Wind and solar could power the world’s major countries most of the time

With the eyes of the world on the United Nations COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, strategies for decarbonizing energy infrastructure are a trending topic. Yet critics of renewables question the dependability of systems that rely on intermittent resources. A recent study led by researchers at the University of California, Irvine tackles the reliability question head-on.

New U.S. Carbon Monitor website compares emissions among the 50 states

Irvine, Calif., April 7, 2021 — Following last year’s successful launch of a global carbon monitor website to track and display greenhouse gas emissions from a variety of sources, an international team led by Earth system scientists from the University of California, Irvine is unveiling this week a new data resource focused on the United States.

Shuttering Fossil Fuel Power Plants May Cost Less Than Expected

Decarbonizing U.S. electricity production will require both construction of renewable energy sources and retirement of power plants now operated by fossil fuels. A generator-level model described in the December 4 issue of the journal Science suggests that most fossil fuel power plants could complete normal lifespans and still close by 2035 because so many facilities are nearing the end of their operational lives.

Smart Devices to Schedule Electricity Use May Prevent Blackouts

Power plants generate electricity and send it into power lines that distribute energy to nodes where it can be used. But if the electricity load is more than the system’s capacity, transmission can fail, leading to a cascade of failures throughout the electric grid. In the journal Chaos, researchers show demand side control may be an effective solution to stabilizing the reliability of power grids that use a mix of energy generation sources.

Improving High-Energy Lithium-Ion Batteries with Carbon Filler

Lithium-ion batteries are the major rechargeable power source for many portable devices as well as electric vehicles, but their use is limited, because they do not provide high power output while simultaneously allowing reversible energy storage. Research reported in Applied Physics Reviews aims to offer a solution by showing how the inclusion of conductive fillers improves battery performance.

Plant-Based Spray Could be Used in N95 Masks and Energy Devices

Engineers have invented a way to spray extremely thin wires made of a plant-based material that could be used in N95 mask filters, devices that harvest energy for electricity, and potentially the creation of human organs. The method involves spraying methylcellulose, a renewable plastic material derived from plant cellulose, on 3D-printed and other objects ranging from electronics to plants, according to a Rutgers-led study in the journal Materials Horizons.

Power Player: Engineering professor researches how to keep America’s lights on

Ning Zhou from Binghamton University, State University of New York received a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award to provide a 21st-century vision for power systems.

UCI cyber-physical security researchers highlight vulnerability of solar inverters

Irvine, Calif., Aug. 18, 2020 – Cyber-physical systems security researchers at the University of California, Irvine can disrupt the functioning of a power grid using about $50 worth of equipment tucked inside a disposable coffee cup. In a presentation delivered at the recent Usenix Security 2020 conference, Mohammad Al Faruque, UCI associate professor of electrical engineering & computer science, and his team revealed that the spoofing mechanism can generate a 32 percent change in output voltage, a 200 percent increase in low-frequency harmonics power and a 250 percent boost in real power from a solar inverter.

Climate Change Impact on Green Energy Production

As the climate of the planet is changing, many researchers are looking to more renewable energy sources. In the Journal of Sustainable and Renewable Energy, researchers investigate whether the power generated by solar and wind farms would differ between current and future climates. The researchers focused on sites in Australia where variable renewable generators are located or are likely to be located in the future based on the Australian Energy Market Operator’s system plan.

Quantum Materials Quest Could Benefit From Graphene That Buckles

Graphene, an extremely thin two-dimensional layer of the graphite used in pencils, buckles when cooled while attached to a flat surface, resulting in beautiful pucker patterns that could benefit the search for novel quantum materials and superconductors, according to Rutgers-led research in the journal Nature. Quantum materials host strongly interacting electrons with special properties, such as entangled trajectories, that could provide building blocks for super-fast quantum computers. They also can become superconductors that could slash energy consumption by making power transmission and electronic devices more efficient.

Newer Solar Power Equipment Ages Better Than Older Units

Utility-scale photovoltaics are the largest sector of the overall solar market within the U.S. and the fastest-growing form of renewable power generation, and this fleet of utility-scale photovoltaic projects is relatively young and hasn’t been operating long enough to establish a lengthy history of operational field service. In the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, researchers assess the performance of 411 utility-scale photovoltaic projects built within the U.S. from 2007 through 2016.

Rutgers Experts Can Discuss Emissions, Climate Change During COVID-19 Crisis

New Brunswick, N.J. (April 13, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick experts are available for interviews on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on greenhouse gas emissions, climate change and efforts to promote a greener economy and lifestyles. “During the 2007…

How JCAP Is Making Solar Fuels Shine

As we look back at a decade of discovery, we highlight 10 achievements by scientists at Berkeley Lab and the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis that bring us closer to a solar fuels future.

Researchers seek to improve hydropower, lower electricity costs

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded nearly $1 million to a research team led by Missouri University of Science and Technology to study ways to better harness the power of water as an energy source. About 10% of electricity in the U.S. is created by moving water, or hydropower, according to the DOE’s Hydropower Vision report, which also found great potential in improving hydropower systems to meet more U.

LED Lighting in Greenhouses Helps But Standards are Needed

While LED lighting can enhance plant growth in greenhouses, standards are needed to determine the optimal intensity and colors of light, according to Rutgers research that could help improve the energy efficiency of horticultural lighting products.

Tiny Quantum Sensors Watch Materials Transform Under Pressure

Scientists at Berkeley Lab have developed a diamond anvil sensor that could lead to a new generation of smart, designer materials, as well as the synthesis of new chemical compounds, atomically fine-tuned by pressure.

3D-Printed Plastics With High Performance Electrical Circuits

Rutgers engineers have embedded high performance electrical circuits inside 3D-printed plastics, which could lead to smaller and versatile drones and better-performing small satellites, biomedical implants and smart structures. They used pulses of high-energy light to fuse tiny silver wires, resulting in circuits that conduct 10 times more electricity than the state of the art, according to a study in the journal Additive Manufacturing. By increasing conductivity 10-fold, the engineers can reduce energy use, extend the life of devices and increase their performance.

Physicists Make Graphene Discovery that Could Help Develop Superconductors

When two mesh screens are overlaid, beautiful patterns appear when one screen is offset. These “moiré patterns” have long intrigued artists, scientists and mathematicians and have found applications in printing, fashion and banknotes. Now, a Rutgers-led team has paved the way to solving one of the most enduring mysteries in materials physics by discovering a moiré pattern in graphene, where electrons organize themselves into stripes, like soldiers in formation.