In the Labs: Nano for Solar, Biofuel Genes, Coal Fuels

Nano for Solar: Adding a film of silicon nanoparticles onto a traditional silicon solar cell can extend the cell’s life, while boosting power, and cutting down on heat, claim researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. For rays in the ultraviolet range of the spectrum, the increased efficiency improves the power-performance of sun-to-electricity conversion by 60 percent. Without the nanoparticle coating, these ultraviolet rays would be wasted by either being absorbed by the silicon or turned into heat. (release)

Better Wood for Cellulosic Ethanol: University of Georgia forest biotechnology professor Jeffrey Dean is leading a project that will catalog the genes of conifer plants — information that may help scientists figure out why it’s so difficult to turn wood into biofuels. (release; AutoBlogGreen)

Coal-y Fuel: Penn State researchers are working on ways to use by-products from coal refineries to produce jet fuel, gasoline, carbon anodes and heating oil. It might not be so great for the environment, but putting by-products to use isn’t such a bad idea. The work is in the pilot stage, but at this point for every eight barrels of jet fuel, the process churns out half a barrel of fuel oil, one barrel of diesel, and half a barrel of gasoline. (ScienceDaily)


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