Volume 4, Issue 12
December 10, 2017 – December 16, 2017
Jason Mulderrig '18 | Will Atkinson '18 | Anushka Dasgupta '19 | Joe Abbate '18 | Amy Amatya '21


 There are two primary types of  biofuels . The first is ethanol, which is made from high-carbohydrate plants like corn. Ethanol is usually mixed with regular gas to decrease CO emissions and add a renewable component to the fossil fuel base. A primary research area is developing techniques to more efficiently use cellulose and the more fibrous parts that comprise most of the plant mass. The second is biodiesel, which in addition to being an additive to fossil fuels can also be used as a standalone fuel source. One of the primary sources of biodiesel is cooking grease that restaurants would otherwise just throw out, although research is being done on biomass-production via microscopic algae. While these technologies sound “green” in the most literal sense of the phrase, however, the counterarguments are that increasing plant-fuel production will decrease food production and that solar cells are about  100 times as efficient  per square meter of land use anyway. Nonetheless, respond biofuel proponents, even in a future with electric cars we will still require explosive fuel for airplanes. To fill that need, there are non-food-arable lands, cooking grease, and unused plant parts around the world which would otherwise go to waste. -JAA

There are two primary types of biofuels. The first is ethanol, which is made from high-carbohydrate plants like corn. Ethanol is usually mixed with regular gas to decrease CO emissions and add a renewable component to the fossil fuel base. A primary research area is developing techniques to more efficiently use cellulose and the more fibrous parts that comprise most of the plant mass. The second is biodiesel, which in addition to being an additive to fossil fuels can also be used as a standalone fuel source. One of the primary sources of biodiesel is cooking grease that restaurants would otherwise just throw out, although research is being done on biomass-production via microscopic algae. While these technologies sound “green” in the most literal sense of the phrase, however, the counterarguments are that increasing plant-fuel production will decrease food production and that solar cells are about 100 times as efficient per square meter of land use anyway. Nonetheless, respond biofuel proponents, even in a future with electric cars we will still require explosive fuel for airplanes. To fill that need, there are non-food-arable lands, cooking grease, and unused plant parts around the world which would otherwise go to waste. -JAA

  Secretary of Energy Announces 30-Million Investment in Advanced Nuclear Technology   December 7, 2017 | Energy.gov  The Department of Energy is soliciting proposals for research on what U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry calls a “clean, resilient source of electricity.” The $30 million dollar promise is being made available through Fiscal Year awards and a five-year application period for the development of innovative reactor designs with the hopes of advancing nuclear energy. Potential consequences to new models of the  extremely divisive  energy source certainly need to be explored research before implementation, given the spew of  small-town reactors prematurely closing  this past year. -AA

Secretary of Energy Announces 30-Million Investment in Advanced Nuclear Technology
December 7, 2017 | Energy.gov
The Department of Energy is soliciting proposals for research on what U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry calls a “clean, resilient source of electricity.” The $30 million dollar promise is being made available through Fiscal Year awards and a five-year application period for the development of innovative reactor designs with the hopes of advancing nuclear energy. Potential consequences to new models of the extremely divisive energy source certainly need to be explored research before implementation, given the spew of small-town reactors prematurely closing this past year. -AA

  Blockchain May Bring Transparency to Renewable Energy   December 4, 2017 | Clean Energy Finance Forum | Chijioke Onyekwelu  This article interviews the CEO of Wepower - a company that uses blockchain technology to facilitate transparent energy transactions. Wepower implements two types of blockchain tokens: (1) initial coin offering tokens, where customers buy these tokens as a means to raise money for energy projects and purchase the right to the energy from the project later, and (2) platform tokens, which are released by operational energy projects themselves, display crucial data about the energy, and the energy is provided to the purchaser quickly with a receipt. The company is launching in Europe with hopes to jump in the United States in the future. -JPM

Blockchain May Bring Transparency to Renewable Energy
December 4, 2017 | Clean Energy Finance Forum | Chijioke Onyekwelu
This article interviews the CEO of Wepower - a company that uses blockchain technology to facilitate transparent energy transactions. Wepower implements two types of blockchain tokens: (1) initial coin offering tokens, where customers buy these tokens as a means to raise money for energy projects and purchase the right to the energy from the project later, and (2) platform tokens, which are released by operational energy projects themselves, display crucial data about the energy, and the energy is provided to the purchaser quickly with a receipt. The company is launching in Europe with hopes to jump in the United States in the future. -JPM

  G.E. Cuts Jobs at It Navigates a Shifting Energy Market   December 7, 2017 | The New York Times | Tiffany Hsu and Clifford Kraus  This week, General Electric announced that it would be cutting almost 20% of the workforce in its power division; last month, its industry rival, Siemens, made a similar announcement. In the last decade, GE has been shaken by price slumps in oil and gas and poorly executed mergers. Now, the company is making adjustments to account for the growing long-term demand for renewable energy. Executives say that streamlining the company will be painful but necessary if it is to become competitive in the changing energy landscape. -AD

G.E. Cuts Jobs at It Navigates a Shifting Energy Market
December 7, 2017 | The New York Times | Tiffany Hsu and Clifford Kraus
This week, General Electric announced that it would be cutting almost 20% of the workforce in its power division; last month, its industry rival, Siemens, made a similar announcement. In the last decade, GE has been shaken by price slumps in oil and gas and poorly executed mergers. Now, the company is making adjustments to account for the growing long-term demand for renewable energy. Executives say that streamlining the company will be painful but necessary if it is to become competitive in the changing energy landscape. -AD

  Shape-Shifting Metals Could Generate Electricity from Wasted Heat   December 4, 2017 | Scientific American | Nick Stockton  A material called shape memory alloy, which changes its form based on temperature, could be used to generate electricity from alternating hot and cold water. When the temperature changes, the alloy nitinol expands and contracts, yielding energy that can be harnessed with pistons and a generator. The company Exergyn is still developing a prototype, hoping to overcome durability concerns. However, since a third of the energy used by U.S. industry is lost as heat, this technology could find a novel use for the wasted hot water. -WA

Shape-Shifting Metals Could Generate Electricity from Wasted Heat
December 4, 2017 | Scientific American | Nick Stockton
A material called shape memory alloy, which changes its form based on temperature, could be used to generate electricity from alternating hot and cold water. When the temperature changes, the alloy nitinol expands and contracts, yielding energy that can be harnessed with pistons and a generator. The company Exergyn is still developing a prototype, hoping to overcome durability concerns. However, since a third of the energy used by U.S. industry is lost as heat, this technology could find a novel use for the wasted hot water. -WA