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Fossil fuel power plants generate about two-thirds of the world's total electricity, and are expected to continue to play an important role in the years ahead. But, increasing energy demands worldwide means that there will be a need to better monitor power plants for signs of age and inefficiency, while stricter emission requirements will require higher levels of performance, capacity, and efficiency.
The U.S. Department of Energy is about to fund five projects that will develop technologically sophisticated monitoring networks for advanced fossil energy power systems.
The projects will support efforts by the Office of Fossil Energy's Advanced Research-Coal Utilization Science Program. They'll study new ways to develop and validate models of these networks; and the wireless, self-powered sensors used for advanced, next-generation power systems. They'll monitor the status of equipment, the degradation of materials, and the conditions that impact the overall health of any one component or system in the harsh high-temperature, highly corrosive environments of advanced power plants.
These advanced networks will help enhance the overall reliability, performance, and availability of emerging near-zero emissions power production systems.
$6.5 million will be invested in the projects, with nearly $5 million from the Energy Department and the remaining $1.5 million in cost share provided by the recipients.
Vote today in our Best of the Federal Government series.
Technology developed at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Lab will extend the life of light-emitting diode lamps. The invention could save U.S. municipalities millions of dollars every year in replacement fixture costs and maintenance, as the lamps are increasingly in demand for uses such as street lights and parking garage lighting. New graphite foam technology has been licensed to LED North America, which specializes in providing LED lighting products for municipal, commercial and industrial applications. Cooling LED lamps is critical to increasing their efficiency, considering that each 10-degree decrease in temperature can double the life of the lighting components. The newly licensed graphite foam offers many advantages over comparable heat sink materials such as copper and aluminum.
A little wax and soap will help build electrodes for cheaper lithium ion batteries. According to a study in an August issue of Nano Letters, a new one-step method will allow battery developers to explore lower-priced alternatives to popular lithium ion-metal oxide batteries. Consumers use them in everything from cell phones to toothbrushes, and they're being tried in automobiles. But, most lithium ion batteries available today are designed with an OXIDE of metal such as cobalt, nickel, or manganese which are relatively heavy and expensive. Scientists with the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Lab have been experimenting with cheaper metals and the more stable phosphate in place of oxide. Researchers say, paraffin can provide a good medium in which to grow lighter, cheaper electrode materials.
Scientists with the Environmental Protection Agency have collaborated with the Department of Energy to develop new water quality software that enhances a local water system's ability to know when it's been intentionally, or unintentionally, contaminated. It assists both agencies in meeting goals connected to homeland security. Utilities can use the Canary software - in conjunction with a network of sensors - to quickly detect contamination, more accurately assess when and how to respond, and then issue warnings to customers if necessary. The software can help detect chemical and biological contaminants, including pesticides, metals, and pathogens. Canary is available worldwide as a free software tool to drinking water utilities. The software is currently being used by more than 600 users in 15 countries.
In federal hiring, officials always have to strike a balance: fill the job as quickly as possible, while looking for the right candidate from as big a pool of applicants as possible. A new report suggests evaluating candidates is the weakest part of the entire hiring process.
DoE set up Energy Savings Performance Contracts with several different companies to work under a share-in-savings approach to reduce agency utility bills. Agencies do not have to pay upfront costs to move electricity or other infrastructure away from fossil fuels. The contracts could help agencies meet the White House's carbon footprint and greenhouse goals.
The Department of Energy has entered into an agreement with the Department of Defense to accelerate the development of clean energy technologies while enhancing national energy security. A Memorandum of Understanding between the agencies now covers energy efficiency and renewable energy. It calls for their collaboration on the use of alternative fuels, efficient transportation technologies and fueling infrastructure, grid security, use of the smart grid, energy storage, basic science research, and mobile/deployable power sources. It builds on existing cooperation between the Departments, and will broaden collaboration on clean energy technology research, development, and demonstration. The Defense Department aims to speed up the transfer of innovative energy and conservation technologies from the lab to use in the field. To that end, military installations are used as testing sites before such energy technologies are actually brought to the marketplace.
A new public website has been launched by the Department of Energy designed to promote a better understanding of gasification technology - an increasingly popular alternative to converting feedstocks like coal and biomass into useful products such as electricity or fuels. Officials say gasification is anticipated to be the technology of choice for future near zero-emissions, coal-based plants that produce power, fuels, and chemicals. The process uses heat, pressure, and steam to convert ANY carbon-based raw material into synthesized gas, which can then be refined into pure hydrogen, transformed into liquid transportation fuels, or used to create electricity. The website - dubbed Gasifipedia - contains both introductory and in-depth information. You'll find the new Gasifipedia through the department's Energy Lab website at www.netl.doe.gov.
The Department of Energy and Natural Resources Canada will spend a total of $5.2 million dollars to bring a benchmark carbon dioxide injection project to a successful conclusion next year. The two governments will renew funding for the a CO2 Monitoring and Storage project. Under the project, carbon dioxide taken from a Gasification synfuels plant in North Dakota is delivered - via a 200-mile pipeline - to Canadian oil fields where the gas is injected roughly five-thousand feet underground. The gas forces oil into wells where it can be harvested, nearly tripling oil production. The project reduces greenhouse gas emissions while also demonstrating clean energy innovation. A projected total of 40 million tons of CO2 will be stored - and over 200 million additional barrels of oil are expected to be recovered - through the project by the year 2035.
DOE raises concern over safety of electric grid
The Energy Department has awarded $92 million for 43 cutting-edge research projects aimed at improving how Americans use and produce energy. Dr. Arun Majumdar, the Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, tells us why these organizations were awarded the money.
August 11th at 11:05am
The DoD GIG IA Portfolio Management Office (GIAP) has learned through experience that mission critical networks are contested, violated, infiltrated and penetrated, leading to significant risks to US interests. The U.S. critical infrastructure has evolved from a ‘network enabled' position to one that is now ‘network dependent.' No aspect of the national critical infrastructure operates without extensive use of information technology, and it is this very fact that makes our networks such a high priority target for adversaries.
The need for secure, self-aware, proactively managed defense mechanisms has never been more critical. Commercially available technologies, when combined with research and development done by both the government and the private sector, represent the best possible approach for combating the types of threats our critical infrastructure is facing today.
The Obama administration crafted the comprehensive New Energy for America Plan.
What's white and green and efficient all over? DOE hopes it's your roof.
Energy announces plans to host officials from several federal agencies to raise awareness and donations for the July collection of the "Feds Feed Families" nationwide food drive.
In the government, it's said that nothing has more endurance, or lasts longer than a document stamped "top secret". A presidential advisory panel tasked with developing a newly streamlined classification and declassification system for the government wrestled with one proposal to get rid of one existing category all together.
New battery materials developed by the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Lab and a Maryland company could enable electric vehicles, power tools and even cell phones to recharge in minutes rather than hours. In collaboration with a Princeton University researcher, the Lab has demonstrated that small quantities of graphene - an ultra-thin sheet of carbon atoms - can dramatically improve the power and stability of lithium-ion batteries, while maintaining high energy storage capacity. The pioneering work could lead to the development of batteries that store larger amounts of energy and recharge quickly. Today, a typical cell phone battery takes between two and five hours to fully recharge. Researchers think using new battery materials with graphene could cut recharge time to less than 10 minutes.
The University of California San Diego along with General Atomics are about to begin work on developing a new kind of flow battery technology that pumps chemicals through a battery cell when electricity is needed. The development of the battery would revolutionize current century-old lead-acid battery technology - creating low cost, high efficiency and reliability needed for use on the smart electrical power grid. This project is receiving $2 million dollars in funding through the U.S. Department of Energy and APRA-E, the Advanced Project Research Agency devoted to Energy research. The goal is the production of a battery that can be scaled for grid-scale energy storage but which costs less and performs far longer than current technologies.
A Milwaukee-based company is about to begin research on an alternative form of refrigeration for cooling buildings, under a $2-point-nine million dollar energy research grant funded through the federal stimulus package. Using a solid state cooling technology, the privately held Astronautics Corporation of America will research a type of magnetic refrigeration that does not rely on a liquid-based refrigerant. Energy Department officials say, if successful, the breakthrough system could achieve significant energy efficiency, greatly reducing system operating costs compared to conventional compression systems, in addition to producing zero greenhouse gases. In all, $30 million dollars in grant money is being given to 17 different projects around the country that focus on a variety of novel approaches to air-conditioning.