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Japan Drops Nukes then Reverses Policy
Written by Philip Proefrock on 25/09/12   

A few days ago, the Japanese government announced its plans to begin to phase out nuclear power with the country aiming to only now buy viagra online usa end all nuclear power by 2040. But less than a week later, the announced policy policy was already backing away from that commitment.

Of course, Japan suffered an enormous environmental crisis in the wake of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami when the Fukushima nuclear reactor complex suffered a series of generica viagra sale explosions and meltdowns of some of the reactors, contaminating the region with radioactive material. There has been strong public sentiment in Japan favoring an end to the use of nuclear power in the aftermath of the crisis.

The government had initially announced plans to end all nuclear power by 2040. But only a few days later, this decision was evidently reversed in an announcement of the new energy policy that leaves more room for continuing use of nuclear power. Business interests had lobbied hard for changes in the policy.

Other countries have taken steps to phase out nuclear power, but they generally have stronger programs of renewable power already in place. Japan is particularly poor in fossil fuel resources, but could be well situated for renewable sources including wind, wave, and tidal, as well as solar.

image: CC BY-SA 3.0 by Digital Globe/Wikimedia


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Sweden Wants to Import More Trash
Written by Philip Proefrock on 18/09/12   

Sweden is a country with an especially good national recycling program and broad public participation. It is so good that only 4 percent of household waste goes into landfills. Sweden also has a lot of district heating plants, which produce electricity and hot water that is distributed for heating to nearby homes and businesses. Many of these plants rely on trash incineration to generate the heat to run the systems. Trash incinceration provides 20 percent of the district heating in Sweden. These plants also generate the electricity for 250,000 homes.

The problem is that Swedish power plants need more trash to feed these plants than the country is producing, so the country is looking to import trash from its European neighbors to fuel these plants. At present, they are importing waste from neighboring Norway to fuel these plants.

Getting rid of trash and producing energy may seem like a win-win, but trash incineration plants have serious downsides. They produce large amounts of dioxins which can be released into the atmosphere. There are also toxins and viagra sales heavy metals in the ash that remains after the material is burned, and that needs to be disposed of carefully.

Fortunately, the Swedes realize the tramadol no prior prescription limitations in trash burning. "This is not a long-term solution really, because we need to be better to reuse and recycle, but in the short perspective I think it’s quite a good solution," Ostlund concluded.

image: CC by Mikael Lindmark/Wikimedia Commons

via: Living on Earth


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Hotels Not Getting Greener (Even the Green Ones)
Written by Philip Proefrock on 17/09/12   

A recent article in Metropolis magazine notes that, in spite of generic online levitra the trends toward greener construction in both the construction and hospitality industries, recently built hotels tend to be worse, in terms of energy consumption, than those built in the 1960s, and asks, "Is hotel design inherently unsustainable?"

The information, and the accompanying graphic, makes a comparison based on energy used and CO2 emissions equivalents per room per night. The average hotel room built in the 1960s represents the equivalent of 12.2 kilograms (26.9 pounds) CO2, while rooms built between 1997 - 2007 represent an equivalent of 21.5 kilograms (47.4 pounds) of CO2 emissions.

One important point that may be responsible for some of the difference may be the same trend in housing that is pushing for larger and larger footprints. Larger rooms and increased numbers of amenities increase energy demand, and often far more than the offsetting efficiency measures.

Although we continue to get press releases about new, green hotels being built, these few examples, even when they do incorporate extremely strong energy efficiency measures, are all too rare.  A few good examples aren't enough to stem an apparent overall tide that seems headed in the wrong direction.

image: Metropolis and Wikimedia Commons

via: Metropolis Magazine


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Green Roofs for Buses
Written by Philip Proefrock on 14/09/12   

Green roofs are a familiar concept among high-performance building designers and internet pharmacy cialis buy online other EcoGeeks, but what about a mobile green roof moving through a city? A project called Bus Roots takes the idea of green roofs and installs it on a bus. The project is the graduate thesis of NYU student Marco Antonio Castro Cosio. A mobile science lab called Bio Bus is the host for this project.

The Bus Roots project uses an extensive green roof system similar to that used for buildings and covers the 340 square feet (31.6 square meters) of bus roof with shallow trays of it's great! canada cialis no prescription plants in growth media.

Bringing a mobile patch of plants through the city offers a list of potential benefits, including mitigation of heat island effect, CO2 absorbtion, oxygen production, and aesthetic value. For those of you in or around New York City and are planning to attend the MakerFaire at the end of September, the Bio Bus is scheduled to appear at that event, and you may be able to see it in person.

via: GetDowntown

Cheaper, Cleaner Diesel Emissions
Written by Philip Proefrock on 13/09/12   

The catalytic converters that reduce nitrogen oxides and other harmful emissions help keep the air clean, but rely on rare and expensive minerals such as platinum and palladium, which increases the overall cost of vehicles. But an alternative, that does not rely on these expensive materials, offers better performance and recommended site discount drug cialis at a lower cost.

Using a synthetic version of is it legal to bye viagra from canada a material called mullite, researchers found that the pollution levels from diesel engines were up to 45% lower than those using conventional platinum catalysts.  Although it is a synthetically created material, it is still less expensive than the rare minerals which are currently used.

One unanswered question is whether the same materials can also be usefully applied to conventional gasoline engines, to provide cleaner exhausts from those vehicles at a lower cost, as well.

image: public domain - US EPA/Wikimedia

via: R&D Mag


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Low-Cost Battery Developments Could Provide Cheap Power Storage
Written by Philip Proefrock on 11/09/12   

A researcher at USC has developed a new method for inexpensive batteries that could be used for renewable power storage. These batteries use the oxidization of iron exposed to air (also known as rust) to store energy. As professor Sri Narayan says about his process, "Iron is cheap and air is free."

This process that has been known for decades, but another chemical reaction, known as hydrolisis, which also takes place in the battery, reduced the stored charge by nearly half, making these batteries too inefficient to be useful. Dr. Narayan's improvement to make these batteries viable is to add a small amount of bismuth sulfide (a material related to Pepto-Bismol) which stops the hydrogen generation reaction, and reduces the losses in the battery to less than 4 percent.

image: USC

via: Treehugger


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SciShow: Lab Grown Meat
Written by Philip Proefrock on 10/09/12   

At present, the only option for those who believe that killing animals to eat them is wrong is to only eat vegetables. And those who like eating meat but are concerned about the environmental consequences of animal farming also may be looking for other options.

Last week on Sci Show, Hank featured the topic of lab-grown meat as an alternative to raising animals and killing them for food.

Early work on making synthetic meat has produced some small samples, but it is still years from being a fully developed technology capable of producing affordable, commercially viable (inevitable pun) products. And, as Hank asks, what should it be called?


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Super, Super Efficient Windows
Written by Philip Proefrock on 10/09/12   

In conventional construction, the windows of a building are usually the weakest part of order viagra canada the thermal envelope. Well insulated walls can be built with a number of different kinds of construction and a variety of insulation materials. But windows, particularly ones that the inhabitants of the building can see through, are hard to make as efficient as the walls they are installed in. But prototype windows from Super Windows have astonishing thermal resistance as well as good visibility.

These windows are ridiculously efficient. As noted on Jetson Green, "The inventive window makes it possible to achieve European U-values of 0.15 W/m2K, or the U.S. equivalent of R38 (R = 1/(.15/5.678))." For comparison, the insulation value of batt insulation in a 2 x 4 stud wall has a U.S. R-value of just R-11. That makes the windows more than 3 times as effective an insulator than the walls are.

These windows are only developmental at this point. Even if they were in commercial production and affordable, they would not be easily retrofit into many homes because these windows are about 160mm (more than 6 inches) thick. The windows are made with two panes of only best offers order prescription cialis glass and ten (!) intervening film layers that provide this astonishing level of performance.

For high performance buildings such as highly insulated and extremely low energy consuming Passive House designs, these windows may be especially desirable. Even more moderated versions of these windows could provide more efficient windows by adapting lessons from these prototype designs.

image: Super Windows

via: Jetson Green


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Wind Turbine Produces Both Electricity and Water
Written by Philip Proefrock on 07/09/12   

While we usually look at wind turbines chiefly as a cleaner, better source of electricity. But in many parts of the world, electricity is only one of several needs faced by much of the population. In answer to a broader set of needs, the Eole Water WMS1000 turbine uses some of the power that it produces to extract as much as 1200 liters (more than 315 gallons) of clean water per day by condensing it from the air.

The WMS 1000 produces up to 30 kW of electricity, in addition to the water it provides. That may not seem to be much compared to the grid scale turbines being installed throughout the developed world, but that can be significant to a community with more moderate energy needs. It is also designed to require little maintenance, since trained technicians may not be readily available where these turbines are deployed.

The turbine is a 13 meter (about 42.5 feet) diameter rotor with a 24 meter (78.75 feet) hub height. This makes it manageable and wow look it best prices on brand cialis transportable, which are important considerations for deployment in remote locations. The WMS1000 is designed to be entirely self-sufficient, making it well suited to locations where there is no supply infrastructure for power or water. It also has very little environmental impact, emits no CO2, and does not impact surface water or underground water supplies.

Expected pricing for the turbine is around $600,000, but these units should have a lifespan of more than 20 years.

image via: Eole Water

via: Revmodo


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Using Electricity to Fight Fires
Written by Philip Proefrock on 04/09/12   

Fire fighting could take on an entirely new character with the rediscovery of a principle first noticed more than 200 years ago: electricity can stop flames.

Scientists do not yet fully understand how electricity stops fire. "The process by which it does this is complex, the researchers say, and is actually not really well understood (there are a lot of different things happening at once, apparently). But critically, it seems the carbon particles (soot) generated during combustion are easily charged, and once charged they respond to electric fields in strange ways that affect the stability of the flame. Shake that stability hard enough, and the flame collapses."

If an electrical field can extinguish the flames, it offers an easily transportable method for extinguishing fires on jet fighters and submarines (and DARPA is backing research on the process). Building materials and their contents may be able to be saved from both the fire and from the water damage that often occurs from fire fighting. The system could also help reduce the best online generic levitra use of fire retardant gasses such as Halon, which is a potent ozone-depletion causing gas.

Electrical fire suppression also has the potential to be a very fast-acting system, which could also be a benefit for locations with especially sensitive contents. The effect also seems to be generated from a manageable level of power, which suggests that, in a few years, backpack sized gear may be available to fire fighters as an alternative to the hoses and foam sprayers.

image: Georg Andreas Böckler via Wikimedia Commons

hat tip to: @JaymiHeimbuch

Improvements in Aerogels
Written by Philip Proefrock on 04/09/12   

Aerogels are materials with amazingly good insulating properties. Images of a blowtorch heating the underside of a piece of aerogel with an unharmed ice cube or a pack of buy viagra 50 mg matches on top are familiar to many, and show how well the material insulates.

New ways of producing aerogels are being developed, and some aerogels are now hundreds of times stronger than earlier versions. Newer aerogels are also able to be made thinner and far more flexible than were previously available. Not only could there be better building insulation applications with this, but aerogel insulation could also be incorporated into sleeping bags or garments.

Two new methods for making aerogel are being used to create these improved aerogels. "One involved making changes in the innermost architecture of traditional silica aerogels. They used a polymer, a plastic-like material, to reinforce the networks of silica that extend throughout an aerogel's structure. Another involved making aerogels from polyimide, an incredibly strong and heat-resistant polymer, or plastic-like material, and then inserting brace-like cross-links to add further strength to the structure."



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