News

Should the internet piracy bills be used to combat online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property?

Senate and House leaders announced last week that they are postponing work on two controversial anti-piracy bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the (PIPA) Protect IP Act, in the wake of large online protests that spurred some congressmen to rethink the legislation. Supporters of the bills, which include major media and entertainment companies, say their intention is to go after foreign websites that distribute unauthorized copies of software, videos, and music. Opponents in the tech industry, however, say that the language in the bills is too broad, and that they could pose a threat to free speech and stifle innovation. Also, the legislation, some claim, could give sites the difficult task of being responsible for all content or links posted by their users. Those in favor of the bill say that the laws protect content providers’ intellectual property, along with corresponding jobs and revenue.

Posted in: Question of the Week
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Breeding Grasses With Better Properties for Bioenergy

Researchers with the UK's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Sustainable Bioenergy Center (BSBEC) have discovered a family of genes that could help breed grasses with improved properties for bioenergy.

Posted in: News, News, Alternative Fuels, Biomass, Renewable Energy
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Will there be mass acceptance of the electric and hybrid vehicles before 2025?

Despite uncertainty, automakers are still making a big push for electric vehicles in 2012. Ford, for example, will have five such cars by the end the year, including the 2013 Ford Fusion hybrid and 2013 Ford Fusion Energi plug-in electric, which were both shown at last week's Detroit auto show. Although hybrid and electric car sales have been on the rise in recent years, some say consumer demand could wane, especially due to low gas prices and cheaper technology that favors internal combustion engines. EV-friendly tax credits have also expired. In 2025, Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations will force automakers to make cars that attain 54.5 miles per gallon on average.

Posted in: Question of the Week
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Superconducting Current Limiter

A new superconducting current limiter based on YBCO strip conductors has been installed at a power plant. At the Boxberg power plant of the Swedish company Vattenfall, the current limiter protects the grid for own consumption that is designed for 12,000 volts and 800 amperes against damage due to short circuits and voltage peaks.

Posted in: News, News, Power Management, Energy, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, Wind Power
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Sunflower-Inspired Pattern Increases Concentrated Solar Efficiency

There are only a handful of concentrated solar power (CSP) plants in the world. The technology could potentially generate enough renewable energy to power the entire U.S., provided that land and sunlight are in ample supply. Researchers have now come up with a design that reduces the amount of land required to build a CSP plant, while increasing the amount of sunlight its mirrors collect.

Posted in: News, News, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, Software
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Do the benefits of hydraulic fracturing outweigh the risks?

According to a seismologist investigating regional earthquakes, a northeast Ohio well used to dispose of wastewater from oil and gas drilling almost certainly caused a series of 11 minor quakes. Some environmentalists are already critical of the drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which utilizes chemical-laced water and sand to blast deep into the ground and free shale gas. Critics fear that the drilling liquid contains carcinogens, and could contaminate water supplies. The industry-supported Ohio Oil and Gas Association, however, said the rash of quakes was "a rare and isolated event that should not cast doubt about the effectiveness" of injection wells, adding that the wells "have been used safely and reliably as a disposal method for wastewater from oil and gas operations in the U.S. since the 1930."

Posted in: Question of the Week
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Atlas Maps Renewable Energy Resources

A new geospatial application developed by the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) allows users to map potential renewable energy resources in the United States. The interactive tool is called RE Atlas, and is free to use and available online.

Posted in: News, News, Biomass, Geothermal Power, Hydroelectric Power, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, Wind Power, Software
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Pollution Reducer & Heat Generator

New technology from North Carolina State University and West Virginia University can reduce air pollutant emissions from some chicken and swine barns while also reducing their energy use by recovering and possibly generating heat. A proof-of-concept unit incorporates a biofilter and a heat exchanger to reduce ammonia emissions.

Posted in: News, News, Energy Efficiency, Greenhouse Gases, Recycling Technologies, Remediation Technologies
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Lightweight, Solar-Powered Generator

An Office of Naval Research (ONR)-funded solar generator has recently entered full production, with several systems already in the field. The Ground Renewable Expeditionary ENergy System (GREENS) is a portable, 300-watt, hybrid battery generator that uses the sun to produce electric currents.

Posted in: News, News, Defense, Batteries, Renewable Energy, Solar Power
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Black Silicon Solar Cell Products to be Developed

DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has granted Natcore Technology Inc. a patent license agreement to develop new black silicon products. Natcore and NREL also will enter a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to develop commercial prototypes based on NREL’s black silicon inventions.

Posted in: News, News, Renewable Energy, Solar Power
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