Tag Archives: green

Berkeley Lab Applies U.S. Tools and Technologies to Spur Low-Carbon Cities in China

When eight cities and five provinces in China were asked by the central government to develop a plan to become “low carbon,” many had no idea what to do. Some planted trees. Others decided to build up a solar panel industry. One city even thought about building a lake to be more “green.” Local government leaders were at a loss as to how to reduce their carbon emissions.

In 2008, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) initiated a joint effort to address energy and environmental challenges facing urban centers in both countries. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s China Energy Group was tasked by DOE to identify and recommend best practices, tools and technologies. With nearly 25 years experience analyzing energy use in China, the China Energy Group has tailored a variety of resources to help local Chinese officials turn government mandates into practical how-to guides for understanding their energy usage and reducing their carbon dioxide emissions. (more…)

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USGS Releases First Assessment of Shale Gas Resources in the Utica Shale: 38 trillion cubic feet

The Utica Shale contains about 38 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas (at the mean estimate) according to the first assessment of this continuous (unconventional) natural gas accumulation by the U. S. Geological Survey. The Utica Shale has a mean of 940 million barrels of unconventional oil resources and a mean of 208 million barrels of unconventional natural gas liquids.

The Utica Shale lies beneath the Marcellus Shale, and both are part of the Appalachian Basin, which is the longest-producing petroleum province in the United States. The Marcellus Shale, at 84 TCF of natural gas, is the largest unconventional gas basin USGS has assessed. This is followed closely by the Greater Green River Basin in southwestern Wyoming, which has 84 TCF of undiscovered natural gas, of which 82 TCF is continuous (tight gas). (more…)

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A New Way of Looking at Photosystem II

Berkeley Lab and SLAC Researchers Study Key Protein Complex Crucial to Photosynthesis

Future prospects for clean, green, renewable energy may hinge upon our ability to mimic and improve upon photosynthesis – the process by which green plants, algae and some bacteria convert solar energy into electrochemical energy. An artificial version of photosynthesis, for example, could use sunlight to produce liquid fuels from nothing more than carbon dioxide and water. First, however, scientists need a better understanding of how a large complex of proteins, called photosystem II, is able to split water molecules into oxygen, electrons and hydrogen ions (protons). A new road to reaching this understanding has now been opened by an international team of researchers, led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Using ultrafast, intensely bright pulses of X-rays from SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), the research team produced the first ever images at room temperature of microcrystals of the photosystem II complex. Previous imaging studies, using X-rays generated via synchrotron radiation sources, required cryogenic freezing, which alters the samples. Also, to catalyze its reactions, photosystem II relies upon an enzyme that contains a manganese-calcium cluster that is highly sensitive to radiation. With the high-intensity femtosecond X-ray pulses of the LCLS, the research team was able to record intact images of these clusters before the radiation destroyed them. (more…)

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E. Coli Bacteria Engineered to Eat Switchgrass and Make Transportation Fuels

*Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) Researchers Reach Milestone on the Road to Biofuels*

A milestone has been reached on the road to developing advanced biofuels that can replace gasoline, diesel and jet fuels with a domestically-produced clean, green, renewable alternative.

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have engineered the first strains of  Escherichia coli bacteria that can digest switchgrass biomass and synthesize its sugars into all three of those transportation fuels. What’s more, the microbes are able to do this without any help from enzyme additives. (more…)

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A Wiki for the Biofuels Research Community

Blake Simmons (left) and Harvey Blanch of the Joint BioEnergy Institute led the development of a technoeconomic model for optimizing biorefinery operations. Image cedit: Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley Lab Public Affairs

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have created a technoeconomic model that should help accelerate the development of a next generation of clean, green biofuels that can compete with gasoline in economics and well as performance. This on-line, wiki-based model enables researchers to pursue the most promising strategies for cost-efficient biorefinery operations by simulating such critical factors as production costs and energy balances under different processing scenarios.

“The high production cost of biofuels has been the main factor limiting their widespread adoption,” says JBEI’s Daniel Klein-Marcuschamer. “We felt that a model of the biorefinery operation that was open, transparent about the assumptions it uses, and updatable by the community of users could aid in guiding research in the direction where it is most likely to reduce the production cost of biofuels.” (more…)

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