Archives for March, 2013

Hmmm… Aren’t we on Spring Break? It is 6:00am Saturday, the first day of Spring Break for the Saint Thomas Academy Experimental Vehicle Team. As I walk out the door a blast of 10°F  (-12°C) air strikes me in the face. This won’t be a good day to test the vehicles! Ah, Spring in Minnesota.…

Shell* Eco-marathon Americas, a fuel-efficiency race where students design and build futuristic vehicles that are then driven on the streets of downtown Houston, Texas, kicks off on April 4. Shell followed three student teams across the Americas, capturing their trials and tribulations as they prepared for the race. In the first episode, Canada’s Alérion Supermileage…

The ethanol mandate in gasoline is starting to sting.

With less than two weeks left until the competition, the Illini EcoConcept team is busy finishing the vehicle over spring break. This is only the second year for the team. In our first year we brought a hydrogen fuel cell powered “urban concept” vehicle and took first place. This year we would like to improve…

Purdue Solar Racing (PSR) has shown tremendous strides over our 22-year history. With a car that failed to qualify at Sunrayce as our starting point, we could only go up. PSR was founded on the principle of building and racing solar cars as well as educating the public on alternative forms of energy.  Through improvements…

Two Sibling Cars: One Easy, One Mischievious

Will spilled resin wash out of my uniform pants? Oh no! Not that question again! I warn students that they should bring a change of clothes to the shop, and it should be something they will never wear in public again. How many times will youthful enthusiasm override common sense? Someone’s mom is not going…

With the United Nations’ 20th annual World Water Day focusing on international cooperation in managing water, it’s a good time to highlight projects in the United States that are saving water — and energy. World Water Day, which takes place every March 22, aims to increase awareness of the millions of people who don’t have…

Shell Eco-marathon is only a couple of weeks away and we here at the James Madison Solar Car team are excited and ready to make San Antonio proud! This will be our team’s second time competing in the Shell Eco-marathon, and our anticipation keeps growing as Houston nears. Since we only had a frame made,…

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has delayed a final decision on requiring filters for emergency vents on the 31 U.S. nuclear reactors that are  similar in design to those at Japan’s ill-fated Fukushima Daiichi. NRC staff experts earlier concluded the vents should be outfitted with filters, even though the chance of a failure that would require…

Our team is entering the stage of competition where sleep becomes no longer an option.

Students of all ages are accustomed to being graded on their work and ranked against their peers. It’s a common practice for just about everything in society from education to politics, but athletics is perhaps one of the most scrutinized and ranked fields out there. With college basketball’s March Madness tournament just around the corner,…

  Sometimes the long term trends are the hardest to see, yet also the most significant. Take energy efficiency, for example. There’s no question that using energy more efficiently is crucial in both meeting the rising global demand and in minimizing climate change. And the good news is that the United States has been on…

Speaking at Argonne National Laboratory Friday, President Barack Obama emphasized the need for research on alternative energy technologies and called for an energy security trust to fund such research, pulling $2 billion in royalties from oil and gas leases over 10 years. Taking aim at the recent sequester-driven budget cuts and partisan budget battles in…

Solar energy continues to grow in the United States, but its relative unpredictability remains a hurdle in deploying it on the grid. Now a research team is working to create detailed 36-hour forecasts of incoming energy from the sun. The three-year effort, led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), is funded by a…

Less than 25 percent of the population has access to electricity in the small West African country of Benin (map). In rural areas, the rate is even lower. Without an alternative, locals use kerosene for lighting needs, which contributes to health problems and is very costly. Climate conditions create challenges for Benin as well. In…

The Energy Information Administration is touting the fact that “heating and cooling” now comprise less than half of our residential energy usage. But that’s only half the story. Used to be that most of our residential energy bucks went to heating and cooling our homes. In 1978, for example, almost 70 percent of the energy used in American…

If you’re active on social media, you may have noticed a viral video about U.S. wealth inequality making the rounds. In just a few short days this video was watched and shared by millions, raising awareness about the difference between our perception of how wealth is divided and the reality. According to a report from energy start-up Opower, however,…

When the giant winter storm Nemo hit New England in February, the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Generating Station in Plymouth, Massachusetts, lost outside power for seven days. Diesel backups took over operating the reactors’ cooling system. (Related Quiz: “What Do You Know About Nuclear Power?“) Pilgrim has the same kind of reactors that failed at Fukushima,…

Progress in developing new energy technology typically has a longer time horizon than can be measured in little more than three years, but the ARPA-E program is already showing early signs of success. Created in 2007, ARPA-E began funding energy technology projects in 2009. By November 2012, ARPA-E’s total portfolio had reached $770 million, which…

President Obama’s decision to nominate Ernest Moniz as U.S. Secretary of Energy potentially places an advocate of nuclear energy and shale gas at the head of the department during a time of intense debate over the future of both. The U.S. is grappling with how to regulate, and whether to export, its booming natural gas…