MIT just discovered a way to mass produce graphene in large sheets

April 18, 2018 by  
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Scientists used to make graphene -based membranes in small batches in a laboratory. But a new breakthrough at MIT enables researchers to roll out large sheets of high-quality graphene. The continuous manufacturing process can produce five centimeters of high-quality graphene per minute. The longest run was nearly four hours, and it generated around 10 meters of continuous graphene. MIT is calling the development “the first demonstration of an industrial, scalable method for manufacturing high-quality graphene that is tailored for use in membranes that filter a variety of molecules.” These membranes could be utilized in biological separation or desalination , for example. The researchers drew from the common industrial roll-to-roll approach blended with chemical vapor deposition, a common graphene-fabrication technique. Related: Newly discovered property of graphene could lead to infinite clean energy Their system is comprised of two spools linked by a conveyor belt, which runs through a furnace. According to MIT, here’s how it works: “The first spool unfurls a long strip of copper foil, less than one centimeter wide. When it enters the furnace, the foil is fed through first one tube and then another, in a ‘split-zone’ design. While the foil rolls through the first tube, it heats up to a certain ideal temperature, at which point it is ready to roll through the second tube, where the scientists pump in a specified ratio of methane and hydrogen gas, which are deposited onto the heated foil to produce graphene.” MIT associate professor of mechanical engineering John Hart said, “In the end-to-end process, we would need to integrate more operations into the manufacturing line. For now, we’ve demonstrated that this process can be scaled up, and we hope this increases confidence and interest in graphene-based membrane technologies, and provides a pathway to commercialization.” The journal Applied Materials and Interfaces recently published the work; scientists from Vanderbilt University , the California Institute of Technology and the National University of Singapore contributed. + MIT News + Applied Materials and Interfaces Images via Christine Daniloff, MIT and courtesy of the researchers

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MIT just discovered a way to mass produce graphene in large sheets

95% of the world’s population breathes unsafe air

April 17, 2018 by  
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Are you breathing clean air ? A new air pollution study suggests you might not be. It found that almost 95 percent of people in the world live in areas with higher fine particle levels than the World Health Organization ‘s air quality guidelines. According to The Guardian , poor communities are taking the brunt of the burden. The Health Effects Institute recently published the State of Global Air/2018 report. They drew upon satellite data and improved monitoring to discover that the majority of us could be breathing unhealthy air. According to the report , “An estimated 95 percent of people live in areas where ambient (outdoor) fine particulate matter concentrations (small dust or soot particles in the air) exceed the World Health Organization’s Air Quality Guideline of 10 µg/m3. Almost 60 percent live in areas where fine particulate matter exceeds even the least stringent WHO interim air quality target of 35 µg/m3.” Related: New map reveals world’s most toxic countries The 2018 report also delves into household air pollution. More than one third of the world’s population is exposed to polluted air from the burning of solid fuels for heating or cooking indoors. Reportedly, “For them, fine particulate matter levels in the home can exceed the air quality guidelines by as much as 20 times.” Air pollution has been connected to sickness and early death — just last year, exposure to polluted air played a role in over six million deaths around the world, according to experts. Half of the deaths were in India and China . And the gap between the most and least polluted countries is increasing: it’s now 11-fold compared to six-fold in 1990, Health Effects Institute vice president Bob O’Keefe told The Guardian. But, he said even though countries may have a ways to go on cleaning the air, there are reasons for hope — such as India’s focus on electrification. O’Keefe said China “seems to be now moving aggressively,” as they put stronger controls in place and work to cut coal . You can explore the data from the State of Global Air/2018 on the report’s website . + State of Global Air/2018 Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1 , 2 )

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95% of the world’s population breathes unsafe air

Climate change is causing spring to come earlier in national parks

April 11, 2018 by  
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Each year, more than  1.5 million people attend the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. to glimpse a colorful sign of spring . But while this year’s peak bloom was in line with the 96-year average, over the long term spring is actually springing sooner — due to climate change . This change isn’t limited to the cherry blossoms, either; recently published maps from NASA Earth Observatory have revealed how much earlier the season is starting in national parks around America. The maps show the “rate of change (days per century since 1901)” for first leaf and first bloom, drawing on data published in 2016  by National Park Service (NPS) ecologists. NASA Earth Observatory looked at 276 parks to discover around three-quarters are experiencing earlier springs — and over half are seeing extreme early springs. Related: California’s super bloom is so gigantic you can see it from space The changes in national parks offer more evidence that climate change is happening now; according to NASA Earth Observatory, “…most parks are already experiencing and responding to climate-driven changes.” Parks have had to alter the timing of opening park facilities, hiring seasonal staff, and commencing control of invasive plants and pests. The National Cherry Blossom Festival has also been extended, so that it’s more likely for the peak bloom and the festival to overlap. According to the National Cherry Blossom Festival website, the event now takes place over four weekends , as opposed to the two weekends it lasted in 1994 (although the festival website didn’t specifically attribute the length to climate change). NPS climate change ecologist John Gross said, “Climate changes are affecting resources across the entire range of national parks. Earlier springs, as indicated by leaf and flowering dates, is one of the most obvious and easily understood effects of climate change.” The magnitude of change differs across the parks; for example, in Grand Canyon National Park , spring is appearing almost two weeks earlier than in 1901, according to NASA Earth Observatory. Conversely, some parts of the southeastern United States haven’t experienced as much change. + NASA Earth Observatory Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 ) and NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens , using data courtesy of Monahan, William B., et al. (2016)

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Climate change is causing spring to come earlier in national parks

Experts say we now have "clear evidence" cell phone radiation causes cancer in rats

April 3, 2018 by  
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Does cell phone radiation cause cancer ? There’s no firm answer to that question, but Quartz reported experts show, following three days of peer review sessions over two National Toxicology Program (NTP) draft reports, there is “clear evidence” phone radiation led to heart cancer in rats . NTP’s draft reports came out earlier in 2018; at that time a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) news release said, “High exposure to radiofrequency radiation (RFR) in rodents resulted in tumors in tissues surrounding nerves in the hearts of male rats, but not female rats or any mice,” and noted the expert review to take place over March 26 to 28 . Quartz said all the results were then described as equivocal — the scientists didn’t think their information was clear enough to pin down if radiation led to the health effects. Related: Images Show How Much Cell Phone Radiation We Bathe in Every Day Peer reviewers, including toxicologists, engineers, biostaticians, and brain and heart pathologists, scrutinized the data and upgraded multiple conclusions to “some evidence” or “clear evidence,” Quartz said. NTP exposed mice and rats to varying levels of RFR for as long as two years. NIEHS said, “The exposure levels used in the studies were equal to and higher than the highest level permitted for local tissue exposure in cell phone emissions today. Cell phones typically emit lower levels of RFR than the maximum level allowed.” We certainly can’t say for sure at this point that cell phone radiation causes cancer in humans. NTP senior scientist John Bucher said in NIEHS’ February news release, “The levels and duration of exposure to RFR were much greater than what people experience with even the highest level of cell phone use, and exposed the rodents’ whole bodies. So, these findings should not be directly extrapolated to human cell phone usage. We note, however, that the tumors we saw in these studies are similar to tumors previously reported in some studies of frequent cell phone users.” + National Toxicology Program Draft Reports + National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Via Quartz Images via Hassan OUAJBIR on Unsplash and Matthew Kane on Unsplash

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Experts say we now have "clear evidence" cell phone radiation causes cancer in rats

Huge graveyards of abandoned bikes are piling up in China after sharing craze reaches peak

April 2, 2018 by  
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Bike-sharing took off in China , where many city dwellers battle smog and bikes offered a potential clean alternative. Now, without the infrastructure to support them, and an over-saturation in the sharing market, abandoned bikes have piled into massive graveyards in cities like Shanghai and Beijing  – forcing us to ask: are bicycles polluting metropolises they were intended to aid? The Atlantic reported  bike sharing growth surpassed demand and  Deutsche Welle (DW) said  that bikes are piling up into massive graveyards. 16 to 18 million bikes hit streets in China from around 60 companies, TIME said , and most cities weren’t prepared to handle the influx. There aren’t any set docking stations or bike stands, so most bikes are just parked on the side of the road, according to the publication. Back in December, Fortune reported the co-founder of bike-share startup Ofo , Zhang Siding, said, “The bike-sharing phenomenon has grown very quickly in the last few years, but the layout and infrastructure [of] cities in China aren’t something that can be changed as quickly to accommodate this new trend.” Related: China’s largest bike share launches air-purifying bicycles for 20 million citizens Bike graveyards have grown as some bike-sharing companies fold, and their surplus bicycles sprawl in vacant lots. DW said police now have to gather unwanted vehicles from roads and parks, and pile them in fields out of city centers. According to Fortune, last year Ofo launched a credit score system: users would be penalized for antisocial behavior like traffic violations or bike dumping, and rewarded for positive behavior, like reporting damaged or lost bikes. If users’ points were all deducted, they’d be barred from the service. They were also reportedly working with interest groups in cities to come up with new strategies — for example, in Guangzhou, traffic wardens or local groups can send feedback to the company if bikes are accumulating and Zhang said, “we’ll send people down to deal with it.” Health and air quality benefits are still present with bike-sharing, and The Atlantic said the trend is still popular, and bike-sharing will likely keep growing — just maybe at a slightly more sustainable rate. Via The Atlantic , TIME , Deutsche Welle , and Fortune Images via Philip Cohen on Flickr , Chris on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Huge graveyards of abandoned bikes are piling up in China after sharing craze reaches peak

Elon Musk’s Boring Company to sell life-size ‘LEGO-like’ bricks dug from the earth

March 27, 2018 by  
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People signed up in droves to buy hats and flamethrowers from The Boring Company , and founder Elon Musk isn’t stopping there. He just announced his latest idea on Twitter : kits of massive interlocking bricks made from tunneling rock . The first kit will be inspired by ancient Egypt — think pyramids or a Sphinx. New Boring Company merch coming soon. Lifesize LEGO-like interlocking bricks made from tunneling rock that you can use to create sculptures & buildings. Rated for California seismic loads, so super strong, but bored in the middle, like an aircraft wing spar, so not heavy. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 26, 2018 LEGO -like bricks could be the next merchandise out of The Boring Company . Musk said the life-size building materials would be strong enough to stand up to a California earthquake, but not heavy, as they’ll be “bored in the middle.” Ever wanted a Temple of Horus in your backyard? Maybe The Boring Company’s kits could make that possible. First kit set will be ancient Egypt — pyramids, Sphinx, temple of Horus, etc — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 26, 2018 Related: You can now buy your own Elon Musk ‘Boring Company’ flamethrower Musk didn’t specify the dimensions of the bricks or structures created with the kits on Twitter. But when asked if these bricks could be utilized for affordable housing , he said the bricks feature “a precise surface finish” and two people could erect a small house’s outer walls in around one day with the materials. When asked about environmental impact, Musk said , “Uhh, it’s literally made of rock.” Further details are still thin — like price or when the kits might be available for purchase — but Musk did say they plan to ship them around the world. And they said I’d never be a rock star … — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 27, 2018 The Verge pointed out The Boring Company has been considering what do to with excavated dirt for a while — the company’s Frequently Asked Questions page said they are “investigating technologies that will recycle the earth into useful bricks to be used to build structures.” They even cited the pyramids as inspiration. Musk has raked in millions of dollars from Boring Company merchandise already. If the flamethrowers and hats were any indication, he could sell thousands of these kit sets as well. + Elon Musk Twitter Via The Verge Images via The Boring Company and Wikimedia Commons

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Elon Musk’s Boring Company to sell life-size ‘LEGO-like’ bricks dug from the earth

You can buy this private Scottish island starting at 250,000

January 31, 2018 by  
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In the market for a private island ? One off the coast of Shetland is on sale through Vladi Private Islands starting at £250,000 – and it hasn’t had any human inhabitants since 1934. The island of Linga is around 63.75 acres, and planning consent includes “a windmill and solar panels for power.” Photo via www.vladi-private-islands.de Could this private island be your next getaway? Linga may not be tropical, but Vladi Private Islands describes it as “a place of spectacular scenery and beauty.” Sheep are among the island’s current dwellers – with no humans to be found. Two roofless stone cottages on the island have been approved for renovation. Vladi Private Islands said there’s planning consent for a new cottage, a pier, new agricultural buildings and a storage shed, septic tanks with reed beds, and “a two-acre loch with traditional watermill.” The cottage and shed roofs could be set up for rainwater collection . Photo via www.vladi-private-islands.de Photo via www.vladi-private-islands.de Linga is located on Shetland’s west side. The subarctic island would be best for those who aren’t afraid of a little chilly weather: temperatures average around 39 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter, and 55 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. The town of Walls (population 978) is a 1,600-foot boat trip away, although The Spaces points out you’ll have to supply your own boat. And you can catch a flight into Lerwick, the capital of Shetland, from places like Edinburgh and Glasgow, and then a 35 minute or so drive will get you to Walls. Linga is accessible year-round, and it’s located in the Vaila Sound. You can learn more about the private island on Vladi Private Islands’ website here . + Vladi Private Islands + Private Island off the coast of Shetland Via Curbed and The Spaces Images courtesy of Vladi Private Islands Photo via www.vladi-private-islands.de

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You can buy this private Scottish island starting at 250,000

Earthship pioneer Michael Reynolds is building the first sustainable school in Argentina

January 31, 2018 by  
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Architect Michael Reynolds is known for his sustainable “ Earthship ” buildings – and how he’s taking his radical work one step further by instilling the principles of green architecture in the next generation. Reynolds’ latest project is an ultra-green public elementary school made out of repurposed materials. The building is set in a remote Buenos Aires town, where Reynolds will teach students from around the world the basics of self-sustaining architecture. Working in collaboration with Una Escuela Sustentable – whose objective is to build a sustainable public school in every Latin American country – Reynolds will construct a sustainable elementary school in Mar Chiquita, a remote area outside of Buenos Aires. He will work with students from around the world to build the school, focusing on green design principles, construction methods, and philosophy. Related: Michael Reynolds Lands One of His Self-Sufficient Earthships at the End of the World Reynolds has worked with the program before, most notably in Jaureguiberry, Uruguay where he built an incredible school out of reclaimed materials with a team of students. Slated to begin construction in March 2018, the Mar Chiquita building will measure just under 3,000 square feet and it will be built in just seven weeks. The project will utilize Reynolds’ six core Earthship building principles – including recycled and repurposed materials, thermal/solar heating and cooling, water harvesting and contained sewage treatment. The school will also have an onsite food production area. You can help support the project by donating to the Mar Chiquita funding campaign on Indiegogo + Michael Reynolds Via Platforma Arquitectura Images via Una Escuela Sustentable

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Earthship pioneer Michael Reynolds is building the first sustainable school in Argentina

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