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The Salty Taste of Energy Independence

Emily Badger, Miller-McCune
Innovation, and not just drilling the same well deeper, could make energy in America as common, as, well, salt.

… The actual answer to energy security involves a vision so expansive that midterm-to-midterm American politics may be uniquely incapable of grasping it.

“If you look at the last hundred years of innovation, going from artificial fertilizers, to airplanes, to nuclear energy, all the way down to the Internet, all of this innovation, imagine this happening in the next 20 years,” said Arun Majumdar, director of the Department of Energy’s new Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (a friendlier, greener version of DARPA). “That’s the scale and pace that we need.”

Lisa Margonelli, who shared a panel with Majumdar at an event sponsored by Arizona State University at the National Press Club, called what we need “the industrial revolution in triple-time.”

We don’t need an extensive oil rig mobilization at sea for a small and far-off quantity of oil (although Obama may need to say that to get moderate Democrats and Republicans on board with his next big domestic policy agenda). We need: solar panels that spray on, sugar that turns into fuel and biomass that becomes ethanol, cars that plug into smart grids that communicate real-time pricing from utilities using carbon sequestration, and a whole bunch of other things no one has thought of yet – and all of it to scale.
(1 April 2010)
Warning: article contains techno-fixes. -BA

New ‘Smart’ Roof Reads the Thermometer, Saves Energy in Hot and Cold Climates

Science Daily
Top a building with a light-colored “cool roof,” and it reflects sunlight, cutting air conditioning bills in summer, but increasing winter heating costs. Choose black shingles, and the roof soaks up sunlight to cut winter heating costs but makes the roof bake in the summer sun. One or the other. You can’t have it both ways.

Scientists reported the development of a “smart” roof coating, made from waste cooking oil from fast food restaurants, that can “read” a thermometer. The coating automatically switches roles, reflecting or transmitting solar heat, when the outdoor temperature crosses a preset point that can be tuned to the local climate.

They described the coating at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in San Francisco.

… Scientists already have evidence that “white roofs” — roofs that are painted white to reflect solar heat and help cool buildings during peak summer weather — could significantly reduce global warming by lowering fuel consumption. However, white roofs can have a wintertime heating penalty because they reflect solar heat that would help warm the building. So white roofs are a benefit in summer but a detriment in winter.

The new “intelligent” coating may sidestep this quandry
(31 March 2010)

Dept of Energy: Give us your ideas

Steve Chu, U.S. Department of Energy
Open Energy

Give us your ideas on how we can create our Open Government Plan.
This plan will help Energy:

* Improve the availability and quality of information
* Work better with others inside & outside the government
* Be more efficient & innovative
(1 April 2010)
Suggested by Joe N.