Friday, July 30, 2010

Jumbo Squid Flash, Flail in First Ever Squid-cam Video

The first ever video of jumbo squid acting naturally—footage captured by squid themselves—shows the cannibalistic predators lighting up "like Christmas trees," according to a new documentary of a 2009 expedition. The same expedition established the jumbo squid—one of which shattered two Kevlar bite plates with its beak—as having among the world's strongest bites. To measure the strength of a jumbo squid's bite, the team caught a squid at the surface and inserted a Kevlar pressure plate into its mouth—which the squid promptly bit in half. Kevlar is 20 times stronger than steel, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

Government Funds Artificial Photosynthesis Hub

The U.S. Department of Energy announced an investment of $122 million over five years to establish an Energy Innovation Hub focused on generating fuels directly from sunlight. The Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) will be led by the California Institute of Technology in partnership with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The hub will bring together multidisciplinary researchers with a goal of developing and commercializing a solar-energy-to-chemical-fuel conversion system.

The Fuels from Sunlight Energy Innovation Hub is one of three Hubs that will receive funding this year. In May, DOE announced that a team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory will establish a Hub on modeling and simulation for nuclear reactors. Selection for the remaining Hub will be announced before the end of the year. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in Tom's Guide and Sunpluggers.com

Utility-scale Battery Research Underway

What happens when the U.S. government awards DuPont, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Bosch, and 3M $1.6 million to develop a longer-lasting, less expensive way to store clean energy? We will soon find out. The organizations announced today that they will use the grant money — awarded under Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) — to collaborate on research aimed at improving grid operations through temporary storage with a new battery system. More>

Stories on this topic also appeared in Solar Industry and Softpedia.

Strained Graphene Creates Pseudo-Magnetic Fields Stronger Than Any Before Seen

Putting the right kind of strain on a patch of graphene can make super-strong pseudo-magnetic fields, a new study says. The finding sheds new light on the properties of electromagnetism, not to mention the odd properties of graphene, according to researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. When graphene is stretched to form "nanobubbles," the stress causes electrons to behave as if they were subject to huge magnetic fields, the size of which have never been seen in a lab before. The study is published today in the journal Science. More>

Stories on this topic also appeared in physicsworld.com, PhysOrg.com, New Scientist, sifynews, Softpedia, University of British Columbia, iT News, Science, and Next Big Future.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Spinning black holes could expose exotic particles

Black holes do not have a reputation for giving up their secrets, but they could prove instrumental in uncovering exotic particles that are difficult to detect on Earth. If conditions are right, a particle scattering from a spinning black hole will trigger the formation of a new particle. This also causes the black hole to lose a little angular momentum, an effect known as "superradiance." Asmina Arvanitaki of Berkeley Lab and colleagues say this loss of angular momentum could be exploited in the hunt for hypothetical particles called axions, which could constitute the invisible cold dark matter that appears to hold galaxies together. According to the team's calculations, a single axion emitted by a spinning black hole could trigger the emission of more axions to form a cloud orbiting the black hole. The creation of each axion would draw rotational energy away from the hole. The cloud eventually gets so dense that some of it will collapse and fall into the hole while the rest is flung outwards and may escape the black hole's gravitational field altogether. More>

Fuel from the Sun

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $122 million to establish a research center in California to develop ways of generating fuel made from sunlight. The project will be led by researchers at Caltech and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and will include researchers at various other California institutions, including Stanford University, the University of California, Irvine, and UC Berkeley. The goal, says Nate Lewis, director of the center and a chemistry professor at Caltech, is to commercialize fuels made using only sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. More>

Cool roofs and chicken coops

A new study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that switching to cool roofs and reflective pavements in cities with populations of more than 1 million would drastically reduce CO2 emissions from roofs and pavement. Locally, roofer Bill Crane is seeing an increase in the use of white and reflective roofs for both residential and commercial buildings, especially in light of updated Title 24 energy-efficiency standards effective at the beginning of this year. More>

Download Damage

Internet technologies do, of course, deliver myriad benefits for our environment. Video conferencing like Skype prevents many unnecessary business flights. From an energy perspective, buying music online is "clearly superior" than going to the CD store, according to research by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Stanford University. And any car trip the Internet can replace the need for is doing our atmosphere an immense favour, something Google has not overlooked in its public relations efforts. More>

U.S. DOE Funds 'Sunlight-to-Fuel' Project

The U.S. Department of Energy Announced earlier this month that it would set aside more than $100 million to create an "Energy Innovation Hub" to encourage innovation around producing fuels directly from sunlight. The Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), to be led by the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), will bring together leading researchers in an ambitious effort aimed at simulating nature's photosynthetic apparatus for practical energy production. More>

A proposed flow battery for grid-scale storage gets $1.6 million from ARPA-E

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, known for having one of the top research programs in the country for batteries and fuel cells for vehicle applications, has decided to enter another area in the battery world. It has been granted $1.6 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to develop a novel storage device for the electric grid. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in Earth Times.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gerson Goldhaber, Renowned Particle Physicist, Dies at 86

Gerson Goldhaber, an award-winning physicist who played key roles in discoveries that spanned more than five decades, passed away July 19, 2010 of natural causes, at home surrounded by his family. He was 86. Goldhaber was renowned for his experimental contributions to such seminal breakthroughs as the antiproton and the J/psi subatomic particles, and the mysterious dark energy that accelerates the expansion of the universe. He was also an accomplished artist who illustrated two books of poems written by his wife, Judith, Sonnets from Aesop and Sarah Laughed: Sonnets from Genesis. More>

Back to School With Biomass

That young turbine repairman’s career path is a product of the quest for higher efficiency in energy production and lower carbon dioxide. But before large numbers of the American population heat and electrify their homes with renewable energy and energy efficient technologies, the workforce necessary to make that happen will need to learn new skills and receive appropriate job training. A report by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Research into Action Inc.,1 states that just the energy efficiency side of U.S. job growth could triple in the next 10 years, but only if education and job training are stepped up dramatically. More>

Wind farm 'mega-project' underway in Mojave Desert

It's being called the largest wind power project in the country, with plans for thousands of acres of towering turbines in the Mojave Desert foothills generating electricity for 600,000 homes in Southern California. And now it's finally kicking into gear. "Alta's an absolutely enormous project in probably the most promising wind resource area that remains in the state," said Ryan Wiser, a renewable energy analyst at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "It's the single biggest investment in California wind project assets in decades and is likely the largest the state is ever going to see." More>

IT sector cuts CO2 emissions by 32 mln metric tons globally since 2007

The IT sector has reduced CO2 emissions by more than 32 million metric tons globally since 2007, which is equivalent to taking nine coal-fired power plants offline and more than $2 billion in annual energy savings, according to a study by Natural Logic. According to research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the energy used by commercial and residential building's networking systems and devices will increase by roughly 6 percent annually. Adopting conservation and efficiency measures on networking equipment, a commercial or residential building’s energy use can be reduced by more than 10 percent. More>

Google Releases Google Apps for Government

Google's move is already attracting new customers as well, including the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a part of the National Laboratory system funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. By switching to Google Apps for Government, Berkeley Lab CIO Rosio Alvarez says they expect to save anywhere between US$ 1.5 million to US$ 2 million dollars in software, hardware, and labor costs over the next five years. More>

US seeks solar flair for fuels

The US Department of Energy has launched an 'artificial photosynthesis' initiative with the ambitious goal of developing, scaling up and ultimately commercializing technologies that directly convert sunlight into hydrogen and other fuels. The Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) will receive US$122 million over five years, and will be jointly led by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California. Announced on 22 July, JCAP is the second of three Energy Innovation Hubs that US energy secretary Steven Chu plans to establish this year. More>
Because Amazon had to make the Cluster EC2 announcement right in the middle of my latest summer language topic, I decided to take a brief intermission and comment on this latest Cloud development. I’ll get back to the R language in my next column, but I wanted to discuss what I believe to be a significant development. So far, so good, but is it really effective? The answer, is of course, “It all depends on your application.” In terms of performance, High Performance LINPACK (HPL) results are on par with similar clusters built with 10 GigE. According to this blog, Amazon has run HPL on 880 Cluster Compute instances (7040 cores) and measured the overall performance at 41.82 TeraFLOPS (Intel Compiler, MPI, and MKL). This result places the EC2 cluster at position 146 on the current Top500 list. Looking beyond HPL, I find this quote from Keith Jackson, a computer scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. More>

Meeting disrupted over turbine issue

Members of the Union Beach Police Department were called to calm a raucous meeting of the Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority (BRSA) on July 19 after a discussion about the authority’s proposed 380-foot-tall wind turbine turned aggressive. Eugene Geer, of Hazlet, cited a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy office in Berkeley, Calif., which was provided by the BRSA, about wind turbines and their effect on property values. Geer said scientific evaluations about wind turbines in dense coastal communities require further research. More>

It's Easy Being Green: White Is the New Green

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu has mandated that all Department of Energy buildings have white roofs in order to show how to combat urban heat islands. He has touted the benefits of white roofs far and wide, frequently citing a calculation finding that if the world’s 100 largest and hottest cities switched to white roofs and light-colored cement pavement, the net effect would be the equivalent of taking all the world’s automobiles off the streets for 11 years. Individual homeowners don’t have to wait for federal action to cool their abodes. Changing your home’s roof to a more reflective color is one of the easiest and most cost-effective green modifications you can make to your house. It can reduce energy use by 20 percent during hot, sunny weather, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Heat Island Group. More>

Monday, July 26, 2010

Studies target amyloid plaques and tau tangles

For a long time now, scientists studying treatments for Alzheimer's disease have focused on telltale plaques that appear in patients' diseased brains as a target for therapy. The thinking goes, if plaques can be prevented from forming or cleared with medicine, the disease could be slowed. But earlier this month at an international conference, different tangled structures inside neurons took center stage alongside plaques. These so-called neurofibrillary tangles involve another protein, called tau, that normally functions to move critical supplies around neurons. Tau tangles are now being targeted with new experimental therapies. When the German physician Alois Alzheimer first characterized the disease a hundred years ago, he described both amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brains of patients who had died. Since then, people have been arguing about the relative importance of these two brain abnormalities, says Berkeley Lab life scientist William Jagust. More>

Using Magnets to Cool Your Refrigerator

If you’re not a physicist you’ve probably never heard of the magnetocaloric effect. But scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Lab think the phenomenon could someday be used to keep food cold – using a large magnet like a block of ice. The giant magnetocaloric effect happens when a change in a material’s magnetic field causes an extreme drop in temperature. More>

Secretary Chu announces steps to implement cool roofs across the U.S. government

Roofs and road pavement cover 50 to 65 percent of urban areas. Because they absorb so much heat, dark-colored roofs and roadways create what is called the "urban heat island effect," where a city is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas. Cool roofs significantly reduce the heat island effect and improve air quality by reducing emissions. A recent study by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) found that using cool roofs and cool pavements in cities around the world can help reduce the demand for air conditioning, cool entire cities, and potentially cancel the heating effect of up to two years of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions. Learn more information on the LBNL study. More>

Stories on this topic also appeared in Green Energy News and Miller-McCune.

Berkeley lab co-leads $122 million sunlight-to-fuel effort

Plants fuel the world with their ability to convert sunlight into a usable form of energy. Now, the Department of Energy is putting up $122 million to help humans capture the energy of the sun and create renewable liquid fuels through "artificial photosynthesis." Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena were selected to lead the ambitious research project, the Energy Department announced Thursday. Its aim is to master the basic science involved and develop applications that can be scaled up for commercial use. More>

Stories on this topic also appeared in SustainableBusiness.com, Domestic Fuel, Investing Contrarian, and NetworkWorld.com.

Gerson Goldhaber, Particle Physicist, Is Dead at 86

Gerson Goldhaber, who after a long career studying the innermost particles of matter turned his attention, at the age of 65, to the outer reaches of the universe and found, with others, early evidence that dark energy was pulling it apart, died on July 19 at his home in Berkeley, Calif. He was 86. Dr. Goldhaber had had a successful career in particle physics, identifying a number of subatomic building blocks of matter, when he shifted to astrophysics by joining a group now known as the Supernova Cosmology Project. With that team, founded by Saul Perlmutter and Carl Pennypacker at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 1988, he helped scour the skies for evidence of distant supernovas, exploding stars whose light could be used to estimate the rate at which the universe was expanding. More>

Friday, July 23, 2010

How Tech-Savvy Thieves Could 'Cybercase' Your House

The photos and videos you upload could reveal a lot about where you are. Data stored in digital photographs can help criminals locate individuals and plot real-world crimes, a practice two researchers called "cybercasing" in a recently published paper. The site Pleaserobme.com was one of the first to expose the problem by displaying tweets tagged with location information, although it has since stopped the practice. Location data can be stored in a digital photo or video's metadata, information about the file itself. That data can include, among many other things, the make and model of the device used, the date and time the photo or video was taken, and the geographic coordinates of the device at the time the photo was taken. In the paper, Gerald Friedland, of the International Computer Science Institute, and Robin Sommer, of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, explain how Craigslist, Twitter and YouTube could be used to locate people and plot crimes. More>

Renowned Berkeley lab physicist Gerson Goldhaber dies

Gerson Goldhaber, an award-winning physicist at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory who advanced knowledge of the building blocks of physical matter and the expansion of the universe, died of natural causes Monday at his Berkeley home. He was 86. "Gerson Goldhaber was one of the best physicists who ever walked the Berkeley hills," said longtime lab spokesman Lynn Yarris. More>

white roofs energy equivalent of taking 300 million cars off road, DOE study says

Roofs and pavements cover 50 to 65 percent of urban areas, and most of them are energy-absorbing black or another dark color. The problem? Those roofs and roadways collectively create what is called the “urban heat island effect” — that is, when a city is measurably warmer than rural areas nearby. Are reflective white roofs the answer? Yes, according to a new study. Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory say that implementing cool roofs and cool pavements in cities around the world can actually make enough of a difference to cool the world. More>

Stories on this topic also appeared in Tapped, Cool Earth, and Carbon News.

The Government's Landlord Smartens Up and Goes Green

In an experiment that would make Cass Sunstein proud, the PBS is working with designers at IDEO and researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to install a giant screen in the lobby of the San Francisco Federal Building displaying its real-time levels of energy use. The assumption is that if you give people the information, they’ll take steps to rein in their consumption. More>

DOE Announces $122 Million 'Sunlight to Fuel' Grant

The Department of Energy has awarded a $122 million grant to a team of researchers based out of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab to develop an efficient process for creating liquid fuel from sunlight. The process would essentially create artificial photosynthesis, but instead of converting sunlight and carbon dioxide into oxygen and sugar like plants do, researchers will create oxygen and hydrocarbons-the essential component of fuel used in combustion engines. More>

Stories on this topic also appeared in the New York Times, CNET, BrighterEnergy.org, Softpedia, Inventorspot, San Francisco Chronicle, Pasadena Star-News, VentureBeat, San Francisco Business Times, TechCrunch, socalTech.com, and Fast Company.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

DNA factory builds up steam

Six months since it launched, the world's first factory for making professional-quality biological DNA 'parts' is beginning to stock its shelves. BIOFAB aims to up the game by providing free biological parts that researchers can reliably use in their work, say Endy and codirector Adam Arkin, a bioengineer at the University of California, Berkeley. Housed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Joint BioEnergy Institute in Emeryville, BIOFAB is so far a small-scale operation. Four or five staff scientists share a bench in a vast fourth-floor laboratory, where they design and test DNA constructs. Endy, Arkin and a few others bring the total number of staff to 10. More>

Gerson Goldhaber, world-famed physicist, dies

Gerson Goldhaber, an internationally known physicist who contributed to some of the most important discoveries of the past five decades in particle physics and cosmology, died Monday at his Berkeley home after several years of failing health. He was 86. Dr. Goldhaber, an award-winning staff member at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its predecessor laboratories since 1953, was a leading participant there in the exploration of particles hidden deep within the atom and the discovery of the mysterious dark energy that speeds the expansion of the universe. More>

Fuels from the sun? LBL, Caltech, Stanford get $122 million for research

As part of a broad effort to achieve breakthrough innovations in energy production, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman today announced an award of up to $122 million over five years to a multidisciplinary team of top scientists to establish an Energy Innovation Hub aimed at developing revolutionary methods to generate fuels directly from sunlight. The Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), to be led by the California Institute of Technology in partnership with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, will bring together leading researchers in an ambitious effort aimed at simulating nature's photosynthetic apparatus for practical energy production. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in Earth2Tech.

Scientists study plant cell walls for better cellulosic biofuels

Scientists at the United States Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore Laboratory have examined the leaves of a common garden plant at the nanometer scale to find ways to convert plants into biofuels. The team, in collaboration with researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, used different microscopy methods to drill deep into the cells of the zinnia leaf. More>

Anti-Parasite Drugs for Neglected Chagas Disease Are in the Works

Larissa Podust, PhD, is working on a new drug for a neglected scourge, a chronic parasitic infection called Chagas disease. The parasite is carried and spread by the kissing bug. “This project requires a lot of different kinds of expertise,” she says. Despite the dearth of funds, Podust has engaged researchers from UCSF and Scripps Research Institute to continue work. She is taking advantage of the core laboratory services at the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3), including the SMDC, and at the Protein Crystallography Beamline at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

State Board Rulings Reaffirm CUE Affiliation With Teamsters

The Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) of the State of California issued a series of decisions on July 19, 2010, rejecting legal challenges to the affiliation of the University of California (UC) Coalition of University Employees (CUE) with the Teamsters. An overwhelming majority – 81 percent – of CUE's voting members voted in May to join forces with the Teamsters and have subsequently been chartered as CUE-Teamsters Local Union No. 2010. CUE-Teamsters Local 2010 represents 14,000 administrative, clerical and related employees at each University of California campus/medical center in the state and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

Microbial World's Use Of Metals Mostly Unmapped

A new way of surveying microbes for the metals they contain reveals that biologists have been relying on the equivalent of a 15th century map of the world. It turns out that there are many more metal-containing proteins in microbes than previously recognized. This means the microbial world boasts a broader and more diverse array of metal-driven chemical processes than scientists have imagined. In fact, most have yet to be discovered, according to a first-of-its-kind survey of the metals in three microbes conducted by scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in collaboration with scientists at the University of Georgia.A new way of surveying microbes for the metals they contain reveals that biologists have been relying on the equivalent of a 15th century map of the world. It turns out that there are many more metal-containing proteins in microbes than previously recognized. More>

Zinnia Plant Leaf is Expected to Show the Way to Understand BioFuel Process

A research paper in the online journal Plant Physiology has detailed an attempt made by a team led by Michael Thelen of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in association with the scientists from National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in picturing the cell walls of a Zinnia plant Leaf down to the level of a nanometer to comprehend how the plants evolve into biofuels. More>

Simple Way to Save Money and Fight Climate Change – White Roofs

A 2009 study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Heat Island Group found that retrofitting 80 percent of air-conditioned buildings in the United States with white roofs would save $735 million annually in reduced energy bills while achieving an emissions reduction equivalent to removing 1.2 million cars from the road. More>

Stories on this topic also appeared in Popular Science, Ecofriend, GreenBiz.com, and the Huffington Post.

California team to receive up to $122 million to develop method to produce fuels from sunlight

As part of a broad effort to achieve breakthrough innovations in energy production, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman today announced an award of up to $122 million over five years to a multidisciplinary team of top scientists to establish an Energy Innovation Hub aimed at developing revolutionary methods to generate fuels directly from sunlight. The Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), to be led by the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), will bring together leading researchers in an ambitious effort aimed at simulating nature's photosynthetic apparatus for practical energy production. More>

Technologies to Remove Arsenic from Drinking Water

One in five deaths in Bangladesh is caused by drinking water contaminated with arsenic, according to a study recently published in the medical journal The Lancet by an international team of researchers. (To read more about the study, read “Deadly Effect of Arsenic in Drinking Water Measured”.) Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), in collaboration with University of California (UC) Berkeley, have developed low-cost, sustainable technical solutions to the arsenic problem, accompanied by a business model that is informed by culturally relevant data, lessons from failed technologies and implementations, and public-health success stories from other parts of South Asia. More>

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Despite BP efforts to clean Gulf, nature will do most of it

Now that BP has shut off oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico from its broken well for the first time in 12 weeks, the company faces a herculean task of cleaning up the region's oily mess. Terry Hazen, a scientist at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and an expert in using natural processes to clean up toxic compounds, said as long as the naturally occurring microbes have enough nutrients, they'd work quickly in the 84-degree water at the surface. Hazen estimates that the oil could be gone in months, or possibly years. More>

Fooling 'Mother Nature'

A recent issue of Science News reported that Geo-engineers are spending research dollars to modify the climate in order to lower the earth's temperature. I say you can't fool mother nature. Leaf power, Lilac Amirav and 30 or so colleagues at Helios, a joint project of U.C. Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are working to create artificial photosynthesis, the process by which green plants take in sunlight and carbon dioxide and produce sugar, energy and oxygen. The ultimate goal is to transform carbon dioxide into oxygen and alcohol. It has been done in the laboratory. They are now working to find a way to scale it up to industrial dimensions. This would not only remove CO2, but create a relatively clean fuel. Let's put our research dollars into attacking the cause of global warming not the symptoms. More>

Collider gets yet more exotic 'to-do' list

Some argue that by focusing on SUSY and extra dimensions, physicists could miss earlier signs of new physics. Zoltan Ligeti, a physicist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, and his colleagues have calculated that as it ramps up, the LHC will generate enough collisions to produce clear signatures of a hypothetical 'diquark' particle proposed by some forms of string theory. "Even with relatively little LHC data, you could show that the standard model is wrong, if you know what to look for," says Ligeti, who has a list of new particles to watch for that he will unveil at ICHEP. More>

Holy Sustainble Cow! Ordinary Algae Can Double as Biofuel and Cattle Feed, Too

Writer Eric Wesoff provides a comprehensive overview of algae biofuel’s rocky road, starting with Jimmy Carter’s 1978 initiative. He points out that animal feed is just one of several value-added potentials in algae biofuel production, which would include cosmetics, nutrition supplements, and specialty oils that could be used in foods destined for human consumption, but also notes that significant technological and operational hurdles remain. At least one of those hurdles, though, seems to be on the verge of fading away: researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have identified a protein that keeps green algae from overdosing on sunlight during photosynthesis. The discovery could lead to low-cost production methods, by eliminating the need for a bioreactor and by enabling the cultivation of algae in high efficiency, closed conditions rather than in open ponds. More>

Metalloproteins? Breakthrough Could Speed Algae-Based Fuel Research

Biomimicry is the big buzz word in cleantech these days, referring to the scientific effort to copy the systems and processes of nature to solve human problems. Now researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs have found a new treasure trove of metal-driven chemical processes in microbes that have the potential to speed the pace of clean energy breakthroughs. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in Chem.Info.

Metal content of biologically active substances 'higher than thought'

Scientists have discovered that biologically active substances use a greater array of processes driven by metals than had previously been believed. Metals help to drive a number of basic processes that allow microbial organisms to survive. They include DNA repair, respiration and photosynthesis, according to the team from the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

Plan to print solar modules at $107m factory in Oregon

The state’s first commercial production facility is set to become one of the largest nanotechnology factories in the world, printing 100-megawatts of solar modules each year. Solexant, which has its head office in San Jose, California, expects to receive a $25 million loan from the Oregon Department of Energy to assist the project, along with $18.75 million in state tax credits. Based on technology developed by Dr Paul Alivisatos in the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, the technology should mean lower production costs than rival thin-film solar systems. More>

Cool Roofs Can Offset Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Mitigate Global Warming, Study Finds

Can light-colored rooftops and roads really curb carbon emissions and combat global climate change? The idea has been around for years, but now, a new study by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that is the first to use a global model to study the question has found that implementing cool roofs and cool pavements in cities around the world can not only help cities stay cooler, they can also cool the world, with the potential of canceling the heating effect of up to two years of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions. More>

For Roofs, White is the New Cool

Officials at the US Department of Energy are checking their roofs for some of that “low hanging fruit” available to increase energy efficiency in buildings. A study released this week by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory suggests that "cool roofs" have the potential to offset up to two years worth of worldwide CO2 emissions and reduce the effects of urban "heat islands." If that's the case, increasing the albedo, or reflectivity, of roofs and pavements might be the solution to hotter days in the city. More>

In a Climate Quest, the Roof as White Knight

Another study published this year by researchers with the Berkeley lab used global climate models to determine the cooling benefit of increasing the albedo, or reflectivity, of both roofs and roadways in large cities. The study found that increasing the reflectivity of those surfaces in urban areas with a population of over one million would offset the heating effect of 1.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide emission annually, the equivalent of taking 300 million cars off the road for 20 years. More>

Stories on this topic also appeared in USA Today, UPI, Softpedia, Take Part, Kansas City infoZine, SolveClimate and Inhabitat.