Panasonic Will Market First Li-Ion Storage Battery for Home Use in 2011

The battery could power zero-emissions homes

Bringing power storage to the people, Panasonic will bring a home-use lithium-ion storage cell to market in fiscal 2011, making it possible for homes to store a week's worth of electricity for later use. Panasonic -- along with the recently acquired Sanyo -- have already test-manufactured such a battery, which could allow for more widespread deployment of eco-friendly but inconsistent modes of power generation.

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Sandia Labs Creates Fashionable Glitter-Sized Solar Cells

Suburban rave-goers, women of Jersey Shore, and Elton John, take note: your lives just got a little bit greener. The sartorial risk-takers over at Sandia National Labs have created glitter-sized photovoltaic cells that could revolutionize solar energy collection the way Liberace revolutionized the dress code for concert pianists.

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MIT's iPhone-Linked Copenhagen Wheel Makes Your Bike Smarter While Giving You A Boost

The Copenhagen Wheel:  MIT Senseable City Lab
The innovation slingers from MIT Senseable City Lab have shown up at the Copenhagen Conference, and they’ve brought an idea with them that’s actually worth talking about. The Copenhagen Wheel – named not just for the city of its unveiling but also for Copenhagen’s role in a biking renaissance over the past several years – employs regenerative braking, an electric motor and even a Bluetooth connection to your iPhone for real-time data display.

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Bad Bottles of Wine Can Be Used for Energy

A bad bottle can throw a wrench in your dinner party, but researchers in the U.S. and India say it could also lower your energy bills. Using the leftover vinegar and sugar in improperly fermented wine, those scientists are devising novel methods to turn wastewater from vineyards into electricity and hydrogen, cleaning the water in the process.

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Chinese "Sun Dial" is the World's Largest Solar-Powered Office Building

China, constantly straddling the line between super-polluter and clean tech pioneer, has unveiled what for the time being is the world’s largest solar-powered office building . The fan-like roof of the 800,000 square-foot facility located in Dezhou in Shangdong Province was cleverly designed to resemble an ancient sun dial, though rather than ticking off the passing hours, the building houses exhibition centers, research facilities, meeting and convention spaces and a hotel, all of which are powered by the hundreds of solar panels adorning its roof.

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Two Major Geothermal Projects Abandoned Due to Induced Quake Risk

Two high-profile geothermal projects in the U.S. and Europe were both permanently halted late last week, after federal officials in both countries questioned their safety and propensity to cause earthquakes. Projects in Basel, Switzerland, and in northern California were both abandoned, raising questions about the danger of purposefully cracking open the Earth to extract its heat.

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Practical Steps Toward a Quantum Propulsion Machine

An Israeli scientist has proposed a way to build a quantum propulsion machine by pushing on the electromagnetic fields within a quantum vacuum, generating a force that, theoretically, could be harnessed. Sounds simple enough, right? But leaving the complex jargon of quantum mechanics aside, the implications are pretty amazing.

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Bacteria-Busting Genetic Bombs Make Biofuel Processing a Blast

Generating biofuels from bacteria would be easier and potentially more efficient than producing it from plant matter -- if it weren't for the energy-intensive chemical reactions needed to extract the fuel from the bacteria after they've manufactured it. But the most promising sources of bacterial fuel, like cyanobacteria, are wrapped in multiple layers of protective membranes that make it difficult to get at the fatty material.

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Making Powerful, Lightweight Batteries From Nothing But Nanotube Ink and Paper

Reading the electronic-media narrative as it plays out in many popular tech and news blogs, one would think we are hurtling toward a future where paper is all but unnecessary. But a new development in battery technology could bring paper right back around to its former place of prominence, using it to power the very digital devices -- smartphones, Kindles, laptops, etc. -- that are increasingly replacing print.

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MIT Redesigns Natural Gas Power Plant For Near-Zero Carbon Emissions

New technology produces energy from fuel without burning it

With the conference in Copenhagen swiftly approaching, and the Senate analog to the Waxman-Markey "American Clean Energy and Security Act" struggling towards the floor, little doubt remains that fossil fuel-burning power plants will soon face either fines for, or mandatory reduction of, carbon emissions. Luckily, a team at MIT has devised a power plant set up that generates power from fossil fuels, but does so with almost none of the carbon emissions.

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Finnish Company Claims Its Copper Canisters Can Store Nuclear Waste for 100,000 Years

While the fate of America's Yucca Mountain appears to be sealed, Finnish company Posiva is moving forward with a cutting-edge nuclear waste storage facility that it claims will safely store radioactive waste in drums deep in the ground for 100,000 years. While challenges abound, a green light from the Finnish government expected by 2012 will make the site on Finland's Olkiluoto Island the first permanent nuclear waste repository in the world, opening the door for more to follow.

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Danish Island Becomes One of the First Energy-Self-Sufficient Places On Earth

For centuries now, civilization has been working toward an unsustainable future, burning fossil fuels for heat and electricity and creating a way of life that is a model of inefficiency. The tiny Danish island of Samso is leading the way back to sustainability, becoming the one of the first industrialized places in the world to qualify as completely energy self-sufficient.

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World's First Osmotic Power Plant Goes Live in Norway

The groundbreaking plant produces about enough power to make a pot of delicious coffee

When it comes to harnessing the energy potential of the oceans, the Norwegians have no problem starting small. The world's first osmotic power plant opened today in Tofte, Norway, utilizing the properties of salty seawater to generate a whopping 4 kilowatts of electricity for the grid, or about enough to power a coffee maker. But the Norwegian company running the project, Statkraft, is a glass-half-full kind of company, claiming that eventually osmotic plants could draw half of Europe's electricity from the saltiness of the sea.

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High-Pressure Diamond Anvil Creates a New Solid from Xenon and Hydrogen

The useful noble gas may provide a breakthrough way to store hydrogen for fuel

Hydrogen Storage: Store me some hydrogen  Nature Chemistry/H-Racer
Science under pressure can produce marvelous results, such as an entirely new way to store hydrogen fuel. Researchers combined the noble gas xenon with molecular hydrogen (H2) to make a never-before-seen solid that opens the doors to an entire new family of materials for hydrogen storage.

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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.

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