MIT innovation may make fusion energy a reality soon

September 9, 2021 by  
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Commercially viable fusion energy may soon be a reality, following the successful trial of a new superconducting magnetic field. On September 5, scientists at MIT tested a large high-temperature electromagnet for the first time to gauge its strength. The first-of-its-kind magnetic field successfully demonstrated that it was possible to generate commercially viable fusion energy. For decades, scientists have been trying to find a way of capturing fusion energy. The problem has always been the inability to capture more energy than is used. Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), an MIT startup company, is the first firm in the world to achieve this. Related: DC Microgrids, building infrastructure for energy’s future “Fusion in a lot of ways is the ultimate clean energy source,” said Maria Zuber, MIT’s vice president for research and E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics. “The amount of power that is available is really game-changing.” Water helps fuels the creation of fusion energy, and “the Earth is full of water — it’s a nearly unlimited resource. We just have to figure out how to utilize it.” In light of the successful demonstration, MIT and CFS are collaborating to build the world’s first fusion device. The demonstration device known as SPARC is scheduled to be completed by 2025. Fusion is what powers the sun. The process involves merging two small atoms into one, which generates an enormous amount of energy. The problem with this process has always been that replicating it on Earth requires higher temperatures than most materials can hold. To solve the problem, scientists use intense magnetic fields to form an “invisible bottle” that contains “the hot swirling soup of protons and electrons.” The MIT innovation introduces changes to the type of magnetic fields used in containing fusion atoms. The project used high- temperature superconductors, which helped create higher magnetic fields in a smaller space. Traditional technology requires a much larger apparatus to create this same kind of magnetic field. The design was made possible due to a new kind of superconducting material becoming commercially available a few years ago. If the process is successful, fusion energy will be able to replace traditional energy sources and get rid of the stubborn carbon emissions problem. Via MIT Lead image via Gretchen Ertl, CFS/MIT-PSFC, 2021

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Siemens Gamesa makes "world’s first" recyclable wind turbine

September 8, 2021 by  
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Siemens Gamesa claims to have created the world’s first recyclable wind turbine blades. The RecyclableBlade turbine blades are ready to be used offshore. The new blade design allows the parts and materials to disintegrate at the end of their lifespan. The turbine blades use several materials combined and cast together with resin. Gregorio Acero, Head of Quality Management & Health, Safety and Environment at Siemens Gamesa, says the company plans for the turbines to “generate renewable electricity for 20-30 years.” Related: Wind-powered lamp post helps reduce light pollution Thanks to the chemical structure of the new resin material used, it is possible to separate the resin from other components when the turbine reaches the end of its lifespan. While the tower and nacelle components of wind turbines have established recycling protocols, Siemens Gamesa’s invention improves the recyclability of the composite materials in turbine blades. Previously, the difficulty of separating these materials led to many turbines going to the landfill once no longer usable. Siemens Gamesa CEO Andreas Nauen says that thinking about recycling and reusing products is a must if the world wants to successfully address the climate crisis . “The time to tackle climate emergency is now, and we need to do it in a holistic way,” said Nauen. “In pioneering wind circularity – where elements contribute to a circular economy of the wind industry – we have reached a major milestone in a society that puts care for the environment at its heart.” Siemens Gamesa has partnered with RWE to install the turbines with recyclable blades in a first-of-its-kind project. The turbines will be installed at the Kaskasi offshore wind power plant in Germany . Siemens Gamesa will be monitor and maintain them starting in 2022. “The RecyclableBlade is another tangible example of how Siemens Gamesa is leading technological development in the wind industry,” said Nauen. + Siemens Gamesa Via CNBC and Renewable Energy Magazine

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Siemens Gamesa makes "world’s first" recyclable wind turbine

20 livestock firms emit more greenhouse gas than Britain, France or Germany

September 8, 2021 by  
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What produces 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide? The animal agriculture sector. According to a new report by animal campaigners, 20 livestock companies contribute more emissions than Britain, France or Germany. And  governments  subsidize them to do so. About 2,500 banks, pension funds and investment firms financed global meat and dairy companies to the tune of $478 billion between 2015 and 2020, according to the  Meat Atlas . And the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development predicts meat production will rise by another 40 million tons a year by 2029. China, Brazil, the United States and some European Union members produce the most  meat . But lower-income developing countries are trying to get their piece of the shepherd’s pie. Poultry is growing especially fast, with experts predicting that it will account for 41% of all meat protein globally by 2030. Related: Air pollution from US meat production causes 16,000 deaths annually Food and agriculture campaigner Stanka Becheva, who works with Friends of the Earth, said, “we need to begin reducing the number of food animals on the planet and incentivise different consumption models,” as reported in The Guardian. Meat industry regulations need to be beefed up, too, “to make sure companies are paying for the harms they have created throughout the supply chain and to minimise further damage.” Banks and investors financing large, intensive projects to produce more animal  protein  also pose a problem. Paolo Patruno, deputy secretary general of the European Association for the Meat Processing Industry, minimized having such a meaty role in emissions. “We don’t believe that any food sector is more or less  sustainable  than another. But there are more or less sustainable ways to produce plant or animal foods and we are committed to making animal protein production more sustainable,” Patruno said, according to The Guardian. “We also know that average GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions in the EU from livestock is half that of the global average. The global average is about 14% and the EU average is 7%.” Meanwhile, the National Farmers’ Union in England and  Wales  is going for net-zero emissions by 2040. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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Higg provides a sustainability report for consumer products

August 23, 2021 by  
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The race is on to battle climate change in notable and impactful ways. While every citizen can help by reducing emissions and lowering their carbon footprint, the largest contributors to the problem are businesses. Even companies with good intentions when it comes to monitoring materials and manufacturing may be contributing to the problem more than they think. Higg is a technological solution to this problem that addresses the issue by providing a score for a product’s impact. To understand the solution, we must first consider the problem. The life-cycle of a product begins with material selection, goes through production and moves onto delivery before it ever reaches consumer hands. Along the way, every decision can weigh heavily on the planet’s resources by stripping the land, using valuable resources like water and contributing to  waste  and pollution. Higg is a data-driven system that gives businesses the information they need when making eco-friendly decisions. This data allows them to avoid these contributing factors and instead rely on the most innovative solutions for a low carbon footprint at every level. Related: PaperTale app shows the ethics and sustainability of clothing with a simple scan Higg CEO Jason Kibbey says, “Higg has spent the last couple years working with consumer goods facilities, brands, and retailers to collect valuable data that helps companies measure their social and  environmental  impacts in a comparable way.” Higg works with companies to input and analyze data, giving them the power to better understand the environmental and social impact of each step in the cycle. Take, for example, a clothing company. With Higg tools, companies can measure the footprint of the plant where fabric is made. This includes water consumption, electrical usage,  pollution  and more. From there, the company can evaluate the manufacturing process of the product in the same categories and others, like wages, working conditions and safety. Post production, the clothing is shipped, so the analysis further tracks the impact of packaging, transport emissions and the environmental burden at the retail level.  The culmination of this information provides a critical tool for transparency in consumer goods industries. Providing a macro and micro view of the cradle-to-grave impact of individual products not only gives consumers more purchasing power but provides companies valuable, data-based information to share with investors, partners and customers.  “In order to achieve true sustainability change at the pace necessary to reach climate goals, consumer industries need access to rich, comparable, and actionable data. Without knowing true environmental performance, it’s impossible to know which steps companies should take to reduce impact, which actions make the biggest difference, or if industries are moving fast enough,” Kibbey added.  Along the way, the systems maintain a database of information that businesses can tap into when making decisions. For example, through data collection, a company can quickly see the  energy efficiency  of a particular manufacturing plant or compare the waste from different production facilities. Rather than individual reports that may be slanted in favor or disfavor of a particular company, Higg’s system is standardized for reliable comparisons of information that can be measured, managed and shared within and outside the company. This information is a powerful tool in the effort to enable true sustainability in corporate actions. “Higg provides easily synthesized data which makes it simple for companies to take meaningful action towards positive environmental and social impacts,” Kibbey said. While Higg is an essential tool for the decision-making process of eco-minded businesses, it’s equally valuable for the everyday consumer who is looking to make wise purchasing decisions. With these tools at its disposal, any apparel company can clean up its act. The information is now out there to understand a product’s impact. From there, it’s a company’s responsibility to evaluate and improve every step of its processes. This includes choosing the least-impactful materials to supporting manufacturing plants with fair trade policies and renewable energy investments to selecting packaging that is  recycled  and recyclable. With what equates to a sustainability score, consumers will be able to directly compare the actions of an increasing number of companies when choosing what products best align with their personal environmental goals.  Higg is a spinoff of a prior partnership between Patagonia and Walmart that set a mission to reduce the footprint of the apparel and footwear industries. This nonprofit industry association, called the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, resulted in the “development of the Higg Index, a suite of tools for the standardized measurement of supply chain sustainability,” according to Higg. The team at Higg comes from varied backgrounds, yet they all center around the same belief in making it easier for businesses and consumers to contribute to the solutions for a sustainable future for the planet. Mimi Frusha, COO at Higg, says, “We have a global crisis on our hands. Being part of Higg is how I contribute to what we all have ahead of us.” Josh Henretig, VP Global Partnerships, reinforces that thinking saying, “The urgency and complexity of the climate crisis is simply too large for any single organization to solve alone. We need the collective action of partnership and the speed and scale of technology if we are going to reverse the harmful impacts of human activity on the environment.” + Higg Images via Higg 

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3D-printed House of Dust connects a 1967 poem to modern technology

July 29, 2021 by  
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3D-printed houses and other structures are becoming increasingly more common, but none have a creation story quite like The House of Dust, a livable structure in Wiesbaden, Germany that connects 1967 to today through the words of a poem. “The House of Dust” was initially a poem , created in 1967 by Alison Knowles and James Tenney with the aid of a Siemens 4004 computer. Knowles created word lists that describe attributes of houses. The words were then translated into Fortran computer programming language, and the computer was allowed to spit out word combinations. The resulting iteration of the poem read, “A house of dust / on open ground / lit by natural light / inhabited by friends and enemies / A house of paper / among high mountains / using natural light / inhabited by fishermen and families”. Related: Habitat for Humanity develops its first 3D-printed home in US One year later, the poem was turned into a physical structure in Chelsea, New York and later found new life in Cal Arts Burbank, California, where Knowles taught classes. Fast forward to 2021, and the structure was built again. Technically, it was printed — using Crane WASP technology . WASP (World’s Advanced Saving Project) is an industry leader in 3D printing, based out of Italy. With the completion of “The House of Dust”, the company said it is the “first and only temporary, livable and sustainable artwork entirely 3D printed based on natural materials.” The use of 3D printing provides minimal site impact . While it avoids a large carbon footprint, The House of Dust does speak to a comparison between the advancing computer science of 1967 and the innovations in the 3D printing industry of 2021, both connecting humans with technology. The project was completed in collaboration with the Museum Wiesbaden and included 50 hours of printing, 500 machine codes (G-code), 165 layers of 15 mm, 15 km of extrusion and 8 cubic meters of natural materials . Today, you can sleep inside the sculpture, which can be booked through the website tinybe.org . + WASP Images via WASP

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3D-printed House of Dust connects a 1967 poem to modern technology

Worlds first 3D-printed neighborhood planned for Rancho Mirage, California

July 1, 2021 by  
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Development company Palari Group and construction technology company Mighty Buildings are teaming up to create the world’s first net-zero , 3D-printed neighborhood using robotic automation. Located in Rancho Mirage, California in Coachella Valley, the community will feature 15 homes on a 5-acre parcel of land. The homes will feature solar panels, weather-resistant materials and minimally invasive environmental impacts for eco-friendly homeowners. “We could not be more excited for this groundbreaking collaboration with Palari, and to be a part of the creation of the world’s first 3D-printed zero net energy community,” said Alexey Dubov, co-founder and COO of Mighty Buildings. “This will be the first on-the-ground actualization of our vision for the future of housing — able to be deployed rapidly, affordably, sustainably, and able to augment surrounding communities with a positive dynamic.” The $15 million project will utilize a 3D-printed panelized system developed by Mighty Buildings that helps eliminate 95% of construction waste. Related: Czech Republic’s first 3D-printed floating home will take just 48 hours to build To improve air quality , the designers are integrating DARWIN by Delos into the homes, an artificial intelligence unit that purifies interior air from pathogens, pollutant particles, odors and allergens. Localized water filtration and circadian lighting provides additional wellness solutions to residents. As for energy, the solar panels generate enough to supply the entire home, with the option to add Tesla Powerwall batteries and EV chargers as well. Highlighting midcentury modern architecture, the individual homes incorporate textured stone walls on the outside, floor-to-ceiling windows and 1,450 square feet worth of living space. There are three bedrooms in each home, along with two bathrooms and a guest house with an additional two bedrooms and one bath. The properties, each of which spans 10,000 square feet in total, also feature swimming pools and decks with options to upgrade with cabanas, hot tubs, firepits or outdoor showers. “We are thrilled to launch this first development of 3D-printed sustainable homes and partner with Mighty buildings to realize our common vision of transforming the way we build homes of the future,” said Basil Starr, founder and CEO of Palari. “3D-printing allows us to build faster, stronger and more efficiently, making it integral to our platform of streamlining home-building process centered on sustainability of construction, materials, and operations.” + Mighty Buildings Images via Mighty Buildings and EYRC Architects

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Building integrated solar panels from Dubai produce clean energy and color

October 31, 2017 by  
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The United States could obtain 40 percent of its energy solely from rooftop solar (with sufficient political will). But what if solar panels could also boost architectural aesthetics? Dubai -based Emirates Insolaire hoped to do just that with their Kromatix technology, providing an alternative to the blue or black panels that adorn many roofs. Plus, their solar products aren’t limited to rooftops — they can also be integrated in balconies or facades. Emirates Insolaire, a joint venture of Dubai Investments PJSC and SwissINSO , is changing our vision of solar with their Kromatix technology, developed with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology . Emirates Insolaire offers Kromatix solar glass in gold, green, or terracotta, with an opaque finish that hides the power-generating technology inside. Solar transmittance varies among colors, but Emirates Insolaire said it is always greater than 85 percent. They also offer Kromatix modules manufactured with their solar glass that have an average efficiency of above 15 percent. Related: Discreet new SolarSkin panels completely blend in with their environment The company doesn’t use pigments to color their solar glass, but rather “a complex nano-scale multilayer deposition by plasma process,” and say the color will remain stable as time passes. According to Emirates Insolaire’s website, “The colored appearance results from the reflection of a narrow spectral band in the visible part of the solar spectrum. The rest of the solar radiation is transmitted to the solar panel to be converted into energy .” The thickness of the solar glass is between 3.2 and eight millimeters. SwissINSO says the Kromatix colored solar panels can be integrated on facades and rooftops of all sorts of structures, from private homes to high-rise buildings. Electrek also reported the Kromatix products are affordable; they estimated a 5.5 kilowatt solar system would cost between $1,300 and $1,500 per home. They said not counting tax credits or incentives, the system would cover the cost of coloring in a little over one and a half years. Emirates Insolaire’s products have been installed across Europe, including at this school in Copenhagen . + Emirates Insolaire Via Electrek Images via Emirates Insolaire

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Building integrated solar panels from Dubai produce clean energy and color

73 million trees to be planted in largest reforestation project ever

October 31, 2017 by  
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Conservation International aims to plant 73 million trees in the Brazilian Amazon as part of the largest ever undertaking of its kind. In what is being called the “arc of deforestation” in the Brazilian states of Amazonas, Acre, Pará, and Rondônia, as well as throughout the Xingu watershed, trees will be planted as part of a project that, in the short-term, aims to restore 70,000 acres of tropical forest. “If the world is to hit the 1.2°C or 2°C [degrees of warming] target that we all agreed to in Paris, then protecting tropical forests in particular has to be a big part of that,” said M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International, in an interview with Fast Company . “It’s not just the trees that matter, but what kind of trees ,” said Sanjayan. “If you’re really thinking about getting carbon dioxide out of atmosphere, then tropical forests are the ones that end up mattering the most.” Ceasing deforestation would allow for the absorption of 37 percent of the world’s annual carbon emissions yet scientists worry that 20 percent of the Amazon may be deforested in the next two decades, in addition to the 20 percent that was deforested in the past 40 years. To combat this rapid pace of destruction, Conservation International is utilizing new, efficient planting techniques that could be applied worldwide. “This is not a stunt,” said Sanjayan. “It is a carefully controlled experiment to literally figure out how to do tropical restoration at scale, so that people can replicate it and we can drive the costs down dramatically.” Related: Hurricane Maria ravaged the only tropical rainforest in the United States The planting method used in the project is known as muvuca , which is a Portuguese word to describe many people in a small place. In  muvuca, hundreds of native tree seeds of various species are spread over every inch of deforested land. Natural selection then allows the most suited to survive and thrive. A 2014 study from the Food and Agriculture Organization and Biodiversity International found that more than 90 percent of native tree species planted using the  muvuca method germinate and are well suited to survive drought conditions for up to six months. “With plant-by-plant reforestation techniques, you get a typical density of about 160 plants per hectare,” said Rodrigo Medeiros, Conservation International’s vice president of the Brazil program and project lead, according to Fast Company . “With muvuca, the initial outcome is 2,500 species per hectare. And after 10 years, you can reach 5,000 trees per hectare. It’s much more diverse, much more dense, and less expensive than traditional techniques.” Via Fast Company Images via Depositphotos (1)

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73 million trees to be planted in largest reforestation project ever

Climate change and volcanic eruptions could lead to years without summer

October 31, 2017 by  
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Scientists warn that if climate change continues at its current pace, oceans may lose their ability to reduce atmospheric effects from volcanic sulfur and aerosols as they have done in the past. This means that volcanic eruptions in the future may lead to “years without summer,” as occurred in 1815 after the April eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia . New research led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in the US both confirms that specific eruption’s role in altering the global climate and the role that future eruptions might play if the ocean’s temperature continues to be affected by melting sea ice and rising global temperatures. The researchers used data from Community Earth System Model’s (CESM) Last Millennium Ensemble Project, which provides simulations of Earth’s climate based on the geological record from 850 through 2005, to determine that the Mount Tambora eruption caused a notable cooling event on the global climate. Sulfur dioxide sent into the atmosphere became sulfate particles known as aerosols and reflected light away from the Earth. This resulted in a so-called “year without summer,” in which crops across North America and Europe suffered tremendous losses due to cold temperatures and blocked sunlight. Related: Two giant volcanic eruptions formed Yellowstone’s iconic caldera The oceans played an important role in returning the climate to relative normalcy through a process in which the colder water of the ocean sinks while warmer water rises to the surface, helping to warm the surrounding land and atmosphere . However, due to changing ocean temperatures resulting from climate change, if an eruption similar to Mount Tambora were to occur in 2085, the ocean would be less able to bring about climate stabilization. Study author Otto-Bliesner wrote, “The response of the climate system to the 1815 eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Tambora gives us a perspective on potential surprises for the future, but with the twist that our climate system may respond much differently”. + Nature Communications Via Alphr Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Climate change and volcanic eruptions could lead to years without summer

Airless tires could help Toyota make lighter electric cars

October 30, 2017 by  
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Airless tires could boost performance and cut down the weight of electric cars – and Toyota is interested. The automaker recently unveiled the hydrogen-powered Fine-Comfort Ride concept car fitted with the tires at the Tokyo Motor Show . The Fine-Comfort Ride is about as big as a crossover SUV, but chief engineer Takao Sato said the airless wheels could be used on any electric car. The airless tires on the Fine-Comfort Ride are comprised of a band of rubber around a plastic-aluminum hub, reports Bloomberg . Sumitomo Rubber Industries supplied the tires for Toyota . Sumitomo unveiled their Smart Tyre Concept, which includes the airless component, at the Tokyo Motor Show and said in a press release , “Airless tires contribute to greater safety and peace of mind in transportation by freeing the driver from worries about punctures and the trouble of having to manage tire pressure.” Sumitomo said there’s interest from other Japanese carmakers as well. Related: Michelin unveils airless 3D-printed tires that last virtually forever Sato said, “For automakers, the attraction of airless tires is for electrified vehicles.” At the moment the concept tires still weigh about as much as pneumatic tires, but the technology could develop to trim five kilograms – around 11 pounds – from each tire. That’s around 30 percent of each tire’s weight, and the development could come as early as 2025. Sumitomo airless tire project head Wako Iwamura said he aims to have a commercial product by 2020, according to Bloomberg, and that his tires are already comparable in price with those requiring air. The company has already been testing the tires on golf carts and minicars. Sumitomo also pioneered what they called the world’s first 100 percent fossil resource-free tires using all-natural materials back in 2013, and said since then they’ve been working to create “proprietary biomass materials based on raw materials derived from plants .” Via Bloomberg Images via Toyota

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