Chernobyl reactor covered by world’s largest-ever moveable metal structure

November 29, 2016 by  
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Dealing with the remnants of a nuclear disaster is no easy task. As a case in point, take a look at the Chernobyl reactor, where the world’s largest moveable metal structure is about to seal the plant’s fourth reactor for decades to come. Seeker reports that Ukrainian authorities are about to unveil an arch nearly as long as two football fields and taller than the Statue of Liberty to cover the crumbling remains of Reactor Number Four’s contaminated structure. The goal is to help keep future generations across Europe safe from the nuclear radiation that continues to emanate from the reactor that melted down over 30 years ago. According to Seeker , Chernobyl remains the world’s worst civil nuclear accident , having spread contamination throughout the Ukraine and 75 percent of Europe after an experimental safety check gone wrong caused an explosion and subsequent meltdown that spewed radiation out into the atmosphere. The death toll from the event ranges from about 4,000 to 100,000 depending on whom you ask – due to a cover-up by Russian authorities after the disaster. Ukrainian authorities now keep a 30-kilometer exclusion zone around the facility, but concerns over the crumbling concrete dome built to contain the reactor after the meltdown have led to $2.2 billion in funding from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for the massive new protective structure – which is badly needed. Related: China is building a giant solar plant at Chernobyl “Radioactive dust inside the structure is being blown out through the cracks,” said Sergiy Paskevych of Ukraine’s Institute of Nuclear Power Plant Safety Problems. Paskevych also noted that the existing structure could crumble under extreme weather. “This would especially be a potential problem if there was a tornado or an earthquake.” The new covering is designed to hold up to tremors as great as 6.0 on the Richter scale, and tornados stronger than the region is ever likely to see. The arch took three weeks of careful work to put in place, and contains special equipment to help disassemble the structure from inside. But there are no plans yet to deal with the real problem of the leftover nuclear fuel. Via Seeker Images via Tim Porter , Wikimedia Commons and mattsh , Flickr Creative Commons

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Chernobyl reactor covered by world’s largest-ever moveable metal structure

IKEA’s Lena Pripp-Kovac talks to Inhabitat about their sustainability program

November 29, 2016 by  
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IKEA is working hard to create an environment that can help everyone live a sustainable life. That’s why they say “to change everything, we need everyone.” So far, the company has set aside one billion dollars to move the company toward not just becoming energy positive by 2020, using solar and wind, but also to invest in people and a sustainable supply chain. We sat down with Lena Pripp-Kovack, Sustainability Manager of Range and Supply for IKEA of Sweden in Älmhult, where IKEA’s first store popped up in 1958, to talk all about how IKEA is changing the world for the better—one EKTROP sofa at a time. Inhabitat: Tell us about your role at IKEA Lena Pripp-Kovac : My responsibility is range and supply from a sustainability point of view. Sustainability has two parts. One is building sustainably, which is the materials we use, how they were produced and how they were transported. The other is the function of the product, which means, does this product actually contribute to a more sustainable life at home? The way we think about it is that there is a built-in function and a function that actually provides for a more sustainable life. Are there any exciting projects going on at IKEA that you want to share with us? Lena Pripp-Kovac: A lot of the things we are working on right now have to do with circularity: prolonging the life of products and prolonging the life of materials. We work closely with our suppliers and the whole supply chain, and we spend a lot of time investing in research to determine how to use materials from secondary sources. I don’t want to call it waste because it is actually a resource. That’s why we work today with an increasing number of recycled materials, even using our own waste. So we collect waste from our stores and produce new products. We also look into how to design products today to prolong their lifespan. We think we’ve come far, but we still think we can reduce a lot in terms of material use. Then we have our bigger goals for the company, which is to become fully renewably powered. We have, I think, 700,000 solar panels now, and we are working with our suppliers who also have energy saving goals and renewable energy plans. We are investing 1.5 billion euros in renewable energy; our goal is to be energy positive by 2020. We are also on a journey to transform our cotton to be more sustainable. Last year we reached the goal of ensuring that all of our cotton, no matter where it is sourced, is now more sustainable than previous sources. The next step is to find other alternatives for textiles; we believe that a lot more things will come from wood. The transformation of materials I think is the next big thing for IKEA from here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7ENnyudY6w And then you go over to sustainability at home, which is more about behavior. We just had a meeting with lots of people around what’s an attractive sustainable lifestyle. That I find interesting. What does it mean to have a sustainable life? You hear a lot about the big solar and wind projects at IKEA, but how are you making the more behind-the-scenes things, like textiles, more sustainable? Lena Pripp-Kovac: The textile journey is a big one. The first goal we had was to source all the cotton from more sustainable sources. That required that we consolidate our supply chain, and it changed the way we look at dyeing and water treatment plants. This is very critical. The Better Cotton Initiative is based on working with farmers on the ground to reduce fertilizers, reduce pesticides, change the water irrigation system, and ensure that farmers get better yields and money – the social aspect of things. We started working on this 10 years ago because we knew it would take time to transform things with farmers. If we went out and said we’d only buy organic, we would buy everything on the market and no one else would have the availability, so it didn’t transform conventional cotton. Which is the biggest part of the problem. We actually felt that the biggest change we could make was to transform the conventional cotton to be better than just buying organic cotton. Which means when you go into an IKEA store it is very seldom that you see a collection that says that this “the” sustainable collection. Because we believe in three things: one, we should have the greatest possible impact. We want to make things efficient and innovate, since we have the capacity to do that, and provide greater access to people with thin wallets. The last part is extremely important. If sustainability is expensive and only for people with big wallets, we don’t define it as sustainable. Low prices ensure access to (all) people. You also have to make sure that does not equal disposable. That’s more about the behavior than the product itself. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNvUeb3OoVY How is IKEA working towards making the supply chain and workers’ lives better? Lena Pripp-Kovac: What makes us different is that when you ask someone how many suppliers they think we have, they often think thousands and thousands and thousands. But we have around – last year we calculated about 978 suppliers in furniture – and we work very long term. The average time is 10 or 11 years. We always said when we pick a supplier it should be a strategic fit and we should stay with them for a long time. The first thing we do is work with our IWAY code of conduct , which sets conditions like fair wages and safety and environmental requirements on the factory floor. When that is done we do an audit; we have 90 auditors that are trained – they trace forests, or go into factories to do an audit. We also have a little team of calibration auditors who make sure we all audit the same way. That is our ongoing schedule. We audit usually once a year, always unannounced, but we are also present every month at the supplier in case something comes up very visibly for IKEA people. We also have third party auditors to see that we are true to our own self. Our third party auditor finds the same results. On a third level, we also have unannounced audits, which means that we at IKEA don’t know [when they will happen], nor does the supplier know. The third party just shows up. Then we both get the results and discuss them. It’s of course important that you don’t just see that as police activity – it is a result that we share and go through to improve things. The development programs that we set up are designed to track suppliers biggest supply change. [In] Bangladesh, for example, compared to the garment industry which has maybe 500 suppliers, we have seven suppliers: one is ceramic, one is highly industrial – just a machine weaving – and one is lots of women making carpets. We have also worked a lot with working conditions. But since we’ve been there since the ’90s, we know their journey and we picked a journey together. We see social entrepreneur projects from time to time at IKEA. Is there any plan to expand these types of special collections? Lena Pripp-Kovac: We will expand the number of projects, but what makes these projects strong is that they are small. The fact that we can work with them and have two, three or four stores supporting that project, we learn from them and they learn from us. It is almost a co-creating situation. There is a region in Malmö where there are a lot of migrant people, refugees coming in. There is a fantastic entrepreneur there working with helping women and introducing them into society. So that’s one project connected to one store where they get textiles and they can sew things and just have them in one store. Are you seeing a lot of demand for a sustainable supply? Lena Pripp-Kovac: If you want to be part of a long term solution in society, you have to drive things to that end. It is part of our mission to create a better everyday life for the many people, and sustainability is strong there. It is a request we see, but in certain specifics. Sustainability doesn’t need to be grey and boring, and it is a complex issue, so we are working on making it understandable and attractive. That’s one of our biggest challenges – to communicate – because the biggest way that consumers have been educated over the years is to just put a label on something. But that’s not enough – you need to communicate more. To really crack what is a sustainable lifestyle requires more than a label. How can we get involved with sustainability at IKEA? Lena Pripp-Kovac: The best thing is to share what a sustainable life is for you. Get the conversation going – it is much more than just sorting waste. How can we make it fun and not just a chore? We believe in access for the many. Everybody should be able to live a sustainable life. We need to see things with a different core value. Even if you buy something that is affordable, it should still have a value. Why do you just keep things that are expensive? There should be other values. + IKEA Images via Kristine for Inhabitat and IKEA

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IKEA’s Lena Pripp-Kovac talks to Inhabitat about their sustainability program

Tilting "performance architecture" house spins 360 degrees

August 16, 2016 by  
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ReActor is located at Ghent, New York , just over half an hour south of Albany, at the Omi International Arts Center . The 44-foot by 8-foot house made of concrete and wood rests atop a 15-foot tall column, and can rotate a full 360 degrees. The house moves depending on the movement of the inhabitants, or the wind and weather. Related: Zinc-Clad Leaning House Tilts Upwards to Let in Buckets of Sunlight According to an Omi International Arts Center Facebook post, the artists described their experience of living in the house : “We’re spacemen in the wilderness.” Both artists kept journals aboard ReActor, and described the movements of the tilting house as “graceful and oceanic.” Shelley said, “We almost never stop drifting in circles. It takes only the slightest breeze to set us in motion.” Schweder said, “A view that is always changing, sleep that comes and goes with the sun’s light, and a sense of connectedness with your roommate through knowing what he is doing and feeling mediated by the building – in short, this building is breaking our habits.” For five days, the artists experienced a novel connection to the environment and to each other, as they had to be conscious of where they moved. They enjoyed the gentle movement of the house but also at times felt their movements were constrained, as they continually had to make small adjustments in favor of balance. Schweder and Shelley have worked together since 2007, and ReActor is their first work set outdoors. Though they’ve left the spinning home for now, they’ll return September 24-25 and October 6-10 for further performances. ReActor will grace Omi International Arts Center’s Architecture Omi Field 01 for two years. + Alex Schweder + Ward Shelley + Omi International Arts Center Via The New York Times Images via Omi International Arts Center Facebook

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Tilting "performance architecture" house spins 360 degrees

San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant to Close After 40 Years of Operation

June 7, 2013 by  
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Southern California Edison just announced plans to permanently close the San Onofre nuclear power plant after a 16-month battle over whether or not to restore its twin reactors. Facing political opposition, regulatory challenges, and expensive repairs, the utility announced this Friday that the plant was no longer suitable for operation. The plant served the region for over 4 decades, but problems with its steam generator tubes and radiation leaks forced it to undergo a $670 million redesign. Not being able to ensure the safety of the eight million people living within 50 miles of the plant, Southern California Edison decided to retire and eventually dismantle the facility. Read the rest of San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant to Close After 40 Years of Operation Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: California , California Public Utilities Commission , close , edison international , erich pica , friends of the earth , Fukushima , Los Angeles , Nuclear Regulatory Commission , radiation , reactor , san diego , san onofre nuclear power plant , southern california edison , ted craver        

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San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant to Close After 40 Years of Operation

The Oklo Reactor: The World’s Only Natural Nuclear Reactor

August 31, 2012 by  
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Nuclear power is often perceived as a technology that defies the natural order – but simply head to Africa and you’ll find the world’s first and only natural nuclear reactor. Located in the Oklo region of Gabon in Africa, the Oklo Reactor consists of 16 uranium-rich sites where self-sustaining nuclear chain reactions took place billions of years ago. The reactors ran for a few hundred thousand years, averaging 100 kW of power output during that time. Read the rest of The Oklo Reactor: The World’s Only Natural Nuclear Reactor Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: natural nuclear reactor , naturally occurring reactor , nuclear power , oklo nuclear reactor , oklo reactor , renewable energy , The Oklo Reactor

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The Oklo Reactor: The World’s Only Natural Nuclear Reactor

Alternative Nuclear Power: Pebble Bed Reactor

December 11, 2011 by  
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This article is part of a series on alternative possibilities in nuclear power. Previously at EcoGeek: Alternative Possibilities in Nuclear Power Pebble Bed Reactor The pebble-bed reactor was supposed to be another intrinsically safe, and “melt-down proof” design. “Pebble bed reactors are helium-cooled, graphite-moderated reactors in which the fuel is in the form of tennis ball-sized spherical “pebbles” encased in a graphite moderator. New fuel pebbles are continuously added at the top of a cylindrical reactor vessel and travel slowly down the column by gravity, until they reach the bottom and are removed.” Cooling uses an inert gas such as helium, rather than a liquid, which simplifies many of the reactor systems. “The use of helium and graphite allows the reactor to burn the fuel efficiently and to operate at much higher temperatures than conventional light water reactors.” Since the pebble bed reactor was already designed to operate at very high temperatures, and since its cooling medium was a gas, rather than a liquid, the control systems for a pebble bed reactor could be much simpler. The largest problems that need to be dealt with for a boiling water reactor – overheating and coolant boiling away – are not concerns for a pebble bed reactor. The pebble bed also produces less power as the temperature rises, so the design is effectively self-limiting.

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Alternative Nuclear Power: Pebble Bed Reactor

Solar Machine Mimics Plants to Transform CO2 Into Fuel

December 27, 2010 by  
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Plants have long harnessed sunlight to create ‘food’ for themselves, and now a joint American and Swiss team have created a device that can duplicate the process! The team recently unveiled their prototype, which uses captured sunlight and a metal oxide called ceria to break down CO2 and water and create fuels which can be stored, used or transported to those who do need them. Read the rest of Solar Machine Mimics Plants to Transform CO2 Into Fuel http://www.inhabitat.com/wp-admin/ohttp://www.inhabitat.com/wp-admin/options-general.php?page=better_feedptions-general.php?page=better_feed Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Ceria , eco-friendly , Electricity , fuel , green , hydrogen , photovoltaic , power , prototype , PS10 , reactor , renewable energy , research , science , solar , Solar Power , SolarPower , sunlight , syngas

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Solar Machine Mimics Plants to Transform CO2 Into Fuel

Humane Society Discovers Barneys New York Sold Real Animal Fur as Faux

December 27, 2010 by  
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Photos by Net-a-Porter What a huge faux pas! The Humane Society of the United States is saying that world famous department store Barneys New York passed off a fur-trimmed 3.1 Phillip Lim parka as the fake deal even though it was most likely made of real coyote fur.

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Humane Society Discovers Barneys New York Sold Real Animal Fur as Faux

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