Humans, it seems, are worse than a nuclear disaster. A long-term study of animal populations around Chernobyl has found wildlife to be flourishing in the absence of human activity. A team of scientists surveyed the human exclusion zone surrounding the site, observing large animals like deer and elk to be in abundance despite lingering radiation.
You would think that the more sunlight that hits a solar panel, the better. When it comes to efficiency though, that's not the case – as photovoltaic cells heat up their efficiency decreases. To capture that heat and put it to good use, a team of scientists from Brunel University London has created a hybrid system that turns the whole roof into a solar generator.
In a bid to help bring greater access to clean drinking water to the developing world, WaterStillar has created a solar-distillation system designed to produce clean drinking water from almost any source. Conceived as a cheap, efficient, modular system that can be scaled up to produce thousands of liters per day, Water Works is installed with no upfront costs and requires minimal maintenance or training to operate.
If you've ever kept mealworms as food for a pet reptile or frog, then you probably fed them fruits or vegetables. What you likely didn't know, however, was that the insects can also survive quite nicely on a diet of Styrofoam. With that in mind, scientists at Stanford University have now determined that mealworms can break the difficult-to-recycle plastic foam down into a biodegradable waste product.
Climate change has a huge impact on the health of the world's oceans. In an attempt to find a solution for carbon dioxide pollution in the oceans, nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego have developed micromotors that autonomously move through water, removing CO2 and converting it into usable material.
Thanks to an increase in solar panels and wind turbines, as well as a particularly sunny and windy quarter, renewable energy has supplied a record 25% of the UK’s energy mix in Q2 2015, leapfrogging coal for the first time to come into second place behind gas fired electricity. It’s nearly a 10% increase on the same period last year.
Stanford engineers have developed a transparent silicon overlay that can increase the efficiency of solar cells by keeping them cool. The cover collects and then radiates heat directly into space, without interfering with incoming photons. If mass-produced, the development could be used to cool down any device in the open air – for instance, to complement air conditioning in cars.
The crown-of-thorns starfish poses a major threat to the wellbeing of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Wild, uncontrollable outbreaks over the past few decades have seen the pests multiply to devour vast amounts of coral, and as it stands there's little that can be done. One method conservationists have used to some effect is injecting them with ox bile, but researchers have now discovered that a simple dose of vinegar can do much the same job, promising to significantly cut the cost of an expensive battle to rid a World Heritage Site of this damaging pest.
Biofuels can be made from various source materials such as waste from the winemaking industry and woody biomass. Reseachers are also looking for new methods to improve its environmental credentials as there is still controversy as to how green biofuels really are. Now, a team at the Catalysis Institute at Cardiff University is hoping to make biofuel production more efficient and sustainable by recycling the leftovers from the process.
Coffee grounds are not exactly noxious despoilers of the environment,
but many millions of tons of them are generated every year and simply
disposed of with other vegetable matter and food waste. Now, researchers
have devised a way to utilize this innocuous waste product to get rid of a much
more dangerous one. By modifying used coffee grounds into a
carbon capture material, the new product may provide a simple, inexpensive way to
remove a prolific
and harmful greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.