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US firm uses solar power to recover oil reserves

A new technology to increase oil production is being tested on one of US’s oldest oil fields in one of the largest demonstration projects of its kind. The new project was launched by Chevron Technology Ventures at the Coalinga Field in California. More than 7,600 mirrors are being used to focus the sun’s energy onto a solar boiler to produce steam that can then be injected into oil reservoirs to enhance oil recovery.

UC Merced research team demonstrates nontracking solar concentrator technology to power air-conditioning unit

Professor Roland Winston and his team of student researchers have designed and developed a system that gathers and concentrates sunlight onto specially made collector tubes. The heat generated can then be transformed using existing technology for cooling, heating and a number of other potential uses. The key factor in their design is this: The collectors are entirely stationary. Typically, solar collectors must move and track the sun to achieve optimal energy production, necessitating additional equipment that can be costly to install and complex to maintain.

Global greenhouse gas emissions hit an all-time high in 2010

Global greenhouse gas emissions increased by 5.8% in 2010 to hit an all-time high of 33 billion tonnes, as continued growth in developing countries swamped both greater use of renewable power and gains in energy efficiency, according to an analysis by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. Emissions in China and India increased by 10% and 9%, respectively, compared with 3% in the United States.

Molecular sudoku

A team of scientists from the Catalan Institute of Nanotechnology, ICREA, and Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona investigated the properties of a special kind of sudoku, made by assembling tiny molecules into a 3×3 square array The result is not a mind-boggling game, but a detailed picture of how each molecule interacts with its neighbors and conducts electricity when squeezed between two metallic electrodes.

Mirage effect from thermally modulated transparent carbon nanotube sheets (pdf)

The single-beam mirage effect, also known as photothermal deflection, is studied using a free-standing, highly aligned carbon nanotube aerogel sheet as the heat source. The extremely low thermal capacitance and high heat transfer ability of these transparent forest-drawn carbon nanotube sheets enables high frequency modulation of sheet emperature over an enormous temperature range, thereby providing a sharp, rapidly changing gradient of refractive index in the surrounding liquid or gas.

How fuel cells can help cell phones in a hurricane

A cleaner alternative is emerging. Wireless service providers increasingly are investing in fuel cell systems for backup power. Fuel cells use hydrogen and oxygen, the molecules that create water, to produce electricity with no pollution. We see it as a green alternative that is on the rise. Clean and energy efficient fuel cells can help reduce CO2 emissions by 50 percent as well as decrease other toxic emissions and deliver additional environmental and efficiency benefits. They also are very quiet, less costly to maintain and are not targets for theft.

Pump may help materials self repair

Artificial microvascular systems can be integrated into structures and materials to aid in self-repair when there’s damage, such as cracks in a coating applied to a building or bridge. Until now, the systems have relied on capillary force to transport healing agents. The team of researchers at the Beckman Institute of the University of Illinois has developed different methods for self-healing, including microvascular systems for self-repair of polymers. The vascular system works when reactive fluids are released in response to stress, enabling polymerization that restores mechanical integrity.