Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 20, 2014

Posts in "Science"

December 17, 2014

But Wait, Advanced Fast Reactors Are Already Here

reactor 445x333 But Wait, Advanced Fast Reactors Are Already Here

Construction of the Kalpakkam fast reactor in India.  (International Atomic Energy Agency)

The New York Times had a forward-looking piece on the development of advanced nuclear reactors that gives an interesting overview of the status of technology in the United States, citing ongoing research at places like Argonne National Laboratory as the groundwork for eventual development of advanced reactors:

… if the world decides in the 2030s and 2040s that it is time to deploy a new fleet of reactors, those will be based on work done in the few labs like this over the next decade, experts predict.

That leaves out one salient point: Russia and India have built large advanced fast reactors. Full story

December 15, 2014

Capturing CO2 with Fuel Cells

Using the gas separating properties of fuel cells, a Connecticut company is developing technology to add carbon dioxide capturing capabilities to power plants, which it says could provide an economic way to meet EPA’s proposed power plant regulations. The process, developed by FuelCell Energy using a $2.5 million grant from the Energy Department, would also provide additional power generation to reduce the ratio of a coal plant’s carbon dioxide to kilowatts, the New York Times reported:

In FuelCell’s design, a coal plant adds a fuel cell unit next to its smokestack, and the fuel cell soaks up the carbon dioxide and adds power to overall output. Some energy is used — the demonstration unit here would produce eight kilowatts, enough for a midsize commercial air-conditioner, but in carbon capture mode makes only about six kilowatts — but the loss is more manageable than drawing energy from the coal plant for conventional carbon capture.

The process also unexpectedly breaks down nitrogen oxide emissions, a pollutant that is regulated directly and contributes to ozone pollution. The company’s next step is to build a full-sized demonstration facility at an operating coal power plant.

December 8, 2014

DOE Pick is Graphene Fan

Graphene Membrane DOE Pick is Graphene Fan

(Energy Department)

The Senate is expected to vote Monday on the nomination of former BP chief scientist Ellen Williams to head the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, which is the Energy Department’s venture capital arm for high-risk, potentially high-reward research. Full story

December 3, 2014

Making a Fuel Cell Feed Itself

Graphene 445x296 Making a Fuel Cell Feed Itself

(University of Manchester)

Researchers have developed a membrane that can pull hydrogen from the atmosphere, opening the possibility of a self-sustaining fuel cell. Full story

November 7, 2014

ICYMI: Election, Research and FERC on CO2

The Republican wave of wins in Tuesday’s election and seizure of Senate power has a series of energy ramifications, which we covered in a slew of stories including the prospects for Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository and GOP talk of conciliation. Full story

November 6, 2014

One Cool Fuel Cell

cs 2014 00802d 0009 445x200 One Cool Fuel Cell

Reprinted with permission from ACS Catalysis.
Copyright 2014 American Chemical Society.

Researchers at the University of Utah announced the development of a fuel cell that uses jet fuel to create electricity using room-temperature enzymatic reactions. Full story

October 20, 2014

Texas Congressman Claims EPA Analysis Falls Short

Today, Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calling for a more thorough cost-benefit analysis of the agency’s newly proposed electricity regulations.

In his letter, Smith roundly criticized the agency’s evaluation process, stating that “systematic biases and major omissions in EPA’s limited evaluation produced a cost-benefit analysis divorced from reality. Consequently, EPA’s Regulatory Impact Assessment fails to assess whether the proposed rule will achieve meaningful benefits and, more importantly, whether the benefits are worth the heavy cost.” Smith closed the letter by demanding that without “comprehensive energy and economic modeling,” rule making should not move forward.

The letter to EPA is Smith’s second one in three months and comes on the heels of a report released by NERA Economic Consulting. The report projects that EPA’s new proposals will cause double digit increases in the price of electricity across 43 states. Additionally, it predicts that compliance costs could end up totaling $400 billion over 15 years.

October 16, 2014

3D Innovation for Electric Cars

2014 inverter P05004 article 3D Innovation for Electric Cars

(Energy Department)

Researchers at the Energy Department’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory used 3-D printing to construct a high-efficiency power inverter that takes up less space than current technology, the department announced this week. Full story

October 14, 2014

The Week Ahead: Russia, Solar, Gas, Carbon and Coal

A little bit of everything is happening this week, and much of it takes place Tuesday. Full story

October 7, 2014

Developing a Solar Battery

batteriesinc 445x441 Developing a Solar Battery

Nanometer-sized rods of titanium dioxide cover the surface of a piece of titanium gauze. (Yiying Wu/The Ohio State University)

Looking to increase the efficiency of solar power storage, researchers at Ohio State University devised a process to integrate solar electric generation and storage into one implement. Full story

September 18, 2014

Moniz Unveiled

wr20140915 26moniz cx 349555747 423x600 Moniz Unveiled

Photo courtesy of the Energy Department

CQ Roll Call’s Geof Koss sat down with Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz earlier this summer to discuss his relationship with Congress, as we mentioned last week. The whole story is now available outside the paywall.

Enjoy.

September 17, 2014

Moniz: Let’s Double Energy Productivity

The Energy Department is looking to increase the amount of energy efficiency in manufacturing and productivity to double energy productivity by 2030. Full story

September 16, 2014

Senators Launch National Laboratory Caucus

wilson hall 1 445x556 Senators Launch National Laboratory Caucus

Fermilab’s Wilson Hall (Energy Department)

A bipartisan group of senators are launching an effort to support the work of the national laboratory system. Full story

September 12, 2014

Moniz’s Congressional Straddle

wr20140915 26moniz hair cx 445x593 Monizs Congressional Straddle

Moniz fishing for salmon in Alaska with Verne Martell, Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s husband. (Energy Department)

Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz is embraced by members on both sides of the aisle while straddling the contentious divide over energy and environment issues, CQ Roll Call’s Geof Koss reports in the forthcoming copy of CQ Weekly (subscription). Full story

August 13, 2014

Capacitative Cannabis Gets High Wattage

73245308 445x296 Capacitative Cannabis Gets High Wattage

A cannabis plant grows in the Amsterdam Cannabis College.
(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Researchers have developed nano-thin sheets of carbon from hemp fibers, which could be a very cheap replacement for graphene, which is used to make supercapacitors for energy storage applications.    Full story

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