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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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Road lights

Why batteries with extra lithium ions fail

Why does stuffing more lithium into battery cathodes lead to their failure? New research illuminating this phenomenon could pave the way to electric cars that can drive longer distances between charges.

Solar panels

Envisioning an energy future with less fear, more cooperation

SunRun CEO Lynn Jurich argued at Stanford Energy Week that cooperation between utilities and solar providers will be key to building a cleaner, more nimble and cost-effective energy system.

Soap bubbles

A new algorithm acts like facial recognition software for materials

The search for the perfect material can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Researchers are leveraging machine learning to change this, potentially aiding the search for better materials for fuel cells, thermoelectric devices and electric car batteries.

Folsom Dam

Droughts boost emissions as hydropower dries up

Recent droughts caused increases in emissions from power generation in several western states as fossil fuels came online to replace hampered hydroelectric power. A new study quantifies the impact.

West Valley Demonstration Project

Q&A: What should we do with nuclear waste?

Nuclear security expert Rod Ewing discusses new recommendations for solving the U.S. nuclear waste problem, why conventional risk assessments don’t go far enough and what makes this challenge more difficult than putting a man on the moon.

Energy

Global carbon dioxide emissions rise even as coal wanes and renewables boom

Renewable energy capacity has hit record levels and global coal use may have already peaked. But the world's carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels increased in 2018, and the trend places global warming targets in jeopardy.  

Capitol Building

What do the midterm results mean for environmental policy?

The recent midterm elections could have far-reaching implications for the direction of federal- and state-level environment and energy policy. Stanford experts discuss ways forward, lessons learned and more.

Oil pump

Researchers map susceptibility to man-made earthquakes

Stanford geophysicists forecast a decline in potentially damaging earthquakes from wastewater injection in Oklahoma and Kansas through 2020.

Oil field

Cash, carbon, crude: How to make oil fields bury emissions

A new analysis looks at what it would take for oil companies to start pumping millions of tons of carbon dioxide into their wells to boost crude production – and what it would mean for the climate.

Lithium ion

X-rays reveal a secret to longer battery life

Experiments at SLAC and Berkeley Lab uproot long-held assumptions about how lithium ions move through a common battery material and will inform future battery design.

Oil emissions

Measuring crude oil's carbon footprint

Some oil fields are cleaner than others. But together, they show natural gas management drives more emissions than scientists thought. A new study highlights a path to shrink crude oil's climate impact.

Wind turbines

Mining the cleantech boom and bust for investment lessons

The boom and bust in clean energy investments starting in 2008 produced some lessons to guide future government policy and investment strategies for the next cycle of investment in a sustainable energy future.

water

New technique brings clean hydrogen fuel one step closer

A new method could pave the way to producing hydrogen fuel in large quantities at dramatically lower costs compared to current processes that rely on platinum.

Solar panels and wind turbines.

A new, cheaper way to store energy from wind and solar

A new type of flow battery that involves a liquid metal more than doubled the maximum voltage of conventional flow batteries and could lead to affordable storage of renewable power.

Nuclear cooling tower

The steep costs of nuclear waste in the U.S.

Expert Rodney C. Ewing discusses how failure to implement a permanent solution for nuclear waste storage and disposal is costing Americans billions of dollars per year. 

Wind energy

Q&A: Getting to Net-Zero Emissions

Stanford researchers discuss what it will take to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, including technology development and political barriers to overcome.

Gas torch

U.S. oil and gas methane emissions are 60 percent higher than EPA reports

A new study shows leakage equals $2 billion dollars in wasted natural gas — enough to supply 10 million households — and provides a roadmap for future emissions research.

East Rift Zone

Geothermal at the foot of Kilauea

Geothermal engineer Roland Horne discusses geothermal energy in the face of natural hazards and a way to tap the earth’s heat far from volcanoes in the future.

Motion

What does the future of energy look like?

Eight Stanford scientists share ideas for how the world can reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and make energy more sustainable, secure and affordable for all.

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