Direct Current - An Energy.gov Podcast

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.


  • S3 E6: Women in Power: The C3E Story

    Mar 20 2019

    Meet 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.

  • S3 E5: Microbiomes! Live at AAAS

    Mar 01 2019

    There's an invisible world of microbes living all around us — on our skin, in our guts, even in the ground beneath our feet — and we're only just beginning to understand their function. In this episode, recorded live at the 2019 American Association for Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) Meeting in D.C., we interview two scientists who are using genetic data to study the "microbiome" of soil. Turns out, these tiny organisms can help us answer big questions about agriculture, energy, climate, and muc...more

  • S3 E4: This Episode Stinks

    Nov 21 2018

    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!

  • S3 E3: Nuclear Energy: Fact, Fiction, Future

    Sep 13 2018

    D'oh! Nuclear energy gets a bad rap on "The Simpsons". But don't believe everything you see on TV — there's a lot more to the story of our most misunderstood energy source. In this episode of Direct Current, we separate nuclear fact from fiction and explore how splitting atoms could play a big role in America's clean energy future. Learn more at energy.gov/podcast.

  • S3 E2: Makers

    Jul 31 2018

    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. Check out photos, video and more from this episode at energy.gov/podcast.

  • S3 E1: Sitting Down with Secretary Perry

    Jun 20 2018

    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? Hear from Perry himself in the season 3 premiere of Direct Current as he sits down with our hosts to discuss everything from supercomputers to "Dancing with the Stars." Also, we bid a fond farewell to one of our show's original producers. [Editor's Note: This interview was recorded shortly before the unveiling of the Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Labor...more

  • S2 E9: Power Couple

    Feb 05 2018

    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.

  • S2 E8: Holiday Lights, Redux

    Dec 19 2017

    We're keeping the season merry and bright with a show about data and holiday lights! Ever thought about how big a role data centers play in your life? From searching to streaming to shopping, these critical pieces of infrastructure provide the foundation for our digital world -- and they need an upgrade. Learn how an ARPA-E program is using light-powered technology to boost data center performance and energy efficiency for the future. Also, we revisit our favorite energy-themed holiday poem from...more

  • SHORT CIRCUIT | History of the Light Bulb

    Nov 14 2017

    We devote this Short Circuit to one of the most ubiquitous items in the world, 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. The History of The Light Bulb is an illuminating tale of a mother, child and some particularly enlightened bulbs.

  • S2 E7: Energy Secrets

    Oct 27 2017

    Last year, Netflix's sci-fi hit "Stranger Things" called us out on being... well... a secretive agency. We set the record straight back then, but with season 2 coming out, there's more to the story.  So, prepare yourself: from the real science behind the Upside Down to the mysterious death of a U.S. president, Direct Current is pulling back the curtain on some of our deepest, darkest #EnergySecrets.

  • SHORT CIRCUIT | Energy @ 40

    Oct 04 2017

    The U.S. Department of Energy is 40 years old, and Direct Current is celebrating with a look back at four decades of #ScienceForThePeople. Join us as 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.

  • S2 E6: A Shot in the Dark

    Sep 13 2017

    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… This mysterious substance lives under the alias of DARK MATTER. It’s one of the most staggering scientific puzzles in the history of human knowledge. A mystery that goes back to the very birth of our universe. Luckily, our detective-producers are on the case. Dir...more

  • SHORT CIRCUIT | Solar, Meet Eclipse

    Aug 17 2017

    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.

  • S2 E5: Hyper Drive Time

    Aug 09 2017

    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!

  • S2 E4: 17 Labs in 17 Minutes

    Jul 24 2017

    The Department of Energy’s National Labs are the crown jewels of science in America. But their work is so diverse, and the challenges they tackle so far-reaching, that it’s hard to talk about all 17 of them -- there’s just too much to cover in one episode. Or is there? This episode takes on that challenge. Buckle up for a journey through all 17 National Labs… in 17 minutes. Learn more at energy.gov/labs.

  • This Lab Is Your Lab

    Jun 30 2017

    We have a holiday treat for you. 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.The National Labs tackle the critical scientific challenges of our time and possess unique instruments and facilities, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. Each lab is unique, but they're all connected, and the work they do benef...more

  • S2 E3: The Manhattan Project, Part 2

    Jun 21 2017

    The conclusion of our two part story on the Manhattan Project. We take you to the Trinity site where the first bomb was tested and then follow the Airmen as they drop the first ever atomic bombs. Later, learn about the creation of the Department of Energy and how, along with the National Park Service, we're preserving the origins of nuclear power and weaponry. Learn more about the Manhattan Project at energy.gov/manhattanproject.

  • SHORT CIRCUIT | Ruth's Story

    Jun 05 2017

    Ruth Huddleston was 18 years old when she took a job at a top secret Army facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, at the height of World War II. Her task was so highly classified that no one could even tell her what she was working on -- until one fateful day in August 1945. We have her story.

  • S2 E2: The Manhattan Project, Part 1

    May 18 2017

    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. Find out how the atomic age began, what happened in three top-secret towns, and how the Department of Energy and the National Park Service teamed up to preserve the legacy of this pivotal moment in history.

  • SHORT CIRCUIT | How to Soak Up an Oil Spill

    Apr 20 2017

    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?

  • S2 E1: The Hype Trailer

    Apr 13 2017

    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, and all your emails asking when the podcast would be coming back. Stay tuned for new episodes!

  • Episode 10: The Exit Interview

    Jan 17 2017

    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.

  • Episode 9: What Happened to Acid Rain?

    Jan 05 2017

    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.

  • Episode 8: Ho-Ho-How Holiday Lights Work

    Dec 01 2016

    Why do holiday lights burn out all the time? We find out the answer, and do it in rhyme.

  • Episode 7: From Water to Wattage

    Nov 03 2016

    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.

  • Episode 6: Energy Ghostbusters

    Oct 20 2016

    Spooked by the ghosts and goblins of energy inefficiency? In this special episode, we talk with Josh Olsen, an “Energy Ghostbuster" from our Weatherization Assistance Program. He provides tips on how to keep from being haunted by your energy bill and trick-or-treat yourself to energy savings. Happy Halloween!

  • Episode 5: The Future of Cool

    Sep 14 2016

    On this episode of Direct Current, we're taking you 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.

  • Episode 4: Backronyms

    Aug 10 2016

    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.

  • Episode 3: Power To The People

    Jul 11 2016

    How does power get to the people who use it? In this episode we talk about one of the greatest engineering accomplishments of the 20th century -- something we use every day, but often take for granted: the electric grid.  We talk to an expert about how power travels to our electric sockets, and hear about how one city -- hit with major power outages during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 -- is preparing for the next storm with something called a microgrid. You can find lots more information, graphics a...more

  • Episode 2: The Clean Energy Geek Squad

    Jun 25 2016

    When you have a computer problem, you call tech support. When you have a ghost problem you call Ghostbusters. But who do you call when you have a clean energy problem? In this episode of Direct Current - An Energy.gov Podcast, Matt calls up the Clean Energy Solutions Center, a "help desk" that provides free expert advice on clean energy policy to governments all over the world. Allison talks to Nicky Phear, a professor who cycles hundreds of miles across Montana to teach her students about clima...more

  • Episode 1.5: Direct Current Teaser

    Jun 25 2016

    A word of thanks, and a sneak preview of what’s coming up on future episodes of Direct Current.

  • Episode 1: Tackling the Hidden Costs of Rooftop Solar

    May 03 2016

    Join our hosts, Matt Dozier and Allison Lantero, as they 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."