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Stanford Earth Matters

Science and insights for people who care about Earth, its resources and its environment

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Are we underestimating the benefits of investing in renewable energy?

Scientists have estimated the emissions intensity of carbon dioxide and other air pollutants from a major electricity distributor and highlighted key consequences – essential information for policymakers shaping decisions to reduce electricity system emissions.

Under pressure: Viewing how hydrogen transforms

Researchers have determined how hydrogen molecules are packed at extremely high pressures. Their work solves the long-standing mystery of the structure of the dense form of hydrogen, called phase IV. 

How much does air pollution cost the U.S.?

Damages from air pollution have fallen dramatically in the U.S. in recent years, shows new research. But how different sectors of the economy have contributed to that decline is highly uneven.

Catalyst opens way to sustainable fuels from carbon dioxide

A new way to convert carbon dioxide into the building block for sustainable liquid fuels was very efficient in tests and did not have the reaction that destroys the conventional device.

Drone at a methane leak test site

New ways to find natural gas leaks quickly

Finding natural gas leaks more quickly and at lower cost could reduce methane emissions. Ten promising technologies mounted on drones, trucks and airplanes were tested last year. The results are in.

cars at charging stations

New coating developed by Stanford researchers brings lithium metal battery closer to reality

A Stanford-led research team invented a new coating that could finally make lightweight lithium metal batteries safe and long lasting, which could usher in the next generation of electric vehicles.

Cars on highway

Q&A: How the catalytic converters in cars go bad and why it matters

A new way to arrange the hard-working atoms in this part of an exhaust system could lower the cost of curbing pollution from automotive engines.

Nanocrystal illustration

Scientists create artificial catalysts inspired by living enzymes

Stanford researchers have made a significant advance in the development of artificial catalysts for making cleaner chemicals and fuels at an industrial scale.

New technology harnesses energy from mixing of freshwater and seawater

A new battery made from affordable and durable materials generates energy from places where salt and fresh waters mingle. The technology could make coastal wastewater treatment plants energy-independent and carbon neutral.

Downtown Dallas

Many Dallas-Fort Worth area faults have potential to host earthquakes

Researchers have mapped more than 250 faults and found that the majority of faults underlying the Fort Worth Basin are susceptible to earthquakes, some of which extend under highly populated areas in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

Aerial view of cars

Untangling electric car policies

A recent study analyzes federal and state policies on electric cars and reveals the peculiar relationship between the policies that leads to counterintuitive effects.

Wind turbines

Why hydrogen could improve the value of renewable energy

A new study finds that hydrogen could address a major drawback of solar and wind power.

Steering wind power in a new direction: How to improve production

On a working wind farm, Stanford researchers have shown that angling turbines slightly away from the wind can boost energy produced overall and even out the otherwise variable supply.

Electron microscopes at the Stanford-SLAC Cryo-EM Facility. (Photo credit: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

First snapshots of trapped CO2 molecules shed new light on carbon capture

A new twist on cryo-EM imaging reveals what’s going on inside MOFs, highly porous nanoparticles with big potential for storing fuel, separating gases and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Energy

Goodbye, Clean Power Plan: Stanford researchers discuss the new energy rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency replaced the Obama-era Clean Power Plan this week with one that focuses on efficiency improvements at generating stations. Stanford experts discuss potential impacts.

Computer image of Earth's layers

Modeling Earth’s chemistry: Making the invisible visible

Kate Maher discusses how researchers use computer modeling to better understand the chemical reactions in Earth’s subsurface that impact water supplies, energy waste storage, climate change and more.

Drone

Finding and fixing natural gas leaks quickly and economically

Natural gas leaks claim lives, damage the climate and waste money. Research teams at Stanford are working on better ways to find and fix gas leaks quickly and inexpensively.

Geothermal

Lessons from Pohang: Solving geothermal energy's earthquake problem

A geothermal project triggered a damaging earthquake in 2017. A new analysis suggests flaws in some of the most common ways of trying to minimize the risk of such quakes when harnessing the Earth's heat for energy.

Energy

When 100% renewable energy doesn't mean zero carbon

As power grids move away from fossil fuels, companies seeking to cut out carbon emissions will have to go beyond commitments to renewables. The type and timing of renewable energy used can have a big effect on envir

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