7,000 methane gas bubbles in Siberia on the verge of exploding

March 22, 2017 by  
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Last summer researchers revealed crazy bubbling tundra in Siberia in a surreal video. Scientists believe the weird phenomenon is caused by methane released by melting permafrost . Now around 7,000 of those bubbles are getting ready to explode. The bursts could result in small potholes – or large craters . Researchers uncovered 15 bubbles causing the ground to lurch like a waterbed on Bely Island in Siberia last summer. Then scientists found around 7,000 more bubbles on the Gydan and Yamal peninsulas. Yamal Department for Science and Innovation director Alexey Titovsky recently told The Siberian Times, “With time the bubble explodes, releasing gas. This is how gigantic funnels form.” Related: Insane video shows Siberian ground bubbling like a “wobbling waterbed” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06Xc3LtZRWo Scientists think the mysterious craters – or funnels – are connected to climate change . They think when permafrost melts, it releases methane, which causes eruptions that then result in craters. That’s the theory, anyway – Titovsky said they’re continuing to research the bubbles. He told The Siberian Times, “We need to know which bumps are dangerous and which are not. Scientists are working on detecting and structuring signs of potential threat, like the maximum height of a bump and pressure that the earth can withstand.” According to The Siberian Times, scientists are making a map of Yamal’s underground gas bubbles, which could threaten infrastructure and transport in what the publication described as a key energy production region. The Russian Academy of Science’s Ural branch also connected thawing permafrost with the phenomenon. A spokesperson told The Siberian Times of the bubbles, “Their appearance at such high latitudes is most likely linked to thawing permafrost which is in turn linked to overall rise of temperature on the north of Eurasia during the last several decades. An abnormally warm summer in 2016 on the Yamal peninsula must have added to the process.” Researchers Dorothee Ehrich and Alexander Sokolov punctured one of the 15 bubbles found last year, and found the air escaping from the bumps included 20 times more carbon dioxide and 200 times more methane than nearby air, according to EcoWatch. Via EcoWatch and The Siberian Times Images via screenshot ( 1 , 2 )

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7,000 methane gas bubbles in Siberia on the verge of exploding

Dramatic disintegration of Canada permafrost threatens huge carbon release

March 3, 2017 by  
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Permafrost , or frozen soil , is rapidly collapsing across a 52,000 square mile area in northwest Canada – about the size of the entire state of Alabama. New research from the Northwest Territories Geological Survey (NTGS) finds the permafrost thaw is intensifying, a dramatic disintegration that could speed up climate change . When these slabs of Arctic permafrost collapse, they send silt and mud rich in carbon into waterways. The research shows the decay is resulting in landslides that could alter large swaths of landscape. Similar phenomenon have been noted in Scandinavia, Siberia, and Alaska. The new study sought to measure permafrost decay in Canada using satellite images and other data – and Steven Kokelj of NTGS, lead author of a paper published in February by Geology , said “things have really taken off” in the face of climate change. Scientists from universities in New Zealand and Canada also contributed to the research. Related: Alaskan permafrost could melt in the next 55 years, says world’s leading expert The scientists observed permafrost disintegrating in 40- to 60-mile stretches of the terrain, revealing “extensive landscapes [that] remain poised for climate-driven change.” Other research has suggested thawing permafrost could lead to the collapse of coastlines or creation of new lakes or valleys. All that silt and mud could affect fish and other species living in the waterways, limiting development of aquatic plants, but scientists still need to determine how exactly this added mud might impact fish. Also up for debate is how quickly the carbon in melted permafrost becomes carbon dioxide (CO2). Scientist Suzanne Tank of the University of Alberta told InsideClimate News the carbon in permafrost becomes coarse particles that don’t become CO2 right away. But Swedish researchers conducted a study suggesting soil particles are in fact converted rapidly to CO2 when the soil is carried along to the sea. Via InsideClimate News Images via Wikimedia Commons and U.S. Geological Survey on Flickr

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Dramatic disintegration of Canada permafrost threatens huge carbon release

How One Plant in India Learned to Turn Carbon into Baking Soda

February 23, 2017 by  
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As far as environmentalists are concerned, carbon dioxide and baking soda sit at entirely opposite ends of the eco spectrum. One is a greenhouse gas we have far too much of, an unfortunate by-product of our modern lifestyle; the other is a beloved…

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How One Plant in India Learned to Turn Carbon into Baking Soda

Powerful new Penn State battery turns waste CO2 into electricity

February 14, 2017 by  
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With so much excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, researchers from every corner of the globe are working on innovative ways to soak it up. Penn State University scientists have gone a step further with a powerful new battery that not only soaks up CO2, but also repurposes it to make more energy . Their pH-gradient flow cell battery is not the first of its kind, but it is the most powerful – take a closer look after the jump. In an article published by Environmental Science and Technology Letters , the Penn State researchers note the discrepancy between CO2 concentrations in regular air and exhaust gases created by fossil fuel combustion results in an “untapped energy source for producing electricity.” “One method of capturing this energy is dissolving CO2 gas into water and then converting the produced chemical potential energy into electrical power using an electrochemical system,” they write. While previous attempts to convert CO2 into electricity have been successful, the researchers say power densities were limited, and ion-exchange technology expensive. They said their ph-gradient flow cell battery is considerably more powerful. Related: Plants are keeping atmospheric CO2 levels stable, but it won’t last forever “In this approach, two identical supercapacitive manganese oxide electrodes were separated by a nonselective membrane and exposed to an aqueous buffer solution sparged with either CO2 gas or air,” they write. “This pH-gradient flow cell produced an average power density of 0.82 W/m2, which was nearly 200 times higher than values reported using previous approaches.” Engadget breaks this down for lay readers: “As ions are exchanged between the denser CO2 solution and normal air solution, the voltage changes at the manganese oxide electrodes in either tank. This stimulates the flow of electrons between the two connected electrodes and voilà: electricity.” They also report that the process can essentially be reversed to recharge the battery, and that Penn State was able to repeat this process 50 times without losing performance. For now, the researchers aren’t ready to scale their technology, but when they do, they envision it embedded in power plants, diverting atmospheric CO2, and slowly chipping away at one of the most epic challenges humans have ever faced: climate change . Via Engadget Images via Environmental Science and Technology Letters, Pexels

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Tiny power plant sucks CO2 from the air and turns it into fuel

November 11, 2016 by  
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Ineratec , an offshoot of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), has devised a creative solution to the excess carbon dioxide (CO2) soaking the atmosphere. The company developed a small power plant that sucks CO2 out of the air and turns it into fuel . Researchers aim to switch on a pilot plant, called the Soletair Project, at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland later this year. Ineratec’s mini power plant is so small it can fit inside a shipping container . KIT says there are three parts to the system: a microstructured reactor, a direct air capture unit created by VIT, and an electrolysis unit which runs on solar power created by Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT). The direct air capture unit extracts CO2 out of the air and then the reactor converts the CO2 and regenerative hydrogen via the electrolysis unit into fuel. The Ineratec founders say the system can produce gasoline, kerosene, or diesel. Related: Cutting-edge MIT research converts carbon emissions into usable liquid fuel Ineratec founder Tim Böltken told New Atlas, “We supply an entirely new, modular technology that is a real alternative to the costly large chemical facilities used for the conventional gas-to-liquid process.” Böltken said there are many other possible applications for the plant, including gathering fuel from sewage treatment facilities. He also suggested organic farmers might be able to use the system to generate energy. VTT Principal Scientist Pekka Simell said in a statement , “The project will produce expertise for enterprises in various fields, and it will result in a multidisciplinary industrial integration that no one company can achieve on its own.” VTT and LUT will build a demonstration plant set to being operating this year, and in 2017 LUT plans to continue testing. According to KIT, Ineratec is planning to commercialize the compact plant, which could hit the market in 2018. Via New Atlas Images via Ineratec and KIT

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Tiny power plant sucks CO2 from the air and turns it into fuel

CO2 levels likely to stay above 400ppm for the rest of our lives, new study shows

June 16, 2016 by  
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A new study reveals that carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the atmosphere are likely to remain above 400 parts per million (ppm) throughout this year and for many years to come. Scientists from the Met Office Hadley Centre and Scripps Institution of Oceanography scrutinized data from NOAA’s Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii and forecasted that levels would not dip below 400ppm for ‘our lifetimes.’ According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), CO2 concentrations of ” about 450ppm or lower are likely to maintain warming below 2 degrees Celsius over the 21st century relative to pre-industrial levels.” But lead author on the paper Richard Betts said we could pass that number in 20 years or less. He told the Guardian that even if we reduce emissions immediately, we might be able to delay reaching 450ppm but “it is still looking like a challenge to stay below 450ppm.” Related: Global CO2 concentrations exceed 400ppm ‘point of no return’ for first time Paper co-author Ralph Keeling said, “Back in September last year, we suspected that we were measuring CO2 concentrations below 400ppm for the last time. Now it is looking like this was indeed the case.” El Niño has played a role in climbing carbon dioxide levels, but we’ll likely see higher CO2 levels than the last large El Niño storm during 1997 and 1998 because ” manmade emissions ” have risen by 25 percent since that storm, according to The Guardian. Met Office experts are fairly confident in these projections. They predicted in November 2015 that in May 2016 “mean concentrations of atmospheric CO2” would hit 407.57ppm. The actual figure was 407.7ppm. During 2015, NOAA reported that the “annual growth rate” of C02 in the atmosphere rose by 3.05ppm . NOAA lead scientist Pieter Tans said “Carbon dioxide levels are increasing faster than they have in hundreds of thousands of years. It’s explosive compared to natural processes.” Via The Guardian Images via Rick Sharloch on Flickr and NOAA Photo Library on Flickr

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CO2 levels likely to stay above 400ppm for the rest of our lives, new study shows

The new Tate Modern designed by Herzog & de Meuron opens its doors

June 16, 2016 by  
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According to the Tate Modern , the Switch House is “the most important new cultural building to open in Britain since the British Library.” The Switch House will increase the size of Tate Modern by 60 percent with galleries, a panoramic viewing terrace, and the first permanent spaces for live art in old oil tanks. Building materials such as concrete, oak, and brick comprise the Switch House. High ceilings, spiral staircases, and tall thin windows add to the aesthetic. Related: Tate Modern’s Energy Efficient Redesign by Hertzog & de Meuron The Switch House will be the site of a new program Tate Modern is launching later in 2016 called the Tate Exchange. The ” open experiment ” will take over an entire floor and provide a space for innovative workshops and events. Tate Modern says 50 organizations will be part of the Tate Exchange, including artists, healthcare trusts, charities, universities, and community radio stations. Tate Director Nicholas Serota said it will be a “combination of the Open University, art school, TED talks, and Guardian debates, all wrapped into one.” The day before the museum opens to all, 3,000 schoolchildren from all around the UK will get to experience the Switch House. They will be the first members of the public to explore the building and artwork inside. Artist Bob and Roberta Smith will welcome the children. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said , “Bringing culture to this neglected area of London has transformed it.” Herzog & de Meuron designed Tate Modern’s Bankside Power Station conversion back in 2000 as well. + Tate Modern Via World Architecture News Photography by Iwan Baan

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The new Tate Modern designed by Herzog & de Meuron opens its doors

Icelandic power plant transforms carbon emissions into stone

June 10, 2016 by  
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In a world first, a team of engineers and scientists at Iceland’s Hellisheidi power plant have been able to capture carbon emissions and turn them into stone for storage. This new process, described in this week’s issue of the journal Science , involves mixing carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide released by the plant with water, and injecting the mixture into underground layers of basalt. Within months, the mixture is converted into rock-hard carbonate, safely storing the carbon and preventing it from entering the atmosphere. http://vimeo.com/119512256 The CarbFix Project brought together scientists from Columbia University, the University of Copenhagen, the University of Iceland, and Reykjavik Energy, the operator of the plant. Initially, scientists were concerned the process might take hundreds or thousands of years to occur naturally. Instead, large portions had mineralized into a stable form within a few months, and 95% completed the process within two years . The quick action of the process is promising — provided that a power plant is located in an area with easy access to layers of underground volcanic basalt. These conditions are perfectly suited to the seismically active landscape of Iceland, but might not work as well in other parts of the globe. Related: Crystal Compounds Used as Super-Efficient Carbon Storage Sponges There are other challenges to implementing this process widely. For one thing, the Hellisheidi plant is a geothermal energy facility, which uses turbines to process superheated water pumped from deep underground. Not only do these types of facilities produce far less carbon than a traditional coal-fired plant (only about 5%), they also have access to vast amounts of water which can be injected back underground. While sea water could be used to help sequester carbon in some facilities that burn fossil fuels , access to water may be a struggle in many regions. Still, there are many areas along the seafloors of the US coast where the process could easily be implemented. While the Hellisheidi plant has so far been able to process CO2 for about $30 per ton, it’s likely that a coal-fired power plant would end up spending closer to $130 per ton of carbon converted into stone. + The CarbFix Project Via Forbes Photos via The Earth Institute at Columbia University

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New desalination method from Qatar recycles waste brine and excess CO2 at the same time

June 7, 2016 by  
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Desalination now supplies the majority of clean drinking water in areas surrounding the Persian Gulf, but it’s no easy task and can actually make the seawater saltier. Meanwhile, as the oil and natural gas industries have grown in the region, so too has the carbon dioxide saturating the atmosphere. A chemical engineer at Qatar University has been working to solve both problems simultaneously, and an efficient solution has emerged that could change everything. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aysj7696b0A Farid Benyahia is the man with the plan. The chemist and his research team found a way to recycle waste brine from the process used to turn salty seawater into clean drinking water . The team retooled the 150-year-old chemical conversion method widely used to produce sodium carbonate for industrial applications, simplifying it from seven steps down to just two. Benyahia found that pure carbon dioxide , when mixed with the brine byproduct of desalination in the presence of ammonia, results in solid sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and ammonium chloride solution. Additional steps break the solution down into calcium chloride solution and ammonia gas, enabling the ammonia to be recycled to start the process all over again. Related: New atom-thick desalination filter slashes energy use by 20 percent “The goal is to solve two nasty environmental problems with one smart solution and generate useful, marketable products to offset partially the cost of storing CO2,” Benyahia told Scientific American. The simplified desalination process recycles waste brine and eliminates the need to flush the super salty solution back into the sea. By finding a way to put excess CO2 to use, Benyahia believes his new method could help offset the emissions created by a growing energy industry. On its own, this process is more expensive than other desalination methods, but capturing and utilizing industrial CO2 outputs could help bring the cost down, if the appropriate infrastructure is in place. Via Scientific American Images via John Twohig/Flickr and Qatar University

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New desalination method from Qatar recycles waste brine and excess CO2 at the same time

The surprising reason melting iceberg chunks slow down global warming

January 12, 2016 by  
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The Earth has shown us many different ways it tries to heal itself from the destruction we cause. It turns out large chunks of icebergs breaking off of Antarctica are actually countering the effects of global warming by providing sustenance for carbon dioxide-devouring algae blooms. While this can’t completely sop up our manmade emissions, it does create a sizable dent in addressing climate change . Read the rest of The surprising reason melting iceberg chunks slow down global warming

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