The quest to create carbon-negative concrete

December 6, 2017 by  
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New technologies from Canadian companies CarbonCure and CarbiCrete are part of an XPRIZE focused on beneficial uses of carbon dioxide.

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The quest to create carbon-negative concrete

Utilities juggle approaches to power procurement

December 6, 2017 by  
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From batteries to blockchain, new technologies in the energy sector carry the potential to upend traditional infrastructure and business models. and business models.

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Utilities juggle approaches to power procurement

NREL’s solar-powered window breaks new ground with 11% efficiency

November 30, 2017 by  
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The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has revealed its prototype of a solar-powered “smart window,” which has broken new ground by achieving 11 percent efficiency, enough to potentially provide 80 percent of electricity needs in the United States. The NREL smart window is also able to lower building temperatures and generate electricity by changing the window’s appearance from clear to tinted. Not only does this decrease the amount of sunlight entering a building, thus lowering its heat intake, but also turns the windows into photovoltaic panels. Upon shifting to the darker, hazy view, the smart window then starts its energy production . “There is a fundamental tradeoff between a good window and a good solar cell,” said Lance Wheeler , a scientist at NREL. “This technology bypasses that. We have a good solar cell when there’s lots of sunshine and we have a good window when there’s not.” The smart window’s functionality depends upon advanced materials such as perovskite, a calcium titanium oxide mineral that is able to absorb sunlight and generate electricity, and single-walled carbon nanotubes, microscopic structures with incredible strength. While existing solar windows are typically not responsive to changes in sunlight, thus remaining at one set level of transparency, NREL’s prototype breaks new ground by demonstrating a dynamic ability to react to light conditions. Related: New silicon nanoparticles could finally make solar windows commercially viable The window’s ability to transform is made possible by molecules of methylamine, which move in and out of the window depending on the circumstances. When the sun heats up the window, the molecules are absorbed into it, darkening the window. When the sun is not shining directly on the window, the molecules are expelled, which makes the window transparent. In its solar panel form, the smart window has been able to achieve 11 percent efficiency in capturing solar energy and translating it into electricity. The research team at NREL believes that their smart window design could be used to charge mobile devices and on-board electronics such as fans, rain sensors and motors. While research is ongoing, the team is already focusing on how their design could be commercialized and made available to the public. Via Electrek and NREL Images via Dennis Schroeder/NREL and NREL

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NREL’s solar-powered window breaks new ground with 11% efficiency

19th-century church converted into gorgeous modern lofts in Brooklyn

November 30, 2017 by  
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This 19th-century church in Brooklyn was converted into a modern residential building that lets the original details of the historic structure shine through. The Bushwick church was gutted and turned into a series of daylit lofts available for rent through Nooklyn . Living units are spread over three stories, and they feature beautiful oak floors, antique arched windows, and gold mosaic ceilings. The Victorian Gothic church from the 1890s is located at 618 Bushwick Avenue, Brooklyn. Known as The Saint Marks, the conversion project offers 99 apartments with up to two bedrooms. The units come in different loft -inspired layouts, with large windows and high ceilings , hardwood floors and recessed lighting. Related: A massive London church is transformed into an extraordinary luxury home The developer removed the original spire due to structural instability and zoning rules. They introduced bike storage and onsite parking, central air conditioning in all units. The kitchens feature pale veneer cabinetry and stainless steel appliances. Some of the units, like the one shown in the images, have private decks as well. + Nooklyn Via Uncrate

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19th-century church converted into gorgeous modern lofts in Brooklyn

‘Geomagnetic spike’ 3,000 years ago could offer insight into Earth’s hidden interior

November 30, 2017 by  
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Earth’s magnetic field shields us from damaging radiation from the sun, but its strength and ability to protect us, is variable. Scientists uncovered details about a geomagnetic spike that happened around 1,000 BC that could alter our understanding of the magnetic field and the planet’s interior – and are exploring how a similar event might impact us if it occurred today. Scientists identified 1,000 BC’s geomagnetic spike after investigating copper from slag heaps in Jordan and Israel. They began to explore what Earth’s magnetic field might have been like way back then, and found something surprising: the copper recorded Earth’s magnetic field strength rising and then falling by more than 100 percent in 30 years. Related: Molten jet stream found hurtling through Earth’s core That research was published in 2010 , but University of Leeds lecturer Christopher Davies, in a piece for The Conversation , highlighted other discoveries since pointing to high field strengths around the same time in Turkey, China, and Georgia. Meanwhile, field strengths in Egypt, India, and Cyprus were normal – so the spike may have been only around 2,000 kilometers, or around 1,243 miles, wide. Davies wrote, “Such a rapid change over such a small area marks out the geomagnetic spike as one of the most extreme variations of Earth’s magnetic field ever recorded.” Researchers aren’t quite sure what caused the spike, but the flow of iron in the core could have played a role. That said, explaining the changes that came with the geomagnetic spike requires flows five to 10 times greater than what we observe today. “The prospect that the iron core could flow faster and change more suddenly than previously thought, together with the possibility that even more extreme spike-like events occurred in the past, is challenging some conventional views on the dynamics of Earth’s core,” Davies said. Spikes must be accompanied by weak spots, which is where geomagnetic storms tend to be prevalent. So if a spike happened today, part of the planet could see power outages or satellite disruption because of a geomagnetic storm. But Davies said it’s hard to say if another spike will happen – until recently, the Jordan spike was the only such event scientists had observed. There’s now some evidence a spike also occurred in Texas around 1,000 BC. Via The Conversation Images via NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Flickr and U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Joshua Garcia

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‘Geomagnetic spike’ 3,000 years ago could offer insight into Earth’s hidden interior

Do these oil and mining companies belong on CDP’s Climate A List?

November 20, 2017 by  
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Braskem, Galp Energia and Harmony Gold Mining are cutting emissions without science-based targets.

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Do these oil and mining companies belong on CDP’s Climate A List?

Tilling a transformative approach to crop and climate risks

November 20, 2017 by  
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What national planners, funders and the UNFCCC can do to ensure resiliency for global cash crops like coffee without harming poor communities.

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Tilling a transformative approach to crop and climate risks

Is blockchain the singularity point for the environment?

October 10, 2017 by  
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Applying blockchain to carbon credits to create a “carbon currency” is the key to demystifying and consolidating the carbon market so it can scale up.

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Is blockchain the singularity point for the environment?

Scientists warn CO2 from warming soils could lead to uncontrollable temperature rise

October 6, 2017 by  
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There’s a lot scientists don’t know about how global warming could impact Earth’s natural systems. Now, a 26-year-study of soil in Massachusetts’ Harvard Forest provides new insight. Researchers discovered warming soils are releasing more carbon than once thought, with the potential to lead to a tipping point , kicking off an uncontrollable increase in temperature . The scientists started the Harvard Forest experiments back in 1991. They scrutinized plots of soil, heating some to five degrees Celsius higher than normal levels with underground cables. Microbes played a role in the greater production of carbon. In the first 10 years, the scientists saw a spike in the carbon the heated plots released, and then there was a seven-year period when the release lessened – scientists think soil microbes were adjusting to the warmer conditions. But then the release of carbon increased again. The past three years has seen carbon release slow again, with researchers thinking microbes might be reorganizing. Related: Tipping points accelerated climate change in the last Ice Age, new research shows The heated plots lost around 17 percent of the carbon stored in the soil’s top 60 centimeters. Study lead author Jerry Melillo, of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts, said in a statement , “Each year, mostly from fossil fuel burning, we are releasing about 10 billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere …The world’s soils contain about 3,500 billion tons of carbon. If a significant amount of that is added to the atmosphere, due to microbial activity in warmer soils, that will accelerate the global warming process. And once this self-reinforcing feedback begins, there is no easy way to turn it off.” Daniel Meltcalfe of Lund University, who was not a part of the study, told The Guardian if the findings hold across other terrestrial ecosystems, a larger amount of soil carbon might be vulnerable to decomposition than we thought. The journal Science published the study today. Scientists from institutions in Massachusetts and New Hampshire contributed to the research. Via The Guardian Images via Daniel Spiess on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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Scientists warn CO2 from warming soils could lead to uncontrollable temperature rise

Elon Musk declares Tesla could rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid

October 6, 2017 by  
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Elon Musk, CEO and co-founder of Tesla , has made clear his company is willing and capable of rebuilding Puerto Rico’s power grid from the ground up. “The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world,” said Musk, “but there is no scalability limit so it can be done for Puerto Rico too. Such a decision would be in the hands of the Puerto Rico government, PUC (Public Utilities Commission), any commercial stakeholders and, most importantly, the people of Puerto Rico.” Most of the island’s power grid was destroyed and there is already discussion of rebuilding infrastructure to be more sustainable and resilient. This future-focused approach seems custom-fit for Tesla. In response to Musk’s offer , Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rossello tweeted, “Let’s talk. Do you want to show the world the power and scalability of your #TeslaTechnologies? PR could be that flagship project.” Tesla has already begun deploying its Powerpack energy-storage technology in Puerto Rico to bring critical infrastructure, such as emergency response centers, back online. The Powerpacks are paired with solar panels to provide sustainable, resilient on-site power generation and storage. The mission to reenergize Puerto Rico would involve similar technology but on a massive scale. Related: Tesla nears halfway mark on world’s largest battery installation in South Australia As Musk mentioned, Tesla already has experience building small-scale energy infrastructure using solar panels and Powerpacks on islands including Kauai and American Samoa. However, challenges remain. Although this modern infrastructure may be more resilient, it may still largely depend on power lines, which can be damaged by storms, and physical components like solar panels and wind turbines, both of which were damaged on Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria. Further, the people of Puerto Rico and their government may be more focused on surviving what has proven to be a very grueling recovery than reinventing their energy infrastructure. Nonetheless, proactive thinking now may very well lead to a more resilient Puerto Rico in a future filled with superstorms . Via Electrek Images via Tesla

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Elon Musk declares Tesla could rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid

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