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Environment

Nanotech could rid cattle of ticks, with less collateral damage

If you've ever used tick medicine on your dog, then you're probably aware of how toxic the stuff is. Well, it's used on cows too, and it can end up in their meat, milk, or the surrounding environment. Fortunately, however, scientists at the National University of Mexico have developed a new type of tick treatment for cattle that is reportedly much less toxic than what's currently used.Read More

NASA teleconference on sea level change warns of rising oceans

On Aug. 26, NASA held a media teleconference regarding current predictions on sea level rise, highlighting the risks to coastal populations in low-lying areas, and the inherent problems in creating reliable global models. A panel of experts from NASA's recently-founded Sea Level Change Team tells us that ocean levels are inexorably on the rise, but gaps in our understanding and ability to survey risk regions mean we don't know just how fast the change will take place.Read More

Waste paper could be a new source of "green" lighter fluid

Lighter fluid may be useful for getting barbecue briquettes or campfires lit, but it's not the most eco-friendly stuff in the world. It's often made from crude oil, and gives off toxic fumes when it burns. A team of scientists from Hong Kong and Hungary are developing what could be a greener solution, however – cleaner-burning lighter fluid derived from discarded paper.Read More

Feature

How Chile's fogcatchers are bringing water to the driest desert on Earth

"It's easy for people in the cities. They don't have to think about it. They turn on the tap and they have water to wash and water to drink. Here, access to water is a much more complicated issue." Daniel Rojas might have been talking about any place on Earth where water is hard to come by, but his words have a particular salience in Peña Blanca, Chile. The remote, drought-stricken community lies on the fringes of an expanding Atacama Desert, the driest (non-polar) desert on Earth. Parts of this parched, desolate land have never seen a single drop of rain, but by using a cleverly designed system the locals are able to harvest the mist that rolls in from the Pacific for farming, preserving native vegetation, and even producing beer.Read More

Winemaking waste could be raw material for biofuel

Researchers are already developing methods of making biofuel from cellulosic waste, such as corn stover and wood fibers, offering reduced environmental impact and no competition with food crops. Now, new research is investigating the possibility of turning waste from the winemaking industry into biofuel, not requiring the planting of any new crops.Read More

Super-low loss quantum energy transport could revolutionize sunlight to energy conversion

The use of sunlight as an energy source is achieved in a number of ways, from conversion to electricity via photovoltaic (PV) panels, concentrated heat to drive steam turbines, and even hydrogen generation via artificial photosynthesis. Unfortunately, much of the light energy in PV and photosynthesis systems is lost as heat due to the thermodynamic inefficiencies inherent in the process of converting the incoming energy from one form to another. Now scientists working at the University of Bayreuth claim to have created a super-efficient light-energy transport conduit that exhibits almost zero loss, and shows promise as the missing link in the sunlight to energy conversion process.Read More

New record energy efficiency for artificial photosynthesis

As the world moves towards developing new avenues of renewable energy, the efficiencies of producing fuels such as hydrogen must increase to the point that they rival or exceed those of conventional energy sources to make them a viable alternative. Now researchers at Monash University in Melbourne claim to have created a solar-powered device that produces hydrogen at a world-record 22 percent efficiency, which is a significant step towards making cheap, efficient hydrogen production a reality.Read More

India's Cochin International to become world's first completely solar-powered airport

It may not be the first airport to fit solar panels to its terminals, but India's Cochin International Airport is set to become the first in the world powered entirely by solar. Situated in Kochi, the airport handled 6.8 million passengers in the 2014-15 financial year and forecasts a 300,000-tonne (330,700-ton) reduction in carbon emissions over the next 25 years as a result of the switch to solar.Read More

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