Alternative Fuels

Find the latest technologies and applications being used in alternative fuels that impact design engineering in the commercial and government, aviation, and automotive sectors.

A new design enables artificial photosynthesis to generate fuel that can power homes and vehicles.
Facility Focus: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Facility Focus: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rensselaer Engineering focuses on solving the “grand challenges” facing humanity.
This fast, flexible tool allows researchers to quickly compare and prioritize strategies for converting biomass to fuels and products.
A team at Northwestern University is developing a material so porous that if you were able to unfold a gram of it, you could go farther than a football field.
Fuse devices enable circuit safety in high-power applications, such as motion control and alternative energy generation, in addition to electric vehicles.
Briefs: Green Design & Manufacturing
Catalysis Approach Reduces Carbon Dioxide to Methane
This approach is a cost-effective way to convert carbon dioxide gas into methane.
Electric motors and gas-alcohol engines could slash pollution levels and greenhouse gases from long-haul trucks.
This technology enables methane metabolism by yeast.
Life support research for astronauts enabled a solution to one aspect of climate change.
Q&A: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Q&A: A Circulatory System for Robots

Robert F. Shepherd is Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. He is leading a team exploring the use of hydraulic fluids in soft robots to also...

Scientists from Caltech and Northwestern University have found a way to generate electricity by combining saltwater with one of life's more undesirable compounds: rust.

Our readers ask: How do you know that you have the right anode? How can you inspect the electrolyte or electrode material?

Whereas hydrogen fuel cells (e.g., proton exchange membrane (PEM) and other fuel cells) generate electricity from the chemical reaction between pure hydrogen and oxygen, direct carbon fuel cells...

Nearly 70 percent of the energy produced in the United States each year is wasted as heat. Much of that heat is less than 100 °C and emanates from things like computers, cars, or...

Heavy-duty trucks, such as the 18-wheelers that transport many of the world's goods from farm or factory to market, are virtually all powered by diesel engines. They account for a...

It's dark on the back road as a motorist speeds toward the intersection. Up ahead, the stop sign blends with the night and in seconds a deadly crash occurs. According to the U.S....

News: Automotive
Renewable Oils for Use in Lubricants Synthesized

Engine gears, plane thrusters, refrigerator compressors, wind turbines – the list of important industrial machinery, agricultural equipment, transportation vessels, and home applications that depend on lubricants might be endless. These slick substances quite literally keep the world turning,...

Advancements in zero-emission fuel cells could make the technology cheap enough to replace traditional gasoline engines in vehicles, according to researchers at...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Wood-Based Technology Creates Electricity from Heat

Researchers have transformed a piece of wood into a flexible membrane that generates energy from the same type of electric current (ions) on which the human body runs. This energy is generated using charged channel walls and other unique properties of the wood’s natural nanostructures. With...

Increase in bioethanol production throughout the US has led to an increase in the process coproduct — distiller’s grains with solubles (DGS). DGS can be used to feed...

Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Measurement Method for Radioactive Methane

Anew method for measuring radioactive methane is an optical one based on spectroscopy. Previously, radioactive methane has been measured with accelerator mass spectrometry involving expensive machines. Optical measuring could be a cheaper and more agile method.

A new technology may lead to a more mainstream use of algal biofuels.
Briefs: Energy
Fuel Cell/Fuel Cell Hybrid System

Fuel cells can deliver clean, reliable, and uninterrupted power nearly 100 percent of the time. Fuel cells offer the advantage of efficiency by converting chemical energy directly to electricity. They have no moving parts, thereby eliminating failures associated with pumps, blowers, heat exchangers, and other...

Fuel cells generate electricity directly from hydrogen and oxygen and produce only water vapor as emissions. But most fuel cells are too expensive,...

In the quest for abundant, renewable alternatives to fossil fuels, scientists have sought to harvest the sun’s energy through “water splitting,” an artificial photosynthesis...

Have you heard of "fatbergs?" Researcher Asha Srinivasan explains how her team is turning masses of fat, oil, and grease into biofuel.

New research from Idaho National Laboratory suggests that electric vehicle drivers could face longer charging times when temperatures drop. The reason: cold...

Facility Focus: Energy
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

In 1977, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL, Golden, CO) started as the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI), spurred by national concern during the 1973 oil embargo that caused long...

Briefs: Green Design & Manufacturing
Grid Friendly™ Charger Controller

Electric vehicles are growing in popularity, and while they represent a cleaner alternative to fossil-fueled vehicles, their increased use may stress the grid if this growing load is left unmanaged. A need...