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Special Report

New Solutions for Clean Energy

As the world continues to grapple with energy-related pollution and poverty, can innovation help?

Storing megawatts: Liquid-metal batteries and electricity

Making aluminum requires a lot of electricity. That's because the metal bonds tightly to oxygen and it takes a lot of energy to break that bond. In essence, the process of making aluminum is a giant battery with the silvery metal being reduced to purity at the cathode while oxygen bonds with the carbon anode to make, you guessed it, CO2.

March 9, 2010 — David Biello

Sunshine is free, so can photovoltaics be cheap?

Here's how to make a solar cell from silicon: take one solid block of doped silicon, saw it into thin wafers, layer said semiconductors beneath a panel of transparent glass, connect them to a metal electrode that can channel away the electrons knocked loose by incoming photons and turn it into a photovoltaic device.

March 10, 2010 — David Biello

Can solid-oxide fuel cells like the Bloom box remake the energy landscape?

The fuel cell has a long history. Various types of fuel cells have been part of the NASA space program, and the basic science of how fuel cells work—an energy carrier comes in, creates a flow of charge in the anode, which migrates to the cathode creating a current, and separated by some form of electrolyte—has been known for more than a century.

March 5, 2010 — David Biello