Energy Inventions News StoriesExcerpts of Key Energy Inventions News Stories in Major Media
Note: This comprehensive list of new energy inventions news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
Researchers have developed a solar paint that can absorb water vapour and split it to generate hydrogen - the cleanest source of energy. The paint contains a newly developed compound that acts like silica gel, which is used in sachets to absorb moisture and keep food, medicines and electronics fresh and dry. But unlike silica gel, the new material, synthetic molybdenum-sulphide, also acts as a semi-conductor and catalyses the splitting of water atoms into hydrogen and oxygen. Lead researcher Dr Torben Daeneke, from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, said: "We found that mixing the compound with titanium oxide particles leads to a sunlight-absorbing paint that produces hydrogen fuel from solar energy and moist air. "Titanium oxide is the white pigment that is already commonly used in wall paint, meaning that the simple addition of the new material can convert a brick wall into energy harvesting and fuel production real estate. "Our new development has a big range of advantages," he said. "There's no need for clean or filtered water to feed the system. Any place that has water vapour in the air ... can produce fuel." His colleague ... Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, said hydrogen was the cleanest source of energy and could be used in fuel cells as well as conventional combustion engines as an alternative to fossil fuels. "This system can also be used in very dry but hot climates near oceans. The sea water is evaporated by the hot sunlight and the vapour can then be absorbed to produce fuel.
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Scientists have developed new technology that can turn seawater into clean drinking water in less than 30 minutes. Researchers based in Australia used a metal-organic framework (MOF), a type of lattice-like crystal, to desalinate water. The hollow framework of pores separates the salty solute within the brackish water or even saltier seawater, in a process known as molecular sieving. Under dark conditions, the framework absorbs salts and other impurities in the water in 30 minutes. The MOF itself is then regenerated for reuse in just four minutes, using sunlight to remove the adsorbed salts. The light-responsive MOF was used to filter harmful particles from water and generate 139.5 litres of clean water per kilogram of MOF per day. Scientists say their technology is more energy-efficient than current desalination practices, including reverse osmosis, and could provide potable water for millions globally. Water scarcity is one of the largest global risks in the upcoming years, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). Thermal desalination processes by evaporation using solar energy are widely used to produce fresh water, but can be highly energy intensive. 'Sunlight is the most abundant and renewable source of energy on Earth,' said Professor Huanting Wang ... at Monash University in Australia. 'Our development of a new adsorbent-based desalination process through the use of sunlight for regeneration provides an energy-efficient and environmentally-sustainable solution for desalination.'
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Somewhere in the vast ocean, a little boat covered in solar panels is doing something extraordinary: making its own hydrogen fuel from the seawater underneath it. The Energy Observer uses a patchwork of different cutting-edge technologies to generate enough energy to power nine homes each day. During the day, 200 square meters of solar panels charge up the boat's lithium ion batteries. Any extra energy is stored as hydrogen, thanks to a special fuel cell that goes by the name Rex H2 (short for Range Extender H2). The Rex H2 was made by Toyota, using components from Toyota's hydrogen-powered Mirai vehicle line. The fuel cell brings in seawater, removes the salt and then separates the H from the pure H20 with electricity. When the Energy Observer began its journey in 2017, it could only produce hydrogen while stopped. That changed in a big way with the addition of the Oceanwings, 12-meter sails that improved the efficiency of the Energy Observer from 18% to 42%, to the point where it can now produce hydrogen even while sailing. One of the main benefits of hydrogen is its ability to store more more electricity by weight than its lithium ion competition. This benefit is especially useful at sea. Because fossil fuels have had more than a century's head start, we now find ourselves far beyond the point of any one technology being a silver bullet for our growing energy needs. A sustainable future will require a patchwork of new technologies, like the one powering the Energy Observer.
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A breakthrough can come from the least expected - perhaps like an 81-year-old eccentric from Massachusetts who toiled in isolation with no financial support for more than a decade. His focus? A challenge that has stumped scientists for many years: how to transform inedible plant life into environmentally friendly transportation fuels in a clean and cost-effective way. 25 years ago, [Marshall Medoff] became obsessed with the environment and decided to abandon his business career and become an amateur scientist. "What I thought was, the reason people were failing is they were trying to overcome nature instead of working with it," [said Medoff]. He knew that there's a lot of energy in plant life. It's in the form of sugar molecules that once accessed can be converted into transportation fuel. The key word is "access." This sugar is nearly impossible to extract cheaply and cleanly since it is locked tightly inside the plant's cellulose. What's so tantalizing is that sugar-rich cellulose is the most abundant biological material on earth. Medoff's novel idea [was to use] machines called electron accelerators to break apart nature's chokehold on the valuable sugars inside plant life - or biomass. Machines like these are typically used to strengthen materials. Medoff's invention was to use the accelerator the opposite way - to break biomass apart. This process, Medoff's remarkable invention, releases plant sugars that he's now using to make products he claims will solve some of the world's most intractable problems.
Plants take in carbon dioxide, water, and sunshine to create a sugary fuel. Now researchers have done the same, but even better. A recent study in Science describes the system, named Bionic Leaf 2.0. In the “leaf,” solar energy splits up a water molecule, and bacteria turn hydrogen and carbon dioxide into liquid fuel, mainly isopropanol. The fuel could possibly be used to power a car's engine or motor in the future. The researchers, led by Daniel Nocera and Pamela Silver from Harvard University, have made advancements on their original Bionic Leaf, released last year. The system had some problems, mainly with the metal catalyst that helped the reaction. In the first edition, the catalyst also set off a reaction that attacked the bacteria’s DNA. The new system has a new catalyst made of cobalt and phosphorus. This solves the bacteria-attacking problem and also increases the efficiency of the reaction to 10 percent efficiency. Normal photosynthesis in plants is one percent efficient at converting solar energy to biomass. This technology has the potential to bring another type of solar energy to users. Nocera said in a press release that they are continuing their research, chiefly on bringing this technology to the developing world.
Engineers have developed a turbine which has the potential to power a small town all the while being no bigger than your office desk. Designed by GE Global Research, the turbine could power 10,000 homes and according to researchers, could help to solve some of the world's growing energy challenges. But rather than steam, which is typically used to set turbines in motion, the new turbine uses carbon dioxide. 'This compact machine will allow us to do amazing things,' said Doug Hofer, lead engineer on the project. According to MIT Tech Review, the turbine is driven by 'supercritical carbon dioxide', which is kept under high pressure at temperatures of 700˚C. Under these conditions, the carbon dioxide enters a physical state between a gas and a liquid, enabling the turbine to harness its energy for super-efficient power generation - with the turbines transferring 50 per cent of the heat into electricity. It could help energy firms take waste gas and repurpose it for efficient and cleaner energy production. Waste heat produced from other power generation methods, such as solar or nuclear, could be used to melt salts, with the molten salts used to the carbon dioxide gas to a super-critical liquid - which may be much quicker than heating water for steam. Currently, the design of the turbine would enable up to 10,000 kilowatts of energy to be produced, but the turbines could be scaled up to generate 500 megawatts, enough to power a city.
A research team at the University of Bristol has developed a way to use a type of nuclear waste to generate electricity in a nuclear-powered battery that is an actual diamond. Such a battery produces very low power, but has no moving parts, no emissions of any type including radiation, needs no maintenance, does not need to be recharged and will operate for thousands of years. The team grew a man-made diamond that, when placed in a radiation field, was able to generate a small electrical current. And the radioactive field can be produced by the diamond itself by making the diamond from radioactive carbon-14 extracted from nuclear waste. Even better, the amount of radioactivity in each diamond battery is a lot less than in a single banana. Diamonds are made from pure carbon subjected to high pressures, usually deep in the Earth’s crust. But we have been artificially making them for decades. The normal way to produce electricity is to use energy, like burning coal or capturing wind, to move a magnet through a coil of wire to generate a current. However, a diamond is able to produce a charge simply by being subjected to a radiation field. The cost to produce a diamond is a lot less than disposing of used nuclear fuel and nuclear waste. These radioactive diamond batteries would have a very specific purpose – low power and extremely long life. The ... battery would still be putting out 50% power after 5,730 years.
Lockheed Martin has reportedly been working on a revolutionary new type of reactor that can power anything from cities to aircraft carriers. The Maryland-based defense contractor recently received a patent for the compact fusion reactor (CFR) after filing plans for the device in 2014. According to reports, one generator would be as small as a shipping container but produce the energy to power 80,000 homes or one of the U.S. Navy’s Nimitz-class carriers. Lockheed’s advanced projects division, Skunk Works, has reportedly been working on the futuristic power source since 2014 and claimed at the time that a CFR could be ready for production by 2019. “I started looking at all the ideas that had been published. I basically took those ideas and melded them into something new by taking the problems in one and trying to replace them with the benefits of others,” Dr. Thomas McGuire of Skunk Works said during a 2014 interview. “The nice thing about a fusion reaction is that if somehow it would go out of control, it would just stop itself automatically,” William & Mary’s Saskia Mordijck told Phys.org in 2012. “If a fission reaction goes out of control, it can really go out of control. You can’t stop it and it actually might go into a nuclear meltdown.” Lockheed advertises its quest to develop fusion power on its website, calling the technology “a cleaner, safer source of energy” that could be used to power communities or even travel to Mars.
Note: A 2004 New York Times article stated that Lockheed Martin runs a "breathtakingly big part" of the US. This company's "Skunk Works" was kept very secret until 2014, when reporters were given a glossy brochure featuring a "10-point "Skunk Works 2015" agenda". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing energy invention news articles from reliable major media sources.
A miraculous device that can generate electricity seemingly out of thin air has been developed by engineers. Called a thermal resonator, it relies on fluctuations in temperature between day and night to produce electricity. It can be used without the need for sunlight, batteries or wind, making it ideal for situations where these resources can't be relied upon. The technology has the potential to power sensors and communications devices for years without the need for batteries. Experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) department of chemical engineering are behind the find. Their gadget is a twist on a thermoelectric generator, which creates power when one side of the device is a different temperature from the other. Researchers say that the power levels generated by the new system so far are modest. However, it outperformed a commercially available pyroelectric material - an existing method for converting temperature fluctuations to electricity - by 300 per cent. Professor Michael Strano, who led the study, said: 'We basically invented this concept out of whole cloth. 'It's something that can sit on a desk and generate energy out of what seems like nothing. 'We are surrounded by temperature fluctuations of all different frequencies all of the time. These are an untapped source of energy.' Such systems could provide low-power but long-lasting energy sources for landers or rovers exploring remote locations, including other moons and planets, says Volodymyr Koman, an MIT postdoc and co-author of the new study.
Note: For more, see this article on the MIT website.
Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a new flow battery that stores energy in organic molecules dissolved in neutral pH water. This new chemistry allows for a non-toxic, non-corrosive battery with an exceptionally long lifetime and offers the potential to significantly decrease the costs of production. Flow batteries store energy in liquid solutions in external tanks - the bigger the tanks, the more energy they store. Flow batteries are a promising storage solution for renewable, intermittent energy like wind and solar but today’s flow batteries often suffer degraded energy storage capacity after many charge-discharge cycles. The Harvard team was able to engineer a battery that loses only one percent of its capacity per 1000 cycles. “Lithium ion batteries don’t even survive 1000 complete charge/discharge cycles,” said [researcher Michael] Aziz. “Because we were able to dissolve the electrolytes in neutral water, this is a long-lasting battery that you could put in your basement,” said [researcher Roy] Gordon. “If it spilled on the floor, it wouldn’t eat the concrete and since the medium is noncorrosive, you can use cheaper materials to build the components of the batteries, like the tanks and pumps.” The Department of Energy (DOE) has set a goal of building a battery that can store energy for less than $100 per kilowatt-hour. “If you can get anywhere near this cost target then you change the world,” said Aziz.
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For nearly 100 years, scientists have dreamed of turning the lightest of all the elements, hydrogen, into a metal. Now, in a stunning act of modern-day alchemy, scientists at Harvard University have finally succeeded in creating a tiny amount of [this] material. Metallic hydrogen could theoretically revolutionise technology, enabling the creation of super-fast computers, high-speed levitating trains and ultra-efficient vehicles and dramatically improving almost anything involving electricity. But the prospect of this bright future could be at risk if the scientists’ next step – to establish whether the metal is stable at normal pressures and temperatures – fails to go as hoped. Professor Isaac Silvera, who made the breakthrough with Dr Ranga Dias, said: “This is the holy grail of high-pressure physics. “It's the first-ever sample of metallic hydrogen on Earth, so when you're looking at it, you're looking at something that’s never existed before.” At the moment the tiny piece of metal can only be seen through two diamonds that were used to crush liquid hydrogen at a temperature far below freezing. The amount of pressure needed was immense – more than is found at the centre of the Earth. Sometime in the next few weeks, the researchers plan to carefully ease the pressure. According to one theory, metallic hydrogen will be stable at room temperature. If this is true, then [it] could ... transform humanity’s efforts to explore our solar system by providing a form of rocket fuel nearly four times more powerful than the best available today.
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Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a Department of Energy lab in Tennessee, have discovered a mechanism for converting carbon dioxide into ethanol. Their method takes advantage of nanotechnology, creating a catalyst that produces ethanol from a solution of carbon dioxide in water. “We discovered somewhat by accident that this material worked,” said Adam Rondinone, the lead author of a new study in the journal ChemistrySelect. “We were trying to study the first step of a proposed reaction when we realized that the catalyst was doing the entire reaction on its own.” The discovery may change the way we think about carbon dioxide. If it could be captured and turned into a fuel, then carbon dioxide – the earth-polluting byproduct of global dependence on fossil fuels – could help high-energy societies work toward energy independence. Repurposing carbon dioxide could be invaluable for the environment, the researchers say. Converting it into ethanol can turn a greenhouse gas into a gasoline-like fuel source. Ethanol contains one-third less energy than gasoline but produces far fewer byproducts when burned in engines, which can limit further carbon emissions. “Closing the carbon cycle by utilizing CO2 as a feedstock for currently used commodities, in order to displace a fossil feedstock, is an appropriate intermediate step towards a carbon-free future,” the researchers wrote in the study.
It’s often smarter to borrow from nature than reinvent the wheel. That was the approach of researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, and convert it into an efficient, inexpensive fuel. The result: an artificial leaf that turns CO2 into fuel, "at a cost comparable to a gallon of gasoline" could render fossil fuel obsolete, according to the researchers. The “leaf” is one of a growing number of inventions that mimic photosynthesis to remove excess carbon from the atmosphere, and convert it into new, sustainable forms of energy to power our world. “The new solar cell is not photovoltaic - it’s photosynthetic,” said [the study’s lead author] Amin Salehi-Khojin. “Instead of producing energy in an unsustainable one-way route from fossil fuels to greenhouse gas, we can now reverse the process and recycle atmospheric carbon into fuel using sunlight." The concept of reduction reaction - converting CO2 into a burnable form of carbon - isn’t new. But scientists previously relied on silver and other expensive precious metals to break gas into storable energy. UIC researchers took a different approach. When light strikes the "leaf," hydrogen and carbon monoxide bubble from the cathode, while free oxygen and hydrogen ions are released from the anode. Leafs could be spread throughout a solar farm, or used in smaller applications, the researchers said.
Do you think a 13-year-old could change the world? Max Loughan could be the one to do it. When we interviewed him, Max was wearing his lab coat ... in his parent's old boiler room, which has been converted into a lab. He ponders the future often. "The future that I imagine is the future, frankly we all imagine." He wants to make the world a better place, and to do that, Max believes you need one single thing: "If you got energy, you have power, you have everything." So to solve this problem, a few months ago, Max took the matter into his own hands. He created an electromagnetic harvester out of a coffee can, some wire, two coils, and a spoon. "This cost me 14 bucks," Max said. The harvester conducts radio waves, thermal, and static energy, and turns it into electricity. "This wire takes energy from the air." And the inside the coffee can, "We turn it from AC to DC." We took the device outside, and wrapped Max's twin brother, Jack, in a string of L.E.D. lights. Max connects the lights to the harvester, and sure enough, they turned on. His device clearly works. A $14.00 invention was able to do that. So imagine this same harvester on a scale 20 times larger. "As cheesy as this sounds, from day one, on this planet that I knew I was put here for a reason," said Max. "And that reason is to invent, to bring the future."
Note: Don't miss this video of the most amazing 13-year-old who just may have solved the energy problems of our world!!! For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing new energy technology news articles from reliable major media sources.
A revolution of sorts is brewing in the clean energy field, with the emergence of fusion and "low energy nuclear reaction" (LENR) energy. These processes, unlike fission reactions used in conventional nuclear reactors, need not emit dangerous radiation, nor do they produce radioactive byproducts. The fuel is plentiful and free. One pioneer in LENR is Andrea Rossi, an Italian-American inventor-entrepreneur ... who recently formed a venture to commercially market systems based on an LENR process he has developed. Many are understandably skeptical of Rossi's claims; yet he reports that he has a full-scale working prototype, delivering 1 MWatt continuous net output power, which is already seven months into a one-year acceptance test at a commercial client's site. Several observers have seen the system in operation, and have reported that it is working as claimed. On 25 August 2015, the U.S. Patent Office awarded Rossi a patent for his process. Given the potential importance of these developments, scientifically, economically and environmentally, we have been following progress in this area in earlier Huffington Post articles (HP#1) and (HP#2). "We foresee applications for central heating of commercial buildings, heat production for industrial processes and electric power generation. My dream is for domestic heat and power generation," [said Rossi]. "We have already obtained safety certification for our industrial plants. Domestic systems are still on course in the certification process."
Note: You can explore this patent on the US Patent office website on this webpage. And read an intriguing article from a local newspaper about the new energy invention of Randall Mills, who has raised over $100 million to fund development of his work. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing new energy technology news articles from reliable major media sources.
Is Steorn’s Orbo technology a non-polluting, supercheap source of power? Steorn emerged at the turn of the century and to date it claims to have attracted €23 million in private investment. Put at its simplest, the “Orbo” technology is a non-polluting, almost cost-free source of power. It is not a battery but offers the same function. At the Steorn premises a table displays rows of heavy crimson skull-shaped boxes, known as power cubes. Each, according to the claims, holds numerous small “batteries” which recharge themselves allowing for a permanent supply of energy. Cube units retail at €1,200 and the first orders are due to arrive with buyers this month. However, the cube is not seen by the company as a mass-market product. They are simply a showcase for the technology. The real focus is on the mobile phone that never needs to be recharged. Explaining his own technology, [company founder Sean] McCarthy dismisses previous suggestions they are claiming to have developed a perpetual motion machine (a hypothetical device that works indefinitely without an apparent energy source) as there [are] no moving parts. “Technically it isn’t a battery at all; you’d call it a battery substitute technology. It’s something that replaces the function of the battery. It is really a generator rather than a storage device,” he says.
Note: Steorn placed a full-page ad in The Economist in 2006 calling for scientists to test its new technology. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing new energy technology news articles from reliable major media sources.
Researchers at Japan's Tohoku University are making a bold claim: an entirely new state of matter. The team, led by Kosmas Prassides, says they've created what's called a Jahn-Teller metal by inserting rubidium, a strange alkali metal element, into buckyballs, a pure carbon structure which has a spherical shape from a series of interlocking polygons (think of the Epcot Center, but in microscopic size.) The researchers created a complex crystalline structure that seemed to conduct, insulate, and magnetize while acting as a metal. It goes far beyond what ordinary matter can do. So what's the big deal? Applying pressure to the compound when it's in the conductor/insulator phase turns it into the weird state of matter, and also makes it superconductive at (relatively) high temperatures. Most superconductors that we know of need to be barely above absolute zero. Understanding and then mastering high-temperature superconductors, which this weird state of matter could help researchers to do, could make all sorts of new things possible in computing, transportation, infrastructure ... sort of everything. Discoveries of superinsulators in 2008 sort of hinted that this state of matter was possible, but confirmation would be a game changer for materials science.
NASA has tested a microwave thruster that seemingly violates the law of conservation of momentum. Originally reported by Wired, the technology bounces microwaves around to create thrust. British engineer Roger Shawyer designed the original and dubbed it the Emdrive. If the Emdrive actually works, it could be a game changer in the spacecraft business because it doesn't require propellant. Propellant is heavy, and once a spacecraft runs out of it, it loses the ability to change direction. Space historian Amy Shira Teitel makes an interesting point on the website Motherboard: "If a spacecraft, say a deep space probe like New Horizons, which is less than a year from its encounter with Pluto, didn’t need propellant, that extra weight and space could be devoted to scientific instruments, larger solar arrays, or a larger power source." Last year, a Chinese team made an Emdrive and reported that they had created enough thrust to move a small satellite. NASA spent eight days testing an Emdrive that was built by Guido Fetta, an inventor based out of the Philadelphia metropolitan area. The lab detected a thrust of 30-50 microNewtons, about 1/20 of what the Chinese team measured. On a side note, the NASA lab doing the testing is the same one that is trying to develop the Alcubierre warp drive, another pie-in-the-sky idea. We'll know more once NASA publishes everything (right now, only the abstract is available) and outside experts weigh in on the experiment and data.
Entrepreneurs and established companies alike depend on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Newly released documents reveal that the office, tasked with evaluating and protecting the rights to intellectual property, has a covert system for delaying controversial or inconvenient patents. It’s a system that ... could function as a way to limit or stomp out emerging companies. Before today, the program — named the Sensitive Application Warning System (SAWS) — has been mentioned only anecdotally by examiners who work in or with the office, and in a government memo that was leaked in March 2006. However, a new 50-page document obtained by a law firm’s Freedom of Information Act request shows the sweeping scope and conflicting interests of this particular set of rules. The law firm behind the request, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, frequently represents major tech companies, including Apple, Google, Twitter, and Oracle. For Thomas Franklin, a partner at Kilpatrick Townsend, applications that he prosecutes typically issue as patents 22 months after filing. Any application that is categorized in SAWS, however ... can be delayed for years. There is no official channel to notify an applicant once her patent is placed in the system. Franklin told Yahoo Tech., “That’s what piqued my interest as a constitutional issue. There’s a secret program that they’re not supposed to talk about.”
Note: When the government has a "property interest" in any patent application, it may be rejected, stolen, or classified according to secret criteria. Among new energy technology researchers, it is well known that the patent office can block patents of amazing inventions that could cost oil and energy companies billions of dollars. Read this excellent summary for more on this.
Scientists may have created the very first solar battery. Researchers have succeeded in combining a battery and a solar cell into one hybrid device, which could be huge in terms of renewable energy capture and storage. "The state of the art is to use a solar panel to capture the light, and then use a cheap battery to store the energy," said Yiying Wu, one of the researchers, in a news release. "We've integrated both functions into one device. Any time you can do that, you reduce cost." The key to the new device is a mesh solar panel, which allows air to enter the battery. There's also a special process for transferring electrons between the solar panel and the battery electrode; inside the device, light and oxygen enable different parts of the chemical reactions that charge the battery. "Basically, it's a breathing battery," said Wu. "It breathes in air when it discharges, and breathes out when it charges." The mesh solar panel forms the first electrode. Beneath the mesh is a thin sheet of porous carbon, which acts as the second electrode, and a lithium plate, which acts as the third electrode. Between the electrodes are layers of electrolyte to carry electrons back and forth. During charging, light hits the mesh solar panel and creates electrons. Then inside the battery, electrons are involved in the chemical decomposition of lithium peroxide into lithium ions and oxygen. The oxygen is released into the air, and the lithium ions are stored in the battery as lithium metal after capturing the electrons. The findings could be huge in terms of creating sustainable energy for powering a variety of devices. Currently, the researchers are continuing to move forward in improving the efficiency of the battery and the amount of power the panel can absorb and convert. The findings are published in the journal Nature.
Note: For astounding major media articles on new energy inventions which have gotten very little press, explore this webpage. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.