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Posts Tagged ‘Steven Chu’

Is Hydrogen Power Making a Comeback?

Nissan, Hyundai among makers willing to putting fuel-cell vehicles into production.

by on Oct.08, 2012

Nissan says it would consider putting a fuel cell vehicle like the TeRRA concept into production.

“Hydrogen is the clean, efficient power for the future,” goes the old joke among engineers, “and it always will be.”  Like the sign that offers “free beer…tomorrow,” it’s a cynical sign that while hydrogen power could ultimately be one of the cleanest possible sources of energy, it never seems to quite reach the mass production stage.

Yet, there are small but telling signs that this may soon change.  A growing number of automakers are planning to launch limited production of vehicles using hydrogen fuel cell technology. General Motors, meanwhile, has moved its hydrogen research center in an upstate New York outpost to one of its main Detroit engineering campuses.

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And Dept. of Energy Secretary Steven Chu has signaled a growing interest in hydrogen after earlier dismissing the technology and shifting more than $100 million in federal research money from fuel cells to batteries.

Hydrogen seemed all the rage within the auto industry at the dawn of the new Millennium. And a cursory understanding explained why: the lightweight gas is the most abundant element in the universe and, when used in a fuel cell system, produces electricity and water vapor rather than the harmful emissions found in the exhaust of an internal combustion engine.

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Report: Petroleum Will Power Cars Until at Least 2050

But natural gas could play a larger role, powering more large vehicles such as buses and refuse haulers.

by on Aug.03, 2012

A report from the National Petroleum Council says that the internal combustion engine will continue to power the majority of cars in the U.S. for the foreseeable future. But EcoMotors is developing a new engine called OPOC that could improve internal combustion engine efficiency.

Even though automakers and the government are pouring billions of research dollars into alternatives, a new report predicts that petroleum  will continue to dominate the automotive market for decades to come unless a disruptive innovation is introduced.

But natural gas has the potential to assume a large chunk U.S. transportation, particularly in large vehicles such as buses and refuse haulers.

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The report, titled Advancing Technology for America’s Transportation Future, predicts a future that will continue to be dominated by petroleum, but supplemented by a variety of technologies including electricity, hydrogen and biofuels.

But the report authors acknowledge that technological innovations could provide a replacement for petroleum.

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U.S. Departments of Energy and Interior Announce New Solar Energy Demonstration Projects

The first project will advance renewable, solar created electricity at a former nuclear weapons testing site in Nevada.

by on Jul.09, 2010

Funding is by a combination of private and taxpayer supplied dollars.

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada have announced the site of a “Solar Demonstration Zone” for emerging solar energy technologies.

The Solar Demonstration Zone will be located in the southwest corner of the Nevada Test Site, a former nuclear site, on lands owned by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and administered by DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Secretaries Chu and Salazar signed an interagency Memorandum of Understanding that will enable the Department of Energy to develop “innovative solar energy projects” there.

These projects will serve as proving grounds for new solar technologies, providing a link between DOE’s advanced technology development and full-scale commercialization efforts.

“The Nevada Test Site is about to play a new role in securing America’s future – but instead of testing nuclear weapons, we will test new solar technologies that will help put America on a sustainable energy path,” said Secretary Chu.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management oversees 23 million acres of Southwestern lands with solar potential, and could play an important role in supporting renewable energy goals.

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“These projects on BLM land in Nevada can significantly reduce the costs and environmental impacts of utility-scale solar power facilities and demonstrate the commercial viability of these facilities,” Secretary Salazar said.

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U.S. DOE and GM to Test Grow Jatropha in India

Oily weed holds promise as a sustainable biodiesel feedstock.

by on Mar.30, 2010

The goal of the project is to demonstrate that jatropha can produce significant quantities of oil for conversion to biodiesel.

The goal of the project is to demonstrate that the weed can produce significant enough amounts of oil for conversion to biodiesel fuel.

General Motors Company announced today a five-year partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help develop the jatropha plant for what could evolve into a sustainable biofuel energy crop.

Jatropha plants produce an oil that can be refined into biodiesel fuel.

The drought-resistant, non-edible plant can be grown commercially with modest care on marginal land.

To explore whether new varieties of the plant can produce high enough yields to make it viable while thriving in temperate climates in the U.S. is the point of the experiment.

“Discovering new sources for biodiesel production is an important part of DOE research and development efforts,” said Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. “The expertise of this team can help speed the pace for the development of jatropha as a biofuel crop.”

Two jatropha farms will be established in India: a 16-hectare (39.5 acre) plot in Bhavnagar and a 38-hectare (93.9 acre) plot in Kalol, near GM’s India Car Manufacturing plant. An existing 30-hectare (74.1 acre) jatropha farm in Bhavnagar also will be managed under this project.

Lab-optimized strains of jatropha will be cultivated at these farms.

The joint DOE-GM funding, an unspecified amount, will also enable the Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI)—an Indian Government research facility, to  manage all of the 84 hectares (840,000 m2).   (more…)