Thinking small is big deal: DOE to push US manufacturing of small modular reactors

By / January 21, 2012

Samples of near-term small modular nuclear reactor designs. Credit: DOE SMR report. The concept of using small modular nuclear reactors is something we’ve written on several times in the past, and it seems like a viable technology, if not for use in developing nations, at least for use in underdeveloped nations with nearly nonexistent power…

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Video of the week: Cyrus Wadia outlines Materials Genome Initiative

By / January 17, 2012

The Materials Genome Initiative is a multi-stakeholder effort to develop an infrastructure that will accelerate materials discovery and deployment. President Barack Obama unveiled the MGI in July 2011 as a critical enabling element of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership program. The goal of the MGI is to support the creation of new computational tools, software and…

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DOE releases updated report, ‘Critical Materials Strategy’

By Eileen De Guire / January 16, 2012

The Department of Energy recently released its second “Critical Materials Strategy” report. Credit: DOE. In late December 2011, the Department of Energy released its 2011 update (pdf) to its report, “Critical Materials Strategy.” This is an update to the inaugural issue report released in 2010. The 189-page report evaluates the issues relevant to critical materials…

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Why R&D did well in the federal FY12 budget and looking ahead to FY13

By Eileen De Guire / January 12, 2012

A general representation of how federal spending breaks down into categories. Credit: Congressional Budget Office. We’ve been following the FY12 budget process and its favorable outcome for the science R&D community. The Budget Control Act was signed into law last August and deficit reductions were required in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. The graphic…

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Final FY12 budget reveals happy new year for federally supported R&D

By Eileen De Guire / January 11, 2012

In December, President Obama signed the 2012 budget bill, breathing life into the federal fiscal year before the continuing resolution flowed into the new calendar year. Credit: adapted from the Congressional Budget Office. Previously, we reported that indicators were looking positive for federal R&D funding based on the “minibus” approvals Congress made in November, which…

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Federal budget 2012—Congress starts committing to R&D funding

By Eileen De Guire / December 19, 2011

Congress has finalized the first three of twelve parts of the FY’12 federal budget. So far, things look relatively promising for STEM R&D. Credit: Congressional Budget Office. In November Congress approved three parts of President Obama’s $3.5 trillion budget request for FY 2012, which began Oct. 1, 2011. Why only three? To make the budget…

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The Energy Race: Will federal budget woes affect progress?

By Eileen De Guire / November 22, 2011

Thin film solar panels produced by General Electric’s PrimeStar in Arvada, Colo. Credit: Edelman; NREL. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, was in Colorado last week, and after months of reeling from the Solyndra debacle, was able to bask in the glow of successful DOE investments. Chu also used the trip to hammer home his messages…

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With low-temp SOFC gains like this . . . why stop now?

By / November 18, 2011

Low-temperature SOFCs: (A) Functionally graded bismuth oxide (Electrolyte 1) / ceria (Electrolyte 2) can allow use of hydrocarbon fuels at the anode at reduced temperatures. (B) Estimation of power output with LT-SOFCs from a single cell to a module (upper) and schematic diagram of power requirements according to various applications (lower). Credit: E.D. Wachsman, K.T.…

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White House announces recent Materials Genome Initiative developments

By / November 15, 2011

The White House’s Cyrus Wadia, speaking above right with Penn State’s Zi-Kui Liu at the recent MS&T’11 meeting, and Tom Kalil revealed several new projects in support of the MGI. The Obama administration is keeping the spotlight on the Materials Genome Initiative it launched earlier this year, and yesterday the Tom Kalil and Cyrus Wadia…

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Can the US afford to pull the plug on SOFC and SECA funding?

By / November 8, 2011

Credit: Wachsman et al.; Energy & Environmental Science. No. Will it anyway? Unfortunately, it looks that way, based on the DOE’s 2012 budget request (pdf), which hacks off 41 percent of total SOFC funding from the current year budget, and would leave support at 65 percent of what it had in 2010. Moreover, it would cut off funding…

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