Showing posts with label sustainable energy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sustainable energy. Show all posts

Grazing In The Nanograss Is A Gas: New "Nanopillars" To Improve Solar Cells

Sometimes when science takes a page from nature, great ideas abound.  Such is the case with the new "nanograss" design, which improves the energy-gathering capabilities of solar panels.

According to, researchers used the concept of blades of grass to expound on collecting available solar power.  When blades of grass grow, their surface area is multiplied by their height, and their vertical growing pattern makes it easy to have a large number of blades in a small area.  This makes for an accrued larger surface area that can absorb (and, in turn, convert) more sunlight when the design is applied to solar panels.

The new "nanograss" is created from nano-crystalline material with photovoltaic capacity.  On the atomic scale, at billionths of a meter tall, the cell stacks or "nanopillars" appear similar to a neatly-trimmed lawn of grass.  Each blade is a column of semiconductor p-n junctions which react with 32% more efficiency than traditional thin-film photovoltaic cells.

Professor Briseno of UMass Amherst, the lead author of the study, claims, “This work is a major advancement in the field of organic solar cells because we have developed what the field considers the ‘Holy Grail’ architecture for harvesting light and converting it to electricity.”

The biggest challenge of the project was to enable the molecules to stack vertically so that their electrons could flow as needed, bearing charge in only one direction. The substrate grapheme was found to be the solution that allowed the molecules to stack properly, bringing the idea to actualization. The results may soon be used in batteries and transistors as well as solar cells.

Of course, nano-pranks were quick to follow on the nano-lawn.
(Image courtesy

Feats From Feet: New Panels Allow Athletes' Footsteps To Power Soccer Stadium

It may seem like just a small step for technology when kinetic foot-pressure-powered tiles can charge some cellphones.  But what about lighting an entire soccer stadium by players' pressing power?  Now, thanks to one company, such a breakthrough is making life better in Brazil.

The Pavegen company manufactures tiles that are pressure-powered to generate electricity.  Already a feature in some European schools as well as at the Paris marathon, the company recently partnered with Shell to create its biggest project yet:  powering a soccer stadium in an impoverished Brazilian favela.

According to, some 200 Pavegen tiles were placed beneath fresh Astroturf, with other tiles along the sidelines. Use of local labor made the project personal to the community. Pavegen's 28 year-old founder/CEO Laurence Kemball-Cook said, "In the two weeks on site in the community, children helped complete the installation. It was a real life science experiment that didn’t stop when school ended for the day."

The tiles will provide up to 10 hours of illumination on a full battery charge, with nearby solar panels aiding the power. The push-powered pitch has been in use for about a month now and has already caused the community to rally for renovations and improvements in the area, showing this has been a great idea from soles to goals.

A pitch that's not pitch black:  Pavegen's tiles prove effective for large-scale illumination.  (Image courtesy

Take My Breath Away...To Charge My Phone

If you think charging devices thanks to the power of footsteps is a good plan to use all that otherwise-wasted energy, how about harnessing electricity from your breathing?

As reported by, this could become yet another helping hand (well, lung) in the fight for sustainable energy.  The harnessing device is a notion called the Aire Mask, and if it makes the leap from design to developed gadget, you will be able to charge your phone while looking like Darth Vader.

The Aire Mask would theoretically use small turbines to generate electricity with every exhale.  A USB port would then deliver it to the device of your choice.  Creator Joao Paulo Lammoglia has received a Red Dot outline grant to further this energy source, which he claims could be used when walking, running, or just chilling.

Is having a constant, mindlessly renewable power source worth looking like a robot?  If you jones on your phone, quite possibly.  Or maybe it'll become trendy - look how useful and cool you just became!  Just be sure to take it off for a minute when your new admirers attempt a kiss.

Good for powering small devices, helping the environment, and sexually attracting Bane.

"Aw helllll yeah."

Here Comes The Sunflower: New Device To Provide Solar Power, Heat, & Clean Water

This could be a breakthrough that gets through three major modern human needs at once.  A new invention called the Sunflower could be planted in remote areas to harvest solar power, generate heat, and create drinking water, all in one shiny package.

As reported by, Airlight Energy of Switzerland has crafted an ingenious three-in-one solution to many of the remote world's requirements.  Standing at 10 meters high, the Sunflower is relatively unobtrusive, and can fit neatly into one shipping crate to help out humans anywhere.

Featuring a water-cooled solar panel designed by IBM, the petal-like array reflects light back onto itself, concentrating the light energy two thousand fold.  The water-cooling elements keep the photovoltaic chips at optimum operating temperature, then the sun-heated water can power a desalination station.  In coastal areas, this could use seawater (which is evaporated through a membrane three times for purity), while in other areas it could serve to purify water from lakes, rivers, or rain.  An astonishing 2,500 liters of water a day could possibly be made palatable.

The mirrors themselves are not the traditional heavy-glass variety, but rather are fabricated from, "the same material potato chip and chocolate wrapping is made of," Airlight's Ilaria Besozzi says. The mirrors are in a low-vacuum concave shape that could release to disseminate sunlight and preserve the photovoltaic chips, were the chips to reach a critical melting temperature (in event of water cooling failure.)

While power storage issues are being assessed for the Sunflower, prototypes are expected to enter experimental field tests in 2016, before hitting the market in 2017. The projected output of the Sunflower is slated to provide 12 kilowatts of electricity and 20 kilowatts of heat from 10 hours of sunlight exposure.

Whether its helping far-flung tribesmen or supporting survivalists in style, the Sunflower could light up (and heat, and hydrate) lots of lives.

Radiant!  (Image courtesy

Easy As A Walk In The Park: Footstep-Powered "Kinetic Energy" Charging Stations To Debut

Step right up and harness yourself some energy.  That's what's happening with a new kinetic energy project which aims to install public footstep-powered cellphone charging stations as a stride towards the future.

As reported by, the premise is simple:  accrued footsteps from passersby press into the pavement, triggering small underground turbines with their pressure, forcing out fluid that in turn helps generate electricity.  The result is manifested in a station called "EnGo" - a combination solar/kinetic-powered charging station that can juice up to 14 phones at a time.

The EnGo stations, created by the Volta company, will be appearing in 100 American cities over the next several months, with one already operational in St. Louis.  Volta CEO Peter Mirovic is proud to be able to generate energy harvested from what would otherwise be what he calls a "waste of footsteps." Volta also aims to use this technology to power streetlights kinetically.

Dancing in the streets would be an appropriate and useful reaction.

For express charging, they should create a version powered by "Dance Dance Revolution."

Resonate With Resin: New Eco-Friendly Battery Created From Pine & Alfalfa

While lithium batteries have been the standard as small, portable power sources for decades now, their difficulty to the environment is undeniable.  Now, researchers from Uppsala have used organic materials to create a new and effective battery that requires a great deal less environmental trouble.

According to, lithium itself is a rare element on Earth, and the process of extracting it is arduous.  Other chemicals involved in traditional batteries are not only rare but also require toxic chemicals to aid in the extraction process that makes them viable to the battery design.  The premise behind the new batteries, which are constructed in part from pine resin and alfalfa, involves recycling the lithium from older batteries and continuing to utilize it, with help from the more-amenable biomaterials.

An astonishing 99% of power was recovered from the "spent" lithium batteries when used in conjunction with the new biomaterial battery design.  Further developments in the future may even be able to improve on this, making lithium-ion batteries ever-more attractive options for sparking and storing energy in the future.  This could be beneficial in particular for the electric automobile industry, or the storage systems required for implementation of large-scale solar power.

Daniel Brandell, Senior Lecturer of Uppsala University's chemistry department, explained, "The use of organic materials from renewable sources makes it possible to solve several of the problems that would arise from a huge rise in the use of lithium batteries. But above all, it's a major step forward that, to a high degree and in a simple, environment-friendly way, the lithium from these batteries can be recovered. These solutions are also potentially very cost-effective."

Thus, recycling our rare-earth material and mixing it with regular-earth material might just be the perfect way to keep us powered up for years to come.


Power-Positive Norwegian Office Building Generates Energy And Interest

When most people picture the hum of a bustling city, one of the obvious factors includes the tremendous amounts of energy being expended to keep the wheels of business in motion. However, in Norway, one very northerly city has turned the tables on the necessity of incessant influxes of industrial power, leading to the world's first "power-positive" office building.

As reports, the Powerhouse at Brattorkaia building relies greatly on solar power, using solar cells as well as heat pumps and heat exchangers to power and warm the building. This solar power is augmented by the crafty construction inherent to the building, which uses a sloped roof to augment optimum solar collection, well-placed solar cells and windows to allow for maximum natural lighting indoors, and practically-sized window openings to maintain temperature. To keep temperatures consistent, water from a nearby fjord will be drawn and used throughout the infrastructure to regulate cooling.

The Powerhouse at Brattorkaia building, designed by the pro-sustainable company Snøhetta, is the most northerly of its kind, and the first in Norway. Snøhetta aims to show the world that power-positive buildings can work even in difficult (read: super snowy) climates. With projected power needs of 21 kWh/m²/year and energy production estimated at 49 kWh/m²/year, the building's excess energy generation will easily compensate for the power it took to create it. Other projects from Snøhetta include a "plus house" that creates fully twice the energy that it needs to operate, thus not only being entirely self-sustainable but also generating enough power to charge a car or to give back to the community.

If Norway can fight their serious snow to make a solar building, what is America waiting for?

#1 Fan? New 3-D Printed Mini Wind Turbine Generates Power, Portably

A major tenet of the sustainable energy revolution is soon to be found in convenient to-go form. Thanks to a new invention, you'll soon be able to spin windpower into electricity anywhere you can catch a breeze thanks to the AirEnergy3D portable wind turbine.

As reported by, the AirEnergy3D is a lightweight, backpackable wind turbine that is currently under development via a kickstarter. It will eventually be able to generate enough power to fuel a laptop, or feed energy back into a personal grid. It requires no tools for assembly and can be plugged directly into.

Truly a machine for the people, the AirEnergy3D's inventors plan to make their schematics open-source so the design can be improved upon. Engineer Kamil Dziadkiewicz, of the Polish developing/printing company Omni3D, said, "We want to make it as easy to develop upon the original project...Thanks to 3-D printing, everybody as a community can experiment and prototype better solutions for the machine."

Also adding to the humanity of the project are AirEnergy3D's outreach plans. Already, they plan to donate pre-printed parts to send to Africa for easy, mobile power sources. Sustainable independence is a valuable power that we are seeking to make ever more containable.  While options like solar may currently work better on the small scale in some environments, portable windmill power could someday at least be a breath of fresh air to those in emergency need.

An AirEnergy 3D turbine/DNA windchime.

Sun Ships: Floating Solar Panels To Improve Renewable Energy Push In Japan

Hydro-power is a majorly attractive option for sustainable clean energy, but what about using the surface space of some of the world's water to create power as well?  That's the idea behind Kyocera's massive new floating solar plant, scheduled to begin construction this month.

As reported by, the clean-tech movement will have an interesting new option thanks to the innovative new solar plant design, called "Hydrelio."  Created by Ciel&Terre, the flat, floating solar collector is made from  solar panels attached to a 100% recyclable polyurethane mounting system.  It is resistant to ultraviolet light and corrosion, and is designed to maintain its operations even under extreme conditions, like typhoons.  Hopefully this will not need to be put to the test too extensively, as Kyocera's plans are to install two of the systems in ponds in Japan.

With one successful Hydrelio already in operation for over three years in France, and another in Japan at work since 2013, the design is a proven winner.  The two new Hydrelios, which are being installed in the Hago Prefecture, will have a combined capacity of 2.9 MW.  The larger of the two will be able to produce 1.7 MW, making it the biggest floating solar plant on Earth.

Japan has made significant strides towards implementing sustainable solar energy in recent years, and currently sits at the 4th place for worldwide solar power production (behind Italy, China, and Germany.)  While solar power accounts for only 0.7% of global energy generation (from a total of 22.1% that is renewable), perhaps setting more solar panels afloat will make for a brighter future.

Kyocera's current largest floating solar array in Japan, the awesomely-named
Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant, is apparently so durable they didn't worry about putting it next to the active Sakurajima volcano.

Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun: Investors Bet On Renewable Energy

In a move that would have been more useful to the world a century or so ago, a major player in the banking industry seems to be rallying behind solar power and other renewable energy sources, telling investors to put there money where it's sunny.

UBS, the world's largest private bank, has officially predicted that large "traditional" power stations will be outmoded in as little as ten years' time, with the focus switching to decentralized methods of obtaining and storing power. This decision reflects the fossil fuel industry's waning appeal in the face of numerous other options, not the least of which is tempered by consumer regard for more environmentally-friendly options.

As reported by, UBS issued a statement urging investors to "join the revolution." The authors explained their reasoning in logical terms when saying, “Power is no longer something that is exclusively produced by huge, centralised units owned by large utilities. By 2025, everybody will be able to produce and store power. And it will be green and cost competitive, ie, not more expensive or even cheaper than buying power from utilities.”

The company, which has assets of over $1.5 trillion, went on to explain the nuances of how electric cars will be driving down the currently-expensive sustainable battery prices, which will then lead to more general acceptance in many areas as batteries become better and more available. This will ultimately, according to them, make fuel-burning cars too expensive. A similar effect would occur with solar technology.

“Battery storage should become financially attractive for family homes when combined with a solar system and an electric vehicle. As a consequence, we expect transformational changes in the utility and auto sectors,” the UBS paper says. “By 2020 investing in a home solar system with a 20-year life span, plus some small-scale home battery technology and an electric car, will pay for itself in six to eight years for the average consumer in Germany, Italy, Spain, and much of the rest of Europe.”

This is not to say that every home now must be maintained as a survivalist would. Decentralized power could mean collection facilities such as hydroelectric turbines or windmills that are shared between small cities or neighborhoods, which could bridge the gap while the technology is rapidly progressing to the point where individuals are easily able to use clean energy to gain and store all the power needed for personal use. Such facilities could also serve as a backup in case of emergency or failure of an individual's power system. And they'll quickly pay for themselves...with no deep-sea drilling or blowing the tops off of mountains required.

While the banksters have often proven themselves untrustworthy, when it comes to power, one would think that world-class financiers would know what they're talking about. These people love power in any form, and if they're putting their cash power behind another form of force, that seems like a sound bet indeed.

Turn it into a nightclub/skate park/music studio or something.

Tides Turn In Favor Of Ocean-Floor Power Generator

Sustainable energy solutions sometimes require big ideas, but those ideas can make serious waves. In this case, literally. Recently, a massive tidal power generator in Wales has been unveiled, seeking to prove that seafloor-based power generation is an effective means of fueling the future.

The generator, which was created by the Welsh company Tidal Solutions Ltd., stands seven stories tall on dry land, but will soon be at the bottom of Ramsey Sound for a 12-month trial. During this time, the tremendous turbine will use tidal currents to generate power for the homes in nearby St. David.

According to the BBC, First Minister Carwyn Jones is a major supporter of the project, saying, "We need to show the world we are able to harness the considerable energy that exists in our seas and that we are able to develop the technology necessary to do that...This is a landmark project for Wales, which will not only help us to meet our sustainable energy ambitions, but will also provide significant opportunities for local people and businesses."

The 150-ton, 40kW device has been created to make the smallest impact on the environment as possible. If it is successful, eight other similar turbines will be constructed and added to the framework, creating a total 10MW energy-churning superstructure which could power 10,000 homes through the National Grid.

Surf's up!

If they eventually attempt the 9-turbine plan, don't go scuba diving in Wales.

It's Thermoelectric, Boogie-Woogie: New Compact Device Heats Water; Charges Devices

In case of emergency, or even just in case of a camping trip, it's important to have your gear as compact and efficient as possible.  The new Kettlecharge device by BioLite serves the dual purpose of providing potable water and electric charge.  

According to, all the Kettlecharge requires is a controlled source of heat to boil the water in the pan, and its thermoelectric charger will reap 10W of energy, accessible by plugging in your power cord or USB.  A special heat-resistant USB extender is included so that your smartphone doesn't take a spa dip.  The Kettlecharge is operational indoors or out, making it ideal for power outages as well as doomsday scenarios.

But will it be enough to charge the chainsaws before the zombies can get you?
Just because you're off the grid doesn't mean you're past civilization.

Spray-On Solar Cells Illuminate New Power-Harvesting Possibilities

Harnessing the power of the sun to fuel your electrical needs is an excellent plan, but one that for too many people is impeded by cost issues. Now, a new method of mass-producing solar cells may be a cost-effective way to bring the sunshine into your power lines.

Using a spray-on technique similar to how one would paint a car, solar cells can now be applied to a variety of surfaces. The precision of the spray method allows for little waste, lowering costs and enabling the technology to reach a wider collection net than regular solar panels.

According to, the new spray-on cells are created from perovskite, a low-cost alternative to the popular silicon cells. Although new to the solar market, perovskite is proving its worth.

Professor David Lidzey, lead researcher from The University of Sheffield Department of Physics and Astronomy, remarked, “There is a lot of excitement around perovskite-based photovoltaics...Remarkably, this class of material offers the potential to combine the high performance of mature solar cell technologies with the low embedded energy costs of production of organic photovoltaics.”

The perovskite cells dominate organic solar cells' certified efficiency, operating at up to 19% as opposed to organic cells' 10%, and closing in on silicon's 25% certified efficiency. Fabrication-wise, the organic cells' light-absorbing layer, when replaced with perovskite, showed a definite boost in energy. While experiments with the perovskite cells currently have them running at 11% efficiency, scientists believe with more time and research the number will escalate.

Solar suits, solar sneakers, and more may follow as energy abundance becomes as easy to harness as a walk in the sunlight.
Solar grafitti could power not just an art movement, but your entire home.

Scotchmobile To The Rescue! UK Funds Booze-Byproduct Biofuel Company

Drinking and driving is bad...unless you're the car. Then it's a revolutionary new eco-friendly fuel idea.

Celtic Renewables, an Edinburgh-based biofuel company, has recently been granted £1.2 million (including £800,000 from the British government) to build a facility where byproducts from the distillation of scotch will be turned into biobutanol, a form of fuel that can power automobiles that run on gas or diesel. The funding will also allow Celtic Renewables to further their scientific testing on the processes and possibilities of what they do.

The biobutanol is derived from draff (sugary barley kernels soaked in water which act as a fermentation aid) as well as pot ale, the remaining yeast-filled liquid heated during the distillation process.

Celtic Renewables will be working in conjunction with Belgium's BioBase Europe Pilot Plant (BBEPP) to achieve their biofuel goals. According to, Professor Wim Soetaert, CEO of the BBEPP, said, “The transition from the current fossil-based economy towards a biobased economy is essential for industrial sustainability throughout Europe...Biobased production is already transforming a broad range of industries around the world and Celtic Renewables, making advanced biofuel and sustainable chemicals from whisky by-products, is exactly the kind of inspired innovation that our BBEPP is designed to support.” Celtic Renewables, the first company to deal in booze-based biofuel, will be working with BBEPP to replicate their results on an industrial scale.

So drink's helping to fuel the future, and not just your next terrible drunken phone message/love song.

Scotch 'n science.  Neat.

Tesla And Panasonic Team Up To Bring The (Environmentally Friendly) Power To The People

The idea of a clean-energy car is a great and necessary one, but the challenge of creating non-cost-prohibitive EV batteries to run them was until recently still an issue. Now, clean-car pioneers Tesla, along with electronics giant Panasonic, have teamed up to take matters into their own hands.

According to, Tesla and Panasonic announced that a major deal has been struck where the two companies will work together to mass-produce EV batteries at a new American factory (location to be determined.) The projected scale of the batteries' production will be large enough to eventually enable EV battery prices to drop.

The battery plant itself will take up between 500 and 1000 acres, and will employ 6,500 people. Current location speculations include Nevada, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.

The terms of the deal state that Tesla will build and maintain the plant, while Panasonic will provide construction materials, lithium cells and manufacturing equipment. By 2020, Tesla is expecting to create 35GWh of cells and 50GWh of power packs to fuel some 500,000 of their cars.

While still pricey, Tesla cars will usher in a new era of transportation in a post-fossil-fuel world. Another golden age of American road travel could theoretically follow once it becomes inexpensive (and much more environmentally friendly) to drive cars again.  

Tesla automobiles being assembled.  Batteries definitely included.

Something Is Awesome In The State Of Denmark: Wind Power Soon To Be Half As Expensive As Fossil Fuels

The world is warming up to the idea of alternative energy becoming the new norm, and now, Denmark believes it can augment the argument in a big way. Scientists claim that in two years, wind power in Denmark will be half the price of fossil fuels.

With other nations working to achieve parity between sustainable energy and fossil fuels, already developments have been made (for instance, in some parts of America, wind power is the same price as natural gas.) However Denmark is boldly blowing past parity, with Yale 360 reporting that two onshore wind power facilities launching in 2016 will provide electricity for as little as 5 Euro cents per kilowatt hour.

According to, Denmark is already operating with a 43% clean energy mix for their entire nation, and plan to have 50% of their power needs met by wind power by 2050. The framework is already in place. Denmark's energy minister Rasmus Peterson said, "Wind power today is cheaper than other forms of energy, not least because of a big commitment and professionalism in the field...This is true for researchers, companies and politicians. We need a long-term and stable energy policy to ensure that renewable energy, both today and in the future, is the obvious choice.”

With costs of turbine technology decreasing and the technology constantly improving, perhaps even more of the world will soon have windmills churning up clean energy.

The answer may, in fact, be blowin' in the wind.

The Electricity Diet: Meet Bacterial "Biowires"

The mysteries of electricity can be fascinating in their omnipresent yet mysterious ways. A recent discovery of electricity-eating bacteria has raised questions about how these organisms may use their need for electricity to power nanobots and other technologies of the future.

As reports, eight different types of electricity-chomping bacteria have been identified, shedding an entirely new light on the microbial world. UCLA scientists experiment on these creatures by running a current through seafloor sediment and observing the "biowires" that the bacteria form as they feed.

The bacteria can share their charge all along the wires they construct, and only require scant other trace elements (like sulphur, nitrogen and phosphorous) to survive.

Chief scientist Kenneth Nealson explained, “In the same way that photosynthetic bacteria or algae need only sunlight—they use the energy of the photons to reduce carbon dioxide to sugars, and go from there—our bacteria use the energy of electrons from the electrode to power the reduction of CO2 to sugar.”

The bacteria, once harnessed for power, may be able to create and fuel independent nano-machines that will fuel themselves from their environment to accomplish tasks too difficult, dangerous, or small-scale for humans.
The electricity diet is not recommended for humans.  Image courtesy

Renewable, Sustainable, And Affordable: Clean Energy Is Cheaper Than Fossil Fuel

It appears that fuel-fiending folks will soon be able to leave energy sources that are literally dead and buried (oil, coal, etc.) where they belong, underground. Thanks to breakthroughs in energy technology, it is now possible for clean energy to be more affordable than fossil fuels.

In an article by former Sierra Club director and executive chairman Carl Pope for the Huffington Post, it is stated in no uncertain terms that fossil fuels will soon become too expensive to extract, maintain, and use for any sort of extended productive lifespan. Comparatively, elements like solar, wind, hydro, and other readily available resources will become the new driving - and lighting, and otherwise electrifying - forces. Entire governments, such as India and Germany, are making strides to help their people use more sustainable sources of energy.

While fossil fuels still command a high market share, even the banks know that their time is limited. The Bloomberg New Energy Finance projection claims that over the next 15 years, 2/3 of incremental global power generation will be renewably generated. They are also quick to note, however, that the energy business infrastructure still spends big money ($674 billion was spent last year by the oil industry seeking new reserves despite them being increasingly more expensive) due to the nature of the "quasi-cartel"-style industry wanting to get all their profits before the party is over. They are dying dinosaurs staring at the solar rock hurtling towards them, but they will still eat those smaller than them.

Yet the numbers can't be denied any longer. As the Pope article notes, "Fossil fuels generate 63 percent of the world's power, renewables less than 5 percent, but 1/3 of fossil electricity now costs more than competing wind and solar." While the transition to more renewable energy will require a lot of adaptation (retrofitting homes, reworking transportation ideas, weaning off our oil dependence, and most of all changing our overall mindsets on the issue), it will be worth it to live in a world that we're not destroying just to keep it moving.
Image courtesy

Solar Rock 'n Roller: More Jobs In Sun Power Than Coal Mining Says Senator, Statistics

When U.S. senators make extraordinary claims, the public often takes them with a grain of salt, if not outright disbelief (particularly when science is involved.) However the statement that there are more jobs in solar power than coal mining, postulated by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and verified as true by, is a breath of sunshine-saturated fresh air.

Regarding solar jobs, The Solar Foundation’s "National Solar Jobs Census 2013" states that the solar industry, "employs 142,698 Americans as of November 2013."

According to statistics from a 2013 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, issued in May 2013, an estimated 80,030 jobs existed in the coal-mining industry, a faction of the overall coal industry.  The 2013 U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration cited 123,227 jobs, also fewer than the number of solar jobs cited by Whitehouse. This number also includes contractors who may work in the surveyed mines.

A contrary view from the National Mining Association, numbering the coal jobs at 195,494, counted "coal" jobs that included off-site transportation workers (such as railroad operators and coal barge or freighter sailors.)

Whitehouse's excellent observations inspire hope in our sustainable energy and long-term job infrastructure. He continues to crusade for clean energy, stating in a May 2014 Providence Journal article that, "there is more economic security in our own American know-how than in corrupt foreign fossil fuel countries." Shine on!

Greenhouse Powerhouse: Cleaner, Stronger Batteries Energize Organically

Power sources of the future will be a lot more eco-friendly thanks to recent discoveries in the fabrication of batteries. New water-based batteries developed by a team at USC last longer than traditional lithium-ion batteries and can be created at a tenth of the cost.

The batteries will be particularly useful as alternative forms of energy become more popular, as the charge gathered from various natural sources requires retaining. Sri Narayan, a USC chemistry professor and co-inventor of the new batteries, explained to that, "'Mega-scale' energy storage is a critical problem in the future of the renewable energy, requiring inexpensive and eco-friendly solutions."

Narayan and his team, after much experimentation, discovered that oxidized organic compounds called "quinones" that naturally aid plants, fungi, and bacteria in photosynthesis and cellular respiration. Their capability for energy transfer is critical to the new battery design, which enables the quinones to become electroactive after being dissolved in water.

The batteries have an estimated lifespan of 15 years and can be built in a variety of sizes. Despite being organic, they are still likely not safe to lick.