Direct Current - An Podcast


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 Oct 6, 2019
Learning about the dept of energy!


Direct Current is a podcast about energy -- the kind that lights our homes, powers our lives and shapes our world. From the U.S. Department of Energy's digital team in Washington, D.C., Direct Current brings you fresh, insightful stories of how we generate and use electricity, what that means for the planet, and the cutting-edge science that's driving a global energy revolution.

Episode Date
People Powered: Conrad Flowers, Lead Interconnection Engineer
Conrad Flowers wanted a more fulfilling career, so he followed his passion and took a job in solar energy. Now he’s connecting solar farms to the electric grid and helping train the next generation of engineers.
Apr 13, 2022
People Powered: AlexAnna Salmon, Village Council President
AlexAnna Salmon is a fierce advocate for her home, a remote Alaskan town called Igiugig. As village council president, she's working to preserve her tribe's traditional way of life amid a warming climate and a shift from fossil fuels to clean energy.
Feb 17, 2022
People Powered: Gaby Ibarra, Building Energy Analyst
Our series highlighting workers in clean energy continues! Gaby Ibarra, a first-generation college student and daughter of immigrants, shares her journey into a new career helping modernize heating and cooling systems for old buildings in New York City.
Jan 21, 2022
People Powered: Michael Flores, Wind Technician
In the latest episode of "People Powered," our new series on clean energy careers, wind technician Michael Flores shares what it's like to travel the country and scale 300-foot wind turbines for a living — and why he's sticking with wind for the long run.
Dec 21, 2021
People Powered: Kaly Moore, Solar Construction Manager
Presenting "People Powered," a new series on clean energy careers! There are millions of good-paying jobs in energy, and we'll be introducing you to the folks who do them — starting with Kaly Moore, construction manager at a Washington, DC, solar company.
Nov 29, 2021
Brewing Up Energy Savings
Contained within a single glass of beer is hundreds of hours of labor and vast amounts of resources. Join us as we go inside a popular craft brewery and learn how DOE programs are helping reduce costs while saving water and energy.
Sep 30, 2021
LCLS-II: Brighter, Faster, Smaller
Stretching nearly two miles under a freeway in Palo Alto, CA, the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) is a huge X-ray laser with the power to capture images of molecules in motion. Now, a big upgrade is taking this SLAC Lab facility to the next level.
Jul 09, 2021
LPO's New Look: A Conversation with Jigar Shah
With $40 billion in lending authority, the Loan Programs Office is one of the Energy Department's most powerful clean energy investment tools. We sat down with Director Jigar Shah to talk about how LPO works, and what's in store for the future of energy.
Jun 14, 2021
Getting to Know Secretary Granholm
The nation's 16th Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, sat down with Direct Current to talk clean energy, climate, her "obsession" with creating millions of good-paying union jobs, and her vision for the Department of Energy.
Apr 21, 2021
Mars 2020, Part 2: SuperCam Does It All
Developed by Los Alamos National Lab, SuperCam is the scientific “Swiss Army Knife” for NASA's Mars Perseverance Rover. In this episode, we hear from the SuperCam team what it's like shooting rocks with lasers, and how it could help us find life on...
Jul 30, 2020
Mars 2020, Part 1: Powered by Plutonium
NASA's Mars Perseverance Rover is loaded with technology developed by the Department of Energy, including a nuclear battery fueled by plutonium-238. Listen as we follow the rover’s power source on its 7-year, 5,000-mile journey from lab to launch pad.
Jul 24, 2020
AI: Safer, Smarter, More Secure (Live at AAAS)
Artificial intelligence is all around us — even if we don’t realize it — and the rapid spread of AI technologies into our lives raises big questions about security. Our guests in this episode study the risks of ever-present AI,
Apr 22, 2020
The Future of Water & Wildfire (Live at AAAS)
COVID-19 is dominating the headlines, but the pandemic isn’t the only threat to human health. Water is an essential part of life, but changes in the water cycle can have disastrous results. The National Labs are working to understand and predict them.
Mar 31, 2020
National Labs Respond to COVID-19
An interview with Dr. Chris Fall, Director of the Department of Energy Office of Science, about the agency’s response to COVID-19.
Mar 14, 2020
Tribal Energy: Powering Self-Determination
For hundreds of Indian tribes and native communities across the United States, energy represents many things: a lifeline, a source of income, a path to sovereignty. Learn how the Office of Indian Energy helps tribes take control of their energy destinies.
Dec 10, 2019
AI: This Is Just the Beginning
Artificial intelligence is all over the news, but what's all the hype really about? We travel to Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee to find out how AI is going to revolutionize science, and welcome a new podcast to the Department of Energy family!
Oct 09, 2019
S3 E8: KRUSTY in Spaaace!
50 years after Apollo 11 made history, NASA is getting ready to send astronauts back to the Moon, then on to Mars. We're going to need a power supply that can keep humans alive in space for years at a time. Could a miniature nuclear reactor be the answer?
Jul 16, 2019
S3 E7: DUNE: The Neutrinos Must Flow
Join Direct Current on a subatomic sojourn into the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), a massive international research project aiming to unlock the secrets of the neutrino and answer the question, "Why does anything exist?"
May 07, 2019
S3 E6: Women in Power: The C3E Story
Direct Current - An Podcast talks to the women who are leading a clean energy revolution, with a little help from C3E. It's part support network, part annual gathering, part awards show — and all about empowerment.
Mar 20, 2019
S3 E5: Microbiomes! Live at AAAS
There's an invisible world of microbes living all around us that we're only just beginning to understand. We talked to two DOE scientists at the 2019 AAAS Meeting in D.C. to learn how genetic research could answer big questions about these tiny organisms.
Mar 01, 2019
S3 E4: This Episode Stinks
Grease. Gunk. Sludge. Where most people see a nasty nuisance, these scientists see powerful potential. Join us as we wade into the world of bioenergy and learn about the folks working to turn waste into useful energy!
Nov 21, 2018
S3 E3: Nuclear Energy: Fact, Fiction, Future 
Nuclear energy gets a bad rap on "The Simpsons," but there's a lot more to the story. In this episode of Direct Current, we separate fact from fiction and and explore how splitting atoms could play a big role in America's clean energy future.
Sep 13, 2018
S3 E2: Makers
This episode of Direct Current is dedicated to the makers at the Energy Department — the engineers, researchers and artisans whose creations are pushing science and technology to exciting new places.
Jul 31, 2018
S3 E1: Sitting Down with Secretary Perry
You know Rick Perry as the current Secretary of Energy and former Texas governor, but did you know he once played drums with ZZ Top? On the Direct Current season 3 premiere, hear from Perry on everything from supercomputers to "Dancing with the Stars."
Jun 20, 2018
S2 E9: Power Couple
A pair of energy detectives is hunting down waste and saving money at two big U.S. manufacturing companies. Hear their story, and learn how our Better Plants program is helping partners across the nation find similar success.
Feb 05, 2018
S2 E8: Holiday Lights, Redux
We're keeping the season merry and bright with a show about data and holiday lights!
Dec 19, 2017
SHORT CIRCUIT | History of the Light Bulb
One of the most ubiquitous items in the world is an item you can probably see from wherever you’re listening… the light bulb. The story of how the light bulb came to light is a fascinating one that we think even a child could understand.
Nov 14, 2017
S2 E7: Energy Secrets
From the real science behind the Upside Down in Netflix's "Stranger Things" to the mysterious death of a U.S. president, Direct Current is pulling back the curtain on some of our deepest, darkest #EnergySecrets.
Oct 27, 2017
SHORT CIRCUIT | Energy @ 40
Energy is 40 and we're celebrating with a look back at four decades of #ScienceForThePeople. We talk to the Department's longest-serving employee (53 years!), revisit the agency's origins, and look to the future with the help of our official historians.
Oct 04, 2017
S2 E6: A Shot in the Dark
Earth, the cosmos, everything we can see with our eyes and our instruments is made up of normal matter. But all that doesn’t add up to a whole lot. It's just 15% of the mass of the universe.

The rest is an unknown, invisible… something…
Sep 13, 2017
SHORT CIRCUIT | Solar, Meet Eclipse
Solar power is booming in the U.S. So what happens when the sun disappears during the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017? We talk to the energy experts.
Aug 17, 2017
S2 E5: Hyper Drive Time
And now, for something completely different… Take a drive with Direct Current as we mash up three slightly off-kilter energy stories. It might get weird, but it won’t be boring. It’s Hyper Drive Time!
Aug 09, 2017
S2 E4: 17 Labs in 17 Minutes
The Department of Energy’s National Labs are the crown jewels of science in America. But their work is so diverse that it’s hard to cover all 17 of them in one podcast episode. So naturally, Direct Current took on that challenge.
Jul 24, 2017
This Lab Is Your Lab
As we head into July 4, enjoy "This Lab Is Your Lab." A song meant to highlight some of the amazing work being done across the Energy Department's system of 17 National Labs, the crown jewels of science in the United States.
Jun 30, 2017
S2 E3: The Manhattan Project, Part 2
The conclusion to our two part series on the Manhattan Project -- an unprecedented, U.S. government effort to beat Nazi Germany in the race to construct a nuclear weapon, the dawn of the atomic age, and how that legacy is being preserved.
Jun 21, 2017
SHORT CIRCUIT | Ruth's Story
Ruth Huddleston was 18 when she took a job at a secret Army facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, during World War II. It was so highly classified that no one could even tell her what she was working on. We have her story.
Jun 05, 2017
S2 E2: The Manhattan Project, Part 1
The first of two episodes that tell the story of an unprecedented, U.S. government effort to beat Nazi Germany in the race to construct a nuclear weapon, the dawn of the atomic age, and how that legacy is being preserved.
May 18, 2017
SHORT CIRCUIT | How to Soak Up an Oil Spill
It's been seven years since the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Could a sponge developed by Argonne National Lab help stop the next big oil spill from becoming a catastrophe?
Apr 20, 2017
S2 E1: The Hype Trailer
Direct Current returns next week! LISTEN TO OUR NEW TRAILER to get a little taste of what's in store for season 2. We also want to say a quick thank you to everyone who listened to the first season; we really appreciate your support and your enthusiasm.
Apr 13, 2017
Episode 10: The Exit Interview
With the current presidential administration coming to a close, we asked a very special guest to share some thoughts on his time here at the Energy Department. It’s our boss, nuclear physicist and Secretary of Energy, Dr. Ernest Moniz.
Jan 17, 2017
Episode 9: What Happened to Acid Rain?
Acid rain was one of the biggest environmental problems of the 20th century. We investigate why it’s a thing of the past -- and what it can teach us for tackling climate change.
Jan 05, 2017
Episode 8: Ho-Ho-How Holiday Lights Work
Why do holiday lights burn out all the time? We find out the answer, and do it in rhyme.
Dec 01, 2016
Episode 7: From Water to Wattage
Hydropower is America's oldest and largest source of clean, renewable energy. But can it grow to meet our changing needs? Follow our hosts on a journey from hydropower's origins to the new wave of technologies that could shape its future.
Nov 03, 2016
Episode 6: Energy Ghostbusters
Spooked by the goblins of energy inefficiency? In this episode, we talk with Josh Olsen, an “Energy Ghostbuster" from our Weatherization Program. Learn how to keep from being haunted by your energy bill and trick-or-treat yourself to energy savings.
Oct 20, 2016
Episode 5: The Future of Cool
Paul and Simon lead the way to the future of cooling, where new technologies like magnet-based air conditioning and personalized robots will transform how we fight climate change, save on energy costs and stay comfortable.
Sep 14, 2016
Episode 4: Backronyms
Not all acronyms are created equal. Join us on a journey into the colorful world of government "backronyms," where there's more to a name than just a jumble of letters.
Aug 10, 2016
Episode 3: Power To The People
How does power get to the people who use it? We explore that question and talk about the electric grid -- what it is, how it works, and what happens when the power goes out.
Jul 11, 2016
Episode 1.5: Direct Current Teaser
A word of thanks, and a sneak preview of what’s coming up on future episodes of Direct Current.
Jun 25, 2016
Episode 2: The Clean Energy Geek Squad
We call a "help desk" that provides clean energy policy assistance to governments worldwide, talk to Nicky Phear, who cycles across Montana teaching students about climate change, and propose a few new units of energy -- starting with a burrito.
Jun 25, 2016
Episode 1: Tackling the Hidden Costs of Rooftop Solar
We investigate the sneaky "soft costs" driving up the price of rooftop solar, delve into the archives for a look at the turbulent times around the Energy Department's creation, and contemplate some alternatives to the name "Direct Current."
May 03, 2016