TAU scientists create a solar energy device from a plant protein structure

If harnessing the unlimited solar power of the sun were easy, we wouldn't still have the greenhouse gas problem that results from the use of fossil fuel. And while solar energy systems work moderately well in hot desert climates, they are still inefficient and contribute only a small percentage of the general energy demand. A new solution may be coming from an unexpected source — a source that may be on your dinner plate tonight.

Avni Argun and Paula Hammondby David l. Chandler

Layer-by-layer assembly system could lead to improved fuel cells, batteries and solar panels

A team of researchers at MIT and Pennsylvania State University has been developing a new method for producing novel kinds of membranes that could have improved properties for batteries, fuel cells and other energy conversion and storage applications.

Stephen SchwartzNew report on climate change explores the reasons

Planet Earth has warmed much less than expected during the industrial era based on current best estimates of Earth’s “climate sensitivity”—the amount of global temperature increase expected in response to a given rise in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2). In a study to be published in the Journal of Climate, a publication of the American Meteorological Society (the early online release of the paper is available starting 19 January 2010; the link is given below), Stephen Schwartz, of Brookhaven National Laboratory, and colleagues examine the reasons for this discrepancy.

by David Chandler

If we plan to keep using fossil fuels, we need to figure out how to sequester the resulting carbon dioxide. New tools from MIT could help evaluate where to do it — and how to keep it contained.

To meet our immediate energy needs without exacerbating climate change, most experts agree, we’ll need to find a way to store the carbon dioxide given off by the combustion of coal, oil and natural gas. But no full-scale storage systems exist, and the plans to create them have many unknowns.

BYU engineering students recently toyed with a new power source for tiny vehicles: the small candles commonly used atop birthday cakes.

Their “Candle-Powered Car Competition” limited competitors to only 10 candles for fuel and challenged them to create a vehicle that could travel 100 feet in 15 minutes. The event was organized by the BYU chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

In an effort to plug gaps of knowledge about key ocean processes, scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have been awarded nearly $1 million from the National Science Foundation to develop a new breed of ocean-probing instruments. 

Scripps researchers Jules Jaffe and Peter Franks will be spearheading an effort to design and deploy autonomous underwater explorers, or AUEs, which will trace fine details of fundamental oceanographic mechanisms that are vital to tiny marine inhabitants. 

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