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Environment

China's used cooking oil may soon find use fueling airliners  (Photo: Shutterstock)

Two years ago, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner became the first biofuel-powered aircraft to cross the Pacific Ocean. It was actually running on a biofuel/regular jet fuel mix, with the biofuel derived mainly from used cooking oil. Now, in the interest of ensuring a consistent supply of that biofuel, Boeing has partnered with Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) to produce it in a pilot plant.  Read More

If California’s drought continues, residents may be drinking the recycled water from the S...

Drinking recycled urine may be the stuff of Dune novels, and a drastic response to California’s ongoing drought. But officials in Santa Clara County in the heart of Silicon Valley are hoping its new high-tech purification plant will help residents get past the ick factor and eventually allow treated wastewater to flow through their faucets in a "toilet to tap" scenario. Opened in July, the $72 million Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center is the most advanced such plant in the US, and uses a multi-step system of microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet rays to produce water of higher quality than typical drinking water.  Read More

Canadian researchers are taking advantage of aerial drones to track the well being of Kill...

Researchers from the Vancouver Aquarium and the US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have begun using drones to keep tabs on endangered killer whales off the west coast of the continent. The technology is giving the researchers a fresh perspective on the well-being of the animals, and provides yet another example of how UAVs are giving rise to new means of conservation.  Read More

Equipped with an array of multi-junction photovoltaic chips, each of the IBM 'sunflowers' ...

Looking rather like a 10-meter (33 ft) tall sunflower, IBM's High Concentration PhotoVoltaic Thermal (HCPVT) system concentrates the sun’s radiation over 2,000 times on a single point and then transforms 80 percent of that into usable energy. Using a number of liquid-cooled microchannel receivers, each equipped with an array of multi-junction photovoltaic chips, each HCPVT can produce enough power, water, and cooling to supply several homes.  Read More

'The major question is, why would we not eat insects?' (Photo: Shutterstock)

Jiminy Cricket may be able to do more than guide our consciences: he, or his kin, may also provide food security solutions for a growing and hungry world. However, the notion of insects-as-food struggles to find widespread traction amid problems with standardization of food safety standards, government disinterest and only a small body of research. So is there a future for cricket sushi or fried silk worms?  Read More

A study carried out at MIT suggests that altering the quantities of materials in cement mi...

As one of our most relied upon construction materials, concrete makes a significant contribution to our overall carbon emissions. Calcium-based substances are heated at high temperatures to form the cement, a process that produces carbon dioxide. But by slightly altering the quantities of materials used, scientists from MIT have uncovered a new method of cement mixing that could reduce these emissions by more than half.  Read More

Dr Niraj Lal says that the way Buddhist singing bowls interact with light mimics the way t...

While the unique shape of Buddhist singing bowls is vital to the creation of their signature sound, a researcher from Australia National University (ANU) has used their design as the inspiration for a new breed of solar cells. In completing his PhD at the University of Cambridge, Dr Niraj Lal found that just as the bowls cause sound to resonate, miniaturized versions can be made to interact with light in much the same way, inspiring solar cells better able to capture sunlight.  Read More

A bacteria found in England that can survive in harsh alkaline conditions could be used to...

"Extremophile" bacteria have been found thriving in soil samples from a highly alkaline industrial site in Peak District of England. Although the site is not radioactive, the conditions are similar to the alkaline conditions expected to be found in cement-based radioactive waste sites. The researchers say the capability of the bacteria to thrive in such conditions and feed on isosaccharinic acid (ISA) make it a promising candidate for aiding in nuclear waste disposal.  Read More

Brothers and company co-founders Daniel and Markus Freitag (hard to say which one is which...

We've already got biodegradable shoes and bikinis, but how about just regular ol' shirts and pants? Well, while existing natural materials such as cotton and wool will biodegrade under the right conditions, Zurich-based clothing manufacturer Freitag is producing clothing made from fabric that's specifically designed for quick and easy composting.  Read More

Mushrooms grown in used diapers help reduce waste volume by up to 80 percent

While the contents of a diaper could easily be considered an environmental hazard by many, disposable diapers themselves pose a more significant problem for the environment. According to the EPA, the average baby will work their way through 8,000 of them before the underwear makes its way to landfill, where it takes centuries to break down. In an effort to reduce the problem, scientists at Mexico's Autonomous Metropolitan University, Azcapotzalco (UAM-A), have turned used diapers to the task of growing mushrooms.  Read More

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