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NASA airborne mission returns to Africa to study smoke, clouds

NASA's P-3 research plane begins flights this month through both clouds and smoke over the South Atlantic Ocean to understand how tiny airborne particles called aerosols change the properties of clouds and how they influence the amount of incoming sunlight the clouds reflect or absorb. The Observations of Aerosols above Clouds and their Interactions, or ORACLES, field mission is carrying out the month-long field campaign from São Tomé and Principé, an island nation off the west coast of Africa. From there researchers …

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The Nuclear (Power) War Isn’t Over Yet

Many are calling this the end of the nuclear age in America. When utility partners Santee Cooper and South Carolina Gas & Electric (SCE&G) abandoned plans last month to complete two reactors already under construction, it was widely viewed as a crippling setback for the future of modern nuclear in the U.S. The V.C. Summer Nuclear Station was meant to represent the next generation of advanced and more affordable nuclear power plants. But it was plagued by delays and cost overruns that developers …

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How Two Bankrupt Companies Are Threatening Tens of Thousands of American Solar Jobs

Let's be clear: the Section 201 trade case now under consideration at the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is about jobs, plain and simple. If the petitioners get what they want, tens of thousands of American solar workers will lose their jobs. This case, filed with the ITC by two foreign-based solar companies, both deep in debt, is a last ditch effort at a bailout. It could halt tens of gigawatts of U.S. solar installations through 2022. But most importantly, it will cost 88,000 Americans their …

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The History Behind South Carolina’s Nuclear Debacle

What happens when lawmakers and industry craft a large, complicated bill and then rush it through the legislature without reading it? We saw the consequences in South Carolina. That's where two utilities in the state walked away from a nuclear plant they were building – leaving ratepayers to foot the bill and putting thousands of people out of work. It's the result of a piece of legislation quietly passed a decade ago. In this week's episode of The Energy Gang, we'll look at the political factors that led …

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25 years of global sea level data, and counting

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the launch of a revolutionary ocean research vessel — a space "ship." As the NASA/CNES Topex-Poseidon satellite ascended into orbit, it ushered in a new era of oceanography with the first highly accurate, global measurements of sea levels. That mission and its three successors, all named Jason, have continuously mapped global ocean currents and tides; opened our eyes to the global reach of El Niño and other climate events; created a quarter-century-long, extraordinarily precise record of …

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Increased Hydro & Solar Generation Brings Down Electric Prices In El Salvador

Increased hydro power generation and a newly commissioned solar power project have reduced the overall cost of electricity in El Salvador, the power regulator of the country, Siget, recently stated. Increased Hydro & Solar Generation Brings Down Electric Prices In El …

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Training students' eyes on the skies

During the last week in July, 15 high school students from across the U.S. traveled to MIT to participate in the second annual MIT Astronomy Training Camp (ATC), in support of the USA Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad (USAAAO), the student-run national astronomy team. The group included four of the five USAAAO 2017 team members, plus 11 others participating in the camp out of a curiosity about astronomy — and to perhaps land a spot on next year's team. USAAAO …

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Tesla self-driving semi, Cruze Diesels driven, EV education, Panasonic profits: Today’s Car News

Today, Panasonic loves Tesla profits, while Tesla loves self-driving semis; we drive both Chevy Cruze diesels and weigh in on fuel efficiency; and, could alkaline batteries change enough for electric cars? All this and more on Green Car Reports. That Tesla electric semi that the company plans to show in September? It may be self-driving, and...

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Using energy-based designs to enhance earthquake hazard resistance

By taking an innovative approach to designing recommendations for new buildings and structures, researchers at MIT are collaborating with researchers and engineers around the world to develop cost-effective, non-invasive tools and methods for observing and measuring a structure's movement and energy, a paradigm referred to as “energy-based design” (EBD). This summer, Professor Oral Buyukozturk of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, to direct a workshop on EBD, an …

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SF Motors Holds Landmark Global Partnership Meeting at Silicon Valley Headquarters

U.S.-based EV company SF Motors convened key advisors, including Martin Eberhard, and executives from more than 60 global automotive suppliers to discuss R&D and manufacturing to outline their strategic plans to bring a dedicated EV brand to the U.S. automotive market

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GE Digital Gas Plants Vs. Utility-Scale Batteries

It's gotten easy to assume battery storage will become utilities' tool of choice for tackling peak capacity and frequency regulation. The technology has proved itself capable in PJM's Reg D market. And more recently, southern California turned to storage for rapidly-deployed peak capacity assistance following the massive Aliso Canyon gas leak. A growing litany of storage providers claim they can beat a new gas peaker plant on price, and are warning about the risks of stranded assets if utilities invest in …

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So You Want to Build a Cleantech Startup? Here’s What (and Who) You Need to Know

While venture capitalists swoon over startups devoted to making people click on ads and stare at their phones longer, they're decidedly less interested in solving more difficult real-world problems -- like transforming the energy sector. Yes, we've been talking about this downward trend for years now. And there are still a number of venture firms actively pursuing opportunities in energy decarbonization and decentralization. But startups are realizing they can't rely on venture capitalists like they used …

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New method enables real-time monitoring of materials during irradiation

A new advance on a method developed by MIT researchers could enable continuous, high-precision monitoring of materials exposed to a high-radiation environment. The method may allow these materials to remain in place much longer, eliminating the need for preventive replacement. It could also speed up the search for new, improved materials for these harsh environments. The new findings appear in the journal Applied Physics Letters, in a paper by graduate student Cody Dennett and assistant professor of nuclear …

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New scaling law predicts how wheels drive over sand

When engineers design a new aircraft, they carry out much of the initial testing not on full-sized jets but on model planes that have been scaled down to fit inside a wind tunnel. In this more manageable setting, they can study the flow of air around an aircraft under all manner of experimental conditions. Scientists can then apply scaling laws — mathematical relationships of proportionality — to extrapolate how a full-size jet would perform, based on the behavior of its miniature counterpart. Now engineers …