IEEE Spectrum: Scientists Measure Single Quantum of Heat

IBM researchers have established experimental proof of a previously difficult-to-prove law of physics, and in so doing may have pointed to a way to overcome many of the heat management issues faced in today’s electronics. Researchers at IBM Zurich have been able to take measurements of the thermal conductance of metallic quantum point contacts made of gold. No big deal, you say? They conducted measurements at the single-atom level, at room temperature -- the first time that’s ever been done.

These measurements confirm the Wiedemann-Franz law, which predicts that the smallest amount of heat that can be carried across a metallic junction -- a single quantum of heat -- is directly proportional to the quantum of electrical conductance through the same junction. By experimentally confirming this law, it can now be used with confidence to predict and to explore nanoscale thermal and electrical phenomena affecting materials down to the size of few atoms or a single molecule.

Bloomberg: Next-Generation Nuclear Reactors Stalled by Costly Delays

Costly delays, growing complexity and new safety requirements in the wake of the triple meltdown at Fukushima are conspiring to thwart a new age of nuclear reactor construction.

So-called generation III+ reactors were supposed to have simpler designs and safety features to avoid the kind of disaster seen in Japan almost six years ago. With their development, the industry heralded the dawn of a new era of cheaper, easier-to-build atomic plants.

Instead, the new reactors are running afoul of tighter regulations and unfamiliar designs, delaying completions and raising questions on whether the breakthroughs are too complex and expensive to be realized without state aid. The developments have left the industry’s pioneers, including Areva SA and Westinghouse Electric Co., struggling to complete long-delayed projects while construction elsewhere gains pace.

Solar Daily: A Profile of Today's Australian Solar Consumer

People with higher incomes and better education no longer dominate demand for the domestic solar market in Queensland, with a new Queensland University of Technology study revealing the highest uptake in solar PV systems comes from families on medium to lower incomes.

Over the past decade, the profile of Queenslanders acquiring solar PV has changed significantly, based on a study by QUT's Dr. Jeff Sommerfeld investigating the factors influencing solar PV uptake.

Dr. Sommerfeld, from QUT's Creative Industries Faculty School of Design, said the study had knocked on the head any notion that solar PV was reserved for high-income, inner-city, green voters.

The Detroit News: VW Launches Subsidiary to Manage Push for Electric Cars

Volkswagen AG has launched a new subsidiary to manage the $2 billion it’s required to spend to boost the use of zero-emission and electric vehicles. The requirement is part of the German automaker’s $14.7 billion settlement with U.S. regulators for rigging hundreds of thousands of cars to cheat pollution standards.

Volkswagen said Tuesday that the new company, which will be known as Electrify America, will be a standalone organization that will manage funding of the effort to promote zero-emission cars. The company said the money will go toward development, construction and maintenance of infrastructure, including charging stations.

Energy Manager Today: Federal Data Center Energy-Efficiency Bill Could Save $5 Billion

A new bill (HR 306) introduced by U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA-District 18) and passed unanimously by voice vote in the U.S. House of Representatives in January proposes a set of energy-efficiency standards directed at federal data centers designed to save as much as $5 billion in energy costs by 2020.

The Energy Efficient Government Technology Act now awaits a Senate vote, according to a February 3 report by The Stack.

The measure would mandate each federal agency to compile a report describing its efforts to reduce energy use in its data centers and computing infrastructure.