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Are Rising Oil Prices Really Good for the Biofuel Industry?

Are Rising Oil Prices Really Good for the Biofuel Industry?

At face value, the recent runup in the price of petroleum, caused by political instability in the Middle East and related factors, would seem to be a boon for the future of biofuel. Currently, the U.S. price of oil is hovering around $100 per barrel, the level at which it … Read more »

Opportunities and Risks in Drilling the Marcellus Shale

Opportunities and Risks in Drilling the Marcellus Shale

A recent television commercial features the CEO of a major energy company stating that a key component of America’s energy independence is “right below our feet.” The resource in question is natural gas, of which the U.S. has a number of unexploited reserves. The largest of these is the Marcellus … Read more »

Alternate Energy Choices and Challenges in Vermont

Alternate Energy Choices and Challenges in Vermont

The small state of Vermont isn’t often a hotbed of national news. Nonetheless, the Green Mountain State does pride itself on its progressive attitudes towards the environment and alternative energy. For example, the state enacted one of the country’s first feed-in tariff, the Vermont Energy Act of 2009, to encourage … Read more »

Recycling Mining Tailings on Lake Superior

Recycling Mining Tailings on Lake Superior

Imagine the “ideal” environmental success story. Perhaps it involves the removal of tons of solid waste from an otherwise pristine location, material that not only ruins the scenery but also dramatically affects the local ecology. Further, imagine that the removal of this waste somehow doesn’t cost the taxpayer a penny. … Read more »

Commercializing Microbial Fuel Cells

Commercializing Microbial Fuel Cells

Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) have the potential to generate electricity while simultaneously providing secondary treatment to wastewater. In a typical application, a microbial fuels cell converts chemical energy to electrical energy via electron exchange between two chambers, the anode chamber and the cathode chamber.  In the anode chamber, oxygen-starved organic … Read more »

Changing Attitudes about Waterways in Post-Irene Vermont

Changing Attitudes about Waterways in Post-Irene Vermont

In the immediate aftermath of last summer’s Hurricane Irene, an anecdote made the rounds featuring Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin. According to the story, Governor Shumlin was looking on as a road crew repaired some flood damage, rebuilding a destroyed bank and restoring the river to its original course. Suddenly the … Read more »

Adapting NASA Technologies to Environmental and Energy Applications

Adapting NASA Technologies to Environmental and Energy Applications

An often-cited example of how public spending for scientific research can yield commercial dividends is the NASA moon landing mission. The forerunners of a number of products that today are ubiquitous, such as the personal computer, first took flight aboard Apollo. What might not be as well-known is the fact … Read more »