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New Material Could Turn Waste Heat to Power

Researchers at Ohio State University have created a new alloy with double the ability of previous materials to turn waste heat from power plants or car engines into electricity. Technology Review reports that the researchers added trace amounts of thallium to lead telluride, changing the material’s electrical properties. The material could potentially convert 10 percent of the energy in heat into electricity.

New ‘Fuel Battery’ Could Increase Energy Storage

A new electrical storage device that is part battery and part chemical fuel cell could pack more energy than the same volume of gasoline, says New Scientist. The device was designed by researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. They say it could overcome the main limitation of batteries planned for electric vehicles – that they can’t pack enough power to give the car the same traveling range as gasoline does.

Republicans Tap Web for Microdonations

The Republican National Committee has come up with a new way to raise funds on the Internet. Working with the Boston-based company FreeCause, they’ve developed a toolbar for the Yahoo browser that lets users donate two or three cents to the committee each time they do an Internet search. The New York Times reports that the money actually comes from advertisers, and will be tracked to make sure no one donor exceeds federal donation limits.

Open Source May Open Doors for Hackers

Companies using open source software are opening themselves up to security risks, according to a study from Fortify Software, a security software firm based in San Mateo, CA. PC World says the problem is that the open source community often fails to adhere to minimal security practices.

Military Seeks Inspiration From High-Tech Companies

In an effort to streamline adoption of useful software applications, the Defense Information Systems Agency is visiting tech companies large and small to find inspiration. The Wall Street Journal reports that traditional big projects working their way through the military bureaucracy would take five years to produce software on four-and-a-half-year-old technology. Chief Information Officer John Garing has been impressed by concepts like social networking at LinkedIn and mashups, and would like to see them adapted for military use.

Government Working on Offshore Regulations

With renewable energy companies coming up with plans for offshore wind farms and tidal-energy projects while oil and natural gas companies hope to increase their drilling, the competition for siting facilities offshore may soon heat up. MarketWatch tells us that efforts to decide who gets to use spaces along the coastline have progressed slowly, but that last week the Department of the Interior released a 460-page proposal for regulations, which could jump-start the process.

Older Biofuels Spend More on Lobbyists

Biofuel companies split into two groups: the first generation, which produces fuel from corn and soy beans, and the next generation, which is developing algae and waste, as well as high-cellulose material such as switchgrass and woodchips, as feedstocks. Earth2Tech cites a report from the non-profit Center for Responsive Politics, which finds that the first-generation companies have spent more on lobbying policymakers. According to the report, first-generation companies spent $7.03 million in 2007 and the first quarter of 2008, while next-gen companies spent $3.08 million.

Electric Cars are Inevitable, Says Conference

The switchover from gas-fueled to electric vehicles is both inevitable and essential, speakers at the recent Plug-In 2008 conference in California say. According to Wired, experts agree that plug-ins and electric vehicles could make up half of all cars sold in America by 2050. Before that, though, there are technological, market, and political challenges to overcome.

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