Revolutionary solar paint creates endless energy from water vapor

June 15, 2017 by  
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Researchers at  RMIT University in Melbourne have created a revolutionary new  solar paint that can be used to produce endless amounts of clean energy. The innovate paint draws moisture from the air and splits it into oxygen and hydrogen. As a result, hydrogen can be captured as a clean fuel source. The paint contains a recently-developed compound that looks and feels like silica gel — commonly used in sachets to absorb moisture and keep food, electronics, and medicine dry — but acts like a semiconductor. Additionally, the synthetic molybdenum-sulphide material catalysis the splitting of water atoms into hydrogen and oxygen. The researchers’ discovery was recently  published  in Science Daily. Lead researcher Dr. Torben Daeneke elaborated on the invention, saying, “We found that mixing the compound with titanium oxide particles leads to a sunlight-absorbing paint that produces hydrogen fuel from solar energy and moist air.” According to colleague Professor Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, hydrogen is the cleanest source of energy on the planet and can be used in fuel cells in addition to conventional combustion engines as an alternative to fossil fuels . Because of this, it is accurate to say that the development of the solar paint will have grand implications. Related: Mercedes Benz Unveils Hybrid Car Powered by Solar Paint In fact, because Titanium oxide is the same white pigment commonly found in wall paint when it is combined with the new material, the solar paint can “convert a brick wall into an energy harvesting and fuel production real estate,” said Daeneke. This means there is no need for filtered or clean water to feed the system. And, any location that has water vapor in the air — including remote areas — can produce fuel. “This system can also be used in very dry but hot climates near oceans. The sea water is evaporated by the hot sunlight and the vapour can then be absorbed to produce fuel,” said Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh. “This is an extraordinary concept — making fuel from the sun and water vapour in the air.” Via Science Daily Image via UnderstandSolar

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Revolutionary solar paint creates endless energy from water vapor

What’s next for the Paris Accord

June 5, 2017 by  
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What happens to the Paris Climate Agreement now that the leader of the world’s second biggest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions has signaled his intent to withdraw from the landmark accord? We take a closer look at the consequences of Donald Trump’s decision to rescind US efforts to limit global warming in accordance with the 2015 agreement. President Donald Trump is a showman and his press conference was political theater for the 61 million Americans who voted him into office last November. The reality is that the withdrawal process could take up to four years to complete and Trump could be exiting the White House before he exits the Paris Accord if he doesn’t win reelection. The other reality is that, thanks to Senate Republicans who would never ratify the Paris Accord as a treaty, in order to push it past the finish line with the US onboard, the deal had to be “non-binding,” meaning all actions are voluntary. Related: Trump announces U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement By declaring its intent to withdraw from the Paris Accord, the US joins Syria and Nicaragua in refusing the deal. It should be noted that Nicaragua didn’t join the agreement because it didn’t go far enough in emissions reductions for the Central American nation. Minus the US, a total of  194 countries have signed and 147 parties have ratified the accord , representing 66 percent of global emissions. The accord entered into force on November 4, 2016 — 30 days after at least 55 parties representing at least 55 percent of global emissions joined. While it certainly could be argued that Trump has damaged America’s standing in the international community, it is not so clear that Trump has actually hurt the Paris Accord, Actually, there are indications that Trump’s announcement is having the opposite effect, with countries, cities and corporations redoubling their commitments to the Paris Accord and greenhouse gas emission reductions. Many experts believe that since Trump was never serious about committing the US to climate action, that his decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord could actually free up other world leaders to draft an even stronger agreement with enforcement mechanisms not possible with a Republican-ruled Senate in the US. Australian climate scientist Luke Kemp told The New York Times, “I worry that letting the United States just stay in the agreement and do whatever it wants could show how weak Paris is. It sends the message that the agreement is more about symbolism than action.” CHINA AND EU TAKING THE LEAD With Trump ceding US leadership on climate, China and the European Union are stepping in to fill the power vacuum. In a joint statement following Trump’s announcement, China and the EU — backed by all 28 EU member states — reaffirmed their commitment to full implementation of the Paris climate deal. The statement, the first between the EU and China, commited to cutting back on fossil fuels and increasing development of green technologies. Related: China says they’ll stay in the Paris Agreement – with or without Trump “The EU and China consider climate action and the clean energy transition an imperative more important than ever,” the statement reads. “The increasing impacts of climate change require a decisive response.” CITIES, STATES AND BUSINESSES STEPPING UP A group that so far includes 30 mayors, three governors, more than 80 university presidents and more than 100 businesses is negotiating with the United Nations to have their climate contributions accepted alongside other nations who have signed onto the accord. The Democratic governors of California, Washington and New York formed the US Climate Alliance to reaffirm their commitment to the Paris Accord after Trump’s announcement. It isn’t only Democrats defying Trump — Charlie Baker, the popular Republican governor of Massachusetts, said on Friday that he was joining the US Climate Alliance . Related: US states and cities say they’re sticking to the Paris Accord without Trump “As the commonwealth reiterates its commitment to exceed the emission reduction targets of the Paris Climate Agreement, today we join the U.S. Climate Alliance to expand our efforts while partnering with other states to combat climate change,” Baker said in a statement, adding that the initiative aims “to protect the environment, grow the economy and deliver a brighter future to the next generation.” Also after Trump’s announcement, 187 mayors representing more than 52 million Americans and some of the largest US cities, stated their intention to individually join the Paris Accord and work together on stronger climate change mitigation measures and transitioning to the 21st century clean energy economy. Cities around the world protested Trump pulling out of the Paris accord, including Tel Aviv, which lit up city hall in green lights . “We need to take responsibility for the next generation,” Mayor Ron Huldai said in a statement posted to Facebook. “That means, among other things, continuing to research, learn and act on the quality of the environment and the climate.” Major corporations are also on board with the Paris Accord — 95 of the world’s largest companies have commited to 100 percent renewables, including Google, Walmart and Nike. GREEN TECHNOLOGIES GETTING CHEAPER The price of solar, wind, batteries and other green technologies are dropping fast, leading to increased integration into the electricity grid. In 2016, the amount of new solar power coming online nearly doubled from the previous year — enough to power 2 million homes. Related: The sweet moment California got a record 50% of its electricity from solar Republican-ruled states are leading the renewables revolution. Kansas tripled its wind power production between 2011 and 2015. Wyoming leads the nation with 1,600 watts of new renewable energy capacity per capita being built. Nevada leads the nation in new solar power jobs while North Dakota leads in new wind power jobs. The conservative town of Georgetown, Texas is on track to be 100 percent renewable energy this year, becoming the largest US city to achieve the clean energy goal. Dale Ross, the mayor of Georgetown, admits “it’s the reddest of cities, in the reddest of states…but we put national politics aside to do our best for the people we’re elected to serve.” Images via Wikipedia 1 , 2 , 3 , 4  and White House Archives

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What’s next for the Paris Accord

Mirrored shipping container building reflects its natural surroundings in Taipei

June 5, 2017 by  
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We use mirrors to reflect on ourselves – but this mirrored building in Taipei asks us to reflect on how we interact with our environment. B+P Architects transformed an old shipping container into a shining art annex in New Taipei City that blends in with its surroundings while challenging viewers to question their relationship to nature. The project, titled “Within The Reflection : THE ARK of ART” establishes diversified environments for creativity using mirror-polished stainless steel. Its aim is to create a space where neighboring communities can learn about aesthetics. The architects chose to put the container at the far end of a boulevard in order to preserve the serenity and peace as integral parts of the project. Related: “Reflect London” conceals Covent Garden construction with a dazzling mirror display Mirrored buildings like Doug Aitken’s Mirage House and this beautiful reflective cafe in Japan by Bandesign are captivating examples of architecture blending into its surroundings and accentuating the beauty of nature. Mirror-polished stainless steel boards that cover the building allow the large box-shaped volume to be concealed in the reflections of the surrounding environment. Another aspect of the use of mirror-like surfaces is to stimulate students to rethink the relationship between themselves and their environments. + B+P Architects Via Archinect Photos by Hung-Yu Lin, WENYA Studio

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Mirrored shipping container building reflects its natural surroundings in Taipei

World’s first commercial carbon-sucking plant goes live in Zurich

May 31, 2017 by  
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Carbon capture is essential to the fight against climate change and keeping temperatures below a two-degree-Celsius increase, according to Swiss-based Climeworks . For a few years now they’ve been working on technology to suck carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and sell it to agriculture or energy industries for reuse. And now they’ve finally switched on the final product – the world’s first Direct Air Capture (DAC) commercial plant on top of a waste recovery facility in Zurich, Switzerland . Atop a municipal-run waste incineration facility in Zurich, Climeworks installed their DAC plant, which is comprised of three stacked shipping containers with six carbon collectors. Fans suck ambient air into the collectors, and a filter takes in CO2. Waste heat will power the groundbreaking plant. Climeworks will send the captured CO2 to a greenhouse – every single year they’ll be able to supply 900 metric tons. They’ll be able to continuously supply the CO2 to the greenhouse via an underground pipeline. Related: The world’s first carbon capture plant can convert CO2 into usable energy In a statement, managing director and co-founder Christoph Gebald said, “Highly scalable negative emission technologies are crucial if we are to stay below the two degree target of the international community.” And the CO2 won’t go to waste. Greenhouses aren’t the only entities that can utilize CO2; it could carbonate drinks or become carbon-neutral hydrocarbon fuel. The automotive and food industries could benefit from the CO2 Climeworks captures. Their ultimate goal is to capture one percent of all carbon emissions in the world by 2025. To do that, co-founder and director Jan Wurzbacher estimates they’ll need to install 750,000 shipping containers filled with their C02 collectors. He says that is the same amount of shipping containers that pass through the harbor in Shanghai during a two week period, so it’s a target the global economy could handle. Climeworks says their modular plants could be deployed just about anywhere. + Climeworks Via Climeworks and Fast Company Images via screenshot and Climeworks Facebook

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World’s first commercial carbon-sucking plant goes live in Zurich

India cancels plans for coal power stations as solar prices hit record low

May 26, 2017 by  
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India has canceled plans to construct nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations in the country as prices for solar electricity “free fall” to levels once considered impossible, The Independent reports. Experts expect a profound shift in global energy markets as the cost of solar has dropped by 25 percent in some regions. Tim Buckley, the director of energy finance studies at the IEEFA, explains that 13.7GW of coal power projects have been canceled just this month. He added that the dip in solar prices is so low, it will never be repeated. A few factors have contributed to the decline in solar prices. Reportedly, the price of photovoltaic panels — which account for a major percentage of solar power plant’s costs — have dropped by a staggering 30 percent in the past year. This has helped lower prices. Additionally, the Narendra Modi government is working hard to “assure private renewables developers by backing a payment security mechanism,” according to Scroll . For instance, the Solar Energy Corporation of India , the country’s largest solar power purchases, was included in an agreement last year between the Central government, the Reserve Bank of India and the state government. This safeguards it against payment defaults — which is important, as power distribution compares are reportedly notorious for delayed payment to renewable energy producers. Overaggressive bidding is also resulting in a decline in prices, according to The Independent. An auction for a 500-megawatt solar facility, for example, resulted in a tariff of just 2.44 rupees compared to a wholesale price charged by a major coal power utility of 3.2 rupees. That’s a 31 percent difference. Related: Chile’s solar price hits record global low – at half the price of coal “For the first time solar is cheaper than coal in India and the implications this has for transforming global energy markets is profound,” said Buckley. “Measures taken by the Indian Government to improve energy efficiency coupled with ambitious renewable energy targets and the plummeting cost of solar has had an impact on existing as well as proposed coal -fired power plants, rendering an increasing number as financially unviable.” What India is witnessing, says the analyst, is a further indication of the “rise of stranded assets across the Indian power generation sector.” He added, “The caliber of the global financial institutions who are bidding into India’s solar power infrastructure tenders is a strong endorsement of India’s leadership in this energy transformation and will have significant ripple effects into other transforming markets, as is already seen in the UAE, South Africa, Australia, Chile, and Mexico.” In 2017, India’s solar-generation capacity is expected to reach 8.8 gigawatts – a 76 percent increase from 2016. According to renewable energy consultancy Bridge To India, that will make the country the third-largest solar market in the world. Via The Independent Images via Pixabay

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India cancels plans for coal power stations as solar prices hit record low

China subverts pollution with contained vertical farms – and boosts yield

May 26, 2017 by  
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Around one fifth of arable land in China is contaminated with levels of toxins greater than government standards, according to 2014 data. That’s around half the size of California, and it’s a growing problem for a country that faces such levels of pollution they had to import $31.2 billion of soybeans in 2015 – a 43 percent increase since 2008. Scientists and entrepreneurs are working to come up with answers to growing edible food in a polluted environment, and shipping container farms or vertical gardening could offer answers. The toxins in China’s environment have made their way into the country’s food supply. In 2013, the Guangdong province government said 44 percent of rice sampled in their region contained excessive cadmium. Around 14 percent of domestic grain contains heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and cadmium, according to research from scientists in 2015. Related: Arctic town grows fresh produce in shipping container vertical garden Could shipping container farms offer a way around this contamination? Beijing startup Alesca Life Technologies is testing them out. They turn retrofitted shipping containers into gardens filled to the brim with arugula, peas, kale, and mustard greens, and monitor conditions remotely via an app. They’ve already been able to sell smaller portable versions of the gardens to a division of a group managing luxury hotels in Beijing and the Dubai royal family. Alesca Life co-founder Stuart Oda told Bloomberg, “ Agriculture has not really innovated materially in the past 10,000 years. The future of farming – to us – is urban .” And they’re not alone in their innovation. Scientist Yang Qichang of the Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development in Agriculture at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences is experimenting with a crop laboratory, testing which light from the visible light spectrum both helps plants flourish and uses little energy . His self-contained, vertical system already yields between 40 and 100 times more produce than an open field of similar size. He told Bloomberg, “Using vertical agriculture, we don’t need to use pesticides and we can use less chemical fertilizers – and produce safe food.” Via Bloomberg Images via Alesca Life Technologies

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The world’s most compact electric bike folds to fit into your backpack

May 25, 2017 by  
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Forget traditional bikes or skateboards – the future of green transportation is the Smacircle S1 , an incredibly compact and lightweight electric bike that can be folded up and carried in your backpack. Introduced to the world via an IndieGoGo campaign , the invention has surpassed its startup goal by 281% – and it’s not difficult to comprehend why. The carbon fiber S1 eBike can be folded in five simple steps and can travel up to 12.4 mph. Additionally, though it only weighs 15.4 lbs, the eBike can hold 220 lbs. According to the founders of the Smacircle S1, the road-legal ergonomic design folds to 19-inches and, with a 240W motor, can propel commuters in quick fashion without the need to pedal. On a single charge, the eBike can deliver a distance of 12 miles. After being plugged into any domestic power socket for 2.5 hours, it is ready to go again. The invention is road-legal and provides both front and side lights to make it highly visible to vehicles, pedestrians and other cyclists on the road. Electric brakes allow the bike to quickly stop to prevent accidents. The S1 automatically syncs to your smartphone when you approach, and an app unlocks the eBike. This feature prevents the invention from being stolen, as the accelerator deactivates until the original owner unlocks the S1. Other features of the app include the ability to adjust the lights’ intensity, track routes traveled and monitor speed and battery life. Once they’re rolling, commuters can attach their phones to the handlebars to keep the device fully charged, thanks to a built-in USB charger. Related: Make Your Own Electric Bicycle With the Ultimate DIY Ebike Guide The initial crowdfunding goal was set at $30,000 – but the project surpassed its goal by 281% in just five days. According to the founders, the next crowdfunding campaign will attempt to reach $300,000 to “put the next generation eBike into mass production.” The starting price for an S1 eBike is $1,499. + Smacircle S1 Images via Smacircle S1 IndieGoGo campaign

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Worlds largest floating solar farm is now generating energy in China

May 25, 2017 by  
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A 40-megawatt solar farm in the South Anhui province of China is finally online and generating renewable energy . Larger than floating farms in Australia and India, the mass of solar panels is the largest in the world can produce enough clean energy to power homes in the area. Though the city of Huainan is known for its coal-rich land, the Chinese government decided to invest in a floating solar farm because the rainy weather has resulted in flooding. In certain areas, water is four to ten meters deep. The cooler air at the surface helps to minimize the risk of the solar panels overheating. As a result, a decrease in performance is prevented. As Daily Commercial News  reports , the panels are linked up to a central inverter and combiner box. Both are supplied by Sungrow and are customized to work with floating power plants. This ensures they are resistant to high levels of humidity and spray from the water. Related: How a small tribe in Nevada shut down coal and built a solar farm A spokesperson for the government said, “The plant in Huainan not only makes full use of this area, reducing the demand for land, but also improves generation due to the cooling effects of the surface.” China may be one of the most polluted countries on the planet, but the government is investing in green energy initiatives to offset that reputation. Now that Huainan is home to the world’s largest floating solar farm , it is likely to become a leader in renewable energy production. + Sungrow Via  Daily Commercial News Images via Sungrow , Pixabay

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Worlds largest floating solar farm is now generating energy in China

Gogoro launches Smartscooter 2 with better handling, brighter headlights, and extra storage

May 25, 2017 by  
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Groundbreaking transportation company Gogoro is at it again. Today, they are expanding their innovative scooter family with the Gogoro 2 Smartscooter. The new scooter will appeal to even more people, thanks to better ergonomics, more storage and seating space and customizability options. If you haven’t heard of Gogoro , the Taiwan-based company is kind of like the Tesla of two-wheeled transportation, with smart electric scooters, home batteries and a battery-swapping infrastructure that is changing the face of urban transportation. The Gogoro 2 has all the features that makes the original Smartscooter great, but it adds more comfort, safety and control. It features a 6.4 kilowatt G2 motor with a high-performance electric powertrain with both Smart and Sport modes, so you can choose between range or speed. Related: Paris launches electric scooter sharing program with Coup and Gogoro The Smartscooter 2 introduces more seating and storage, so it is more comfortable and convenient to ride. It also has better handling, a new Synchronized Braking System and is just as easy to maintain as the original. The LED lighting also gets an upgrade, along with a new color dashboard with a full LED display. You can also mount your device to the new dashboard for real-time riding info. And if you want to make your scooter all your own, you can choose from 6 exterior colors, 50+ accessories, and dynamically tune dashboard colors, sound themes and lighting patterns. And, of course, you get access to the Gogoro Energy Network. Pricing starts at $1,295 in Taiwan after government subsidies, and the scooter comes in two models – The Gogoro 2 and the Gogoro 2 Plus – so you can choose how much you want to spend. + Gogoro

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Gogoro launches Smartscooter 2 with better handling, brighter headlights, and extra storage

New biodegradable semiconductor could make e-waste a thing of the past

May 8, 2017 by  
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50 million tons of electronics are expected to be trashed this year, according to a United Nations Environment Program report . A Stanford University team was concerned over the escalating epidemic of e-waste , so they created a semiconductor – a component in most of our electronics – that can actually be broken down with a weak acid such as vinegar. Nine Stanford researchers, joined by one scientist from Hewlett Packard Labs and two engineers from the University of California, Santa Barbara , set out to rethink electronics. Engineer Zhenan Bao, who heads up the Bao Research Group at Stanford, said they found inspiration from human skin . Skin stretches, can heal itself, and is ultimately biodegradable . The researchers wanted to take these characteristics and apply them to electronics. Related: INFOGRAPHIC: The dangerous untold story of e-waste They created a flexible polymer able to decompose. Postdoctoral fellow Ting Lei said it’s the first ever “semiconductive polymer that can decompose.” But that’s just one part of a semiconductor. The team also designed a degradable electronic circuit and a biodegradable substrate material. They used iron – a nontoxic, environmentally friendly product – instead of the gold usually used for electronic components. They made a paper-like substrate with cellulose ; the transparent substrate allows the semiconductor to adhere to rough or smooth surfaces, like onto an avocado as seen in the picture above or on human skin. The semiconductor could even be implanted inside a body. According to Stanford, “When the electronic device is no longer needed, the whole thing can biodegrade into nontoxic components.” The team envisions a number of uses for their semiconductors, like in wearable electronics . They could be made into patches allowing people to track their blood pressure, for example, or could be dropped via plane into a forest to survey the landscape, and eventually they would biodegrade instead of littering the environment . The journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America published the research online the beginning of May. Via Stanford University and New Atlas Images via Stanford University/Bao lab

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New biodegradable semiconductor could make e-waste a thing of the past

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