The future of energy on islands

March 2, 2018 by  
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Islands are places of exceptional biodiversity and economic value, not to mention their great natural beauty. However, because of their isolation from the mainland, they are also difficult to power. This fact is particularly poignant as Puerto Rico , several months after Hurricane Maria, struggles to turn the lights back on. To prepare for a world in which climate change continues to energize super-storms and sea level rise, islands, on which 10 percent of the world’s population lives, must rethink their energy systems for future success. Read on for several solutions that will allow island communities to thrive in the 21st century. Islands currently receive most of their energy from fossil fuels , with some using imported oil, an expensive energy source, to power their electrical grid. With their costs dropping every year, solar and wind could provide cleaner, localized, cheaper energy. Since islands must contend with a limited amount of land, large-scale wind farms may be the preferred utility-scale option. However, neither option will be particularly effective without a battery storage system. To serve this need, Tesla is rolling out battery systems in Puerto Rico , Nantucket and other island communities in hopes that they may someday become ubiquitous. Related: The sinking island nation of Tuvalu is actually growing For islands with the appropriate natural resources, such as Iceland , geothermal power is an attractive energy option. New drilling technologies, such as those developed by  GA Drilling  and  AltaRock Energy , could enable geothermal prospectors to dig deeper and ultimately provide greater energy output. While it has drawn criticism from some environmentalists in the past, nuclear power may also be an effective energy source for island communities. The incredible energy density of nuclear fuel translates into a much more effectively shipped power source than fossil fuels, while the newest Gen IV nuclear reactors are passively safe . Nuclear power plants could even be established on ships, similar to nuclear-powered ships and submarines in the United States Navy, allowing power generation to be moved where it is most needed. Via World Economic Forum Images via Depositphotos   (1)

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The future of energy on islands

Scientist warns Elon Musk’s Starman could be a bio-threat to Mars

March 2, 2018 by  
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Starman, the “driver” of Elon Musk ‘s Tesla Roadster as it cruises through the cosmos, may be carrying the largest collection of terrestrial bacteria ever sent into space. “Even if they radiated the outside, the engine would be dirty,” scientist Jay Melosh said in a  statement . “Cars aren’t assembled clean. And even then, there’s a big difference between clean and sterile.” SpaceX has not yet commented on whether Starman and Musk’s Roadster were sterilized before being sent into space. Starman is not scheduled to land on a planet nor are most bacteria species able to survive in the extreme conditions of space. Nonetheless, life will find a way and, if certain circumstances arise, Starman may be the potential vehicle for bacterial colonization of Mars. When scientists send objects into space, they adhere to the most strict precautions to ensure that no terrestrial organisms could potentially stowaway onto another planet. NASA operates an  Office of Planetary Protection for this very purpose. Scientists are particularly concerned that Earth life could establish a foothold in Mars, then either colonize the planet or be mistaken for Martian life by researchers. “Would Earth’s organisms be better adapted, take over Mars and contaminate it so we don’t know what indigenous Mars was like, or would they be not as well adapted as the Martian organisms?” Melosh said. “We don’t know.” Related: NASA just unveiled a tiny nuclear reactor for future Mars residents While most terrestrial life would perish in the harsh environment of space, species like the tardigrade, which can survive in space and go up to 30 years without food or water . There is a very small chance that Starman and his Roadster will ever arrive on the Martian surface. Therefore, Starman is less an invasive Trojan Horse, more a curator of an interstellar museum of terrestrial life. “The load of bacteria on the Tesla could be considered a biothreat—or a backup copy of life on Earth ,” astronautics scientist Alina Alexeenko said in a statement. If life on Earth ever becomes extinct, there is a chance that Starman, crash-landing back on his home planet, could get the party started again. Via Motherboard Images via SpaceX and NASA

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Can This Recycling Bin Really Increase Recycling?

July 15, 2016 by  
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I am a garbage picker and proud of it.  I have no problem taking recyclables out of the trash and putting them in their appropriate recycling bin — whether it’s in an office or at a friend’s house. It just makes me so itchy seeing…

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Can This Recycling Bin Really Increase Recycling?

Shell tells U.S. it’s ready to begin drilling 8,000 feet below Arctic seabed

August 11, 2015 by  
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Last month Royal Dutch Shell was given approval to drill at two sites in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea, but were informed by the Federal government that they lacked the appropriate equipment to ‘safely’ drill into oil-bearing rock some 8,000 feet below the ocean floor. But now, with a key safety vessel that would address well blow outs— a vessel that was previously blocked by protesters in Portland —in place, Shell has applied to amend their permits so as to commence drilling into the deeper, deepwater area. Read the rest of Shell tells U.S. it’s ready to begin drilling 8,000 feet below Arctic seabed

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U.K. Gets Vending Machines for Recycling Batteries, Light Bulbs

December 14, 2011 by  
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We all know that batteries and CFL light bulbs don’t belong in the trash, but recycling locations are not always convenient.  What if your local retail stores just had a vending machine where you could drop these items?  Well, that convenient option could be coming to us soon. A company called reVend Recycling Ltd. has begun installing recycling vending machines for light bulbs and batteries in the U.K. that not only sort the items , but offer immediate rewards. The first pilot machine was installed at an IKEA in London with great success.  At that location, recyclers were offered store credit to IKEA based on the amount they were recycling or the choice to donate to one of four charities — the World Wildlife Fund, Woodland Trust, UNICEF and Save the Children. The machines accept incandescents, CFLs and LEDs as well as any domestic batteries.  The machines are able to track the bulbs and batteries by type, manufacturer and volume so that each can end up in the appropriate recycling facilities. The company has signed an agreement with IKEA to install their machines throughout the U.K., Germany and Denmark.  They plan to expand their reach to more parts of Europe as well as into the U.S. very soon. via Earth 911

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U.K. Gets Vending Machines for Recycling Batteries, Light Bulbs

EU Could Meet Emission Requirements Through Increased Bike Ridership

December 12, 2011 by  
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A new report released by the European Cyclists’ Federation says that a quarter of the required emissions reduction target for 2020 could be met if all of the European Union had bike ridership levels like Denmark. The Danish people ride on average 2.6 km per day.  If all of the EU hit that mark, it would reduce emissions by 55 million to 120 million tons a year.  By 2020, that would represent five to 11 percent of the emissions target of a 20 percent reduction below 1990 levels.  If that level of ridership continued, by 2050 it would represent a slash of 63 to 142 million tons or 12 to 26 percent of the transportation sector targets. Meanwhile in New York City, the transportation department is proving that adding bike lanes and making a city more bike-friendly will in fact increase ridership.  Since making major bike lane improvements in 2007, ridership in the Big Apple has doubled.  With a huge bike sharing program on its way, those numbers should continue to go up.  See a breakdown of the increases in bike ridership here . via Yale e360

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Alternative Nuclear Power: Pebble Bed Reactor

December 11, 2011 by  
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This article is part of a series on alternative possibilities in nuclear power. Previously at EcoGeek: Alternative Possibilities in Nuclear Power Pebble Bed Reactor The pebble-bed reactor was supposed to be another intrinsically safe, and “melt-down proof” design. “Pebble bed reactors are helium-cooled, graphite-moderated reactors in which the fuel is in the form of tennis ball-sized spherical “pebbles” encased in a graphite moderator. New fuel pebbles are continuously added at the top of a cylindrical reactor vessel and travel slowly down the column by gravity, until they reach the bottom and are removed.” Cooling uses an inert gas such as helium, rather than a liquid, which simplifies many of the reactor systems. “The use of helium and graphite allows the reactor to burn the fuel efficiently and to operate at much higher temperatures than conventional light water reactors.” Since the pebble bed reactor was already designed to operate at very high temperatures, and since its cooling medium was a gas, rather than a liquid, the control systems for a pebble bed reactor could be much simpler. The largest problems that need to be dealt with for a boiling water reactor – overheating and coolant boiling away – are not concerns for a pebble bed reactor. The pebble bed also produces less power as the temperature rises, so the design is effectively self-limiting.

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Alternative Nuclear Power: Pebble Bed Reactor

German EV travels more than 1000 miles on a single charge

August 17, 2011 by  
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B Phanindra Kumar: Schluckspecht E Electric Car This silver colored small car, which looks very cute like a child’s toy vehicle created a sensation in the automobile industry by becoming the first electric car that covered over 1000 miles on a single charge. Designed by Offenburg University of Applied Sciences under the aegis of Frauenhofter Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems, this has a 23KWh lithium cobalt battery. Above all, it took 36 hours for the car to come to a halt on its test track. This car was named Schluckpecht by its inventors. After designing this small electric car, stage was set to test it and people kept their fingers crossed. Four drivers were assigned the task of driving it one after the other taking the appropriate intervals. Schluckpecht was on the 2,945 meter test track finally after the first charge. No one imagined that the driver had to spend more than more than a day and night in that electric car on the track. When one driver felt exhausted, he was replaced by another driver without halting the vehicle. The drivers literally jumped in and out of this car, while it was on the test track. Four drivers took turns before the car came to a halt. Schluckpecht covered 1,631.5 kilometers. Sounds incredible, but true. This is the first electric car to cover such a long distance in one go. Want to know the battery capacity of this electric car? It comes with a 23-kWh lithium-cobalt battery pack. Via: AutoblogGreen

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German EV travels more than 1000 miles on a single charge

Xenith: Stanford’s fastest solar car for World Solar Challenge

August 17, 2011 by  
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Snigdha Dalmiya: Stanford Solar Car Xenith Solar Car Brilliant minds at Stanford have been working on it for two years and the fruition is more than a sweet dream. It is the world’s fastest all-solar car ever. Called Xenith, this speedster is all set to cover the Australian outback solely on solar power. The structure consists of a huge panel exposed to the sun with an obscure drivers seat. This was a part of the preparation for the World Solar Challenge which is a 3000 km race from Darwin to Adelaide. Taking place between October 16-23, this race is conducted every two years and is vital in encouraging inventors and engineers to improve and perfect solar technology. The rules of the race include a stipulated time period for conceptualizing a solar vehicle design thereby pushing boundaries and expanding the scope of solar technology innovations. This Solar Challenge not only drives forth new era motor inventions but also packs in the fun and thrill of an all-out race. So sit back and get ready to behold one of the fastest Solar cars speeding through the Australian outback. Via: Zdnet

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Xenith: Stanford’s fastest solar car for World Solar Challenge

Robot Finds Recyclable Material Among Construction Waste

April 21, 2011 by  
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Currently, about 100 percent of construction waste ends up in landfills, although much of it could be recycled or reused.  A Finnish robotics company called ZenRobotics wants to change that.  It has created a robot to sort through construction waste and find recyclable material and deposit it in appropriate bins. The robot is essentially an arm with a gripper on the end that’s connected to a computer that provides metal detection, weight measurements, 3-D scanning, tactile feedback and spectrometer analysis to identify and sort the materials.  The robot is stationed by a conveyor belt where the materials are loaded.  As the material goes by, the robot picks it up, analyzes it and if the robot identifies the type, places it in the appropriate nearby bin.  If material isn’t recognized, it keeps traveling on the belt and is deemed trash. So far, the robot can correctly identify about half of the material it goes through, but there is huge potential for improvement as new measuring technology becomes available

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