Fukushima robot finds lava-like deposits thought to be melted nuclear fuel

July 24, 2017 by  
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Six years after the Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns, there’s still a lot of cleanup to be done. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) deployed an underwater robot to assess damage inside the Unit 3 reactor in Japan last week, and the robot obtained images of debris that might be melted nuclear fuel. In some areas, the debris was around three-feet-thick. The robot captured eerie footage of the damaged reactor at Fukushima, spotting what could be melted fuel. It found what the Associated Press described as solidified lava -like lumps and rocks inside the pedestal that rests beneath the core in the Primary Containment Vessel. In some places the fuel was mixed with broken reactor pieces, hinting at a difficult cleanup to come. The multiple-day exploration started last Wednesday and finished over the weekend. Related: Fukushima radiation levels at highest since 2011 disaster TEPCO spokesperson Takahiro Kimoto told the Associated Press they now have to analyze the debris seen in the robot-captured images before they can figure out how to remove it. According to The Guardian, the reactor can’t be decommissioned until all the nuclear fuel has been found and removed – a process that could still span decades. It hasn’t been easy to search for melted fuel at Fukushima due to high radiation levels and damage. TEPCO said the expedition would help them gain a clearer picture of conditions at the damaged reactors that will aid them in cleanup efforts. The International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning developed the robot, which was inserted into the Primary Containment Vessel through what TEPCO described as a pipe designed to guard against radioactive gas escaping. Thrusters on the robot enabled it to move around through the cooling water that’s accumulated inside the structure since 2011. The robot also had front and rear cameras. Via The Guardian and TEPCO Images via International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning/TEPCO

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Fukushima robot finds lava-like deposits thought to be melted nuclear fuel

Hyundai’s new emissions-free bus travels 180 miles on just one hour of charging

June 2, 2017 by  
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It isn’t just passenger vehicles  going green  these days – mass transit is jumping on the zero-emissions bandwagon. Hyundai just unveiled its first mass-produced electric bus called the Elec City . After one hour of charging, the bus can travel 180 miles thanks to a 256kWh battery pack. Best of all, the company’s first emissions-free vehicle will be available for order in 2018. According to a report from Yonhap news agency , the company has embraced green innovation “to diversify its lineup with environmentally friendly vehicles and enhance its brand image in global markets where clean modes of transportation have emerged a key point in auto manufacturing.” Hyundai launched the bus at the Truck & Bus Mega Fair, a local commercial vehicle exhibition. Tak Yeong-duck, senior vice president of Hyundai’s Commercial Vehicle R&D Division, admits that the Elec Bus has its flaws, but says it will undoubtedly become more efficient as  electric vehicle technology is improved upon. He said, “There still remain things to be improved in terms of the charging infrastructure for pure electric vehicles. But we have decided to launch the Elec City next year as the government plans to increase the number of charging stations in the coming years.” Related: The world’s fastest charging electric bus powers up in 10 seconds flat The sleek electric bus is estimated to cost more than 200 million won ($179,000 USD), and that price does not factor in the central government’s subsidy worth 100 million won. It has not been confirmed, either, if the company will sell the Elec City (which took eight years to develop) in the United States. If Hyundai does make the emission-free bus available in the U.S., it will face some fierce competition. Chinese manufacturer BYD has sold electric buses in California , as has the Canadian company GreenPower . Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also considered developing an electric bus and knowing his ambition, it might just happen. Now that Hyundai has unveiled its first emissions-free vehicle, it has a new goal of improving the fuel efficiency of its commercial vehicles up to 30 percent by 2020. Additionally, the company aims to sell 105,000 commercial vehicles in global markets, up from 102,000 units sold in 2016. According to recent reports, Hyundai may even release a long-range electric vehicle in 2018 – keep an eye out for that. + Elec City Via Yonhap News Agency Images via Elec City

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Hyundai’s new emissions-free bus travels 180 miles on just one hour of charging

China claims major energy breakthrough with ‘flammable ice’

May 19, 2017 by  
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China has claimed a major energy breakthrough, but its eco credentials are dubious at best. Researchers say they managed to extract gas from flammable ice in the South China Sea. A frozen mix of natural gas and water known as methane hydrates, the ‘breakthrough’ is expected to revolutionize the future of energy . We’re not sure that’s a good idea. Flammable ice could be our planet’s final great source of carbon-based fuel , according to the BBC. Vast deposits can be found under essentially every ocean. But it’s incredibly difficult to extract gas from flammable ice – in part because it catches fire so easily – a lighter held up next to the ice will do the trick. Related: Japan Successfully Taps ‘Flammable Ice’ as an Energy Source for the First Time Japan so far has led the way in working to mine the potential energy source, but China’s latest efforts could mark a milestone on the path to extracting gas from methane hydrates. Chinese media said the country had succeeded in extracting an average of 16,000 cubic meters of gas per day in the South China Sea. Scientist Praveen Linga of the National University of Singapore told the BBC, “Compared with the results we have seen from Japanese research, the Chinese scientists have managed to extract much more gas in their efforts. So in that sense it is indeed a major step towards making gas extraction from methane hydrates viable.” But Linga warns extraction must be done carefully. Methane could escape from the methane hydrates during extraction, which could harm the planet as methane holds greater potential to affect climate change than carbon dioxide, according to the BBC. It’s hard to tell if flammable ice extraction will fall into the pitfalls of the oil and gas industry, with greed taking precedence over our planet. The BBC also described flammable ice as a very energy intensive source of fuel. Linga says there’s still a long way to go, and he said realistic commercial options might be ready in 2025 at the earliest. Via the BBC Images via William Winters, USGS and U.S. Geological Survey on Flickr

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China claims major energy breakthrough with ‘flammable ice’

Scientists may have found evidence for a parallel universe

May 19, 2017 by  
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A parallel universe may not just be a quirk of science fiction anymore; scientists think they may have found evidence for the idea of a universe other than our own. It all has to do with a strange Cold Spot, which researchers haven’t had an easy time explaining; some even suggest it could actually be an optical illusion. But new research reveals something far more bizarre may be going on. NASA first discovered the baffling Cold Spot in 2004. The Cold Spot is 1.8 billion light years across and, as you may have guessed, colder than what surrounds it in the universe. Scientists thought perhaps it was colder because it had 10,000 less galaxies than other regions of similar size. They even thought perhaps the Cold Spot was just a trick of the light. Related: ‘Largest-ever’ new map of universe shows 1.2 million galaxies But now an international team of researchers think perhaps the Cold Spot could actually offer evidence for the concept of a multiverse. The Guardian explains an infinite number of universes make up a multiverse; each having its own reality different from ours. These scientists say they’ve ruled out the last-ditch optical illusion idea. Instead, they think our universe may have collided with another in what News.com.au described as something like a car crash; the impact could have pushed energy away from an area of space to result in the Cold Spot. Physicist Tom Shanks of the University of Durham said in a statement , “We can’t entirely rule out that the Spot is caused by an unlikely fluctuation explained by the standard model. But if that isn’t the answer, then there are more exotic explanations. Perhaps the most exciting of these is that the Cold Spot was caused by a collision between our universe and another bubble universe.” If more research backs up this new idea, “…then the Cold Spot might be taken as the first evidence for the multiverse – and billions of other universes may exist like our own.” Eight scientists from institutions in the United Kingdom, Chile, Spain, and the United States collaborated on a study recently published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society . Via The Independent , News.com.au , and The Guardian Images via Pexels and Pixabay

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Scientists may have found evidence for a parallel universe

Portland plans to replace diesel using waste methane from sewage

May 2, 2017 by  
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Portland is searching for alternative sources of energy in unlikely places – including the city’s sewage treatment plants. New infrastructure at the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant will allow the city to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) for use in trucks, instead of diesel . The plan could allow Portland to slash their greenhouse gas emissions by 21,000 tons every year. Bacteria decomposing solid waste at the sewage plant produce methane , a greenhouse gas that can also be turned into a hydrocarbon fuel . The Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant has been capturing that waste methane since 2008, but, until now, have only been able to collect around 77 percent of it, which is used to generate electricity or sold. The other 23 percent is flared off, emitting climate change -inducing greenhouse gases. Now the city aims to recover 100 percent of the methane. Related: Portland commits to 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2050 The captured waste methane will be converted into RNG, replacing 1.34 million gallons of diesel fuel, according to the city. 154 garbage trucks a year are expected to run on that amount of energy. The whole project will cost around $12 million. City commissioner Nick Fish said in a statement, “We are creating a triple win for the public in terms of revenue, climate action , and cleaner air. The renewable natural gas we will produce is truly local and homegrown, a by-product of the waste from every Portland household that we can now repurpose.” The fueling station should be complete by the end of this year, and the fuel will be used in city trucks. Then in 2018 the city will start selling the fuel for distribution through utility company NW Natural . By reusing a waste product and cutting pollution , Portland expects to earn $3 million each year. Via The City of Portland and Autoblog Images via The City of Portland and Wikimedia Commons

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Portland plans to replace diesel using waste methane from sewage

Alabama governor declares state of emergency after deadly gas pipeline explosion

November 2, 2016 by  
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Earlier this week near Helena, Alabama there was a fire and explosion at a gasoline pipeline operated by Colonial Pipeline Co . One worker perished in the blast, which injured around five other workers. Yesterday Governor of Alabama Robert Bentley announced a state of emergency  as a result of the explosion. The Colonial Pipeline at 5,500 miles long is the biggest pipeline system carrying refined products like jet fuel, gasoline , and diesel in America, according to Reuters. The pipeline can carry three million gallons of these products between the New York Harbor and the Gulf Coast. The explosion happened when workers hit a line with a track hoe, a type of excavator, and occurred in a wildlife area that is unincorporated. Related: 700 barrels of crude oil spill in California as pipeline breaks This isn’t the first incident Colonial Pipeline has faced; as recently as September a pipeline leak spilled an estimated 252,000 to 336,000 gallons of gasoline. The spill was the largest in almost 20 years, and interrupted pipeline operations for 12 days. In his statement on the October explosion, Governor Bentley said the operation the workers were performing at the time of the explosion “was necessary to install a permanent repair required by the previous pipeline rupture.” The governor announced a state of emergency spanning from November 1 to December 1 ” unless sooner terminated ” in a statement. The declaration will enable the state to receive a U.S. Department of Transportation waiver lifting the government’s “limitation on the hours a driver can transport gasoline.” Fuel companies and shippers are concerned they won’t receive the fuel they need. In the Southeast, millions of Americans may not receive as much gasoline, and the explosion could even affect the Northeast as well. Colonial Pipeline said they might open the pipeline again as soon as Saturday. They may also attempt to send the refined products via other parts of the pipeline. On their website Colonial Pipeline advertises their ” system integrity ” and says “Safety, environmental stewardship, and first-class customer service drive our operating philosophy.” Via Reuters ( 1 , 2 ) Images via screenshot

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Alabama governor declares state of emergency after deadly gas pipeline explosion

7 Fuel-Efficient Car Options That Aren’t Hybrids

October 3, 2016 by  
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I’ve learned from renting cars and going on road trips with friends that the fuel economy of different vehicles varies widely. Although some of this relates to the condition of a car, such as having deflated tires or a clogged air filter,…

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7 Fuel-Efficient Car Options That Aren’t Hybrids

Nissan is making the world’s first solid-oxide fuel cell vehicle

August 17, 2016 by  
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Nissan is the official sponsor of this summer’s Rio 2016 Olympics and, in addition to contributing a fleet of cars for the games, the automaker has revealed the world’s first solid-oxide fuel-cell vehicle. Nissan’s new e-Bio Fuel-Cell prototype doesn’t rely on hydrogen like today’s fuel cell vehicles and instead runs on ethanol and ethanol-blended water. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HF-eE8pRzMw The e-Bio Fuel-Cell prototype vehicle runs on 100-percent ethanol or ethanol-blended water to charge its 24kWh battery that gives the fuel-cell van a cruising range of more than 373 miles. If the prototype looks familiar, it should since the e-Bio Fuel-Cell is based on the e-NV200. According to Nissan, it chose to create the e-Bio Fuel-Cell prototype because bio-ethanol fuels, which are mainly sourced from sugarcane and corn, are widely available. Due to the easy availability of ethanol and ethanol-blended water, the system is not heavily restricted by the existing charging infrastructure, making it easy to introduce to the market. Related: Nissan is gifting gilded Leaf EVs to winning Olympic Athletes Nissan president and CEO Carlos Ghosn stated: “The e-Bio Fuel-Cell offers eco-friendly transportation and creates opportunities for regional energy production…all the while supporting the existing infrastructure. In the future, the e-Bio Fuel-Cell will become even more user-friendly. Ethanol-blended water is easier and safer to handle than most other fuels. Without the need to create new infrastructure, it has great potential to drive market growth.” Nissan will conduct further field tests on public roads in Brazil using the prototype. + Nissan All images @ Nissan

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Nissan is making the world’s first solid-oxide fuel cell vehicle

Peak number of coal plants are shutting down in 2015, ushering in a greener era

May 21, 2015 by  
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In 2014, 39 percent of American electricity  was generated from the burning of coal, down from 52.8 percent from 1997. Though the fuel source has steadily declined from its late 20th century peak due to competition with other energy sources and increased enforcement of environmental safety measures, the coal industry still maintains great economic and political power. However, Big Coal may face its biggest challenge yet as the EPA implements new regulations governing greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, coal plants are shutting down at an impressive rate. Read the rest of Peak number of coal plants are shutting down in 2015, ushering in a greener era Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Climate Change , climate regulations , coal , coal mining , coal power , coal power shutdown , epa , greenhouse gas emissions , greenhouse gas regulations , mitch mcconnell , War on Coal

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Peak number of coal plants are shutting down in 2015, ushering in a greener era

FRIDAEL “Woodgas” Stoves Use Garden Waste for Fuel

October 1, 2014 by  
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Cooking outdoors is a wonderful, primal experience, but most camping stoves run on propane or other fossil fuels, which are horrible for the environment we’re trying to protect. Enter the FRIDAEL “woodgas” stove , which runs on wood chips, pine cones, and twigs , so you can use sweepings from your own garden to fuel your cookout or garden party. Its design ensures that the wood is burned efficiently, with hardly any smoke produced in the process. Additionally, the only by-product created is wood ash, which makes a great fertilizer for your garden! This type of mini wood stove is also ideal to keep on hand for emergency situations : as long as you have access to the outdoors, you can gather all the fuel you need from treed areas and gardens nearby instead of worrying about dwindling gas or oil supplies. + FRIDAEL The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: ash , camping stove , fertilizer , FRIDAEL , garden , garden detritus , natural fuel , pine cones , pinecones , portable camping stove , portable outdoor stove , portable stove , sustainable fuel , wood chips , wood-burning stove , woodgas , woodgas stove

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FRIDAEL “Woodgas” Stoves Use Garden Waste for Fuel

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