NET Power’s zero-emissions natural gas plant could change the game

June 4, 2018 by  
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Last week, NET Power officially began operations at its 50-megawatt, emissions-free  natural gas power plant in La Porte, Texas . If all goes well, the plant’s design could pave the way to a cleaner energy future. Instead of using air to drive a turbine and generate electricity, the plant uses heated carbon dioxide; the pure carbon dioxide emissions are then captured and stored rather than released into the atmosphere. Testing thus far has proven to be positive. “We’re still smiling,” lead designer and chemical engineer Rodney Allam told Nature . The goal is for NET Power’s technology to be as effective and affordable as conventional, emissions-producing natural gas production, but with added benefits for the environment and the company. Designed by Toshiba, the plant’s innovative turbine and carbon capture system is capable of storing carbon long-term or for use in other industrial applications. For example, nitrogen and argon captured in the process could be contained and transferred elsewhere. NET Power claims that its plant is so efficient that it will become profitable before it even starts to sell captured gases. Related: Nuns build open-air chapel to protest natural gas pipeline on their land “If the plant does everything they say, it’s hard to imagine why you would want to build a traditional power plant,” atmospheric scientist Daniel Cohan told Nature . “But there are still a lot of ifs ahead.” The major imminent challenge is refining the combustion process for oxygen and methane , which must contend with carbon dioxide, typically an inhibitor of combustion. The company is otherwise on track to deliver, with a 300-megawatt power plant potentially being built by 2021. The company’s plan is to achieve clean, profitable natural gas energy without the assistance of subsidies, which can be subject to the whims of changing governments in Congress and the White House.” We don’t like to rely on policy around here, we like to rely on science,” NET Power CEO Bill Brown told Nature . Via Nature Images via NetPower

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NET Power’s zero-emissions natural gas plant could change the game

Bee Saving Paper "works like an energy drink for bees"

June 4, 2018 by  
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Urban development and industrialization hasn’t been great for bees — they have to fly longer distances, which has played a role in their declines, according to the initiative City Bees. The initiative’s  Bee Saving Paper  offers a juicy solution: biodegradable paper that functions like a bee energy drink. Out of 469 bee species in Poland, 222 are on the verge of extinction, and the sad story is similar around the world. City Bees teamed up with Saatchi & Saatchi IS Warsaw , Manufaktura Papieru Czerpanego w Koby?ce , paper craftsmen and entomology experts to create Bee Saving Paper, a bee-friendly product with many uses: bags, coffee cup sleeves, picnic plates and more. Related: Vacant lots are being transformed into urban bee farms in Detroit How does this product work? It’s created with what the initiative called an energy-rich glucose that won’t make the paper sticky but is appealing for the buzzing insects . Seeds from the Lacy Phacelia plant are also incorporated in the paper . Finally, a water-based UV paint helps attract bees to the paper; the paint is applied in a pattern of what bees see as red circles, similar to how they view meadows. The designers hope bees consume the glucose and collect the Lacy Phacelia seeds to redistribute them so they grow into flowers . “We’ve managed to develop and produce what is probably the first paper nature would not only like you to use, but maybe even to drop,” project senior creatives Tomasz Bujok and Anna Gadecka said. “We know our innovation won’t solve the worldwide problem of the declining bee population by itself, but we hope we’ll at least make people realize how important bees are to us.” Bee Saving Paper has been tested in the field by a beekeeper , the team said, and they’re ready to work with large brands and mass-produce the paper. You can find out more on their website . + Bee Saving Paper Images via Bee Saving Paper

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Bee Saving Paper "works like an energy drink for bees"

Climate change has transformed much of Alaska over the past three decades

June 4, 2018 by  
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Climate change disproportionately impacts the Arctic, where rising global temperatures wrought by the burning of fossil fuels have brought rapid, fundamental changes to places like Alaska. In a new study published in Global Change Biology , researchers conclude that 67,000 square miles of land in Alaska, 13 percent of the total land, have been affected over the past three decades. The land has been impacted by what the study calls ‘directional change,’ in which a location has experienced fundamental change in its ecology from historic levels. For example, some areas have become greener and wetter and others have dried out as glaciers shrink and wildfires rage across the state. Even trees have shifted, with treelines moving farther north to adjust to a warming Arctic. To study the drastic changes in Alaska , scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey used satellite and aerial imagery integrated with field data to create a mapping algorithm that assesses the level of change throughout the state. The study analyzed 540,000 square miles of land, noting the various kinds of changes in different Alaskan ecosystems. Near the tundra, the environment is becoming greener as trees and other plants spread beyond their traditional northern border. Meanwhile, interior forests are drying out, resulting in increased and more intense wildfires, which the researchers conclude is the greatest factor in Alaska’s ecological change. “What impressed me [was] how extensive and influential the fires were,” study co-author Bruce Wylie told Earther . Related: One-third of the world’s protected areas face ‘shocking’ human impact Climate change has also disrupted the state’s historic water patterns. Melting permafrost has led to depressions, allowing wetlands to form in unusual places. This has also exacerbated erosion along the coasts, which are being tested by an ever-shorter season of sea ice. The comprehensive study of these varied changes may be helpful as scientists and policymakers plan for Alaska’s future. “Now with this study we have spatially explicit interpretations of the changes on the land, with specific drivers identified and attributed to the changes,” NASA carbon cycle scientist Peter Griffith told Earther . However, there is still so much more to learn. The study’s results, limited by available technology and resources, do not tell the whole story. + Global Change Biology Via Earther Images via Depositphotos and USGS

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Climate change has transformed much of Alaska over the past three decades

The US could realize its 2030 emissions targets as early as this year

July 5, 2016 by  
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After analyzing recent Energy Information Administration (EIA) data, a professor from Rice University realized the U.S. could potentially realize its 2030 emissions targets as early as this year. Coal’s downslide combined with warmer winter temperatures have led to less carbon emissions so far. If coal doesn’t rebound, we could be on track to meet the 2030 goals over a decade early. In 2016, coal production tanked 29 percent compared to the same timeframe in 2015. Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Daniel Cohan said if coal production remains so low, America could see a 32 percent carbon emissions reduction from 2005 levels. That’s the exact goal established in the Clean Power Plan (CPP). Related: The good and the bad of the EIA’s International Energy Outlook report Cohan told Forbes, “If we end up just a few percent away from the 2030 target this year, it becomes tough to argue that CPP is unattainable or too costly.” Coal production has dipped due in part to cheap prices for natural gas . While natural gas is still a fossil fuel , and not a longterm solution, when burned natural gas emits about half the carbon as coal. The EIA doesn’t think we’ll reach the 2030 targets, but they have lowered emissions estimates multiple times as they received more data on coal use. The agency has overestimated coal use and the price of renewables in the past. Their most recent data even indicates there was a larger stockpile of coal than usual in March due to the warmer winter. The warm winter and low natural gas prices aren’t the only factors that account for the promising trend to reach the 2030 goals. Cohan said diverse renewable energy technologies have also played a part in changing energy markets. He said, “Common sense can recognize that coal-laden trains from Wyoming, or even gas fracked from shale fields, will struggle to compete with direct-delivered breezes and sunshine as renewable technologies cheapen.” Via Forbes Images via Jennifer Woodard Maderazo on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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The US could realize its 2030 emissions targets as early as this year

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