Climate change mitigation strategies such as the German Energiewende require linking vast numbers of new power generation facilities to the grid. As the input from many renewable sources is rather volatile, depending on how much the wind blows or the sun shines, there's a higher risk of local power instabilities and eventually blackouts. Scientists now employed a novel concept from nonlinear systems analysis called basin stability to tackle this challenge.
Spinach gave Popeye super strength, but it also holds the promise of a different power for a group of scientists: the ability to convert sunlight into a clean, efficient alternative fuel. Physicists are using spinach to study the proteins involved in photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert the sun's energy into carbohydrates used to power cellular processes. Artificial photosynthesis could allow for the conversion of solar energy into renewable, environmentally friendly hydrogen-based fuels.
No fossil fuels used for heating or hot water in an entire village - that is the ambitious goal of the Zernez Energia 2020 research project. ETH scientists have studied the feasibility of the project and are presenting the initial findings in an exhibition.
Researchers have streamlined and simplified a process that uses extracts from seeds of Moringa oleifa trees to purify water, reducing levels of harmful bacteria by 90 percent to 99 percent. The hardy trees that are drought resistant are cultivated widely throughout many countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Germany comes in first in a new energy efficiency ranking of the world's major economies, followed by Italy, the European Union as a whole, China, and France, according to the 2014 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard published by the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
Researchers are using new magnetic materials to develop revolutionary electrical motors and generators which promise significant energy savings. They have used the new motors to develop patented highly efficient water pump systems with potential widespread application.
Oil produced from biomass - such as wood chips or plant residues - seldom has the same quality and energy content as 'classical' crude oil. A new, simple catalyst improves the quality of this oil before it is even transported to the refinery.
Scientists from the University of Southampton have helped to create a new map, which shows the impact climate change could have on the whole planet by the end of the century, if carbon emissions continue to increase.
A 25-year-long study provides the first quantitative measurement of in situ calcium-magnesium silicate mineral dissolution by ants, termites, tree roots, and bare ground. This study reveals that ants are one of the most powerful biological agents of mineral decay yet observed. It may be that an understanding of the geobiology of ant-mineral interactions might offer a line of research on how to 'geoengineer' accelerated carbon dioxide consumption by calcium-magnesium silicates.
Scientists have developed a method for improving the catalysis of water-splitting reactions used for storing wind and solar energy. The method chemically peels off the outermost surface of a catalyst, thereby maximizing its active surface for the reaction.