Bloomberg: Thousands of Carbon-Capture Plants Needed to Curb Warming

Thousands of power plants and factories will need to be fitted with carbon-capture and -storage equipment to limit global warming to safe levels, former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern said.

More efficient vehicles and factories can achieve about half of the necessary reductions in carbon emissions by the middle of this century, Stern said in an interview during United Nations climate talks in Lima, Peru. The remaining cuts would result from a combination that must include renewable and nuclear energy, as well as carbon capture, he said.

IEEE Spectrum: Buckyballs Could Make Carbon Capture Better

The ever-useful buckminsterfullerene, or buckyball, has a new potential application: carbon capture. Researchers at Rice University in Texas used buckyballs (carbon-60 molecules, technically) as a “cross-linker” with polyethyleneimine (PEI), and produced a compound that binds carbon dioxide very well, avoids binding methane, and can be used at lower temperatures than other materials.

“We had two goals,” said Andrew R. Barron, of Rice, senior author of the paper describing the advance, in a press release. “One was to make the compound 100 percent selective between carbon dioxide and methane at any pressure and temperature. The other was to reduce the high temperature needed by other amine solutions to get the carbon dioxide back out again. We've been successful on both counts.”

Wired: Don’t Fear the Artificially Intelligent Future, Says Google's Eric Schmidt

Eric Schmidt wants you to know that robots are your friend.

That makes sense, considering that as chairman and former CEO of Google, Schmidt has been heavily involved in the development of some of the world’s most sophisticated artificially intelligent systems, from the self-driving car to Google’s predictive search engine. The company even recently launched its own internal robotics lab. But while Schmidt admits sitting shotgun in the self-driving car is not an “altogether happy” experience (read: it’s terrifying), he also believes that all the fear of machines stealing jobs and taking over the world is unwarranted.

“These concerns are normal,” he said onstage during the Financial Times Innovate America event in New York City on Tuesday. “They’re also to some degree misguided.”

Forbes: Another Giant Declares Nuclear Dead in Fracking America

No utility executive could propose a nuclear reactor "in good conscience” in the U.S. today, the director emeritus of Argonne National Laboratory said in Chicago Monday.

Alan Schriesheim became the first industry executive to lead a national laboratory when he took the helm of Argonne in 1983, after serving as Exxon’s head of engineering and the director of its research lab, which developed more efficient processes for producing components of gasoline.

At Argonne he championed, among other projects, an integral fast reactor, and he is credited with fostering a revival at Argonne.

MIT Technology Review: Cheap Oil Could Kill Off Cellulosic Ethanol

The plunge in oil prices, accelerated by a recent OPEC decision to maintain production targets, will deal a new blow to efforts to commercialize advanced biofuels such as ethanol made from woody plant waste, or diesel made from plant oils. Lower oil prices may also help strengthen the case for scaling back the federal regulations requiring the use of biofuels.

Progress in commercializing advanced biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol has been slow despite federal rules mandating the use of such fuels. Earlier this year, a few large-scale cellulosic ethanol plants, including ones operated by Poet-DSM, DuPont, and Abengoa, became operational. All were planned when oil was above $100 a barrel. A number of other projects were canceled even before the recent oil price plunge.

RenewEconomy: Australia Reaches 4GW of Rooftop Solar

Australia has surpassed 4GW of rooftop solar PV, according to data provided by the Australian Photovoltaic Institute. The revelation comes just days after Australian Bureau of Statistics data indicated that one in five houses around the country had a rooftop solar array.