Electricity

7 ways microbes may solve our energy woes

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: December 2, 2009   View Article

Microscopic organisms — archaea, bacteria and fungi — have the potential to reshape the world’s power supply. Microbes could provide a vast energy resource that is as efficient and portable as coal, oil and natural gas, said Bruce Rittmann, director of the Center for Environmental Biotechnology at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute.

Some microbial processes, such as using yeast to turn plant sugars into ethanol, already account for a few percent of the energy mix, noted Arnold Demain, a microbial biologist at Drew University in Madison, N.J. Other processes, such as using bacteria to derive electricity from fuel cells, are still in the research and development stage but show potential for deployment a few years down the road.

7 ways to generate and save energy at home

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: November 17, 2009   View Article

Prepare for battle if you’re ready to pull away from the electricity grid and generate at least some of your energy at home.

“The first thing you do is make war on consumption,” said Richard Perez, the publisher of Home Power Magazine, which guides people through the transition to a life built around renewable energy. “In other words, analyze where you are using electricity and see where you can make it more efficient.”

High-Rise Farms: The Future of Food?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 30, 2009   View Article

Salads of the future may still be served in bowls, but their ingredients might be grown in skyscrapers.

That’s the hope of scientists and architects who are erecting a unique strategy to feed a swelling population on a planet with finite farmland.

Rust-Breathing Bacteria: Miracle Microbes?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 12, 2004   View Article

They breathe rust, clean up polluted groundwater, generate electricity, and may harbor clues to the origins of life. That’s a lot for one family of microscopic bugs, but don’t be surprised when Derek Lovley wows the world with another wonder from the Geobacter genus of bacteria.

“When we think we have hit the last of the big discoveries, something else comes along,” said Lovley, a microbiologist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Underwater Windmill Helps Power Arctic Village

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 9, 2003   View Article

Energy derived from the moon now trickles into a village near the Arctic tip of Norway via a novel underwater windmill-like device powered by the rhythmic slosh of the tides.

The so-called tidal turbine is bolted to the floor of the Kvalsund Channel and was connected to the nearby town of Hammerfest’s power grid on September 20. It is the first time in the world that electricity directly from a tidal current has been fed into a power grid.

Astrophysicist Recognized for Discovery of Solar Wind

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 27, 2003   View Article

In 1958 Eugene Parker discovered that a stiff wind blows incessantly from the sun, filling local interstellar space with ionized gas. The discovery forever changed how scientists perceive space and helped explain many phenomena, from geomagnetic storms that knock out power grids on Earth to the formation of distant stars.

Now, for his groundbreaking discovery more than four decades ago, Parker, a professor emeritus of physics, astronomy, and astrophysics at the University of Chicago, will receive the 2003 Kyoto Prize for Lifetime Achievement for Basic Science on November 10 in Japan. The award, which comes with a gold medallion and a check for about U.S. $400,000, is one of three annual Kyoto Prizes that recognize significant contributions to the scientific, cultural, and spiritual development of humankind.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach