Business & Technology

Climate & Energy

The small-c conservatism of U.S. power companies

The U.S. power sector is biased in favor of the familiar. It's not well-suited to producing the risk-taking and innovation we need in clean electricity

The Pope is getting a hybrid car

The next popemobile will be a hybrid -- not just a hybrid between a pick-up truck and a dunking booth, like usual, but a gas/electric hybrid car that can go around 16 miles in all-electric mode. 

Small nuclear reactors get their first customer, but are no panacea

Small nuclear reactors are the mobile homes of the the nuclear power universe -- they can be built in factories rather than on-site, then shipped to their destination and hooked up to the local power grid without any expensive upgrades to transmission infrastructure.

EcoCar winner produces totally normal car that gets 81 MPG

Because Americans are big babies who would rather strangle their economy with energy shortages than drive a car that is even vaguely weird, the Department of Energy's EcoCar challenge asked a bunch of universities to build the most energy efficient car possible using a stock General Motors body and a bunch of fairly typical parts.

Bamboo iPhone speaker amplifies music with zero electricity

The iBamboo speaker makes use of the naturally resonant properties of bamboo to provide zero-electricity amplification for the iPhone 4. Yeah, you could get more gadgets to go with your gadget, but this is probably cooler -- no wires, no energy use, and it adds as much Zen cool to your desk as a tiny portable waterfall (which would need to be plugged in anyway).

How oil and gas companies that deny climate change are adapting to it anyway

Next to agriculture, the industry most vulnerable to climate change is, arguably, the extraction of the very fossil fuels that are causing it, says Michael Cote at GOOD. And while this industry is spending millions to deny that climate change even exists and to block efforts to deal with it, it's also going to need to spend billions to cope with its effects. Sure, climate change sucks harder than a collapsed star, but at least it's leading to ironies so vast that only particles of sputtering dumbfoundedness can escape.

How we’ll get ultra-efficient solar cells by copying plants' 'quantum biology'

Some day solar cells will be as cheap as house paint, and the renewables vs. fossil fuel debate will seem as quaint as Whigs vs. Jacksonian Democrats. Getting there has inspired all kinds of crazy ideas, and the craziest, perhaps, is to do it exactly like plants do. Thing is, your average plant turns out to be exploiting tricks of physics that most scientists used to think were only possible inside a lab, under high vacuum, at the intersection of a bunch of laser beams cooling a handful of atoms to near absolute zero.

Your cable box uses more power than your refrigerator

Introducing the booze-fueled power plant

Bourbon's birthday was yesterday, but if you're anything like me, you're still celebrating. So you'll be glad to know that whisky -- we'll go with the Scottish spelling, because this is happening in Scotland -- is the newest addition to the Unlikely Biofuels Club. Helius Energy is building a 7.2-megawatt plant in Scotland that will run off of waste from whisky distilling. Isn't that so much classier than powering your car with Four Loko?