Posts

June 27, 2014

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6:31 PM | Novel Device Cleans Up Spills by Pumping Oil Through ‘Sponge’
While porous hydrophobic/oleophilic materials (PHOMs) show promise for cleaning up oil spills, such a cleanup would require a large quantity of PHOMS due to their limited absorption capacity. Chinese scientists have now proposed a way to solve this problem.

Ge, J., Ye, Y., Yao, H., Zhu, X., Wang, X., Wu, L., Wang, J., Ding, H., Yong, N., He, L. & Yu, S. (2014). Pumping through Porous Hydrophobic/Oleophilic Materials: An Alternative Technology for Oil Spill Remediation, Angewandte Chemie, 126 (14) 3686-3690. DOI: 10.1002/ange.201310151

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6:23 PM | Put Your Money Where Your Earth Is
By Amy Yee If the sight of another river overflowing onto Main Street or news of another Little League game getting cancelled due to a scorching heat wave still isn’t enough to convince skeptical Americans that global warming is a serious threat, maybe this forecast will help move the needle: climate change could wipe out your retirement account and your teenager’s college fund. The first-of-its-kind comprehensive study of the risks posed by […]
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5:09 PM | Researchers Encourage Use of Net Energy Analysis
Net energy analysis—a technique that seeks to compare the amount of energy a technology delivers over its lifetime with the energy needed to build and maintain it—should be a critical energy policy tool, according to Stanford scientists.

Carbajales-Dale, M., Barnhart, C., Brandt, A. & Benson, S. (2014). A better currency for investing in a sustainable future, Nature Climate Change, 4 (7) 524-527. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2285

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3:07 PM | Weekend Reads: The Secret Language of Sperm Whales, the Dutch Kick the Antibiotic Habit, Fossil Fuels Are Sooo 1900s
By Jason Bittel The Abstinence Method Farmers in the United States feed their livestock 30 million pounds of antibiotics each year—much more than what we humans use—and most of the animals aren’t even sick. The practice has led to a rise in “nightmare bacteria” strains that are resistant to antibiotics (see "You Want Superbugs With That?"). To keep some of our most important drugs from losing their efficacy, the Netherlands […]
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12:50 PM | 'Bee Friendly' Not So Friendly, Polar Bear POV, a Drug Lord and His Hippos
By Jason Bittel The road to hell is paved with… pesticides: So you’ve heard that bees and other pollinators are dying off, and you’re trying to help out by using bee-friendly plants in your garden. That’s great! Except that a new report finds that many of the plants labeled as “bee-friendly” at big box stores like Home Depot and Walmart test positive for a class of chemicals that is actually toxic to bees—meaning […]

June 26, 2014

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11:07 PM | Rethinking sustainable eating: vegetarian diets reduce greenhouse gas emissions
A paper has just been published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that strikes a chord close to my heart.  Researchers have combed the literature studying the relationship between diet and greenhouse gas emissions, and have determined that vegetarian diets reduce … Continue reading →

Sabate, J. & Soret, S. (2014). Sustainability of plant-based diets: back to the future, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 100 (Supplement_1) 476-482. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.113.071522

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7:59 PM | NREL, GM Partner Up to Reduce Automotive Fuel Cell Costs
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and General Motors (GM) are partnering on a joint effort to speed up the reduction of automotive fuel cell stack costs through fuel cell material and manufacturing R&D.
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6:54 PM | Hybrid Electric Buses to Be Demonstrated in Stockholm
Volvo, SL (Stockholm Public Transport) and a Swedish power company Vattenfall are going to evaluate the performance of hybrid electric buses in regular bus traffic in Stockholm. A field test involving 8 hybrid electric buses will begin this fall.
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5:30 PM | Snowflakes Help Study Wind Turbine Airflow
Scientists at the University of Minnesota (UMN) used snowflakes from a winter snowstorm to study the airflow patterns around large wind turbines. This measurement technique could prove valuable to improving wind energy efficiency.

Hong, J., Toloui, M., Chamorro, L., Guala, M., Howard, K., Riley, S., Tucker, J. & Sotiropoulos, F. (2014). Natural snowfall reveals large-scale flow structures in the wake of a 2.5-MW wind turbine, Nature Communications, 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5216

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3:54 PM | Air Liquide to Install 4 Hydrogen Fueling Stations in Denmark
Air Liquide, a French multinational company which supplies industrial gases and services to various industries, will install 4 hydrogen fueling stations in Denmark. The new stations, along with the two existing ones, will make it possible to refuel a hydrogen car all over the country in under 5 minutes.
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2:20 PM | Run, Toto, Run!, Disco Clams of the Deep, These Colors Don't Run ... off My Car Flag
By Jason Bittel Summer spritz: Outside of Olpe, Kansas, an attempt to perform maintenance on the Panhandle Eastern pipeline caused an unknown quantity of natural gas condensate to spray out in a light, oily mist—covering nearby crops and trees, which have since begun to wither and die. A representative from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said the condensate poses no threat to people (even though it often contains benzene, a known […]
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1:56 PM | Patents are slowing us down
I visited a geoscience consulting company in Houston recently. Various patent awards were proudly commemorated on the walls on little plaques. It's understandable: patents are difficult and expensive to get, and can be valuable to own. But recently I've started to think that patents are one of the big reasons why innovation in our industry happens at a snail's pace, in the words of Paul de Groot in our little book about geophysics.  Have you ever read a patent? Go and have a read of US […]

June 25, 2014

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8:17 PM | Back to the Garden
By Michael Ellick In 2013, while walking through New York City on the Sunday before Earth Day, I received a visitation from the Holy Spirit. The occasion was an ordination ceremony over which I had been asked to preside. Two friends were taking the plunge into ordained ministry, and they had asked me—I’m a minister myself, at a 125-year-old church in Greenwich Village with a long history of progressivism and social activism—to give them a […]
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7:19 PM | U Maryland to Develop Affordable Natural Gas Fuel Cells
The University of Maryland partners up with Microsoft, Trans-Tech and Redox Power Systems to develop advanced and affordable natural gas fuel cells through a $5 million cooperative agreement funded by ARPA-E through the REBELS program.
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5:45 PM | Ecosphere Technologies Completes Mobile Solar PowerCube
Ecosphere Technologies, a U.S. technology licensing and manufacturing company, has announced the completion of its first Ecos PowerCube—a shipping container that can be transformed into a hybrid solar-wind power plant with onboard batteries.
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4:39 PM | Midland To Get Biomass Electricity Facility
If all goes according to plan, the Midland Odessa area could be home to a state of the art facility designed to turn waste into electricity by early next year.  This comes from a recent announcement by Cirque Energy Inc., … Continue reading →
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4:10 PM | Study: Fracking Increases Groundwater Radioactivity, But Only So Much
A study finds that hydraulic fracturing can increase groundwater radioactivity, but not above exposure limits set for human health in the UK.

Almond, S., Clancy, S., Davies, R. & Worrall, F. (2014). The flux of radionuclides in flowback fluid from shale gas exploitation, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, DOI: 10.1007/s11356-014-3118-y

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2:50 PM | Researchers Quantify How Energy Storage Costs Affect Wind Farms
Scientists at the Carnegie Mellon University have quantified what the price of energy storage needs to be to justify the use of energy storage devices at remote wind farms.

Lamy, J., Azevedo, I. & Jaramillo, P. (2014). The role of energy storage in accessing remote wind resources in the Midwest, Energy Policy, 68 123-131. DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2014.01.008

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2:33 PM | Anti-Science Bullies (in Congress), Home Run for Healthy Eating, Stay Out of Antarctica!
By Jason Bittel The war on science: If you wanted to go looking for the beating heart of the right’s recent anti-science bender, the best place to start—somewhat ironically—would be the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Of the 22 Republicans who sit on this committee, 20 don’t believe in climate change. Among its misdeeds, the committee has tried to discredit the Environmental Protection Agency, repeal the Clean […]
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