Posts

August 14, 2014

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2:37 AM | The Jargonaut: What’s a Rossby Wave?
By Brian Palmer Editor’s note: If you follow environmental science and policy (or just dip a toe in every once in a while), you’re bound to encounter obscure terms and wonky jargon. OnEarth is here to explain them to you, in this new feature we call The Jargonaut. We’ll tell you why the term comes up (the chatter), what it means (the gist), and when you should break it out in casual conversation (the payoff). This is the year of obscure […]

August 13, 2014

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7:37 PM | Foam Maximizes Enhanced Oil Recovery
Scientists at Rice University have discovered that foam very well may be the best stuff to maximize enhanced oil recovery.
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5:42 PM | Daily Fusion Becomes Media Partner for Monetising Mature Fields 2014 Summit
We are pleased to announce that The Daily Fusion has become an official media partner for the Monetising Mature Fields 2014 Summit, taking place in Dubai this October.
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3:55 PM | 2M UK Customers Switch to Independent Energy Suppliers
According to the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), more than two million customers have switched to independent energy suppliers since 2010.
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2:59 PM | A Visit to the End of the Line
By Rocky Kistner News reports about Keystone XL often mention that, if approved, the proposed tar sands oil pipeline would carry dirty Canadian crude from northern Alberta to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Sometimes they even mention the name of the town where those refineries are located: Port Arthur, Texas. But Port Arthur is far more than just a name on the map. As Ted Genoways reported for OnEarth last year (in a story that was awarded the prestigious […]
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2:12 PM | Mercury Rising
By Brian Palmer Toxicologists have a saying: “The dose makes the poison.” In other words, there is no such thing as “toxic” or “non-toxic”—it always depends on how much of a substance you consume.So what’s a toxic level of mercury in your diet? This has long been a concern, because many fish contain measurable levels of mercury, which can cause profound neurological disease and death if consumed in sufficient […]
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2:01 PM | Hugh Jackman's Next Foe: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
By Jason Bittel Cute as this camera-licking critter is, there's a reason we decided to spotlight it (and its relatives) this morning, and I'm afraind it's not pretty. Marmots like this one require an alpine tundra environment to survive, but as the world warms, melting glaciers and shrinking forests, the rascally little marmot's habitat is shrinking. Scientists say another snow-loving member of the weasel family—the wolverine—could soon share a […]
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1:59 PM | NASA Selects Technologies for Deep Space Energy Storage
NASA has chosen four proposals for advanced technologies that may be utilized for deep space energy storage applications.

August 12, 2014

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7:17 PM | The responsibility of demand: air travel projected to create net increase in greenhouse gas emissions
There are many ways that individuals can make lifestyle changes to aid in the global mission of reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.  Just to name a few…eat less meat, drive less, monitor air conditioning/heating and improve insulation, buy compact … Continue reading →

Matt Grote, Ian Williams, John Preston (2014). Direct carbon dioxide emissions from civil aircraft, Atmospheric Environment,

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6:33 PM | X-Rays Track Chemical Reactions in EV Battery Materials
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory are using a new method to track the electrochemical reactions in a common electric vehicle battery material under operating conditions.
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4:45 PM | Researchers to Turn Methane Into Liquid Fuel
Scientists at the Argonne National Laboratory and the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) were awarded $2 million over the course of 2 years to fund studies on hybrid fuel cells from the Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy (ARPA-E).
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2:29 PM | Rainy States to Cali: Thanks for All the Bottled Water!
By Jason Bittel In California, severe drought is just about everywhere you look, from the dwindling snowpack to the sun-scorched riverbeds. In fact, Californians are struggling through the worst drought in recorded history. So it’s sort of mindboggling that so many of the nation’s bottled water companies choose to make their home in this cracked carcass of a state, as shown in this graphic from Mother Jones. Agriculture still slurps up most of […]

August 11, 2014

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9:30 PM | What Am I Going to Do With All This Food?
By Brian Palmer More than a third of the food produced in the United States winds up in the garbage—a problem that some states, particularly in New England, are trying to tackle for financial and environmental reasons. Massachusetts landfills will soon be off-limits to hospitals, large restaurants, and supermarkets looking to dump their uneaten food. As of October 1, establishments in the Bay State that generate more than a ton of food waste per week […]
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2:09 PM | Fire, Forests, and Fighter Jets
By Jason Bittel The 35,284-acre Oregon Gulch fire burning about 15 miles east of Ashland, Oregon, is now 64 percent contained, but last week, the blaze sent rare pyrocumulus (that’s fire + cumulus) clouds high into the sky. That’s when aerial photographer Jim “Hazy” Haseltine was able to capture this shot of an F-15C from Oregon’s Air National Guard with a bad-ass backdrop. A combination of lightning and dry conditions (read: […]

August 08, 2014

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6:48 PM | 8/8/2014 This Week in Energy: Beyond Headlines
Here’s a bit of energy news that didn’t make it into our daily coverage during the past week. In this review, we collected some of less big, but nonetheless interesting news, of the week that went by, from the world of energy science and technology.
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5:27 PM | Used Cigarette Filters Can Power Our Gadgets
A group of researchers from South Korea have converted used cigarette filters into a high-performing material that can be used to store energy.
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5:19 PM | Puerto Rico's Preemies, Darwin's Finches Under Fire, Not-So Sci-Fi Climate Solutions
By Jason Bittel Born Too Soon One out of every five babies in Puerto Rico is born premature, and doctors think pthalate pollution might explain why. Pthalates are a plastic additive found in scores of household products, and these potential toxins fill many of Puerto Rico's Superfund sites. In fact, the island has the highest concentration of these toxic waste sites in the United States. Could pthalates be bringing babies into the world too soon? As Paul […]
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4:29 PM | First Solar Sets New CdTe Solar Cell Efficiency Record
First Solar, Inc. this week announced it has set a world record for cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) research cell conversion efficiency, achieving 21.0% efficiency certified at the Newport Corporation’s Technology and Applications Center (TAC) PV Lab.
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2:15 PM | Tesla, Panasonic to Build Battery ‘Gigafactory’ in U.S.
Panasonic Corporation and Tesla Motors, Inc. have signed an agreement that lays out their cooperation on the construction of a large-scale battery manufacturing plant in the United States, known as the Gigafactory.
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1:43 PM | We Didn’t Start the Fire—Ohhhh Wait, We Did
By Jason Bittel Got three minutes? Dr. John Holdren, science advisor to the president, has a thing or two to tell you about climate change and wildfires. Basically, a warming world fuels the perfect firestorm. Longer, hotter, and drier summers make wildfires more frequent and more intense. Meanwhile, heat stress, droughts, and invasive pests turn trees into kindling. Poof! And this is not only a problem for the West: the Southeast actually leads the nation […]
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2:45 AM | The Air Up There
By Susan Cosier A foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in 2001 forced British farmers to slaughter more than six million sheep, cattle, pigs, and goats. What caused the outbreak was never definitively determined, but scientists suspect a dust cloud transported the virus from the Sahara Desert in Africa to the British Isles. But because no one had tested the cloud and what it contained, there was no way to tell for sure if the disease had arrived with the dust. […]

August 07, 2014

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7:28 PM | Energy planning needs to include the “human component”
Nice post on the importance of the social aspect of energy use – hopefully not behind a paywall? http://www.nature.com/news/diversity-energy-studies-need-social-science-1.15620?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20140731 Reminds me of my very first post on this site, just over 3 years ago!
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7:08 PM | Shale Gas Boom Can Revitalize Domestic Manufacturing
A new report from a University of Michigan-led panel suggests that the American shale gas boom has the potential to revitalize domestic manufacturing.
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5:25 PM | Devil in the Deep Blue Sea
By Brian Palmer A stretch of the Gulf of Mexico spanning more than 5,000 square miles along the Louisiana coast is nearly devoid of marine life this summer, according to a study released this week. Caused largely by nutrient runoff from farm fertilizer, this oxygen-deprived “dead zone” is approximately the size of Connecticut. Although slightly smaller than last summer’s edition, the Gulf dead zone is still touted by some as the largest in […]
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5:22 PM | High-Brightness Perovskite-Based LEDs Developed
Researchers from the University of Cambridge, University of Oxford and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich have developed high-brightness perovskite-based LEDs.
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3:57 PM | The Blangy equation
After reading Chris Liner's recent writings on attenuation and negative Q — both in The Leading Edge and on his blog — I've been reading up a bit on anisotropy. The idea was to stumble a little closer to writing the long-awaited Q is for Q post in our A to Z series. As usual, I got distracted... In his 1994 paper AVO in tranversely isotropic media—An overview, Blangy (now the chief geophysicist at Hess) answered a simple question: How does anisotropy affect AVO? Stigler's law […]
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3:41 PM | Southerners Think Differently on How Energy Affects Environment
According to the University of Michigan Energy Survey, Southerners, compared to individuals in other parts of the country, are less likely to believe that energy affects the environment by at least a fair amount.
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2:14 PM | Shark Bites Robot, Robot Lives to Tell Tale
By Jason Bittel Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution built a torpedo-shaped robot (named “Remus”) that can find and follow any radio-tagged marine animal they tell it to. Last year, they let the bot loose on great white sharks to see what these feared predators do in their natural habitat (without the distraction of human divers or shark cages). Surprise: sharks bite things in their natural habitat—including Remus! One […]
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1:27 PM | New Method Improves Performance of SiC Power Devices
Scientists at the University of Tokyo have developed a novel dielectric film growth technique which improves the performance of SiC power devices.

August 06, 2014

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11:13 PM | Wait before you stamp out your next cigarette! Scientists use cigarette filters in advanced energy storage materials
Who knew smoking was good for the environment! Well, maybe that’s not the right way to put this…rather, if people must smoke (which they undoubtedly will for the foreseeable future), can’t we find something useful to do with all the … Continue reading →

Lee, M., Kim, G., Don Song, H., Park, S. & Yi, J. (2014). Preparation of energy storage material derived from a used cigarette filter for a supercapacitor electrode, Nanotechnology, 25 (34) 345601. DOI: 10.1088/0957-4484/25/34/345601

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