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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Paper-Thin Batteries To Juice Self-Powered OLEDs

General Electric has teamed with an Israeli battery developer to make thin organic LED panels that require no external power source

OLED-Lit Tent :  GE
Organig LEDs hold large promise for efficient, thin and flexible lighting elements (as well as razor-thin TVs), but low-tech power sources continue to constrain more creative uses of the lights. After all, what good is a shirt of woven LEDs if you need to lug around 10 C batteries to power it? Thankfully, GE is teaming up with the makers of printable, paper-thin battery to create self-powered OLEDs with the battery integrated into the thin light element itself.

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Nine European Nations Vow to Create Supergrid for Sharing Offshore Wind Power

The Copenhagen announcement would allow nine European countries to share a common renewable energy source

Offshore wind power may soon cross national boundaries more easily than ever, based on news from the Copenhagen climate summit. Nine European nations announced plans for a "supergrid" in the North Sea that would allow them to connect Irish wind farms to continental Europe, or vice versa.

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It's About Time: Power Plug Wall Sockets WIth USB Ports Built In

USB is as close as we're probably going to get to a universal gadget-charger standard. But to charge something without occupying a precious free port on your computer, you need a power brick adapter. Not with these $10 wall sockets from True Power.

These will fit with the wiring already in your home, giving you two powered USB ports (or "holes" as Prickly Pete would say) for each wall socket. They're available next year.

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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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Obscure Gear: What the heck is a Variac?

And why do I own three?

A Variac looks like a sci-fi laboratory prop. For some reason, I have three of them in my shop, and yes, one is just a book end. But they do have a useful purpose.

Variac is a generic trade name for a variable autotransformer. If that doesn't help explain much, let's look at what a regular transformer is, and how they relate to a collection of vintage arcade games.

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The Dissection: A Home Electric Meter

A peek inside the simple gears and complicated math that make up one of the coolest devices in your house

You remember calculus, right? In a time before mechanized computing was performed by computers, complex (or sometimes just clever) machines were used to automate calculations. One example that has always impressed and fascinated me is the wheel-and-disk integrator, a simple machine capable of solving the calculus equations you labored over in high school without breaking a sweat. While this concept was used most impressively in Vannevar Bush's differential analyzer, an analog computer built in 1931, the chances are good that you've seen one in a more mundane application around your house: the power meter. Click on the photo gallery to see inside one and how it works, and follow the jump for more in-depth electro-geekery.

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Researchers Develop a Penny-Sized Nuclear Battery

A tiny nuclear energy source could help power micro- and nanomachines of the future

Nuclear power has long provided steady energy sources for everything from homes to deep space probes. Now researchers have begun developing a tiny nuclear battery the size of a penny that could provide power in a smaller, lighter, and more efficient package.

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Is Qi Ready to Be the Standard for Wireless Power?

The Wireless Power Consortium, made up of Sanyo, Texas Instruments, Philips, Olympus, and Samsung, are making headway towards making their Qi wireless charging spec the industry standard. In their ideal world, any third-party, Qi-branded product will work on their line of charging pads, which function via magnetic induction. I happen to think it's just the boost wireless power technology needs.

The spec can deliver power of up to 5 watts, which is good for many small consumer electronics, and prototype gadgets using Qi will be revealed in the middle of September.

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New Integrated Circuits Consume No Standby Power

NEC and Rohm are going back and forth on new engineering breakthroughs that will allow integrated circuits inside chips to consume no power when they're briefly inactive between cycles. And unlike most chip-level developments on the edge, we may see the technology in consumer products by the end of the year.

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Nanotech Could Boost Geothermal Power and Reduce Earthquake Risk

Tapping geothermal sources for power has proven a tricky proposition, because of costs and hazards associated with deep drilling. But researchers may have stumbled on a way to boost the power-producing potential of low-temperature hot springs close to the Earth's surface, using nanotechnology.

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Russian Energy Firm Presses Forward With World's First Floating Nuclear Power Plant

It's one of those ideas that just sounds wrong: a barge-like floating nuclear plant in the middle of the ocean. But despite its somewhat unconventional approach, a Russian firm we first reported on in 2006 is forging ahead with plans to have the first model ready to begin service in 2012.

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Funding The Machine That "Might Save The World"

General Fusion gets $12 million to help make their cold fusion reactor a reality

General Fusion, the Canadian duo who hope to produce a cold fusion power plant for perhaps a tenth the cost of other such promised projects, just got a $12 million shot in the arm.

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The Plan to Build the Next Electric Grid

Even if we tap every renewable power source available, it won't mean a thing without a final, crucial step: reinventing the grid

The Next Grid:  Nick Kaloterakis and Kevin Hand (See an annotated version of the next grid)
The American electric grid is an engineering marvel, arguably the single largest and most complex machine in the world. It's also 40 years old and so rickety that power interruptions and blackouts cost the economy some $150 billion a year. The idea of building a connected "smart" grid that can route power intelligently is beyond daunting, no matter how much stimulus money gets thrown at it. But if we want to cut carbon, we have no choice. Today's grid simply cannot handle a large-scale rollout of the clean-energy sources outlined in this series.

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Jets of 7200°F Hydrogen Cut Through Granite at 100 Feet per Hour

Tired of wearing out diamond bits when you're drilling miles deep into the earth's crust? Try using a high-velocity flame jet instead

Inspired by designs created by his father decades ago, Jared Potter is building an arsenal of ultra-powerful flame-jet drills. As seen in the NatGeo video above, one prototype directs a jet of burning hydrogen at 3200°F against a slab of solid granite.

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