California's Grid May Soon Store Energy in Giant Ice Packs 

California wants better batteries, which is why the electric company Southern California Edison is planning a set of, let's say, unconventional energy storage solutions, including huge 450-gallon ice packs. Why? It all has to do with a little-known problem with California's wind-reliant electric grid. » 12/22/14 4:55pm Monday 4:55pm

This 1970s Energy Simulator Was Supposed to Make Conservation Fun

In the mid-1970s, Americans were reeling from the energy crisis. The environment was in terrible shape and oil shock was disrupting the economy. So the U.S. Department of Energy developed a new tool to help kids learn about energy use. It was called the Energy-Environment Simulator and it was more fun than a barrel of… » 12/19/14 3:22pm Friday 3:22pm

We've Been Incorrectly Predicting Peak Oil For Over a Century

When the residents of Tulsa, Oklahoma buried a car in 1957 as part of an enormous time capsule, they included containers of gasoline. The good people of Tulsa reasoned that the folks of 2007 might not have any gas left to fill up the Plymouth Belvedere that they were interring for a fifty year journey into the… » 12/11/14 1:45pm 12/11/14 1:45pm

Your Cable Box Is an Energy-Sucking Monster (But It Doesn't Have to Be)

An innocent little cable box can suck up more electricity than your actual TV. The most galling part though? Up to two-thirds of its power-hogging actually happens in "idle" mode, when you're not even using it. The good news is, device makers have the technical ability to make cable boxes that don't waste so much… » 12/03/14 12:00pm 12/03/14 12:00pm

A New Super-Thin Coating Could Cool Buildings Without AC

When it's hot out, buildings have a hard time staying cool: bombarded with ambient heat and generating yet more inside, their air conditioning systems have to work hard to keep temperatures down. Now, a new super-thin coating developed at Stanford could be applied to buildings to help them cool themselves more… » 11/28/14 7:00am 11/28/14 7:00am

The World's First Solar Road Is a Bike Path in the Netherlands

There are only so many roofs in the world, so the Dutch are getting creative about where to put their solar panels. SolaRoad is exactly what it sounds like—solar panels that pull double duty as road surface and electricity generator. And this being the Netherlands, they of course made a solar road for bikes. » 11/05/14 1:54pm 11/05/14 1:54pm

Nest Just Made Your Thermostat Smarter With a New Algorithm

It's been a while since we heard anything new about Nest's flagship product, the quiet elder brother to the attention-hogging Protect. But today the company is pushing a new software update to all existing devices this week, and it's using a clever new bit of software to make them far more efficient. » 11/04/14 3:01am 11/04/14 3:01am

Explore the Deck of the Largest Floating Object Ever Created

No one knows quite what to call the Prelude, the floating behemoth that Shell engineered to extract natural gas from below the ocean floor and liquify it for use. It's hard to describe Prelude because it's so much bigger than any other floating structure humans have ever built—which is also what makes it difficult to… » 11/01/14 6:09pm 11/01/14 6:09pm

This Algae Farm Eats Pollution From the Highway Below It

A highway overpass is the last place most of us would think to install a farm. But algae, that wonderful little ecological miracle, is different. Since it consumes sunlight and CO2 and spits out oxygen, places with high emissions are actually the perfect growing area. Which is why this overpass in Switzerland has its… » 10/31/14 10:51am 10/31/14 10:51am

This Handsome Brick Facade Is Insulation That Snaps on Like Lego

We all like the idea of saving energy, but actually retrofitting an old house is a loud, messy, and expensive headache. So the Dutch company Energiesprond has come up with a way to make houses carbon neutral with easy, snap-on insulation and solar panels. It doesn't hurt that houses come out looking quite handsome,… » 10/30/14 2:51pm 10/30/14 2:51pm

Satellite Dishes Can Turn Toxic Waste From Fracking Into Clean Water

In the past few years, earthquakes in Oklahoma have been on the mysterious rise—the state has had more earthquakes than even California. Why? One big fat finger has been pointed at fracking, in which toxic wastewater is injected into wells that can leak and lubricate faults. We clearly need a better solution for this… » 10/27/14 3:45pm 10/27/14 3:45pm