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EERE Network News -- 08/24/05

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  • EERE Network News by way of Tom Gray
    [] [] A weekly newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). The
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 25, 2005
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      A weekly newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE)
      <http://www.eere.energy.gov/>Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable
      Energy (EERE). The EERE Network News is also available on the Web at:

      August 24, 2005

      News and Events

      * U.S. Green Building Council Launches LEED for Homes
      * New Tool Helps Fleet Managers Evaluate Hybrid Vehicles
      * Carbon Nanotubes Show Promise for Solar Cells, Other Devices
      * Spain to Build an 11-Megawatt Solar Power Tower
      * Anti-Neutrinos Shed Light on the Source of Geothermal Energy

      Site News

      * Labs 21: Labs for the 21st Century

      Energy Connections

      * Reports: High Gas Prices Changing U.S. Consumer Behavior

      News and Events

      U.S. Green Building Council Launches LEED for Homes

      The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), which has set the standard for
      commercial green buildings through its LEED (Leadership in Energy and
      Environmental Design) rating system, is currently launching a one-year
      pilot project to demonstrate a new LEED rating system for homes. The LEED
      for Homes Rating System is a voluntary program that will recognize and
      reward the top 25 percent of green homebuilders. New homes built to the
      LEED standards will be designed and constructed to use less energy, less
      water, and fewer materials. The LEED homes will also provide improved
      indoor air quality through improved controls of pollutant sources and
      better ventilation and filtration systems. Builders in 11 states plus the
      Northeast region are participating in the pilot. See the
      <http://www.usgbc.org/News/usgbcnews_details.asp?ID=1751>USGBC press
      release and the <http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=147>LEED
      Rating System for Homes Web page.

      A number of builders throughout the country are already pursuing green
      building practices. In New England, three housing developments won Energy
      Star Builder Achievement Awards in July for their use of a variety of
      energy efficient technologies, as well as solar energy. In California, the
      Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is working with Treasure Homes
      to build 32 super-efficient homes with 2-kilowatt solar power systems on
      their roofs. SMUD designed the homes with the help of DOE's Building
      America program, DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and ConSol, a
      building energy consultant. Treasure Homes broke ground on the project in
      late July. And in southern California, the San Diego Regional Energy Office
      (SDREO) has teamed up with Kyocera Solar, Inc. to offer highly affordable
      solar power systems to residents who lost their homes in the October 2003
      wildfires. Thanks to reduced costs and a $10,000 rebate, homeowners can
      install a 2.5-kilowatt system for only $7,600, according to SDREO. The
      rebates end in November. See the press releases from Energy Star Homes
      65 KB), SMUD
      35 KB), and
      <http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/alternate.html>Download Adobe Reader.

      New Tool Helps Fleet Managers Evaluate Hybrid Vehicles


      Photo of a Toyota Prius.

      According to the new software tool, today's high gasoline prices make
      hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius a cost-effective choice for fleet
      Credit: Toyota

      A new software tool that compares the costs and emissions of hybrid
      electric vehicles to conventional vehicles is now available for government
      and business fleet managers. The tool takes into account purchase price,
      fuel costs, repair and maintenance costs, resale value, and applicable tax
      incentives. For example, the tool indicates that at the current fuel prices
      of $2.50 per gallon or more, hybrid vehicles can offer significant
      financial savings to fleets. A high percentage of city driving and large
      number of miles driven per year can further increase the cost-effectiveness
      of hybrid vehicles. Called the Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) Cost
      Calculator Tool, the tool was developed by the DOE's National Renewable
      Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Center for a New American Dream, and the
      American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. See the
      <http://www.nrel.gov/news/press/2005/2805_new_cost_tool.html>NREL press

      The HEV Cost Calculator Tool is available on DOE's
      <http://www.eere.energy.gov/cleancities/>Clean Cities Web site, which also
      features a great deal of information about hybrid and alternative fuel
      vehicles; alternative fuels and fuel blends; fuel economy; and technologies
      to reduce the time that vehicles are left idling. See the
      <http://www.eere.energy.gov/cleancities/hev/cost_calc.html>HEV Cost
      Calculator Tool.

      Carbon Nanotubes Show Promise for Solar Cells, Other Devices

      GE Global Research announced a breakthrough last week that could lead to a
      new generation of solar cells, as well as a wide variety of electronic
      devices. The organization, which is the central research arm of General
      Electric Company, has developed a diode from carbon nanotubes­tubes of
      carbon on the scale of about a billionth of a meter­that operates at the
      best possible performance for diodes, the theoretical limit. The diode is
      also able to convert sunlight into electricity, which means it could be
      used to build a solar cell. Diodes are the fundamental building block for
      many electronic devices, including solar cells, transistors, computer
      chips, sensors, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs), so an ideal diode could
      result in a wide variety of more efficient devices. GE published the
      research in the August 15th issue of Applied Physical Letters. See the
      <http://www.research.ge.com/04_media/news/20050819_cnd.shtml>GE press release.

      One problem with nanotubes is the difficulty of assembling these
      sub-microscopic materials into a usable product, a barrier that researchers
      at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) claim to have overcome. In
      research published in the August 19th issue of Science, the UTD researchers
      claim to be able to fabricate sheets of nanotubes at a rate of seven meters
      per minute. The resulting sheets have a number of amazing properties: they
      are transparent, extremely lightweight, highly conductive, and stronger
      than steel. The research team believes the sheets could have applications
      in either LEDs or solar cells, as well a wide variety of other
      applications. The UTD research was performed in collaboration with an
      Australian national laboratory, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial
      Research Organization (CSIRO). See the
      press release.

      Spain to Build an 11-Megawatt Solar Power Tower


      Photo of hundreds of flat mirrors mounted on central pillars an

      This 1996 photo shows the solar tower and surrounding field of mirrors for
      Solar Two, a demonstration project located near Bartow, California.
      Credit: Warren Gretz

      A solar energy technology largely abandoned in the United States is now
      being commercialized in Spain: Solucar Energia, S.A., an Abengoa company,
      is building an 11-megawatt solar power tower near Seville. Called PS10, the
      power plant will be the largest solar power system in Europe and the first
      tower-based solar power system to generate electricity commercially. The
      system will consist of a field of 624 large mirrors mounted on
      computer-controlled pedestals to focus sunlight onto the top of a 330-foot
      tower, generating steam to turn a turbine and produce electricity. Telvent
      is supplying the control system for the computer-controlled mirrors, which
      are called "heliostats." The plant will benefit greatly from last year's
      royal decree that will allow it to sell power for up to three times the
      normal rate. See the Telvent press release
      55 KB) and the <http://www.solarpaces.org/PS10.HTM>description of PS10 and
      <http://www.solarpaces.org/news.htm>news on the royal decree from
      SolarPACES, an international cooperative organization for solar thermal
      power. <http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/alternate.html>Download Adobe

      DOE operated a similar plant in the southern California desert as a test
      facility. The plant operated in the 1980s under the name Solar One, boiling
      water to steam in a solar tower. The plant was later revived in the 1990s
      as Solar Two, which used molten salt as the fluid to collect heat in the
      tower, store the heat, and transfer the heat to water, which was boiled to
      steam. Solar Two shut down in April 1999. See the
      <http://www.energylan.sandia.gov/sunlab/Snapshot/STFUTURE.HTM>summary of
      the project on the SunLab Web site.

      Meanwhile, the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel has developed a
      process to convert metal oxides, such as zinc oxide, into their pure metal
      form using solar heat. The metal can later be reacted with water to
      generate hydrogen. The process was developed using the solar heat from a
      solar tower located at the Weizmann Institute's Canadian Institute for the
      Energies and Applied Research. See the
      Institute press release.

      Anti-Neutrinos Shed Light on the Source of Geothermal Energy

      Anti-neutrinos­lightweight particles that interact very weakly with
      matter­may be the key to understanding nuclear processes that occur deep
      with the Earth and contribute to geothermal energy production.
      Anti-neutrinos are the anti-matter counterpart to neutrinos, both of which
      interact so weakly with matter that they can easily pass straight through
      the Earth. A specific kind of anti-neutrino, the anti-electron neutrino, is
      produced when radioactive isotopes decay. Scientists believe that much of
      the heat generated within the Earth comes from the radioactive decay of two
      isotopes, uranium-238 and thorium-232. By studying anti-electron neutrinos
      coming from within the Earth, scientists hope to understand how much
      geothermal energy is produced from the decay of these isotopes, and how
      much is left over heat from when the Earth was formed.

      To study these so-called "geoneutrinos," an international collaboration of
      scientists used a neutrino detector called KamLAND (Kamioka Liquid
      scintillator Anti-Neutrino Detector) that is built deep underground in
      central Japan. The underground location helps shield the detector from
      other particles, allowing it to detect the elusive geoneutrinos. In a paper
      published in the July 28th issue of the journal Nature, the scientists
      demonstrated the ability of the KamLAND detectors to measure the
      radioactivity of the uranium and thorium isotopes. Although the initial
      test was not sensitive enough to precisely determine the amount of heat
      produced by radioactive decay, the experimental results were consistent
      with current models of Earth's core, and the study could pave the way for
      future, more accurate measurements. Scientists from DOE's Lawrence Berkeley
      National Laboratory (LBNL) participated in the study, which was funded by
      the DOE Office of Science and the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture,
      Sports, Science and Technology. See the
      press release.

      Site News

      <http://www.labs21century.gov/index.htm>Labs 21: Labs for the 21st Century

      The Labs 21 program improves the energy efficiency and environmental
      performance of U.S. laboratories by examining facilities from a "whole
      building" perspective. The Web site includes a toolkit of resources such as
      design guides, case studies, and videos. See the
      <http://www.labs21century.gov/index.htm>Labs 21 Web site.

      Energy Connections

      Reports: High Gas Prices Changing U.S. Consumer Behavior

      With gasoline prices soaring, U.S. drivers are driving less and considering
      more fuel-efficient vehicles, according to two new studies. A report from
      the California Energy Commission (CEC) notes that despite an increase in
      population in 2004, the state is now using less gasoline. Comparing the
      state's total gasoline sales from the first four months of 2005 and 2004,
      sales actually declined by one half of one percent. In the same time
      period, gasoline prices rose from $2.12 per gallon to $2.60 per gallon. A
      public opinion poll and forthcoming study by the Polk Center for Automotive
      Studies confirms the CEC findings, noting that 59 percent of the people
      polled say they will drive less at current gasoline prices. The Polk study
      also found that 40 percent of poll respondents said they would delay
      purchasing a new vehicle, and 55 percent said that when they do buy a new
      vehicle, they'll buy a more fuel-efficient one. See the press releases from
      and <http://www.polk.com/News/LatestNews/news_082205.htm>Polk.

      According to the latest report on gasoline prices from the American
      Automobile Association (AAA), regular unleaded gasoline and diesel fuel hit
      record levels on Monday: $2.614 per gallon for unleaded and $2.649 per
      gallon for diesel. See the AAA's "<http://www.fuelgaugereport.com/>Fuel
      Gauge Report."

      This newsletter is funded by DOE's <http://www.eere.energy.gov/>Office of
      Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and is also available on the
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