energy stories

 
The National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California is home to the most powerful laser on the planet. It was intended to be developed into humanity's first break-even fusion generator, but it hasn't happened yet, and the new plan is to slow down the pace of fusion research. Again.
 
The 2012 Maker Faire Africa held in Lagos, Nigeria this week brought together people who build things, from traditional crafts to modern inventions. Four teenage girls made a particularly lasting impression at the event with their generator that is powered by urine.
 
It's been like 30 seconds since we posted about some new trick that'll make batteries less terrible, so it's high time for some updates: researchers at Rice University have found that stuffing piles of crushed silicon into lithium-ion batteries can increase their capacity by a factor of three, but the real news here is that it's both easy to do, and cheap.
 
Let this be a lesson to you, American voters: when you live in a highly developed ultra modern welfare state like Sweden, with excellent healthcare and many other public benefits, the system is secretly so unstable and broken that the entire country is desperately trying to import trash.
 
Wind energy is some of the cleanest energy there is. It's relatively cheap to produce and easy to install, and produces power fairly reliably. So, but what happens if we transition to nothing but wind power? As dumb as it sounds, will we run out of wind? The answer seems to be "probably not," but there will be consequences.
 
They say that leaves don't grow on trees, and they're right: leaves grow in labs. Labs at MIT, where some exceptionally clever biochemists have reinvented the ol' tree finger and turned it into something that's useful for more than something to keep giraffes in business: this artificial leaf can take sunlight and convert it straight into hydrogen and oxygen.
 
Fusion is the way our sun powers itself. It's clean, it's efficient, and all you need is hydrogen, which we've got a bunch of stashed away in the ocean. We've been having trouble making fusion happen here on Earth, because we don't have any suns lying around to do it for us, but this could be the year where we make it happen, efficiently, with giant lasers.
 
Physicists hellbent on destroying the universe have come up with a tiny LED that produces 69 picowatts of light while using just 30 picowatts of power. That's an efficiency of above 100%, which should be impossible, but isn't. And in other breaking news, up is down, black is white, and zebras look the same.
 
The only eco-friendly source of "base power," that is, power that (unlike solar or wind) is available at a constant rate whenever you need it, is geothermal. This lack of reliability makes green power a hard sell, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory might have an answer: seawater.

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