fossil fuels

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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Carbon Nanotube Sponge Could Suck Up Oil Spills

A new carbon sponge can soak up 180 times its own weight in organic matter

Spongebob may want to look into a nanotech upgrade that could permit him to walk on water. Chinese scientists have created carbon nanotube sponges that don't absorb water, leaving them plenty of room for absorbing oil or other icky organic goo.

The new sponges rely upon interconnected carbon nanotubes that naturally repel water, and can absorb 180 times their weight in organic matter. Current sponges used for oil spill cleanups and industrial applications can only absorb up to 20 times their own weight.

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IEA Whistleblower Claims Agency Has Downplayed Looming Oil Shortage

According to a senior International Energy Agency official, the energy watchdog agency fears the truth would trigger panic buying

A senior official at the International Energy Agency turned whistleblower just prior to the release of a major IEA report, and claimed that the international organization has downplayed a looming oil shortage to appease the U.S. and prevent panic buying.

The anonymous whistleblower apparently told his story to The Guardian on the eve of the new World Energy Outlook report that went public Tuesday. He alleged that the international watchdog has bowed to U.S. pressure to underplay the decline of existing oil fields and overplay the possibility of tapping new fields.

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Largest Carbon Sequestration Plant To Pump 3.3 Million Tons Of CO2 Into Ground

Even before a single ounce of natural gas gets burned in a home or power plant, massive amounts of CO2 have already been released. The process of extracting natural gas releases carbon dioxide pent up in the same wells as the gas, thus adding to the climate-changing impact of the fuel.

To help lower the global warming impact of one of the world's largest natural gas fields, General Electric has supplied Chevron, Exxon Mobile and Shell with enough compression "trains"--the pumps and turbines that do the sequestering--to create the world's largest carbon sequestration project. The trains will pump 3.3 million tons of CO2 released from natural gas mining back into the ground every year. That's the equivalent of taking 630,000 cars off the road.

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Cleaner Fossil Fuels

Carbon-capture technology comes on the scene

The Big Picture: Carbon-restricting legislation, if enacted, will discourage the use of coal, the dirtiest of all fossil fuels. Natural gas is cleaner but still emits carbon dioxide when burned. Both will be used for decades, but carbon-capture technology could clean them up until they can be replaced completely.

Where We Are Now: 1,460 GW
What We Need by 2050: 3,830 GW (all of it clean)
Tech to Watch: Carbon-to-cement

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Europe Returns to Coal

A number of power plants in that most progressive of continents take a leap backwards and reintroduces coal

In a slow-motion shock to environmentalists worldwide, European countries are turning back to coal to fire new power plants. At a time when India and China are ramping up production in their outdated coal-burning facilities, the last place anyone expected to see a coal resurgence was in the generally progressive nations of Western Europe. Most turning again to coal are hamstrung by record oil and natural gas prices; Italy and Germany have the added stress of having banned new nuclear plants as an alternative.

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Animated Map Visualizes Greenhouse Gas Sources

Where U.S. carbon dioxide emissions come from...and where they go.

Vulcan CO2 Map: Color-coded for output density  Purdue University
A new system for mapping carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. will help regulators figure out exactly where these emissions are coming from and how best to reduce them. Among human-produced gases that contribute to climate change, carbon dioxide is public enemy number one.

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