New hydrogen production tech could reduce CO2 pollution

July 20, 2020 by  
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A recent publication in the journal Angewandte Chemie brings attention to an improved way of generating clean hydrogen . For many years, hydrogen production has proven costly to the environment, as industrial hydrogen production uses partial methane oxidation and fossil gasification. Currently,  95% of the world’s hydrogen  is produced through such methods, leading to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. For example, producing one ton of hydrogen emits of seven tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In a recent experiment conducted by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia, photo-electrochemical cells showed potential for producing pollution -free hydrogen. These cells combine a photo-absorbing gadget such as the solar panels with an electrolysis system to split water atoms and produce hydrogen gas without causing CO2 pollution. Although the concept of electrolysis is not new to hydrogen producers, the cost has always hampered this method. The most advanced system of electrolysis available involves the separation of hydrogen from water molecules through a photovoltaic current. Although the photovoltaic system has proven effective in generating hydrogen, it is expensive to maintain compared to fossil fuel-based hydrogen production. As a result, many  scientists have researched  ways to advance photovoltaic technology and reduce the costs involved. The KAUST researchers’ recent experiment may provide a glimmer of hope for this endeavor. According to Professor Hicham Idriss, the lead researcher, this discovery will significantly lower the cost of producing hydrogen through electrolysis. Contrary to the traditional photovoltaic process, the photo-electrochemical cells can absorb light to produce power that will produce hydrogen without the need for control circuits, connectors and other auxiliary tools that make the process expensive. While the experiment points in the right direction for future hydrogen production, much work is still needed. Idriss admits that the research team faced many challenges in up-scaling the system for industrial hydrogen production. Although the team is in the initial stages of testing the new technology’s viability, the process is still more expensive than fossil fuel -based hydrogen production methods. Should this new technology be adopted, hydrogen producers will have to balance economic and environmental costs. + Angewandte Chemie Via Advanced Science News Image via Pixabay

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Tracking climate data in real time

July 20, 2020 by  
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Climate TRACE, an alliance of climate research groups, is developing a new tracker using artificial intelligence that would allow the public to access international climate data in real time. They hope to have it ready to unveil at the COP26 climate change meetings in Glasgow, Scotland, in November 2021. The finished tracker will track all global greenhouse gases in real time. Third parties will verify the data, and the information will be available free to the public. Related: This sustainable luxury smartwatch monitors climate change “Currently, most countries do not know where most of their emissions come from,” Kelly Sims Gallagher, a professor of energy and environmental policy at Tufts University’s Fletcher School, told Vox . “Even in advanced economies like the United States, emissions are estimated for many sectors.” Gaining this information, she said, could help countries devise smart and effective policies to mitigate emissions and chart progress on their goals. The effort began last year, when U.S.-based WattTime , U.K.-based Carbon Tracker and some other nonprofits made a successful grant application to Google.org, which is Google’s philanthropic arm. Google gave them $1.7 million for their mission of using AI and satellite data for real-time tracking of global power plant emissions. Other nonprofits and environmental crusaders, including Al Gore, heard about the effort and became involved. Now, the Climate TRACE (which stands for Tracking Real-Time Atmospheric Carbon Emissions) Coalition includes a handful of niche organizations with important things to offer. For example, Hypervine employs spectroscopic imagery to chart blasting at quarries, and OceanMind tracks global movements of ships, extrapolating carbon emissions based on engine specs. For years, the lack of accurate climate data has caused friction between countries, who waste time arguing over monitoring, reporting and verifying data. Sometimes a country later reveals that they reported inaccurate data, such as when China admitted in 2015 to underestimating coal usage by 17%. Such revelations breed suspicion between countries who need to work together to solve our climate crisis. “It will empower the people who really are interested in reducing their emissions,” Gore said of the new climate tracker. “It is extremely important for this effort to be independent and reliable, and for it to constantly improve.” + Climate TRACE Image via William Bossen

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The balance of global oil and gas markets is changing — fast

November 29, 2018 by  
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New market forces are hitting the gas to impact the industry.

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The balance of global oil and gas markets is changing — fast

World’s largest solar energy project will be 100 times bigger than any other on the planet

March 29, 2018 by  
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200 gigawatts of solar power . $200 billion. 100,000 jobs. Those are the numbers attached to the SoftBank Solar Project, which is set to become the biggest solar farm in the world thanks to a deal signed by Saudi Arabia and Japanese conglomerate company SoftBank ‘s Vision Fund . The move could help Saudi Arabia, the largest oil exporter in the world, progress from fossil fuels to renewable energy . The Saudis and SoftBank, signing a memorandum of understanding, are moving forward on a massive solar development that could see hundreds of gigawatts installed by 2030. SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman unveiled the plan earlier this week; the crown prince said, “It’s a huge step in human history. It’s bold, risky, and we hope we succeed doing that.” Related: Saudi Arabia announces plan for $500B megacity powered by renewables The project is planned for the Saudi desert, Bloomberg said. According to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, it could be around 100 times bigger than the next largest proposed development, and could “more than double what the global photovoltaic industry supplied last year.” The $200 billion investment will go towards solar panels , battery storage , and a Saudi Arabia solar panel manufacturing facility, according to Reuters. The project’s initial phase will be 7.2 gigawatts and cost $5 billion. The SoftBank Solar Project could mark a huge step away from oil and towards clean energy for Saudi Arabia; Bloomberg said the country only has small-scale solar projects operating at the moment and Reuters said they obtain a bulk of their electricity via oil-fired plants even though they’re one of the sunniest countries in the world. Economist Intelligence Unit lead energy analyst Peter Kiernan told Reuters, “Saudi Arabia is clearly preparing for a post-fossil fuel dependent economy in terms of domestic energy consumption, and this huge bet on renewables would free up a lot of domestic output of oil for exports, while probably saving domestic gas resources as well.” Via Bloomberg and Reuters Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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World’s largest solar energy project will be 100 times bigger than any other on the planet

Construction resumes on the tallest tower in the world

March 13, 2018 by  
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Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture ‘s Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia is designed to be the world’s tallest building – however construction has been stalled at the 63rd floor. Now, according to local news, construction has resumed. Once the project is completed, which is slated to happen in 2020, the building will rise 3,281 feet (1,000 meters) into the sky. According to the Times of Oman , the $1.5 billion tower, also known as the Kingdom Tower , was experiencing challenges in construction. “We have faced delays. In projects of this magnitude you always have delays – I hope we’ll recover the delays we’ve had. We will be open for business by 2020, hopefully,” Mounib Hammoud, CEO of Jeddah Economic Co , said in an interview with the Times of Oman . Related: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Will Design Tallest Building in the World, Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia Building a tower this size is going to have challenges, so a delay isn’t entirely unexpected. Nothing this height has ever been built before, and it requires a lot of extra work, including experts who check the tower every week to make sure it is completely vertical. You can imagine what a disaster even a small percentage of lean would be. Even with the delays, the tower should have a concrete shell and cladding by next year and it’s scheduled to open to the public the following year. Right now, the world’s tallest building is the 2,716 foot-tall Burj Khalifa in Dubai. + JEC + Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture Via Times of Oman and Dezeen

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Construction resumes on the tallest tower in the world

Saudi Arabia announces plan for $500B megacity powered by renewables

October 25, 2017 by  
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Saudi Arabia just announced plans for a futuristic megacity that will span 10,000 square miles and three countries near the Red Sea. NEOM will be an independent economic zone owned by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia – and the nation is calling out to innovators, scientists, and dreamers to form an aspirational society to pioneer next-gen technologies. The future of food , energy , and biotechnology , to name a few, will be explored in this global community to be backed by over $500 billion. NEOM will be the world’s first independent economic zone – supported by Saudi Arabia’s investment, but the country said it will be developed independently of their current governmental framework. They want to transform NEOM into a global hub to pursue innovation in nine investment sectors: advanced manufacturing, food, biotech, mobility, media, technological and digital sciences, entertainment, energy and water , and livability. Related: The world’s first “Tesla Town” with solar roofs and Powerwalls is coming to Australia Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammed bin Salman said, “Future technologies form the cornerstone for NEOM’s development: disruptive solutions for transportation from automated driving to passenger drones, new ways of growing and processing food, healthcare centered around the patient for their holistic well-being, wireless high-speed Internet as a free good called digital air, free world-class continuous online education, full-scale e-governance putting city services at your fingertips, building codes that make net-zero carbon houses the standard, a city layout that encourages walking and bicycling , and all solely powered by renewable energy .” NEOM will be located in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt, in a region with mountains, beaches, and coral reefs. As Saudi Arabia seeks to diversify away from oil , solar and wind energy will help power NEOM. Saudi Arabia has already started communicating with potential partners and investors, and the frequently asked questions document for NEOM said its first phase will be finished in 2025. + NEOM Via the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia and NEOM ( 1 , 2 , 3 ) Images via NEOM

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Dubai to expand massive solar park to include world’s tallest solar tower

September 19, 2017 by  
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There are 2.3 million photovoltaic panels at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park near Dubai . And now the massive solar farm is about to get a 700 megawatt (MW) extension, which will include the addition of an 853-foot solar tower , the world’s tallest. The first phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park became operational in 2013 with 13 MW. It now has a capacity of 200 MW, after the second phase was launched in March this year. But the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has big plans for the solar park : by 2020, they plan to increase capacity to 1,000 MW, with the aim to increase that number to 5,000 MW by 2030. The solar park is the world’s biggest single-site concentrated solar power (CSP) project. Related: Phase 3 of world’s largest solar park slated to begin this month DEWA recently awarded the 14.2 billion AED fourth phase of the solar park to a consortium including ACWA Power in Saudi Arabia and Shanghai Electric in China. They won the contract with a bid of 7.3 US cents per kilowatt-hour. DEWA CEO HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer said in a statement, “Our focus on renewable energy generation has led to a drop in prices worldwide and has lowered the price of solar power bids in Europe and the Middle East. This was evident today when we received the lowest CSP project cost in the world.” CSP has been more expensive than traditional solar power in the past, which is one of its downsides. But CSP projects also have the ability to store some of the power as heat for later use. In 2030, the solar park could cover 83 square miles, and slash carbon emissions by 6.5 million metric tons a year. Via New Atlas and Business Wire Images via AETOS Wire and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority – DEWA Facebook

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Zaha Hadid Architects reveal oasis-inspired designs for Diriyahs Urban Heritage Administration Center

October 24, 2016 by  
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The 8,780-square-meter Urban Heritage Administration Center is considered a crucial part of the preservation and restoration efforts throughout the 120-kilometer Wadi Hanifah valley. The center’s design is a reflection of its geographical and cultural surroundings, particularly the way man interacted with nature to form the oasis within Diriyah’s Wadi Hanifah valley. To recreate the oasis environment indoors, the Urban Heritage Administration center is centered on an atrium with water, along with four “scooped” green oases. Related: Zaha Hadid Architects renovate a derelict fire station into Antwerp’s new BREEAM-rated port headquarters The curvaceous double-facade comprises a perforated outer skin that allows natural light inside and views of the surroundings, while providing privacy and protection from solar gain . “The design relates to Diriyah’s local vernacular, not through mimicry or a limiting adherence to references of the past, but by developing a deeper understanding of its traditions and composition – expressed in a contemporary interpretation informed by the same natural forces that defined Diryah’s historical architecture,” write the architects. The Urban Heritage Administration Center will house a permanent exhibition gallery, library, lecture hall, educational spaces for all age groups, and scientific facilities for field research and documentation of Diriyah’s many archaeological sites. + Zaha Hadid Architects Images via Zaha Hadid Architects

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Zaha Hadid Architects reveal oasis-inspired designs for Diriyahs Urban Heritage Administration Center

New research suggests an unseen 9th planet may be tilting the solar system

October 24, 2016 by  
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Astrophysicists have long wondered why our sun is tilted at a different angle than the rest of the known solar system . While all eight known planets rotate on a flat plane within only a few degrees of one another, the sun itself appears to be tilted roughly six degrees off of the planets. Now, new research shows that a massive, undiscovered ninth planet at the edge of the solar system might actually be causing the other planets to “wobble” in their orbit around the sun. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h72tABvkLAo This isn’t the first time scientists have speculated about the existence of “Planet Nine” – earlier this year researchers from Caltech predicted its existence due to the abnormal bunching of several objects orbiting near Neptune, an effect which could only exist if a large, unknown planet were exerting a gravitational influence. Planet Nine has yet to be observed directly, but more and more evidence is beginning to point to its existence as the answer to some of our solar system’s enduring mysteries. Related: Astronomers may have discovered a ninth planet in our solar system If you’ve never heard about the fact that the planets are slightly off-kilter compared to the sun, you’re not alone. Mike Brown, one of the authors behind the Planet Nine theory, explains, “It’s such a deep-rooted mystery and so difficult to explain that people just don’t talk about it.” The as-yet unseen planet is estimated to be about 10 times the size of Earth, with an orbit 20 times farther from the sun than Neptune . It also appears to orbit about 30 degrees off of the orbital plane of the rest of the solar system – an angle that, along with its massive size, could be slowly pulling objects within the solar system off-balance. That’s not too surprising, considering scientists believe Planet Nine might eventually destabilize the solar system once the sun balloons into a red giant. Related: Mysterious ninth planet could one day tear apart the solar system What is still unknown is exactly how Planet Nine came to occupy its unusual orbit in the first place. It’s possible it may have once sat with the gas giants near Jupiter before being ejected. The gravitation pull of other stellar bodies might have also had an influence at some point in the solar system’s distant past. The new study will be published in an upcoming issue of Astrophysical Journal . Via Phys.org Images via Caltech

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New research suggests an unseen 9th planet may be tilting the solar system

Cleveland offshore wind farm project awarded $40 million DOE grant

June 28, 2016 by  
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Could the Rust Belt turn into the Wind Belt? The Great Lakes represent 20 percent of the United States’ total offshore wind energy capacity, but not a single wind turbine has yet to be seen. That could start to change soon thanks to a $40 million grant from the Department of Energy for North America’s first offshore freshwater wind farm, located on Lake Erie about eight to 10 miles northwest of downtown Cleveland, Ohio. The funding was awarded to Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) for its “Icebreaker” project that will consist of six 3.45 megawatt turbines (20.7 MW). “Lake Erie is the Saudi Arabia of wind, and today’s award should be a gusher for northern Ohio,” Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09) said in a recent statement . “This wind power project will begin to unleash Lake Erie’s full renewable power potential and contribute to creating a more competitive energy marketplace. LEEDCo’s innovative vision can help transform energy production and distribution for northern Ohio’s residents and thousands of businesses. Because Lake Erie serves both the U.S. and Canada this development also harkens toward a future that could link Ohio and Ontario in a new energy partnership.” Related: The world’s largest floating wind farm will be operational next year Acccording to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, LEEDCo’s decision to adopt the European-designed “Mono Bucket” foundation, which “eliminates pile driving in the bedrock below the lake bed,” might have played a role in DOE’s decision to fully fund the project. The total cost of the project is estimated to be around $120 million. In addition to previous federal grants totalling $10 million, Fred Olsen Renewables, the largest independent power producer in the United Kingdom, is expected to raise the remaining $70 million. The nation’s first offshore wind farm is on schedule for completion later this year. The Block Island Wind Farm is located in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Rhode Island. The 30-megawatt, five-turbine project is expected to produce more than 125,000 megawatt hours annually. The Lake Erie offshore wind farm is expected to be completed and operational by the end of 2018. + Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation Via Renewable Energy World Images via Flickr and Wikimedia

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