On this installment of News You Can Use, we’re highlighting some of the most amazing new energy-related news from the past month. From the farthest reaches of the universe to the everyday household lamp, these breakthroughs illustrate how science continues to not only dazzle us but how it is working to improve our everyday lives.
Among Intellectual Ventures efforts over the years has been the development of alternative energy technologies. Our work on this front eventually lead to the creation of TerraPower, an independent corporation dedicated to breakthrough ideas that solve our pressing energy crisis. The Department of Energy agrees and has named TerraPower as one of two projects to receive funding for advanced nuclear reactor concepts. This new public-private partnership will dramatically increase opportunities to advance R&D initiatives that are vital to the U.S. and the world.
For decades, scientists have tried without much progress to use the process by which plants use photosynthesis to produce energy. But now, MIT Technology Review reports that a nanomaterials chemist at the University of California, Berkeley has built a system that – like plants – could produce better versions of fuel without increasing the world’s carbon dioxide levels. Though the system would need to be scaled, Peidong Yang’s “array of nanowires coupled with engineered bacteria” shows real promise for the future of energy production.
The invention and proliferation of LED lightbulbs has significantly decreased household energy use. With energy savings of up to 80 percent over traditional incandescent lightbulbs, many have made the switch to LEDs. But some have held out due to the familiarity with the light quality of their traditional lightbulb, even though it wastes much more energy as heat.
Luckily, Fast Company’s Co.DESIGN reports that inventors at MIT have found a way to “bounce” the extra heat from the incandescent lightbulb back into the filaments. So far the invention has tripled the efficiency of incandescent bulbs, and researchers hope to get even more energy savings out of the technology.
On the most extreme of extreme energy scales in the known universe, astronomers noted the brightest supernova in history this past week. According to Smithsonian Magazine, a network of telescopes in Chili and Hawaii that scans the sky recorded the event. Events like these remind us that our ever-advancing telescope technology is allowing us to continue growing our understanding and perhaps one day help us better harness the power and energy of the universe.
@IVinvents shares the latest news about invention and innovation. Follow along, and let us know what you’ve been reading, too.