Human-produced mass now outweighs the Earth’s biomass

December 11, 2020 by  
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Research published in Nature revealed that human-made matter now outweighs the earth’s biomass. The research further shows that, on average, every person on Earth is responsible for creating matter equal to their own weight each week. The study, carried out by a team of researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, determined the overall impact of human activities on the planet. Researchers accounted for human activities such as the production of concrete , plastic, metals and bricks. The study also determined that the production of such materials has been on the rise due to increasing urbanization. According to the researchers, the mass of human-made products at the start of the 20th century was about 3% of the Earth’s biomass . However, due to increased urbanization and product consumption, human-produced weight now outweighs the overall global biomass. Researchers say that Earth is already at a tipping point, with the human-produced mass at 1.1 tetra-tons. This increase in human-produced mass means negative consequences for Earth. In fact, the study shows that an increase in human-produced mass correlates with a decrease in biomass. “Since the first agricultural revolution, humanity has roughly halved the mass of plants,” the authors wrote. “While modern agriculture utilizes an increasing land area for growing crops, the total mass of domesticated crops is vastly outweighed by the loss of plant mass resulting from deforestation, forest management, and other land-use changes. These trends in global biomass have affected the carbon cycle and human health.” The paper now suggests that this epoch should be named Anthropocene , implying that the earth is shaped by human activities. They say that the 21st century has been squarely shaped by human activities. Production of human-made objects has transformed Earth in a few centuries. Human activities continue shaping the Earth, with an increase in human-generated mass each year. “The face of Earth in the 21st century is affected in an unprecedented manner by the activities of humanity and the production and accumulation of human-made objects,” the researchers said. Today, human mass is produced at a rate of about 30 gigatons per year. If this rate continues, the weight of human-created mass will exceed 3 tetra tones by 2040. + Nature Via The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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Powerbarn is a bioenergy plant offering power to 84,000 families

March 3, 2020 by  
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In the rural commune of Russi in northeast Italy, Italian architecture firm Giovanni Vaccarini Architetti has converted an industrial zone once used for sugar production into the new grounds for the Powerbarn, a bioenergy production plant with a sculptural appearance. Inspired by eco-friendly principles, the architects crafted a masterplan that integrated the architecture into the farming landscape and restored and re-naturalized approximately 280,000 square meters — including three wetlands — for the benefit of the local ecosystem and community. Surrounded by human-made dunes to soften its appearance, the Powerbarn uses biomass, biogas and solar systems to generate an output of approximately 222 GWh a year — enough to satisfy the energy needs of 84,000 families. Once the site for the Eridania sugar factory, the former industrial property has long felt at odds with its agricultural surroundings. That’s why Giovanni Vaccarini Architetti paid special attention to the edges of the property, which the team has redefined with human-made dunes — rather than an industrial fence — constructed only from earth used from the construction site excavation. The vegetated dunes help soften the Powerbarn’s size; the main building that comprises the furnace and smoke line measures about 100 meters in length and over 30 meters in height. Related: Ski atop the world’s cleanest waste-to-energy plant in Copenhagen “Our intention was to create something similar to a natural bastion, almost a dune, along the edge of the area now converted into the pole for energy production — hence an element closely linked to the ecological functions of an environment,” Giovanni Vaccarini explained. “Not a barrier, but a functional element that would express our design intentions: to create a permeable, accessible and living element.” Inspired by the “razzle dazzle” camouflage technique, Vaccarini clad the Powerbarn in large triangular panels of timber and steel that also evoke the art of weaving and nomadic architecture. The masterplan also includes a building for offices, an electric substation and an area for wastewater collection. In addition to solar, the Powerbarn is fueled with wood chips and organic materials sourced within a 70-kilometer radius of the site along with livestock sewage that’s fed into the biogas plant. + Giovanni Vaccarini Architetti Photography by Massimo Crivellari via Giovanni Vaccarini Architetti

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Powerbarn is a bioenergy plant offering power to 84,000 families

Stakeholder engagement: How Enviva moved from crisis to collaboration

August 14, 2018 by  
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Facing criticism, the biomass company reached outward.

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This German village generates 500% more energy than it needs

April 5, 2017 by  
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Wildpoldsried , a Bavarian village of about 2,600 residents, is leading the way in Germany’s extraordinary renewable energy transformation . Over the past 18 years, the village has invested in a holistic range of renewable energy projects that include 4,983 kWp of photovoltaics , five biogas facilities, 11 wind turbines and a hydropower system. As a result, the village has gone beyond energy independence – and it now produces 500% more energy than it needs and profits from sales of the surplus power back to the grid. Renewable energy projects in Germany have gained enormous traction in recent years, propelled by government subsidies that are designed to lower costs, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and move the nation entirely away from nuclear power; this transformation is known as the Energiewende . As a result, Germans will soon be getting 30 percent of their power from renewable sources—that’s twice as much as U.S. households receive. On a local level, Wildpoldsried has far exceeded the successes seen across Germany. The villages’s commitment to renewable energy began in 1999, when the city council crafted a document titled “Wildpoldsried Innovativ Richtungsweisend” (WIR-2020, or Wildpoldsried Innovative Leadership). The document looked at how the town might encourage growth and invest in new community facilities without incurring debt. As Biocycle explains, the WIR-2020 contained three main areas of focus: “1) Renewable Energy and Saving Energy; 2) Ecological Construction of Buildings Using Ecological Building Materials (mainly wood-based); and 3) Protection of Water and Water Resources (both above and below ground) and Ecological Disposal of Wastewater.” Related: Renewables Recently Provided 74% of Germany’s Energy Demand Through these three areas of focus, Wildpoldsried sought to produce 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. But in a relatively small, engaged community where, as one resident explained , there is a notion of “thriftiness… I don’t need to buy what I can make,” the projects advanced much faster than anyone might have expected. By 2011, the village was producing 321 percent of the electricity it needed, and was receiving $5.7 million in payments for the surplus. The entire list of Wildpoldsreid’s projects is pretty remarkable: in addition to the five biogas plants, 4,983 kWp of photovoltaics, 11 wind turbines and the hydropower system, the town is also home to several municipal and residential biomass heating systems and 2,100 m² of solar thermal systems. Five private residences are heated by geothermal systems and passivhaus techniques have been used in some new construction. One is also likely to see a fair number of electric cars dotting about. Related: German State to Receive 100% Renewable Power This Year With such a diversity of renewable energy sources, the town operates a smart grid that, as Siemens explains “maintains the balance between energy production and consumption and keeps the power grid stable.” As Windpoldsreid’s Deputy Mayor, Günter Mögele, explained to the Financial Times : “I think people were surprised that the Energiewende is happening so fast,” and certainly it is not without it’s headaches for those looking at the issue on a national level. But Windpoldsried is a spectacular example of what can happen on a local level when residents and municipalities take matters into their own hands. + Windspoldried Lead image via Shutterstock

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Cambridge scientists use light and plants to make cheap, clean hydrogen

March 15, 2017 by  
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Everyone from startups to car companies as big as Toyota have seen the potential of hydrogen as a clean fuel source for vehicles, since its only byproduct is water. But hydrogen is often made with natural gas , which may be less polluting than oil but isn’t exactly clean, so six University of Cambridge scientists developed a way to make the fuel source using sunlight and biomass like leaves. The researchers created clean hydrogen with biomass as a starting point. They suspended biomass in alkaline water and added catalytic nanoparticles. In a laboratory, these components were placed in light mimicking light from the sun , and the nanoparticles got to work, using the light to begin the chemical reactions necessary to produce hydrogen from lignocellulose, part of plant biomass. The university notes the process is both sustainable and relatively cheap. The journal Nature Energy published their research online earlier this week. Related: Startup creates renewable hydrogen energy out of sunlight and water In the past, to turn lignocellulose into hydrogen scientists had to use high temperatures in a gasification process, but the Cambridge scientists say they could simply use sunlight in their method instead. Joint lead author David Wakerley pointed out biomass stores lots of chemical energy, but since it’s unrefined, it’s not feasible to just burn biomass in car engines, for example. He said, “Our system is able to convert the long, messy structures that make up biomass into hydrogen gas, which is much more useful.” The scientists were able to make hydrogen with leaves, paper, and wood. Co-author Erwin Reisner said, “Our sunlight-powered technology is exciting as it enables the production of clean hydrogen from unprocessed biomass under ambient conditions. We see it as a new and viable alternative to high temperature gasification and other renewable means of hydrogen production. Future development can be envisioned at any scale, from small scale devices for off-grid applications to industrial-scale plants.” A United Kingdom patent application has already been filed for the process and thanks to Cambridge Enterprise , which helps academics bring their concepts to market, discussions with a possible commercial partner are ongoing. Via New Atlas and the University of Cambridge Images via Wilerson S Andrade on Flickr and the University of Cambridge Department of Chemistry

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Israeli solar power plant to generate electricity around the clock

February 16, 2015 by  
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Israeli alternative energy company Brenmiller Energy has solved one of the biggest issues with solar technology — how to generate electricity when the sun sets. The Tel Aviv-based company announced on Monday that it will build a 10-megawatt solar facility in the Negev desert city of Dimona that will generate renewable electricity for around 20 hours per day through an energy storage technology the company has been developing for the past three years. Biomass will be used as a backup during the four hours when the solar power system is not generating electricity. Read the rest of Israeli solar power plant to generate electricity around the clock Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: biomass , Brenmiller Energy , energy storage , Israel , solar , solar power plant Dimona

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Is Apple working on its own electric car?

February 16, 2015 by  
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Tesla has done it. Nissan and GM are all over it. Is Apple doing it too? The future is here and, suddenly, it’s full of all sorts of talk about electric cars. That’s right, folks. Rumor has it, according to the Wall Street Journal , that Apple is developing an electric “minivan-like vehicle” of their own. Read the rest of Is Apple working on its own electric car? Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: apple , apple cars , apple electric car , apple electric minivan , apple project titan , apple secret projects , electric car makers , secret car projects

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Costa Rica’s Breathtaking Lapa Rios Eco Resort is Powered by Pig Waste

October 6, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of Costa Rica’s Breathtaking Lapa Rios Eco Resort is Powered by Pig Waste Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: biogas , biomass , bungalows , compost , composting , cooking , Costa Rica , Costa Rica eco hotel , Costa Rican Eco Resort , eco hotel , eco resort , eco-tourism , eco-travel , Ecoresort , ecotourism , green energy , heating , jungle , Lapa Rios , macaws , manure , manure power , methane , Organic , parrots , pig feces , pig poo , pig poo power , Pig Power , pig powered , pigs , Poo Power! , power , renewable energy , sustainable tourism

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Costa Rica’s Breathtaking Lapa Rios Eco Resort is Powered by Pig Waste

New Biomass Plant for the UK Looks Like a Giant Green Volcano

September 30, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of New Biomass Plant for the UK Looks Like a Giant Green Volcano Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: BEI-Teeside , BEI-Teesside plant , biomass , biomass plant , biomass power , biomass power plant , Heatherwick , Heatherwick Studio , Heatherwick Teesside , indigenous grass , low carbon technology , native grass , Teeside Power Plant , Teesside , Teesside biomass plant , Teesside UK , thomas heatherwick , UK , volcano , volcano biomass plant , volcano power plant

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New Biomass Plant for the UK Looks Like a Giant Green Volcano

Project Dome Could Power Copenhagen Using Energy From the Sun, Wind, Water, and Biomass!

August 22, 2014 by  
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Project Dome is a design proposal submitted to this year’s Land Art Generator Initiative design competition , a contest that solicits ideas for constructible regenerative architecture in Copenhagen. Designed by Tony Thomas of Rayworks Design Studio, M. Ephraim Thomas, and Saleena Thomas, Project Dome pulls out all the stops by proposing a design that harnesses power from four major renewable energy sources: solar, wind, underwater current, and biomass. Read the rest of Project Dome Could Power Copenhagen Using Energy From the Sun, Wind, Water, and Biomass! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “solar energy” , 2014 LAGI competition , 2014 land art generator initiative , biogas , biomass , copenhagen , lagi 2014 competition , land art generator initiative , M. Ephraim Thomas , Project dome , rayworks design studio , Refshaleøen , Saleena Thomas , semi transparent pv panels , tony Thomas , undercurrent energy , wind energy

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