alternative fuels

New Reactor Uses Sunlight to Turn Water and Carbon Dioxide Into Fuel

Talk about a Eureka moment. Scientists at Sandia National Labs, seeking a means to create cheap and abundant hydrogen to power a hydrogen economy, realized they could use the same technology to "reverse-combust" CO2 back into fuel. Researchers still have to improve the efficiency of the system, but they recently demonstrated a working prototype of their "Sunshine to Petrol" machine that converts waste CO2 to carbon monoxide, and then syngas, consuming nothing but solar energy.

[ Read Full Story ]

Turkish Students Create Hydrogen-Powered 1300-MPG Car

In preparation for the inaugural Global Green Challenge across the Australian outback, a team of Turkish students have assembled a hydrogen-powered vehicle that has an efficiency of 568 kilometers per liter (roughly 1,335 mpg). In order to get across the outback, they hope to only use three liters of fuel in the vehicle, dubbed the SAHİMO.

The SAHİMO weighs 110 kg--a carbon fiber frame keeps the weight down--and the scary thing is that these Sakarya University students want to up the efficiency to 1,000 km/L.

[ Read Full Story ]

300 MPG Riversimple Urban Car Open-Sources Its Hydrogen Fuel Cell Tech

A hydrogen-powered two-seater unveiled in London this week can seat two, turn in the equivalent of 300 MPG and hit a top speed of 50 mph. Plus, its blueprints are open source. Take that, auto industry

The Riversimple Urban Car was nine years in the making. But when the diminutive, hydrogen-powered prototype debuted in London recently, the biggest difference between it and other fuel-cell vehicles wasn't its in-wheel electric motors or banks of ultracapacitors. It was its development-and-business model.

[ Read Full Story ]

Don't Worry, Get Married

Smiley people seem to have more wedded bliss

This is strange: to predict how successful your marriage will be, take out an old yearbook picture of yourself. Are you smiling big, just like the class photographer wanted you to do? That's a good indicator that you're not going to get divorced.

Also in today's links: wolves in Montana, allergies to fruit and veggies, and more.

[ Read Full Story ]

Power From The People

Wind, solar, tidal—all are battling for the renewable-energy crown, but what about the six billion highly efficient short-stroke engines in our midst? What about us?

Cave Junction, Oregon, was once, long ago, the center of a gold rush boom that, like so many booms, ultimately consumed its host. Prospectors mined the land around the towns in an ever-tightening circle, until the only gold left was below the saloons, assayers and burlesque halls. Those fell next. The towns were mined right out from under themselves—with no trace left of the old frontier burgs but scars in the earth.

[ Read Full Story ]

Deadly Gas, Cheap Power

Dangerous fumes from an African lake could be the fuel of tomorrow

To live on the banks of Africa’s Lake Kivu is to risk your life every day. Large amounts of methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide gas are dissolved in various layers of the lake’s deep waters. Scientists warn that a disturbance such as a volcanic eruption or earthquake could cause a redistribution of the lake’s waters and the gases in them. This shuffling, known as an overturn, could unleash an invisible, suffocating cloud of these compounds—a rare event known as a limnic eruption—killing as many as two million people nearby.

[ Read Full Story ]

The Gas Bug

Full story inside the November issue of Popular Science, out now!

E. coli has earned a nasty reputation for upsetting stomachs and killing people. But now scientists at LS9, a start-up in South San Francisco, are putting the bad bug to good use, genetically engineering it to excrete biodiesel. The fuel "burns just like diesel," says Greg Pal, the senior director at LS9 [see Breeding the Oil Bug, about the rise of microbial biofuels].

[ Read Full Story ]

Hands-On: GM’s 2009 Silverado Hybrid

The Toolmongers take a hybrid beast out for a spin

Think battery power and regenerative braking are only for granola-eating hippies? Think again. GM was kind enough to give us a little time with their new-for-2009 (read: available in the first half of next year) Silverado hybrid. And we tried something you can’t do with a Prius: We tooled around town with three people onboard — and a 20′ SeaRay boat out back.

But is this an option for which you’ll ante up a couple grand next year? Read on past the jump for our hands-on experiences and video footage.

[ Read Full Story ]

Greening Green Fuels

Scientists think microalgae could be the answer to slashing CO2 levels and serve as a more effective, eco-friendly biofuel

Last week scientists were extolling the virtues of duckweed—this week, another type of pond scum is being called a possible savior. Norwegian scientists believe microalgae could slash CO2 levels—responsible for a lot of our global warming woes—and even be tapped for a more effective biofuel in the future.

[ Read Full Story ]

Britain Finally Sees the Light, Admits Biofuels Are Bad News

A new report shows that biofuels are linked to higher food prices and increased poverty, but European Union doesn’t take heed

Are Biofuels Starving the World?:  iStockphoto
It’s common sense—people need food first, fuel second.

But today, Britain became the first Western nation to announce that its biofuel production will be curbed, since it’s likely causing rising food prices and rainforest destruction.

[ Read Full Story ]

The Sun-Powered Sailboat

A Turkish design team dreams up a self-sufficient craft for the eco-conscious yachting class

FOUR-WING STABILITY: Volitan may look more like an X-wing fighter than a boat, but the four-wing structure keeps it stable while maximizing maneuverability.  Bob Sauls
For most of history, sailboats were by definition pollution-free. Now, however, even purists use outboard motors to get their three-sheeters in and out of the harbor. Including conventional motorized boats, there are more than 10 million hydrocarbon-burning marine engines in the U.S. alone.

[ Read Full Story ]

Natural-Gas-Powered Cars Fetching Big Bucks Online

A PopSci contributor's experiment with a Honda Civic GX natural gas vehicle turns into a high-return investment on eBay

We reported last week on how feebly powered, fuel-sipping 1990s-vintage hatchbacks have been lighting up the used car market recently due to skyrocketing gas prices. In an interesting twist to this phenomenon, I actually benefited myself somewhat from this hysteria when I had to sell my beloved natural-gas-powered 2006 Honda Civic GX last week on eBay, turning it into one of the smarter investments I made all year.

[ Read Full Story ]

Algae's Fuel Potential

Amidst far-off ideas for alternative fuel sources, the green stuff still proves promising

Earlier this week, we reported on research efforts to produce hydrogen gas for fuel cells through artificial photosynthesis and discovered the technology was still a long way off. Well, how about good old natural photosynthesis? That, too, is a process in its infancy because there are quite a few things we need to manipulate in order to produce enough hydrogen to make it worth our while.

[ Read Full Story ]

Breeding the Oil Bug

Biologists can now create organisms that have never before existed—including designer bacteria that turn sugar into fuel

It could be an aerial photo of an oil spill: liquid spheres pooling, oozing, dwarfing a bedraggled landscape. I half expect to zoom in on poisoned seal pups or waterbirds dragging their oil-soaked feathers. But the scene is microscopic. The landscape is made of E. coli. And whats happening is exactly the opposite of what it seems. The little bugs arent drowning in fuel. Theyre making it.

[ Read Full Story ]

Where's the Beef? It's in My Lawnmower!

A biodegradable and less harmful engine fuel has an unusual provenance

Green Oil:  Green Earth Technologies
Two-stroke engines are simple, light, and powerful. Unlike a four-stroke engine (the kind you find in a car), they can be operated at any angle. That's why you find them in lawnmowers, leaf blowers, chainsaws, and on boats as outboard motors. They come with significant disadvantages, however. They are terribly inefficient with fuel. They don't have a dedicated lubrication system and so burn the oil they use (if cars used two-stroke engines, they would burn a gallon of oil every 1,000 miles). And worst of all, they leak fuel through their exhaust by design.

[ Read Full Story ]