Solar-induced hybrid fuel cell produces electricity directly from biomass

Although low temperature fuel cells powered by methanol or hydrogen have been well studied, existing low temperature fuel cell technologies cannot directly use biomass as a fuel because of the lack of an effective catalyst system for polymeric materials.

Evolution stuck in slime for a billion years

Tasmanian researchers have revealed ancient conditions that almost ended life on Earth, using a new technique they developed to hunt for mineral deposits.

Report: Ivanpah solar plant powers 140,000 homes

It was a phrase repeated a thousand times last week: The newly dedicated Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System will generate enough electricity “to power 140,000 homes,” the stories went. But what exactly does that mean?

New 'pomegranate-inspired' design solves problems for lithium-ion batteries

An electrode designed like a pomegranate – with silicon nanoparticles clustered like seeds in a tough carbon rind – overcomes several remaining obstacles to using silicon for a new generation of lithium-ion batteries, say its inventors at Stanford University and the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Is truth stranger than fiction? Yes, especially for science fiction

From warp drives to hyperspace, science fiction has continuously borrowed from, and sometimes anticipated, the state of the art in scientific progress. This has resulted in the perception that science and science fiction have a causal relationship, one finding direction from and fulfilling the science fantasy laid out before it.

NASA responds to potential asteroid redirect mission targets

One year ago, on Feb. 15, 2013, the world was witness to the dangers presented by near-Earth Objects (NEOs) when a relatively small asteroid entered Earth's atmosphere, exploding over Chelyabinsk, Russia, and releasing more energy than a large atomic bomb.

Sunspots like pinwheels

Sunspots come in many sizes and shapes and are locations of strong magnetic fields that extend from below the solar surface through the solar atmosphere into the interplanetary medium. They are also the locations of eruptive phenomena, such as flares, that release a tremendous amount of energy and can disrupt technology on Earth.

Why the deep ocean is Earth's last frontier

Growing industrialization threatens the deep ocean's ecosystems, considered key to the health of the planet.

Finding common ground fosters understanding of climate change

Grasping the concept of climate change and its impact on the environment can be difficult. Establishing common ground and using models, however, can break down barriers and present the concept in an easily understood manner.

Report: Wind power helps lower electricity prices

The price of electricity has dropped in states that have developed extensive wind power over the past five years. It’s just a slight drop, but here’s the kicker: the other states have seen a hefty rise.

Mars Rover heads uphill after solving 'Doughnut' riddle

Researchers have determined the now-infamous Martian rock resembling a jelly doughnut, dubbed Pinnacle Island, is a piece of a larger rock broken and moved by the wheel of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity in early January.

These self-organizing robots are inspired by termite colonies

On the plains of Namibia, millions of tiny termites are building a mound of soil—an 8-foot-tall "lung" for their underground nest. During a year of construction, many termites will live and die, wind and rain will erode the structure, and yet the colony's life-sustaining project will continue.

Graphene's love affair with water

Graphene has proven itself as a wonder material with a vast range of unique properties. Among the least-known marvels of graphene is its strange love affair with water.

Space station SPHERES run circles around ordinary satellites

These are, in fact, the droids that NASA and its research partners are looking for. Inspired by a floating droid battling Luke Skywalker in the film Star Wars, the free-flying satellites known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) have been flying aboard the International Space Station since Expedition 8 in 2003.

LADEE sends Its first images of the moon back to Earth

Earlier this month, NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) observatory successfully downlinked images of the moon and stars taken by onboard camera systems, known as star trackers. This is the first time the LADEE team commanded the spacecraft to send these pictures back to Earth.

Ocean energy goes crowdfunding

They talk about the “valley of death” that technology startups face. Maybe for ocean energy it ought to be called the Mariana Trench of death. It’s deep, with precious little funding floating around to help a new wave or advanced tidal concept make it to the commercial prototype stage in the long development process.

Rhode Island offshore wind farm gets giant 6-MW turbines

The blades for five giant wind turbines from the French company Alstom will be delivered to Deepwater Wind in Europe in April under a contract announced this week. So when will Deepwater be able to put them to use in what could be the first offshore wind farm in the U.S.? Not nearly as soon as hoped.

2014 is a good year to find a comet

A team of European astronomers has found a previously unknown comet, detected as a tiny blob of light orbiting our Sun deep in the Solar System. Europe’s Teide Observatory Tenerife Asteroid Survey team has been credited with discovering comet P/2014 C1, named ‘TOTAS’ in recognition of the teamwork involved in the find.

IBEX helps paint picture of the magnetic system beyond the solar wind

Understanding the region of interstellar space through which the solar system travels is no easy task. Interstellar space begins beyond the heliosphere, the bubble of charged particles surrounding the sun that reaches far beyond the outer planets. Voyager 1 has crossed into this space, but it’s difficult to gain a complete global picture from measurements in only one direction.

NASA moves longest-serving Mars spacecraft for new observations

NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has tweaked its orbit to help scientists make the first systematic observations of how morning fogs, clouds and surface frost develop in different seasons on the Red Planet.