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Environment

Leander Michels (left) and Prof. Jon Otto Fossum hold a chamber they use to study clay sam...

In order to minimize the amount of human-produced greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere, numerous scientists have studied materials that could be used to capture excess carbon dioxide at one of its main sources – industrial smokestacks. Such substances have included metal-organic framework materials, ionic liquids, and even a sea urchin-inspired material. Unfortunately, however, not everything that's been suggested is inexpensive or easy to produce. That said, Norwegian researchers now believe that humble clay could do the job just fine.  Read More

Algae grows in pools of wastewater in Houston, Texas (Photo: Rice University)

Algae may indeed be a potential source of biofuel, but it can also find use in things like nutritional supplements and cosmetics. When it's grown commercially, its growth is usually aided with chemical fertilizers. The cost of those chemicals cuts into the profits, however, plus the fertilizers are also needed for more traditional crops. That's why scientists from Houston's Rice University are looking into growing algae in municipal wastewater – the water would already contain its own free fertilizer, plus the algae would help clean it up.  Read More

Like a mini power plant, this electric vehicle can bid on energy in California's wholesale...

The California utility, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), has begun bidding energy resources from fleets of electric vehicles and storage systems into the state’s wholesale power market. The pilot program, one of the first of its kind, is meant to provide insights into how electric vehicles and other kinds of distributed energy resources can make the grid more reliable and efficient.  Read More

Antifreeze can be deadly, but perhaps not for much longer (Photo: Shutterstock)

Because of its sweet flavor and aroma, thousands of wild animals, pets and children are poisoned by drinking automotive antifreeze/coolant every year. Its particularly nasty ingredient is ethylene glycol, which affects the central nervous system, heart and kidneys to the point that it can ultimately prove lethal. Now, however, scientists from Colorado-based ACTA Technology, Inc. have replaced the ethylene glycol with another compound that's not only safe, but that also improves the performance of the antifreeze.  Read More

There's gold – and lead, apparently – in them thar biosolids (Photo: Heather Lowers, USGS ...

Mining operations tend not be very good for the environment, nor does the disposal of treated solid waste that still contains potentially-toxic metals. Now, however, scientists are looking into taking that waste and harvesting its trace amounts of metals such as gold, silver and platinum. Doing so could ultimately reduce the need for mining and decrease the amount of metals entering the environment, while also turning sewage into a source of revenue.  Read More

Air Shepherd's system uses unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with infrared cameras and GPS t...

For under-resourced park rangers patrolling the porous, poacher-friendly borders of Africa's national parks, conserving the ailing rhino and elephant populations is certainly a tall order. With tusks and horns only yielding more and more cash on black markets all across Asia, poaching numbers are on the rise and the future of local species hangs in the balance. But equipped with drones, big data and high-tech infrared cameras, one organization says it has the capabilities to start stemming the tide.  Read More

Packing peanuts may be good for more than just ... packing  (Photo: Shutterstock)

When a new lab was recently being set up at Purdue University in Indiana, a lot of the equipment arrived in boxes full of protective packing "peanuts." Unfortunately, few facilities exist for recycling the little pieces of foam, so they typically end up sitting in (or getting blown around) landfills for several decades. A team of Purdue researchers, however, discovered that they could find use in better-performing lithium-ion batteries.  Read More

A study indicates electric vehicles could help make cities cooler (Photo: Shutterstock)

Those who question the environmental benefits of electric vehicles over their gas-guzzling brethren often point out that the electricity powering EVs usually comes from fossil fuel-burning power plants. But a study conducted by researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) and Hunan University in China has revealed some hidden benefits of EVs, regardless of where the electricity originates.  Read More

Paul Panetta (right) and colleague Dale McElhone with the Acoustic Slick Thickness ROV, in...

When people are attempting to clean up oil spills at sea, one of the key things they need to know is the amount of oil that's been spilled – among other things, this will determine the amount of dispersant or other agents that are used. In order to make that process easier and more accurate, scientists from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science have developed a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that does the job by measuring the thickness of oil slicks from below the surface.  Read More

The material could find use in smokestacks, or anyplace else where excess CO2 needs to be ...

We've already seen a number of technologies developed for capturing carbon dioxide emissions from smokestacks or other sources, but many of them have a limitation – in order to reclaim the captured CO2 for disposal, a considerable amount of energy is needed. Now, however, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley have developed a new carbon-capture material that requires far less energy in order to give up its payload.  Read More

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