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— Environment

Sensor Fish show how hydroelectric dams will affect salmon

By - November 8, 2014 6 Pictures
It’s a tough row to hoe for young salmon in the Pacific Northwest as they make their perilous journey from upriver to the ocean. Besides hungry birds and sea lions, the regions many hydroelectric dams and their swirling turbines produce manmade currents and other obstacles that make it challenging for the fish to navigate. But now with the help of an artificial Senor Fish created by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), existing larger dams and newer, smaller hydroelectric facilities can become more fish-friendly. Read More
— Environment

Scotland produces enough wind energy to power all its homes

By - November 6, 2014 1 Picture
Scotland is pushing ahead with green energy, with First Minister Alex Salmond claiming that renewables could provide 100 percent of Scotland's energy by 2025. And last month, Salmond's push for wind farms appears to have borne fruit – wind power alone generated some 126 percent of the energy needed to power every home in Scotland in what the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) is calling a "bumper month." Even solar fared well despite the chilly conditions, with domestic solar PV panels chipping in around a third of the domestic energy bill. Read More
— Environment

Using 'dirty silicon' to cut the cost of solar cells

By - November 5, 2014 5 Pictures
Most everyone not vested in oil and gas agrees that renewable energies such as solar are a more sustainable option, but cost remains an issue. To make solar more competitive by addressing the high cost of solar cell production, researchers out of Norway have developed a method that could bring down the amount of silicon used per unit area by as much as 90 percent. The price of silicon is a major driver in the cost of solar panels. Read More
— Environment

Nanoparticle-based material turns up the heat on concentrated solar power

By - November 2, 2014 2 Pictures
The key factor when it comes to solar power plant efficiency – be they of the photovoltaic or concentrated solar power variety – is the amount of light that can be captured by the light-absorbing material and converted into electricity or heat. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have developed a new nanoparticle-based material that promises to improve the efficiency of CSP plants with its ability to absorb and convert over 90 percent of the sunlight it captures into heat. Read More
— Environment

CSEM's white solar panels are made to blend into buildings

By - October 31, 2014 5 Pictures
Solar panels are seen as a way of making buildings greener and more sustainable, as well as making them less dependent on the grid for power. The problem is that the blue/black panels stick out like sore thumbs and end up exiled to rooftops. With the goal of making solar panels aesthetically invisible, the Swiss private, nonprofit technology company CSEM has developed what it bills as the world's first white solar modules – designed to blend into buildings instead of sitting on the roof. Read More
— Environment

Turning dairy farm waste into Magic Dirt

By - October 30, 2014 11 Pictures
Magic Dirt may sound like the soil used by Jack to grow his beans, but the Bioproduct Innovation of the Year award winner is just one result of a process that’s addressing the environmental issues caused by effluence from factory farm feedlots. The process starts with anaerobic digesters, specifically a patented two-stage model from Wisconsin-based DVO, which more efficiently converts manure into three valuable byproducts. Read More
— Environment

Advanced offshore buoys help study wind energy potential

By - October 30, 2014 3 Pictures
Offshore wind power in the United States is nowhere close to meeting the potential this renewable energy form has to offer. There are a myriad of reasons why, including lack of information on energy-harnessing possibilities at specific sites. The US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is looking to change this, by dropping two very advanced data-collecting buoys into coastal waters. Read More
— Environment

How big data is helping farmers save millions

By - October 27, 2014 1 Picture
Data scientists studying crop growth and weather patterns in Colombia have advised rice farmers not to plant crops, saving millions of dollars. The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the Colombian Rice Growers Federation have developed a computer model that can work out what crops work best under specific weather conditions in certain areas. Read More
— Environment

Electrodialysis identified as potential way to remove salt from fracking waste water

By - October 26, 2014 2 Pictures
Fracking is a highly controversial and divisive issue. Proponents argue that it could be the biggest energy boom since the Arabian oil fields were opened almost 80 years ago, but this comes at a serious cost to the environment. Among the detrimental effects of the process is that the waste water it produces is over five times saltier than seawater, which is, to put it mildly, not good. A research team led by MIT that has found an economical way of removing salt from fracking waste water that promises to not only reduce pollution, but conserve water as well. Read More
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