Buildings, House & Home0 Comments

Biden Issues Positive Clean Energy Report

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) — Vice President Joe Biden has issued a report to the president indicating U.S. Recovery Act initiatives are building a more energy-efficient economy.

“I’m pleased to report that the administration is laying the foundation for a clean energy economy that will create a new generation of jobs, reduce dependence on oil and enhance national security,” Biden wrote in the memo Monday. “Through the Recovery Act and more effective use of programs already in existence, the administration is taking the critical steps to transform the United States into a global clean energy leader.”

The memo outlined ways the Recovery Act and other investments are allowing the United States to make clean energy advances, and asserted the nation is scheduled to double geothermal, solar and wind generation manufacturing facilities in three years.

The memo also touted three of the first-ever electric vehicle facilities along with 30 new battery plants expected to be operational during the next six years. U.S. homes will have 26,000,000 Smart meters installed by 2013, triple the number now in service, the memo said.

There are plans to build and operate five commercial scale power plants with carbon capture facilities intended to help control greenhouse gas emissions.

All the projects are to be funded, the memo says, either by Recovery Act monies alone or in combination with private sector investments.

Biden will discuss the measures at a meeting on climate change in Copenhagen next week.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Energy Industry, Energy Policy & Advocacy, Geothermal, Other, Solar, Wind0 Comments

President Barack Obama Speaks on Energy Savings at Home Depot in Alexandria Virginia

Obama Visits Virginia Home Depot Store

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a meeting on the economic impact of energy saving home retrofits with labor, manufacturing, and small business leaders at a Northern Virginia Home Depot store in Alexandria, Virginia on December 15, 2009. UPI/Ron Sachs/Pool

Date Taken: December 15, 2009

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, House & Home1 Comment

President Barack Obama Speaks on Energy Savings at Home Depot in Alexandria Virginia

Obama Visits Virginia Home Depot Store

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a meeting on the economic impact of energy saving home retrofits with labor, manufacturing, and small business leaders at a Northern Virginia Home Depot store in Alexandria, Virginia on December 15, 2009. UPI/Ron Sachs/Pool

Date Taken: December 15, 2009

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, House & Home0 Comments

President Barack Obama Speaks on Energy Savings at Home Depot in Alexandria Virginia

Obama Visits Virginia Home Depot Store

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a meeting on the economic impact of energy saving home retrofits with labor, manufacturing, and small business leaders at a Northern Virginia Home Depot store in Alexandria, Virginia on December 15, 2009. UPI/Ron Sachs/Pool

Date Taken: December 15, 2009

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, House & Home0 Comments

President Barack Obama Speaks on Energy Savings at Home Depot in Alexandria Virginia

Obama Visits Virginia Home Depot Store

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a meeting on the economic impact of energy saving home retrofits with labor, manufacturing, and small business leaders at a Northern Virginia Home Depot store in Alexandria, Virginia on December 15, 2009. UPI/Ron Sachs/Pool

Date Taken: December 15, 2009

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, House & Home0 Comments

Obama to Discuss Energy's Economic Impact at Home Depot Store in Northern Virginia

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) — President Obama’s Main Street tour of U.S. cities for discussions about economic issues heads to a Home Depot hardware store in northern Virginia Tuesday.

Obama was to discuss the economic impact of energy saving home retrofitting with representatives of small business, labor and manufacturing, the White House said.

Obama also was scheduled to meet with business leaders in the White House.

Later in the afternoon, the Senate Democratic Caucus and Obama will meet at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Office0 Comments

Solar Power Units Create More Power with Less Sun

KONA, Hawaii, Dec. 14 (UPI) — The world’s first solar thermal plant using proprietary MicroCSP solar panels opened at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii in a major new response to the state’s clean energy initiative.

The thermal energy project spans 3.8 acres in the Kona desert and features 1,000 of the solar panels, the first of their kind, Hawaii-based Sopogy Inc. said.

Through the use of mirrors and optics and an integrated sun tracker, the company claims the panels achieve higher efficiencies than conventional solar panels and are good at gathering energy even in the cloudiest of conditions.

Solar energy is attracting funding and support worldwide amid a scramble for clean energy. As the panels’ manufacturer, Sopogy is poised to replace the “chaotic” solar power installations worldwide with its branded product.

Sopogy has projects operating in Idaho, California, Hawaii and several more across Europe, the Middle East and Asia. However, many of Sopogy’s customers are using the systems as a competitive advantage and have intentionally kept their projects confidential.

Analysts said several factors supported upgrading of conventional solar panels with more efficient and versatile devices that respond to familiar challenges, such as poor sunlight or fragility and unreliability of the equipment.

Sopogy’s branded system also uses a thermal energy storage buffer, the first of its kind, that allows energy to be produced during cloudy periods. The buffer can also transfer energy produced during the day to evening hours.

Sopogy named the project, “Holaniku at Keahole Point” to add local color and to reflect the diversity of the technology’s uses. The Hawaiian term stands for a location that has everything required for self-sufficiency.

Sopogy also believes it is on to an all-round winner with the MicroCSP technology applied in solar power systems. “MicroCSP is an achievement in rugged, modular and cost-effective solar thermal technology,” said Darren T. Kimura, the company’s president and CEO.

Kimura said the completion and demonstration of the 2 megawatt solar thermal project is an important first step toward widening its usage across the world.

Sopogy’s MicroCSP technologies are being used in such diverse applications as process heat, solar air conditioning, rooftop deployment and power generation.

The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative has attracted the attention of the renewable energy industry. Sopogy and its local solar project development partner Keahole Solar Power plan to bring 30 megawatts of MicroCSP power to the state by 2015.

Analysts said competitive pricing of Sopogy’s systems would be crucial to establishing the company into solar thermal energy markets with less cash than Europe’s industrial countries or oil-rich states experimenting with energy diversification.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Industry, Science, Space, & Technology, Solar0 Comments

Exxon to Buy XTO Energy for $41B

HOUSTON, Dec. 14 (UPI) — Exxon Mobil Corp. Monday said it reached a deal to buy U.S. energy company XTO Energy Inc. for $41 billion.

For the the all-stock deal, Exxon will issue 0.7989 percent of a share for each XTO common share, or 25 percent more than recent closing prices, MarketWatch reported.

XTO Energy shares quickly jumped 15 percent with the announcement, while Exxon shares dropped 4 percent.

Standard & Poor’s stock analyst Tina Vital said, “we like the deal, which we view as fairly valued at W$2.96 per thousand cubic feet of proved reserves, in line with recent data.”

XTO would be “a compliment” to Exxon’s future plans, Vital said.

While the deal is certain to draw scrutiny from anti-trust regulators, Exxon said it would “enhance” it’s position “in the development of unconventional natural gas and oil reserves.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Natural Gas0 Comments

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