Energy

U.S. Manufacturing costs are almost as low as China’s, and that’s a very big deal

You don’t need to a Nobel Prize in economics to know that the fracking revolution has been good for the U.S. What’s not so well known is just how competitive cheap oil and gas has made American manufacturing. BCG, the Boston consultancy, estimates the average cost to manufacture goods in the U.S. is now only 5% higher than in China and is actually 10% to 20% lower than in major European economies.

2015 Will Be Banner Year For Solar In Hawaii

Hawaii has always been on the forefront of renewable energy, partially due to their vast resources of sun and wind, and a new report found that 2015 will be the best year for the state in terms of new solar installations. The report, U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, compiled by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), found that solar growth in Hawaii in Q1 of 2015 was driven by a combination of residential and commercial solar installations. That is on top of the 12 percent of Hawaiian homes that are already powered by solar.

New manufacturing process cuts lithium-ion battery cost in half

Researchers at MIT and spinoff company 24M have developed an advanced manufacturing approach for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The researchers claim the new process could cut the manufacturing and materials cost in half compared to existing lithium-ion batteries, while also improving their performance, making them easier to recycle as well as flexible and resistant to damage.

Live rig will be classroom for energy workforce at Lone Star College

The rig will serve as fertile training ground for would-be rig hands - also known as roustabouts - maintenance workers, machinists, engineers and others. Students will be exposed to courses on electrical technology, commercial wiring, engineering, pneumatics and hydraulics among other things.

Origami batteries and accordion sensors could power smart clothes

The ancient art of origami is helping to inspire the next generation of wearable technology. In a study published last week in the journal Scientific Reports, engineers at Arizona State University in Tempe demonstrated how a cleverly folded stretchable battery could be used to power a smartwatch.

Today’s Tech Innovations Could Make U.S. the Energy Efficiency Superpower of Tomorrow

The future of energy efficiency technology often seems more like science fiction than reality, but according to energy thought leaders at last week’s 26th Annual Energy Efficiency Forum, cutting-edge efficiency advancements are already practical and implementable. At this year’s Forum, Johnson Controls and the United States Energy Association (USEA) convened energy thought leaders and experts to discuss not only the innovations we’ll see in coming years, but how they will help make the United States a global leader in energy efficiency.

Space System Uses Sunlight to Power Spacecraft and Redirect Asteroids

In addition to being able to redirect asteroids, Dr. Richard Fork’s space-bound system can be used to generate and deliver energy to spacecraft. The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) professor recently patented his technology. Fork’s system relies on a number of spacecraft located within different Earth orbital paths. They’re capable of collecting energy from the sun, which powers lasers to deliver coherent light.

Elon Musk Says Utilities Shouldn’t Fear His Battery Systems

Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Motors Inc., told electric utility owners they shouldn’t fear that his battery systems will put them out of business -- instead, they should buy them. Most customers in the U.S. will use the Powerwall home system as a backup in the event of a failure, not as a primary source of electricity replacing utility sales, Musk said Monday at a gathering of utility executives in New Orleans.

Improved U.S. Arctic Energy Development Starts in the Classroom

A record-breaking energy resurgence has catapulted the U.S. to No. 1 in the world in oil and natural gas production. But our workforce has not adapted to this new reality. Hundreds of thousands of jobs remain unfilled, and the pipeline of future workers isn’t nearly what we need to meet future energy needs.

Why The Military Will Drive Energy Innovation to a New Level

One of the biggest challenges the military faces is getting energy to troops in the field. Whether it's a base in another country or a remote site operation, energy is always needed and is often hard to come by in abundance. Energy convoys have long been a target for opposition forces; if the military could rely on renewable on-site energy, there would be "no supply chain vulnerability", as Richard Kidd, deputy assistant secretary of the Army in charge of energy security, said in 2013.

Fracking Has Not Had Big Effect on Water Supply, E.P.A. Says While Noting Risks

A landmark Environmental Protection Agency report on the impact of hydraulic fracturing has found no evidence that the contentious technique of oil and gas extraction has had a widespread effect on the nation’s water supply, the agency said Thursday. Nevertheless, the long-awaited draft report found that the techniques used in hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, do have the potential to contaminate drinking water.

Maryland bans fracking

Maryland’s ban on hydraulic fracturing became law after Gov. Larry Hogan (R) decided not to veto it. The bill bans fracking for two and a half years, and requires the state to write standards to regulate the practice for when the ban lifts.

New tech keeps your smart phone charged for 30 percent longer

Engineers  at The Ohio State University have created a circuit that makes cell phone batteries last up to 30 percent longer on a single charge. The trick: it converts some of the radio signals emanating from a phone into direct current (DC) power, which then charges the phone’s battery.

Senators push funding increase for energy research

Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced the bill, which would reauthorize energy programs included in the America COMPETES Act, an eight-year-old law that supports federal research and development. The bill would increase funding for energy research by 4 percent annually and reauthorize two Department of Energy research offices. The overall goal is to double the $5 billion the Energy Department spends on energy research.

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.

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