NASA’s CubeSat Initiative Aids in Testing of Technology for Solar Sails in Space

The Planetary Society’s LightSail satellite is a technology demonstration for using solar propulsion on CubeSats, a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. Using the momentum transferred from solar photons as they strike a large, thin, reflective sail would allow a spacecraft to accelerate continuously using only the sun’s energy. NASA is considering the use of solar sails on future exploration mission secondary payloads, and data from this mission will advance understanding of this form of propulsion.

U.S. Leads World in Clean Tech Innovation, Investment & Electric Vehicles, Earns Poor Marks for High Energy Consumption & Emissions

Next 10's Green Innovation Index, International Edition charts country GDP, emissions, energy productivity, renewable energy generation, clean tech investments and other key metrics. The United States ranks as among the world's top countries in clean tech investments, patents, renewable energy generation and electric vehicle (EV)adoption.

A high-performance microbattery that can be built into chips

Miniaturizing a battery to fit in a microchip is a major challenge, but it would be important for providing power to microscale devices such as actuators, distributed wireless sensors and transmitters, and portable and implantable medical devices, explained Paul Braun, a professor of materials science and engineering (MatSE) at Illinois and lead author of a paper on the research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

One step closer to Arctic drilling? Obama administration grants Shell ‘conditional’ approval

An effort to bring oil rigs to waters off the Alaskan coast took a step forward Monday as the Obama administration granted conditional approval to a plan by Shell Gulf of Mexico to begin exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea. The decision by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management removes a major obstacle to Shell’s years-long effort to begin oil and gas operations in U.S. Arctic waters.

Senators introduce bills to increase offshore drilling

A group of senators introduced a trio of bills Tuesday to open up more areas of the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic to offshore oil drilling and to provide more oil revenue for states. Sen. Bill Cassidy's (R-La.) legislation would allow offshore drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico... A bill from Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) would require leasing sales in three areas off the coast of Alaska... and Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) introduced a bill requiring three leasing sales in the Atlantic Ocean.

5 Exploding Niches Within Tech

The progress achieved each year is monumental, and the rate at which we are progressing is exponential. Industries are being disrupted, conventions are being proven wrong, and the world at large is completely transforming right before our eyes. Here are five tech industries that are exploding with startups, venture capital and innovation:

What's the value of nuclear energy to the United States?

As a reliable source of steady electricity, nuclear energy serves an important role in U.S. grid stability. Even as regional grids become more sophisticated in managing fluctuating input from renewable sources, there remains a base-load requirement to maintain an on-demand minimum generation level. Nuclear energy provides this grid certainty by generating its maximum amount of electricity more often than any other electricity source — on average, more than 90 percent of the time.

Tesla touts new battery technology, wants to change US power usage

Saying that Tesla is no longer just an automotive company, Musk is looking to enable homes, businesses, and utilities to both store and manage solar energy. “We have this handy fusion reactor in the sky called the sun [which] produces ridiculous amounts of power,” Musk said. To tap that power for the home, Tesla announced Powerwall, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery designed to store energy at a residential level “for load shifting, backup power and self-consumption of solar power generation,” Tesla said in a statement.

3 women hope to change the face of Wind Energy Technology

For three women in Wind Energy Technology at Texas State Technical College, the male-dominated wind industry will be the change and challenge they’re all looking forward to taking on soon. All three come from different backgrounds but have found solidarity in each other. Lupita Contreras from San Juan worked as a truck driver in the gas and oil industry hauling crude oil for 12 years before deciding to make a career change.

Work begins on nation's first offshore wind farm

Rhode Island lawmakers celebrated the start of construction on the nation's first offshore wind farm Monday. State lawmakers and members of Congress attended a ground-breaking of sorts for Deepwater Wind's project at Block Island, R.I. The event was held at a business that will build parts of the foundation for the wind farm's five turbines, according to the Providence Journal.

Researchers See Spike In Electric Car Sales As Battery Prices Fall

Given how cheap oil is these days, an end to the marriage of oil and automobiles seems far off in the future. But a team of Bloomberg analysts are suggesting a world of gas-free cars could happen sooner than you might think. Presenters at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) summit this past week argued that oil's low price of $50 a barrel – down from over $100 a barrel just last July – isn't entirely due to the increased supply of oil from fracking, tar sands, and other unconventional sources. Instead, it's the result of an abundance of energy from all sources – and the more efficient use of all that new energy.

Obama administration sets agenda to modernize energy infrastructure

The announcement, included in a 348-page government report examining how to upgrade a vast array of the country’s energy infrastructure, is aimed at addressing the dangers to both public safety and the climate from pipelines that leak or rupture. But the amount of money the administration is proposing is just a fraction of what it would take to replace the hundreds of thousands of miles of decades-old cast-iron and bare-steel natural gas distribution pipes.

Nano sandwich improves rechargeable lithium batteries

The key to better cellphones and other rechargeable electronics may be tiny “sandwiches” made of nanosheets of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), according to Kansas State University assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering Gurpreet Singh and his research team. The research is focused on improving rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The team has focused on lithium cycling of sheets, which Singh describes as a “sandwich” of one molybdenum atom between two sulfur atoms.

The Keystone XL debate is highly partisan — unless you live near the proposed pipeline route

Our mental snapshot of the politics of the Keystone XL pipeline is pretty straightforward — Republicans and most independents want it built; so do some Democrats, but most Democrats and the environmental left are opposed. A new study in Energy Policy, though, suggests that this assumption about pipeline politics mainly holds on the national level — but not so much locally. Rather, the research finds, as you get closer to living near the proposed pipeline route, liberals and conservatives look less different in their views — and liberals as a whole become more in favor of the pipeline.

GOP chairwoman to sponsor bill to lift oil export ban

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said she will introduce a bill this year to end the 40-year-old ban on exporting crude oil. Murkowski, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told energy executives Monday that the ban is severely holding U.S. producers back, Reuters reported.


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