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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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Solar panel and setting sun

What it may take to harness solar energy on Native lands

The Navajo Nation has the most capacity, but its troubled energy history and culture of livestock grazing make solar development fraught.

Coring and geophysical well-logging operation in Texas

Local impacts from fracking the Eagle Ford

Stanford scientists simulated the local risk of damaging or nuisance-level shaking caused by hydraulic fracturing across the Eagle Ford shale formation in Texas. The results could inform a new approach to managing human-caused earthquakes.

Wind turbines at sunset

The science behind decarbonization

A collection of research and insights from Stanford experts who are revealing the stakes of emission cuts, enabling better carbon accounting, predicting the consequences of future emission pathways and mapping out viable solutions.

Homes with rooftop solar panels

How to close the clean-energy divide

An engineer and clean-energy entrepreneur discusses the troubling socio-economic gap in access to sustainable energy and the things we can do now to narrow and, perhaps, close it.

Carbon capture facility

Revealing the cost of a key climate solution

While most climate scientists agree on the need for carbon capture and storage, there has been little clarity about the full lifecycle costs of carbon storage infrastructure.

Nuclear plant

Breaking U.S. nuclear waste stalemate could be key to Biden’s climate goals

Stanford University experts are cautiously optimistic that the Biden administration can change the U.S. trajectory on nuclear waste, and they offer their thoughts on how it can be done.

First closeups of how a lithium-metal electrode ages

Scientists have documented a process that makes these next-gen batteries lose charge – and eventually some of their capacity for storing energy – even when a device is turned off.

Fukushima damage

Lessons from the Fukushima disaster 10 years later

A decade after a powerful earthquake and tsunami set off the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown in Japan, Stanford experts discuss revelations about radiation from the disaster, advances in earthquake science related to the event and how its devastating impact has influenced strategies for tsunami defense and local warning systems.

Bright triangle pattern

Squeezing a rock-star material could make it stable enough for solar cells

A promising lead halide perovskite is great at converting sunlight to electricity, but it breaks down at room temperature. Now scientists have discovered how to stabilize it with pressure from a diamond anvil cell.

Cobalt

How better mineral exploration makes better batteries

Finding and extracting deposits of cobalt, lithium, nickel and other materials used in batteries is expensive and environmentally fraught. Geoscientists are now using artificial intelligence to quickly identify new resources, get the most out of those we already know about and improve refining processes. 

Carbon simulation

COVID lockdown causes record drop in carbon emissions for 2020

Carbon dioxide emissions from oil, gas and coal this year are predicted to reach approximately 34 billion tons, a 7 percent drop from fossil emission levels in 2019. Emissions from transport account for the largest share of the global decrease.

Sunlight

Scientists invent ultrafast way to make solar modules greener

High-speed manufacturing could advance the commercialization of perovskite modules, a green alternative to conventional solar panels made of silicon.

Solar panels

Debugging climate action

Programmers write code, find what is not working, and then debug their program. It’s the same with climate change, Microsoft’s chief environment officer said in a conversation hosted as part of Stanford's Global Energy Dialogues.

Carbon capture

Roadmap for carbon capture and storage in California

A new study outlines how capturing and permanently storing carbon dioxide from power plants, oil refineries and other facilities could help California meet its climate goals.

Fire

New approach boosts lithium-ion battery efficiency and puts out fires

Adding polymers and fireproofing to a battery’s current collectors makes it lighter, safer and about 20 percent more efficient.

Charge level

Predicting the slow death of a lithium-ion battery

A new model offers a way to predict the condition of a battery’s internal systems in real-time with far more accuracy than existing tools. In electric cars, the technology could improve driving range estimates and prolong battery life.

Sliced sugarcane

Exploring the sustainability of the Indian sugar industry

Researchers analyzed the interconnected food, water and energy challenges that arise from the sugar industry in India – the second-largest producer of sugar worldwide – and how the political economy drives those challenges.

Masked farmer

COVID-19 opportunities

Researchers hypothesize outcomes of the pandemic’s unprecedented socioeconomic disruption, and outline research priorities for advancing our understanding of humans’ impact on the environment.

Fukushima decomissioning

Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns released particulates with plutonium

A new study reveals particles that were released from nuclear plants damaged in the devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami contained small amounts of radioactive plutonium.

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