A sampling of green-tech news thus far this week, touching on solar cells, carbon markets, biofuels, and electric cars.NREL: Record Makes Thin-Film Solar Cell Competitive with Silicon Efficiency Thin-film cells made from CIGS hit over 19 percent efficiency in NREL labs, rivaling traditional silicon. Shell, Virent form joint venture to convert crops to biogasoline | Chron.com/Houston Chronicle Forget ethanol. Here come hydrocarbons from plants. Shell and Virent to make 'biogasoline.' Technology Review: More-Powerful Solar Cells MIT spin-off 1366 Technologies (see Green Tech blog coverage) shoots for more efficient solar cells through manufacturing innovations. Pay for the Power, Not the Panels | The New York Times … Read more
An artificial muscle that can heal itself and recharge an iPod at the same time? Sounds ludicrous, but researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles have developed an electricity-generating muscle that might one day be to used to create walking robots or advanced prosthetics, according to Discovery News.
Qibing Pei, a scientist at UCLA and author of the research that appeared in the January edition of Advanced Materials, said his team developed a lifelike artificial muscle by using carbon nanotubes as electrodes. Unlike other artificial muscles made with metal-based films, this muscle can expand more than 200 percent … Read more
Mention hydrogen and a legion of critics will outline the reasons why the gas will likely never be a major energy source.
But it doesn't mean that researchers still aren't working on these problems. And the latest idea comes from Rice University, where scientists have found that buckyballs-- molecular balls made up of 60 or more carbon atoms--can store hydrogen quite well.
The molecules can store around 8 percent of their weight in hydrogen at room temperature, Rice found. The federal government, meanwhile, has set a goal of finding materials that can store 6 percent of its weight … Read more
If you're back is starting to hurt from hauling around a metal tripod, you might like the sound of Manfrotto's new CX-Series of tripods, since they're made of carbon fiber. Of course, it's nothing new that carbon fiber is lighter than aluminum, which is what most metal tripods are made of. The new thing here is that Manfrotto has added its innovative Q90 center column system to its array of carbon fiber tripods. The Q90 system lets you switch the center column from vertical to horizontal without having to remove it and reinsert it, as you … Read more
San Francisco may have shaken some flowers from its hair since hosting the first Earth Day 38 years ago, but the city continues to be named one of America's greenest. Satirists mock its politically correct "smug cloud" of eco-hipness, but many other regions tend to follow the city's environmental lead. For instance, more than a handful of U.S. cities are now mulling a ban on plastic grocery bags, first passed in San Francisco last March.
Fresh into his second term, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newson in January set goals for the city to become carbon-neutral … Read more
The carbon offset industry is trying to get itself regulated--for its own good.
At the Carbon Forum America conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, the Center for Resource Solutions announced a certification program for voluntary carbon offsets.
Called Green-e Climate, the program is meant to ensure the validity of carbon offset purchases. When a consumer buys a carbon offset, it represents an investment in a project to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as a wind farm or methane capture project.
A number of companies have emerged to provide these services which typically are small-scale investments for consumers who might buy … Read more
BP has proposed capturing carbon dioxide underground. A start-up in Texas called Skyonic says it can capture the gas and turn it into baking soda.
And now Carbon Sciences says it will turn carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and factories into calcium carbonate, otherwise known as limestone or chalk. The company combines the gas with fine calcium powders in a way that doesn't require a lot of heat and pressure, or that much calcium for that matter. For every ton of carbon dioxide, you only need three tons of raw materials, says CEO Derek McLeish.
The good news … Read more
Making champagne is by no means carbon neutral, as tree-hugging teetotalers might like to note. Carbon dioxide causes the bubbles, after all.
To be exact, champagne makers have determined that making each bottle of bubbly causes the release of 200 grams of carbon dioxide.
Some champagne makers want to shrink emissions by 25 percent within 12 years and up to 75 percent by 2050. They announced the goals Tuesday at the Bordeaux Carbon Initiative, one of many recent events by vintners seeking to green their craft.
The figures do not include all sparkling wine, such as Spanish cava, made outside … Read more
What if there was a way to capture carbon dioxide from the air and use it to make carbon-neutral fuel? Scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory say they have developed a process that does just that, according to a report by Andrew C. Revkin of The New York Times . But there's a "minor hurdle," says Revkin. Hint: nuclear power figures into the equation.
Read the full New York Times story: "Federal lab says it can harvest fuel from air (with a catch)"
The CEO of ConocoPhillips, Jim Mulva, on Tuesday made a pitch for regulations to restrict carbon emissions. His comments came at CERAWeek, a confab of the energy industry's giants.
In his speech, Mulva argued that the incumbent energy companies need to be involved in the creation of rules that favor low-carbon technologies.
Like its competitors BP and Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips is developing some alternative-fuel technologies such as synthetic natural gas made from coal, which Mulva said is cleaner.
He said right now the U.S. is lagging other countries in establishing regulatory frameworks, a dynamic that "risks … Read more